I am a multiclassed game designer/programmer and I run a small game studio in San Francisco. A couple of weeks ago we released a game called The Witness; for Witness-related questions, we'll have some other members of the team on here answering questions as well.

Questions are not limited to Witness-related stuff, obviously!

If you do ask about Witness stuff, please spoiler-tag anything spoilery; don't presume that most people here have played or finished the game.

Proof: http://the-witness.net/news/2016/02/ill-be-having-a-reddit-ama-on-friday-the-12th-of-february/

Edit: The following other members of the team will be answering Witness questions:

Andrew Smith, programming: anchsm

Luis Antonio, modeling and texturing (they hate it when I say that and they want me to say "Artist"): castorpt

Orsi Spanyol, also "Artist" and designed some of the puzzles: Orsi_Spanyol

So, this is a pretty good variety of people who can answer questions about all portions of the game. So you can feel free to ask detailed stuff about the engine, the modeling, et cetera!

Comments: 2165 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

x70x446 karma

I believe in Indie Game the Movie you expressed a sense of depression after the release of Braid. Could you elaborate on why you felt that way, and has the release of The Witness given you a similar experience? Are you more satisfied with the launch of The Witness or does the creative process always result in a sense of "post-game depression", at least in your case?

556pm207 karma

I'm not OP, but I think that was upon release people didn't look past the surface of the game. I remember they showed him seeing YouTube videos of Tim's time manipulation/mechanics being poked fun at.

Braid is about many things, but it's not about slapstick comedy.

Jonathan_Blow1527 karma

It is easy to get the wrong impression from the movie, because like all movies of that kind it is a quick summary of ideas.

The real thing that bothered me was not response from players, but from pundits or critics. I felt like they all came from this English-major kind of school of thought and only wanted to talk about the story part of the game as the bit that had meaning, when in fact the game design and other aspects of the presentation are obviously very important. I felt like there were many folks proclaiming "we are the people who are smart and who understand video games, and we will tell you what this game is about!", but those people had a very poor understanding of the game! The thing that really bothered me was that these people, if loud enough, might permanently damage the way the world sees the game... in the first couple of weeks this seemed pretty likely, but as time has gone on, it hasn't come to pass. Not too much anyway.

In the movie it seems like I am worried about players generally, or Soulja Boy or something, but that is not the case. It was pundits.

bkbro215 karma

How do you create a puzzle that is in that middle tier of "not an easy 1st or 2nd try" puzzle, and not a "million attempts and taking a million notes"? How do you get the balance of the difficulty on those right?

Jonathan_Blow304 karma

I don't worry too much about difficulty. I like it when puzzles are hard sometimes, but if they are well-designed they will also be interesting if they are easy.

The real thing to be careful about is that if you make a difficult puzzle, you don't put it in such a place that it blocks people from experiencing most of the rest of the game. (Except in the endgame, which is supposed to be a difficult linear sequence that challenges you).

reindeer_frigate190 karma

Congrats to you and to your whole team on shipping such a brilliant gem. I can't believe I waited with such persistent interest for something for seven years that then somehow managed to be exactly what I was hoping for and simultaneously exceed every expectation I had. You absolutely nailed it in my book, so bravo to all of you.

You are #1 on my "people for whom I would buy a coffee to pick their brain for ten minutes" list, so I have a million questions, but I've tried to pare it down. I'm sure you'll have lots of questions here, so thanks in advance for any of these you choose to answer.

1) What's your recommended reading/input? Twitter accounts, blogs, books, publications, conferences anything. Any and all topics, but especially game news/criticism/discussion. I'm not a game developer but everything about game ideation, development and the history and future of the craft fascinates me, let alone playing and enjoying the games themselves.

2) How do you think single-player experiences will evolve from here? What will define the most interesting single-player games of the next few years? Will introspective, non-action-focused games ever transcend "walking simulators" and "puzzle games?"

3) In both Braid and The Witness, how important to you were the narratives/themes relative to the gameplay? My understanding was that the gameplay elements came first in both cases - did those elements inspire the themes you chose, or did you establish the themes independently and then look for connections with the gameplay?

