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Jenova Chen's Goals

Chen, out of focus, seemingly breathing out the life of his creation.

Of the smaller titles we know are coming this year (after all, we may once again come across another Amnesia or Minecraft), Journey is one I look forward to quite a bit. The PlayStation blog recently had a bit of a chat with Jenova Chen regarding the game, where he divulged a few of his goals with the new game, as well as outlining some of the basics of the game itself.

First, he wants to make a cooperative game that focuses on that, rather than just tacking it on. As some other sites note and seem to sensationalize, he points out that many games that include multiplayer do so lazily, by just adding simple rules and games to the existing single-player campaign. However, he also states we need these titles just as surely as we need ones that allow us to grow in some way beyond hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Both have their places, but he sees the latter rather lacking, which is where Journey steps in to give us something different. Not necessarily new, however:

We're not really redefining. We make games for PS3 owners, but we also make games for their relatives or children. I don't think your grandma is going to know what a [multiplayer] "lobby" means. I don't think most children will understand what [internet] "latency" means. So after we eliminated the lobby concept, we had very few choices -- other players have to be able to connect at any time, not just the beginning of the game, and a player has to be able to finish the game by himself he can't find someone. All these technical issues came in with that one decision to get rid of the online lobby.

As with Flower, a lot of his talk centers on making the game accessible to both gamers and non-gamers alike. This also means, in the case of the latter, just making it engaging to watch. So, no camera controls. In fact, so far there are only two buttons being used, everything else handled by tilting the Sixaxis's motion sensor. Those two buttons allow you to 'call,' which picks up nearby patches and is a rudimentary form of communication with other players, and the other is to fly. No jumping.

Instead, you'll be surfing the sand waves, not-metaphorically speaking. There will be automatic jumping, but it was found that when players were given a jump button, they jumped everywhere (guilty as charged), which seems a larger issue of the walk being boring, because you're not necessarily doing anything or engaged with your surroundings. From the sound of all this so far, I will say I'm not begrudging anyone the lack of such an ability.

What about those cloth pieces I mentioned above? They're the way you progress past certain obstacles, disappearing once you've used them. The aim is to make it to where you both want to cooperate (so you're not just seeing people as taking 'your' ability to be stronger), and feel frail next to the game's only 'enemy,' nature.

There's tons of info in the interview (such as the artistic inspiration), and while some of what he says might seem antagonistic out of context, I'd recommend reading the whole thing through.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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