Braid
August 11, 2008 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Braid is the latest videogames-are-art posterchild. The mind-bending, time-twisting platformer is currently the most critically acclaimed XBLA game. Jonathan Blow, the designer, is something of a games philosopher. You can listen to a fascinating talk he gave on game design last year here.
posted by empath (96 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
I downloaded the demo and I'm sorry, but the beauty of the environments was just completely ruined by a) the retarded big-headed midget guy in the suit and b) the fact that it's Mario, and I hate Mario.
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:32 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I finished this game yesterday. It deserves the high marks it's been getting, and I think it's worth the download, even if just to play something that'll have you thinking about games in a new way. I also liked the references to other platformer games, like the Mario stuff; it's in there to draw a contrast with the gameplay and puzzle style of this game. In some ways, though, it's a real gamer's game -- it depends on its players having intuitions about how "this sort of game" is to be played, and a lot of the pleasure of Braid is in having those expectations upset, frustrated, and turned inside out.
posted by tew at 12:45 AM on August 11, 2008


The donkey kong puzzle was a good example of that. It totally put me off the game for a good 2 hours. I eventually skipped it and went on to some other puzzles. Then I had an AHA moment (the game was full of those) and went back and beat it. I felt like an idiot for not figuring it out before, and a genius for finally getting it at the same time.

Turgid, you should probably give it another go, and pay attention to the text a bit. I don't know how much of the game is in the demo, but I can say that the game didn't really come together for me until the very end, and then the whole piece clicked into place. I think the comparison to Watchmen in the eurogamer review that I posted was pretty apt, because it's a game about life, but its also a game about games that could only BE a game. There's no real way to translate the experience of the game without playing it. Even watching someone play it doesn't capture the feeling of having your brain rewired as you figure out the devious puzzles.

The main character's look makes sense once the story comes together.
posted by empath at 1:01 AM on August 11, 2008


Braid presently has my wife and I captivated. It's one of the best games I've played in a long time.
posted by bangalla at 1:03 AM on August 11, 2008


It is indeed the best game I've played for a long time too. Also, you do have to complete it to fully appreciate just how great it is, but we're only talking maybe 4 hours of play time.

I can already hear the "only four hours for $15!", and for that I will direct you here.
posted by jon4009 at 1:51 AM on August 11, 2008


You forgot to mention the art was done by David Hellman of (unfortunately now defunct) A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible, one of the best webcomics ever.
posted by stresstwig at 2:07 AM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


So....it doesn't even run on Windows only? Great.
posted by DU at 4:22 AM on August 11, 2008


You also forgot this great article where David Hellman explains the progression of its art style from start to finish.
posted by tybeet at 4:24 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was going to post this myself, along with the link to A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible that stresstwig mentioned. Braid has helped me regain some faith in our industry. Started it last night and was immediately hooked. The official walkthrough is worth a read (no spoilers and no actual walkthrough.)

I maintain that with the Playstation Network and XBLA, we're looking some of great innovation in how/what we play. Stuff like flOw, loco roco and Braid are a type of game that has existed online on PC for years and has been enjoyed by the people who are savvy about them (Samorost being a prime example). The critical difference for these games is that now they are being placed into homes for the casual gamer to see. Also, this means that people like Jonathan Blow and indie companies like thatgamecompany can actually see financial returns on their riskier ventures.

As for being charged money for games that used to be free (n+ for instance), I'll pay 15$ for Braid with a smile on my face, rather than 60$ for Halo 3.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:43 AM on August 11, 2008


There's definitely a comparison to be made to Portal: It takes a very well-known and well-worn game genre (first-person shooter, platformer) and uses the core mechanics to create something that really has nothing to do with that genre, and is instead an incredibly devious puzzle game that's short, but come on people, it's amazing!
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:44 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just to add to what others have said: The demo only allows you to turn back time. In later level, additional time control mechanisms are introduced, such as time bubbles (near those, time goes slower), elements which are not affected by time control, controlling time by walking (right: time goes forward; left: time goes back) and so on. Don't want to spoil it by saying too much :-)

Another thing about the game is that there is no repetition. Every puzzle only appears once. In most games, you get a puzzle, and then you get the same or a similar puzzle dozen more times in each level. Not here. Every stage is entirely unique, which is incredibly motivating.

This is the best game I've played all year. Everyone should get it at once.

And by the way, the game isn't really like Mario at all. Sure, it looks like that at first, but it's not as much a platformer as it is a puzzle game. Since you can revert jumping mistakes by turning back time, the platforming becomes infinitely easier and thus less prominent.
posted by L_K_M at 5:10 AM on August 11, 2008


"the fact that it's Mario, and I hate Mario."

