New trailer and interviews!

Hey look! A new trailer!

Here's my update on the PlayStation Blog.

Also, we have some interviews and previews of the game:

Gamespot
Ars Technica
Polygon
Wired
PlayStation Blog

The PlayStation Blogcast had a nice ten-minute discussion of the game.

88 Comments:

  1. Amazing work guys! Really excited to play the game! (In the meantime, I’m gonna start playing some Myst).

  2. Great news, excellent trailer, and good coverage, too! Beyond the basics each article has its own perspective, and shares different details about the development (with minimal, if any, spoilers) so I recommend reading them all.

    Here’s a few more:

    An article in Gamasutra: http://gamasutra.com/view/news/218953/The_Witness_Modeling_epiphany.php

    Justin’s preview impressions in audio format: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2015/09/17/playstation-blogcast-180-witness-me/

  3. I like the choice for the release date for two reasons. 1) It’s a cute anagram: 0126-2016, and 2)Jan 26th is a major holiday here in Australia.
    Best wishes for the final push towards release and congratulations on how well the game has turned out for the team!

  4. great work on the trailer, and I’m definitely looking forward to buying this ^_^

    hope justin does better now that he’s not under pressure to make commentary and watch twitch and play the game and talk to you at the same time :)

  5. Congratulations on the release date and for all of the positive press. It is great to see the excitement building from all of your interviews.

    There were a few new tantalising details in the new trailer. Especially 1:08! It has been a long wait but I feel these 4 months might be the hardest as it is so close finally.

    Well done to the entire team.

    • “There were a few new tantalising details in the new trailer. Especially 1:08!”

      Would you share what new details impressed you most about the trailer? I am interested to hear what most captured your attention at 1:08. I’ve re-watched it multiple times and the reflection and view are impressive, but am curious if you are seeing some detail that I’m missing!

  6. just an additional thing: found this in the comments of a YouTube video, had a laugh

    http://puu.sh/kfduf/9c0b18983d.png

    it pretty well echoes Jon’s sentiments regarding adventure games, which is really cool to see.

    • Yep, in the first Myst puzzles were not very logical. But after that, in Myst 2 (Riven) to Myst 4, every puzzle has a logic, a context/history reason to exists ^^

      • Somewhere I still have a stack of paper of my maps and notes from Riven. I loved that game. When I first noticed the animal outline in the rock I had such a WOAH moment.

        I am really looking forward to taking copious notes in the Witness too.

      • I replayed Myst 1 recently — the newly remastered full resolution, full 3D version — and I found it actually rather easy. Maybe this is because I had very vague memories of some of the puzzles from 25 years ago, but I think it’s more because the puzzle design philosophy that guided Myst has been mainstreamed and I’ve played enough puzzle games to intuit the solutions. And they do actually make sense in the context of the created world.

  7. Take my money!!! Beautiful trailer, can’t wait to play. Been watching this site since I finished Braid back in 2008, it’s so awesome to see how it’s progressed and I’m super excited to get my hands on this. Only question now is wondering if I should wait for VR so I can actually go there!!

  8. O000.
    It’s coming out a couple of days before my birthday (first of february).
    I am still loving the idea of an open world puzzle game. It’s like exploration on a lot of different levels.
    I’m feeling slightly ashamed for asking this, but considering this will come out close to my birthday:
    How much will this game cost?
    Considering it’s content it does seem like a full price game (and I think it will be absolutely worth that), but it seems a bit uncommon for a game that is made by this kind of team.

    • What does the term “Full price game” even mean? There are plenty of games that I’ve bought for $15 or less that are worth their weight in gold, and plenty more above $60 that I wouldn’t spend a dime on.

      Jon Blow and team (keep in mind this is actually a fairly large team) have been working for seven years on this. Yes, it’s going to be worth whatever price they set. I’m hoping it’s not less than $30, or they’d be seriously selling themselves short.

