Braid

Braid's protagonist Tim, seen here mid-jump. Art by Michael Fitzhywel

Braid is one of those games that rolls lazily off the tongue in conversations about the most influential indie games of all time. Depending which of the many breathless pieces you've read about it over the years, Braid was either an "enormous leap towards realising the potential" of videogames that "ripped away…years of gaming blinkers", the "Sex, Lies and Videotape of indie gaming", or possibly even gaming's "Easy Rider" moment. It has a reputation as more than just a clever puzzler with a mind-bending rewind mechanic—it was seen as a changing of the guard, a signal that independent games could finally compete with their big-budget counterparts.

Even today, it's still on people's minds. Developers I've spoken to over the past few months have managed to slip it into conversations about seemingly unrelated topics, mentioning its brilliance or commercial success. But how influential was it actually? Did Braid directly inspire a generation of indie developers? Or was it just one indie project among many that managed to find an audience at a time when distribution platforms like Steam and Xbox Live Arcade were making games more accessible?

"In terms of graphics, aesthetics and emotion it was not particularly influential [on] me," says Dino Patti, co-founder of Playdead, who now works at a new studio called Jumpship. Playdead developed Limbo, a game that's often mentioned in the same sentence as Braid. Patti says that though he "really enjoyed the puzzles" and the way the time manipulation mechanic forced players to think "out-of-the-box", it didn't stick in his mind any more than other games at the time. 

He was, however, keeping close tabs on its commercial success. Braid sold well when it came out in August 2008, shipping 55,000 copies in its first week on Xbox Live Arcade, and its numbers only ramped up when it came to Steam in April 2009. Jonathan Blow spent $200,000 making it, and by 2015 he'd raked in nearly $6 million. "I personally spent a lot of time analyzing [Braid's] numbers," says Patti, who was eager to convince investors that independent games could make money. Patti even spoke to Blow in 2009 about the ins and outs of releasing without a publisher. "We were looking very closely at how well it was doing," he says.

We were not influenced directly by its game design, but we were closely watching how games like Braid or World of Goo managed the business and marketing

Jakub Dvorsk , Amanita Design

But that success wasn't unique. Patti says the team were watching "anything that did reasonably well back then", including Castle Crashers, which came out in the same month as Braid and sold better, racking up 103,000 players in its first three days. It would go on to be the best-selling Xbox Live Arcade game ever. 

Hearing Patti talk about Braid as just one game in a crowd surprises me, because out of all the indie games that found an audience in the years following Braid, Limbo is arguably the most directly comparable: it's a puzzle-platformer that relies on atmosphere to tell a subtle story that's open to interpretation. But I get the same message from Jakub Dvorský, chief executive and founder of Amanita Design, which released Machinarium a year after Braid first came out.

Dvorský calls Braid a "very smart" puzzler and notes that it was "one of the first really successful indie games" but again, he sees it as part of a "wave of games"—which also includes the likes of World of Goo and Windosill—that started grabbing the attention of players and other developers.

"We were not influenced directly by its game design, but we were closely watching how games like Braid or World of Goo managed the business and marketing," he says. "Both World of Goo and Braid had an impact on us mostly in how they broke into the games market, how their developers handled communication with players and media, and what business decisions they made."

And even when Braid's success did influence Dvorský, it was largely confirming "what we already felt, that it's possible to avoid publishers and use only storefronts who agreed on 70/30 or better revenue share". Before those games came out, Amanita had "already decided" its direction of travel, having released point-and-click adventure Samorost 2 in 2005, which was successful enough for it to develop Machinarium independently. 

It's hard to disconnect the success of Braid and its contemporaries from the rise of platforms like Xbox Live Arcade and Steam, which made it easier than ever for indie developers to get their games in front of players. "The development became easier, and maybe even more importantly it also became possible to distribute and monetize games directly to players without having a publisher," Patti says. "All of a sudden making smaller, low-budget games started to make sense."

