Braid And 10 Years In Time

So, here’s to 10 years of Braid. And 10 years of Blow.

Braid went on to become a hit, critically and commercially. It contributed to the rise of indie games, digital distribution being a viable platform and self-publishing. Its most profound achievement is showing an industry what games can be – like Ico before it – that games can be an art form and it inspired this sensibility, not just for indie games, but the AAA market too.

What Braid is, is a fine – and very rare – example of postmodernism in videogames. Braid takes what we know from platforming games – especially citing the pinnacle of the genre Mario on several occasions – to only flip it on its head; to take what we conceive and then change our preconception of it.

This is evident in the closing level when you finally come to rescue the princess in more ways than one. How its narrative is told through books of text and not a cutscene, or how its story is fragmented and deconstructed is like the postmodern literature of Vonnegut, Moore or Pynchon. It takes the fun and simplicity of Mario (Modernism), then changes it to a high concept and philosophical platformer, Braid (Postmodernism).

Everything in the game has meaning, even if it’s not clear consciously. This has many people speculating and theorizing the true meaning of Braid; such as the game is about a scientist working on the atomic bomb, obsession, etc.

The game’s story sees you playing as Tim to rescue a princess from a monster. The story is told through text at the start of each world, here you’ll read that Tim has made a mistake that he would like to forget. After completion, more text is revealed adding more narrative, in a more ambiguous nature highlighting more of the deeper themes of the game.

Aesthetically the game is seeping with European and British iconography of countrysides and castles smeared with whimsical watercolours. All this accompanied by a folk-inspired soundtrack, that just hearing it makes you smell the fresh moisture produced from the green pastures. It screams of classic children’s novels like ‘Peter Rabbit’, ‘Charlotte’s Web’ or ‘Wind and the Willows’.

Braid, on the first glance, looks like a typical platformer with puzzle elements, with an added bit of collecting jigsaw puzzle pieces to complete a jigsaw on each level.

It’s when you play the game where one of the mechanics is the manipulation of time, mainly reversing time. It’s here where Blow shows his skill as a game designer and takes what I call a ‘Nintendo’ approach to game design; using a single mechanic and exploring that single mechanic to its full potential (now if anyone wants to debate this, please write in the comments as I’ll happily discuss… Even if you are Jonathan Blow yourself!).

This time manipulation is stretched and rolled like a piece of dough with some in-game items not being affected by it, the player’s shadow leaving an imprint on the world, slowing down time in a specific area or the world where time is governed by the direction you walk. Time manipulation isn’t just the mechanic, it’s the central core of the gameplay.

Here in the UK, we never had a video game crash. It was around this time the rise of independent video games happened. Teenagers coding on the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro or Commodore 64. Hobbyists turned into rock stars and the biggest entrepreneurs in the UK.

So, independent games have been around for decades but the rise of independent games from the past 10 years owe it to Braid. Braid was released on the infamous Xbox Live and then saw ports to various other systems. It cemented Johnathan Blow as a video game legend overnight; ushering a new wave of independent developers with new sensibilities to game design.

I was in my second year of university studying media when a close friend from my hometown, I kept in contact through Xbox Live and party chat, told me about this game he was playing that blew his mind.

Eager to share this experience, my friend purchased me an Xbox cash voucher and told me to buy a game called Braid. Like my friend, I too was entranced by this video game, this piece of philosophy, this work of art. Never had I gazed upon a CRT for that length of time simply not moving – watching, understanding the levels and their logic.

You don’t simply play Braid, you assimilate Braid.

the inner friend

The Inner Friend… Is Awakening – It’s Out This Year

Audio can sometimes distort the meaning, can change the perception of something. We can witness an event, but we hear someone else’s story or whilst we are witnessing the event the ambience can alter what we have clearly seen; we doubt ourselves.

