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TGC

'No one is doing what we're doing,' says thatgamecompany


Co-founder is both 'proud' of and 'worried' about new game
Aug 06
// Jordan Devore
In a New Yorker piece covering Journey, Flower, and Flow developer thatgamecompany, the publication got a few more tidbits out of co-founder Jenova Chen regarding the team's next game. In line with his prior comments about it...
thatgamecompany photo
thatgamecompany

New thatgamecompany title will relate to a wider audience


'It's a natural evolution of everything we are doing'
Jul 01
// Jordan Devore
Ah, Journey. I thought I was a total latecomer, having picked it up during a holiday sale late last year -- but thatgamecompany's thoughtful PlayStation 3 game continues to sell well. "We made the money back last year, the...
thatgamecompany photo
thatgamecompany

thatgamecompany on post-Journey problems & the future


Company co-founder Jenova Chen dishes out some details
Jun 21
// Steven Hansen
The practically perfect Journey has received no shortage of compliments, awards and cold, hard sales. The latter, one might expect, should have ensured smooth sailing going forward at thatgamecompany, but according to thatgam...
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Sup Holmes welcomes that game developer Kellee Santiago


Get to know the people that make great videogames
Jun 16
// Jonathan Holmes
Today on Sup Holmes we are joined by Kellee Santiago, formerly of thatgamecompany and current head of developer relations for Ouya. We'll be talking to Kellee about how she got into development, the formation of thatgamecompa...
Keita Takahashi photo
Keita Takahashi

Katamari creator goes indie, joins former Journey devs


Keita Takahashi working on game with San Francisco-based indie devs
Jun 14
// Kyle MacGregor
Kamatari creator Keita Takahashi is working a new game with Funomena, a fledgling indie studio founded earlier this year by former thatgamecompany developers. Announced at the Horizon conference in Los Angeles yesterday, the ...
Journey CE photo
Journey CE

Journey Collector's Edition makes its way to Europe


Europe gets some delayed love from Sony
Apr 18
// Raz Rauf
Journey was the little game that could -- the indie David that took on the triple-A blockbuster Goliaths of the gaming world...and won. It was critically acclaimed, won a plethora of awards, and perhaps most importa...
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thatgamecompany's new game will 'change the industry'


Says former studio member
Apr 08
// Dale North
Asher Vollmer blogged about how he had a hard time leaving thatgamecompany to make his own games. I imagine it couldn't have been easy to step away from such a great game making team, especially after the wild succe...
Journey photo
Journey

Journey devs cave with 'Rocket Death Match' DLC


'A whole new journey'
Apr 01
// Jordan Devore
On this fine April day, Journey developer thatgamecompany has uploaded an announcement video for a new add-on that seeks to please everyone who didn't enjoy the experimental game. Too little gameplay, you say? Not enough fig...