Some people were able to succeed while making games they really believed in, that was inspiring

Greg Kasavin, Supergiant Games

It's a thought echoed by Greg Kasavin, writer and designer at Supergiant Games, developers of Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre. "Independent games were being created long before the success of something like Braid," he says. "Kongregate launched in 2006, and [there was] stuff like Newgrounds, which Super Meat Boy came out of. There was always this scene of independent game creators making weird platformers and adventure games… but something like XBLA helped to make it a viable commercial business, and then it caught on with Steam."

But Braid had more of an impact on Kasavin than it did on Dvorský or Patti. It was on a "shortlist of games" that made the Supergiant team realize that "small groups of people can make impactful games that could feel very meaningful and personal, as well as being high quality." That list games included Plants vs. Zombies, World of Goo and, Castle Crashers, but Braid was "emblematic of both that era and the style of game."

Without the success of Braid and other games of the time, Kasavin says Supergiant wouldn't exist. The fact that Braid and other games like it found a large audience gave the team confidence that there was a possibility for indie development to be financially viable. "Supergiant was self-funded, it was people drawing into their savings or asking their family for help, things like that, and we couldn't have done that for fun. Even though we knew the chances were terrible, there had to be some sense that it was possible," he says.

"There was no part of us that thought we could be the next Braid or the next World of Goo, but the fact that these games did exist, that some people were able to succeed while making games they really believed in, that was inspiring both creatively and from the standpoint of trying to create a small studio."

When I ask Kasavin how Braid inspired him personally, it's clear that it's a game close to his heart, and one that he feels shouldn't simply be lumped in with others that came out at the same time. "I wouldn't call it a narrative game, but there's absolutely the sense that it's about something. It's not just a platformer for its own sake. Its mechanics and aesthetics are in service of a greater experience," he says. 

"Every ounce of that game felt like it was richly layered with subtext, that it was a deeply personal work, and a poetic work. I'd been playing games with impactful narratives since I was a kid, but the way in which Braid was able to take every aspect of its presentation and use it in service of a meaningful experience where every detail was intentional, that to me was inspiring."

It's easy to overstate the influence that Braid had on indie gaming. To some in the industry, it's just one game (albeit it a memorable one) among many that happened to flourish in the indie boom of the late 2000s, which is itself tied closely to improvements in distribution through platforms like Steam.

But that doesn't mean you should completely dismiss it. Without Braid, there would be no Bastion. There would be no Transistor, and no Pyre. And while Supergiant is just one studio, I have no doubt that others owe Braid a similar debt. 2008 and 2009 were years in which many talented developers were floating in the wind, having lost jobs at companies that were struggling with both the global financial crisis and the rising cost of making games. "You're left with all these skilled developers wondering what they're going to do, and they start seeing games like Braid, and they're getting inspired," Kasavin says. 

Braid's release may not be the singular defining moment for the indie gaming explosion, but who knows how many games wouldn't exist without it?

This article is part of the Class of 2008, a series of retrospectives about indie games that were released 10 years ago. 

Wolfenstein 3D

Last week, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds smashed the Steam peak player records. The previous record-holder, Dota 2, while admittedly made by one of the world’s biggest and most powerful games companies, began as a Warcraft mod. These days, we barely blink an eye at the idea that a game can come from nowhere and shake through word-of-mouth, clever concepts, a bit of cool technology like Portal’s… well, portals… or simply by hooking into some reservoir of good feeling, and accomplish more than any marketing budget can dream of. Minecraft is this generation’s Lego. Undertale is one of its most beloved RPGs.

Indeed, the world of indie development is now so important that it’s hard to remember that it’s only really a decade or so old. That’s not to say that there weren’t indie games before then, as we’ll see, but it was only really with the launch of Steam on PC and services like Xbox Live Arcade that the systems were in place to both get games in front of a mainstream audience, and provide the necessary ecosystem for them to quickly and confidently pay for new games.

In 1979 Richard Garriott set out on his path to buying a castle and going into space by selling copies of his first RPG, Akalabeth, in ziploc bags at his local computer store

The massive success of indie games on Steam has of course come with attendant pitfalls. The early access program gave small studios the ability to beta test their games with player numbers they would not otherwise never reach, and gave players the ability to take part in shaping games. However, a lack of guidelines left players and developers with very different expectations as was seen in the reaction to a paid expansion being released for Ark: Survival Evolved while it was still in early access. Steam Greenlight made it easier for indie games to get on Steam but became a popularity contest that was easily gamed, leading Valve to replace it with Steam Direct.

