by Darius Kazemi on August 7, 2008

in braid,games

Braid is available on Xbox Live Arcade. It is one of my favorite games of all time–I am lucky enough to know Jon Blow, the game’s programmer/designer, and I was even luckier when he asked me to playtest the game for him. This means that six months ago, I got to play all the way through the game (albeit an earlier, definitely less pretty version). I even found some bugs.

I’ve actually been following the game since March of 2005. At the Indie Game Jam that year, Jon dropped by to hang out. He showed us an early version of the game that was entirely placeholder programmer art, and if I remember correctly, the level design wasn’t all that great. It seemed at the time to be just a platformer with infinite rewind, but I wasn’t looking too closely. A week later, at the 2005 Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC, he showed off the puzzles. I was hooked.

At GDC the next year, I saw the game again at the 2006 Experimental Gameplay Workshop. Braid had gotten much prettier by then, and more puzzles and mechanics were in place. Jon even showed off the game’s utterly brilliant ending, which I steadfastly refuse to spoil for anyone. I believe the game was also an IGF entry that year, and I played it a bit at the booth.

I corresponded with Jon every now and then about Braid, and I was surprised and happy when he asked me to test the game. And now I am even happier to see all the amazing reviews out there. But even cooler than that is what people are saying on Twitter. I like this one:

Braid didn’t even make me feel bad that I wasted time playing games.” (source)

Which is precisely what Jon was talking about in his “Design Reboot” keynote at the Montreal International Game Summit. Well, not precisely, as I would argue that not only does Braid not make you feel like you’re wasting time: it isn’t wasting your time.

I’ll write more about the actual game later, but I wanted to share some of my personal history with this game, why it means a lot to me.


Brian Shurtleff August 9, 2008 at 7:52 am

Ooh… I can’t wait now until I get back home to my roommate’s XBox360 to give it a try. I have been interested in Blow and Braid for a long time.

Can’t go wrong with a collaboration between Blow and David Hellman, who drew one of my favorite webcomics…

dsilvers August 14, 2008 at 9:47 pm

You don’t happen to have any inside info on when this comes out for PC do you? As soon as you posted this I watched the trailers and I am close to drying without it or a 360.

Ian Schreiber August 15, 2008 at 2:09 am

This game has been consuming my time all week. You’re right that it doesn’t waste your time, because you’re always working on unique puzzles — there’s no busywork, and there’s nowhere to get “stuck” (you can work on the puzzles in pretty much any order, so if you can’t figure out one of them just go to another).

And this is in contrast to Portal, which *also* doesn’t waste your time, but for a totally different reason: it teaches you how to beat it, and the devs playtested the heck out of it to make sure that you’d never be stuck for more than a few minutes, even though the game is totally linear and you have to solve each puzzle to get to the next.

I get the feeling that Portal kind of makes sure that you win, while Braid is more genuine in challenging the player and not dumbing itself down just to make you feel good. It’s a very different feeling, beating one or the other. And yet, I have a great time playing both, and I’m hesitant to say either one is anything other than brilliant. Even though they approach player challenge in almost completely opposite ways. Weird…

Darius Kazemi August 15, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Daniel, Jon’s official word is that the PC version will come out “soon” and I believe he has gone as far as saying “hopefully sooner rather than later.”

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