Journey inspired by World of Warcraft, loneliness

Mar 29 // Steven Hansen
“Three minutes is a good amount of time to walk to your death” Designing this new idea from ground up, then, was a highly iterative process. While prototyping with co-op play, “Sony kept telling us the game could have great multiplayer, but it needs to have single-player.” Concepts were thrown together in 2D to explore how to deal with cooperative play, many of which failed to translate into 3D. Initially, the multiplayer could include up to four players, but play testing showed that caused pairing schisms; or, worse, three players leaving the fourth out.  Early concept art for Journey is decidedly more intricate than the final result, but much of the game’s framework was set down immediately. The issue was pacing. After the second year of development, the game was effectively done. The trailer from that milestone would closely reflect the final trailer, but the entire last third of the game needed to be reworked to provide appropriate catharsis. An entirely new set of animations was created for the last third of the game in an effort to convey its message more accurately.  Initially, Journey’s playable avatars were entirely humanoid, looking more like ninjas or as if they were students going to kendo practice. This was eventually pared down, as were much of the game’s systems. Matchmaking was removed so people wouldn't get irritated they couldn't chat with their friends. Soon after release, people would post messages to their unknown companions on the forum, apologizing for disconnects or thanking them for making the journey with them.  When he met the man who drove the first lunar rover, Chen asked him about the experience. The reply was, “On the moon there is nothing. There is no sound because there’s no air. And the earth is so small…you’re on this strange place where there’s nothing and no sound. You can’t stop but thinking ‘Why?’ ‘Why are we here?’” Journey allows you to share that pensive isolation with another, though it also works perfectly well as an offline, single-player journey. It captures the same widespread isolation and sense of existential curiosity so well.  Chen opened the talk explaining how other mediums define their genres based on the feeling a piece evokes, whereas games, in a holdover from the more simplistic past, define genres based purely on mechanical systems. He also noted how he tired of power fantasy games as he grew up, noting “if there are a variety of feelings in entertainment, it will make gaming a more healthy medium,” all of which I agree with. The larger part of the industry is heavily skewed toward escapism and power fantasy, less concerned with emotion than re-skinning the same tried and true mechanics.  Toward the end of the talk Chen puzzlingly pondered whether or not the extra year of development, which marked the second time they pushed the game back, was worth it. If you remember, the team eventually had to put up its own money to finally get Journey out. Yet, with all the (well-deserved) awards and critical acclaim, I think the answer is evident. Perhaps it was a rhetorical or perhaps it was the result of Chen’s humble, affecting personality.  Anyway, at the end I stood in applause.
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Some notes and tidbits from Jenova Chen’s insightful GDC talk on Journey
thatgamecompany founder Jenova Chen delivered a talk on Journey, right on the heels of a sweep of the Game Developer’s Choice Awards the night prior. Naturally, the room was packed full, and Chen received a lovely stand...

Game of the Year et al. photo
Game of the Year et al.

Journey kills at the Game Developers Choice Awards


More than half of the awards, including Game of the Year
Mar 28
// Steven Hansen
Game of the Year, Innovation Award, Best Audio, Best Game Design, Best Visual Arts, Best Downloadable Game. That’s 6 out of 11 total awards, and the game was ineligible for two of them (and I’m still not sure why ...
Awards photo
Awards

Journey wins big at the BAFTA Game Awards


The Walking Dead and Unfinished Swan win two awards each
Mar 06
// Alasdair Duncan
Looks like the folks at thatgamecompany might need a new trophy cabinet after Journey picked up five BAFTA Game Awards last night at the ceremony in London. The PlayStation Network title won awards for Artistic Achievement, A...
Journey  photo
Journey

Journey composer shares a text commentary on his score


Grammy-nominated Austin Wintory
Mar 04
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Leave annotations on for this one, folks. Journey composer Austin Wintory uploaded the entire Journey score filled with official and unofficial art, all with text based commentary popping up throughout this hour long listen....
A brand new indie studio photo
A brand new indie studio

Journey art director opens new studio, Giant Squid


'We believe that video games can be more than a pastime'
Mar 02
// Allistair Pinsof
Ask people the first thing they like about thatgamecompany's Flower and Journey and they'll likely respond: the art direction. But, maybe not anymore. Thatgamecompany art director Matt Nava left the acclaimed studio and forme...
PlayStation evolution photo
PlayStation evolution

Latest Sony retrospective video is all about the games


Evolution of PlayStation
Feb 19
// Jordan Devore
The latest and perhaps final video in Sony's Evolution of PlayStation series is specifically about games rather than the hardware they were designed to run on. Hitting on the divide between games being viewed as toys and gam...
thatgamecompany photo
thatgamecompany

Journey's Jenova Chen investigating free-to-play, mobile


Calls F2P 'exciting and also really dangerous'
Feb 15
// Jordan Devore
Expanding his thoughts on wanting the studio's next game to be more commercially viable, thatgamecompany co-founder Jenova Chen spoke with Games Industry International about free-to-play gaming and Kickstarter. "[Mobile and f...
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Journey dev: Touch control the 'most universal' interface


thatgamecompany looking for controls that appeal to the widest audience
Feb 12
// Jim Sterling
thatgamecompany boss Jenova Chen believes touchscreens are becoming an increasing part of our gaming lives, and its presence in phones, tablets, consoles and PCs makes it a truly universal interface. As some gamers still rail...
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thatgamecompany

Journey dev hints at next game, wants 'financial success'


Jenova Chen: 'My resolution is to create a big financial success'
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
At the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit, thatgamecompany co-founder Jenova Chen spoke at length about creating Journey, revealing that the studio ran out of money after significant delays which ultimately resulted in the game many of us ...
Dtoid Show photo
Dtoid Show

Half-Life & Portal Movies? Rayman Delayed? What MADNESS!


