Trip Creative Jenova Chen is interested in making positive gaming experiences. The last title of Thatgamecompany, Heaven: The children of light, is an exploration of altruism and kindness, surrounded by a beautiful mobile experience.
But just like Trip Chen wanted to create something that players could share with their less video-friendly friends, Sky He also learned an important lesson: people are really worthless.
"We also need to make sure that social dynamics do not become hostile," said Chen. "We want it to be a friendly experience (…) we have designed so many things to fight against human nature, to keep this world friendly."
Trip, published in 2012, was an instant hit among critics, who praised his magnificent world and his innovative stories mostly in silence. Although you could practically finish the game alone, the real joy was falling on the other players and traveling together. You could only communicate through sounds and physical actions.
Sky is, in many ways, an evolution of concepts that the developer has explored with this title. Mobile gaming is an online experience in which players work to restore faulty constellations and restore light to the world. It's social by nature. Players have a vast world to explore across seven different realms, but they are largely designed to encourage players to interact with loved ones and strangers. The characters can hold the hand of up to eight friends to guide them in the game. It has its advantages. It is easier to fly with friends, who act as a reserve of energy to better fly. Chen compares this fantastic world to a theme park. Different areas offer different experiences: some offer exploration, competitive or meditative experiences; another one looks like a kind of petting zoo.
But creating the world of play as a park has also caused a lot of bad behavior. "Once all these people are gathered in a theme park, all the problems begin," Chen said. SkyThe character can be personalized with cosmetics. This led to what Chen called "beggars of karma". Basically, players like strangers to make money before giving them up. Or more succinctly: "People are shitting each other," says Chen. "It's a game where I do not want seven-year-olds to say dirty words in the lobby Imagine Disney Land, people who say to themselves," Someone wants to buy hearts? "Pay me 10 dollars and I will do it. "
That does not mean that Trip was not without his share of jerks. Chen said that when this company first designed their video game, players often pushed each other against each other, or tried to pinch their partners.
"They liked to see the other player become frustrated," he says. "In the psychology of childhood, any player who goes into a virtual world immediately returns to the baby mode.The morality, the moral value, does not go into a virtual space.In any virtual space, people are looking for a maximum If I can frustrate you and display that emotion, it's much more exciting than helping me. "
This struggle against fundamental human nature partly explains why Sky you took so long to finish. I first described the game as a roller coaster, a linear experience. But with the growing popularity of iOS games, people have become less willing to pay for the experience. Sky I would need to be a free game.
"Nine out of 10 players on the phone have never seen a console game," he says. "There is no trust built between (the player and the developer) so the first thing about human nature is that everything is not expensive."
Counting all the ways that players can use each other has also taken time to unravel. The developer has rebalanced the game economy in order to make their interactions more authentic. "(If) the only way to get karma is to talk to people, so I'll think about how I'm going to get those people to give me karma," Chen said. "You become manipulative." But if you offer players another way, their kindness to other players seems genuine.
The cat is limited to Sky to the only people with whom you have built a relationship via emotes. A stranger can not get into your conversations and start shouting obscenities. Instead, players are encouraged to spend time together, to know one through physical actions and to build trust. Chen told a player with whom he had opened a conversation, "we allowed ourselves to understand each other better." Reinforce intimacy, so to speak.
Heaven: The children of light Head towards iOS like a free game on 11 July. Versions of tvOS, Android, macOS, PCs and consoles will follow at a later date not announced. After years of balance and testing, Chen says he finally feels like the community they have built to become a friendly community. It just had to work on the natural inclinations of people.
"In the process of encouraging people to give, we must allow them to obtain it, selfishly, so that the gift actually seems to be altruistic," Chen said. "If you do not have darkness, you do not have light. When there is no darkness, every light seems suspicious."