Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monthly Game Club: Braid Discussion #2

Since last week, we've traversed worlds 5 and 6 of Braid, and collected as many puzzle pieces as we could. I'll ask a few questions to get us started, but feel free to discuss anything about the experience.

1. Do you think that the game presents a single coherent narrative? Are the levels and the text presenting different stories? Is the text all presenting a single story? Are the levels presenting a story at all?

2. How is the ability to rewind time in this game different from in other games with the same mechanic, like Timeshift and Prince of Persia? How does that affect the game?

3. In world 6, you are given your first new ability: dropping a ring. What significance does the ring hold? What does the power it grants represent?

4. At the end of world 6, the dinosaur asks you if you're sure the princess exists. Are you?

5. How do you think this game would be different if it weren't made by an independent developer?
Give us your thoughts in the comments.

(What's the Monthly Game Club? Click here for details.)

FOR NEXT WEEK: Collect the last puzzle pieces and play through the final world.


  1. The question of narrative is certainly an interesting one (especially on Bloomsday, ha ha!) - I think the levels tend to reinforce the text, therein tying into the narrative, and I also think that even if the game as a whole is a single narrative, it by no means has to be coherent, at least not in the traditional way.

  2. This game makes me wonder chicken-and-egg questions. Like: what came first, the theme for each world, or the mechanic for each world? I read somewhere that Jonathan Blow (the game's creator) had several other ideas for game mechanics on individual levels, but decided that they didn't make for very compelling gameplay. I wonder what the other written portions would have been like. I wonder if there would be more details to the story than there are now.

  3. If this game hadn’t been produced by an independent developer I think you could expect to see a few noticeable changes.

    1. The game would have been much longer. My principle complaint with Braid is that it went by too fast. Larger developers with a larger budget would have likely made the game much longer.

    2. Almost all of the puzzles would be much easier. Like many long term gamers I’m routinely frustrated with how simplistic games have become. Old school Contra was damn near impossible even with the spread gun. Most games now could be done with half the coordination of some of the early side scrollers. I don’t think this is always a bad thing but I think many new gamers aren’t looking for the kind of unique challenge Braid had to offer.

    3. You’d probably see a front cover advertisement featuring Tim on one of the many gamer magazines out there.

    4. Instead of a complicated and abstract storyline you would see the same poorly written shlock we’ve come to expect for a standard platformer.

  4. Your complaint was that it was too short? I think the fact that each puzzle was actually different, that it didn't artificially pad itself with repetitive tasks and events, and that it didn't overstay its welcome was an incredible strength of the game. In my opinion, Braid was just about perfect in length.

  5. Yeah Chris, I'm kind of confused too. You kind of planted an actual concern with the game being too short amid your railing against the big game companies for making games too long. Explain.

  6. I stand by what I said. Braid is an excellent game, but given the limitations of a small development staff it was fairly short. The diversity of possible scenarios we could have encountered says to me that Braid had the potential to be much longer then it was. Sadly, this was not the case.

    I don’t think I am out of line here. When I eat a particularly good sandwich I am often left with a paradoxical kind of regret. I think to myself “On the plus side, eating the sandwich was very pleasant. On the minus side, I no longer have a sandwich to eat.” I’m not mad at the delicatessen here; I just want a bigger sandwich. Is that so much to ask?

  7. After eating this sandwich, I was full. Any further sandwich would have made me over-full, and dampened my enjoyment.

  8. I kind of go both ways on this one. I believe the game could definitely been longer puzzle wise. Having created such an interesting mechanic some differently layed out puzzles would have been really great to have. I grew up both building actual puzzles and playing puzzle games and kind of used to more on that front.

    That said, I think the philosophical nature of the game as implemented through the books of memories and the thematic ties between the puzzle pieces and unique world mechanics would have been lessened by a longer game. A game this introspective and unique can be in real danger of collapsing under its own weight if it goes on for too long.

  9. Braid felt like just enough to me, too, and I also don't find any of the puzzles "recycled", as has been the complaint of many. My favorite was when you have the "Hunt" stage where you're required to kill all the monsters on the screen before you can open the gate. The first iteration is very easy and doesn't make the player think too hard; the second iteration is complicated by the simple fact that your movement is bound to the flow of time. A relatively easy task has now been naturally complicated in a way that doesn't feel forced. How do you face it?

    It really is "mind-expanding".


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