All this is largely taken for granted these days, with the big challenge for modern indie games being to stand out. Simply getting onto Steam back then could set a studio up for life. These days the market is full to bursting, with most new releases disappearing from sight almost at once.

In both cases though, it’s a world away from how the market began.

Back to the start

The exact definition of ‘indie’ has never exactly been cut-and-dry. To some, it’s an aesthetic, best summed up by the classic bedroom coder. To others, it’s a more commercial distinction, of working without a publisher. To others, it’s ultimately about the work, with an indie game standing out more for being not the kind of thing you get from a commercial company, rather than really focusing on who made it. 

There are many definitions to play with, and few hard lines to draw. The poster-children of ’90s shareware, id Software (who you may know courtesy of a little game called Doom), began working under contract for a company called Softdisk, cranking out games like Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion, Hovertank 3D, and Catacomb 3D, before moving on to make games with/for shareware giant Apogee.

In the very early days of gaming, just about everybody was indie to some extent. In 1979 Richard Garriott set out on his path to buying a castle and going into space by selling copies of his first RPG, Akalabeth, in ziploc bags at his local computer store (one of those copies then ended up in the hands of California Pacific, who offered Garriott a publishing deal). Sierra On-Line began in 1980 as just husband and wife team Ken and Roberta Williams, making simple adventure games like Mystery House that nevertheless pushed the boundaries of what people expected from games at the time—like having graphics—before booming to become one of the biggest and most important companies in gaming history.

What do you do if you don t have the money for big boxes? Ziploc bags are your friends.

Companies could emerge from almost anything. Gremlin Interactive began as a computer store called Just Micro, while DMA Design, originally Acme Software, which would make its name with Lemmings and much later become Grand Theft Auto creator Rockstar, began from its founders meeting up at a computer club in Dundee and ultimately signing with Psygnosis. Whole genres were created from a single game, such as Football Manager in 1982.

The speed of all this took many by surprise, with Balance of Power creator Chris Crawford saying in 1984, "We have pretty much passed the period where hobbyists could put together a game that would have commercial prospect. It’s much more difficult to break in, much less stay in. If you want to do a game, do it for fun, but don’t try to do game designs to make any money. The odds are so much against the individual that I would hate to wish that heartbreak on anyone."

The shareware revolution

But of course, people continued. The PC was largely left out of much of it, however, due to the relatively high cost of disks and its general perception of not being a gaming machine. In the UK, the main indie scene in the ’80s was on cassette based 8-bit systems like the ZX Spectrum, with publishers happily accepting almost any old tat, recording it to a tape, sticking it in a box, and selling it for a few pounds at newsagents, game stores, and anywhere else that would take copies. They were cheap, sometimes cheerful, and allowed for endearing weirdness like 1985’s Don’t Buy This—a compilation of the five worst games sent to publisher Firebird.

It would be many years before most indie PC games could get that kind of placement. Instead, there was shareware. The concept dates back to the 1970s, though it was popularized by PC-Write creator Bob Wallace in 1982. Rather than having a central distributor like a regular published game, users were encouraged to copy software and pass it along. If they liked it, they’d then send the creator a check to unlock the full thing or get more of it. 

In the case of Apogee Software, and indeed what became known as the Apogee model, a game might have three parts. The first one would be free, and free to share, the other two commercial and only for registered purchasers to enjoy. (Not that anyone really listened, as the vast, vast numbers of pirated copies of Doom probably shows better than anything.)

The beauty of the system was that anyone could distribute these games, with the rule being that while you weren’t allowed to sell the shareware version, you could charge for materials. That meant games could appear on magazine cover disks and later CDs. They could be on any university server or dial-up BBS or services like Compuserve and AOL. If you wanted a relatively full choice however, you often needed to send off for them. Whole companies were set up to sell just the trial versions, sending out printed catalogues of their stock and charging by the disk. 

