Flower dev talks next PS3 game, Natal

DEVELOP '09: thatgamecompany creative director Jenova Chen says his new Sony project will be non-traditional a la flOw, says Microsoft tech is "huge step."

BRIGHTON, UK--Even in an industry that relies on risk taking and novel concepts, Jenova Chen is in a fairly privileged position. At only 28, the creative director of thatgamecompany has complete creative freedom in his projects, thanks to a three-game deal that he struck with Sony. His first two games, flOw and Flower, have both offered unique game experiences, and his third game aims to continue his track record of innovation. He talked about all of these issues at the Develop conference in Brighton today and answered some questions about his development ethos.

Jenova Chen at Develop 09.

While he didn't leak any specifics about his next project, Chen did offer the slightest of hints. "It's really early in the process, a totally different game, but a natural extension of what will come after flOw or Flower. I can't use a first-person shooter engine to make this game," he joked.

Chen also let slip that he was having some slight technical limitations in terms of building the game with Sony, although he did say that the publisher enforced absolutely no creative restrictions on his games. He also claimed he was interested in the possibilities offered by Microsoft's Xbox 360 Natal technology. "It seems like Natal makes a huge step that I wouldn't have expected this year," he said.

Of course, most of his lecture centered on Flower, and although the session was titled "Games and Art," he spent little time talking about the latter. "I'm not an artist, I'm a computer science guy," said Chen, addressing the criticism that some of his games may be overly pretentious. "Art is a component with an input and an output," he claimed, showing graphs that focused far more on emotional involvement than artistic desire. Talking specifically of Flower, he plotted out the emotional intensity that he wanted players to experience in the game, and then told his artists and musicians to make visuals and music to fit.

Talking about his lucrative three-game deal with Sony, Chen claims that he originally tried to sign up with all the major Western publishers, but it eventually came down to Sony and Nintendo. His student game, Cloud, was originally shopped around, but it was only when Chen showed Sony flOw--a game he developed in three months as a side project--that Sony became interested. "Sony is very serious about games as adult entertainment," he said.

Questioned about exploring new emotions, such as love and hate, Chen claimed that he was interested in the whole range. "I love games about hatred," he noted. "God of War is a great game about hatred."

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63 comments
Ryusennin
Ryusennin

@ Salarian I stopped taking you seriously when you tried to compare Prototype and inFamous. Then reading again your previous posts, I had a very good laugh.

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

Chrysus, Now lets look at the PS3 games you mentioned, and how I rated them. Uncharted - I rate it 7 since it's short compared to other games in its genre. There's no co-op mode, even though this game would benefit from co-op; it felt lacking. Once you beat it, there wasn't a reason to keep playing. This game is a great rental. Resistance 2 - I rated with a 7, but I have since tried to make it an 8. Gamespot doesn't allow a score to be changed. I originally thought the game didn't include co-op so I rated it a 7, but when I realized it did have Co-Op (unlike the first game) I tried to change the score, but I couldn't. Remember, Resistance is a series that falls behind games like Gears of War, Halo, and Call of Duty in the genre of "Shooter." So I believe 8 out of 10 is what the game deserves. InFamous - 7 is the score it deserves. The game is loaded with graphic glitches that are annoying. Poor sales of InFamous are further proof that people agree. This game series has some potential, but it isn't nearly as good as Prototype or Crackdown. Killzone 2 - 6 is the score Killzone 2 deserves. The disappointing sales of Killzone 2 are proof of this. Gamespot even pointed out that the newly released Killzone 2 was being outsold each month by Halo 3 -- a game that had been on the market for 21 months at the time. The lack of Co-Op in Killzone 2 is terrible for the 2009 era we live in, especially considering the first Killzone had split-screen co-op.