That is the most dismissive, inaccurate comment on a videogame I've ever read, so congratulations. I loved Portal, but this is better. There isn't a wasted pixel. Everything is there for a reason. It's short, and you can't die: the challenge is to solve the puzzles. Not get key, unlock door type puzzles. Proper puzzles. The kind you look at and wonder HTF you're supposed to go about thinking about it in their apparent impossibility, and the kind that make you smack yourself on the forehead when you realise the answer: you know it's right, and the execution is straightforward... almost always. There are also moments where the manipulation of time bends your brain in the way Terminator and Back to the Future can only dream of. It makes you think in ways your brain was never meant to think in. Oh, and it has about the best written story I've come across in videogames. It's wonderful.

"In later level, additional time control mechanisms are introduced, such as time bubbles"

It's simpler than that. Each world has its own unique time dynamic and a set of puzzles that go with it. My favourite is the world in which, when you run to the right time moves forwards, and when you move to the left, time moves backwards.

"So....it doesn't even run on Windows only? Great."

I'd say it's worth buying an Xbox, but I realise others don't feel the way I do about games. But it is worth a visit to a friend's and a day of your time - offer to pay for the game if she isn't convinced.

Incredible. Artful. Beautiful.
posted by nthdegx at 5:20 AM on August 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also, empath's follow-up comment borders on being a spoiler, so be careful.
posted by nthdegx at 5:25 AM on August 11, 2008


Holly at Feministe has her own praise, (with major spoilers.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:26 AM on August 11, 2008


I'd say it's worth buying an Xbox...

It sounds awesome but.....$300. And after I just avoided having to buy an xbox to play Portal (which even turned out to run perfectly under Wine). At least there will be a PC version some time this year. Probably.
posted by DU at 5:26 AM on August 11, 2008


I've neglected TF2 and MeFight Club for this game the last few days, and it really deserves all the accolades it's getting.

The comparisons to Portal are apt, I think, for some of the reasons already mentioned. And just like Portal, where you had to learn to think in new ways about physical space, Braid teaches you to think in new ways about time.

Worth waiting to get on the PC if you don't have an Xbox. There is just no greater feeling than the "aha!" moment when you figure out a puzzle that has stumped you, and this game has moments like that in pretty much every level.

And it's not even remotely like Mario, despite the superficial similarity when you first start the game.
posted by gemmy at 6:00 AM on August 11, 2008


To be fair, those fuzzy gopher things have striking similarities to goombas.
posted by tybeet at 6:06 AM on August 11, 2008


At least from some of the criticisms I've read, the superficial similarity to Mario is part of the point of the game as a play on the "rescue the princess" genre.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:06 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's still a platformer. Honestly, I really want to play Braid, and I'm hoping it comes to Steam or something. However, if a guy doesn't like platforming games, he's probably not going to like Braid.

I forced my non-FPS playing friends to play Portal, and while some of them enjoyed it, most didn't, because it's still at heart an FPS.
posted by graventy at 6:11 AM on August 11, 2008


From the "games philosopher" link:

Cloud and Everyday Shooter are two examples of games that are really about feelings. And if games are ever going to speak to the human condition in a deep way, I think that's a good place to start.

This is a ridiculous statement to make. "Care about feelings"?? I don't play games because I'm looking for something that'll speak to my human condition in a deep way, whatever the hell that even means. I play games because they're games. I played Cloud way back when it came out. Neat atmosphere, and but it completely sucked because I guess the designers were so busy caring about my feelings that they forgot to make it fun.

I completely agree that innovation is a good thing, in general, and some of the very best games I've played in the past few years have had innovative controls and mechanics behind them (Katamari Damacy, Portal). But I've also played Mario Galaxy. And Half-Life 2. And Grand Theft Auto 4. None of those three "innovated" with their mechanics in any major way, but they were all absolutely delightfully fun.

I don't want games as art. Hell, I don't even want most art as art.
posted by Damn That Television at 6:11 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree Cloud sucked compared to flOw, but Everyday Shooter gets one over on its arcade shooter competitors by having a soft, organic, more human aesthetic. It's a better game than Geometry Wars partly because of this. It's a very good game, probably my favourite Playstation 3 game that I've played. And Mario Galaxy, Half Life 2 and GTA4 are, very definitely, art. (Plus the first two are innovative in respect of their mechanics).
posted by nthdegx at 6:24 AM on August 11, 2008


I don't want games as art. Hell, I don't even want most art as art.
posted by Damn That Television

Guess you're in luck then as about 99% of the content made for consoles are aimed at you. I just hope you allow me to want games as art. Same goes for film. Most people just want to be entertained.

