Jenova Chen on flOw, Game Design, and Sony

Illustration for article titled Jenova Chen on flOw, Game Design, and Sony

flOw is one of those interesting little games that keeps on kicking (it's certainly made the rounds at this point) — it's spawned a lot of interest and discussion since its first appearance. Brandon Sheffield sat down with Jenova Chen (flOw designer and co-founder of thatgamecompany) at this year's GDC to talk about Sony's strengths, game design, and why making traditional games is 'too easy':

I think it's just too easy for us. And, also, if I just want to make violent games or fun games... It's not to say that fun games are bad, but I could just go to work for Blizzard, or go to work for Maxis. And they make fun games, they make creative games. I could get a lot higher pay, and a much more stable job. Why not?

Why would I start a company just to make the same kind of game which I can get a much better life in another company? You know, the reason we started this company is because nobody is making this kind of game, and to expand that emotional spectrum of video games — having more people be able to enjoy video games. The only way to do it is to just do it yourself.

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The interview touches on a lot of issues — from Sony to Passage to Spore — and worth a read through.

Finding A New Way: Jenova Chen And Thatgamecompany [Gamasutra]

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DISCUSSION

@darktorns: I agree with you. Go Indie Devs! Yay!

@ca$h: Pompous? How about not sounding condescending to Indie developers that actually have talent, instead of talking shit about a topic you're completely ignorant too. What's wrong with flash games? What's your beef against Indie developers? Just because indie-devs don't have billions of dollars to throw into the next 4 years creating pseudo-fun games with 100+ development teams, doesn't mean they're any less talented, or creative than the Blizzards of the world. They have a handful of employees, doing something different, creating games that the "big-companies" would never pick up. It's analogous to how the film industry works...small-indie movies that are creative, niche pieces. Look at movies like Juno, No Country for Old Men.

Blizzard and Maxis awesome? yeah right:

Blizzard: Pretty much has only created 3 licenses ever, Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft. Though good games, there is nothing ground breaking about them. Starcraft/Warcraft, blatant rip off of the old Dune RTS, the grandfather of that genre. Diablo - a spruced up Gauntlet ripoff if I never saw one. Where's the innovation there? World of Warcraft (Everquest wannabe) developers: "Ah lets take the WC3 engine, duct tape it to work in a MMORPG capacity (i.e add more robust network abilities). Oh and that story we created in WC2, lets totally re-write that in this game"."yeah, the fanboys won't even notice!"

Maxis - makes the sims games. That's all. Got bought out by EA, so that means they can make even bigger sims games. Oh yeah, and they're making this game called Spore, which will never be released in your life-time.

I don't hate these companies, I'm just not a fanboy of any of them nor do you have to be some god to make games. I say if you're able to finish a game, whether in flash, C#, or even Qbasic, you've got more to show for than most people. It's not easy to finish a game, especially at a presentably polished level like FlOw is.

FlOw is a game that does something completely different, that's more than what a company like Blizzard can say. Though Jenova may sound pompous to you, it may be because you have your head so far up your ass that you don't have the pallet to taste some of the real gems of the industry. We need developers like Jenova.

Long live Indie games!