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

Lets look at the Xbox 360 games you mentioned and why I rated them with the scores. Mass Effect - I rated this a 10 because I believe it deserves such a high rating. Mass Effect won the award for Best Game of the Year and Best Action-RPG of the year from a countless number of websites, magazines, and newspapers. There is no doubt that Mass Effect is worthy of a score so high. Fable II - Fable is one of the most respected RPG series ever released. Fable II also won the award for Best Game of the Year, and it was actually included with the Xbox 360 for a time in the "Best Game of the Year" package. It deserves the score of 10. Left 4 Dead - I gave it a 10 because it deserves a 10. This is yet another game that won the award for Best Game of the Year. Gears of War 2 - This is the best Thrid-Person Shooter ever created, and has the best graphics of any console game released this generation. The inclusion of a 5-player Co-Op mode is amazingly fun! It deserves a rating of 10. Lips - I gave Lips a score of 9.5 because it is the best karaoke game I've ever played. It comes with the two best microphones ever seen in the videogame industry. The microphones are motion senstive and feature cool lights. This game deserves a score of 9.5. Star Ocean - Star Ocean is one of the most well respected JRPG game series. The week this was released in Japan, Xbox 360 sales outsold both the Wii and PS3. There is no doubt that Star Ocean deserves its rating of 9.5.

Chrysus
Chrysus

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

izmickey
izmickey

@SalarianChemist I was just asking, its just i usually see you post very highly of xbox or microsoft and either put sony down or not mention it at all. Jimmy Fallon is only one guy, just because this ONE man was interested in natal, it doesnt make it a FACT that natal was a champion. Others might have found ps3;s eye more interesting. This is why i asked, you have to be open minded.

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

@izmickey: The answer to your question is "No" I am not a fanboy in regards to one console or the other. I always give credit where credit is due, which tends to make people happy. Similarly, when making a comparison between two products there is always going to be one product that comes up short. As a result, people who disagree with me end up accusing me of being a fanboy. It's like this with all people in all industries. The simple fact is that Project Natal was the champion of the motion-sensitive controllers shown at the 2009 E3. Consider that Jimmy Fallon invited the creators of Project Natal on his show because he was so impressed with what he saw at the 2009 E3. Jimmy Fallon didn't invite the creators from Sony, because he wasn't as impressed as he was with Project Natal. This is just a simple fact; it doesn't mean that Jimmy Fallon is a "fanboy."

lamprey263
lamprey263

I liked both , they may be cheap downloads but they're really cool

Cheesehead9099
Cheesehead9099

Well the flower game was kind of weird but pretty cool, so his next game must be awesome. As for the Natal thing, dont really care, never was into motion controls.

DeanoFantasy
DeanoFantasy

Not everyone has the space in their bedrooms to project the interactive image the Natal demonstration video showed us I know I don't have room to jump around and duck and act crazy on a skateboard etc either way it would be interesting but I personally think this project Natal will be somewhat dumb-down to suit everyone's needs to make more people enjoy interactive games in the future, like say my grandad would like it but not something that's physical but something like an interactive puzzle game etc. It will be interesting to see what Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony come up with over the next few years, I know Sony have made some TV's with 3D technology built in ready so it would be good to see this in games in the future :D

NuKkU
NuKkU

Natal wont be in all games its impossible right now theres no way it can do FPS and most genres plus i rather have a controller in my hand i hate motion controllers its not just Natal i hate the Wii and i hate the new motion controller that Sony is making

izmickey
izmickey

I just realized something. How can it tell when we shoot, or the distance or height to which we can throw grenades? Its hard imagining how it'll be integrated into FPS's like halo games like gears of war.

BladeTrinity114
BladeTrinity114

Natal is cool but I am just wondering how it is going to work on games like FPS'. It just won't be able to do it. Thats why I prefer Sony's offering.

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

Im not surprised Chen clearly knows a good thing when he sees it Natal is a Huge evolution in video game controllers but unless MS bundles Natal with a X360 I think the original Natal will do poorly.

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

now i found and read the article, forget about point two.

MassacreMonk
MassacreMonk

Half of the people here praising Natal, won't even buy it.

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

@SalarianChemist 5."Sony's developers were clearly embarrassed on the stage when the audience was so disappointed." I didnt hear any "boo" in the audience. 6."I can easily see why the employees at Sony would be talking about how impressed they are with Project Natal" ??? 7. reminder that the sony motion control was a prototype

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

@SalarianChemist 1."the developers couldn't even hit a bowling ball with a tennis racket" the remote tracked his movments perfectly,the racket stayed within his hands. i was just him that coundn't hit the ball. 2. no one would ever use Natal with their pc. 3.although i was impressed with Project Natal i woundnt call it precise and accurate. it was abit slow at tracking movments. 4.Do you hate sony, not offending you but you always write negative things about them, i can't think of anything they could of done to anger people(except there exploding laptops)

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

"Of course, most of his lecture centered on Flower, and although the session was titled "Games and Art," he spent little time talking about the latter." Get a clue, GS. Flower WAS art.

