Entering the Home Stretch

We’ve been averaging about a blog post a month — not by design, it just works out that way — which means if we stick to that pace, then in just one more posting, the launch of the game will be imminent.

Well, I think we will post a little more frequently, because we’ll have increasing amounts to say about the game as we get closer to release. In the meantime, here’s:

(It is longer than Long Screenshot #1!)

Voiceover

This week we just finished recording the majority of the final voiceover. We’re going to do a little more in early January, but most of it is in the can. After New Year’s we’ll make some postings where we announce who the voice actors are (you may know some of them from other recent games!)

Physical Box Release

We’ve had some people asking us whether there will be a physical retail release of The Witness. It’s seeming likely, as we have been in talks with a couple of parties for a while about that possibility. *However*, it looks like if there is a retail release, it won’t happen until a little bit after the digital release. The reason is just that we need all the time we can get up until the release date in order to get all the finishing touches into the game; but because of the lead-time involved in physical manufacturing and distribution, we would have to freeze the game right about now in order to have it on store shelves for the release date. *Or* we could delay the digital release date in order to wait for the physical. But I don’t see a good reason to do either of those things. I would rather just focus our energy on making the game as good as we can make it, and a retail version can lag behind by a little bit.

What Else is Going On

We’ve gotten the bulk of the translations into the game for all the languages mentioned in the previous blog posting. There is a small percentage of text that will come in a little later, but for the most part those languages are in. Also, we will be adding Hungarian to the list of languages suppoorted at release.

Here are some screenshots of Arabic and Russian:

Arabic

Russian

Of all the languages, supporting Arabic took by far the most programming work, and as you can see from some gaps between the letters, and a couple of cases where letters are too close to each other, it’s not quite done yet. I will be working on that as soon as I finish with this blog posting! But I think even with these issues it is starting to look nice.

We’re doing *lots* of little gameplay fixes all around the island, like, what does collision feel like in this area when you bump into things, what happens if you are standing in this doorway and the door tries to close on top of you, all that kind of thing.

Visuals are mostly locked down at the moment; we are no longer changing big things about how the game looks, we’re more making spot-fixes here and there every time we see something we don’t totally like.

62 Comments:

  1. Hooooo-leeee moly. Best wishes on the final pieces over the next month!

    Assuming that these videos and past aerial screenshots are created using a dev tool to float about the island wherever desired, will there be a mode accessible to players to ‘leave gravity behind’ and accomplish the same feats?

  2. Yes! No clip would be great.

    The water is just beautiful, especially the refractions.

  3. I would love a physical copy for my shelf but there is no way that I am not getting this on day one.

    All of the games I am getting for Christmas will be dropped the second this appears on the store.

    Good luck with the final push.

  4. I wonder if I get to play on release day, or not. It just happens that my computer doesn’t have Windows or OS X, and according to many people PC with Linux doesn’t qualify as a PC even though PC isn’t a synonym for a computer with Windows right?

    Anyways I wish for more news about release platforms and distibutors. The visuals are great, especially the bloom effect and clouds. It has a very MYST-like setting in many ways.

    • There won’t be Linux support on release day, no.
      As for whether we do it later, it remains to be seen! From a commercial standpoint it is not really justified; from a technical standpoint, I don’t even know how well we’d ultimately be able to get the game to work given the current state of graphics on Linux, but it might be something we’d try at some point.

      If we could get to a future where we didn’t require highly complicated 3D graphics APIs in order to render, porting would be a lot easier; the portions of the game that are in C++ and are independent of rendering are comparatively easy to port. But that seems not to be the world we live in right now.

