Braid playthrough with director’s commentary

At GameCity in Nottingham, UK in September 2010, I played through select portions of Braid and gave commentary. I had been under the impression the session was officially recorded, and I’ve been waiting for an official video to hit the internet, but at this point I am not sure this was done. Fortunately someone in the audience had a handheld camera, and has posted the footage to YouTube. This is by far the most I’ve said about Braid in one place…

See the video here.

15 thoughts on “Braid playthrough with director’s commentary”

  1. Brilliant.

    I love the way that some of the puzzles were really well thought out – and others presented solutions, combinations and consequences that were unexpected.

    Looking forward to The Witness.

    Thanks for sharing

  2. I was really hoping you’d talk about the final puzzle piece in “Over the gap.” For me this was without question the most difficult puzzle piece in the game — and I think the only one whose solution I discovered almost completely accidentally (and therefore the one from which I gained the least satisfaction).

    Thank you for sharing the video! It was incredibly entertaining to hear your thoughts on the design of the game. I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about general game design theory from this talk. Braid is a fantastic game that has haunted me for years.

  3. Brilliant!

    Do you do any other talks? Would you be interested in talking at my university to Games Design and Games Programming students? (In the UK)

  4. I just finished watching this, i really enjoyed it and as i closed the fullscreen window i noticed this link in the side:

    Apparently your not the only “artist” in your family

    by that I mean that i consider braid to be a work of art.

    Btw how do you feel about people borrowing your design concepts? =) (cant come with anything concrete at the moment since I’m doing a 3D fps physics puzzle game, so its a rhetorical question =) )

    all that said, I’m a huge fan of braid and can’t wait for the witness to come out =)

  5. This reminded me how impressively you used unstoppable reason to create this pristine and succinct game. Although some of your reasoning, like when you talked about breaking the pattern of the puzzle boards, seems to be a vague after thought compared to the rigor you apply to the rest of the game. Fantastic game no matter what and it was great hearing your thoughts behind it.

  6. That was intriguing to watch 🙂 I found it particularly interesting to see the original Braid prototype game as a comparison to the final product.

    Hopefully, the official recording will appear sometime soon!

  7. Warning: Spoilers

    One question, what song starts playing in the last level after you touch the princess (by that I mean that you get half way through the level and then everything reverses)? I have looked through the soundtrack with no luck….

  8. Fantastic presentation. Did we miss out on much after the recording cut out? I really like how you went through mistakes too. It shows how much you thought about it and are still able to critic your own work, and admit you could do better. The concepts and thoughts you went through also filled us in with valuable information about production! Presentations and commentary like yours are what inspired me to do my own commentary for a presentation I did for an assignment in uni. I also wanted to go through original thoughts/concepts and mistakes.

  9. I was in the audience for this talk (I remember sitting next to Adam Atomic and being too nervous to say hello, too!) and had also been waiting for the official video to be posted. It’s such a shame that so little from the event has actually been released to the public, as I enjoyed the openness of Game City a great deal and had wanted to catch up on the talks I’d missed.

    In any case, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for a very insightful and humorous talk. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to make it to your Witness reveal, but I’m very much looking forward to exploring that world when it’s ready, too.

  10. I’m writing a PhD dissertation which discusses Braid in relation to the video game as work of art. Your recent talk at Game City resonated with an article I’m writing concerning Braid, psychology, phenomenology, and the work of art. I would be very interested to study Braid’s prototypes in detail, similar to reading an literary author’s early drafts or correspondences. Please contact me if this is a possibility. Thanks.

  11. In the video you say (at 22:13) regarding the two initially unobtainable pieces in The Cloud Bridge (level 2-2), that “I changed my mind about this late in development, and I wanted to change this level [to make the pieces obtainable, but] this level had to go somewhere… it would have been a massive rearrangement, like four levels, I waited too long.”

