Backchat: Journey and Games as Art

Journey and Games as Art

This week, Backchat gets philosophical with Journey.

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There are two games I've played recently that made innovative use of multiplayer structure: Coco and Co's 'Way' and Terry Cavanagh's 'At a Distance'. Way is more similar, because the players have no contact with one another. In Way, however, the players need to guide one another and so the lack of communication is actually meant as an obstacle. Players have to communicate using hand gestures or even facial expressions to convey a message.

In 'At a Distance', players are heavily encouraged to communicate (the creator designed it primarily for LAN). The game drops each players (one is Right Brain and the other is Left Brain) into a strange area with monochrome Tronlike rooms. The players are expected to work together to figure out what's going on without so much as a friendly and possibly murderous AI to greet them.

Ultimately, both these games still have a traditional goal-oriented structure. Now Journey obviously takes the model in a different direction by making it so that the two players aren't really working to complete a level. So I suppose their approach is fairly innovative. But based solely on my first impressions I'd say I still prefer Way and At a Distance, because I still want to face a tangible challenge. In both cases, I felt a powerful bond with my counterpart and I think it enriched the experience.

You cover a lot of games that I rarely hear about, other than from this show, I like that. I remember hearing about Journey a while ago and thought it sounded interesting.

As for interesting multiplayer, Dark Souls kinda has a pretty cool if not morbid thing going on. With the whole together despite still being alone, it really goes a long way to ratchet up the feelings of loneliness and dread, how someone you have no prior knowledge of may be altruistic enough to risk themselves and waste their time to help you in some small way. The physical help you receive may be small, as is the interaction but the psychological help is worth something, just for that 'you are not alone' feeling.

Holy crap how did you know?! D:

Journey has an interesting take on multiplayer and one that I don't really mind seeing as you're experiencing something in silence along with someone else and you, yourself, and have to fill in the holes as to why you're traveling with that person. Silence can go a long way and can have interesting stories to tell if done right, and Im really curious to know what this game does.

Dark Souls and Demon's Souls have interesting multiplayer since you can invade another person's game and mess with them. Assassin's Creed's multiplayer has interesting takes on traditional modes, like death match and team death match, that make it not so dull and boring, especially in Revelation's MP since there's an actual story added on to it. That aspect I find is really cool, but I don't know how popular it will be or even used by other developers since multiplayer is mostly known for kill counts and whatever, so maybe Journey can make it unique in that way.

I thought you had a chat with the band. Ooops

Don Reba: Looks mostly pretentious, but sounds great.
Aoife: One man's art is another man's kindling.

You know what? I started writing a long post explaining my position, by midway through realised that I was simply wrong. A game does not have to have any deep meaning or shake the foundations of game design. Capturing something beautiful about the world and relaying it to the player is quite enough to make a piece of art. This is indeed what those "musty old paintings" are about.

PS: Just curious, do you write for the show? