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The Witness on PS4: New Development Details

Jonathan Blow's Avatar + Posted by Jonathan Blow on May 14, 2014 // President, Thekla, Inc.

The Witness

The Witness is a game where you explore an abandoned island and solve puzzles. We’ve been working on this game for a long time (It’s been more than five years since I began working on it, myself! The rest of the team joined at various times after that.). We don’t know the release date yet; it’s still officially “when it’s done,” but these days “when it’s done” is getting closer and closer. The Witness is an ambitious game with a lot of things for us to get right, and getting it right takes time; I don’t want to rush the game out at the cost of quality.

Here are some of the things we’ve been working on lately:

Design. All the gameplay along the “main line” of the game — the stuff you would expect to do from the beginning to the end of a standard playthrough — is done. But, this is a game that has a lot of extra things for players who are really into the game and want more; we’re still designing some of those extras.

Modeling and texturing. The Witness has a lot of different locations, and it’s very important that they all receive the same degree of care. Most of the island where The Witness takes place is fully modeled at this point, but there are a few important locations that are still in a draft stage, and several others that could use another pass of detail.

The WitnessThe Witness

Frame rate optimizations. At launch on PS4, we’re planning to render at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Right now we meet this target in many areas of the game, but not everywhere. But with more old-fashioned hard work, we should be.

Level-of-detail management and streaming. For example, making sure that it doesn’t take too long to stream in new parts of the world as you move. When we do stream in higher-detail versions of far-away geometry, we don’t want the graphics to pop, so we’ve recently implemented a smooth blend between LOD levels. The Witness is an open-world game with no loading screens; the feeling of just walking around and looking at things is very important. We work hard to make this happen as smoothly as possible.

Audio. Since The Witness is so much about a sense of place, the audio design is crucial. Right now there are 1.2 gigabytes of sound (Much of it compressed!) in the game, which represents over 40% the game’s data.

This last statement about the audio made me curious about what our data looks like, so here are some numbers on how much data is in The Witness. (These are all the size of files in the game as it would be shipped, not the source files!)

Texture Maps: 1,196 files, 446MB
Meshes: 4,588 files, 507MB
Sounds: 2,435 files, 1.2GB
Animations: 197 files, 0.6MB
Entities: 1 file, 4.3MB
Lightmaps (these are auto-generated): 17,916 files, 453MB
Total (including other files not listed here): 39,387 files, 2.7GB

It’s a lot of work, but we are now in the downhill stretch of the race and looking forward to tying the game up completely. We’ll have more updates for you before too long!

//Add Your Own

41 Comments

1

+ Craazy on May 14th, 2014 at 8:35 am said:

This is HUGE on my radar!


2

+ G-Force08 on May 14th, 2014 at 8:41 am said:

I have been dying to play this game. It has been one of the titles at the top of my PS4 upcoming games list. It’s always frustrating when we, as consumers, have to wait to play games but I completely understand why Mr. Blow and his team are taking their time.

I would much rather have a complete and well functioning game than a rushed out one that isn’t the best it can be. I’ll be looking forward to more updates and the release of the game! :)

Maybe I can get some hands on time at E3. Will the game be there?


3

+ OuterSpaceJunky on May 14th, 2014 at 8:41 am said:

I’m glad you are taking your time to get things right, Jonathon. As you said, no need to rush it out at the cost of quality.

We’ll be patiently waiting. Thanks for the update, and best of luck in this last leg of development.


4

+ paulogy on May 14th, 2014 at 8:44 am said:

Always great to hear how this game is coming along :-)

What’s the current puzzle count (thought for sure you’d have that in your list of numbers)?


5

+ Jakintosh on May 14th, 2014 at 8:46 am said:

While there are more and more games everyday that I’ll buy when I finally get a PS4, The Witness is what determines WHEN I buy a PS4. Keep up the good work Jon (and team!), I can’t wait for release!


6

+ DrApollo on May 14th, 2014 at 8:51 am said:

This game is looking beautiful! Cannot wait to see how the puzzles work into the environment.


7

+ Ryumoau on May 14th, 2014 at 9:06 am said:

I just hope this game isn’t as pretentious as Jonathan Blow seems.


8

+ stlthriot on May 14th, 2014 at 9:07 am said:

I love technical details and development updates like this!! :)
The game is looking absolutely fantastic!


9

+ TwinDad on May 14th, 2014 at 9:19 am said:

No loading screen, you have my further attention. The art looks great. Thank you for the information.