      • With full price I meant $60.
        “There are plenty of games that I’ve bought for $15 or less that are worth their weight in gold, and plenty more above $60 that I wouldn’t spend a dime on.” (what’s the weight of a game? sorry)
        And that’s what I mean. It’s a relatively small game in terms of the team and budget behind it.
        And I would agree that it would be worth anything they ask for it. I was just wondering if I could ask for my birthday, or wether that’d be too expensive. I’d pay anything for it myself.
        I just hope they make the right choice and that they’ll make a lot of money of it.

    • I doubt we’ll hear a price announcement any time soon. It’s always kind of messy to talk about pricing. For now they’ll probably be wanting to make sure the message is focused on what the game is as opposed to what it costs. Remember, plenty of people still don’t know anything about it.

      Having said that, I don’t imagine we’ll offend anyone by discussing price here. One thing we do know is that the game cost about $5M to make. Braid cost $200k and sold for $15 on XBLA. If it had the same cost to price ratio, The Witness would sell for $375 ;)

      • “If it had the same cost to price ratio, The Witness would sell for $375 ;)”
        I’d pay that.
        But I’d be one of a small group.
        I hope they make the right choice for it.

  9. The island is more beautiful than I imagined and it was good to see the various types of puzzles it will have. Can’t wait!

  10. Thank you for choosing 0126-2016 and not another numerical anagram such as 0216-2016, or worse still 0621-2016. Such beauty in the release date, surpassed only by the beauty of the game itself.

    Please release at midnight on 0126-2016 regardless of timezone so I can spend the full Australian public holiday, mentioned by Stuart, devouring this game. I have been reading the blog since the beginning, so excited to be playing it soon!!

    Thank you team for the blog updates and, of course, for the game! My hat is off to you all.

  11. I was just wondering why my comment did not get approved. Is it because I ended up sandwiched between two comments by someone with a very similar username? We have both commented on the blog before.

  12. Hmmm – maybe it was because I changed my username as a joke. Well as the last comment went through I shall just repost my comment from yesterday again…

    Congratulations on the release date and for all of the positive press. It is great to see the excitement building from all of your interviews.

    There were a few new tantalising details in the new trailer. Especially 1:08! It has been a long wait but I feel these 4 months might be the hardest as it is so close finally.

    Well done to the entire team.

  13. A release date is fantastic news!

    I can’t wait. =D

  14. I really don’t want to spoil this game, so I played the trailer in another, hidden, window. That music was so dang good though, that I had to listen again. Then I caught a glimpse of the amazing visuals. Then I watched the trailer a half dozen times.

    The Witness’ team has incredible taste. That, coupled with the years of effort you have poured in reminded me of this video: https://vimeo.com/85040589 (THE GAP by Ira Glass). It is great inspiration for all the rest of us that want to create interesting things.

    Four months feels like a long time to wait, but there is nothing like a good video to pass the depths of winter. I hope to resist all the lures of spoilers on the internet while I work my way through the puzzles you have crafted.

  15. I have never seen a rendered image that looks quite as good as what you guys have created. In my opinion it even beats what comes out of many render farms after hours of processing. Everything looks amazing!

  16. Awesome trailer, and fantastic to finally have a solid date to look forward to! It looks like it will be absolutely amazing :)

  17. First of all, so excited for the game.

    Jonathan, a while ago I threw a puzzle design question at you and I have another one if you don’t mind. About a year and a half ago, you did a demo of the first section of the game, which culminated in a significantly more complicated puzzle embedded on a door near the tutorial area. The puzzle had some very interesting ideas that allowed the different mechanics that had been taught up to this point to play together to make clear, for example, which of the several starting points had to be the “right” starting point. The demo cut out before you solved the puzzle.

    I was intrigued, so I decided to finish the puzzle on paper. After a bit I became “stuck” because the logic puzzle solver in me wanted to find the only logical path when it turned out that there were actually multiple paths (or, at least, multiple minor variations on the same path) that would fulfill all the given requirements. Once I got over the mental block that was preventing me from making a move that I knew HAD to be right, I was able to intuit an answer.

