Island Snapshot

It seems like a good time to do one of these, since the island is pretty much all figured out! We have been wrapping up a lot of big tasks, working on some cool effects, and doing a bit of polishing and bugfixing. While we still have some things to finish, the island is probably not going to visibly change much anymore.




  1. So close that I can almost taste it…

    • If Sony is smart they will bundle this with Morpheus. Nintendo’s light gun had duck hunt, Morpheus with The Witness would be a game changer. I can’t wait to put on the goggles and enter the island, I would happily pay now and wait until that time to play as I bet it’s incredibly immersive. Does the scenery move in the wind or is it still? I hope the wind blows and branches rustle. Can’t wait to play!

      • Hi Ryan,
        Yes the scenery, branches, trees sway in the wind. You can see it in Jonathan’s (alpha?) playthrough when he approaches a puzzle panel. The shadows of the tree limbs and leaves sway back and forth over the puzzle panels. As for ambient sound however, I believe Jonathan said he didn’t want too much extraneous noises to take away focus on the puzzles at hand. This may have changed over the final months of development though.

        • I know they created hundreds (thousands?) of variations in footstep sounds, so clearly ambient sounds are a focus. I don’t think we know how much this extends to other ambient sounds (eg from the environment).

  2. I’ve been comparing this update to the last snapshot posted from the same angle (late 2013). Really cool seeing what you’ve worked on and what you decided to keep.

    Eager yet patient. Thanks for the update.

    • It seems these clouds are a recent addition. Am I mistaken? Maybe it’s just their position.

      • They have been re-worked, they should look much nicer than the old ones!

        • Awe darn. I really dug the old ones. They looked very painterly.

          • I also liked the old ones, but I’m fine with the new ones. The reason they changed the clouds had to have been that the old ones weren’t accomplishing something, be it stylistically or thematically or whatever.

            I trust Thekla to make good decisions after seeing how much this game has changed since 2010, and how it changed for the better.

          • I think it’s obvious that the old ones had some clear repetition going on, so that’d be a worthwhile thing to improve. They’ll be visible from most places outside, after all.

            What I find odd is that the island seems to be somewhat foggier again…hmm…

  3. Thank you for the update! I check the site way too much with anticipation of whats going on with the game and studio. Im glad things are wrapping up. Looking more forward to the game now!

  4. I could totally see this as a VR diorama.

  5. Somehow I’m only realizing now that the mountain’s cliffs features remind me a lot of the mountain in ‘Close encounters of the 3rd kind’. (which is a real mountain whose name/location I keep forgetting)

  6. At what point in the game do you get to race Koopa the Quick up the mountain?

    • Why after riding the oscillating wood conveyor, dodging the chain chomp and boulders and using the canon to collect the hidden star of course!

      Don’t forget the hundred coin star too!

  7. ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Give the witness

  8. My most anticipated title of 2013, 2014, and 2015. One question: is controller support a possibility? I use a 360 controller for Windows on my living room steam machine. Obviously we don’t know this game’s hidden mechanics that may require a full keyboard. Just hoping to keep a good thing going.

    Thanks – congrats and great work!

  9. Could you guys say anything about the apparent yellow paint that is spilling out of the mountain and leaking down the face? That is a huge detail to me.

    Look at that summit! 100% completion area perhaps?

    You guys are killing me!


  11. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing; it’s amazing to be able to see how this project has evolved over the years. Best of luck to everyone on the team as you near completion!!!

  12. Anyone want to take any guesses as to what you are doing on the island in the first place? Every time I see this game in action it reminds me of the movie “Momento” where the guy leaves clues as to his identity and purpose. Like you are the creator of the island and you have amnesia and you created it to remind you of yourself and how beautiful the world is or how you built it to never forget about some certain thing. And you solve puzzles and find clues as to what you are doing there in the first place. I dont know. Just thoughts. Cant wait to play and find out!

    • From everything I have seen and read about this game and from what I know of Jonathan, I don’t think the place really exists. I think it is an existential location representing John’s brain and solving puzzles to slowly unlock some quandary over life and art and the artists place in the world.

