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The Witness is Jon Blow's second shot at all or nothing


When is Braid creator Jonathan Blow's second game, The Witness, going to launch? None of your damn business is when. "When it's good," Blow told Joystiq during a GDC 2012 preview meetup. He's not even sure where The Witness will end up -- beyond PC and iOS, that is. "PSN a year from now? XBLA a year from now?," Blow said. It's possible, but more of a question of if it's worth the expense. The Witness is Blow's second ambitious attempt at crafting a story built around brilliant yet obvious puzzles, but this time it's a fully 3D world. A beautiful and complex one at that. And expenses are adding up.

He hired two new programmers not so long ago. Blow can't continue development forever, of course. "In the case of this game, the answer is also when I run out of money. Which may happen," he said. But wait a minute -- didn't Braid rake in boatloads of money and cost around quarter of a million bucks to make?

"Like I said, I just hired two more programmers and that's expensive. I'm spending all the Braid money on this game," Blow said. That's right: all the Braid money. Right on time, Chris Hecker -- SpyParty dev, hotel room roommate, and good buddy of Jon's -- shouted, "Crazy person!" To temper the jest at his friend's expense, Hecker admonished, "You attain orbit, and then you stay in orbit!"

The two laughed and Hecker joked that Blow would end up living in his house again, "just like with Braid." Thankfully, Hecker's daughter apparently "loves Jon ... he's Uncle Jon" -- Hecker said it'd look good if we noted as much in the article, at least.

The other option Blow has been exploring is launching The Witness initially on PC and iPad, then later following up on whatever the next generation of consoles brings. "In terms of next-gen consoles, the other thing I've been thinking about is maybe I just release on PC first, and then we just do the next Xbox and the next PlayStation when they launch in mid-to-late 2013," he said. "We just do a really good version of the game for those instead of a slightly worse graphics version for the old consoles."

It's unlikely, however, that the game will head to Nintendo's Wii U. "I don't understand why Nintendo thinks that the Wii U will be successful. I'm not betting on that," Blow told us. Not that he's against Nintendo's success, he just doesn't see the Wii U hardware as a competitive offering. "The WiiPad won't work when you carry it out of your house, and it also won't go as fast as your iPad," he said.

Again though, no animosity was intended. Blow said he'd be "happy to be wrong" in the case of the Wii U. "If it is, I'll be happy to target it, but I'm not .... I don't have a Wii U dev kit right now. Lots of people do. I just don't feel like it's that important. I'd be happy to be wrong."

The Witness demo we saw added major graphical upgrades to the game's island of mystery since our last visit, and Blow says the game is in the polishing phase at this point. There is still, however, one missing ingredient that we've yet to see about The Witness. One "magical gameplay moment," as Blow refers to it, that the game was built around. Blow assured us it isn't rewinding gameplay, and steered conversation away from the topic as not to spoil "the heart of the game, to me." Perhaps eventually we'll find out what that magical moment is.

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