    I’m guessing that the fact that there were multiple paths was a design choice, so here’s my question: when you design puzzles, is the idea that there be one logical solution important to you, or are you happy with any solution that gets across the main ideas that you were going for? For me, puzzles with one solution are more elegant to construct and more rewarding to solve, but I can see how it might be more important to you that solvers be able to “feel” their way to a solution, by trying to find a path, saying “Oh, no, that won’t work” and backtracking. Thoughts?

    • This is one of those questions where the answer is different for each game.

      For The Witness, a lot of the puzzles have multiple solutions, because the main thing that matters is the general understanding of the idea behind each puzzle, and the way the game works, it is usually hard to solve the puzzle if you don’t have this understanding.

      For Braid it was different, because in a platformer, if you don’t take steps to prevent the player from getting somewhere except under precise conditions, it is likely that in many cases they would be able to get there.

  18. Siiiiiiiickk! I don’t know if anything could compare to that “Never seen anything like this before” excitement of the first trailer, especially with THAT song (we all know THAT song), but this has the excitement of a release date! Sooooo stoked

  19. Hi Jon,

    Only one thing is kinda bothering me about The Witness graphics; the cables connecting one panel to the other look very rough, I can see the triangles on them. Sometimes I see the geometry folding in a weird way on those cables. Are you planning on fixing that?

    Otherwise, this game looks absolutely fantastic. :)

    Cheers,
    Daniel

  20. Any word on the VR support? When initially blogged about, it was stated that Valve’s prototype and any similar alternatives w0uld be supported, so presumably we’ll see Vive and Rift support (Morpheus depending on performance?), but will it be Oculus Touch? Will it use RoomScale with the Vive? How will traversal be handled?

    If observation is as important as it appears, and playing the traditional game allows the view point to be locked while on a panel, does VR impede the ‘observation’ aspect due to lacking fixed perspectives?

    Obviously the game is launching before the big three headsets will be widely available, but will support for the Vive be there at launch for those able to get one from the soft launch this holiday?

  21. Congratulations on the trailer, the game looks gorgeous and trailer editing is sleek.

    I wanted to do a little bit of constructive criticism. There’s one thing that has bothered me since the first trailer: the animations of the non-organic objects look a little bit crude (the puzzle platforms, the boat door, the light cannon, etc.). From what can be seen on the trailer, they feel algorithmic and airy. They don’t feel like animated physical objects subject to gravity and physics.

    Am I the only one who thinks the animations could benefit from tweaking by a professional animator?

    • Given that this was a $5m endeavour, and given all the detail that went into ensuring that environments aren’t clipping, I would say that the artificial look is probably an intentional part of the game’s aesthetic. The last thing I suspect is that any failure of this game can be attributed to a lack of professionalism.

      • Ricardo didn’t say there was a lack of professionalism, but rather implied the absence of a professional animator.

        I doubt the designers intentionally chose to make the animations look stodgy and stiff. (Although they do deliberately make the island geometrically low-resolution, blocky, and angular.) Rather I surmise that they made a deliberate choice to concentrate on those aspects of design that most contribute to (or detriment) the narrative, flow, and visual appeal. This is art, after all.

        If the team is at a loss for how to fill the time between now and January, sure, tweak away!

        • George got my point completely. I don’t mean to disrespect the hard work that the team is pouring into this game. I’ve been eagerly waiting for The Witness for a long time, and I’m sure it’ll be one the best games of the decade.

          But sometimes, when you’re immersed in the creative process, one can loose a little bit of perspective. I just wanted to point out one of the, in my humble opinion, very few weak aspects of the game. If the animations could be improved, I think it would make a huge difference on the overall feeling of the final game.

        • Out of respect, I’d like to reiterate Ricardo’s sentiments here.