By the mid-90s of course the popularity of CD had rendered this relatively pointless, with ‘1000 Games!’ CDs available in supermarkets and bookstores and anywhere else there might be an audience, rarely mentioning the part about them being glorified demos. Much like on Steam today, at this point most smaller games got lost. Still, as a player, it was an almost inexhaustible feast.

Not every game could be Wolfenstein 3D and promise a fight with Robot Hitler if you paid

As crazy as sending off a check to get a game might seem, it worked. In a few cases, registered shareware games even made the jump to boxed products in stores, though that was relatively rare. Either way, shareware was hardly a license to print money for most, but it supported many a developer throughout the '90s and made others their fortunes. Epic MegaGames began with the text-based RPG ZZT before becoming the company that made Unreal. Duke Nukem began as a very simple 2D side-scroller, notable mostly for oddities like the main character wearing pink and just wanting to save the world so that he could get back to watching Oprah, but nevertheless blossomed into Duke Nukem 3D before publicly wilting into Duke Nukem Forever. 

And there were many more stars too, regularly appearing in new games or simply popular ones that kept showing up, like Skunny the squirrel and his awful platforming (and ultimately karting adventures), Last Half of Darkness, and Hugo’s House of Horrors, much beloved by magazine and compilation editors for its extremely pretty first screen, and never mind that it was all made of clip art and every other room in the game was barely MS Paint-level scribbles.

The alternative industry

Shareware's big draw for players was, inevitably, free games. The downside of the Apogee model and others that erred on the generous side was that a whole episode was often enough—especially as that’s where the developer’s best work tended to be. Compare for instance the deservedly beloved shareware episode of Commander Keen: Goodbye, Galaxy! where you run around a beautiful, varied planet, with the dull space adventure of its commercial sequel. Not every game could be Wolfenstein 3D and promise a fight with Robot Hitler if you paid.

Less cynically though, shareware gave many genres their home. The PC was typically seen as a business machine, with its commercial successes often adventures, RPGs and other slower and more cerebral offerings. There were platformers and beat-em-ups and similar, but they were usually poor conversions from other platforms at best, with few worth taking a risk on. 

If the PC ever had a mascot platformer , it was Commander Keen. The shareware version of Goodbye, Galaxy! was his finest hour.

Shareware removed that risk factor for customers, while letting developers show off. The original Commander Keen, while simplistic to modern eyes, was proof that the PC could do console-style scrolling, even if it wouldn’t be until 1994’s Jazz Jackrabbit that anyone could seriously claim to be doing convincing 16-bit console-style arcade action and visuals. (Even then it wasn’t a very strong claim, but luckily by this point the PC had Doom and so didn’t care.)

This led to a flurry of games you really couldn’t get elsewhere, or that were in very short supply on the shelves, from vertical shooters like Major Stryker, Raptor, and Tyrian, to fighting games like One Must Fall, to quirky top-down RPGs like God of Thunder, and racing games like Wacky Wheels. It offered a great split. When you wanted a deep, polished experience, you had the commercial game market. For action fun, there was shareware, not least because when we did get big games like Street Fighter II, they tended to stink. Shareware supported the industry through much of the '90s.

The high cost of indie

By the mid-90s though, there was a problem. Commercial games began rapidly outstripping what bedroom teams could do, both in terms of technology and complexity of content. While there were engines available, they were mostly poor quality, with nothing like Unity on the market and the likes of Quake and Unreal costing far too much for anyone but other companies to license.

If you wanted to play with that kind of technology, you were looking at making mods instead. This was the era that gave us the likes of Team Fortress (1996) and Defense of the Ancients (2003), but also where the indie scene became largely forgotten. This wasn't helped by the fact that indie had essentially no place on consoles at all, despite a few nods over the years like Sony’s Yaroze console, a development PlayStation aimed at hobbyists released in 1997. The PC saw its own push towards home development with tools like Blitz Basic/BlitzMAX (2000) and Dark Basic (also 2000), with the goal of inspiring a new generation of bedroom coders. However, despite selling reasonably well, none of them gained much traction or saw many releases.

Jeff Vogel s Spiderweb Software has been making RPGs since the '90s. They look simple, but fans keep coming back for their depth.

