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I make games, talk about them, draw comics and post sketches.

lørdag den 15. september 2012

Making Thoughts of a Mechanic

Last post wasn't enough. I keep thinking about this idea of quality and worth.

I have a great deal of respect for Jonathan Blow. His thoughts on videogames and  insistence on being outspoken and articulate, without being patronizing or militaristic is a wonderful addition to the studies of games. I am particularly fond of this quote: "The rules of a game... the kind of interactions that a game puts you into... is the meaning of life... for that game".

I see a great and terrible logic in a principle like this: "What you are able to do or the constraints that you operate under in a game, is the point of the game". I.e. if you kill or only can kill in a game, then the game is about killing. Nevermind what the narrative dictates: you are killing, that is all.

But then, if that's true, what about Blow's own Braid? Braid is narratively seemingly about a man who thinks about his life and what he regrets. It's starkly seperated into areas of narrative exposition and interactive puzzles. But if what you do in the interactive areas is to stomp on the heads of critters and solve puzzles, then that game isn't really about contemplating your own existence anymore. It's a well designed and time-worthy toy without introspection in the non-narratively focused areas.


Unless I had been missing something. A different way of understanding my own actions in Braid. The rules in Braid are: In a given area, there is one or more puzzles. Completing them will earn you a jigsaw puzzle piece. All the pieces form a painting from a time in the protagonist's life. All the puzzles must be completed with a time-manipulation mechanic.

The idea is that the protagonist is thinking back on his life. He isn't actually going back. Thinking about his life is rearranging the pieces of his past in his mind, so as to understand himself. But even when the player has gathered all the pieces and proceed to read parts of journals from his past... nothing becomes really focused about the protagonist's past.

Perhaps that is where Blow keeps in line with his own ideas. More than solving puzzles, the rules of Braid dictate that you are the protagonist's own thoughts, moving and shuffling pieces of his own past around. You can't change anything, no matter how much you fight or how clever puzzles you solves. You achieve beautiful, pristine paintings of his past. But they are just that. They don't talk, forgive or scorn. The joy of solving a puzzle in Braid for me, was matched by the dissapointment of  nothingness when all was put into neat frames and arranged in a orderly manner. I still didn't really understand everything and I hadn't changed anything.

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