PSgamer99
PSgamer99

seems like he was reluctant to work with sony, even though they were the only publisher that gave his company a chance

Zidaneski
Zidaneski

Pshhh, I'm fine with any motion sensing stuff but only if I can use it while sitting down. Thinking how awesome Flower was with the motion controls I would love to see what he can come up with using natal or the wand thingie.

izmickey
izmickey

will a broom stick work too?

AdmiralDan
AdmiralDan

@ slyguy65 You do realize you can hold onto anything with Natal and it will still work? Want to play a sword game? Then hold a real (or fake) sword in front of the Natal thing and play like that. Why would you rather have a glowing orb be your sword?

slyguy65
slyguy65

I think natal is good for racing games and casual games such as flower but i think that sony motion control thing would be pretty tight to use in games that uses weapons and stuff since instead of pretending to hold a weapon in natal you get some weight to help trick yourself thinking its real.

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

@ SalarianChemist, Woah woah woah! Jimmy Fallon brought Natal on his show? That MUST mean it's the best motion sensing technology at E3 right? Oh wait...

magnetar1
magnetar1

He says, "...Natal makes a huge step that I wouldn't have expected this year." This doesn't mean that it is in the positive direction. However, the lead in to this story seems to make the case that it is positive. Seems to me he may think Microsoft is going in the wrong direction.

dentui
dentui

@joke_man Even though we may have our differences...I gotta agree with you Joke_man. In the end it is always and it will always be about the money...otherwise wouldn't it be free.

izmickey
izmickey

@ SalarianChemist Do you hate sony or are you a 360 fanboy? I am not offending you, im just wondering.

ps3loverr
ps3loverr

u guys are all fanboys you don't even know how natal is going to feel like i don't own a eye toy because its stupid y waste 40 dollars when u can get a game ill only pick one up when i can use it for games like demon souls so i can use a shield and sword. but natal sounds cool to talk to ppl for information in a rpg game but im gonna say it fails since u need some sort of control in your hands it'll be weird to not have any control in your hands

HUNTER-VENOM
HUNTER-VENOM

Looks like he'll be developing for the 360 as soon as he's done with Sony sweet! Natal is going to change everything!

D4NZEL-709
D4NZEL-709

guys if sony would make eye toy come in 2011 i bet you they will do everything that natal can do but they are not trying to copy which i respect they are not copying the wii they are making their eye toy better and i think a game call ur pet or somthing is cool when you draw a picture it becomes real which is really cool i expect more soon and if sony makes a game much bigger since they have blu ray imagine what they could do. @SalarianChemist sony did have some probs but so did ms remember when the guy said ''ever wanted to know what the underneath of a shoe looked like on your avatar'' that was buggy

rostam93
rostam93

natal is more advanced than pseye. come on, they are not comparable. but one of the major points no one is looking at behind natal, is that it must first be programmed into everything to work properly. pseye is a purely a motion sensor. natal would be the same thing (with 3d detection, which by the way is not completely accurate) had it not been shown as programmed into the xbox main menu and such. if one creates the right program, the pseye can easily be used to control the xmb as well. that said, seeing that the pseye is only a few steps back in regard to natal, natal is royally screwed once the wands come out. no matter how innovative natal is, it can't be used to attract core gamers. it has nowhere near the same precision as the wand (you all claim it can scan finger movement like trigger pulls and such but then, why didn't they show that?) and no matter what, you can't get past the shallowness of holding nothing in your hand while you play. (you can hold a stick or a toy gun,yes, but there are no buttons and the accuracy would be menacing) the truth is, whereas natal is all flashy and futuristic and blah, blah, blah, the wand is what truly has the technological prowess behind it.

jpsaply
jpsaply

cytheh said: " We got 2 eyes to do so too. Wat about playstationEye? It's one cam and it does the samething." The difference is that the second lense is a depth sensor so that it can detect a 3d envionment. Its break down is RGB camera, depth sensor to help with facial recognition, multi-array microphone to help with voice recognition. Uhmmm....until you know the specifications, I would refrain from saying it can do the samething.

MaltaDrummer
MaltaDrummer

@SalarianChemist the possibilities with sony's controllers are endless. Natal has limited opportunities.

izmickey
izmickey

I own a PS3 and i gotta admit, from whats been said and written, the natal does look more advanced than the PS eye. But, like someone stated before, people cant bash natal since its still in the dev process, but to also say that it'll blow the PS eye away is also jumping the gun. Natal may have glitches or issues, we dont know. We have to wait and see which is better.