The indie scene as a whole ceased to be a big player in the market—which isn’t to say that it vanished. Introversion’s Uplink for instance was a big hit in 2001. Jeff Vogel’s Spiderweb Software started releasing old-school RPGs like Exile and Geneforge in 1995. PopCap began in 2000, becoming the giant of casual games like Bejeweled, Peggle, Bookworm Adventures, Plants Vs. Zombies, and Chuzzle—not bad for a company that was originally called ‘Sexy Action Cool’ and planned to make its debut with a strip poker game. 

And of course, there are other notable exceptions, such as Jeff Minter, who never stopped making his psychedelic shooters both for himself and others. However, it wasn’t until 2004 when Steam nailed digital distribution that the market had a chance to explode and offer a real chance of going it alone.

The turning point

Steam wasn’t the first digital distribution system, and at its launch it wasn’t even popular, with Valve forcing it on players for both Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike. However, it was the first major attempt that nailed the details, like being able to download your games on any computer you owned rather than having them locked to just one, and being able to do so perpetually, rather than simply for a year, as was the case with most of the competition. 

The results spoke for themselves. When Valve was a lot pickier, and being backed by a publisher was a distinct advantage to getting onto the system, any developer who managed to get onto Steam effectively received a license to print money. Farther afield, though games not on Steam were at a distinct disadvantage, the legitimisation of digital distribution as a concept certainly raised most boats.

And with all this came something just as important: the indie game ecosystem. With money to be made and developers flocking to indie for all sorts of reasons (being tired of the big companies, wanting to make a go of an independent project) it became viable to create tools and systems to help make the scene. Game Maker for instance, and Unity and Flash. Today, would-be indie developers have the tools to go head-to-head with even the biggest studios, albeit typically on a smaller scale, as well as explore more cost-effective options like pixel art and procedural 3D, while services like Kickstarter and Fig offer a way of seeking funding without immediately selling out. 

This also opened the definition of ‘indie’ even further, with companies seriously able to consider going it alone, without a publisher. Not everyone could be Double Fine, raising $3.5 million for Broken Age, but many have had huge successes—Pillars of Eternity pulling just under $4 million, the Bard’s Tale getting $1.5 million and in the height of Kickstarter fever, even Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe managing to raise $650,000 for a remake of the first game.

Cave Story was one of the first games to get people talking about indie releases, beyond Flash games and the like.

It’s at this point that the word 'indie' really catches on. Again, it’s not that it was never used, but until this point the scene wasn’t big and important enough to warrant a position as basically a shadow industry in its own right. The release of Cave Story in 2004 was where people really started talking in those terms, with Indie Game: The Movie in 2012 cementing this, highlighting three of the most successful titles of the time—Braid, Fez and Super Meat Boy. 

Microsoft embracing the scene via Xbox Live Indie Games played its part, as did their XNA development system, and attempts to make a big deal out of indie launches during its "Indie Game Uprising" events between 2010 and 2012. 

Elsewhere, the IGF (Independent Games Festival) launched in 1999 was also going from strength to strength, drawing more attention to the likes of Darwinia, Monaco and Crayon Physics Deluxe. We also saw more overtly indie friendly portals like itch.io, and the Humble Indie Bundle, offering new marketplaces and ways of selling games—even if many later bundles proved a dead-end.

Perhaps most excitingly, it’s now that we start to see whole genres and styles largely associated with the indie market either flourish or come into existence, not least the ‘walking simulator’—games primarily about exploring a space and a story through environmental detail and voiceover. The first big name here was Dear Esther, a free mod released in 2008 and later remade in 2012, with later examples including Gone Home, Firewatch, and Everyone’s Gone To The Rapture.

Braid helped prove that indie games could be artistic works of love, equal to any commercial release.

There’s also the pixel-art aesthetic of games like VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy, and the original Spelunky, and for many old-school gamers, a return to brutal old-school difficulty. And somehow I doubt we need to say much about Minecraft. (It’s been quite popular, and influential.) Classic point-and-click adventures also saw a resurgence outside of Germany, largely spearheaded by the Adventure Game Studio creation engine and the success of Wadjet Eye Games’ The Blackwell Legacy, Gemini Rue, Technobabylon, and the upcoming Unavowed.

