Journey Devs: "Pushing The Boundaries Of The Emotional Spectrum"
You will see our review for Thatgamecompany's Journey later tonight but in the meantime, we learned a great deal about the accomplished, innovative studio's philosophy during a conference call earlier this afternoon.
Studio boss Jenova Chen spoke at length on a great many subjects, including how his film school training influenced his game projects, why the length of a game is mostly irrelevant, and the developer's philosophy of "pushing the boundaries of the emotional spectrum." He also spoke about accessibility, and about giving everyone - not just hardcore gamers - the opportunity to enjoy a very human experience.
"The challenge is that we always want to bring something new, and [at first] we don't know how to do it. So it's an exploratory and trial-and-error experience.
"There’s a whole new set of challenges in Journey. My own design philosophy is that a good design should be created for everyone; for human beings, rather than for a particular group with a particular knowledge (i.e., gamers). So we try to simplify the control as much as possible. I think games are for everyone and in order to make them accessible, the controls should be more intuitive for all players."
The singular aspect of Thatgamecompany's efforts (flOw and Flower before the current Journey) is that mystical quality that seems to touch everyone in a different way. In creating the latest title, Chen and Co. looked at the current state of multiplayer games; specifically, what sort of online experiences were available. Then they fell upon a different style of stranger-to-stranger interaction:
"With Journey, I wanted to create an emotional connection between the two players on the Internet. I look around at the feelings generated by most online games, and it's about killing each other or killing something together. And the gameplay mechanics are still based on the single-player mechanic: it's about power and being empowered. So when both players are feeling powerful, it's less likely they'll connect; they don't need to connect. 'I'm God, what do I need you for?'
But here, we wanted to focus on the experience of being a human being. So you're out there in the desert; your character has no arms and no mouth. And when you see someone, you say, 'I really want to go to that person.' I see this as more of a social game that most social games."
Lastly, the philosophical reaches of the game were touched upon, as Chen spoke about how the game should hit home with everyone because in truth, the concept of Journey is essentially the story of life...and death.
"This was designed to mimic life. We're all heading in a similar direction; we're all going to die. And along the way, sometimes we're alone and sometimes we need other people. We have our wives, our parents, our friends; we need people at various stages of our lives. But Journey can also be a self-reflection in single-player. You need both to get the full picture of the game. We try to be as true to life as possible."
Again, the review will go up later but trust us: this particular Journey is amazing. You'll want to take it.
Related Game(s): Journey
3/5/2012 3:25:49 PM Ben Dutka