Posts Tagged ‘braid’

The History Of Overwatch’s Hero Abilities

Developers imitate each other, as do writers, musicians and artists, and Blizzard are the best in the business at it. No other company is so good at distilling the sweat of another’s brow and refining it into pure, unadulterated joy. Yet, while it’s easy to see in Overwatch the objective-based gameplay of Team Fortress 2, the team dynamics of League of Legends or the creative movement mechanics of 90s shooters, its various ideas can often be traced back much further, towards older games that the designers at Blizzard may never have played.

I’ve chosen ten abilities Overwatch’s heroes can perform and used them as the starting point for a jaunt through game history. What was the first game to feature grappling hooks, or teleportation, or time-rewinding? Find out below.

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A Good Puzzle Game Is Hard To Build

Making a puzzle game is certainly no piece of cake! Ha! Ha! Ha! *cuts wrists*

I love puzzle games. But it’s not beating them that’s the exciting part: it’s understanding them.

Whether mulling over a cryptic crossword or somersaulting through Portal’s portals, there’s a moment of epiphany which, for me, pretty much transcends all other moments in gaming. But how do you design a puzzle to best provoke that eureka moment? What gives a puzzle its aesthetic, its pace and texture? Why does one puzzle feel thrilling while another feels like a flat mental grind?

I’ve asked three of my favourite puzzle game designers to demystify their dark magicks: Jonathan Blow, best known for the puzzle-platformer Braid and currently hard at work on firstperson perplexathon, The Witness; Alan “Draknek” Hazelden, creator of Sokoban-inspired sequential-logic games, including Sokobond, Mirror Isles and the forthcoming A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build; and Jonathan Whiting, a programmer on Sportsfriends and collaborator with Hazelden on Traal, whose own games are a regular Ludum Dare highlight.

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Jeepers: Four Sided Fantasy Will Bend Your Mind, The World

Guess that's the, 'How many graphics will it have?' question out of the way, then.

Update: Four Sided Fantasy’s Kickstarter is now live.

Original: Wow.

I did not expect to stumble across a game of Four Sided Fantasy‘s clear caliber and inventiveness while lazily sipping coffee on a random mid-week evening/morning (depending on your timezone), nor did I expect to be interested in another puzzle-platformer in approximately the next ever again. But here I am. This one heralds from the level designer of student-made mindbender Perspective, and it’s about folding space, and goodness. Just go watch the trailer. It’s below.

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Witness Jon Blow’s The Witness In Motion

Apparently “PlayStation 4 will be the only console that The Witness is on” when it first launches. Which is a very un-clever way of saying, “and also, it’ll be on PC,” but whatever. We get an actual, factual trailer of Braid creator Jonathan Blow’s latest out of the deal, so Sony’s inhumanly lengthy, droning “pppfffthrp” of a commercial‘s no skin off my nose. But I digress. The Witness, if you’ll remember, is set on an open-world island full of laser puzzles. It also looks exceedingly attractive. I’m not sure what to think about the puzzles themselves, but it’s tough to get a bead on these things when you’re not, you know, solving them. Anyway, trailer ahoy!

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Music To My Thumbs: Transcribing Braid


Julian Benson asked if we’d like to see Braid transcribed into musical notation, and vice versa. We said yes. Here’s how he got on.

Gaming is one of the few media without an instructional notation. The other arts have tools to relate concepts into symbols that can be digested at a glance, allowing great detail to be condensed into a conventionalised code. Musicians use musical notation, movie makers – story boards, writers – short hand, linguists – phonetics, and so on. If musicians were stuck with the same methods we use – strategy guides, walkthroughs, and videos – each composition would be an interminably long tome that lost all immediacy and comprehension – “Pluck the G-string on the third fret, then immediately after the A-string on the fourth fret, pause, play the G string again”. The other arts developed their own notation systems, yet we haven’t. Why?
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Wot I Think – Indie Game: The Movie

The long-awaited documentary about the creators of Super Meat Boy, Braid and Fez is out now and available for download from its own site, iTunes or Steam. Here’s Mr Brendy C to tell you a few things about it before you spend your digi-groats on this much-feted film. Warning: could be said to include spoilers, if a documentary about some guys making videogames can be said to be spoilable.

Indie Game: The Movie is in the unusual position of being able to say it was using Kickstarter “before it was cool, man.” So it’s already vulnerable to the kind of folk who shout ‘hipster!’ at every twenty-something in a pair of milk-bottle glasses. Of course, our readers know better than that. As children, most of you will have undoubtedly been told the tale of The Boy Who Cried Hipster, the moral of the story being ‘don’t lie about there being a dickhead around, in case a real dickhead should actually show up one day to subtly insult your decor, or eat you.’ Being so well brought-up, I believe we can look at Indie Game: The Movie somewhat more fairly and see it for what it actually is: a good documentary which occasionally lapses into artificiality.
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Home Cinema: Indie Game The Movie Is Released

Men, at work

Grumpypants time: I worry slightly that focusing on Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid risks painting an extremely narrow picture of indie gaming, and as such Indie Game The Movie might be suffering from some of the same echo chamber issues that some felt this year’s IGF did. But hell, let’s celebrate that it has successfully brought an image of videogaming that isn’t guns/boobs/guns/boobs/guns/boobs/guns/boobs into another medium and be happy about it.

