The first Braid prototype is a game created by Jonathan Blow in December 2004 in about eight or nine days while being on vacation in Thailand. The main character, Tim, unlike the one in the final game, doesn't wear a suit, being more Mario-style.
The first in-game world is Time and Striving, which didn't end up in the final version of the game. The world gives a player no time management abilities whatsoever, introducing the game physics, enemies and obstacles instead. Every time a player dies, the one respawns at the start of a level.
The second world, Time and Forgiveness, introduces the time-rewinding ability, clouds and cannons. The level 2-3 became the prototype for the final game'slevel.
The third world, Time and Mystery, shows the special property of keys — their time proof. At the time only keys had that property. The 3-1 level is the prototype forlevel. The level 3-2 is almost the exact copy of the level of the final game, and the level 3-3 reveals the boss, first introduced in the level of the final game.
The fourth world, Time and Travel, works exactly as the Time and Place world of the final game with the only exception that in the 4-3 level, time depends on player's y coordinate, i.e. when Tim moves upward, the time goes forward, and when Tim moves downward, the time goes backward. The 4-1 level is heavily influenced by the Donkey Kong series of video games, and underlies the level.
The storyline taking place in the prototype somewhat differs from the one in the final version.
The Princess is somewhere. Tim knows that she must be somewhere, though that place is far away. Tim must find her. All other concerns are secondary.
When he was younger, Tim did not have such pure focus. Sure, he would have called himself dedicated -- of course he would rescue the Princess from evil clutches of doom or whatever! But always, something or other had stood in his way. Petty concerns. Was he smart enough? Should he learn to appreciate opera? Would such-and-such women find him attractive? Should his hair be short or long?
Tim has made an oath to set aside such cares. How can he ever find the Princess while so easily waylaid by distractions? And if Tim doesn't rescue her, who will?
As of today, time is all that separates him from his goal. If he just searches for long enough, leaving no stone unturned, he will find her. That is, if he's made this decision soon enough, if he's got enough time in his life, if he's not struck down in an untimely manner, he will triumph. One day he will come to the crest of a hill and there he will see the castle, banners waving in the wind, the Princess on a shining parapet calling down to him.
It is the natural course of events, or so Tim tells himself.
Why had the Princess run away from Tim in the first place? It happened so long ago, Tim has replayed their relationship so often in his mind, facts have become muddled, lost and replaced wholesale. He made so many mistakes. Such a familiar memory: her braid swinging with contempt as she turned away.
Tim has always desired her forgiveness, and sometimes she granted it, to the extent she could. But who can just shrug a guilty lie, a stab in the back? Relationships change irreversibly, though we perpetrators may have learned from mistakes and become much better for them. The Princess's eyes grew narrower. She became more distant.
If a relationship is about growing together through experience -- that's what she always wanted, anyway -- shouldn't we be rewarded for the learning, rather than punished for the mistakes?
But no, forgiveness must be difficult for us. It must because the world is harsh; mis-granted forgiveness can be catastrophic. But what if the world were itself more forgiving? What if, upon learning from a blunder, we could just turn back the clock, and the mistake -- and the pain -- would be gone, leaving only the learning? Wouldn't that be a kinder world, a better world?
Tim and the Princess lounge in the castle garden, laughing together, giving names to the colorful birds; their mistakes are hidden from each other, tucked away safe.
Tim regrets having left the Princess all those years ago. He's journeying to find her again, to make things right. He's wiser now.
For a very long time, their relationship had been happy. At first he had been very faithful -- whenever he made a mistake, he'd rewind and fix it. He always pleased her, and she always pleased him.
But Tim felt suffocated. Why? At first he thought it was the obligation. To maintain the relationship, he was obliged to fix his mistakes, and at times this felt oppressive as though she controlled him indirectly. But he knew that she made the same commitment in return, gave an equal contribution. In time Tim dug through this surface level of faux-oppressiveness and hit the meat of the real problem.
The problem was the control held over him by the flow of time. Either time marched forward, or it rewound. When it rewound, Tim, steadfastly embedded its flow, rewound also. Because he was forced to forget, he never perceived this happening, but he knew it did, and that was the important thing. This was unacceptable, and over the years Tim cultivated a silent rage. He needed transcendence. He needed, sometimes, to be exempt from the Princess's ability to retroactively please him.
He needed to believe in a world where some objects sit outside the oppressive rule of time. A castle where the flags flutter even when the wind has expired, and the bread in the kitchen is always warm. A little bit of magic.
For years Tim has searched for the Princess without success. He fears he may die never having seen her, just like so many others.
Has Tim come close? He doesn't know. Perhaps one day he was walking down ??? Rachavithee and, just on the other side of that column, there she was, shopping for a pair of farmer's pants, walking at a speed unlucky enough to keep her out of his sight. You can rewind time willy-nilly searching for a moment like this, but the task is futile -- there are so many hours in life, too many to attack blindly, without clues.
Physicists spoke of time as being another dimension like space. This intrigued Tim, maybe if he could walk through time as easily as he strolls down the street, finding the Princess would be much easier. He devoted himself to the study of physics of all flavors, of mathematics pure and applied, and Thai cookery for good measure.
He built a secret lab in a mountain fortress; after many years of work, his experiment was ready. He threw the big iron switch, but something went horribly wrong. Yes, he could stroll through time. But rather than being independent, time had collapsed onto one of the regular old spatial dimensions. Now, motions through space and time were inseparable. Tim could not walk to the East without time flowing forward, nor to the West without time flowing backward.
Was he saved or lost? Tim didn't know, there in his fortress where the flags fluttered only as he moved through the corridors, At night the birds were still, but for a quivering in resonance with his tumultuous dreams.