1UP have posted a neat little video interview with Jonathan Blow and David Hellman, the developers of time-bending indie platformer, Braid. (Is it me or are developers increasingly possessors of incredible names?)
Posts Tagged ‘jonathan-blow’
While they may not be the largest demographic in the world, for a certain group of gamers Braid is going to be the most keenly anticipated and closely watched game of the year. And while it’s a fascinating-looking, both aesthetically and mechanistically, it’s not entirely because of its innate qualities that there is such anticipation. The game was notable enough to win the 2006 IGF Design innovation award, but it’s still not because of that: it’s because Braid is Jonathan Blow’s first full game (Putting aside his glorious prototypes). He’s one of the major driving forces in the experimental end of the indie-field, hosting the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC. Most relevantly, however, he’s the indie-scene’s premier agent-provocateur. Decrying World of Warcraft as unethical and eviscerating Bioshock’s so-called moral choices will do that.
In other words, certain people are paying close attention to Braid for one simple reason: It’s put up or shut up time.
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Jonathan ‘Braid’ Blow has posted a recording and illustrative slide show from his talk at the Montreal Games Summit. It’s stirring stuff. Blow attacks World of Warcraft, describing the grind of leveling and the reward system inherent in that as “lying to the players”, and even suggests that designers should be ashamed of exploiting illusory level-based mechanics. He argues that games are, like film and literature, becoming a powerful medium in which creators will be able to make choices they can be ashamed of. He wonders whether games as they are currently executed could lead to a “societal problem”. Gasps and nervous laughter rises from the audience as Blow delivers his ideas, an audience which reportedly included uncomfortable-looking reps from Blizzard. (Blow argues that some game rewards are like drugs, while others are more like food. Good and bad. But we at RPS love both food and drugs equally, so we were a little confused about what he meant.)
Anyway, Blow goes on to attack Bioshock’s Little Sister dilemma, and characterises the Big Daddy as the sympathetic character of the piece. He compares the emotional response created Bioshock’s “big choice” to the frustrations people felt when they were forced to incinerate their Weighted Companion Cube in Portal. Could Portal’s approach, of using mechanics rather than character-based empathy (think of our response to Alyx Vance, or freed Little Sisters) point a way to better, ultimately more rewarding game design?
Blow’s argument is a little wobbly in places, but I think it’s constructive. You should have a listen.