          Having followed the game for so long, it’s clear (and I greatly admire!) that a ton of work has gone into ensuring the world is structurally, physically sound and evokes a true space. That said, I believe the stiff animations deny this sort of structural truth — that is, objects feel believable until you see them move. It appears as though everything is linearly interpolating between two positions and lacks the quality of physical objects affected by gravity (For example, the panel that slides up from the floor stops exactly at its end position, the boat lacks bob while moving through the water, and so on). Knowing there’s still a bit of time left on the project, if possible, I think putting extra attention on the animations would be well worth it!

          • I personally like the way those animations look. It gives the world its own feel. I feel like it fits very well with the cel-shaded type graphics, and adds to the world. I mean, it’s pretty obvious from the art style that their world is supposed to look exactly like ours, so why should it act like it? I have to agree with Jonathan O., all but far less defensively, that I think it was intentional, that things are “supposed” to be animated that way, and not necessarily subject to OUR physics and gravity. I think the animations look great, and I think the team has a full workload between now and 0126, so I’d hate to hear they’re going to be spending additional time on something some people like and some people don’t, that may very well have been intentional all along. The one thing I (may) agree on is the bobbing of the boat in the water… but we don’t know what or where this island is, there could be any good reason why the water is perfectly still in this alternate world.

          • “it’s pretty obvious from the art style that their world is *NOT* supposed to look exactly like ours”

    • I personally like the way those animations look. It gives the world its own feel. I feel like it fits very well with the cel-shaded type graphics, and adds to the world. I have to agree with Jonathan O., all but far less defensively, that I think it was intentional, that things are “supposed” to be animated that way, and not necessarily subject to OUR physics and gravity. I think the animations look great, and I think the team has a full workload between now and 0126, so I’d hate to hear they’re going to be spending time on something some people like and some people don’t, that may very well have been intentional all along.

  22. Love the trailer and thanks for the release date!! Been waiting for this since it was announced for the PS4. Question: How much thought went into the release date? The reason I ask is that 0126 is an anagram of 2016. Was that play on purpose or a coincidence?

  23. Beautiful trailer. I’m a huge fan of the Myst games (but not the myriad of knock-offs) and of Braid, so put those together and I’ll have no hesitation buying this. Heck, I’ve been coming back to the blog to see updates ever since I found out The Witness existed.

    I’m terribly intrigued by the statues – a pair in the trailer, and then another one in an image on the Playstation Blog…

  24. So cool at 0.25 that you are creating the line and the panel in the background is updating as you move!

    Will there be some talks on youtube about the in’s and out’s off the witness just like you did for braid? I really hope so!

    • “So cool at 0.25 that you are creating the line and the panel in the background is updating as you move!”

      Thanks for pointing out that detail, I had not noticed it before. I saw that panel in the background and simply assumed it was the next puzzle, focusing on the fact that the walkway lit up and depress as the character moved forward. Also noticed some of the walkways have boards underneath, and some do not. Gives notion that your steps in this game indeed carry weight and importance.

  25. Zoe Keating! :D
    Can’t wait to play.

  26. Thank you to the Thekla team for creating and sharing this game with us all. Looking forward to unraveling the many puzzles contained within The Witness. More deeply, am interested in discovering the overall message, themes, perspectives and social commentary embedded within the purpose and goals of each additive puzzle, leading to and through the end game.
    Based off what has been released publicly by the Thekla team, I continue to contemplate and attempt to extrapolate these messages, and what our conversations on here will turn to once the game has been released and we’ve had a chance to interact with the game and chew on its content. What will be the exchange of ideas based on subtle and overt themes, unifying and polarizing opinions?
    I anticipate that most participants here have similar types of preconceived notions of what The Witness has to say. I can’t help but wonder how this game will challenge us individually, beyond the mental puzzles and game dynamics.

    Thanks again,
    – mark

  27. Been really excited for this since the beginning and the release date announcement is fantastic news!
    I have a small observation/suggestion about the 2nd panel in the game. As the first panel teaches the player that the round node is the starting point I was thinking that the second panel could test that knowledge by having an L shape with the round node on the bottom right of the L shape. In that way if the user tries the more “natural” way of solving by drawing a line starting from the top they will get it wrong because they didn’t start with the round node which the first puzzle teaches them. It’s extremely trivial but I thought it worth mentioning as an idea.

