So does Jonathan Blow seem kinda like a pretentious douche?

I just don't know about Jonathan Blow.
 
Heh. That rhymed.
 
No but seriously, I don't know. I liked Braid from a gameplay standpoint, even if I never beat it because it was fucking hard as balls, and I appreciated how the game mechanics tied into the story in a meaningful, thematic way.
 
But on the other hand, that story (at least what I played of it) was so immature and self-important, and it's presentation was more than a bit obvious. The violin music and painted backgrounds were just a little too artsy. 
 
The dude put in a quote from a poem into his credits. Like, come on, dude. Have some sense of self-awareness.
 
And now it comes out that he put his new game out on the show floor at PAX, but didn't tell anyone. And sure, he could say that he wanted to reward people for seeking out something special, or that he didn't want people to feel pressured by long lines, but it also comes off as cocky. "Yeah, I ain't gonna show you my game. You gotta come find it, 'cause I'm Jonathan fucking Blow and you'll do it because I'm so fucking great." And then it turns out to basically be just Myst.
 
I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too much into things. Maybe he's a fine guy who doesn't have a high opinion of himself or his work. But that's the impression I've gotten from his writing and his interviews and stuff.

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Posted by Olivaw

I just don't know about Jonathan Blow.
 
Heh. That rhymed.
 
No but seriously, I don't know. I liked Braid from a gameplay standpoint, even if I never beat it because it was fucking hard as balls, and I appreciated how the game mechanics tied into the story in a meaningful, thematic way.
 
But on the other hand, that story (at least what I played of it) was so immature and self-important, and it's presentation was more than a bit obvious. The violin music and painted backgrounds were just a little too artsy. 
 
The dude put in a quote from a poem into his credits. Like, come on, dude. Have some sense of self-awareness.
 
And now it comes out that he put his new game out on the show floor at PAX, but didn't tell anyone. And sure, he could say that he wanted to reward people for seeking out something special, or that he didn't want people to feel pressured by long lines, but it also comes off as cocky. "Yeah, I ain't gonna show you my game. You gotta come find it, 'cause I'm Jonathan fucking Blow and you'll do it because I'm so fucking great." And then it turns out to basically be just Myst.
 
I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too much into things. Maybe he's a fine guy who doesn't have a high opinion of himself or his work. But that's the impression I've gotten from his writing and his interviews and stuff.

Posted by fentonalpha

Reading into it too much i think.  I already have my plan for how to debut my second game at PAX and it's very similar to what he did.  Only i haven't made my first game yet.  It's good to have a plan though.

Posted by JJWeatherman

No. He seems like a bomb dude that makes bomb games.

Posted by Rockanomics

I'm pretty sure he's done talks, you could probably get a good sense of his character from them.

Posted by Castro

Where was his game on the show floor? He was at the Spy Party/Monaco booth every time I went by (which was a lot because Spy Party was rad), and I don't recall seeing anything in that area.

Posted by Diamond

No, but I don't know him that well.
 
What's with the attitude that games have to be dumb as shit to not be pretentious?  The amazing soundtrack is too artsy?  What the fuck?  Play some music you like instead, I guess.
 
My impression of his 'showing' of the Witness at PAX is he wanted to see how people reacted by NOT BEING PRETENTIOUS.  If everyone knew he made that game a million people would have lined up and it would have changed peoples' impressions.
 
As far as it goes, if it actually does play like Myst, puzzles over large areas, that will be really cool too.  I just hope it isn't all mazes.

Posted by Turambar

What was the line he gave when looking for people to help develop Witness?  People with the following in their portfolio: people getting shot in face, barbarians with axes, and flying robots, need not apply.  Or something along the lines of that.  Someone that cares more about accuracy can find the Bombcast where it was first brought it.  Yeah, he is a bit pretentious.

Posted by Olivaw
@JJWeatherman said:
" No. He seems like a bomb dude that makes bomb games. "
Guess it's just me then!
 

Edited by MrKlorox

Agreed, OP. And the reviewers at places like 1UP/EGM, etc... seemed to reinforce his attitude. When folks started praising Braid as an example of art, Jonathan started to Blow-hard hard. Those are the people who are supposed to take him down a peg or two and represent him as a developer, and not a poet.

Posted by Apathylad

I liked Braid, but I felt like there was a disconnect between the way the story was presented and it's gameplay. 