4) Seven years... did you ever come close to declaring an "indefinite hiatus," or just throwing the whole thing in the dumpster? Did you have any kind of backup plan or another game idea you were developing?

5) Both Braid and The Witness are "slow" games, but you clearly appreciate speed as a gameplay element - both games feature measured speed runs in some aspect (I now strongly associate In the Hall of the Mountain King with stress; thanks for that) and you tweeted your personal start-to-finish speed run of The Witness prior to release. Will speed, and failure for lack of it, feature more heavily in your future games?

6) With which part of The Witness are you the happiest? The most disappointed? It could be anything, be it inside the game (some theme, puzzle, area, visuals, etc.) or out (the team, development process, etc.)

Silly bonus question: What player "sticking point" in The Witness has surprised you the most, and why is it "help me the ramp moved and im trapped in the sawmill"?

Jonathan_Blow210 karma

1) I am not sure I have many recommendations here. I feel like in the mid-2000s we started to see some really smart writing about games, but then the internet went all to hell before that kind of stuff really got solid. Today I don't know of anywhere you can go to consistently read smart game criticism. (And by criticism I don't mean reviews, but careful thinking about games). In fact if you read most of the stuff on the internet it is counterproductive, it will just encourage you to become indoctrinated into some current idea of what games should be. So I recommend staying away from it actually.

2) I do not have the ability to predict the future. It doesn't matter anyway because time is not a linear thing that flows from past to future. Everything that could possibly happen already exists, you just don't see it right now. So there is not too much of a reason to get antsy about it.

3) It is hard to answer this question broadly, because the narrative plays a different role in both games. In Braid it is out in front and is a major part of the game; in The Witness it is tucked away in the background and is more like something reserved for highly curious and motivated people.

4) No, I never came anywhere close to quitting, because I knew this was always the best thing I had ever worked on.

5) We will see! I have some ideas for games that explicitly involve being fast, and other ones that don't.

6) I am not disappointed with anything from the game. If we had shipped it early, I would have been -- I would have stories like you hear from most game developers, "well, we originally wanted to do X but we had to de-scope the game because it was obviously too ambitious", or, "we tried to do Y but we just didn't get it right and then we had to ship". No, that is not how we work here. We built an ambitious game and we made sure everything was good and then we shipped it. When you aren't being forced to ship by a publisher or by financial constraints, you can feel free to make the best thing that you can.

Some of my personal favorite puzzles are the ones with the most layers of depth and the most instances of surprise, such as spoiler and SPOILER, and then of course ****.

nildro188 karma

hello, jonathan

would it be possible to get casual dev commentary on the witness for the things your willing to talk about?

i'm imagining something like a stream or video where you wonder round with you and maybe some of the team and just chat about when you thought of things or how you thought people might react to certain parts. mechanical or philosophical i think it would be a fascinating thing to have alongside the more structured lectures you have done in the past.

Thanks for the game it has made a significant impact on me.

Jonathan_Blow203 karma

We might do that at some point, but it might also interfere with the quietness of the game (and with the other talking that already exists). I don't know!

OneManFreakShow181 karma

Playing The Witness, everything feels so deliberate. I have to wonder what your design philosophy was going into this game. Did you come up with the puzzles first and then design environments that fit those puzzles, or did you design the environments first and think of how you could create a puzzle around them?

Jonathan_Blow576 karma

First I designed a bunch of puzzles, then we spent a long time figuring out what the environments would be like, then we designed more puzzles and modified the old ones, then we refined our ideas about the environments, while simultaneously designing puzzles that would best-exploit those environments, etc.

It was an iterative process (and one reason why the game took so long to make!)

In fiction writing, there is this concept that you want every sentence to do more than one thing: you want to describe the setting and set the mood and introduce the character. You want to say what happened and show how a character feels about it and foreshadow a later consequence.

For some reason game designers never got this memo.

Maser-kun174 karma

I'm very interested in the programming language you're making, jai, and wanted to ask a few questions about that.

