09.Jul.2011, 18:59, Izvor: Playsomnia.com
thatgamecompany is probably best known for their Playstation 3 games flOw and Flower. flOw and Cloud are also available for the PC, but Flower is probably among the reasons why people own the console today. They are currently working on their latest game, Journey, which will once again prove that they certainly are not lacking in the creative department. The game is due soon, and we've taken this opportunity to ask them what we can expect.
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Introduce yourselves to our readers.
We are thatgamecompany - a 13-person, independent game studio, located in Santa Monica, California.
Your company's name must have some interesting backstory. Why did you go with That Game Company?
It’s based on the URL that founders Kellee Santiago & Jenova Chen chose for their student project, “Cloud”, when they were in grad school. One of the faculty advisors for the project was Bing Gordon, Creative Officer of EA at that time. He was comparing Cloud to Katamari Damacy in terms of the lack of direct conflict, and the collection mechanic, but he couldn’t remember the name of KD, so he said “you know... that garbage game.” In honor of this, the URL became thatcloudgame.com. Kellee recently joked “We may be creative game makers, but not too creative at naming... you can probably tell that from the names of our games, too!”
Given their uniqueness, how do you come up with ideas for your games?
Our games often start with a question, or an idea for an experiment. With flOw, we wanted to give players control over the game's level of difficulty, to see if it changed their experience of challenge. In Flower, we made the environment the central character of the experience, instead of just the background, to try and create a new feelings within our players.
With Journey, we asked ourselves: What is the typical experience of online play - and how can we changed it?
Let's discuss Journey, your latest game. Describe it to us in short.
In Journey, you take the form of a traveler heading to the Mountain. The game is set in a vast desert world with shifting, glittering sands and mysterious, ancient ruins. As you travel and explore the world, your goal is to discover what took place in the world and why you are there. Along the way, you may bump into other travelers who are heading the same way. You can explore with one other person at a time.
But what makes Journey unique is that there are no lobbies, chat or voice capabilities. People come into your game seamlessly, as they cross your path. And you are completely anonymous to each other, so you must let your actions speak for you.
Will you choose to stay with someone you meet - or you walk off on your own? The decision is completely up to you.
Your previous games relied heavily on artistic value. Is this going to be the same with Journey?
We’re very passionate about creating unique experiences that bring something fresh to our players. And we feel (not surprisingly) that art and sound contribute a huge amount to that experience. We work very hard with our art team (just 3 people right now), sound designer and composer to create an integrated style that magnifies the emotional highs and lows of the experience.
While we're on the subject of artistic value, any specific reason why you distance yourselves from almost everything other games are doing nowadays?
We are drawn to creating things that are fresh and unexpected. And often, our games are a reaction to what we see around us. Journey in particular is a reflection for us upon the way many games make you feel all-powerful. Journey is a game where you can feel small, part of something larger, that is also somewhat unknown to you. We feel these things when we hike in the wilderness - and we wanted to bring that to our players, online.
Journey will be your first game to feature multiplayer. Can you elaborate on how this is going to be implemented?
We’re actually about halfway through our online Beta testing, so the networking has certainly been on our mind. The thing that makes it unique is not technology, but design. Specifically, we’ve had to test and adapt many aspects of the game’s core mechanics so the game can be completed by one person playing alone, those who play through in pairs, and those who play some of the game solo and other parts with a partner. This was by far the thing we thought about the most throughout the pre-production and into production.
Is Journey going to be a short experience, like your other games, or will it require longer sessions?
Journey will not *require* longer sessions, but we hope that people will feel drawn back to play it several times. Maybe people will actually find it enjoyable to play with strangers long after the novelty of the experience has gone. We shall see!
From what we understand, Journey is the last game to be exclusive to Sony. Will we ever see any of your games on other platforms, current or future?
Right now we’re 100% focused on finishing Journey. We are about halfway through a very limited Beta test of the online functionality, and that has been all we can think about.
flOw and especially Flower are very good examples of games being forms of art. What are your thoughts on this?
Our focus isn’t on the product of our work, but the work itself. We think making games that are artistically-crafted means that each decision made for the game revolves around the expression we are attempting to create, the emotion we are trying to hit. Other people can decide whether that process leads to art or not.
What other games do you find notable, as far as originality and uniqueness are concerned? Any other developers you guys are fans of?
We are always inspired by teams that focus on creating new feelings in their players - such as Team Ico and Quantic Dream. Beyond that - we take a lot of inspiration from developers who push the envelop of what’s possible with a small independent team... with games like Minecraft, Sound Shapes, and so on. For us, it’s about expanding and the potential of the medium in a sustainable, creative way.
Any closing comments?
We wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for people like you supporting us and spreading the word about what we’re trying to accomplish with our experiments. We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has written in to encourage us since we began showing Journey to the public - and to the people that have donated their time to test the Beta. It really makes a difference!!
Thanks, Robin and everyone at thatgamecompany for answering our questions! Journey is due later this year, exclusively for the Playstation 3, and if you own the console, there aren't many reasons why you shouldnćt keep an eye on the game. You can find out more about it on the official site.
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