Jenova Chen Explains The Journey That Was Necessary To Finish Journey

Making games is never easy, but the challenges that thatgamecompany faced were quite deep, as were the rewards.

by on 8th Feb, 2013

As noted last night, thatgamecompany's PlayStation Network magnum opus was the big winner of last night's DICE awards

It nabbed the top slot in the categories of game of the year, outstanding achievement in game direction, outstanding innovation in gaming, outstanding achievement in art direction, outstanding achievement in online gameplay, outstanding achievement in original music composition, outstanding achievement in sound design and casual game of the year.

The co-founder & creative director of the studio response for the game, Jenova Chen, also addressed the DICE attendees, in which he shared the difficulties that him and his studio faced when making Journey. But it was a far greater challenge most could ever imagine.

In a nutshell, they had two years to make the game, but it still wasn't enough time. The heart and soul just wasn't there yet, so they were faced with a choice: either ship Journey as is, or return to the drawing boards and make it the experience that they knew it could be.

The latter option, the far more difficult one, was chosen. But it was after the allotted time had run out in which things begun to both click and fall into place, as Destructoid details. Like [WARNING, SPOILER] when the game froze, where your character perishes. It happened right at a moment that offered quite the emotional impact, and got Chen and his team thinking.

Additional time and money was requested, and granted, but a third year was still not enough. During the final six months, staffers were not paid, so they dipped into their own band accounts, which took them to bankruptcy in the final year.

But the sacrifices were all worth it in the end. To drive this point home, Chen shared the following letter the team received:

Your game practically changed my life. It was the most fun I had with him since he and been diagnosed. … My father passed in the spring of 2012, only a few months after his diagnosis.

Weeks after his death, I could finally return myself to playing video games. I tried to play Journey, and I could barely get past the title screen without breaking down into tears. In my dad's and in my own experience with Journey, it was about him, and his journey to the ultimate end, and I believe we encountered your game at the most perfect time. 

I want to thank you for the game that changed my life, the game whose beauty brings tears to my eyes. Journey is quite possibly the best game I have ever played. I continue to play it, always remembering what joy it brought, and the joy it continues to bring.

I am Sophia, I am 15, and your game changed my life for the better. 1/8/2013

Stories from around the web