So, I'm curious: Way back you said you wanted to make the branching dependent on how many times players die in a given level. It now sounds like it'll be more about finding secrets or particular interactions instead perhaps? Without spoiling the branches, obviously, can you perhaps give us an indication of the sorts of conditions that'll have to be met to reach another branch? Will "number of deaths" still be one such condition among many? Will they be finding an item and interacting with it? Will they be approaching puzzles in particular ways?
I haven't decided on how all the branches will work, but I like to think of them as choices. However, they will be choices where you won't potentially know you are being presented with one just because we don't have UI or HUD. I think the secret will be basically how to play the level differently than you played it the first time. I suspect some people will find different branches the "natural" one.
However, by playing the earlier builds, we are sort of locking you into a way of thinking, so the current path will seem "obvious" and the other paths might require some exploration to discover.
Honestly, I'm not sure how it's going to work out, but in July, we'll probably put in the first branch and see how hard or easy it is to discover and adjust accordingly.
I'm not sure that really answered your question, but it is really hard to talk about them without specifics...
I know exactly what you mean. I much prefer shorter experiences. I too have a demanding job and a wife with whom I like to spend time.
If a review says a game is like 20 hours long, I think that's a bad thing for me personally. If it's 40 hours long, I don't even play it.