Also: The Destructoid Show is being weird and stupid again
Feb 08
// Max Scoville
What a bunch of wacky news today about the video games! There's the ongoing Rayman Legends debacle, with it being delayed for a multi-platform release, causeing devs and fans to speak out. Meanwhile, J.J. Abrahms a...
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Journey: Chen wanted emotional connections from MMOs


WoW player looking for more
Feb 07
// Dale North
Jenova Chen admitted to being "a nerdy guy that likes to stay at home" during his D.I.C.E. Summit 2013 talk on Journey, but he still wanted to connect with others, and hoped he could do so in MMOs like World of Warcraft. But ...

Journey took thatgamecompany into bankruptcy

Feb 07 // Dale North
[SPOILER ALERT] Chen told a story about how one play tester had the game freeze on them at the end, where your character dies. While the game's ending was not testing well at the end of the second year, this particular player was moved as ending it all before ascending the summit made for the perfect tragedy ending. This got Chen and his team thinking about how they could dig down deeper to make the final emotional wave -- from depth to climax -- more moving. They approached Sony to ask for another year to reach the emotional bandwidth they knew they could it, but even with that extension granted, the work went even beyond this third year. Chen said that in the last half year some staffers worked unpaid. They dipped into their own funds to finish, taking them to bankruptcy in the last year.  But the time they spent that last year really made Journey. They did so much work in making sure the player went through every emotion. For example, near the end on the mountain, in the snow, they created new animations for the journey to show a struggle, making the player feel weaker and less capable. They added new areas in the mountain section, and worked in the stone serpent to heighten the experience. The summit, the game's glorious ending section, was originally on rails in earlier versions. They switched it to be free-roaming, added surfing from the beginning, and made sure that players had total freedom to walk toward the light.  Chen said three of the 25 testers of the final version cried at completion.
Struggles of Journey photo
Went one year over budget
Jenova Chen's D.I.C.E. Summit talk on my favorite game of last year, Journey, was moving for many reasons, but I was particularly moved when I heard that his team, thatgamecompany, went bankrupt in the struggle to finish the ...

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Try not to cry from reading this Journey fan mail


*sniffle*
Feb 07
// Dale North
thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen shared this fan letter during his D.I.C.E. Summit 2013 presentation today on his team's journey making Journey. Your game practically changed my life. It was the most fun I had with him since he...
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Journey, Dishonored top Game Developers Choice Awards


Nominees announced
Jan 24
// Dale North
The nominees for the 2013 Game Developers Choice Awards are in, and it looks like Journey, Dishonored and The Walking Dead are leading. Hey, those were our favorite games too. Journey took six nominations as the top favorite,...
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Journey Collector’s Edition minigames to be PSN downloads


In Europe...
Dec 31
// Dale North
Siliconera spotted listings and ratings for Duke War and Grave Diggers on PEGI's ratings board. These are names some might know from the recently released Journey: Collector's Edition, a title we saw this fall, but Europe mis...
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Journey soundtrack gets physical CD release


Better late than never!
Nov 07
// Jayson Napolitano
Looking back at 2012 thus far, Journey stands out as one of the strongest soundtracks of the year. We had the pleasure of hearing from composer Austin Wintory regarding the score as well as offering our own review of the soun...

