Video: Journey's creative challenges
In this GDC Europe presentation, former thatgamecompany producer Robin Hunicke reflects on the ambition, struggles, and conflicts that fueled the production of the studio's 2012 hit, Journey.
Thatgamecompany has developed a real habit of taking risks. From the abstract flOw to the whimsical Flower, the studio's gone out of its way to explore new design ideas and break away from industry tropes. With Journey, the studio's most recent creation, the team aimed to create an unusual co-op game that focused less on mechanics, and more on creating a meaningful, emotional bond with another player. It was a tall order, and realizing that vision was no easy task. During last month's GDC Europe, former thatgamecompany producer Robin Hunicke (now of social developer Tiny Speck) reflected on Journey's development, and said that creating this ambitious PSN title was the studio's greatest challenge yet. With previous games like flOw and Flower, Hunicke said thatgamecomany had struggled with "missed deadlines, blown budgets, communication failures, and creative conflicts," and those same issues were just a few of the challenges the team faced while working on Journey. Even just one year into development, Hunicke said the team ran into some real obstacles when trying to realize the game's vision while meeting the demands of a typical production cycle. "We really only had a few months to push to E3 , and nothing in the game really felt like we wanted it to," Hunicke said. "Sony was starting to ask us some pretty tough questions about our schedule... the pattern of flOw and Flower was coming back to us, and nobody wanted to see that." Despite those obstacles, Hunicke believes the team was able to realize Journey's initial vision, and the game has since become one of the studio's most renowned yet. You can see for yourself how it all came together by checking out the full video of Hunicke's presentation, courtesy of the GDC Vault. Simply click the Play button above to start the video.