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The Witness: An Open-World Puzzle Game on PlayStation 4

Jonathan Blow's Avatar + Posted by Jonathan Blow on Feb 20, 2013 // President, Thekla, Inc.

Hello!

We, Thekla, Inc., are a small independent development team located in San Francisco, California, USA. Our current project is a game called The Witness, where you explore a mysterious island and solve puzzles. Thematically, it’s a game about epiphany, that leap your mind makes when you instantly go from confusion to understanding.

The Witness

The game takes place in an open world, so that you can go wherever you want.

For a puzzle game, this is nice, because it means we can include real puzzles that challenge and surprise you. In a linear game, if you get stuck on a puzzle, you are usually just stuck unless you look up the answer; this is why many linear games shy away from puzzles with non-obvious solutions. In The Witness, we can make puzzles as difficult or as subtle as we want, because if you are stuck in an area, you can simply go somewhere else.

The Witness

However, we are not just trying to make hard puzzles. Some puzzles in The Witness are hard, but some are easy. However, even the easy puzzles are interesting, because every puzzle has a little bit of communication wrapped inside it. We work hard to make each communication as clear and interesting as we can. So when you work through a bunch of puzzles in the game, you have also experienced a flow of ideas, presented to you at a high density.

Unlike most open worlds, which try to be as big as possible, The Witness takes place on a compact island. You can run across the whole island in 1 minute 10 seconds, yet we have 25 hours of unique puzzle gameplay with no filler and no repetition. We have designed it so that wherever you are, if you want to change paths and go somewhere else, there are three or four different places to go, all within 20 seconds’ walk.

The Witness

We have been working on this game for 3 1/2 years and we are finally coming toward the end of development. It really is the best game that we know how to make, and we look forward to delivering these experiences to you on the upcoming PlayStation 4 console.

You can follow along with development of The Witness at the game’s site: http://the-witness.net

//Add Your Own

22 Comments

1

+ Insomnia999 on February 20th, 2013 at 6:10 pm said:

Great showing!
Hopefully you or Sony can discuss how the new Store and PS4 will be better for Indie devs. Is the pricing structure cheaper and more competitive? Is it a streamlined process to submit your games? How does it compare to Steam, iOS and others?

Can’t wait to see more!

Dualshock- triggers this time for L2 and R2?


2

+ Sethen on February 20th, 2013 at 7:37 pm said:

This is what I was looking for in the next next gen. Truly beautiful at every turn, the art surpasses anything I’ve seen before. I would really love to get my hands on this one, day one.

Just speechless!!!!


3

+ paulogy on February 20th, 2013 at 8:03 pm said:

Yay Jonathan! As I’ve been following the Witness blog for what seems like ages now, the highlight of my night was seeing you on stage (what a shocker!), followed by the world’s first look at that trailer!


4

+ Elvick_ on February 20th, 2013 at 8:43 pm said:

Really interested in this game.


5

+ YuuP-NuuH on February 20th, 2013 at 9:13 pm said:

SPYstation4 is not for me.. i think i see a Valve Steam console on my horizon..


6

+ Zunja on February 20th, 2013 at 10:07 pm said:

Very very interested in this game. I’d like to see more of what’s to come. I love the idea of a solid puzzle game on the ps4.


7

+ ELECTRONICM1ND on February 21st, 2013 at 2:51 am said:

please give us a hard time to solve these puzzles


8

+ Heavenly_king on February 21st, 2013 at 4:43 am said:

@5: Point the camera to the floor, or put a towel in front of it, is not that hard.


9

+ Faythi on February 21st, 2013 at 4:56 am said:

Looks really cool. Definitely a day one buy when it comes out for PS4. I’ll have to watch the videos for it more because honestly I had no idea how alot of those puzzles were solved lol


10

+ LRock414 on February 21st, 2013 at 5:11 am said:

Beautiful graphics. Looking forward to playing this on PS4. :)


11

+ Bjarno86 on February 21st, 2013 at 5:35 am said:

@8: Or better yet, just disable the streaming, as it most certainly will just be an option on the PS4.


12

+ T3DV0L70L1N4 on February 21st, 2013 at 6:57 am said:

I loved Braid, and I will get this.


13

+ DeathGazer on February 21st, 2013 at 7:15 am said:

You had me at “Open-World”

Day 1 buy whenever it comes out.


14

+ Mega-Sackman on February 21st, 2013 at 8:25 am said:

It’s really intriguing, and it looks way better than i expected!

Looking forward to this!!


15

+ GRIM__REAFER on February 21st, 2013 at 3:11 pm said:

What about PS One? Please put it on PS One for me


16

+ Sophronia on February 21st, 2013 at 3:15 pm said:

I’m SUPER excited for this game!


17

+ snakeeyes211 on February 21st, 2013 at 3:43 pm said:

Day one buy
Awesome looking game


18

+ lisatsunami on February 21st, 2013 at 3:51 pm said:

Open world puzzler so you can come back when you get stuck? Brilliant idea. Oh, the many games I’ve had to give up on because of forced linear progression. Such a beautiful world I won’t be the “put it on Vita or no buy” jerk on this post.

Will follow your updates on this so please keep us informed.


19

+ TerraAshura on February 21st, 2013 at 4:26 pm said:

So anyone else think this looks just like Myst? Not that that’s a bad thing, though. Definitely keeping my eyes on this one.


20

+ bmrskate on February 21st, 2013 at 4:48 pm said:

Looking forward to The Witness. I enjoyed Braid, so this is right up my alley.


21

+ plaztiksyke on February 22nd, 2013 at 12:51 pm said:

I am very excited for this, probably the highlight of the show for me. I hope that they have a PS4 native version of Braid (perhaps with 24-bit lossless audio?) available near the same time.

Speaking of Myst, realMYST would be a *fantastic* cross-buy release for PS3/PS4/Vita. I’ve been holding off on buying the iPad version because I want dual-stick controls and the big-screen surround-sound experience.

Really excited to see these great, artful games in 1080p native with 4x FXAA and HD audio :)


22

+ redemptivefrog on February 25th, 2013 at 8:03 am said:

I thought I would like this game, but I didn’t get much from the trailer. The puzzles, for example, I have no idea what’s going on there… perhaps this is an answer Mr. Blow and co will answer or show us with gameplay in the months to come.

PS, why do you have to be so condescending to other game makers? “It’s gonna be hard to follow all those… ex-plosions”

Every genre has its place. Some games are stupid, some games are huge and “cinematic,” some games are miracles (Journey, Unfinished Swan, maybe Braid? haven’t played it yet).

ugh


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