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Destructoid Interview Special:
That Cloud Game! A game for daydreamers

2006-07-02 17:12:51·  8 minute read   ·  Tom Fronczak@Fronztoid
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Cloud GIF No, no, no - not a FF7 tribute game. It's summer time and that means you need to delete all the old PC games you've beaten or grown bored of and start looking for new games to play instead of being productful in the nasty heat outside. This game's pretty old and yet I still rarely hear anything about it so I figured I'd shout it out before I get rid of it. Cloud Game is one of those simple, fun, artsy games like Katamari Damacy that no one knows about and is always ready to obtain a cult following if it ever gets enough attention. It's a game for daydreamers made by daydreamers. If you've ever seen the animated movie Voices of a Distant Star - that's the closest quick description I can give for the game's art style and mood. That or think of a peaceful orsinal games version of Goku flying around. The gameplay lets you fly around in the clouds and move and form them in one of four dreams (levels). You must collect all the clouds in the sky and take them to battle against the storm or smog clouds that haunt the land. Save the islands from gloom and travel to keyes riddled with drought or volcanic scars and help save the world. Here's a video that'll show you exactly what it looks like and how it's played. It's not often that game designers think outside the box and don't end up screwing everything up - Cloud Game is a great example of how to do things right. Oh yah - and it's FREE! Keep reading for our interview with the maker of this game (who's now working on Spore!). G vs E Cloud Style First - a catch-up on things that Gamasutra's Interview already covered. The main development for Cloud started in January of 2005 and concluded in November of the same year. Cloud was selected as the recipient of the 2005 USC Game Innovation Grant, and was also featured in the March 2006 issue of Game Informer magazine. Cloud was designed with the the feelings of youthfulness, freedom, and wonder of imagination all in mind. It hopes to tap into the archetypal feeling that we all have at some time when we look up at the clouds and wish we could fly. Also, Cloud was envisioned as a simple game without the traditional goal-oriented, conflict-driven, and asset-heavy gameplay design. Also, here are Cloud's credits: Cloud Credits Destructoid Interview Special: Destructoid: As the team leader you have the nickname 'Jenova,' and you have helped create a game called 'Cloud.' Crazy Final Fantasy 7 coincidence or is nature and dreamy relaxation truly your inspirations for making this game? :) Jenova: It is just a pure coincident. I chose my English name as Jenova during the high school years mainly because my best friend called himself Cloud. However, I never thought about FFVII when I was designing Cloud. More interestingly, if you do look at it through FFVII's perspective, we also have Vincent as the composer for the game. Destructoid: We want to give interviews that strive to be personal and stray from being typical, structured, cookie-cutter questionnaires. So to get to know the mastermind behind Cloud a little better, let's hear some of your favorite video games of all time before we get to the juicy details. Jenova: FFVII (Well I have to mention this since I named after the character in it) (The following three games are games without blockbuster budget but yet emotionally powerful, offering unique gameplay experiences to players) Rez Katamari Damacy Shadow of the Colossus Destructoid: I did some snooping on your site and noticed that your three mp3's (which kick ass!) were uploaded as soon as your project began its earliest phases. Did the music's tone impact the design of the game or vice-versa? How did you go about choosing your music and where did you get the tunes from? Jenova: The wonderful music is composed by our team member Vincent Diamante. During the early phase of the production, we let Vincent create a theme song for the game. The purpose for it is to define the emotional favor for the game. It is a great influence and inspiration for both art and game design of the game. Destructoid: With not even a dozen people on your team, how long was it before your concepts on paper started to actually come to life on the computer screen in their earliest forms? Jenova: We create all kinds of prototypes to narrow down what the game will feel like. Before I gather the team, I have already created a prototype. We created about 12 different iterations of prototypes on different aspects of the game during the production of the game. However, it is still not the same feel until the last month of the production, which is about 8 months into the project. Destructoid: What was the hardest part of the development process for your game? Did you run into any problems that you didn't expect in the production stages of your project? How did you deal with problems that arose as a team? Jenova: The hardest part is to keep everybody in the team motivated. When the production started, you don't really have any control over the progress, you have to count on everybody in the team perform dedicatedly. There were quite many distractions, lack of money, time, and human resources. I don't even know how we managed to overcome all the barriers, but we made it eventually. Passion is all we have. Destructoid: Despite your gameplay not revolving around goals, your design process must have had many from the start. What were your original hopes for the game, and how did they change along the way to its completion? Did anything get cut? Jenova: The game is mean to be a different type of experience, we want to have player feel relax and