October 14, 2010

thatgamecompany’s Journey

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , , — Aileen Viray @ 2:30 pm

It was a hot, muggy Saturday afternoon in Culver City. IndieCade attendees flocked to the Ivy Substation at 2:30pm, eager to hear from thatgamecompany’s (TGC) Jenova Chen and Robin Hunicke, about their upcoming game Journey.

The last of their three game deal with Sony, the title’s focus on multiplayer is something previously unexplored by them in fl0w and fl0wer. As social interaction transforms alongside technology and corporations are realizing that individuals strive to publicize their self-expression in order to connect to others in the virtual world, Journey aims to express simple feelings with other humans to achieve “authentic” memorable moments.

Journey can immediately spark some comparisons to games like Shadow of the Colossus and Demon’s Souls, and while the similarities were acknowledged, the development of Journey owes plenty to an in-house prototype called Dragon.

Dragon served as the clay to mold the ideas behind Journey, allowing the observation of players, who were unaware that any other characters encountered within the game were human controlled. When encountering others, players were quick to push them into a pit, and an emphasis was placed on observing players’ behaviors within the game, as well as looking at how people communicate within online multiplayer-based games (Call of Duty, etc.). The emphasis for Journey became the belief that humans have a broader emotional palette, and can communicate in a more meaningful way while interacting with other one another online.

In this game where “social” is the core mechanic, the thesis statement has been changed multiple times during development. Initially, it was “Together we can move the mountain,” and evolved into, “We all walk the path; each journey is different.” As the game goes further into development, they’re converging to a solidified thesis that will go unknown beyond TGC.

I see this game as a metaphor for life, or an idealized perception of civilization. Jenova spoke about how players can choose to play solo or with others, either choice allowing players to complete the game, but making available the possibility of a finding a deeper satisfaction from working and interacting with others (just like real life).

The game is set to release in 2011, and we’ll definitely be keeping the title on our radar.

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