Jonathan Blow: How Mainstream Devs Are Getting It Wrong
The developer behind Braid and The Witness talks about the indie scene, if games should be fun, and the state of Japanese game development.
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He really does try hard to make his platformer sound like it's something much deeper and more intelligent than it actually is. It's a platformer!
Love him or hate him, one thing's for sure - he's got the sexiest voice of any indie game developer (at least). He should release some podcasts... or audiobooks.
Yeah, at first I thought I wasn't gonna listen to it all. But.. I totally did!
A great interview! I am looking forward to Jonathan's new game. :)
Great video, i just got annoyed with the constant Skyward Sword footage on the background. Its true that the game was a little more accessible in the way to show you where you needed to go than previous Zelda games, but its also true it ws the most intellectually inciting game of the series where even outside of dungeons you were posed with constant puzzles, problems and obstacles to overcome. Which is what Jonathan was talking he enjoyed.
Braid wasn't as amazing as many reviewers implied. I think it was the unusual world dynamic and "artsy" graphical approach that caught their attention, more than anything else; Not the entertainment value.
For me, RPG's are the genre I go for to get my "discovery" element. They do it particularly well and there's plenty of them. Many of which are exceptionally good at what they do.
This guy is very new to the industry and seems to have fallen for the irrelevance of the pedestal said reviewrs have placed in front of him.He comes across as completely pretentious...
@Kevin-V Well I agree that is not as challenging. Although Braid didn't hit my taste, so I would go with SS over all.
His surname is unfortunate. Reminds me of that politician in Australia, Richard Head. Some parents have a great sense of humor.
I agree people have different views on fun. Yet at the same time many FF games have NOT been fun but still GREAT. WOW is NOT fun but addictive. Heavy rain is NOT a fun game but interesting, and heartfelt. LOL"...they have concluded that are the right way to design games that I think are totally wrong." that sentence is totally wrong. Some people love the way they do it and like you some people do not. And this is not static either at times I love to slog my way through a game, and at other times I really do not, but would rather jump into a online fast pace shooter fest; no thinking at all.
But that seems somewhat symptomatic -- that Japanese games with unrecognizable titles and concepts, just don't get much of a chance over here. At some point, western gamers in general, just decided that "they probably suck". We have become narrow-minded. It's a shame because there are some seriously awesome Japanese games out there, that never really sold and will never get a sequel. Here's to Bayonetta, Vanquish, Lost Oddyssey, Shadows of the Damned, Eternal Sonata... We hardly knew thee!
@Flamebeast4000 I agree completely. He made one game, that became a hit. And Braid was admittely quite good, until it decided to stick it's own head up it's bottom and attempted to build and sell luxury penthouse apartments in it's murky depths. In any case, his statements was perhaps interesting, but when he also says that he hasn't played any Japanese games in recent years, it kinda falls flat on its face. He should have said: "Now I actually haven't bothered to find out, but I'm pretty sure it's all rubbish," but I suppose that's just not as "snappy" ;-)
"I respect players as intelligent been" so true, he just want the industry to evolve and games to be deeper, I agree with that, if you can see that I don't see how you many around here will fall into the intelligent gamer, that's why we have on-disc dlc, day-one dlc, CoD elite and stills sells a lot. besides indie games most of the new IP's we see lately, some better than others and give small developers the chance to enter this market
@lil_zelda_dude I don't know if it was on purpose, but were you implying that non-artistic games are casual? I don't remember outright saying what he said was wrong, nor did I say he was right. All I said before was that he was arrogant for telling Japanese developers what they're doing wrong, when he himself is relatively new to game development. No matter how you look at it, he said Japanese developers tend to put in tons of filler. He said that what many in the game industry believe to be the right way to make games is actually wrong. Even if he was excluding some of the better Japanese developers, how can he, a small-time indie developer with one game under his belt, say companies like Activision and EA are going about development the wrong way? Arrogantly, that's how. The focus of his interview is irrelevant. He said what he said. Yes, I quoted only the parts of his speech that related to him attacking Japanese and big-time western developers, but in no way did I twist or distort the meaning of the quotes. He meant exactly what I quoted. I could have typed up everything he said concerning these much-more-successful-than-him companies, and it would have said the same thing. It just would have been annoying and time-consuming.
Hello Comrades, Please excuse my ignorance. What was the game with the character moving the cubic boxes? It looks interesting!! Cheers
@Mecamatt Skyward sword constantly handheld. For example, when you walk into a place with a piece of heart dangling on a hanging chandelier, and the bartender says to you "don't even THINK of rolling into that wall and trying to knock down and get that heart piece!" Also, for Super Mario Galaxy 2, you know the cloud power? You have three clouds that can be deployed at max. You can, however, make it through the entire game without ever using all 3 clouds the power makes available. The games are designed to give you the illusion you are being resourceful, but there is a safety net that is overbearing, presenting itself more than necessary. It is perfectly fine if you don't notice it, but for many gamers such as myself, who can actually see the underlying game design, we don't feel satisfied by the accomplishments in the game.
