Journey begins in an arid desert, but that wasn't always the plan. Creative director Jenova Chen has revealed that the setting was driven by the multiplayer aspect, and previous ideas included forests, mountain trails, and even cities.
"We wanted an emotional connection between the two players," Chen said during a press Q&A. "When everyone feels powerful, it's less likely they'll socialize. For Journey we wanted to create an environment where, rather than 'how do I use my power on the other guy?', it's, 'hey there's another human being. I haven't seen another human being in a while.' To me this is more social than a social game."
Since running into other players by chance was such a necessary component for the game, the setting had to be sparse. "Initially we thought, what if it's forest, mountain trail, or a city? The problem is the background is so complex, it doesn't help to see the players. If you put two players in a desert, they pop out. Visually it gives a much stronger sense of the relationship between the characters."
Chen also addressed the game length, which at 2-3 hours might be shrugged off as too short. "We don't want to add any filler, because people are paying money to experience that," he said. "If we add filler, that's disrespect." He says the length was intended to "get the message across," in one sitting, similar to watching a film. "The reason a film is designed between 90 minutes and 2 hours is so people can take the whole thing in. Two hours is kind of the golden time before people have to go to the bathroom."
And as an experience, Chen considers Journey a finished story, so it doesn't sound like a sequel is on the horizon. "The world of journey is somewhat complete, it's designed to be a Japanese garden. We've removed everything that could be removed, so what's left is what's most important."
Journey is releasing tomorrow for $14.99 for PlayStation Plus members, and next Tuesday for all PS3 owners.