      I expect some interesting themes as Jonathan had said in the past, that he could have donated the 2 or 3 + million dollars from Braid to charity, but instead chose to make another video-game. He spoke about how that balanced in his mind, selfishness vs. altruism.

      He seems to me a very spiritual human being, who doesn’t just coast through life while failing to pay adequate consideration to the quandary of existence. And if the poetry choices over the years on the main page for the Witness and books recommended by Blow are any indication, I think we are in for an unconventional explanation of what the Island may in fact be.

      But who knows. Damn am I excited though! However it turns out, there is no way this project doesn’t end up being worthwhile and something of supreme note on the timeline of video-games as a whole.

  13. I remember when the windmill was the main feature on the island. Now it’s so much more organic and understated. And the variety in the plant work is just fascinating. The mountain chemical spill is an interesting addition, especially with the vibrant algae blooms that were added near the swamp a while back.

    We all keep saying this but we really cannot wait for this game to be released. One of my most highly anticipated games for a while now!

  14. Glorious! Thanks for the update!

  15. Won’t be long now! (I hope :-)

    It’s very exciting seeing the island knowing that all of its areas are packed with interesting features to explore. It is a feeling I don’t get when seeing the maps of many other “open world” games because as expansive as they are they are usually devoid of interaction or the ability for you as a player to have any lasting impact on the world itself. I don’t know why so many modern games neglect to include this.

    • It’s almost as if it looks to small to hold the game that we have seen in the videos and also the staggering amount of puzzles. Although I suspect this has something to do with the LOD (level of detail bias).

  16. #Yellow Paint, I gotta know!

  17. The peak of the mountain has changed quite a bit over time, I’m excited to see why. Can anyone pinpoint the location of the beginning of the game?

  18. Perhaps this has been asked before, but will you experience night and day on the island?

  19. I’d love to see a slide-show of all of these island screenshots. just like a looping gif showing the progress.

  20. I dont think this game is ever going to come out. Every time theres an update its the same story, were close but we still have a bunch to do. I thought this game would be out by now and I really want to buy it but I’m slowly losing interest in it. My friends were all going to buy this as well when it was first announced but I brought it up the other day and not one is buying it now. While I understand you want it to be perfect, I cant help but feel your shooting yourselves in the foot.

    • I cannot understand why waiting on a game to be released is decreasing your interest in it!? Either you want to play it and discover its mysteries or you don’t. How can time just change this point of view since (I assume) you never had a chance before to play it and found the conclusion that playing it is not what you thought of it to be?
      “The game is ready when it is ready.” Be patient and look forward. I’m sure it will be great. ;)

      • Its just been so long since it was originally promised. It was supposed to be a launch title for the ps4 and the main reason I bought one. Whats frustrating is we still dont have a date on it, thats all I want. Perfect doesnt exist and without the team having a clearly defined deadline, development can and has gone on forever. I think at this point in development they should have a clear timeline or at least a good estimate for when it will be done. Give us a release date, thats all it would take to make me happy.

        • It was never actually announced as a launch title. I am sure they will give us a release date when they feel confident enough to choose an accurate one, nothing is worse than having to push back the release date because things took longer than expected imo

          • I think that they should at least set a more specific date than just “2015”. Fireproof Games set their release date of The Room 3 to spring and even that is a four month gap. Although it’s good to take your time, you should at least have some pressure to finish your game so that you don’t take too long in doing so.

        • Dude, I’ve been waiting on this game since 2009. Have some more patience. The game is nearing release now, and is not some nebulous thing like The Last Guardian or Half Life 3. It’s going to come out. :)

          At this point, I don’t think we will see a release date set until it’s absolutely certain. I remember expecting the game to be done in 2012. But the game has gotten bigger and better, and I am happy to see them take as much time as they can afford.

    • they’re not shooting themselves in the foot by making the best game possible. It’s not like you really have any reason to think about buying something before it comes out, unless there’s a preorder thing, which there isn’t for this game. Anyway, it’s pretty clear from the updates that it’s very near to completion, as before they said they had a lot of stuff to do, but now they’re saying they have only some stuff to do. I’d (foolishly) estimate that it’ll be released in the next 2-6 months. I’m guessing it would take a month after they say they’ve finalized the game’s content to when they actually can release it, as they’d have to widen the testing a little, and localize it, and stomp down all the little bugs and weirdness.