Fwiw, don't let the arthouse creds turn you off of Braid, it works brilliantly as a game and you can run past all the story/art.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:26 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Stuff like flOw, loco roco and Braid are a type of game that has existed online on PC for years and has been enjoyed by the people who are savvy about them (Samorost being a prime example). The critical difference for these games is that now they are being placed into homes for the casual gamer to see."

So the people that buy relatively expensive, dedicated gaming hardware, and likely an HDTV to go with it are casual gamers, but the people that play games on their multi-purpose, work-friendly PC's are hardcore gamers? Don't get me wrong: I know there are plenty of avid gamers that use their PC's only, but "casual gamer" and "hardcore gamer" and the distinctions made between them are almost always bullshit.

"I'll pay 15$ for Braid with a smile on my face, rather than 60$ for Halo 3."

They're both brilliant games, but since you're talking economics...

Very very generous estimate at time required to solve Braid: 15 Hours. = $1/hr.

Conservative estimate at time required to achieve top rank (General Grade 4), and complete the campaign: 1250 hours. = 5c/hr. Okay, let's be realstic and say you just want to get to General, that's still 165 hours, at 36c/hr. I know the broader point you're making is that Halo 3 sucks in its inherent mainstreamness compared to Braid, but, yeah, apples suck compared to oranges - you get dig your thumbs in.
posted by nthdegx at 6:43 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn That Television, don't listen to slimepuppy. Braid *is* a good game, even though he says it is.
posted by nthdegx at 6:46 AM on August 11, 2008


The day companies develop/market their games on a $/play-hour basis is the day I give up on humanity.
posted by DU at 6:48 AM on August 11, 2008


DU - agreed.
posted by nthdegx at 6:50 AM on August 11, 2008


let's be realstic and say you just want to get to General, that's still 165 hours, at 36c/hr

If you really want to be realistic let's add in all the other hours you've spent playing the exact same game with different enemies and backgrounds, and you can probably put it at .000004c/hr. Now we're talkin'!
posted by fusinski at 6:56 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you really want to be realistic let's add in all the other hours you've spent playing the exact same game with different enemies and backgrounds, and you can probably put it at .000004c/hr. Now we're talkin'!

Agreed. You cannot talk about the economics of a game and reduce it to paying-per-hour for however long it takes you to unlock 100% of the game. I often neglect to complete 100% of games - why? Because it's so often mindless, trivial, competitiveness-for-competitiveness-sake achievements that make up the last 75% of these games, and frankly, it's just not worth the time.
posted by tybeet at 7:05 AM on August 11, 2008


DTT: he says in the very link that you're talking about that 'innovation' for the sake of innovation is overrated.
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2008


Eesch. tybeet, you are 100% correct - it was merely to illustrate that saying Braid is good because it costs $15, and Halo 3 is bad because it costs $60 is ridiculous.
posted by nthdegx at 7:09 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't want games as art. Hell, I don't even want most art as art.

You're really missing out. There's some really beautiful stuff out there.

If you want to try something get Eden. The game is addictive and the graphical style is just breathtaking.
posted by Talez at 7:11 AM on August 11, 2008


Point taken. I'm still a little leery of the $15 price-mark, and I'm taken in by all sorts of recent arguments about what constitutes fair pricing in the gaming medium. I know for example, I wouldn't hesitate if it was $10 - so why do I hesitate for a 50% higher cost when I enjoyed where the demo was going and everyone is treating it like this sacred gem?

People have mentioned for example that some recent games that make good examples of what fair prices are, for example, Oblivion or GTA IV. I would have to say the same, and yes, one of their qualifications is how long it takes to complete but there's far more to it.
posted by tybeet at 7:14 AM on August 11, 2008


FWIW, there is a set of hidden challenges in the game that do extend the playtime a bit. One of which, will AT MINIMUM, add an additional 2 hours of play time, and also makes an excellent point about the ridiculousness about the idea of 'play time' as a metric.
posted by empath at 7:18 AM on August 11, 2008


Maybe it's meant to be ironic, but did anyone else who played the demo find it a little quirky that Braid's developers played into the Xbox achievements as a selling-point? You get to the first castle in World 2 and the talking dinosaur goes "...And you could have had an achievement for finding this castle, too!"
posted by tybeet at 7:24 AM on August 11, 2008


Meant to be ironic.
posted by empath at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2008


I've seen that a few times, tybeet - I'm struggling to recall where, but I think Wik was one example, and there are certainly others.
posted by nthdegx at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2008


Kids these days are all about their gamer score. I was watching the Xbox Insider video on Civilization Revolution yesterday night hoping that I could catch a glimpse into some good strategy, but what I found was that the WHOLE VIDEO was dedicated to how to get 210 gamer score in 15 minutes, without really experiencing any of the game. It was crazy. I cry about content but the younger generation just wants gamer score. I weep for the future of gaming.
posted by fusinski at 7:33 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's meant to be ironic, but did anyone else who played the demo find it a little quirky that Braid's developers played into the Xbox achievements as a selling-point? You get to the first castle in World 2 and the talking dinosaur goes "...And you could have had an achievement for finding this castle, too!"