daydream-like in the game rather than the traditional goal oriented design. We did encounter a lot resistance about "lack of goal" or "not a game", but we ended up not changing that much. The scope of the game is about 1/10 of the original concept. It's great to dream big. Unfortunately, we don't have enough resource and skill to make it come true. It's like a Japanese garden. We've cut everything we can from the original design. Destructoid: Making an open ended game with freedom of gameplay is something that professional companies have spent millions on trying to do in the past without letting their games get boring or confusing. Are there any games that served as good or bad examples for your team to follow or stray from? Jenova: Games are created to be engaging and addictive today. Keeping player playing as long as possible became a benchmark for the industry. But as more and more gamers turn into adults, they can't play that long any more. Think about how many players can manage to finish the games they purchase today. Rather than spend my effort on something player might have time to play, I focused more on the quality of the player's engagement, thus I care about the emotional depth of the game more than how long players will be hooked. I think Shadow of the Colossus is a good example of how quality of the experience can be more valuable than the quantity of the experience. Their development team is very tiny compare with most of the blockbuster games. Yet they still win the games of the year and rank the top sell in the month at UK. Destructoid: Cloud's art reflects the mood of the game perfectly. For your game's visual style were there any inspirtaions from other artists, anime, or video games? Jenova: Since the experience of Cloud is very much inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's world wide appealing animations, the art is created to be pure and full of beauty and freshness. It is also very inspired by the nature surrounding us. Sky, clouds, rain, forest, ocean conclude the color palette of the game. Destructoid: Cloud has been out for over half a year with over 300,000 downloads. We all know that the next generation of game consoles are each focusing on small innovative games for download. So with your game's internet success, has anyone from your team received a job in the game industry yet in any way? Jenova: Half of the team is currently working at EA, either as fulltime employee or intern. However, they are not hired to create more games like Cloud but working on the existing big game projects. At the same time, producer Kellee Santiago and I have started a game company dealing with different game publishers who are interested in Cloud and more games we are going to create in the future. Destructoid: Speaking of next generation consoles, Cloud would be a great mini game download for Wiimote gameplay. Does your team have any further plans for Cloud? Have you or do you plan to approach anyone from the game industry and pitch your game to them in hopes of expanding it into a larger game? Or even independently in the future? Jenova: As "thatgamecompany" We have contacted with nearly all the major publishers. There are many plans undergoing right now, I'm sorry that I can't tell you more details about them. Wii is definitely under our concern. Destructoid: What would you like to see the most from the next generation of games as far as gameplay standards and innovations goes? What do you feel the world of gaming is lacking, and what do you think there is too much of? Jenova: If you have been to this year's GDC, you should have known through our speech at the annual experimental gameplay workshop. The current video game market is filled with the same games, they might be different in its skin. However, the soul as for the emotion video game generates is very limited around aggressive, stimulating, addicting, empowering and comedic. At TGC (thatgamecompany) our goal is to make video games that communicate different emotional experiences the current video game market is not offering. We encourage innovation and experimentation and believe that our creative games will appeal to new, yet untapped, audiences. coregame logo The market of video game is also divided into two isolated groups "hardcore" and "casual", leaving many grown up gamers and non-gamers not enough games to play. We call our games "core games." Core games appeal not only to existing hardcore and casual gaming markets, but also to mature gamers and even non-gamers. Core games reach these new markets because they are easier and less time consuming, yet possess emotionally rich and powerful gameplay. Destructoid: And finally, does your team plan on making another game in the near future? Where do you see yourself one year from now? (Besides day dreaming and staring at the clouds :) ) Jenova: BTW Cloud has reached 500,000 downloads now. And I have made another interesting freeware game called flOw which has more than 600,000 downloads today. The good news is that thatgamecompany has just started an unannounced project with Sony. The team of Cloud is separated by school, job and internships. Due to lots of coincidences, I am currently working at Maxis on Spore. Looking at a year ahead of us, I can't really predict where am I going to be. But we are very optimistic about the game industry and our future. Gladiator ending - Cloud Style




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Tom FronczakContributor // Profile & Disclosures
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Tom Fronczak is a Founding Editor for both Destructoid and Flixist. Fronz has attended industry events such as CES and E3, but with a degree in 3D graphics hes pursuing a career in game design a... more


 



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