      • You know John, you game looks good, actually pretty good. Im interested in the game, your post draw my attention so I want to share my humble opinion.
        Commercial Standpoint? Maybe companies like Capcom/Techland/2k and other AAA and indie developers knows something you dont or viceversa because they still are announcing support for SteamOS/Linux for some of their games, perhaps they are crazy or you have the wrong data.
        Highly Complicated 3D graphics API: I tought UE4/Cryengine/Unity 5 did that work? In the case you use your own engine, well. But we already live in a age when we can just export the game for every platform outhere. Of course most AAA developers still are using their own graphic engines which sometimes works, sometimes dont.
        In the Steam Hub some people said you are some kind of “linux hater”, because supossedly you said that Linux desktop experience is bad for an average user or something like that, but this not about if we like something or not, isnt it? I dont like Apple products but I cant denied the fact that If I was a game developer I will be releasing the game for MAC, because there are potential customers there as they are on Linux. In the case I dont know how to do it, I could hire someone who knows if the Windows version does right(in terms of money) and I think the Witness is doing all right on Steam right know.
        Well just want to share my two cents, and good luck with the game or any future project.

        • We released Braid on Linux and not many people bought it there, and the support burden was very high. The Witness is a much more expensive game to port, and because it uses more serious graphics functionality, the support burden will be even higher. There is no way enough people are going to buy the game on Linux to support the port financially, unless something drastically changes in the Linux ecosystem. So if we do it, it will just be because we want to do it. But right now it’s not a priority.

  5. Any word on when the game will be available for preorder? Just wondering. Also, not sure how much thought you’ve given it, but a Playstation Vita port would immediately draw the attention of the guys at Kinda Funny, basically the backbone of the Playstation community, and the central figures in the media. Just an avenue of effective media coverage, and I would love to play this game on the go. Can’t be far off from the iOS port for iPads right? I don’t actually know, but I would think it’s worth considering, from a marketing standpoint at least.

  6. Thanks for the update and for the screenshot, it looks and sound amazing.

    The transitions between the different “biome” is really well done . One minute you’re in the middle of a desert, the next you’re in a green forrest.

  7. this whole thing looks so incredible and i know almost nothing about it

  8. Awesome! Keep up the good work.

  9. About preorders, we don’t know yet, we are still figuring that out.

    One reason I may not want to take preorders is that if we do for some reason delay the game a couple of weeks, I don’t want people to feel miffed because they already gave us their money. Or something like that.

    (I am not saying a delay is likely; just that if it came down to it and we had to fix something that took a little extra time, I would rather take the time to fix it than release a broken game.)

    • Yeah I was pretty sure that would be your reasoning. Although I, like many, would’ve thrown money at you a few years ago, and am part of the crowd who expects delays over broken games. You could always juice it up with incentives though, free theme, ambient environmental noise OST, $3 off, I’d like the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you shut up and took my money.

      • Since Jon didn’t go for crowdfunding, things like preorders are not likely as well. (I guess “no pressure” is Jon’s primary motivation? ;P)

  10. The only reason I would go for the physical copy is:
    – I don’t have to download the whole thing (my download size each month is limited)
    – The physical copy might have artwork or a little book that I would otherwise not have…
    So, maybe I will wait this one out…

    Also, I noticed that this long screenshot starts at the same place that is shown in this screensaver: http://the-witness.net/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/desktop_Final.png
    (not really important but wanted to point it out anyway :-) )

  11. Forget December 25th… January 26th is my Christmas.

  12. This might just be the best looking game I’ve ever seen.
    I wish there were a whole lot more games that used a cell shaded style because it has really started to bring the visuals in games to life in a way which I just haven’t seen before.

  13. I’m curious about the retail version. Would you have it require linking to Steam as a DRM measure or some other measure? Or were you thinking of having it just be an install disk that can be reused without need of a key?

    • I sure hope the first one (or the retail version containing only a key for downloading on Steam) is not the case! DRM is meaningless; it just adds to the trouble of genuine buyers.

  14. Can’t wait for the announcement of the voice actors.

    It’s Jack Black isn’t it?

  15. I assume that this means no JAI updates for a month or two?

  16. Jonathan, will the PlayStation VR be supported upon its release in Q2?

    • Not at release. There is a chance we might do something later but I am not sure how high a chance that will be.

      The best VR games are going to be games that are exclusively designed for VR, which this one is not since I started designing it in 2008!

      We will probably do support in The Witness for a few VR platforms at some point, but I think if you are going to buy one you should be interested in games that were designed for that platform from the ground up.

