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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 5 of 6 Next

I wonder if people invent their own story when they're in that kind of state. Watching one of those movies, your mind might subconsciously create a narrative thread through it. Do you feel like that sort of thing happens?

JC: Right. Yeah, I mean, narrative structure is how your brain works; it's not like someone invented story. It's like, if you want to describe something, the best way to describe it is to make it a story. It's not our purpose to break, and say that story is not the only way, but it just happened because we are a small independent group, and we have very, very limited resources.

And also me, myself, I am not a native speaker. If I really want to write good dialogue, I would be shooting myself in the foot. So I talk a lot about why I am making games like this. It's because I grew up in China, you know? I didn't grow up in Japan, right, so I don't really understand what Japan is like. I don't really understand what America is like. And the only people I know, I still don't know what they like!

So at this time, I don't have American culture, and I can't make anything relevant to football, or to cowboys, or to Star Wars even. So what can I do? I have very, very limited constraints. It's actually making it easier for me, because, well, I'm from the eastern hemisphere, I know what people like there in general, I know what Westerners like here in general, so I'm going to pick the most global feeling. The things that cross culture, and gender, and age, that everybody can relate to, and work them into games.

So that's why the Cloud game has to be about childhood daydreams in the sky; I think everybody can relate to that. The flOw game is more like the curiosity toward these microorganisms in the ocean; it's something I think everybody can relate to, but if you put guns on the flOw creatures, I don't think everybody can relate to that. So I picked Flower out for the same reason; I think everybody can relate to flowers and to nature. So, you know, that's kind of how I pick subjects.

thatgamecompany's Flower

Did you find that now that flOw is done, it's easier to work on PS3?

JC: Oh yeah, it's definitely easier, because the team has all learned a lot from flOw. So when we were working on flOw we didn't really use any SPUs, which is the biggest asset of PS3. Or, even if we used them, it was done by other programmers, not the programmers on our team.

But now, the team has caught up, and they've all started doing SPU programming. So that is really making a difference. We actually used the power of the PS3 this time. I think a lot of the other professional PS3 developers are probably going to laugh at us, because we didn't use it to 100%.

Well, I don't know if anyone is doing that.

JC: Well, we will see. I think the next game, we will do even better.

So you're going to stick with Sony for a while?

JC: Well at least the next game has to be for Sony, because of the three game deal. We'll see. I mean, right now, the world is changing so much; tomorrow is the Microsoft keynote, and I'm curious as to what they're going to say. I think it's related to the downloadable platform. [Ed. note: it covered the XNA Creators' Club.]

But so far we have had a great relationship with Sony. They totally understand what we are doing, and they appreciate what we are doing. I think Sony is much more interested in making games stylish and artistic; more appealing to adults. On that aspect, I think they are the same as we are. Because we are making games for people who are, I would say, like grown up gamers, who expect to see more out of a game than traditional actions.

So, we'll see. Once we are there, we might be working on PC games again, because most of our fans are from the PC game; they played flOw on a web browser, and they want to play more games on the PC. But for the future, we really didn't think that much, because we are focusing on the current game, and the next game is more ambitious. The idea is already started, but we will probably start deciding where to go next as we start making this sort of game.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next

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