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

Project Natal obviously was the champion of motion-sensity controller devices at the 2009 E3. Jimmy Fallon was so impressed with Project Natal at the 2009 E3 that he invited Microsoft's staff to demonstrate the games on his show. Project Natal truly is amazing because it works in a precise and accurate way. The same cannot be said for the motion-sensitivity controller demonstratated by Sony for the Playstation 3 at the 2009 E3. Remember, even Sony's employees who developed the product could not get the controller to properly work in a precise and accurate way. For example, the developers couldn't even hit a bowling ball with a tennis racket, which is as bad as it gets. Sony's developers were clearly embarrassed on the stage when the audience was so disappointed. With this in mind, I can easily see why the employees at Sony would be talking about how impressed they are with Project Natal, especially since Microsoft recently confirmed that Project Natal will also work with Windows PC.

Resbang
Resbang

This + Nvidia 3D Vision = Step closer to something new

tmorri603
tmorri603

You are joke man. This fanboy stuff is so stupid. These companies don't care anything you. All they care about is the bottom line. They want to sell as much stuff to get the most money and as long as they keep doing that their world is good. To think that the Eyetoy can compare to Natal is the biggest act of fanboyism there is. The Eyetoy does do some of the things that Natal can do but Natal goes so much further than the Eyetoy can every hope to do. Fanboys need to stop kissing so much company butt and undersand that Nintendo, MS and Sony has good and bad things going for them.

cytheh
cytheh

people talk about eyetoy, low end camera blah blah blah... but that's last gen ps2 hard ware. How about PlaystationEye? anyone saw it on playstation conference? Natal has how many cams on it already? 2? oh, that's not so hard to determine the movements and locations. We got 2 eyes to do so too. Wat about playstationEye? It's one cam and it does samething.

railroberto2007
railroberto2007

natal seems pretty bad and so does the playstation thing. put a controller in my hands. if you want revolution go back in time and take the idea for a VR helmet and make it work!

kakashi6666
kakashi6666

@yixingtpot natal dosent compare to sonys motion conytroller at e3...... lol thats funny the hole point of motion sensing is that there is no controler so sonys motion sensing controller is kinda defeatin the point coz its still a controller u still hav to hold something in ur hands were as natal u dont

ico92
ico92

@yixingtpot this is what i like to call an A$$HOLE

xTheExploited
xTheExploited

I remember when Eye Toy was new, me and my friends would cheat at it by ALL of us playing one game. Eye Toy picked up any movements, Natal picks up specific body parts making specific movements. Eye Toy was good 7 years ago, I'm sure in another 7 years people will be looking back on Natal thinking how inferior it was to whatever is new.

valuum
valuum

LOL at the people who post like 12-year-olds, and at the same time claim to have the technical insight as to how and why Natal "sux" despite the fact that it has barely made it's way into the hands of devs let alone the general public. Natal doesn't fail, fail. Hard.

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

True NATAL looks like it could really make some genres much better. And to the fanboys here no its not eyetoy. hardwrae wise it better and software wise its years ahead. It tracks induvidual parts of the body and can distinguish between people. It can recognise expressions and voice tones. Aye toy was simply a motion detector, using a low end camera...

MafiaBroad82
MafiaBroad82

Wow! Flower looks hella fun. The release date shows that the game has been out for awhile, but I haven't even heard of this game before today. Is this PSN content? If so I gotta check it out!

MafiaBroad82
MafiaBroad82

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

joke_man
joke_man

@yixingtpot Here is another clear example of fanboyism. Holy crap people, get a life. Sony doesn't care about you, MS doesn't care about you and Nintendo doesn't care about you. It's all about the money for them and I'm tired of people bringing down one company just because they can't get off the nipple of another................. Down with fanboys!

OptimusPrime085
OptimusPrime085

@yigxingpot: you are absolutely right NATAL=EPIC FAIL, nuff said.

jpsaply
jpsaply

So ,yixingtpot you are saying the PS2 eyetoy can distinguish between different people?? I think not. I dont think you saw the video of when natal recognized the person entering the room and the 360 logged into the game account. I would go watch all the E3 videos on it and observe it again.

yixingtpot
yixingtpot

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