  28. Since I don’t play often, I do not have a video card installed, using the GPU unit of the CPU. But I want to start to play this game, so .. where I can find the hardware requirements?

  29. Matheus Zingarelli

    Yay! Great way of starting 2016! I really enjoyed the music in the trailer (is it from the game?).

    I do hope you’re invited to show more of the game in one of the future Playstation Underground videos.

    Cheers from Brazil!

  30. Wow, I can’t believe I’m finally seeing a release date for this!!! I’ll admit I’m going to miss the feeling of seeing updates to this (and the promise of something great continually around the corner). Could we get some info about VR support? I would pay extra for this, and willing to wait to play in VR so I can really be transported to the Island.

    • Absolutely, I’m definitely looking forward to playing this on Rift.

      • As far as I heard, VR support won’t be available at release. Also Jon mentioned, he only likes Valve’s VR soultion, so other VR devices might not be supported.

        • While that may now be the case, Rift support was shown on the blog shortly after the Vive post.

          Personally, I’ll be getting the Vive, but with any game that’s having VR ‘retrofitted’, RoomScale is almost certainly not going to be key to the experience, if supported at all, at which point, there doesn’t appear to be any significant gulf between the two.

          Jon may well have a preference, but I can’t see it being to the point of making The Witness VR exclusive to either device. Having said that, I can imagine some mind-blowing RoomScale puzzle games. Unfortunately, presumably it’ll be too niche to be the home of BlowGame3.

  31. This is going to be a masterpiece. Also, I’m happy to finally get some closure regarding the release date. Now I can finally go on throughout my day without that lingering question in the back of my mind of when The Witness will finally be playable! Can’t wait to play :)

  32. Jon,

    On your latest PlayStation blog post, you showed a comparison of file counts in the game. I noticed that you put 1 file for the entities. From what a recall from your previous blog posts (on here), I thought you had decided to have a separate file per entity in the game. I think this was when you were working on a concurrency system. Did you switch back to only having a single file to hold all of your entity data?

    Best,
    Chris

    • There’s a difference between the files we use for development and the files we ship with the game when it is packaged for people to play. The numbers I listed are for the packaged version; there, all the entities are packed into one file for efficiency purposes (and they are stored in a binary format, rather than text, which is how they are for development).

  33. There’s 126 days left until 0126-2016 oO
    So excited!

  34. In the trailer, the goal mountain is one of the first things seen when emerging from the house: looming in the background directly over the first open tutorial puzzle. I thought that was a great touch.

  35. I’ve been meaning to comment for a long, long while now, but I finally figured that I would today after seeing the trailer for the umpteenth time now whilst on my lunch break.

    The Witness has been my most highly anticipated game for a couple of years now, and I’m so glad to hear that it is nearing release. It’s looking beautiful, and thought provoking.

    My question is a bit of an odd one; my partner (who will be my wife in just 2 months) has issues with 3D games, particularly when motion blurs and intense perspective come into play. I feel that The Witness is a game that I want to experience by her side, but I am unsure whether she will be able to tolerate it without getting ill.

    Long story short, is there an option to adjust the Field of View in The Witness? As an example, she can play Minecraft of the lowest FOV setting just fine, but struggles if it is any higher.

    Thank you, I am very much looking forward to the game regardless :)
    Josh

  36. What is the music used in this trailer? It’s lovely.

    The game looks amazing; I’m really excited!

  37. Nevermind, I found the source of the music — the song is called Escape Artist and is by Zoe Keaton, in case anyone else is curious.

  38. Is this game going to be hard? I Like Myst like games and all puzzle games normally, I know this is not like Myst but.. I don´t like easy games.

  39. I know a lot of time developing the game was spent on building the engine. Do you plan on using the engine for possible future games, or is it too specific to this game to be recycled? Or, alternatively, do you see the engine as a work in progress that you’ll augment for future projects? Any chance of releasing the engine for others to use? My grasp of coding and engines is tenuous, but I am interested in pursuing game design in the future, so I have a sort of peripheral curiosity towards it.