Over the precipice: An essay on Journey

Jul 03 // Rob Parker
Now, that is a philosophical joke, which means partly that it’s not funny, but also that its profundity is revealed gradually, the deeper you consider it. The point is that, while it is easy for us to see water for what it is -- as outsiders looking in -- for the fish it is always there, and thus very hard to be aware of. This is a message worth keeping in mind when thinking about Journey, the latest release from thatgamecompany, developers of the zen-like Cloud, Flow, and Flower. Journey is a remarkable videogame, a work of art that commentators across the spectrum of gaming have found much to ponder within. For me, Journey is about the only thing that art worth any goddamn can ever be about, which is what it is we’re all doing here. Journey is about truth, about base reality, about this experience of being itself we so often ignore. It is a call to look around us and remember that, as David Foster Wallace puts it: “This is water. This is water.” We humans like to think we’re pretty hot shit. We stand, like the figure in that screenshot up there, overlooking our kingdoms, lords of all we survey. We are intellectual beings, gods on Earth; we have split the atom, put man on the moon, invented squeezable jam. We have mastered chaos. And yet we trudge onwards under a shadow. There is a great shape towering over us, and it is brought closer with every step. We are on a fixed path, ushered forwards, and there can be no escape. We stand upon a precipice, waiting for the moment we will be tipped off. And then ... who knows? For all our nuclear reactors and space shuttles and tubed-jams, we have no clue what will happen when we take the final fall. Our arrogance is really a mask for fear, for the truth of our situation, which is that we are but insignificant flames, blazing once in an endless void, soon to be extinguished forever. There is, certainly, a sense of this evident within Journey. Its tale of an enigmatic robed figure traveling through a vast desert towards a distant mountain can be read as a treatise on death, a declaration of the inconsequentiality of man’s power and knowledge when measured against the vastness of the cosmos. We are tiny specks scuttling across a universe that feels nothing but cold indifference to our plight. We are alone, and we will all die. The thing is, while Journey might present us with these facts, the conclusions it arrives at are far from nihilistic. In the vigor and exuberance engendered through traversing its undulating sands, you feel not despair at your insignificance, but liberation. The treatise on death is transformed into a treatise on life. And not life as opposed to death, but life including death. Because the real truth of our situation is not that we are standing on a precipice, waiting to fall, but that we are falling already, and haven’t yet hit the ground. Rather than peering down into a dark unknown, we are actually in this dark unknown right now. The dark unknown is, at our most fundamental level, us. It hardly matters that we don’t know what will happen when we die, because we don’t even know what will happen when we live. We don’t even know what we mean when we say “know.” “The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao.The name that can be named is not the eternal name.” These wry, wise old words come from the first lines of the Tao Te Ching, a screed regarding the Tao, or hidden flow, of the universe. It’s telling that the lines, among the most penetrating -- and most quoted -- in philosophical discourse, comprise a negative statement -- telling us what is not, rather than what is. In much of Taoist (and subsequent Zen) thought, the assumption is that awareness of base reality -- and thus liberation, enlightenment -- is not something that can be intellectually arrived at, but a fundamental truth of existence that we simply have to stop trying to attain, and remember is here, right now, for us all to experience. We don’t often think like this in the West. Our busy, fearful, left-hemisphere dominated minds have a hard time relinquishing control and placing faith in a more natural, less forced intelligence. A Zen master would remind us that a finger pointing to the moon is not the moon, while our great thinkers tie themselves in knots wanting written instructions how to look from the finger to the moon, how eyes switch targets, how light is converted into electro-chemical impulses, and how that happens, and how that happens. We believe it is possible to “know” everything, and we do so erroneously. For what we mean by “knowing” is really just grouping, ordering, filing away. To know a thing is to delineate it, to demarcate its boundaries, its opposites, to cut it away from the rest of the world so it may be observed. In doing so we build complex maps of the relationships between things, yet we say nothing of the things themselves. You cannot demarcate that which has no opposite. To try is to confuse the map with the territory. I still remember this faux intellectual punk I used to know, who once sneered, “Everyone gets so soppy about love, without realizing it’s just a chemical reaction in the brain that means nothing.” The kid thought that because he could classify love, he could explain it away! He didn’t recognize that the whole universe is a chemical reaction -- if viewed through the framework of chemistry. Love, or fear, anxiety, joy, are what chemistry feels like from the inside. We are a chemical reaction experiencing itself! To borrow again from the Tao Te Ching, “Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders.” This isn’t, however, to say that the Western mind is worse at perceiving truth than the Eastern mind. For where our intellectual discourse fails, our art provides answers. Art is a way of presenting truth as honestly as possible, a kind of meditation -- both in the creation and the contemplation -- that allows us to see deeply into things as they really are. Whether staring at a lapis lazuli pendant from ancient Mesopotamia, vibrant with preternatural color, or feeling a creeping dread at the hellish rabbit visions conjured onto film by David Lynch, or exploring the simulated realms of a modern videogame, art lets us step back and refocus on what is, reminds us of the incomprehensibility of this teeming mass of reality blossoming each moment around us, and within us. And when we do so we are transformed. We no longer bustle along the forest path, eyes down, heads busy with What Jason Said Yesterday, or Why Sarah is Such a Cow -- but instead look up, and remember that we are, at this very moment, in paradise, and we better appreciate it now, before it is gone for good. This is what Journey does for me. It is, I think, an antidote to the suffering we feel when we misjudge our place on Earth. Sometimes we trudge up dunes, and the going is tough. Sometimes we surf and sail downhill, and we feel borne on the wind. Such is life. There is a mountain towering over us, the engulfing light at its peak drawing closer with each step. But this mountain need not be a specter. It can instead be a warden -- a lighthouse guiding us home, waiting patiently for our return. We soar up its slopes, our hearts glad. We are tiny, we are empty, we know nothing -- and how very beautiful that ultimate truth is. For when we are empty of ourselves we can let everything else in, and it is then when we find our real selves, not apart from the universe, but a part of it, growing out of it, growing back into it. And we are far from alone. Look at all these other travelers around us, pilgrims on the same journey. When we meet others in Journey, we no longer care about measuring them, comparing them, judging them. We don’t wish to manipulate them, nor do we fear being manipulated by them. We see them for who they truly are, empty as well, and we can enjoy simply existing with them, being with them, as we once did as children in that half-forgotten world of dreams we used to inhabit. There we stand, together, on the precipice of all things -- two tiny hearts beating in unison against the drone of an endless cosmos. What is there to do but sing? So we sing. And, somewhere down there, over the precipice of all things, the endless cosmos sings back.
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[Rob Parker is a freelance writer based in the North of England, where it rains every day. Except the days when it hails. Rob stays sane (and dry) by plunging himself into the simulated worlds of videogames, and writing st...

