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The Development of Braid 27

Gamasutra sat down with Jonathan Blow, creator of the successful independent game Braid. He talks about going through the three-year-plus development cycle as a one-man team, and how his concept of the game changed as he worked on it. He also discusses what he feels is the difference between "natural rewards" and "artificial rewards." "... for the most part, when you're playing Tetris, you're enjoying it because you enjoy fitting the blocks together. Whereas when you play World of Warcraft — and what I'm about to say is a generalization, since different players enjoy different things, obviously — a lot of the appeal of playing World of Warcraft is not in the core gameplay mechanic, because it's boring, a lot of the time. ... I think what keeps them in there is, at first, the level ding, because it's very addictive to get that. 'Okay, I've got more gold. Whatever.' And eventually, they've made this huge time investment and they've got a character there and they know what that level ding feels like and the next one is pretty far off, but they can get there! And it's not any better, because this is like number 67. It's got to be better than 66!"
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The Development of Braid

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  • Simplifying WoW (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:00PM (#24992359)

    He doesn't really seem to understand what drives people on WoW...

    In earlier levels, yes, leveling up is the *big thing*; however, at higher levels, the questing becomes more involved and people play to read the lore and, more importantly, get better armor or weapons or a flying mount. Anyway, leveling up cannot be what keeps players there; that wouldn't explain why so many people play at endgame.

    I think it's more of an ego thing. Having better weapons/armor, being in a top raiding guild, or being the best arena team, is what truly drives people. Leveling up is only one portion of that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:28PM (#24992535)

    ...I don't know this guy or this game, but the idea of independent production of games (1 guy etc) or things like animation is perhaps one of the most important and interesting IT concepts around, yet is hardly ever exploited and perhaps, and I'm not sure Slashdot know this, but it remains one of the most taboo topics around the established industries for these things.

    I mean obviously time is a factor, no one will disagree with that but there's a huge interest in this, yet very people have ever brought anything to market so to speak. And the attitude against this from the traditional industry side of it is enormous and ferocious.

    Great that this guy got his project made. But he's not the only one, but you hardly ever hear about them and it's even difficult to talk about this subject around some people.

  • Re:Simplifying WoW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @03:31PM (#24992569)

    Actually, a much smaller fraction of people are in high-end raiding guilds than what most people realize (think about the numbers...2-4 big guilds per server vs. the rest of the players...anyone not in the top tier guilds that wants to be in them is usually in a 2nd tier guild which is still a very small fraction of the total playerbase). It seems larger, because people in those guilds are often more vocal (partly due to the ego thing) than people that are not.

    What parobably keeps the largest majority of people in the game later on is the social bonds developed with other players, and the continual drive to improve your character past the level cap (most often gear, but can be alternate forms of advancement, titles, extra abilities, crafting professions, etc). It is when those secondary options start to run out, or become too much of a time investment for the rewards obtained, that players begin to become burnt out, and quit.

    The early drive is because each ding leads you closer to that final level, where all the 'cool stuff' is.

    I do disagree with the deveolper though. Those artificial rewards, even though I have not played those games, are still important to me, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, even though they are just a representation of time investment, and not any actual skill or ability on my part.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JimboFBX ( 1097277 ) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @05:15PM (#24993373)
    No, he didn't miss it. He explained it quit well. His point was, as a GAME, its boring, and requires artificial rewards to keep you playing, then preys on the fact that the amount of time investment you have put into it obligates you to keep doing so.

    And he's 100% correct. How many people are playing Spore right now more because they shelled 50 bucks into it and want to get their money's worth than because it is actually fun? How many people would have been done with the game at the tribal stage if it was free? The motivation for playing is that 50 bucks represents time you invested to earn... well 50 bucks.

    And he clearly explains the social aspect - if you want a social aspect, there are certainly a lot of alternatives. Its there, and it makes it better, but it still doesnt change the fact its mostly menial tasks and if you want a good social aspect like teamplay, there, as an AVERAGE relative to time spent playing, are much better games for doing that.
  • Re:Simplifying WoW (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13, 2008 @06:02PM (#24993727)
    Any MMORPG has more or less the same kind of game mechanics - the difference here is that WoW is a great franchise that drove many fans early to the game. Others followed because players want to play the game that most people play. This happend before with Ultima Online and will likely happen again with Warhammer Online. The first time the reason for the change was that people wanted 3D and this time they will be tired of the fantasy theme. There will always be a huge gap between the most played and second most played online game.
  • by MWoody ( 222806 ) on Saturday September 13, 2008 @06:03PM (#24993731)

    I couldn't disagree more, having played... well, lets just say that when I type /played, I have to sit down and think hard about my decisions in life.

    When you have 39 other players with you (24 or less in more recent dungeons), there's no real thrill of discovery or chance. There's loot in that dungeon, you know what it is, you know (usually) when it's likely to drop. It's not fun at all; it's just spending your dkp and getting your salary for all that work. Alone, though, you've gotten something totally unexpected and quite possibly rare or even unique on the server, to sell or use as you see fit. You can walk around town to gasps of "where did you get THAT!"

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM