I feel lost a lot lately. I've been getting the feeling for months now, and I'm always trying to fix it, but I'm never doing it correctly. For a while, it was buying video games and video game consoles.
I watched a movie called "Indie Game: The Movie" and it is a documentary following the development of independently made games. Three games were featured in a sort of past, present, and future perspective. Braid was the 'past' game, which had been released maybe two years earlier and had done really well.
I thought about video games a bit that night. I enjoyed the movie and it made me think about things which is something I can always appreciate. It occurred to me that I buy a handful of junk games, and I play a handful of junk games. And I thought "Why do I buy and play these?" because the games I had been buying weren't fun for me. There was no satisfaction from completing them, and when I did complete them I still felt empty inside. So I decided I would quit playing games, at least for a while.
It was about a month or a month and a half before I decided to pick something else up. Since I had seen 'Indie Game', I had really wanted to play Braid. I downloaded it off of Xbox Live Arcade.
And it was great.
I enjoyed it quite a bit, and when I wasn't playing it I was looking up speeches/lectures the creator, Jonathan Blow, had made.
Since Braid is a puzzle platformer, I would get stuck at certain puzzles of the game. And if I couldn't complete it, I would put it down and pick it up the next day. It wasn't a game I got angry or frustrated with. I understood that the puzzles could be completed, and it was just a matter of figuring it out. It was a very nice process. Unfortunately, I found out later, many gamers don't have the same patience with it that I do. They would get angry and quit, or (which I consider worse) look up the solution to the puzzle.
There were only two puzzles that I encountered that I was not able to figure out in the same sitting. Maybe had I a more difficult time with it, I would be much more frustrated. I found that if the puzzle took time, I enjoyed it more when I solved it. It was an accomplishment I felt I could be proud of. I didn't need help and it only took patience.
In addition to the gratification of the puzzles, there was a deep meaning in the form of 'books' at the beginning of each world. I spent some time looking into them and I found it to be so deep and meaningful, and personal, from the creator.
Even after I felt that I had 'finished' the game, I kept playing it. I was always looking for something more. And I discovered that in the final level (where there are presumably no puzzles) there are actually more puzzles, though brief. And the reward from these puzzles was more insight into what the words were saying. And I was so proud. I saw something that I felt was a little odd and curious, and it turned out to be a little hidden thing that I imagined many people just sort of glazed over, in hopes that the game would 'finally' be over.
And it was like, a special little reward. Do you know what I mean? It's like the game says "Hey, you figured it out. This puzzle wasn't really that obvious and I was beginning to think no one even cared. But you did. Congratulations!"
So I started to play the speed runs, which are like little challenge levels that I found out the creator purposely put it (because at first it seemed a little strange to have challenge levels in a puzzle-game designed around meaningful puzzles and playthrough). After a couple of days I decided "Hey, why don't I see what other people have to say about this game?"
I type in "Braid video game wordpress" into Bing and I find out what other people have to say is poor. Poor analyses of the game, with poor commenters proudly admitting that they didn't even complete the game.
I would say it's what I expected, but it was so much lower than that. And it's like, I realize why I never typed in "Memento anaylsis" or "Donnie Darko explained" or "Mullholland Dr. what does it mean?" into any search bar.
It's because no one knows anything and they shouldn't pretend to.
And I come across this line, that actually kind of gave me a shock. I suppose I'll
quote it, because the kid was really a piece of work.
|Least Favorite Part about the Game (and why)|
While Braid is an amazing piece of art with a fabulous mechanic, the puzzles were insane. I often got too frustrated with the puzzles once I thought I had figured it out and realized I hadn’t and needed to start the whole area over again. Some of the puzzles felt impossible. It wasn’t until I found help, either online or from a friend, that I was able to get through some of the puzzles. That made the game less enjoyable, knowing that I was incapable of figuring out the puzzles on my own within a decent amount of time. I can’t count the number of times I needed to put the game down because a single puzzle had frustrated me so completely.
Another thing I am not a fan of is the use of hidden stars in the game. The stars are nearly impossible to find for anyone just playing the game. Actually, they seem to be almost impossible to find even for the players who are looking for them. A player needs to be essentially obsessed with Braid in order to find them (or use a guide online). Once they are found, they change the ending, just slightly, but enough. If a player was able to collect all eight of the stars, at the end, the player will be able to catch the princess. Once the player character touches the princess, though, she glows and explodes, the sound of a bomb going off can be heard.
As I'm reading, I actually start to question whether this kid is even right about what he's saying. There are hidden stars in the game? What are you talking about. I played that game for three weeks and never saw a hint of 'stars'.
I look it up and I discover a guide about it. I'm thinking "No way. I missed this..." I plug it in and seek out the first star. And it's a little difficult. It requires you to play the game in a sort of 'not playing the game' way.
Honestly, I'm blown away and not in a positive way. I feel a little insulted and upset. I'm not angry, right? I'm in a sort of sad upset.
I think "Why didn't he give me some sort of hint? Why didn't he let me know they existed that way I could at least look for them." I'm thinking this because there was absolutely no give away as to the stars existence. Because I had completed the game and I felt I had satisfactorily done it. Why is there this 'hidden' star in it?
And really, it ruined my mood and my girlfriend got really mad at me about it. I can't really explain it, but this game had somehow meant a great deal to me and discovering this, by some no-brain kid no less, really did a number on me.
To sort of add insult to injury, the guide has a contradiction in the introductory paragraph
|There are eight secret stars to be found in the game once you finish it in its entirety.|
The stars can be collected on a first play-through, though that would completely defeat the purpose of the game.
So you have to beat the game first, but you can find them on your first playthrough?
And you know, it just discourages me from playing it. I don't seek out the stars and see the hidden ending. I just want to know why he didn't give me a hint.
Looking into what other people had to say further only unveiled the idiots of everyone. And then it occurs to me "How can I call these people idiots because I don't agree with them? That's what they do to other people's analysis."
Then I'm discouraged from even trying to dig deeper into the meaning of the game.
Now we get to where I am now. I'm stuck between wanting to play the game and find the stars (even though I know their locations) and disliking myself and everyone else for ever playing it.
Really, I want to sent an email to Jon. I want to ask him what he was going for with the stars. Not in a mean, condescending way, right, because I can think of some reasons as to why he put them in. It's actually pretty traditional of a platformer to have secrets like that, where the casual gamer doesn't even ever know of them.
Maybe, really all I want is closure.
Anyway, that's all I have to say for right now. I'll edit the post some if I can think of something else to say.