I dunno, some XBLA demos have pretty much done the same thing when you've finished their level. At the very least, the beg screen usually tells you how many achievements you can get in the full version.

(And it's nothing new; If you clicked on a Knight too much in the Warcraft 2 demo, he'd say "In the retail version, I'm much funnier!")
posted by Spatch at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2008


fusinski - I don't how you make the logical leap from "interested in gamer score" to "only interested in gamer score". Achievements, when well designed, generally odder depth and longevity to gamers - it isn't the case that people simply harvest achievement points without playing the game properly, except maybe a few fringe cases seriously competing for the number 1 gamer score accolade. You assume people are looking that video up on their first play through Civ Revolution (not that I'd necessarily blame them, I have Civ-fanatic friends that are very disappointed with it). Again, gamer score is held up by the Holier-than-Thou brigade as an example of everything that's wrong with gaming. It doesn't match my experience at all.

I'll give you an example. The Orange Box has an achievement for Half Life 2: Episode 1 - to play through the game firing only 1 bullet. You have to use objects, and weaponry other than guns all the way through, and it makes you think about what you're doing, and hence makes the game more rewarding. There's also an achievement for getting through the opening part of the same game without killing any of the alien door keeper thingies (I forget their proper name). At first glance - this is impossible. It's an example of an achievement-cum-puzzle that makes you itch to replay the level. The achievements for completing the Call of Duty games on Veteran difficulty invite the player to experience the game at its most intense: as a result I've played through 2, and 4 twice, which I wouldn't have done without the achievement. I'd have missed out: they require a completely different mode of play at the intense difficulty level.

There are bad achievements too: Lego Star Wars II offered achievements for finding all the pieces, and playing through each level without dying: both incredibly tedious exercises I have no interest in completing. They're rethought the achievements for Lego Indiana Jones, and these add a series of gameplay vignettes that offer compelling reasons to replay the game.

Don't hate achievements.
posted by nthdegx at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Haha yeah, but that was pure Blizzard timfoolery.

I've just stumbled upon another Braid gem. Behold, the official walkthrough. I'll just point out to anyone who is cautious that it is spoiler free.

It will tell you the following:

"All the puzzles in Braid are reasonable.

If you are having problems solving a puzzle, don't give up!

Please do not use a walkthrough."
posted by tybeet at 8:00 AM on August 11, 2008


So the people that buy relatively expensive, dedicated gaming hardware, and likely an HDTV to go with it are casual gamers, but the people that play games on their multi-purpose, work-friendly PC's are hardcore gamers? Don't get me wrong: I know there are plenty of avid gamers that use their PC's only, but "casual gamer" and "hardcore gamer" and the distinctions made between them are almost always bullshit.

Sorry, maybe I was a bit unclear. I meant that consoles are bringing 'fringe' games like flow and Braid, that were once the purvue of PC gamers (and ones that had an active interest in the area), to living rooms. I'm not a fan of the casual/hardcore divide, as it's completely arbitrary and artificial. It's more of closing the gap between office desk/sofa gaming, if you catch my drift. I know lots of people who own consoles but scoff at the idea of PC gaming. People who play Madden or FIFA and are into very mainstream gaming (which is more my idea of 'casual' than the usual definition). To get these people to see things like flow and get behind it is, in my mind, a step in the right direction.

My point with Halo 3 vs. Braid was not to do with the game itself, but rather the fact that people are complaining about the cost. They're both in the top 10 games for the 360. The one that costs 45$ more doesn't raise eyebrows. Maybe it is a question of quantity over quality and I'm glad you're getting good mileage out of Halo 3. (I personally completed the single player campaign once, thought it was enjoyable and tried going online thrice only to be put off by the general attitude of the players.) I got more enjoyment out of Braid within the demo level than most games I've played this year, so 15$ felt like a bargain to me. Hence the comparison to mainstream game pricing which is one of the only entertainment system that people still pay premium for.

Damn That Television, don't listen to slimepuppy. Braid *is* a good game, even though he says it is.

That was not necessary. This is the problem with people discussing video games: it's very rarely an adult conversation. It's a shame as well, because you seem to know what you're talking about and I completely agree with you about achievements and their usefulness in game design/longevity.

I cry about content but the younger generation just wants gamer score. I weep for the future of gaming.

Heh. Considering Pong/Pac-Man and the old arcade games were all about high scores and we are in the future of that gaming era, I think we will all survive...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:12 AM on August 11, 2008


slimepuppy - I don't accept that innovation and creativity have been confined to the PC. Ico and Okami put paid to that theory.

