The Witness artist and indie developer Luis Antonio has started unraveling the mysteries of the game's design and art direction in an ongoing deep dive posted on his blog.
After spending four years working on Jonathan Blow's long-awaited puzzler, which has now grossed over $5 million, the artist has been given free rein to share "as many details as he can remember" about his personal responsibilities, creative processes, and development techniques.
True to his word, Antonio has so far released two blog updates, spotlighting, among other things, the unorthodox techniques and inspiration behind The Witness' trailer and concept art; the development of the island's architecture and foliage; and the evolution of the game's many perculiar statues.
Interestingly, Antonio also talks about some of The Witness' canned sections, such as a tutorial bunker that was eventually cut from the final game.
"After being hired, this was my first assignment, so there is some nostalgia to it, even tough its no longer in the game," writes Antonio.
"You would start the game in a dark tunnel of a old defensive bunker underground, located inside a small medieval fortification. Once you left this tunnel, you would be in someone’s house, built inside an old war bunker.
The bunker, originally a key part of the game's entry yard area, was finally dropped when it became apparent it would only confuse players and lead them away from the opening puzzle - an example of the impact art, design, and gameplay can have on each other.
"The biggest issue was figuring out how to have the player see the mountain the moment he steps outside. The bunker had always been facing south and we wanted to keep the puzzle right in front of the player as he exits the interior area," continues Antonio.
"We tried to change the bunker windows, then the tunnel, but the easiest ended up just getting rid of the bunker and redesigning the space again."
For more behind-the-scenes info, design details, and even a few technical tips and tricks, be sure to check out Antonio's ever-expanding blog.
Or, if you don't have time to pick through each page, why not watch the artist's GDC 2014 talk to learn more about The Witness' distinct art style.