  40. Finally, my five year wait draws to a close! I’m so happy that the Thekla team was able to make this great game a reality.

    It’s interesting to think that the original Myst is credited as being the “killer app” that caused many people to adopt the CD-ROM drive. Now this game (a homage to Myst) is gonna make me finally ditch my old laptop from 2009 and get a current-gen PC that can actually run it. I’ve seen quite a few people make similar comments: “Bought a PS4 just for this game.”

    Though the phrase would probably make Mr. Blow cringe, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Witness became the “killer app” of this generation’s hardware.

  41. Good trailer.

    I just hope the game’s revenue will not get hurt too much by completely missing out on Christmas sales. I will very probably buy it anyway. There are definitely some people though who spent lots of money in December and then in January, they are broke. :-/

  42. I am glad to see the game finished, after having followed this blog for so long. How much it is? 5 years now, since when i started in late 2010. Or was it early 2011? Seems like eternity.

    Don’t forget to post one absolutelly final Island Snapshot. A symbolic end. You deserve it and we deserve it. I think i will make another slideshow ( There was one many blog posts ago)

  43. Congrats on setting the release date! This has been my most anticipated game for many years, but I’ve been happy to wait patiently. I trusted this team would only release when they knew they had something special. I can’t wait to play an honest, thoughtful, and ground breaking puzzle game.

  44. Doing the happy dance here. My online friends are sick of hearing about this incredible puzzle game that has taken a bit longer to finish than anticipated. At last we have a release date. It looks wonderful. Sign me up for the first copy (or at least the first day).

  45. For E3 last year you made daily updates on the preparation for e3. Would you do something similar for launch? Maybe weekly updates about things that need to be done to launch the game. It would be interesting to see how much work you have to do in the last few weeks and what you are doing to get the game launched.

  46. I first off wanted to say thank you to any and all involved in The Witness that may be reading this. Your work and passion for making games like these has inspired me infinitely, and given me hope that art is still very alive in video games. Great work with the trailer, and I wanted to let you know that you keep my outlook on life that much brighter with your extremely unique, passionate style that you apply to your work and games. See you at release! I’m so honored to be able to share in this experience that you’ve created. Congrats and best of luck.

  47. Hello, the new trailer looks great.
    I’ve been visiting this site from the very beginning, at least once a week, never dared to write a comment though. The work you and your team are doing here is exciting and inspiring.
    Braid fascinated me when I played it back in 2008. It raised my interest for independent games and I started playing a lot more of them. Although I really enjoyed games like World of Goo, Fez, Flower and Journey, art games like Passage, The Marriage and Papers, Please, as well as some AAA games (Ico, Dark Souls, The Last Of Us), Braid has remained to be my favorite game so far. (I’m quite confident that this will change in January though.)
    I’m a bit reluctant to phrase it like that, but by now, I guess you could say I’m a fan of yours, Jonathan. I watched all of your lectures available online. I particularly liked the 2007 Keynote Lecture about the “How and Why” of game development, which changed my attitude towards the medium of video games in general. I’m currently studying Compute Science; if I ever end up developing games, I will make sure to adhere to the ideals you mentioned: vulnerability, meaningfulness, respect for the player’s time and intelligence, as well as some others.
    As far as personal admiration is concerned, I even went so far as to watch Mulholland Drive way too often, read the Dhammapada as well as Invisible Cities (I pinned the Thekla chapter to my wall, right next to my computer – together with the Chloe chapter which I liked just as much). Although I cannot say that I understood all of those works, I definitely enjoyed them very much.
    I really hope all that doesn’t sound too creepy…

    Long story short, I really appreciate what you are doing. Looking forward to the release of The Witness, as well as your next games after that.

  48. Very excited for this and have been for a long time!

  49. it would be nice to see posted on this site the official screenshots that have been circulating in recent reviews :)

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