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The Witness cares about you more than you know


Soon after launching his debut hit, Braid, on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008, creator Jonathan Blow issued a cheeky walkthrough tip on his personal site. In so many words, it said "suck it up and don't use a walkthrough" – a statement which many saw as reflective of a perceived "my way" attitude to game design.

Others saw it more expectantly, knowing Blow to be a perfectionist and not one to offer hints on his games. He hates games that hold your hand. "Treating the player like a baby all the time, I don't like that," he told me during an interview last week at GDC.

That's why he's designed his latest game, The Witness, to hold your hand just long enough to find the path. "What I do is I work really hard to not condescend the player and to not treat the player like they're stupid, but at the same time to follow good game design practices. This game has to be learnable, and there has to be tutorialization in it, but it's not patronizing tutorialization."

Unlike Braid's more linear pacing, The Witness is designed as an open world – albeit a very small open world – so that difficult puzzles can either be skipped (not all must be solved to reach the end) or passed by for later on. Blow said this was intentionally designed to respect the time of players. "It's more about crafting a small, heavily interconnected jewel that gives people the highest density experience, respecting their time that way. There's not gonna be a lot of walking around through empty lands in this game."

Though the game is looking more complete than ever, The Witness has no set platforms or launch window beyond PC and iOS, and "some time in 2012."

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