Posted by Hamst3r

You're reading way too much into this.
 
You're uppity because he had a poem quote in the credits of his game? Dude likes poetry - dude liked that quote - dude put it in the credits. Big whoop.
 
As for him not telling people about his game being at PAX, that's cocky? That's ridiculous. I doubt he did that out of arrogance. Also, people did find it - it's at PAX, not some obscure location. "Game Designer Jonathan Blow throws underwater release party for new art game; doesn't invite anybody."
 
Lastly, what does it all matter? Pretension does not actually degrade the quality of his work or him as a person - if you think it does, that's all you. :P

Posted by ReyGitano

I think you're reading too much into this, and this is coming from someone who usually makes the same conclusions about artsy people like this. 
I think this whole PAX ordeal is an interesting idea. Have people find the game via word of mouth. As for Braid... well, Braid was a great game, but strange and all over the place to the point were I feel that I'd be a douche to try and draw any conclusions from that story.

Posted by Slab64

Hopefully he will allow some real coverage of his game, like, by journalists, cause I have no idea what it is.

Posted by Fjordson
@Olivaw said:
And now it comes out that he put his new game out on the show floor at PAX, but didn't tell anyone. 
Did he  really? That's pretty goofy if so.
Posted by Meowayne

  I liked Braid from a gameplay standpoint, even if I never beat it  

So you've never seen the last level, therefore your opinion of Braid is invalid.
Posted by Fjordson

So I was reading the topic about this on NeoGAF, and the dude's quote makes it seem much less like indie douchebag tomfoolery:
 

 This was the first time the game had ever been played by general players, and I wanted to see how people would react to it, as honestly as possible. I didn’t want to give them any reason to think that this was a good game, or was by any designer they might have heard of. So I just left the game running, and would occasionally peek at it from afar to see who was playing and how they were doing.

I guess that makes sense. Still seems weird, though.
Posted by Oldirtybearon
@Olivaw:  you're not crazy. Jon Blow is a pretentious individual. The funny thing is that, his games are still good in spite of them. 
 
I enjoyed Braid. I don't think it was a masterpiece, but it was a very good platformer with interesting puzzles and themes. The narrative felt disconnected from the gameplay, but I did appreciate how each "world" was more or less a gameplay interpretation of the passages I had just read. I think the gameplay was more about trying to interpret a range of emotions from one specific event than anything else. So I guess I "got it" (although Pretentious Blow would probably say I didn't), and it was something I sat and pondered about for a good hour or so after I finished the game. I guess, in short, Braid was successful in doing what it set out to do. 
 
The thing is, Jon Blow is... a pretentious artist. A lot of artists are, although a good chunk of them make the effort to hide it. I don't like his attitude myself, but I can ignore him often enough and just play the games he releases. Considering he's just one guy in a bedroom apartment working on his games, I don't think that'd be too hard. 
 
So yeah, if you're like me and you really think he could use a needle in the balloon of his ego for a moment, just ignore his interviews or his commentaries. Take his games and experience them as a single piece separate from the artist. I think that's how people should treat most games, honestly.
Posted by Milkman

He is kind of a pretentious douche at times but he is pretty great at making games so I'll let slide. 

Posted by SubwayD

Perhaps I'm talking out of my arse, but a sense of self-importance and pretension are almost required to be a modern artist.

Still, while I might not like the guy much, but he made a really good game and doesn't seem like an aggressively disagreeable character. 
Much like with art films and experimental music, these darling Indie games can be really good and I do appreciate them being out there, but there is no way I'd want them to be the bulk of the industry output.  
 
Just sayin'

Posted by Symphony
@Diamond said:
" No, but I don't know him that well.  What's with the attitude that games have to be dumb as shit to not be pretentious?  The amazing soundtrack is too artsy?  What the fuck?  Play some music you like instead, I guess.  My impression of his 'showing' of the Witness at PAX is he wanted to see how people reacted by NOT BEING PRETENTIOUS.  If everyone knew he made that game a million people would have lined up and it would have changed peoples' impressions.  As far as it goes, if it actually does play like Myst, puzzles over large areas, that will be really cool too.  I just hope it isn't all mazes. "
This piece of carbon speaks the truth.  
 