  • Now when the Witness is done, will you spend more time developing jai?

  • I recently came up with a nice syntax for casting, and also a way to handle multiple return values from a function. Is these kinds of ideas something you are interested in? I can imagine you get a lot of requests for stuff like that and might not have the time to take them all into consideration.

  • I know you are planning to release the compiler on github. Do you have any estimation of when that release will be? What do you still want to do before you release?

Jonathan_Blow162 karma

I have been working on the language again in my spare time this week! However, the first steps were to rip up the compiler and re-architect it in order to implement some ideas I've had about how to organize things better. It still hasn't recovered from that. Once I have all the old demos working again, I can move on and do a new one.

I am not that interested in syntax ideas right now. You can regard all the syntax for the language, as it stands today, as temporary. It is just a way of figuring out what the semantics of the language should be. Once those are nailed down we'll revisit the syntax and figure out how to make it nicest.

I don't know when the source release will happen, time-wise. It will be when the compiler behaves reasonably well as a standalone and people can start to make real software with it.

JamesWidman41 karma

Speaking of semantics, what do you regard as some of the more interesting open questions (e.g. pertaining to the type system, metaprogramming, control of memory layout, or whatever) to eventually answer with the design of Jai (presumably after a fair amount of experimentation/exploration)?

Jonathan_Blow56 karma

Most of the interesting questions are already answered, they just need to be refined.

One question is what we do about threading, if anything.

fserb154 karma

You gave an interview a while ago about bringing game design inspiration from other sources (like movies, for example). Could you talk a bit about what were your references (if any) while designing The Witness puzzles?

On a related note: In The Witness, you get to develop this "puzzle language" with the player without using any words: It teaches the player a language without assuming a prior common language with them. Did you do any research about this or it just came to you as you were designing the game? If so, do you have any references that you used that you could point us to?

Jonathan_Blow213 karma

The actual puzzles in The Witness did not have much influence from other areas, except maybe just math.

But the overall mood / theme of the game had a tremendous amount of influence from other areas. I'd list those here except that the game itself tells you what they are in a much more thorough way.

Did you do any research about this or it just came to you as you were designing the game?

My previous game, Braid, was the early research for this. In The Witness I wanted to focus on the kind of nonverbal communication that I saw happening in Braid.

In Braid, I had kind of lucked into it, though non-linguistic communication has been something I have been interested in for my entire life; I just sort of haphazardly found ways to explore it in game form at first, but once I saw it happening, I picked up on it and pursued it deliberately.

vili150 karma

The "language" of Witness includes symbols like dots, blocks, stars, and so on. What other symbols and puzzle types did you test, only to decide against using them? Were there any that survived for a longer time in development?

Jonathan_Blow166 karma

Usually if something was not working I would get rid of it pretty soon.

The thing that evolved the most is the shaping blocks from the marsh. At first the idea was just a symbol type that determined how many squares could be in a given region (but had no specific shape), and those could add together. It seemed in the abstract like this could lead to good puzzles, and "number of squares" is an orthogonal concept to some of the other designs, so it should then mix well with other puzzle types, which was of course a major design goal.

However, when I went to actually make puzzles with this idea, they did not end up being very interesting. Maybe I didn't do it well enough, or maybe it is just too accommodating of a concept. They would get more interesting when mixed with other puzzle types, as expected, but they didn't stand on their own, and that seemed like a weakness. So I kept working on it and after several revisions came up with the rule set that is in the game now.

Ljud8957 karma

Bonus question: Why did you pick the symbols that stayed? Why hexagon dots, suns, Upside-Down Ys?

Jonathan_Blow171 karma

I did not want the symbols themselves to be too linguistic or carry too much in the way of culturally-imparted meaning, because that would reduce the resonance and clarity of the non-linguistic communication.

Aside from that, I generally wanted shapes that were symmetric and simple, because those are the most aesthetically pleasing.

allingby130 karma

Let's start out hard, what was the 1% puzzle? has it been found? are we meaninglessly looking for more? TELL US MYSTERIOUS MAN.