  21. 会在哪些平台登录啊,除了ps,会登录PC平台吗??

  22. Looks awesome! It really brings me back to the old Myst days. I hope this game has story which is deep good as well. Really need this game now! for me The Witness and Rime are my two most anticipated games 2015

  23. First we get news that the puzzles are complete, now the geography of the island is too? That’s pretty awesome! Can’t wait for the release.

    I have a seriously unhealthy obsession with this game. I suspect I’m not the only one.

    • You’re not the only one :) I have this website set to be permanently open in my phone and I basically live here now…

  24. 既然有PC版本,那应该会上STEAM的吧?我买过BRAID,很有创意,非常支持。

  25. Good to have a new snapshot! Appreciate it.
    Odd question: are the pillars in the base of the mountain inspired in Gaudi´s architecture?

  26. It’s so rare a game company or any commercial art company has the opportunity to finish a game on their own terms. I’m so glad they took their time. I think it’s going to pay off :). Can’t wait to play it.

    • Wait… can’t wait to play it? This is a game that can be played? Nonsense! (At least that is what I am telling myself until it is out ;))


    Is that a little boat on the bottom right? *stops breathing* we would get to ride it? *shocked*
    its so cute!!!!

  28. Is there a malinglist somewhere where we can receive updates or release info?
    The facebook page is not really up2date i believe.

  29. Here’s to hoping we see a release date in either may, June, or July! Maybe Bloodborne, Axiom Verge, and Titans Souls will keep me busy until then but…if not…I may die from anticipation. And that blood is on your hands, Thekla! But seriously, take your time, I can wait :)

  30. I’m totally cool with them taking a really long time, no issues there in fact if it took another year I’d still happily pick up this game, but can you please give us a price tag, or at least an estimated price tag. as a consumer this is what I need. I’ll respect whatever it is, and I’ll pay whatever it is, and it’s not the end of the world if I have to wait, but it would really really help me prepare.

    • Between $0 and $59. Just expect something in that range.

      • I’d definitely be willing to buy The Witness for 60 dollars, though it might make the game harder to suggest to friends.

        • I know right! The most I’ve ever payed for an indie is $20 so i expect it to be around there, but this game is huge and expensive. I’d pay $60 no problem, just hoping to find out soon. any info on the game would be nice, it’s like crack when they post something new.

          • Start at $40, 3 months later drop to $30, 3 months later to $20 and leave it at that… Next year, Bundle with a Morpheus tie in with Sony. 3 months later tie in to PS Plus promotion to scoop up some more. I plan to pick it up on Steam and iOS as well just to support the hard work!

          • I’m expecting it to be more than $20. $20 seems like it would be an unfairly good deal.

  31. Ryan T,

    Are you saying that a game that you havent even played yet becomes more and more worthless after a 3 months span of time? Since time is relative, you could have in fact said this same thing last year. So by now you would get the game for free? Nope. The game is still worth what ever they decide to sell it at as it would have been 5 months ago or 5 months from now.

    Just because the game is an Indie game doesnt mean that the quality of the game wont be as good as a Corporate studio. I think Jon is a far better game developer than most large studios anyway. He just knows how to make a game by himself better than a large studio team (speaking of braid that is).

    I can only image a team that Jon would choose to develop with would be as good as Jon’s game development ability.

    • No one is saying the price would go to zero. That’s a straw man argument.

      Price is (or should be) a business decision, not based on some arbitrary definition of value. It makes business sense to charge a high price at launch because then you’ll get as much money as possible from people who want to play it right away. And then later when you lower the price, the people who are unwilling to spend more than $15 on the game (after all, they probably already have 100 games in their backlogs) will purchase as well. Keeping your prices high will equate to lost sales and lower revenues. No one benefits from that.