10

+ PanTheMan16 on May 14th, 2014 at 9:33 am said:

First, I’d like to say thank you for such a great post here. Many of us appreciated these insights and few people would even think to share them. I can see that you really care about this project, and that is going to translate into an amazing experience for the people who will experience it once it’s released.
The Witness has been high on my radar since I first saw screenshots of it, before PS4 was even announced. This is one of my most anticipated PS4 games and I patiently await this masterpiece. :)


11

+ billyok on May 14th, 2014 at 9:39 am said:

@7: People who speak intelligently and passionately about the work they do aren’t pretentious. Find a dictionary and look up the word so you understand how to actually use it correctly.


12

+ Doctor_Hank_Pym on May 14th, 2014 at 9:42 am said:

Jonathan, thanks for posting this update!! I’m such a huge fan of Braid (originally on Xbox, but re-purchased it on PS3 in the recent flash sale for a fresh playthru.)
I eagerly await The Witness “when it’s done”. Take your time, and keep up the great work!


13

+ SmokeAdellic on May 14th, 2014 at 9:57 am said:

Please add 3dtv support to this…it would be a perfect fit!


14

+ Deadpoolian on May 14th, 2014 at 10:08 am said:

This game looks absolutely beautiful! I enjoy puzzles, so this game is definitely something I’m looking forward to.


15

+ Hestar69 on May 14th, 2014 at 10:20 am said:

Sounds awesome! day 1 buy without a doubt!


16

+ esornad on May 14th, 2014 at 10:29 am said:

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this game since launch. I can’t wait for the release, this will be a day 1 purchase for me. Thanks for the update!


17

+ DasRequiem on May 14th, 2014 at 10:31 am said:

This looks gorgeous. I’m very interested.


18

+ dj_tachi on May 14th, 2014 at 10:34 am said:

Looks awesome.
Very cool insights to the process.
Dying to play this.


19

+ DelicaGunz on May 14th, 2014 at 10:38 am said:

Im really looking forward tot his game.


20

+ iREVOLTER on May 14th, 2014 at 10:45 am said:

Looks promising!


21

+ luvtoseek on May 14th, 2014 at 10:54 am said:

@7, ryu- I guess every popular community has their yard troll. If you make such a statement w/out specifics then it tells all ye had no idea what you’re on about.

Haha, these gamers are the worst!


22

+ Skeetlejuice on May 14th, 2014 at 11:07 am said:

It looks like a colorful modern gaming version of what myst was. I am sure that is a major influence for him.

#7 saying he seems pretentious and everyone getting uppity about it may not have heard him speak on a number of occasions or read his comments on his and other games. He is not really like someone like Molineux though who is charismatic and chronically overpromises and under delivers. If you want to look at some of the videos of Blow for E3 or on gametrailers, that speaks for itself. I really don’t care what he is like as a person, I say let his games speak for themselves same for other divisive personalities like Fez creator Phil Fish. I can’t stand the guy, but his game is interesting.

Frankly he is a bit odd, but that has no bearing on whether his games are good or enjoyable to play, this one looks like it has a lot of promise. It would not surprise me for this to be a Project Morpheus game, whether at the outset or a version packed in with the vr set. Time will tell. Good luck and please offer a demo I like to try things for myself. If it is 19.99 I will really be hesitant but it could very well be worth that and more. I will watch for it at E3.


23

+ Skeetlejuice on May 14th, 2014 at 11:23 am said:

I have Braid and think it is an interesting game. I am interested to see what Mr. Blow does with this one as he seems to make thinking games, which I like. I think saying he is a bit odd is not exactly what I meant to say, but I cannot edit posts on here so will instead say he has seemed socially reserved / out of place. It must be difficult to be thrust into the public eye on E3 and on gaming shows like Bonus Round on Gametrailers. In any case, I don’t mean to be offensive and really the games will speak for themselves. He strikes me as a perfectionist, which is likely why the games take so long to be released, I am happy with better quality though so will keep The Witness on my radar.


24

+ gold_og_roger on May 14th, 2014 at 11:27 am said:

This look so good. I can’t wait to immerse myself this title. Thanks for the update, take your time and polish it! I’m a patient gamer. I remember writing letters to NIntendo Power and waiting years for releases. This young gamers are too privileged nowadays.


25

+ teh-trickster on May 14th, 2014 at 11:34 am said:

Good to know that the game development is progressing smoothly. I can’t wait to play it.
I guess I need a proper sound rig to enjoy the game, it looks like you gave huge importance to the sound desing.