Jonathan_Blow370 karma

This is one of those weird things the internet really picked up on that I didn't think was that important. I just, offhandedly in an interview sometime, was discussing how some puzzles are easy and some are hard, said "there's at least one puzzle that fewer than 1% of people will solve", as a way of illustrating the range of difficulties.

But somehow people picked up on this and it became A BIG THING ABOUT THE GAME. I did not mean it to be so.

I was thinking about the door in the shipwreck, but it doesn't matter that much. There are some other things approximately as hard as that, and "The Challenge" is probably harder, though who can really say? Everybody has different amounts of trouble with different things.

muthdra102 karma

What was the misterious 6 word description of Braid you once read in a forum?

Jonathan_Blow143 karma

It was an 8-word description!

TorrenceTheTurtle94 karma

What is your approach to creating puzzles? I have always loved how elegantly your puzzles seem to be constructed and I was wondering what your process is like when it comes to creating them.

Jonathan_Blow164 karma

It is about starting with an idea, exploring the consequences of that idea, and then curating those consequences so that players can best appreciate them.

That is a pretty vague statement but it's because when you go into detail about this, there is a lot to say. There are a few talks where we go into greater depth on this stuff:




MattRix78 karma

Hi Jon, I love the game and have spent a ton of hours in it, completing it 100% solo, and am now trying to piece together some unsolved mysteries (windmill left switch, windmill daisies, random clock screens pre-challenge, triangle puzzles, etc)

I don't need answers or hints, I just want to know if I'm wasting my time, so my only question is really: are there any unfound secrets, is 523 +135 +6 actually 100%?

Thank you for making this amazing game!

Spoiler for the quarry piece

Jonathan_Blow148 karma

The windmill left switch just turns the windmill off. (Unless there is a bug!)

As for are there unfound secrets, I can't totally tell you, because I have not been following very closely all the discussions about the game. (We have been very busy on post-release support!)

I will say that focusing on the things that are explicitly accounted for in the 'score' of the game is a little bit of a diversion. There may be a lot of things to notice or understand that are not counted in that way. So the idea of 100%-ing the game does not really make complete sense.

I always like to go back to my favorite books as examples. It is not meaningful to 100% Gravity's Rainbow or Invisible Cities. The very idea is absurd. So I am not sure why we are so eager to apply the idea to games, except that maybe historically games were simpler.

alkalait15 karma

So there's not much to the "click" sound whenever the windmill latches onto the next X position? That sounds oddly inconsistent with the meticulously placed sounds in the game.

Jonathan_Blow71 karma

It is probably just an old sound that we didn't correctly tune.

The windmill used to work very differently. It used to be more of a power generator for other stuff on the island, and there was a visual battery gauge that would fill up as it turned, and then there was a timing puzzle where you would turn it off and the battery started draining and you had a certain amount of time to go do something non-obvious before the battery ran out.

But that was too much like stuff in other games, and was not really related to the core ideas of The Witness. i.e. it sucked so I cut it.

The reason the windmill locks into certain positions is that the [REDACTED] puzzles involved with it used to be very different in shape and required the blades to be in certain positions. You would solve it by rotating the windmill into various positions and then locking it in those positions. But this was a little tedious and not too interesting, i.e. it sucked so I cut it. But I left the windmill locking in because hey you might as well; I think real windmills lock in place usually when shut down.

itprobablysucks31 karma

Many of us were chasing shadows about this windmill, thinking there had to be more to it. And there was: previous game iterations. The shadows were real after all, just not "in-game" real. I guess this is what happens when you cut certain things but leave some of the supporting machinery behind. I can't help feeling disappointed, but at least now I can lay my windmill-as-time-machine theory to rest :D

Jonathan_Blow50 karma

The Invisibles already did that, I don't want to copy. (Also it didn't make any sense since a big part of the plot was structured around 'real' time travel being difficult to do and such an important element, but he starts the story with 'fake' time travel that for all intents and purposes is exactly the same as 'real' time travel, and that is apparently so easy to do that the Marquis de Sade can just come and hang out with the team. WHATEVER GRANT.)