Sometimes we just need to cut the talking and just watch, a picture can tell a thousand stories and gazing upon a canvass, silent movie or a photo is when we truly find something about ourselves; no external influence, only our internal thoughts to delight or dismay us, we, you, I…

The Inner Friend

The Inner Friend

The Inner Friend is a game developed by Montreal ‘s Playmind studio. Previously working on AR, VR and interactive installations, they have taken their experience on these projects onboard to develop The Inner Friend, a narrative told through the visual exposition of surreal landscapes – based on the psychology of a child and supported with an ambient/cinematic score.

As you go into the subconscious mind you need to restore memories but the further you drive the darker the world becomes – you must escape or fight horrid creatures.

The Inner Friend

Can The Inner Friend accomplish its goal? Will its minimalistic and surreal visuals draw us into the world? Will the puzzle and combat help to compliment its meaning or will it hinder it?

Like gazing upon the canvass… We will all walk away with our own thoughts and our own interpretations.

The Inner Friend

A picture can tell a thousand stories. The Inner Friend will release this year on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Desert Child game

Racing RPG Desert Child Due Out Q3

The heat is exhausting out here, the only time you get shade is when the sun sets and then, you still want to be under an umbrella. For me, well I just get on this hoverbike over here and ride, for pleasure, for pay; it makes no difference.

Racing RPG Desert Child Game

The hot air turns cool. Of course, it can get pretty hot then let me tell ya – but when I ride, it’s like, what’s the word, Zen, you know… Free. It’s then I forget about the earth and its bullsh… ha, sorry kids, its nonsense. That’s not the life for me; the life for me is up there, Mars; and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Me and my trusty Judy here, my hoverbike.

Desert Child game
Dine on a range of interplanetary cuisine with sweet buffs to help you win

Hell, I’ll race, hunt bounties and deliver drugs; whatever it takes… Oh, you don’t like that? Listen, kid, you may snarl away to yourself as you’re reading this on your phone, tablet, but out here you do what you can for a buck. Breaking the law? Nah man, it’s survival. It’s the difference between having a meal and rummaging in the bins for scraps.

To me, I see as I’m playing some RPG, life-sim, racing game; the more points I get, the better the ranking, the bigger the taking. Man, I sometimes see the scores with my very own eyes I get that absorbed in it. Pfft, don’t look at me like that, I’ve got rent to pay and noodles to eat. I might even customize I, Judy, here.

Desert Child game
Race, shoot, and get better! Designed for replayability, with secrets that keep you coming back

I know you don’t understand but look, kid, if you want to survive out here you should do the same, earn what you can and get your ass to Mars.

You’ll see me soon kid, by Q3 you’ll understand and if you see me, you’d better shoot first kid; like I said, just think you’re on your PS4, Switch, Xbox One or PC… It makes it easier.

Desert Child game
Hunt bounties, deliver drugs, throw races – do anything you can to earn cash

Desert Child, that’s who I am. And that’s who you’ll be”.

Xbox Live Indie Games to Close Next Week

Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) were quite the revolution when they first launched on the Xbox 360. At the height of the ‘indie-revolution’, XBLIG allowed bedroom programmers to get their stuff onto the same marketplace as the big guns. Sure, it was the dusty and dimly-lit corner of the marketplace, but it was a step in the right direction for how the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo treated indie developers.

There’s No Marketplace Like Home

We were told earlier in the month, via Twitter, that you won’t be able to buy XBLIG anymore and that the last day to purchase ‘vibration’ games was going to be today – the 29th of September.

Good news though. You’ve got an extra week! The 7th of October is when you’ll no longer be able to purchase any of the weird and wonderful (?) offerings available on XBLIG. You’ll also still be able to re-download any titles you’ve purchased after the 7th of October.

Whilst it’s fair to say that XBLIG hasn’t been relevant in ages, some may argue ‘ever’, it’s still worth taking a moment to reflect on what was an important part of indie games breaking into the mainstream.

Goodbye XBLIG, you’ll be missed remembered.