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Finding A New Way: Jenova Chen And Thatgamecompany
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Finding A New Way: Jenova Chen And Thatgamecompany

May 5, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

Are you still going to be able to make one game a year?

JC: Well, we hope to, but flOw was launched in 2007, and we are still positive to launch the game this year. But 12 months? I think we already broke that. It's just impossible, because... I think I am just too ambitious when I start a project. I say, "Well, you guys should be done," but then it turns out to be a much more difficult project.

So even though these games are kind of smaller in scope, it's still taking quite a while.

JC: Yeah, I don't know if you were in the PixelJunk talk yesterday; I think they have a much more practical plan, and much better understanding of what they're doing. Six months a game, and they all know those game genres very well, right?

So during our production, because we are working on a game nobody has ever known -- even me, I am not sure what the final game will be like -- so it's like walking in the mist. While those guys probably, you know, "Well here! It's right there!" and just dash to there.

But so while we are working on the Flower game, it's kind of frustrating, so we actually do game jams, where we will say, "OK, let's do this weekend game jam, 24 hours, let's make a game!" And it's the most violent, fun game you could ever imagine!

The game was so fun that we just kind of spread the game internally among other Sony developers, and a lot of people became addicted to that game. But then, are we ever going to make this game into a real game? Probably not, because that's not our company's goal. But I think it is helpful to adjust just how you feel.

I was actually going to ask if you had ever wanted to make a traditional violent type of game.

JC: It's just so easy to make, you know? We all have a really good sense of how it should be fun, how it's cool. I think it's just too easy for us. And, also, if I just want to make violent games or fun games... It's not to say that fun games are bad, but I could just go to work for Blizzard, or go to work for Maxis. And they make fun games, they make creative games. I could get a lot higher pay, and a much more stable job. Why not?

Why would I start a company just to make the same kind of game which I can get a much better life in another company? You know, the reason we started this company is because nobody is making this kind of game, and to expand that emotional spectrum of video games -- having more people be able to enjoy video games. The only way to do it is to just do it yourself.

We tried to just convince big publishers like EA or other people to make games like Cloud... It's just almost impossible. So, yeah, we just realized that unless you are a company, and have done great games, then they will say, "OK, we might take the bait, and risk giving you the budget to make games like that." Otherwise, as an employee, you can't really change anything.

thatgamecompany's Cloud

And while, for example, Maxis' Spore is awesome, Spore is not really the game that thatgamecompany is set up for. So after working on it for a while, even though the game is so fun, and everybody there is so creative, like, basically prototyping every day. It's like the perfect job for a game designer -- I still don't know why I dropped it. (laughter)

I think it's because, you know, when you play games, you have a goal, and every action you have has a clear response and reward to tell you, "Hey! You're closer to the goal!" Whether that's an experience bar, or your cash that you're collecting, I just felt like no matter how hard I worked at Maxis, I'm not getting closer to the goal that I'm looking at.

So, you know, I think I just want to create more of a contribution for the industry. If I stayed with Spore at the time -- I don't even know when it's going to be done, but finally they released the launch date. I just thought, "If I left at this moment, and started creating a new game, I might be able to create a game before Spore even launched." I think we still have a chance!

So, [a new game] plus flOw. I just think having two more games for the player is better than... to leave a company before the game is done? Yeah, it's bad for Maxis, but I think it's better for the gamers; for everybody. Just having more games for the gamers -- more games with a different feel.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

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