Thanks for the update and good luck for the rest.
I hope for the next time we’ll have a new footage … and why not a release date (and a price).


26

+ ZeeVoe-san on May 14th, 2014 at 11:53 am said:

I’m surprised that they’re shooting for 60 fps, since this isn’t really an action game. Otherwise, take all the time you need, I’m looking forward to this one for sure!

Also, thanks for the data breakdown! I’m always curious to learn about that stuff in games, but most developers seem generally resistant to talk about it.


27

+ Texus009 on May 14th, 2014 at 12:14 pm said:

Thanks for the update! This is by far my most anticipated game of the year, can’t wait to start exploring the island :D


28

+ Erlaxis on May 14th, 2014 at 12:23 pm said:

My most anticipated game of… well, ever, I think. =D Thanks for the update, Jonathan!


29

+ lisatsunami on May 14th, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

This is taking soooo long and gamers aren’t known for patience.

@22/23 Skeetlejuice: very nice but pretty sure we all know you’re not trying to be offensive, unlike the frequent offender/commenter that you and others have pointed out. Most really innovative people seem odd, meaning not like the majority of us. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, even my sensei Steve Jobs, all sound pretty odd in interviews sometimes. That’s cool.

Day 1 buy for me.


30

+ AizawaYuuichi on May 14th, 2014 at 12:52 pm said:

This has had my attention since it was announced. It kind of slipped off my radar over the last year with all the other game information being shoved in my face, so thank you for this very detailed post, reminding me that this little piece of awesome is still coming out. Will definitely be there day one to purchase this.


31

+ RyuZX on May 14th, 2014 at 2:16 pm said:

This is THE game (unless Last Guardian is on PS4 and comes out first then it will be the second game) that I will own THE day I get a PS4.


32

+ Gungrea on May 14th, 2014 at 3:38 pm said:

this has a gravity rush feel to it. nice.


33

+ RE_Player on May 14th, 2014 at 5:19 pm said:

Looks like a great game.


34

+ PrimeroIncognito on May 14th, 2014 at 6:40 pm said:

@ Ryumoaner

I can tell you this for sure: He’s definitely not as much of a ***** as you are. :)


35

+ tusunami on May 14th, 2014 at 7:26 pm said:

Say wat so many unique and original experiences on the PS4 just makes me want to do a cartwheel Lol!!!!!!!!


36

+ plaztiksyke on May 14th, 2014 at 10:42 pm said:

I’m glad to hear that audio asset size is not being compromised. Does this mean the assets are mostly 24-bit FLAC?

It’s cool that 1080p @ 60hz is being targeted, but will the game support stereoscopic 3D on 3D televisions at 1080p/60hz as well? Playing Dartura on PS3 in 3D was awesome, and more exploration-based 3D+Move games on PS4 would be fantastic!

Really looking forward to this, and I hope there’s a pre-order on PSN soon!


37

+ michiganjs on May 15th, 2014 at 5:57 am said:

Beautiful art style, beautiful lighting, extremely mysterious and alluring. :)

I know it’s the lowest of priorities, but I wanna’ add a vote for stereoscopic 3D support along with #13 (above).

The market just collectively decided “3D’s not a thing anymore!” like 2 years ago and STOPPED SUPPORTING IT. I’m sitting here with 3D glasses, 3D Blu-Rays and the very best stereoscopic game in the world – Shadow of the Colossus HD. :) If you can implement a side-by-side stereoscopic camera (2D output), my display will blend the views together. You’re still just rendering at 1080p. The framerate does not have to be perfect. I just want to be immersed in this game as much as possible and 3D HELPS a ton. :{

(p.s: Myst was the best wunnit? :D)


38

+ Welmosca on May 15th, 2014 at 12:58 pm said:

Looking forward to see more of this game in action…it was one of the PS4 lil games that caught my interest.


39

+ Criminal_Fetus on May 17th, 2014 at 3:44 pm said:

This is my very post on the Playstation Blog, and its to say that this game looks not only very promising, but absolutely amazing and well worth the wait. I look forward to hearing this on my 7.1 surround sound and high def television.


40

+ alby13 on May 18th, 2014 at 5:12 pm said:

Bring it on! This looks beautiful.


41

+ OhHades on May 28th, 2014 at 7:32 pm said:

This is what I will buy a PS4 for and I am very excited! Thanks for the hype, JBlow & Co. I look very forward to this as well as the discussions after release that will no doubt be everywhere.


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