But it’s of course reductive to pick specific genres. The joy of indie games is that as long as the money can be raised somehow, a passionate team can take on more or less whatever they like, free of publisher interference or perceived wisdom, allowing for arty games like Limbo and Bastion (distributed by Warner Bros, but only as a publishing partner), throwbacks to lost genres like Legend of Grimrock, exploratory pieces like The Stanley Parable and The Beginner’s Guide, or completely new concepts like Superhot, where time only moves when you do, and the ferociously complex Kerbal Space Program, where difficulty really is a matter of rocket science.

The downside is that as ever, it’s not enough to simply make a game. An indie title buffeted with word of mouth can sell millions, but far more are doomed to languish largely unplayed and discussed in the depths of Steam’s increasing piles or other services’ far less traveled shelves. The initial gold rush is very much over. Still, plenty of gold remains. It’s impossible to predict what game will be the next Spelunky, the next Minecraft, the next Undertale, or the next Super Meat Boy, but absolutely no risk at all to bet that whatever it is, it’s already on its way.

Braid

The Witness designer Jonathan Blow has shown off an early prototype of a new game. While not official in any capacity, the unveiling happened during his talk at the Reboot Develop conference in Croatia. Thankfully, it was livestreamed on Twitch, so we're able to get a look at it as well—it's been uploaded to YouTube by Daniel Bross, and you can see it in the embed above.

It looks like it's a puzzle game that consists of pushing blocks around. According to Blow, it's still very early on in development, as most of the work has been focused on creating the level editor and engine, which will be made available to other developers for free. He said that he "should make and ship" a game on this engine, so we could could end up seeing it come to fruition. And apparently, he's already thrown together more than 25 hours of single-player gameplay, but he noted that it's unpolished and the visuals aren't final.

It might be a while before we see or hear anything else about this untitled game, but we'll be sure to report back when something is revealed. Blow's last two games, Braid and The Witness, were both puzzle games that garnered many positive reviews. In fact, The Witness received glowing remarks from critic Edwin Evans-Thirlwell in PC Gamer's review

PC Gamer

Earlier today, The Witness and Braid creator Jonathan Blow posted an image on Twitter of what appears to be a makeshift catheter and a tub of his own pee. "Here is another thing I helped make, to help finish The Witness," Blow wrote proudly above the image, which has sent social media into overdrive.

Finding a way to urinate without leaving one's seat is an enduring concern for humanity, but few have nailed an adequate solution. Indeed, creating makeshift catheters is something society is more likely to frown upon than celebrate. It's more sensible to buy a professionally made one.

Still, is this merely a tub of apple juice, or is it a stinging indictment on video game development crunch time? Is that the right colour for pee? Does the lighting influence its hue?  

On January 17, Blow posted a Tweet which seems to suggest that if he is using a catheter to pee into during the development of The Witness, he hasn't been doing so for long:

Perhaps Blow's tube supplier had temporarily run out. Maybe he's been peeing into a catheter for many years now. Or maybe, just maybe, he borrowed a tube to make a pee joke on the internet, which he concocted and brewed over a five-day period.

What do you think? Is that really Jonathan Blow's pee? Please advise below.

PC Gamer

The Humble Indie Bundle is back, but this time with a greatest hits collection featuring some of the best games from past bundles. It's an amazing selection for anybody that's new to indie games, or gaming in general. For everyone else, there's a pretty good chance you already own most of what's here.

As usual, the action is split into multiple categories depending on how much you're willing to pay. Whatever you pay, you'll get Super Meat Boy, World of Goo and Dustforce DX. Beat the average (currently $4.78) and you'll also get Dungeon Defenders Collection, Limbo and Braid. Finally, if you pay $1 over the average price (currently $5.78,) you'll get Risk of Rain and Antichamber. Whatever price you settle on, you'll need to pay $1 or more to get Steam keys for the bundled games.

After settling on a price, you can then decide exactly where that money will go. The sliders allow you to set how much of your cash will go to the developers, to Humble and to this bundle's two charities, Child's Play and Watsi.