    It seems to me that this should be pretty simple to fix – in fact you could fix it via a small patch, even today (very Braid-like, no?). All that needs to change is which pieces are acquired where. Obtaining the second two pieces requires that two other specific pieces (the ones depicting the platform) have been obtained previously. So simply place the platform pieces in level 2-1 or in the first half of 2-2. 5 puzzle pieces are acquired prior to reaching the two unobtainable pieces, so there is plenty of opportunity.

  12. It’s much more difficult than that, because there are not many puzzle pieces that are acquirable before you hit that puzzle frame; I think there are 4. So to keep the current way it’s set up (where the platform is split across two puzzle pieces), half the puzzle pieces would have platform on them. Then, you look at them in the mostly-empty frame, and it is much more blatant, more obvious.

    Fixing this somehow involves moving the frame to somewhere later in the game, but the only other place for it is 2-4, which is maybe too late (one function of these frames is to be a sort of break time to help alternate what activity is being performed, and to give the player an idea of progress so far, and, well, what is the point of that if you put it at the end of the world just before the player goes back to the house where all the puzzles are, anyway?)

    It can’t go in 2-3 because 2-3 is a tightly-integrated one-screen level.

    So basically all of world 2 would have to be redesigned into something completely different. I didn’t have the energy to do that and I felt that what I come up with could well be worse anyway, all things considered. The ideal would have just been to make the opposite choice early on and let world 2 organically grow into something different.

    Game design, when done in a high-quality detail-oriented way, is really complicated.

  13. Personally, i think the arrangement of the puzzle pieces in world 2 was what gave me such a strong love for the game while playing the demo. I thought it was genius and there are not many other games with puzzles interlinking backwards such as that. I’m glad you never changed it – even if you did think it was a bad idea!

  14. Jonathan, et al:, thank you for Braid.

    After playing the game to its epilogue twice, in bursts separated by 3 years (most recently completed this past week), I felt with certitude, firstly, that I will learn to play violin; and secondly, that I needed to tell you.
    (people who haven’t finished the game: obliquely spoilery stuff to follow, as well as horrible rambling)
    Since I have been known, in my circles, to be intensely analytical when confronted with personal adversity, I really felt akin with this game and how Tim looks at the world; it is profoundly resonant.
    For example, several people in my family encountered serious health problems, some dying from them. As many do, I skimmed dozens of medical research articles, stuffing as many variables into my head as I could, so as to maybe help them live longer or recover. When I, or my loved ones, encounter such adversity I — wrongly — considered emotional support to be but a minor part of my contribution. I was often guilty of relentless reductionism, breaking problems down into their constituents and then cross-referencing, making databases, etc, to try and find correlations. Usually, my knowledge was too pitifully narrow to change anything, but I would only angrily redouble my efforts. I lost sleep, lost interest in all of my hobbies, lost interest in people, lost interest in reading for real pleasure, and thought of little else in my free time.
    Sometimes, it helped in some small way. But usually it didn’t.

    And what did I do then? I would study what I did, replaying it all over and over in my mind, to try and become more efficient.


    After seeing mention of the secret stars to collect (and having time and patience in my life to collect exactly zero of them), I concluded that it didn’t feel wrong to look at their solutions online; I was convinced that the effort required couldn’t possibly be worth it. I then saw what happened when you complete your task of scouring the game world for every star, probing every fruitless corner and trying, gamely, to affect the outcome of the epilogue and World 1.

    I had been pretty sure, up to that point, that I was getting close to a real (for me) understanding of the game’s meaning just by playing it, but after seeing the “alternate” denouement in world 1, I was struck, and utterly hollowed out. “Now Tim’s really done it,” I thought. “The ultimate completion and the ultimate failure.”

    And so I was able to get out of my own head a little more. I returned to the present, just a bit more.
    There is considerable beauty in the game that Tim never turns to look at or contemplate. The guy is so… two-dimensional. I don’t want to be him anymore.
    And so I am going to learn the fiddle.

    Thanks again.

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