After what feels like years of promotion, the movie is finally out. But not in cinemas! No, right on your monitor. You can grab it from its own site, from iTunes or, a little later today, the Steams. I hear mixed reports, but I shall be in all likelihood watching it tomorrow and can report back more usefully then. Oh, and check back on RPS in a few hours to read young whippersnapper Brendan Caldwell telling you just wot he thinks of this here film.

Humble Bundle V Adds Braid, Meat Boy, Lone Survivor

Good blimey.

It’s arguable that the current Humble Indie Bundle is the best one yet. I’d argue it. I’m arguing it right now. But incredibly, it just got better. Added to Bastion, Superbrothers, Limbo, Psychonauts and Amnesia are Super Meat Boy, Braid, and bundle first-timer, Lone Survivor. Oh my goodness.

When speaking to Humble’s Richard Esguerra earlier today, I took the chance to ask him about what difference these extras can make. You can see that below.

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Indie Game: The Movie Coming To Steam

I’ve got a mighty fine idea. Why not point a camera at a bunch of creative sorts and let them speak their minds? That’s how Indie Game: The Movie was made, although I suspect editing the hundreds of hours of footage into something watchable, fascinating and entertaining was the hard part. Perhaps that’s why Swirsky and Pajot’s film won World Cinema Documentary Editing Award at Sundance 2012. Everyone will be able to watch it soon, or at least anyone near an internet connection, as it will be available as a downloadable purchase on June 12th. What’s most intriguing about this is that one of the download services carrying the film will be Steam. This leads to the obvious questions: will every film in the world soon be available on Steam and will Episode Three be a cinemovie?

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The Very Important List Of PC Games, Part 3/5

Our assembly of the definitive list of the most important PC games of the last 150 years continues! On Monday Dr Rossignol talked us through his first instalment, with an eye for first-personly shoot-games. Yesterday saw a guest lecture from Professor John Walker detailing another fifth of our unambiguous inventory. What classics will we cover today? Ah! We must remember our manners. First, let us all thank Intel’s AppUp developer program for their generous sponsorship. Now, to business.

To Business! >>

Impressions: Braid PC

What do you mean 'Meat Circus is behind me'?
On its initial release on the 360, Braid was one of the most critically adored, controversial and successful indie games of the year. I’m going to do an impressions post more than a traditional review, because I still haven’t finished the bally thing, but there’s stuff worth saying with it coming to the PC. The inclusion of a level editor is great. Having to use JoyToKey to play with a non-360 controller less so. But really, what’s important is to sort of reset newcomers expectation. The debate has confused things.

You’ll have seen this:
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Deconstruction Complete: Braid Level Editor

I’m going to post some thoughts on PC Braid later, but until then, here’s some exciting news. Jonathan Blow has just posted the instructions for getting the Braid level editor working over on the Braid blog. In a state-the-obvious-way, the ability to play whatever the community comes up with makes me enormously excited for the future of PC-Braid. It’s a fully functional editor, allowing you to fiddle with all variables – the example level features a fast Tim – and import whatever you fancy. I suspect you can now fastforward to the future where RPS makes a Braid level with a series of sketches of phalluses. Because we’re very mature. Go play.

Braid Demo


Greenhouse have posted up the PC demo of Jonathan Blow’s time-fiddling, award-winning platformer, Braid. It’s 120mb and contains a sizeable chunk of the game, with an option to unlock the full thing in exchange for $15. And, well, it’s pretty damn good. (It even automagically detects 360 controllers being plugged in mid-game.) Thanks to Aaron for the tip. We’ll be talking at greater length about Braid next week.

Braid Coming To Impulse, Others


[EDIT: Actual price for this is $14.95.] Exquisitely clever time-bending platformer Braid will finally see a PC release on March 31st, and the $15 pre-orders are up on Stardock’s DRM-free digi-delivery system, Impulse. Blow says: “”I’ve signed the game with 3 different online distributors. One of them, Impulse, has already announced. The other two haven’t put out their press releases yet, so I don’t want to jump the gun saying who it is.” (Thanks, Paul.)

The IGF winner is one of the most heavily praised indie games of the past few years, and has caused many people to say “beeeeoooowwwoop!” in earnest. Creator Jonathan Blow gave a memorable keynote at FreePlay in 2007, in which he both talked up Braid and described the reward scheme of World Of Warcraft as “unethical”. Braid trailer after the click.

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RPS Demands: I Want To Live Forever

Irony in a lollipop.

I have a challenge, developers. I know you’re reading. I want a high profile, big budget, mainstream action game in which the player character is invincible. I believe that the next truly great game will be the one that does this.

Games have come close. There have obviously been infinite lives for many. Mario, as he ages, becomes far more generous with his back-up existences – anyone who played Galaxy will know it was hard to have few than a few dozen laying around. Then of course there’s Quicksave, which creates an artificial invincibility, so long as you remember to hammer it frequently enough. And perhaps the closest to the goal would be time travel, with games like Prince of Persia and Braid demonstrating that you can have a great deal more fun if you’re not constantly condemned to death.

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Braid Gameplay To Tide Us Over

He has to be the least appealing looking lead character in a platformer ever.

Braid is, of course, currently out on XBLA, but it’s heading to the PC soon too. When? Well, “soon”. But we’ve seen evidence of working PC code, so it can’t be too long. And to acknowledge this, and its phenomenally positive reviews on Xbox, here’s a video that should hopefully get you excited to play it soon. It’s also a far easier way of explaining the use of time travel in a 2D platformer than confuse-o-words ever could.

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Games for 2008: Braid

Level 40 Dungeon Braid.

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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“A Societal Problem”

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.