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.