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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

Tags: journey, thatgamecompany, jenova chen, gaming industry

3/5/2012 3:25:49 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (16 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 4:16:45 PM
Reply

I get what he's saying, but a short game is a short game innit?

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CrusaderForever
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 5:17:47 PM

Journey will provoke more thought than a 100 hour game.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 6:05:56 PM

At 5 dollars an hour it better.

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CrusaderForever
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 4:58:00 PM
Reply

PS+ members get Journey tomorrow!!! I cannot wait!

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frylock25
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 6:02:51 PM

we still have to pay for it though. its $14.99. we just get access to it early

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CrusaderForever
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 6:44:52 PM

Yes, of course, but a whole week early is very nice! Also, Motorstorm RC Vita, Sly 1 HD and Super Street Fighter Turbo HD FREE!

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BikerSaint
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 5:26:26 PM
Reply

I agree with everything Chen has to say except for "why the length of a game is mostly irrelevant".

I want all my story driven games at least, to go for at least 12 hours(if not more).

I was so like WTF when I played GRAW 2's campaign and suddenly the credits started rolling only 4 & 1/2 hours later.

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Palpatations911
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 5:34:15 PM
Reply

I love great movies and all, hell, just two days ago I watched "The Bridges of Madison County" and I enjoyed the emotional connection that I had with the characters in the movie but I fail to see the emotional connection with this developers games.

I tried the flower demo and after flying around for 5 minutes and blooming flowers for seemingly no apparent reason, I felt it was pointless.

I'll pass on this one.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 6:06:37 PM

It was supposed to be relaxing.

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Palpatations911
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 10:02:39 PM

Ahh... I guess that is why I did not get in to it. I prefer to be on the edge of my seat when I am playing Video Games.

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Twistedfloyd
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 7:49:27 PM
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Flower was a short game, and yet it outclasses nearly every other game this generation and has infinite replay value.

It doesn't matter how short of a game there is, all that matters is what you give the players with the time that is given to them from a design standpoint. If your game is good, it doesn't matter how long it actually is.

I can't wait to play Journey. A game that looks like a sublime masterpiece at that price, it simply can't be beaten.

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TheCanadianGuy
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 8:57:29 PM
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length of a game isn't really an issues for me unless its like 5 hours or something. for me its quality over quantity i'll take a 10 hour uncharted over a 20 hour whatever can't think of anything but ya get what i'm saying. obviously i lower my expectations with the length of a psn game ( i still say psn to used to it)

Last edited by TheCanadianGuy on 3/5/2012 9:00:03 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 9:07:30 PM

this one is 2-3

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TheCanadianGuy
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 9:16:53 PM

see i'm perfectly fine with that for a game like this Limbo was about the same and it was one of my favorites last year. i'm sure journey will be to plus it seems like one of those games i'll wanna go back to

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Quincho
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 10:47:36 PM

I also have no problem whith a 2-3 hour game, but only if I really love the game (like Limbo)

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___________
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 @ 3:16:43 AM
Reply

$15 USD for a 2 hour game!?
so knowing $ony pricing thats 30 AUD, for a 2 hour game!?
yea, good luck with that!
first they release it the day ME3 the biggest game this year, then they make a seriously short game, then charge allot for it.
they really dont want this to sell do they?

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