Zilean69 karma

Hey Mr. Blow, have you ever had people recognize you on the street whether from being in Indie Game: The Movie or because they were just aware of you and your work? How'd you react? Do you enjoy the stardom?

Jonathan_Blow181 karma

This happens sometimes. I don't really enjoy it, though! Usually I just don't know what to say to people.

On the other hand, though, being mildly famous has its benefits. For example, when we release a new game, it is easier to get the world to pay attention, which means we're more likely to make our money back and be able to make another game!

corporat55 karma

Are you surprised at all by the sometimes wild, often dismissive interpretations of the game’s story and endings? Do you have a favorite theory?

Also, could you tell us about some of the puzzle symbols that didn’t make the cut?

Jonathan_Blow60 karma

I have not read any of that stuff, so I don't know! I have been too busy working.

Elsewhere in this thread I talked about at least one of the heavily-modified puzzle ideas... Another one was the symbols in the treehouse. It took a long time to come up with that precise rule set; earlier versions were different enough that they should just be considered different symbols. (For example, "this thing must be completely isolated from any other symbol" -- seems interesting in the abstract, but in reality, either it did not lead to good puzzles, or I could not find the good puzzles).

pbrand52 karma

and I run a small game studio in San Francisco.

Why would indie devs set up in a city with such a high cost of living? It seems to me that you could save a lot of money by virtually collaborating with your missing elements (art, music, etc.) and live in a much cheaper area. It confuses me to see companies like Doublefine burn through so much Kickstarter money simply due to their geographic location. Aren't indies supposed to be more agile?

Jonathan_Blow94 karma

It is just where I live. We had an office in Berkeley but most people I hired wanted to live in SF because that is cool or something. So we moved the office over here.

Yes, it is very expensive, and yes, that sucks. But I personally do not want to live in Arkansas, and whereas there are other places that I myself could live, picking up and moving around a company of several people just doesn't work that well.

ymgve51 karma

Jonathan_Blow118 karma

I wore them when filming the ****.

nildro45 karma

the island has changed so much over the years. how did you handle the thorny subject of throwing away much of the work and starting again?

there are horror stories about bioshock infinite having whole sections of art replaced was it a challenge for you or the team to heavily revise things or was it part of the culture from the start so less painful?

Jonathan_Blow145 karma

There are different reasons stuff gets thrown away.

The most terrible reason is what happens in AAA a lot, where a project is being so badly organized that people don't really know what game they are making, or some suit decides that numbers will come out higher if we turn our RTS into an FPS in the 10 months we have between now and ship.

We didn't do anything like that. However, I do believe in the power of revision and in trying stuff out, seeing how it worked, then realizing how to do it better, and then doing the better thing.

So really, the game we shipped is more like The Witness 3. The made The Witness 1 and 2, we just didn't ship them, because we knew how to get to 3. But 1 and 2 were not wasted work, they were natural steps on the way to making the good thing.

vili44 karma

After seven years of waiting for The Witness (and it ultimately exceeding all my expectations!), there is now a Witness sized hole in my List Of Things I Look Forward To. Which upcoming games are you personally most excited about?

Jonathan_Blow74 karma




There are certainly some others I am not thinking of right now.

snake5creator43 karma


In the files of The Witness, I found character data for, as far as I can see, the only animated character in the game - the player character.

Why did you choose to name him Carl?

Jonathan_Blow147 karma

You guys are going to be disappointed in the real reason.

At some point earlier in development we bought an animation set from some online store and it was called Carl for some reason. Eventually we decided it was not going to work for us, and we wanted to replace it with our own animations. But the old filenames were already being used by the code so it was easiest not to rename it.

samred8137 karma

You once told me a story about the genesis of some of The Witness's coolest puzzles but insisted I not retell it. Now that the game is out and a lot of people have discovered that part, I'd love to hear it. It had something to do with another video game idea you had years ago. Wouldja couldja?