"Damn That Television, don't listen to slimepuppy. Braid *is* a good game, even though he says it is."

Apologies - it was only a joke, and I couldn't resist the twist on the usual "even though he says otherwise" comment. I didn't mean it, and in any case, I take it back.
posted by nthdegx at 8:16 AM on August 11, 2008


fusinski - I don't how you make the logical leap from "interested in gamer score" to "only interested in gamer score".

Obviously you didn't see the video. These were not achievements that are difficult to unlock, but rather achievements that you SHOULD unlock just by playing routinely through the game.

I know I made a dramatic leap in my previous comment but it was more of a "get off my lawn" comment than a take on reality. And for the record I do not hate achievements, but when they are presented in such a way that they become the main focus of playing, that is just sad.
posted by fusinski at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2008


@Slimepuppy, go right ahead and seek out games as art -- I'd be a jerk to try to stop anyone from enjoying video games in whatever capacity they want. And I'll almost certainly play Braid. Further, I doubt I'm missing out on too much beauty: I actually do play most of the "art games" that float around. I'm just saying that, in general, I really dislike most of them. For every Rez (a perfect combination of art and fun), there are 100 Black and Whites (an interesting concept that gets boring after about 45 minutes).
posted by Damn That Television at 8:25 AM on August 11, 2008


That's not a retarded big-headed midget guy in a suit! It's Eric Stoltz in Back to the Future. Duh.
posted by eschatfische at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2008


I highly, highly recommend downloading the talk I linked to.

Teaser: He explains why he thinks Bioshock sucks, and why most games companies are as bad as drug dealers.
posted by empath at 8:34 AM on August 11, 2008


I'm interested in talking about spoilers if anybody else is, not sure of the appropriate way to do it here, though. I'm still working out 'what it all means', and I'd be interested in people's interpretations.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on August 11, 2008


"I'm interested in talking about spoilers if anybody else is, not sure of the appropriate way to do it here, though. I'm still working out 'what it all means', and I'd be interested in people's interpretations."

Behold: The Braid Spoiler Discussion Group.

It's new. I just started it, and won't be looking there again for a day or two til I've solved the game myself - but I'm sure I'd appreciate getting other peoples' takes on it.

posted by nthdegx at 8:51 AM on August 11, 2008


Such a beautiful game, I'm about halfway through. Every moment is a surprise.

What I like best about Braid is that it's deconstruction turned into gameplay. It takes all these elements of traditional platform games and breaks them down, one by one, into component gameplay pieces. But it's not some tedious boring insider gameplay; it's really fun. It also deconstructs the story, art, and even music of games and makes something beautiful out of it. I'm mostly post-post-modern when it comes to deconstructionism, I'm tired of unoriginal remixes claiming to be art. But Braid is something powerful.

BTW, to the first comment that says the fact that it's Mario, and I hate Mario. I'm guessing you didn't play it very long. It gets complicated pretty quickly. But if you really want to say that, well, it's Donkey Kong too. Hope you don't hate Donkey Kong.
posted by Nelson at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2008


There is a lengthy talk on one of the Something Awful boards... I don't have the link but I found it by googling it. They hide all their spoilers too. It helped me wrap my head around some parts of it.
posted by Phantomx at 9:03 AM on August 11, 2008


Seconding/thirding/whatever the recommendation that you listen to the talk, regardless of what you think of Braid (I've only had time to play the demo so far). It's a very interesting, thought-provoking thing about game desgin and why good design matters so much to that guy.
posted by sparkletone at 9:10 AM on August 11, 2008


So it's only XBox? NO MAC PORT WTF INJUSTICE??!?!?!?
posted by Mister_A at 9:17 AM on August 11, 2008


If you're a MAC owner who loves games who doesn't at the very least own a console, I'm wondering what kinds of games you're playing.
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on August 11, 2008


Just about everyone I've talked to who only played the demo wasn't all that interested in it. However, every single one of those people who actually bought and began playing the game changed their tune almost immediately to flat-out loving the game.

As with movie trailers, a demo isn't always the best way to experience a game. Braid is worth your $15. It may be short, but it will challenge and engage you. Isn't that worth supporting?
posted by NationalKato at 9:20 AM on August 11, 2008


empath: If you're a MAC owner who loves games who doesn't at the very least own a console, I'm wondering what kinds of games you're playing.

There actually has been a small, but very creative gaming community focused on the Macintosh that spawned off of the Apple II originally. What the Macintosh has missed in the FPS and CRPG genres has been compensated by some slick designs in puzzlers and platformers. And of course, now we have Boot Camp.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:05 AM on August 11, 2008


Just wanted to add that I'm really glad whenever these game threads pop up here. As someone else has gestured to upthread, it's difficult to find satisfying discussion about gaming as art, as design, as play, as an industry, etc.

