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Braid - different ways of doing 5-7: Fragile Companion

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Published on Jun 4, 2010

This may be the best manifestation of Ebert's problem with games that I have seen. Braid is very much an engineered artistic experience - there are things Jon Blow wants to show the people who pick it up. There are those who will tell you that the inability of a creator to know, with certainty, what their audience will see, is such a powerful limitation that it will forever prevent game designers from making world-changing art.

I think these people are reasonable but wrong. Though the player can change the things that will be *seen* from what the creator will expect, they cannot change the *systems* that underly the things they shall see. I believe game designers can and must communicate important things through these systems.

Braid is a wonderful example of this. The systems it contains are profound, big, and beautiful - and entirely communicable. Through the careful placement of obstacles and rewards, the creator is able to ensure that every person who completes the game will bear witness to its sublime system.

Except for this video! It could be an intentional, structural decision to have two solutions to one puzzle. It's not as if this breaks it - they are both very interesting. Most players just do the first one, leaving the second one as an interesting little nugget for those who find it (which now includes you!). There are other puzzles that have different solutions, and we know this was semi-intentionally left in. Fire up the level editor in the "Fickle Companion" level.

We must be aware of this though: the imageries of the two solutions are very different. If we were to interpret them symbolically, we'd get different things. Maybe this adds to the beauty of it (and maybe adds personal expression) but, well, if there is some grand, composed feeling we are meant to get from the game, it is upset by this uncertainty.

I'll round this off with a little challenge: in theory an extension of the second puzzle allows you to get the puzzle piece with the key still in your hand. Try and work out how!

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