Jonathan_Blow25 karma

Dude that would be a massive spoiler for people who have not played!

espero36 karma

Did you try Linux in 2015 or 2016? It has improved lightyears. Please embrace Linux. We are many and we have money.

Jonathan_Blow60 karma

People always say it has improved, and then when I try it, I find the opposite: it has gotten worse.

My first Linux install was Slackware in 1991 (and I used various flavors of Unix before that). So I have seen Linux progress, generally, for a long time. I think Linux peaked a long time ago and has been sliding downhill for a long time. It needs to be rescued but for that to happen, the community needs to realize there is a problem and that they need to do things in a drastically different way. But I do not think the odds of this are high.

hardpenguin9 karma

He did and he was annoyed by many things (which is understandable), see this: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/low-linux-sales-of-democracy-3-leads-to-jonathan-blow-developer-of-braid-blasting-linux.5608.

I still don't think how would that stop one from releasing the game on Linux, especially if ports for other platforms, including OSX are considered. Hiring a contractor is always an option.

Jonathan_Blow47 karma

Because releasing a game on Linux is a GOD DAMNED SUPPORT NIGHTMARE and would MAKE ME MISERABLE TRYING TO RESPOND TO ALL THE PROBLEMS. Windows is already bad enough. Then on top of that, hardly anyone buys the game (but the support burden is so heavy because a large percentage of the people who buy the game have problems).

Also, don't believe the article, it is a clickbait headline. I have a lot more basis for making these judgements, for example, we released Braid on Linux. It was even in the Ubuntu Software Centre for a couple of years, until we pulled it because it had sold like 8 copies in all that time.

I can barely even get a Linux distribution running on my laptop after days of trying ... and you guys expect highly complex, high-performance 3D games?

dark-sun35 karma

Hi Jon. I really admire that you decided to spend all the cash from Braid on a new project. I was wondering, do you have any favourite "hidden gems" of under-appreciated games?

usegobos29 karma

Amongst the nuggest of truth discussed during your talk with Marc ten Bosch: * richness * completeness * surprise * lightest contrivance * strength of boundary * compatibility of mechanics * orthogonality of mechanics * generosity

how do you feel the Witness shines against those metrics? I don't intend to criticize what is an honestly amazing achievement, but I feel that one nit are the puzzles that reset and force you to walk back to rework a previous panel to get another chance. Does that burden the player for doing what they naturally want to do, instead of burdening the design on discouraging guessing?

Also is there any chance of a detailed technical discussion of panel code implementation similar to the Braid Game City talk? I would be particularly interested in how designers (you or others) created new puzzles. Was it effectively a vector drawing tool? And would be willing to discuss how you Spoiler

For those interested, the nuggets of truth talk is here. It is a great talk and invaluable when reflecting on one's own designs. The Witness blog has numerous and incredibly detailed discussions on the technical and artistic implementation The Witness. Thanks Jon for being so welcoming to the community for all of this.

Jonathan_Blow91 karma

Does that burden the player for doing what they naturally want to do, instead of burdening the design on discouraging guessing?

It's a game with objectives. When there are objectives, you are automatically talking about a situation that is not some hippie fairy land where the player can do whatever they want and everything is great. If you want to do anything with no limits, you can go to http://zombo.com.

As discussed in the replies, the panel solution checking is just straightforward search code, except that it has some early-out optimizations to speed things up. (For example, if you are checking a solution involving the square-piece-shapes, there are obvious things that can be computed very cheaply that identify many incorrect solutions, without you having to do the full search).

deadwanderer27 karma


It's been said ad infinitum, but thank you for The Witness. I've been blown away by it over and over, and my 3-year-old daughter and I have loved playing through the game (thanks to invisible walls, she can walk around the island without fear of falling or getting stuck, and complete lack of objectionable content means my wife and I can enjoy watching her learn to navigate, and remember where areas are and figure out how to get there).

My question: Are you considering porting The Witness to JAI once it's finished?

Jonathan_Blow15 karma

It is unlikely that The Witness would be ported to the new language since it is just too big and complex and too many subtle things would break. But who knows!

zackbanack26 karma

If you were able to legally acquire any game's source code, which would it be and why?

