GDC 09 Approacheth

March 13th, 2009

This Game Developers Conference will be my third. At GDC 07 I was starry-eyed, in 08 I was totally jaded, but this year I am excited again because I’m giving a talk. Also, there are a great many people I have gotten to know over the past couple years who are all converging on this hotbed of hot game developer action. It will be great to see them.

The conference runs from March 23 – 27. My talk falls on Wednesday at Noon, in Room 3006 in the West Hall. It’s about Braid, of course, and that dangerous dance between inspiration, illumination, invention, intention, intelligence, intent, and intellect. I call it The 7 I’s, and all development studios should adopt this revolutionary and cost-effective methodology.

For those who can’t attend, I’ll look into providing a recording later on, unless it goes badly.

Last time, we looked at Tim’s house, full of doors to time-warping worlds. Each of those doors leads to a place in the clouds, called the “world and story screen.” It has two main features: 1. podiums presenting books with pieces of story, and 2. doors to the various puzzles of each world.

The way the story is presented in Braid is rather unique. As Tim runs across the screen, he passes a series of podiums. As he arrives at each one, it glows and its fragment of story appears overhead. Because the podiums lie in a path the player must necessarily cross, it’s assured that all players will be aware of the prose, although it’s easily skipped simply by declining to linger before any podium.

Beyond the podiums sits a row of doors. Initially only the first one is accessible; in time, all provide entry to their respective domains. Each door leads to a small area containing a handful of puzzles embodying the unique theme and time mechanic of their world.

Here is the world and story screen for World 2, from some time in 2006. (Pardon the low-quality jpeg.) All of these graphics are placeholder. The doors and podiums and cloudy floor were all created by Jonathan Blow. The background is a photograph which he either took himself or stole from flickr (just guessing). The Tim sprite is by Edmund Mcmillen.

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Russian gaming magazine Strana Igr continues to publish The Art of Braid in Russian. With permission from the editors, here are the first three installments.

Part I (PDF format, in Russian)

Part II (PDF format, Russian)

Part III (Russian PDF)

The Art of Braid has been picked up by Russian gaming magazine Strana Igr … in Russian. Here’s a pdf of the first installment, offered with permission.

Thanks to Chentsov Ilya!

Art of Braid at Gamasutra

August 5th, 2008

Gamasutra has published the first collection of the Art of Braid columns. This one combines parts 2, 3 and 4 with a new introduction.

Tim, the protagonist of Braid, visits various imaginative worlds during his journey, but in between excursions, he always returns home. Home serves several functions, and as a result was a complex and interesting area to design. It is the “hub” which links the different worlds, a place of repose and reflection, a “status screen” representing progress within the game, and a reflection of Tim’s character.

Here’s what it looked like when I joined the project. Each door leads towards a different world; within those worlds, Tim grapples with the laws of time and earns jigsaw pieces as tokens of understanding; he brings those jigsaw pieces back home and assembles them on the puzzle boards you see paired with each door.

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This entry is nominally about the title screen, but Braid doesn’t have one in the traditional sense. Most video game title screens are just like DVD menus: they show the title, usually some kind of collage or splash image, and present a list of choices: play, select chapter, configure this or that, etc. Braid starts immediately into the game, with no preamble. The game launches, and you are Tim.

This is what the title screen looked like when I joined the project. The protagonist, Tim, appears in silhouette on the left. The sky flickers gently with subtle particle effects. The music sets a calm, contemplative mood. (There’s also a ladder to the right of the sun, leading down to an unseen place. That’s a super-secret thing that’s been removed.) A billboard briefs the player on the controls.

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