      • jon pretty much said what I was implying. 3 months after release was an arbitrary timeframe, 6 months later, 1 yr later, whatever. You sell as much as you can at your release price and then discount to pull in the ones on the fence once game sales slow. Expands your base and exposes even more to the game. Then reduce to your lowest cost before rolling it into promotions to recoup the final payouts. Hollywood is like this, charge high price on release, less for rental, then to HBO before dishing it to TV for final sales value. Oil wells are like this, put a lot of money up front into drilling and fracking and then watch proceeds slowly trend downward until you drill your next one. Braid was in the Humble Bundle stuff and you could of paid very little to acquire it, but the value of the game stands high. Jonathan is a visionary but he’s also a businessman who wants to make more games… I will buy on day one because I want the game and am happy to pay a premium. Others will unfortunately wait for a discount but on the bright side, at least they’ll get to play the game, just later than me…

  32. Soooooooooooo excited!!!!

  33. I am literally dying waiting for this game. I have been waiting since 2009, and checking this blog since its creation. But I can wait a little longer, because the polish on this game is gonna be hella fresh. You guys are so close! Keep up the good work.
    PS–I would like the chance to pre-order… If you guys need some cash in the eleventh hour, me and a few thousand friends would be happy to spot you…

  34. I recently came across this Miyamoto quote that qualifies this game pretty well:
    “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.

    Really happy to see progress and can’t wait for the release :)

  35. Hey wonderful folks at Thekla!
    This is the game that i will buy a PS4 for…
    I’m on this page way too often – i even dreamed about the Witness!
    To be honest, the anticipation for this game was one of the very few things which helped me pull through a quite severe depressive episode!
    Just wanted to put this out there – doesn’t mean that you should delay it forever though ;-)

    • I second that. The idea of this game has been a bright light in times of darkness. A very welcome constant.


    • It definitely helps to have something to wait for during a depressive episode; really cool to read that The Witness was the thing that kept you going.

      Best of luck to you.

  36. I know that to rush the development, to leave things unpolished or creating unnecessary expectations is not your thing, but it would be so cool to know anything about some aproximate release date…it is just that all the talks, PS experience videos and the like have in fact created some hype, and even if only for money saving purposes to buy the game it would be great to have some info about it.

    • It would be nice to have, not necessarily a release date, but an indication of how long prior to release we will be seeing an announcement. A month maybe? Two weeks?

      I totally understand not revealing, or even being able to pin down a date, nor am I interested in having one where it simply isnt possible. That said, it would be great to know Jon’s mind for what the timeframe for announcement would be before release!


  37. I came across this this evening. Thought that it might be realavant as merely something to ponder. I am not saying to hurry up!

    “A work of art is never finished, it is abandoned.

    A work of art is a living accumulation of creative judgments. Each judgment is a reflection on, and change to, the existing accumulation.

    It is never quite clear when a work is finished because it can only be finished when the artist can’t find anything to improve. Sooner or later, however, it must be done with.

    Creation, by its nature, is never complete.”

    Cheers then, to this wonderful accumulation! I eagerly await its abandonment.

  38. The art is done, they are just trying to make it to where it will stay on the wall when hung.

  39. I only wanna know one thing!

    Is there gonna be a Schwarzgerät in the Witness?

    Is the island itself a Schwarzgerät for Jon’s ideas regarding observation and path to understanding one’s existence?

    Okay, two things!

    00000, :)

  40. In case people missed this buried in the comments, Matthew VanDevander made an awesome time-lapse slide-show of how the island has changed over the years!

    He even corrected for shifts in perspective!

    • Thanks. Yeah, well I tried. I’m sure there could be something more in-depth done to it to make it more smooth, since I really only tried to match the mountain in the foreground. One could perhaps have done some morphs between the shots to try to match as many points as possible between the transitions.

      • Haha, nah man, you’re good. That might be overboard considering we’ll hopefully be playing the thing itself soon enough.

        Awesome job on the slideshow! It is helping with the stress of waiting for the game. It is great to look at and speculate on the things that are evolving.

  41. Olá amigo, estou ansioso a muito tempo para eu poder jogar The Witness, vamos, vamos lancem logo, pois estava prometido para o final do ano de 2014 e até agora nadaaaa! pleaseee :(

    • I either need to make an anti-spam bot that stops people from bugging me about the Witness release date, or I need to shut down this blog.

