Q&A

EDGE - - THE MAKING OF... - Jonathan Blow Cre­ator, The Wit­ness

The Wit­ness uses mu­sic spar­ingly. What in­spired the use of Ed­vard Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Moun­tain King?

There was a game from the 1980s that I liked called Moun­tain King. You're search­ing for a flame: the flame is in­vis­i­ble, but you can hear where it is by lis­ten­ing to In The Hall Of The Moun­tain King. The closer you get, the louder the mu­sic is. For an '80s game, it was very in­ter­est­ing. That ac­tu­ally may be how I got in­spired to think about any of this stuff: a lot of The Wit­ness is about phys­i­cal phe­nom­ena, like sound and light pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Did you think deeply about in-game re­wards?

I did. I like to give peo­ple the ben­e­fit of the doubt, not chime in every ten sec­onds and say, ‘Good job!’ I don't feel like those kind of screens ever make any­one re­ally feel good. But there are achieve­ments and tro­phies in the game. Cer­tain plat­forms force you to have them add up to a num­ber of points. The Steam ver­sion has the achieve­ments that I pre­fer – two for the en­tire game. Both of those mo­ments are note­wor­thy enough that a heavy-handed thing like a no­ti­fi­ca­tion pop­ping up is ap­pro­pri­ate.

Look­ing back, is there any­thing you would have done dif­fer­ently?

I am mostly sat­is­fied with the game, but there's one thing that I think is a mis­take. In the cen­tral area – we call it the ‘hub’ in­ter­nally – dif­fer­ent ideas from around the is­land come to­gether. The prob­lem is we let peo­ple free-roam, and there's just a bit too much in terms of puzzles [in this area] that peo­ple are not equipped to deal with yet if they en­counter them first. If I were do­ing the game again, I'd put a wall around it with one puz­zle on it that looks in­tim­i­dat­ing.

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