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Jonathan Blow’s Next Title To Use Body Tracking Technology?

by Meagan Marie on Oct 26, 2009 at 06:17 AM

Jonathan Blow’s XBLA hit Braid captured the attention of many of us here at GI. The innovative time manipulation mechanic and ingenious level design helped it to out amongst a sea of comparatively shallow downloadable titles. After the success of such a game (especially an indie title) the subsequent question inevitably asks what the developer will move on to next. Via an update at the official Braid Blog, Blow may have hinted at body tracking support in one of his future projects.

But first we must backtrack for the necessary framework. Back in July a string of job postings began enticing qualified applicants to apply for new positions opening at Number None, Blow’s budding game design studio. The positions described needing someone to work “with a small team on a puzzle-exploration game that is philosophical, and quiet, and is being made for reasons other than crass profit motive.”

Looking for both a Lead 3D Environment Concept Artist and a Lead 3D Artist, Blow was explicit about what he didn’t want to see in their portfolios. Specifically for the concept artist, Blow explained that “The majority of the portfolio should consist of things absent from the following list: Girls With Big T***; Barbarians Wielding Axes, Covered in Blood; Aliens; Space Ships; Gangsters Getting Shot in the Face; Orcs; Giant Robots; and, of course, Postapocalyptic Wastelands.”

So far, so good.

For the Lead 3D Artist, Blow disclosed that a major emphasis is placed on visuals in the upcoming title and that nuance is key. As for the portfolio? No monsters or weapon models, please.

Two final details were found in the first listing, divulging that the Lead 3D artist would be responsible for hiring two subordinates (implying growth at Number None) and that the position would parallel an expected 2-year development cycle – hinting at a possible 2011 release for the still undisclosed game.

Back in August, the mystery project was named. Dubbed The Witness, a teaser site went live, although it remained appropriately cryptic. You can check it out for yourself here. Blow chose not to release any imagery with the game’s debut, explaining that “the game is very visual, and once we have developed those visuals to the point where they are representative, I’ll start posting them there.” We’re keeping our eyes peeled for when that day comes.

Flash forward to September. Next Blow looked to hire programmers, citing them as needing a strong knowledge of 3D engine design and shader programming, the ability to design for multiple consoles (the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii were noted as examples) and tool programming.

But on to the more recent news. Just last week, another job listing posted to the blog. Looking for a second programmer, the position asks for someone with “substantial 3D gamed development experience” and hints that the job includes “very interesting work with full-body motion tracking.” Things just got a bit more intriguing. Further corroborating the claim, in a recent interview, Blow suggested that The Witness may use motion controls in a small way.

It’s worth noting, however, that the latest job posting didn’t explicitly state that the position is for a spot on the Witness development team. Past job postings were clear as to the project applicants were submitting for. The ad simply noted that Number None is looking to add a new programmer to the company roster. Blow mentioned several times that the team is “fully-funded and pay is high,” so working on more than one project, or simply exploring burgeoning technology, isn’t out of the question for the team. We’ve contacted Blow for any clarification he may be able to give.

So details are still scarce. But one thing is sure; If Blow was capable of making Braid a success with funding out of his own pocket, we have faith a larger team with more resources will flourish under his guidance.

We’ll keep you informed as more light is shed on The Witness.