      • Makes sense, however, I think you accidentally created potentially the best VR experience to date without exclusively designing for it. My idea of good VR is to go somewhere I can’t actually go and explore leisurely. Sounds like the Witness! I think it would be well received but it makes sense that you aren’t focused on that since none of the peripherals are even out yet. Fingers crossed that my second play through might be virtual!

        • My thoughts exactly. I was never expecting them to add it but was really hoping. This game is the perfect example of a VR game from what we’ve seen. Hope we’ll get to experience it eventually.

  17. Very exciting! I am now the proud owner of a PS4 (great Black Friday deal I couldn’t pass up) so now I’m all set and ready for Jan. 26th :-D

    ~Paulogy

    P.S. Love that new long screenshot. All too often you are asked to blast by all sorts of details in a game, on the way to the next objective. Or when you do stop and take a moment, you notice how one-dimensional the world seems. So it’s quite refreshing to see a game world made for lingering, close examination, and reflection.

  18. I have to voice the fact that I am intensely interested and immensely excited for the release of The Witness, though I am leveling my excitment simply because there is no conceivable way for me to play the wonderful looking game. I am a humble, yet tortured Xbox gamer (a title I wish would hold less judgment) and therefore I am unable to play such fantastic looking indie and full budget games as The Last Guardian and Firewatch. The Witness is by far the most fantastic game concept I have seen in a long time (and surely a great game) and I would love to play it on my VCR of an Xbox One. I simply would like to know, Mr. Blow, wether a port is in the works or should I reside in my “Witness-less” gaming room forever.

  19. I pre-ordered my release day PS4 almost exclusively on the strength of The Witness reveal, and I have been patiently waiting since that day to get my hands on it. (I think I have a pre-order of the game since then also :) )

    This year I was lucky enough to attend the presentation Orsi gave at Siggraph on developing the world within The Witness (computer connection hiccups aside) and have to say that made the wait even more unbearable, for all the right reasons.

    As someone that loves landscape, architecture and games that allow for moments of reflection I think my waiting will be rewarded many many times over. I’m looking forward to finally getting to experience this, and offer my thanks in advance to you and your team for your time and effort in making games of this style and quality.

  20. I loved the Myst series. I glad to see you keeping games like this alive. Some of the snapshots I have added to my Myst photo folder.

    Just one question. I have looked all over the internet and I would like to know if The Witness for PC will be a stand alone or will I need to use Steam? I have use Steam before and gameplay does slow down when my internet slows.

  21. I’m also curious about what the digital distribution method will be, but I understand if that’s not decided yet and that’s why we haven’t heard anything.

  22. This is sad. I’m really starting to think about not buying the game at release and wait for a physical copy D:

  23. Steam is very unstable I will wait for the CD/DVD or download from someplace else if the do decide to have more then one download site. I stopped using steam along time ago. It does not feel right so I might have to wait a little longer.

    • Steam had one problem for a few hours on one day and everyone wants to freak out. Sigh.

      • Being “outraged” and “boycotting” is especially in style right now. It’s also popular to come to the defense of hypothetical people right now. “I personally don’t care, but they shouldn’t do that for the sake of people that do,” is a very common comment.

        It’ll be a distant memory by the end of this month. I’m betting sales figures won’t show any hint of this supposed loss of faith.

    • I’ve got my 10 year badge on Steam and have somewhere around 400 games in my account. I can’t actually think of a time in the last decade when I couldn’t play or download a game because Steam was down. As far as I know, while Steam (like every large online service) has had minor hack incidents here and there, there’s never been a major data theft on that service. Unlike, say Sony’s PSN service which had 77 million accounts compromised and was down for 23 days as a result in 2011. Steam has been remarkably stable and safe for all of its existence.

  24. Now that the release date is well within reach, maybe we can get a release time? :)
    I would like to know if I should take the 26th or the 27th of january off from work. ^^

  25. Jon will you be doing another speedrun of the game before release? See if you can beat that 6 hour time from before :)

  26. Was the addition of Hungarian aided in any way by Orsolya being on the team?

  27. Hello Thelka and Mr Blow.

    I will buy the witness on January 26. I’m not rich so I buy my games on platforms like Instant Gaming, where they are usually cheaper.
    I would like to know if you are normally paid when selling on such platforms, cause there is no point in buying this game here if you don’t recieve any of that support…

    Thank you. And good luck with the launch.

