The Witness on PS4: A progress report

Find out how Jonathan Blow’s ambitious new puzzle adventure is coming along

The Witness is a game where you explore an abandoned island and solve puzzles. We’ve been working on this game for a long time (it’s been over five years since I began working on it, myself! The rest of the team joined at various times after that). We don’t know the release date yet; it is still officially “when it’s done”, but these days “when it’s done” is getting closer and closer. The Witness is an ambitious game with a lot of things for us to get right, and getting it right takes time; I don’t want to rush the game out at the cost of quality.

The Witness

Here are some of the things we’ve been working on lately:


All the gameplay along the “main line” of the game — the stuff you would expect to do from the beginning to the end of a standard playthrough — is done. But, this is a game that has a lot of extra things for players who are really into the game and want more; we are still designing some of those extras.

Modeling and texturing

The game has a lot of different locations and it’s very important that they all receive the same degree of care. Most of the island where The Witness takes place is fully modeled at this point, but there are a few very important locations that are still in a draft stage, and several others that could use another pass of detail.

The Witness

The Witness

Frame rate optimisations

At release on the PS4, we are planning to render at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Right now we meet this target in many areas of the game, but not everywhere. But with more old-fashioned hard work we should be.

Level-of-detail management and streaming

For example, making sure that it doesn’t take too long to stream in new parts of the world as you move. When we do stream in higher-detail versions of far-away geometry, we don’t want the graphics to pop, so we’ve recently implemented a smooth blend between LOD levels. The Witness is an open-world game with no loading screens; the feeling of just walking around and looking at things is very important. We work hard to make this happen as smoothly as possible.
“The Witness is an open-world game with no loading screens”


Since the game is so much about a sense of place, the audio design is crucial. Right now there are 1.2 gigabytes of sound (much of it compressed!) in the game, which represents over 40% the game’s data.

This last statement about the audio made me curious about what our data looks like, so here are some numbers on how much data is in The Witness. (These are all the size of files in the game as it would be shipped, not the source files!)

  • Texture Maps: 1196 files, 446MB
  • Meshes: 4588 files, 507MB
  • Sounds: 2435 files, 1.2GB
  • Animations: 197 files, 0.6MB
  • Entities: 1 file, 4.3MB
  • Lightmaps (these are auto-generated): 17916 files, 453MB

Total (including other files not listed here): 39387 files, 2.7GB

It’s a lot of work, but we are now in the downhill stretch of the race and looking forward to tying the game up completely. We’ll have more updates for you before too long!

0 Author replies

When I first saw trailer of Witness I was just like bewitched… great music, great graphic… we shall see about gameplay….

But yeah I think this one is worth waiting for.

jorispelgrom 14 May, 2014 @ 16:42

This looks… very relaxing. (Also, the first screenshot looks Tearaway-y)

Robanthegiant 14 May, 2014 @ 16:43

Thanks very much for the update, I’m very excited about The Witness and really appreciate the way you’re handling it.

zalwelgoedgaan 14 May, 2014 @ 16:46

How are those explosions coming along? Bwaaahahahaha

Beautiful. I’m very much looking forward to this.

1. Day !
What about a Vita Version?

This game looks so pretty i don’t think i’d mind having to sit and ponder on a puzzle for a while. Can’t wait to see more at E3 hopefully :D

Really enjoyed reading the technical details. Bravo on 1080p 60fps as the visual do look really nice.


Ever since Braid, I keep waiting for the “next thing” and The Witness certainly looks to be an amazing game.

Porcupeth00 14 May, 2014 @ 17:04

Really looking forward to this, thanks Jonathan for the update


This game looks so good. im ready to hand over my money for it as i really want to play it. great work and best of luck with the game.


Intrigued about this. What kind of extras does the gameplay have? Anything we haven’t seen so far?

Alphaembryo 14 May, 2014 @ 18:50

I support this project and the developer.


Any estimate on the release date for this game? I am really interested in it as it is trying to be unique, creative and innovative rather than sticking to a typical genre! :D

ShadowGandalf 14 May, 2014 @ 19:07

I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I saw it announced. I hope it won’t be too much longer. I understand why it’s taking so long, but the wait is hard. At least I’ll have Watchdogs soon to keep me occupied.


This (and RIME) is what so many of us have been waiting for, and fingers crossed the gameplay will match the strikingly beautiful visuals.

You can keep your 2D procedurally generated sprite-based platformers – this is the sort of quality I want to be playing in 2014. :)


Looks great. I have no problem waiting until it’s done. Keep up the hard work.

ThreeWallzz 14 May, 2014 @ 22:23

is this game digital only?


I never played Braid but it looked cool enough and lots of people and critics alike praised it up and down.

This game seems, by all accounts, to be on the right track to becoming a great game. And I have huge respect for Jon and his team taking their time to make the game they want it to be and not wavering on that at all.

I’m excited for this more so than any other announced PS4 title.

ActionFlash 15 May, 2014 @ 00:07

I love these articles with the technical details of games, keep ’em coming! :)


Looks great, really looking forward to it.

I’ve been excited for this since last Feb at the PS4 announcement event. Glad for an update but disappointed there is still no release date. Hope it doesn’t get crowded out by bigger titles whenever it does release.

Stonesthrow 16 May, 2014 @ 15:30


residentSteve 18 May, 2014 @ 07:33

This game looks like it’s going to blow get it.


Vita version?


Hi Jonathan,
I’m mesmerized by what I’ve seen so far. It makes me happy to read that you want to stay true to your vision, which is seems to be an awesome one indeed. I’m happily waiting for this game and wish you financial success with it!

DuquesneWhistle 26 May, 2014 @ 08:57

I’m really looking forward to this one. Can’t wait to play it.

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