Category Archives: Collab: Game Design Thesis

I wracked my brain playing Braid, and I liked it

**Spoiler alert – I review how the game ends in this post, so If you plan on playing Braid (or have not finished it yet), you might want to wait until you finish before reading.**

According to Steam, I played Braid for a total of 8 hours. That was 8 crazy hours. I am currently in the process of doing sound design for Eric Chung, Joungyoun Lee, and Margaret Moser’s video game, and Braid was recommended to me as a great example for sound design in a game. So I spent some time experiencing a modern gaming classic, and it was well worth the effort.


The majority of the “soundtrack” was composed independently from the game by a set of different artists and was licensed from magnatune.com. It was amazing to read that Jonathan Blow had selected that music, and in the comments section of his blog post, he wrote:

I did it this way because I knew that (a) I could find music of the mood and texture that I wanted [though it was very difficult!], and (b) the music was made by artists who really cared about the music they were doing, a lot; and that feeling makes its way into the final game.

I didn’t want to try and commission game musicians to make songs, especially with a very low audio budget — the result is just not the same emotionally, even if it’s a high quality song, because they aren’t invested in the same way. And even just a high-quality song is hard to get, because there are a lot of not-so-hot game musicians out there.

I was surprised to read this because the music feels so integral to the entire narrative and game mechanic (rewinding time).

In relation to speculation that the game is about the atomic bomb, I feel that it has much more to do with memory and delusion. Even if Blow was referencing the regret that the contributors to one of the world’s most deadly weapons may feel, upon finishing the game I feel the protagonist chose delusion over reality and sunk further into the deep recesses of his mind.

Reminiscent of Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World, the Calcutec narrator’s mind had already slipped. He spends one last moment with the lovely Librarian before he slips into the End of the World forever. The mixed feeling of triumph, standing atop the cloud at the child-playroom styled finish line felt like a nod to delusion. Let the anti-hero, upon finding out he is a non-threatening villain chasing a woman who doesn’t want him, return to the beginning of the game to practice speed runs or wander the boards for fun.