    • No, developers make no money from sites like that.

      As far as I know, those kinds of sites get their keys by paying basically nothing for bundles/promotional deals and the like, then selling the keys at much higher prices later when the games are not on sale. (I am not sure where the keys for newer games like Fallout 4 come from, maybe the codes are pack-ins with new video cards or something, and people sell those?)

      Developers really do not like it. On my part, it means I don’t put Braid in many bundles any more, because I know a lot of the bundle purchases are sites like this just trying to act as a middleman.

      All that said .. I don’t know if I would discourage you from using a site like this or say that it’s wrong. If codes end up there, they probably aren’t stolen, they probably came from some time when a developer or publisher was selling these things at a very steep discount… they didn’t expect someone to turn around and resell it, but I am not sure that such reselling is unfair or unexpected. So maybe this just affects the market dynamics, so that a developer selling their game for 50 cents in a Humble Bundle stops being a thing that people do. In one sense that is kind of a loss for gamers, but on the other hand, maybe it’s fine, maybe that is preferable to a world where we have some kind of draconian laws preventing you from reselling things you bought.

  28. Thank you for the information, I’ll buy The Witness directly on Steam then.

  29. If you are playing on PS4, then it will be available when they update PSN at 6PM Est (or 3PM Pst)

    Why? Because Sony are not very punctual when it comes to updating their store… Been that way for ages, actually it’s the only thing I currently hate about PSN at the moment

    • Thanks Dangerzone. I did not know that.
      That means it will release at 00:00 on January 27th for me then (Belgium).
      Guess it will be a long night :D But so worth it.

  30. So excited guys. So excited.

    I don’t even know what to think or feel. Trying to be as zen-like as possible.

    This is going to be monumental.

    : )

  31. To my mind, this game is already a triumph. And that’s not errant hyperbole. To set about willing such a creative work into existence…the game design sensibilities…the hard work…the vision. Frankly, I am overjoyed at the attempt alone. Thank you, Mister Blow and team.

    Not much longer to wait now! :D

    On the topic of VR. Over the last couple of years it’s become harder and harder to follow the development of this game and not ACHE to wonder around this island ‘in person’. But realistically, I think we will have to be patient and hope that as VR platforms mature add-ons/tools will be made available.

    I imagine the UI would need a VR-specific overhaul, which would not be trivial to create were it to feel organic and seamless and properly integrated into the experience not as a gimmicky afterthought. There are lots of unexpected useability issues with VR that tend to arise. For example, the way the camera currently locks onto the puzzles would be potentially be jarring. Not to mention the gut-churning inherent to ordinary locomotion, which a teleportation mechanism might solve, at the cost of perhaps straying from the original feel of the game. In the meantime I wait and hope.

    But for now, the original vision is more than enough.

  32. I’m trying to not get excited too much, cause they are still working on the game and they could encounter a problem ( certification or else) and delay the release due to extra work.
    I wonder how Thelka team and M. Blow feel about this imminent release after 7 years of hard work, I guess it’s painful and satisfying as a childbirth.

    I’m gonna make a run of braid to wait until the witness came out :-)

    ( sorry for my bad english, it’s not my native language).

  33. Also wanted to say that it was really inspiring to read this blog ver the years, hope you’ll continue to communicate that way on your next games.

    Here is my favorite article : http://the-witness.net/news/2012/12/what-i-did-on-my-christmas-vacation/

  34. I absolutely love the ambient sound and folley. It’s a dream of mine to be in that line of work. The potential for creation, and it’s attachment to emotion is fascinating. Spectacular job, I was captivated throughout.

  35. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then thanks for this 9902542 word post.

  36. Hey Jonathan,

    I can’t seem to find any updates on wheter or not any physical copy will happen, are you guys still thinking about it, or will nothing happing? I’m really interested, cause I can wait if it will, but otherwhise I’m waiting for nothing and I want to play the game so badly. :D

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