The bundle will run until next Tuesday, June 16.

PC Gamer
Braid


Every week, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places.

Like Braid's protagonist himself, webcomic artist David Hellman's soft, painterly style has stood the test of time, and while the visuals here aren't sharp like a Broken Age or indeed Broken Sword given that they were never intended to display at such ludicrous resolutions, this is at the very least a nice experiment.

Until now, to the best of my knowledge, there's never been a single 4K shot of Braid. Now there are 15, all worthy of your desktop wallpaper.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



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Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.





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Download the full-sized image here.



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Download the full-sized image here.





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Download the full-sized image here.
PC Gamer
vr1


Jonathan Blow, the outspoken developer behind indie hit Braid and upcoming puzzle game The Witness, has posted a pair of pictures hinting that virtual reality support may be coming to the Myst-alike. The images feature the unmistakable double-vision familiar from every Oculus Rift game demo, and as pointed out by an eagle-eyed commenter on Blow s site, the images are titled VR1 and VR2.



For all of the excitement around the Oculus Rift, including John Carmack s recent full-time devotion to the project, programming Rift support into games is still fairly rare. According to Road to VR, barely two dozen games have been developed with in-house Rift support.Luckily for VR enthusiasts, third-party drivers have added support to dozens more including Skyrim, Arma 2 and Mirror s Edge.



Getting to explore the lush island of The Witness with built-in VR support will be a treat, but there is a snag in this fantasy: The Witness will hit the PS4 before it comes to PC, and Sony is rumored to be launching a VR headset for its console. Still, once the work of building to VR headsets has been done, it should translate easily.
PC Gamer
IGTM - Polytron


Indie Game: The Movie is to get a special edition, bringing over a hundred minutes of new short films, and epilogues for each of the original's main subjects. Is there significantly more to that follow-up story than "everybody got extremely rich"? Will Phil Fish want to stone-cold murder anybody else? Will the movie's creators remember that not all indie games are 2D platformers. A new trailer may reveal the answers to some of these questions.



Damn, they really love that Jonathan Blow passage.

The special edition will also bring new commentaries from Team Meat and the directors of the movie. It will be available as a standalone purchase for digital owners, or as DLC for the Steam version.

In addition, DVD and Blu-Ray box-sets are being released, with over 300 minutes of new material. Details of that package are available at the IGTM website.

Indie Game: The Movie Special Edition will release July 24.
PC Gamer
The Witness thumb


Last night's PlayStation conference wasn't all about explosions, shootings, angry dragons, invasions of privacy and whatever it is that David Cage is on. Jonathon Blow also took to the stage to introduce the first proper look at his upcoming first-person puzzler The Witness. You could tell it was the token indie game of the night, what with the colours, and the jaunty recorder soundtrack, and the lack of people being stabbed.



That's a seriously gorgeous island. I'm interested to see whether the puzzles integrate with the exploration in any way, though. As it is, I'm starting to get Myst flashbacks.

Blow announced on stage that the game would be a timed console exclusive for PS4 - sneaky code for "yes, it's also coming to PC." The game's trailer description confirms, saying "This is the first official trailer for the upcoming game The Witness, to be released on the PC, iOS, and PlayStation 4... and eventually, several other platforms." The release date is still pencilled in as "sometime in 2013."
PC Gamer
Steam Holiday Sale


Valve kicked off its epic Steam Holiday Sale today, offering heavy discounts, flash sales, and catalog clearances lasting until January 5. And before we start drifting dangerously into wallet-pun territory, know you'll be able vote for a select game every 12 hours to go on sale.

Here's a sampling of the sales and flash deals (if you can call a 15-hour timespan a "flash") available for purchase right now:

60% off Natural Selection 2 ($10/£6)
50% off War of the Roses ($15/£9)
50% off Borderlands 2 ($30/£18.50)

The current nominees for the Community's Choice sale are Limbo, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Braid. The winner gets 75 percent taken off its price. And if, by some small chance, a specific game deal you're seeking isn't there, Valve can notify you when it shows up if you add the title to your wishlist. Wonderful.

Ready to get shopping? Deep breath, and go.
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