The Witness

I bought The Witness on PS4 because I generally like puzzles and I loved Myst and Braid both.

I regret it a whole lot.

Before I bought it, I watched some videos and read about it. It looked like something I would enjoy. I watched a video where a guy played through the first 30 minutes (and he had a lot of trouble with even the early puzzles), and I thought, “Hey, that looks fun, and I bet I could do these puzzles better than this dope.”

So I bought it and started playing, and I got through those early puzzles pretty quickly, and then I started exploring. I stumbled across a swampy area with yellow Tetris symbols on the panels. I tried a few and couldn’t figure them out, so I went on and found a small bridge with another Tetris puzzle. I quickly drew a line on it, just messing around, and it worked! The bridge started moving forward.


I went up some stairs and looked around, finding two other sets of puzzles with Tetris pieces. I couldn’t figure out either one. I knew you had to make the shape of the pieces to get it to work, and by that metric, both of these puzzles were impossible. You didn’t have enough space to make the shapes necessary to solve it.


I went back down the stairs to go back and try to find something easier, and that’s when I discovered that I couldn’t cross the bridge back. It had moved forward and now there was a small gap I couldn’t cross. (In real life, it would be a minor jump, but this game is full of invisible walls.)

I tried solving the puzzle again (it helpfully still had my solution, which is good, because I didn’t remember it), but nothing happened. I was stuck in a tiny area with puzzles I had no idea how to solve.

After about 30 minutes of beating my head against a wall, my wife finally just looked up the answers for me (I’m kind of stubborn about that) and none of them made any sense. They worked, but the solutions didn’t actually seem to have any kind of logic. It turns out, with the Tetris blocks, you don’t actually have to make the shapes exactly where the marks are, or something? I honestly still don’t get it, and the tutorial puzzles didn’t really explain that. It really was a “thank fuck that’s over” moment.

That got me out of that area, but it was too late. I found out later that that swamp is meant to be completed much later in the game, but seeing that that’s what the game had in store for me, I was totally disillusioned by the whole thing.

Also, I found out that to get the bridge to go back, you have to solve its puzzle in a different way. It has two solutions and one moves the bridge forward and one moves it back. Zero indication of that, either.

Since I had been playing less than an hour and was already sick of the game’s shit, I tried to see if I could get a refund, since I thought PSN had a similar refund policy to Steam. Nope, no refunds under any circumstances.

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I have a tiny budget for video games this year ($150 total) and wasted nearly a third of it on a game I can’t stand. I tried playing through the early areas (the orchard and the hedge maze) now knowing where to go and I can’t do it. Even knowing and understanding the puzzles now doesn’t make me feel good or cause me to enjoy the game. I just feel bitter and pissed off.

I don’t blame the people who like this game. For some people it’s totally fine, but I think I just don’t have the right kind of spatial awareness or something to enjoy it, and it frustrates the shit out of me. I’m not mad at Jonathan Blow or anything, he made the kind of game he wanted to make and it is nice to look at (though I didn’t notice until watching this video that nothing moves and there’s little sound — that is super weird and disconcerting).

I am mad at Sony for their shitty refund policy. If I could get a refund, I’d probably just shrug and say, “This game is clearly not for me,” and move on to something else that is. Instead I feel like someone took $40 out of my pocket and gave me some kind of weird brick that I can’t understand.


It’s like forcing myself to play a driving game when I don’t like driving games. I barely like actual driving. Or, even more accurately, it’s like it seemed to have all the indications of a driving game I would like, and then I turned it on and the steering wheel was reversed and for some reason I was driving on a different course than everyone else.

(Note: This is adapted from a post I made on the forums here.)


I moved

So I moved. This blog used to be on Tumblr, but I decided to to bring it over to Mostly because, uh, I work here now.

I’ve been kind of quiet for a while, so let me catch you up. Up until May, I was working for the feds, doing work for It was okay, but government work wasn’t my favorite.

My buddy Dennis, who I met writing at, recommended I apply for Automattic, the company behind I gave it a shot because it sounded like a great job, but, frankly, I wasn’t sure if I had much of a chance.

Then, I got an e-mail. They wanted to talk to me! And then they wanted to do a follow-up. And then they offered me a four to six week trial. And then they asked me to stay on full-time.

So now I work here, and it made sense to move my blog over and try to work more from the user side as well as the employee side. (Weird Shit Blog is staying on Tumblr because I’ve got way too many followers to ditch that.)

I imported some of my Tumblr posts over. Not all of them. The old site’s still there, if you give a shit.

As for writing stuff, I’ve put my freelancing on hold to focus on the new job. I’m still working on my short story collection, Other Gods. Did you know that writing fiction is super fucking hard when you haven’t done it for a couple of years and people have been paying you to write non-fiction instead? Because it is.

I wanted to finish Other Gods for Weird Shit Blog’s fifth anniversary (7/6/15). That’s looking super unlikely, unless I somehow find a way to go back in time. (Believe me, I feel like a huge asshole for not having it finished yet, especially because some people have already paid me for it.)

I’ll be writing here, though. I’m thinking of bringing back my “I’ve Never Seen…” series that I was doing at Film School Rejects. It didn’t bring a ton of traffic, but I ain’t give no fucks ’bout traffic round here. I watched the second Indiana Jones movie a few weeks ago (for this column at Cracked) and had Thoughts (tm) about it.

I’ve got some other ideas I can dig back out, too. Things that felt too long for Tumblr, but would work fine here. Terrible, disgusting things. Okay, probably not. But maybe?


Who Smart Watches the… Nevermind, that’s a really terrible joke

One thing that I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about in my writing career (outside of a few short pieces here and there) is how much I enjoy technology and gadgets and shit like that.

There’s something about electronic bits and bobs that wakes up my nascent inner engineer. I start thinking of ways I could cobble them into my workflows and make my life easier. It rarely actually works out that way. I went through three tablets before I finally figured out that I absolutely have no use for them other than occasionally reading books. (Weirdly, I don’t find reading on an actual ebook reader enjoyable, only tablets.)

But one purchase I’ve been exceptionally happy with is the smart watch I got for Christmas in 2013. I bought a Pebble and it’s been a major difference in my work and leisure. (Please imagine that I said leisure in the British way, but with a shitty French accent, because I did that in my head.)