Also, "pretentious" is one of those terms being thrown around all over the place these days and is really starting to lose it's meaning.  Can we get another silly term to start using on people we don't like or are jealous of? Like... "slubberdegullion" or "fopdoodle". Those are so much more interesting than "pretentious".
Posted by Vorbis

He's too indie for PAX.

Posted by LordAndrew

Jonathan Blow is such a fopdoodle.

Posted by _Nuno_

In order to understand why Braid is so good, you have to at least see the ending. It's the best part about that game. Go finish it and your perspective on it will change a bit.

Posted by HandsomeDead

He seems like the one guy who's looking at video games and thinking of all the possibilities that exist outside of shooting things or pandering to your grandma.

Posted by JJWeatherman

There's probably a nicer way to word your thread title. Just sayin'.

Posted by onarum

Nope, you seem pretentious for judging the guy solely on his game.

Posted by Olivaw
@onarum said:
Nope, you seem pretentious for judging the guy solely on his game.
To be fair, I wrote this about nine months ago, and he has since conducted himself very well on the recent E3 Bombcast.
 
But if you're a creative type and you create something and put it out there, you are putting yourself out there too. Whatever you create, video games or novels or movies or art, is some part of you. And the part of him that I'd seen when I wrote this was "I put a quote from a poem in my credits."
 
Also I still think that PAX stunt was pretty stupid.
Edited by GunslingerPanda

Yep.

And Braid was not good.

Posted by laserbolts
Braid was great I listened to the podcast he was on the other night and I thought he seemed like an ok dude. I didn't really get what he was trying to say at times but overall I thought that podcast wasn't very good.
Edited by pekoe212

I've come to the conclusion that I don't even know what the word "pretentious" means anymore, as people seem to use it all the time to attack people. This is all really murky to me, but I feel like as a society we are terrified and threatened by "artists" (although what is an artist? what is art? ugggghhhhh.....) Our society is so outwardly-oriented, only comfortable in the realm of physical products and things we can see with our eyes, I think we are terrified of the subjective thoughts and -- most dirty of words -- emotions that are inside us. We don't even want to look at them so when people express them in some fashion it's highly uncomfortable and difficult to process. Therefore I think artists creep a lot of people out, whether they are pretentious arrogant self-absorbed whack jobs, or not. This really has nothing to do with Jonathan Blow. I just find it funny that people are so suspicious of anyone who claims to feel something deep from music, a painting, or poetry. I think poetry is the most hated of all. It's the height of subjective thinking.

Just because you don't "connect" or "get" a poem, or some music, or whatever, it doesn't mean you are stupid and it doesn't mean the poem or music is stupid. The poem isn't trying to trick you. It's just there. The music is just there. It speaks your language or it doesn't.

Posted by s7evn

@JJWeatherman said:

There's probably a nicer way to word your thread title. Just sayin'.

You were the second person to respond to this thread 9 months ago and didn't mention it then :P

Posted by JJWeatherman

@s7evn said:

@JJWeatherman said:

There's probably a nicer way to word your thread title. Just sayin'.

You were the second person to respond to this thread 9 months ago and didn't mention it then :P

Yeah well, I'm a nicer person now. :)

Posted by Olivaw
@pekoe212:

pre·ten·tious /priˈtenCHəs/

Adjective: Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.
 
My personal favorite synonym is "self-important." And that's exactly how Braid comes off.
 
I'm not "threatened" by an artist, and I understood what Braid was getting at. It just did nothing for me, beyond some brilliant puzzle gameplay. Did you ever hear the phrase "oscar bait?" That's what I'm getting at.
Posted by Leptok

I just hated how he ended everything with "right?"

Posted by TheCableKid

@Olivaw: I think he is a awesome dude but his word choice can sometimes make him come off as such pretentious jerk.

Posted by Sooty

He was refreshing to hear among the extended Microsoft conference. 
 
I mean that live show.

Posted by Pinworm45

With respect, you have no right to critique anything about braids story or pretentiousness without witnessing the final level (or at least I think it was the final one, close to it in any case - if you've played braid, you know what I'm talking about). 
 
It's like criticizing star wars for not being full of surprises without watching the scene were Vader tells Luke he's his father. And honestly, you're missing out. 
 
Having said that.. I think he's a pretentious douche and I think Braid is a bit pretentious too. 
 