Jonathan_Blow89 karma

I don't think I am very interested in most games' source code. When you are a good enough programmer, you look at something and you pretty much know how to do it. At that point it just becomes a matter of time investment and quality of execution.

This wasn't true in the old days -- for example, when the original Doom came out, and then Quake after, lots of people were like, "what the hell, how is this even possible". But these days we know enough about how to make games that there is no obvious equivalent to Doom or Quake. We just know how to do things now. But if someone manages to do the equivalent of Doom in the year 2020, technology-wise, that would really be something to see!

rakkamar24 karma

What is something that you wanted to get into the Witness that didn't make it in the final version?

Jonathan_Blow43 karma

Also, I wanted to do something with shiny environment-mapped sculptures. But the problem is that fast computer graphics fakes the reflection effect on objects like this, and the thing we would have had to design was 'wrong' enough, compared to how it would really behave in the world, that I could not in good conscience do it. It would have just felt like a highly-contrived, low-value hack. Maybe someday when real-time raytracing becomes fast enough!

ClysmiC16 karma

It seems that more programming languages are being developed nowadays than there ever have been in the past, but most of the industry seems to be stuck in the same few languages because there is so much infrastructure built around them. I've been following the development of your programming language closely and have the following question:

Do you think it will ever be capable of becoming a mainstream (at least in gamedev) language?

I think your language has a lot of great ideas and I've already seen how powerful it is, but it'll be hard for it to dethrone C++ at all. Do you think your language will be able to gain traction, and what do you think that process will look like?

Also, will you be using it for your next game?

Note: loved The Witness, and love hearing you talk about language and game design.

Jonathan_Blow34 karma

I do think the language can become mainstream if I make the right decisions and shepherd it well and also have some luck.

The idea that C++ is hard to dethrone does not make sense. Sure, it has a lot of inertia, but the status quo always has a lot of inertia, until it doesn't. Do you think people will be programming in C++ 100 years from now? That seems very unlikely to me. So the question is not if people transition of C++, it is just when. And the question of when seems to depend quite a bit on what alternatives are available and how good they are.

I will probably use the language for smaller side-project games at first but eventually will scale it up to big projects, yes.

panic16 karma

7 years is a long time to work on a single thing. How did you stay motivated to finish? Were there any low points that you had trouble getting through?

Jonathan_Blow40 karma

There are low points, as with anything, but you just know what what you are working on is good, and you keep going.

7 years is not that long. If you watch a movie like Jiro Dreams of Sushi you'll see someone who is very serious and for whom 7 years is no big deal.

sweenster9813 karma

Big fan of The Witness!

I haven't completed every single puzzle in the game, but I did earn the platinum trophy and I want to thank you for the awesome experience!

Now for a question: A lot of people have been criticizing the game for it's lack of a traditional story, and I'm just curious to hear about design process behind the stuff that was implemented. Do you feel like the story is secondary to the gameplay, or is the story part of it? Also, why are the theater clips so incredibly long? I honestly wasn't able to finish them.

Jonathan_Blow73 karma

I am not really interested in what people have to say about the game. I designed the best thing that I know how to make. If other people disagree that is fine, they are free to disagree.

If you don't want to watch the theater clips, don't watch them. That is pretty simple.

What I do find a little offensive is this idea that games are supposed to be fan service, that if someone doesn't like something in a game of mine, that I am somehow accountable to them for that. This is obviously nonsense. Everybody likes different things. If you were only allowed to make things that everyone likes, or if you had to remove something anytime someone didn't like it, you would never be able to make anything.

yokel856 karma

What genre does your next game project fit into? You've said it's not a puzzle game, but I don't recall reading what it is. Too early to say?

Great job on The Witness, by the way. It's one of the best games I've ever played, and I'm not even finished with it yet.

Jonathan_Blow16 karma

It is too early to talk about the new stuff; we may change our mind about what we are making, or we may change the basics of the game so much that it becomes unrecognizable.