Thx empath, and everyone, for your thoughts. :)

As for me, I played the demo last night and dismissed it, but will likely go ahead and buy it based on what has been said.
posted by danny the boy at 10:16 AM on August 11, 2008


If you're a MAC owner who loves games who doesn't at the very least own a console, I'm wondering what kinds of games you're playing.

What's a MAC? Why are you yelling?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just wanted to add that I'm really glad whenever these game threads pop up here. As someone else has gestured to upthread, it's difficult to find satisfying discussion about gaming as art, as design, as play, as an industry, etc.

These might help scratch that itch:
versusclucluland
brainygamer
artfulgamer
posted by juv3nal at 10:26 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, I can't wait for this to come out for pc. The irony is I have an xbox, I just don't want to shell out for the wireless thingy and I don't want to run 20 odd feet of ethernet cable across the floor.
posted by juv3nal at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2008


Why are you yelling?

Finger stuck on shift key.
posted by empath at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2008


juv3nal: It's still not free, but you could always pick up any old wireless router, set it up as a bridge, and run 2' of ethernet cable to the xbox. Much cheaper than buying the MS doohickey.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2008


I have a Wii but my daughter keeps feeding things to it, rendering it unoperational. I would love to get a grown-up console but I have all these kids living here in the shoe with me, you know?
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on August 11, 2008


The day companies develop/market their games on a $/play-hour basis is the day I give up on humanity.

Must have given up on 'em in the late seventies then eh!?

/tired sarcasm
posted by autodidact at 11:51 AM on August 11, 2008


I'll try Braid in the future. Right now I'm way too excited about Bionic Commando Rearmed.
posted by rthgreen at 12:29 PM on August 11, 2008


Braid really is excellent. The puzzles are very clever, the art is great, and I can't remember the last time there was a game story that actually encouraged discussion.

And to anyone who thinks it's too short, or is looking for more to do, I'm guessing you haven't found any of the eight Stars. (I hope that's not a spoiler - I played through the whole game without seeing even a hint of one. They are very well hidden.)
posted by Sibrax at 2:09 PM on August 11, 2008


Oh, yeah, I played the demo again last night out of deference to all the people here saying I should give it a shot, and to muck about with the rewind mechanic. Which was really well thought-out. One of those boulder beasts touched my shirt cuff, and I died, and fell through the platform, so I was like, hey, no big deal, I can reverse time, so I did that, and it took my Brian Peppers dude back up to the platform, to exactly the same point where the boulder beast touched my shirt cuff and killed me. It did that about three or four times, even though I was trying to move away. If the game itself is better than the demo, then that's great, but it also suggests to me that these developers aren't totally savvy with the notion of what a "demo" of a game is supposed to do (which is to say, encourage you to buy the full version). So, yeah, I deleted it and played Geometry Wars 2. Now that's a game with some hair on its balls!

But please don't anybody take this criticism personally, which, bizarrely, is what some people seem to be doing (I'm reading a lot of variations on the trolltrope [yes, I just invented this word] of "OMFG YOU NOOB!"). I just don't like platformers but I gave Braid a shot because the entire Internet was all "Oh holy crap this is going to totally revolutionize human-digital interaction for centuries!" and, yeah, turns out it doesn't.

Certain portions of this post may be slightly exaggerated.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:55 PM on August 11, 2008


Turgid, you can't have gotten more than 1% into the game. You're just scratching the surface of the time mechanic and how it impacts game play. It's a puzzle game, not an action game. It seems that you haven't even made it to any of the puzzles, yet.
posted by empath at 2:59 PM on August 11, 2008


Or if you did, you didn't recognize it as a puzzle.
posted by empath at 3:00 PM on August 11, 2008


Well, yeah, I got to a point in the demo where there was a puzzle which was an actual literal puzzle and I guess what I want to ask you people is, why can't they just make another Monkey Island game?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:07 PM on August 11, 2008


*throws up hands*
posted by empath at 3:12 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


My friend has a pool.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:13 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I mean, your opinion is your opinion, but what you're doing is the equivalent of saying that Citizen Kane was horrible because doing an entire movie in newsreel format is stupid.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You seem to think this is some kind of game, empath. But believe me, this is no game.