BUT YEAH.

Posted by sagesebas

@JJWeatherman: Exactly also the videogame industry needs people that arn't just making games about explosions and guns and boobs

Posted by TheCableKid

@SubwayD said:

Perhaps I'm talking out of my arse, but a sense of self-importance and pretension are almost required to be a modern artist.Still, while I might not like the guy much, but he made a really good game and doesn't seem like an aggressively disagreeable character. Much like with art films and experimental music, these darling Indie games can be really good and I do appreciate them being out there, but there is no way I'd want them to be the bulk of the industry output. Just sayin'

I also totally agree with this statement. My favorite musicians are pretentious assholes, however I love their music, I still listen to what they have to say because sometimes is refreshing to hear someone who is so confident of themselves.

Posted by FourWude
@Olivaw said:
@pekoe212:

 

 Did you ever hear the phrase "oscar bait?"  That's what I'm getting at.

Check my idea for a gaming oscar, it's totally brilliant.

You play as a young blind, deaf and mute Hungarian Jewish man, who only communicates through the use of vibrations using a Triangle instrument. He's rejected by the communist society which he lives in because he's a burden on the state. His whole existence relies solely on his old dying mother who weeps nightly for she knows that her son will never cope without her.

The game takes place the day after the mother dies. It's about using vibrations to "see" the game world, literally, as each vibration would graphically recreate the world around him in real time, but only what he perceives the world to be. A journey begins, not to slay dragons or to save the earth, but of acceptance. Can this man make sense of his surroundings, his existence and his ability to interact with a world he knows nothing of? 

FUCKING TEAR JERKER RIGHT THERE. The academy would love it.

Get back to me with any suggestions.

Edited by Brendan

Judging from your post, I feel like your problems with Blow have a lot more to do with you than they do with Blow.

Posted by ComradeKhan

No... It's probably you

Posted by Ksaw

@Symphony: you make a very cromulent point. Well said.

Posted by scarace360

He seems like a smart guy.

Edited by Vonocourt

@HandsomeDead said:

He seems like the one guy who's looking at video games and thinking of all the possibilities that exist outside of shooting things or pandering to your grandma.

Besides specifying him as "the one guy," this.

Posted by JasonR86
@Olivaw said:
I just don't know about Jonathan Blow.
 
Heh. That rhymed.
 
No but seriously, I don't know. I liked Braid from a gameplay standpoint, even if I never beat it because it was fucking hard as balls, and I appreciated how the game mechanics tied into the story in a meaningful, thematic way.
 
But on the other hand, that story (at least what I played of it) was so immature and self-important, and it's presentation was more than a bit obvious. The violin music and painted backgrounds were just a little too artsy. 
 
The dude put in a quote from a poem into his credits. Like, come on, dude. Have some sense of self-awareness.
 
And now it comes out that he put his new game out on the show floor at PAX, but didn't tell anyone. And sure, he could say that he wanted to reward people for seeking out something special, or that he didn't want people to feel pressured by long lines, but it also comes off as cocky. "Yeah, I ain't gonna show you my game. You gotta come find it, 'cause I'm Jonathan fucking Blow and you'll do it because I'm so fucking great." And then it turns out to basically be just Myst. I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too much into things. Maybe he's a fine guy who doesn't have a high opinion of himself or his work. But that's the impression I've gotten from his writing and his interviews and stuff.
I have some questions:
 
How can a presentation be obvious?
How can a story be self-important?  What does that actually mean?
How can something be to artsy?  Where is the line drawn?
What is wrong with poetry?
How does not advertising one's game make one cocky?  Actually, you define cocky for me and maybe I'll understand.
 
He seems fine to me.  He seems fairly serious but there is nothing wrong with that.
Posted by Olivaw

It's really weird how I'm getting fifty goddamn comments on this one blog post I ever made from nine months ago because Jonathan Blow was on the recent Bombcast!

Posted by rmanthorp
@SubwayD: I hear you!
Moderator
Edited by MattyFTM

I think to work as creatively and artistically as he does, you need to be a bit pretentious. Or at the very least, it'll help push the creativity and artistic merits of his work further. But, while I understand this blog was written long before it, the recent bombcast showed him as far from a douche.

Moderator
Posted by mnzy

Braid too hard to finish? Please grow some gamerballs!

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