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Jimquisition: The Definition of Art Games


Jul 02
// Jim Sterling
There's nothing like a debate about art games to ensure that everybody has a fun, enlightening, and not-at-all-aggravating time! Let's discuss the assertion that "art game" as a descriptor doesn't work, that it's a broken te...
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Journey Collector's Edition detailed for North America


Jun 25
// Jordan Devore
Journey has done extremely well for itself on PlayStation Network, and with the upcoming disc-based collector's edition on the way, I can only see that trend continuing. As announced today by developer thatgamecompany, Journe...
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Fan-made Journey figurine is simple and elegant


Jun 20
// Tony Ponce
Journey has such a clean, simple beauty about it that's minimalist yet striking. This custom Journey figurine seems to check all the appropriate boxes, don't you think? thatgamecompany spotted this pretty little thing on Twit...
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thatgamecompany raises $5.5 million, wants to branch out


Jun 14
// Dale North
I've been a dedicated follower of indie game maker thatgamecompany since their beginnings, and they've never disappointed with their releases. But things are about to really ramp up for them. The Santa Monica-based company ha...
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E3: Journey is the 'best selling PSN game of all time'


Jun 04
// Chad Concelmo
During Sony's press conference, Jack Tretton announced that Journey is officially the best selling PSN game of all time. Quite a feat. Quite a great game. This is exciting news for fans of the game and great news for developer thatgamecompany. If you haven't bought the game yet, go download it! It is wonderful.

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