Look, I'm not saying you can't enjoy it, I'm just saying I don't. Maybe I would if I had the full version but the last time I handed over fifteen bucks on a "maybe" was when I asked a friend what he was drinking, and he said a Manhattan, and I asked if I would like one as well, and he said "maybe". And I've never seen Citizen Kane. If I wanted to escape to a world without explosions or boobs, I'd go back to living my life.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:22 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


What? No, PORTAL is the CITIZEN KANE of the medium. I thought we established this?
posted by Justinian at 3:23 PM on August 11, 2008


Hah, that's my most favorited comment ever. If I knew that many people were going to read it, I'd have copy edited it better.
posted by empath at 3:54 PM on August 11, 2008


People are seriously wary of $15 for a game? I spent $50 going to see Dark Night on an IMAX screen with my girlfriend this weekend ($30 for 2 tickets, $10 parking, $10 for some popcorn+drinks). It was a pretty decent flick, but I mean, that was $50 for 2 hours of passive entertainment.

$15 for 15 hours of entertainment (and owning the game afterward) sounds like a deal to me?
posted by cj_ at 6:51 PM on August 11, 2008


to exactly the same point where the boulder beast touched my shirt cuff and killed me.

You can rewind back as far as you want, so why didn't you just keep rewinding?
posted by sparkletone at 11:30 PM on August 11, 2008


"You can rewind back as far as you want, so why didn't you just keep rewinding?"

Beat me to it. Rewinding to the point at which you die does tend to cause death.
posted by nthdegx at 12:55 AM on August 12, 2008


I guess what I want to ask you people is, why can't they just make another Monkey Island game?

Did you play the fourth one? It's not very good. Generally Lucasarts only cares about Star Wars franchises as they are guaranteed to be (more) profitable.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:18 AM on August 12, 2008


Just another guy here who didn't really like the demo, but sprung for the full game anyhow (based largely on mefi endorsement), and... yeah, it gets better.
posted by LordSludge at 7:26 AM on August 12, 2008


The Lessons of Braid
posted by empath at 12:52 PM on August 12, 2008


Wish they'd port it to PC already. It's tempting.

And let's not forget the noble sentiment for another Monkey Island. The fourth wasn't the pinnacle of the series but that just means they should make the next one better. I think a couple of times they polled fans for the sequel they'd like to see Monkey Island was #1.
posted by ersatz at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2008


SPent the last two afternoons playing Braid with my friend after getting excited about it via this post.

Holy shit is it amazing. I should explain.

My friend, in this case, has access to an XBLA account, which I do not, and I convinced him to use it to buy this. He was pissed about te price, and is generally a cynic anyway, but doubly so when it comes to games, and especially when anything involving the bathos of "feelings" is involved.

As soon as the game started, he was happy he'd paid for it, just amazed at once in the way that the game doesn't even have a "start screen" but just lets you go immediately. In the first world, he was giggling with joy as he could rewind bad jumps and try them again.

By the third proper world, he was declaring this one of the best games ever made, and then said something I'd never even considered:

"You know, this is the first game to ever view relationships beyond an adolescent level."

At this point, at least, we'd never seen any other character aside from the main one, and read some vague Italo Calvino-inspired quotes, but the way in which they integrate with the gameplay makes working through memories make total sense.

This is a platform game, where you can manipulate time in different ways. That's it. It may also be the first video game which cannot be denied "Art" status by anyone capable of making an argument, no matter how contrary they wish to be.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:47 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


"You know, this is the first game to ever view relationships beyond an adolescent level."

I'm glad your friend liked the game so much, and Braid really is worth the $$$ but this statement isn't true. I know it wasn't the main point which is that BRAID is excellent on many levels, but it denigrates some very good games which have shown complex, mature relationships.
posted by Justinian at 11:54 PM on August 12, 2008


Regarding intelligent games discussion: juv3nal's list is a great start. The writing is out there if you look for it. I'd also recommend Sexy Videogameland, Hit Self-Destruct, Man Bytes Blog, and Living Epic.

I have my own games site as well (link in profile), and there are more good links in the sidebar.
posted by danb at 6:11 AM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, I got to the end last night without solving all the puzzles, and boy this game hits pretty close to home. Feels like it was written about -- and *for* -- me. I actually dread completing the remaining puzzles, for the emotions they threaten to dig up. I may have something new for the Things That Make Men Cry thread in a couple days.

Yeah, art.
posted by LordSludge at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2008


Oh man, wait till you get to world 1 :)
posted by empath at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2008


Just finished Braid a few hours ago ... incredible. Like nothing else in gaming.

For those of you who have finished it and are confused by the ending, here's an analysis (spoilers aplenty).
posted by jbickers at 5:34 PM on August 16, 2008


Yeah I finished brad earlier; it is excellent, but the plot's reach exceeds its grasp.

SPOILERS, obviously.



World 1 is awesome. When you reverse time and watch Tim chase the Princess as she desperately tries it escape is truly an excellent set piece. Great stuff. The problem is the epilogue; the game tries to set up that the whole thing has been a metaphor for the development of the atomic bomb.