@flamebeast4000 your taking quotations out of context to weave a strong negative tone. He's distinguishing idealogies, and yes he believe's there doing it incorrectly. But that is not in anyway the focus, your facts are slanted. Did you forget he also said that he acknowledges that there are "exceptions" and some "really good" current games? But lets think about his ideas for a second. I think they're extremely valid, developers are playing it way too safe and sacrificing the overall meaning of the game when making that a priority. And all games should not be fun, perhaps an idea that will be hard for the more narrow minded to grasp, but games should be fun where its appropriate. If the game hopes to reenact the emotions sprung in the struggle for survival there should be somewhat of a grind, droll feelings, and punishment. And no I'm not a braid fanboy, in fact I never touched the game, nor am I a Miyamoto hater, I'm just attracted to development theories that dont prioritize appealing to the largest audiences and treat the character as unintelligent. Theres a market for those casual games sure, but for the medium to grow artistically this mans theory is sound.
I'm not sure why so many people are concluding that Jonathan Blow is arrogant. He qualifies several of his statements in the interview with "I think" or "maybe" or "you could certainly find exceptions." Hell, he spends the last thirty seconds of the video talking about how he wants there to be open discussion about cultural perceptions and different design ideas. What's wrong with sharing opinions?
I love this man. The problem with modern video games is that they are being made by businesses not artists. History shows that the strongest examples of each are the greatest failures and successes.........e.g. E.T (on the atari) and Portal
Well they're overcooking their big-budget franchise workouts, that's the core of their problem. Gaming wouldn't be nearly as chancy and shallow today if some of these companies would stop sinking millions into a rehash, or reviving a dead horse to beat it some more. They've cultivated an entire market of players who willingly shell out big bucks for uninspired formula. Originality is a cautionary hazard to these companies now. They want to pump money from a well they know had water last year, and they'll do it until it collapses. See Guitar Hero. And independent companies are erring too. They rarely devote their efforts to something complex or long-term, opting instead for a game with a broad audience. It's very difficult today, to discern what's worth the $60 price tag. Pick up a classic, though, and you'll see little companies with big visions and a fiery need to make them happen. That's what I miss.
Wow, he brought up a couple of interesting topics. I'd like to have a few of those discussions with a friend now. :P
So while I found the interview to be somewhat interesting, I felt that the entire video was a overlylong thing with little content whatsoever. I mean I agree with some of his comments, games are becoming to hand-holding. Recently started playing prototype and literally half-way through and still getting tutorial messages quite often. The game is far from being complicated and they are really unneeded for anyone with half a brain. Next up tales of graces F, why does it seem that every battle or 2 ends with a tutorial message. So I can get that point of his interview, however beyond that there didn't seem to be much useful. "Re-Classify the genres". I don't care a lot if you consider this game's story funny, I'm not going to classify my RPG as funny rather than RPG. sure with Indie games this might be more important since many of them are so short emotions might be more important, but in a real game many emotions should be taking place. To classify a game as frustrating would be insanely dumb, as what one person might find frustratingly difficult another person might find frustratingly easy. In short, the current Genre system is what it should be.
@Mecamatt SS was annoying with its hand-holding but it's true that once in the dungeon it's doesn't annoy you anymore
@shadowysea07 "for example tales of legendia and shadows of the damned. mediocre games with extremely high quality work for their music." Makes all your posts even more hilarious. You may not have used the word sucked, but you did say it in different words. You also keep saying I am invalidated because what I say is an opinion, but the above statement, is that not an opinion? See what you are trying to do is invalidate my opinion, by stating your opinion as an absolute kid. See kid, I know your a kid, because you cannot even use proper capitalization, and you have not grasped the concept of an opinion and what is a fact. Also a mature insult and a childish insult? Really? See you do not even know the proper terminology. You are probably trying to refer constructive criticism, but that is too hard of a concept for you to grasp. Also I am not insecure, I just like to put down little know it all gamers, that make us real gamers look bad. So here's the deal kid, you are the one who started the attack not me. I stated the truth about games and it's media. You are the one who got insecure, not I kid. Now why don't you go play something more suitable such as.....the Sesame Street game for Kinnect. You might learn some basic skills there, such as Capitalization....:D Have a nice Day kid!
@TheTrueMagusX1 once again it doesn't matter what you think of the game the fact is that those were the only high quality aspects of them I pointed out. and i didn't say any of those games sucked but apparently you can't read very well. I'm also not saying you can't insult cod I'm saying try using mature insults instead of childish ones. you also seem insecure about what games you play. how about coming up with a reasonable opinion and explain why they aren't good in your opinion instead of using a childish remark and respecting others opinions. but i guess i'm expecting too much out of gamefaqs
Fun and funny are not the same thing. A game that I enjoy playing doesn't necessarily make me laugh. Just thought I'd mention it.
I think one thing this guy is trying to touch is the same thing Egoraptor talked about in his Megaman Sequelitis video. However, I can't feel but think he has some biased here like saying games should be divided into fun games and grueling games just cause he didn't like Counter strike(A million other people would disagree that Counter strike was a grueling and punishing experience). BTW, literally making the player wait for 2 hours for a secret item was a stupid idea.