      • Half Life 3 confirmed!!!

      • Hahaha, Jon does not seem to be in a good mood today! But I agree, that would get on my nerves as well. I would definitely not shut down the blog though, most of the people who occupy this site (like myself) are rooting for the games success, and although some of us get impatient at times, we definitely want the best experience and not a rushed one. And I would be mortified if one day I tried to access the site it just didn’t exist anymore…

      • Jonathan, this is from the bottom of my heart bro, I mean it. I have an enormous amount of respect for you, and in some ways you are like an idol to me. I definitely look up to you as the zen-master of video-gaming and the ideas of how to perceive it. But it comes to this bluntness I am afraid:

        If you can no longer be bothered to respond to the positive comments that are contained here and to instead focus on the negativity of what you perceive as the single worst blight to the comments section – a release date – then perhaps you should shut the blog down.

        We get the point man. If a comment doesn’t either discuss some deep aspect of programming logic, or deal with the minutiae of how a rocket fails to land on a platform at sea for the hundredth time, that you are just not going to be bothered or interested in showing the fans some love, or respect.

        We come here to comment and discuss the game in a positive way. This is a direct result of your labours in making it. So I would suggest to you that you see the excitement factor for your game for what it is — a positive thing.

        If the fans are such a goddamned annoyance to you that you want to take away the blog, then I heartily suggest that you do so. Before you have a chance to further alienate those of us that have been here since the first post went up and you delve deeper into acknowledging the basal and primal need to distance yourself from those asking for a release date.

        As I said man, I have tremendous respect for you and in the past have simply chalked up my disagreements with what you say as that you are a simply smarter man than I and that you must know what you are doing. But hey, if your lack of tact and temperance translates directly into your game being better for it, than I guess my whole argument is moot.

        My point is, give the people here a fucking break. As they are some of the truest supporters of what you are doing here in the first place. And maybe attempt to engage on another level that you maybe haven’t before.

        I understand this is the home stretch and that tensions may be high and that you are under pressures from sources I can’t even begin to imagine, least of which I am sure is a dwindling bank account.

        I love what you are doing here. I think this game is important. I couldn’t even tell you why, only that I know that it is. And if you need help finishing this thing, give me a PayPal account where I can send in 500.00 dollars so I can help with the stress brother. I mean it. And I am sure a lot of the others here would do the same.

        So please. Consider your positions on this blog a little more thoroughly before you rush to conclusions and decisions. If flippant is who you are, I accept that. But I know you aren’t.

        Nothing but love.

        THEKLA FAN for life.


        • I have to disagree.

          Regarding the constant nagging about a release date, I would have been far less patient and polite than Jon.
          It was a minor and hardly offensive comment at all – get over it.
          No one is disrespecting the fans and support, just blowin off some steam, I’d say.

          So, Jon, take your time – I don’t really care about a release date that much…
          I got so used to looking at the beautiful screenshots, I’d probably be overchallenged with it being released an me actually being able to play it ;-)

          • Potentially threatening to take down the blog if a subset of individuals don’t behave is… polite? :)

            And by love and respect, I simply meant that if he was here anyway, why not comment on virtually any other response? Why fixate on an annoying one? Y’know like, “Thanks for the support and for potentially helping to make the game a success when it launches! We’re doing our best.” Something like that.

            Anyway. He’s allowed to do whatever he wants. He is the most important living game designer.

      • Having such an intimate look at a game’s development, as well as direct access to the developers, is a tremendous privilege. Developers are in no way obligated to share their creative effort with others. Having a relationship like this with the public is time consuming, thankless, and dangerous. If we want to continue to be in this position of privilege, we must speak responsibly.

        On the flipside, Jon, hopefully the team has been able to filter out the negativity and hear the underlying motive for these questions: people are excited to play the Witness.