Which would also be a truly excellent plot. Except the two plots do not mesh together very well. The whole things works very well as the story of an obsessive man who drove away the object of his desire with his controlling behavior. That's a powerful story. The epilogue works as a metaphor for the atomic bomb. Also a powerful story. But the epilogue just doesn't work with the preceding bits. Oh, there are parts you can shoehorn into the metaphor but overall it feels tacked on. The earlier parts just don't fit properly. Pulling off making the whole story such a metaphor would have been an utterly brilliant and incredibly difficult undertaking.

As it is we have a truly wonderful story of a man destroying his relationship and driving away his princess, and we have an excellent epilogue drawing a metaphor between the relentless pursuit of a desire and the destruction that results with the development of the atom bomb.

What we don't have is a game that makes both of those things work together. They're both great but they are two separate things rather than one unified whole. Pulling that off would have been truly stunning and Braid doesn't quite manage it.

I am glad I paid the $15 and I wish there was more like this for XBOX arcade, but it just doesn't quite reach make it to the peak of the mountain it set out to climb. But then, neither did Bioshock and I love love love that game as well.
posted by Justinian at 8:11 PM on August 16, 2008


memo to self: edit more, rant less.
posted by Justinian at 8:12 PM on August 16, 2008


I don't think that the game is a metaphor for the atomic bomb. I think the atomic bomb stuff was just another example of people who think they are doing good, but aren't.
posted by empath at 12:02 AM on August 17, 2008


Spoilers follow...



The atom bomb theory is also supported by the 8 hidden stars you can find. Once you get the final piece, the sound made is very much that of a nuclear explosion. I'd agree that it's a bit tacked on, but it's a minor complaint for me.

On another note, KirkJobSluder linked to the article at Feministe already but in the comments section Holly makes a very astute point about the 'secret ending':
But in the “secret ending,” the PLAYER’S obsession is also brought to bear, correct? It represents a whole level of hardcore play that requires pushing the dynamics of this game system to their limits, searching and pursuing the stars (that make up the constellation of the princess in the night sky) across the entire world again, obsessively. The player has to become just as obsessive as Tim, which isn’t really that uncommon in these sorts of games, with their collection mechanics and secret unlocking. There’s always the tantalizing promise of a secret area (or eight), another level that might be unlocked, an extra secret ending.

A lot of times the secret ending is the “true ending” or the “best ending,” especially in RPGs. But in this case, I agree with the theories that say it’s a trick. By falling for the lure of obsession (just like Tim does, to the detriment of the real women in his life) players gives in to what they’ve just been told is a bad idea. So in the end, even though you know Tim should not REALLY be catching the princess if you’re trying to see something good happen with the story, it’s impossible to resist. So there’s an explosion — and presumably a nuclear explosion. Joke’s on you, you get what you asked for and what you were warned about.
The rest of the comments section is worth a read too.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:58 AM on August 17, 2008


Thanks for the link to feministing, slimepuppy.

empath: To me, it doesn't make thematic sense to tack on the atom bomb thing if it isn't supposed to relate to the entire plot and storyline. So it either doesn't work for me because the metaphor doesn't successfully flow through the entire game, or it doesn't work for me because they didn't even try to tie the metaphor in to the entire game. Either way, it didn't really work for me.

Like I said; that doesn't mean it isn't a great game. But pointing out what didn't work is a lot easier than pointing out what did work, which is almost everything else in the game.
posted by Justinian at 11:46 AM on August 17, 2008


One last thought: The people who played through to collect all the stars and get the "secret ending" appear to have missed the entire point of the game.
posted by Justinian at 3:31 PM on August 17, 2008


Wow, just "finished" it. Didn't get the stars, and after reading about them, perhaps am grateful for that. That game would have made 19 year-old me cry like a baby. Glad I'm somewhat older and wiser about my relationships.

I think this comment made to Holly's post sums it up:

"Braid says a lot of harsh things about the male psyche that, as a man, I find uncomfortably accurate."
posted by danny the boy at 8:29 PM on August 18, 2008


By falling for the lure of obsession (just like Tim does, to the detriment of the real women in his life) players gives in to what they’ve just been told is a bad idea. So in the end, even though you know Tim should not REALLY be catching the princess if you’re trying to see something good happen with the story, it’s impossible to resist. So there’s an explosion — and presumably a nuclear explosion. Joke’s on you, you get what you asked for and what you were warned about.

Huh. That reminds me a lot of this interview I read (dange: massive spoilers) with the writer of Immortal Defense. Yeah, it's a tower defense game that will actually cost money, but there's a pretty long demo you can check. The writing is surprisingly good for a tower defense game.
posted by juv3nal at 3:16 AM on August 19, 2008


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