@shadowysea07 Your point was invalid even from the beginning. And it seems I have offended you in some way. No I will mock Call of Dooty, or Call of Drivel the way I see fit, because that is what it is. Drivel...Now back to your invalid point, you brought it up for no reason. You proved nothing. Of course my opinions manner, now your invalidating stuff so you could validate your fallible arguments. For example, you said Shadows of the damned suck, which is your opinon but has good music which is your opinion, but yet mine is different so it is invalidated? You just completely destroyed your own argument, which is hilarious in itself. Now go on, go play your Call of Drivel. I will enjoy Journey again, play some Mass Effect 3 a good mainstream game, oh and patiently wait for Tales of Graces F, a game that has heart, and characters I can care about. Not some bloke called Soap, that I donot care about. Cheers pal! :D Enjoy your endless road to prestige, I will enjoy my games with heart! :D
@TheTrueMagusX1 all i said was that quality can be found in any type of game and that no branding niche main stream can determine what the games quality will be like. and you are incredibly immature. try insulting the series cod without using 5 year old insults that the majority of idiots come up with. as for your opinions on those games i mentioned those do not matter. the point was to show that nearly any game can have a high quality aspect.
I'm always glad when there are those in the industry who talk about what games could be and how developers can expand or improve the medium beyond the small iterations to design we usually get (not that I mind that). Even if they happen to be wrong sometimes, at least they are passionate about games and want to find further potential in them. As for Jonathan Blow, I think he's already done that once with Braid by showing us just how well an idea can be expressed through gameplay, and I hope he can do it again with The Witness.
@shadowysea07 Funny you try to correct me. Funny considering there are people who like Legendia's unique narrative(Doing save the world first, and than personal subplots). Funny considering I thought Shadows of the Damned was a great and gutsy game, a game that took risks, unlike what Call of Drivel, oh excuse me Call of Duty. I find more quality in Niche titles, and yes Niche goes for not only for Japanese games, there are western niche games as well, then the drivel. Journey which is a true Niche game, gave me three hours, that were more fulfilling then, any 100 hours i tried to "prestige" myself. And by the way, I simply brought those developers as I find them quite better at making games then alot of mainstream games. I do enjoy my mainstream games, your skyrims, and such, but trash like Call of Dooty, blind gamers from being open minded. Sounds like that is your problem actually...
Since when do Zelda games hand-hold you through the game? It's true that they may have longer-than average tutorials, but once you get to dungeons it's almost completely self exploration. I feel like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid do that better than ANY other kind of game.
@thew13 The reason to make a game not fun is because that's FAR easier to do than to make a fun one, lol, and indie developers definitely can't compete with developers such as Blizzard or Valve or From Software. That's why indie developers are always pondering stupid crap in interviews like "shuld gamez b fun or shuld they b art". Rather than make good games and ACTUALLY push the medium forward (towards greater complexity and immersion), they simply try and get people to change their perspectives on good and bad in order to accommodate their poor design. The whole thing really is shameful!
The reason why we have a difference between genres is because they're playable, and playability is meant to be enjoyable. Movies aren't fun (well, not in the active sense) because the audience watches a story that unfolds in front of them. They have no control over the preceding. Movies are entertaining (that can be applied to all genres) to watch while games are fun to interact with (that can be applied to all genres). Other than that I think he makes some okay points (western design does hand hold way too much). Braid was a very good game, but I think he treats his opinion with more weight than it actually has.
While he does have some valid points . I honestly beg to differ . With all due respect Mr.Blow , I don't play games to feel the " joy of discovery " , I play 'em primarily to blow off some steam and that's why a good majority of gamers play 'em in the first place . I do enjoy the occasional game that tests your intellect , but I see games a form of entertainment . Besides , if mainstream devs weren't doing it wrong , why would people buy these games in the first place ? I think the games industry is making progress . Take Heavy Rain , L.A.Noire as examples of that . And there are games that do make you feel the joy of discovery . Portal 2 and Arkham City are good examples of that .
Nothing special with his voice... why? is it because he says "like" a hundred times?
@Herbaceous He's been in the industry for like 15 years dude. He only went Indie about 4 years ago.
@AFiercePancake That's kind of important to point out and I fully agree.
Some of his statements come across as if he has the answers for what we want from games, because he doesn't like certain genres and game dynamics.. And his sweeping "fun games" theory is over the top... As I said, pretentious. I won't even get started about his criticisms towards the Japanese developers.
I only know this guy from one game - Braid. It's an average platform game (platform games are cheap and usually feed off nostalgia more than anything else), that received hyped reviews because of it's different 'platformer' dynamics and artistic style.
The Trine series was far better. Let's see what those developers have to say...
@Herbaceous @mattcrwi Braid is a brain-twisting puzzle game that utilizes platformer mechanics, not the other way around. I couldn't get into Trine at all, but I really liked Braid. I feel like Trine uses complicated mechanics and fancy graphics to cover for basic deficiencies in gameplay while Braid uses very simple mechanics to create some very challenging puzzles. I played through Braid at least twice, but since it's based entirely around puzzle-solving then once I figure out a puzzle it's not really interesting anymore, although there were a few where I forgot the solution so I had a challenge in rediscovering it.