      • I mean, he may have been being sarcastic for all we know, it is text after all (and tone can be a very hard thing to convey through text, as me and my wife have found out the hard way). But overall, I do agree with Oddkins, being angry over fans clamoring to get your game is kind of…well…silly. It would be like if a major rock band came out on stage right before the big show and was like “STOP SCREAMING FOR US TO COME OUT DAMMIT! WE’LL START PLAYING WHEN WE DAMN WELL PLEASE!” Lol. But then again, being looked up to and put on a pedestal can be frustrating, especially in times of pressure and stress, so I can see both sides of the coin :)

        • it’s not like the rock band, because in that case, they already prepared the songs, while the witness clearly has a way to go before it’s ready for any sort of release announcement.

      • I’ve heard from plenty of authors/creative types that this sort of thing is probably the hardest to not kick someone over.

        You’ve taken it really well so far, actually. I don’t think that those people will ever not exist– the impatient, the uninformed. I can’t say I have experience with this problem though, so I can’t say that there’s a definitive way to deal with it. But I might bring up some alternate solutions:

        Alt solutions: Ignore comments, disable comments, volunteer comment moderator (whoever’s active/helpful in the comments a lot), or improbably gain the composure/tolerance of Atlas himself.

        Best wishes.

  42. Mr. Blow and crew,

    I played Braid when it was released in 2008 and it had a profound affect on me. Mainly from how the mechanics correlate with the story and the emotions and thoughts they evoke in combination. Still to this day I learn from Braid and understand new things about it, and even in my own life from it. Having Indie Game to watch, the way you talk about Braid, really solidifies the message and emotions I received from it.

    I was watching Indie Game again this evening and decided to finally look around about The Witness. I only read the Wikipedia page, website home page, and this and the office tour blog posts(and some very interesting? comments haha). I think I may understand where you are going with the title, I wonder what aesthetics you guys are using for us to experience with.

    I’m hoping for xbox one controller support on iOS. Also, a way to sign up to receive a plain text email notification on the day The Witness is released, specifically to keep the experience as unadulterated as possible.

    Thank you very much for your time,
    Chase Smith

  43. Any thoughts on including a developer commentary track, perhaps similar to portal 2? Obviously not a priority in finishing the game, but I always enjoy it when games add this as it gives me an additional reason to replay the game as well as adding to my perspective of the game.

  44. I love adventure games and this one looks amazing. Some time ago I played myst, riven and exile together with my mom on our first (gaming) pc at home. When this is released, I will invite her to my own home to play it together as we did so long ago. :)
    Did you already think about the trophies on PS4? Most developers don’t invest much time to create good ones and also in braid they were quite simple (I’m not a fan of speedruns, especially not in games you want to enjoy). But creative, good and hopefully not annoying trophies can make a game experience better and push the gamer to invest time in things he probably would have missed. :)
    Looking forward to the release, take your time guys I’m sure it will be great!

  45. PS4 and PC version have graphical parity? Or is the PC version going to have graphics settings beyond PS4 capabilities?

  46. Jonathan Blow last thing I wanted to do with my release date comment is to bug you, so I wont mention it again if that bothers you. It only reflects how much Im looking forward to play the game.

    In fact, im in architecture, developing the final project to get the degree, and its been 1 year and 8 months of development time so far. I dont know what to answer to people when they ask me for my “release date” cause it is not clear. So I understand it.

    By the way, your attempting deep work talk on how to survive long projects really helped. In addition, it was funny realizing both dancing and martial arts are my stress relief hobbies as well.

    I actually would be blessed If I could help with one of your future projects, even for free, if my skills would be useful.

  47. Can anyone tell me how would I be able to send an e-mail to the developers? I’d like to get in contact but I can’t seem to find any contact information anywhere!

    Thanks in advance

    • I don’t think that you can directly. When people have said similar things, JonBlow has said leave whatever questions you have in the comments on this blog, and that he reviews all of them.

      So if you’ve got something to say, your best bet for it being seen is to leave it here. I believe he has your e-mail when you post, so if he is interested he would contact you.

      I will say though that this is EXTREMELY unlikely.

      Good luck all the same!

    • Jonathan has a twitter account. He is pretty active there. If your question is short and impersonal (an interesting) chances are he’ll shoot you a tweet.

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