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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.

September 12, 2012

3 Min Read

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 [2010], 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.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC and GDC Europe already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription Beta via a GDC Vault inquiry form. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins. Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from upcoming 2012 events like GDC Online and GDC China. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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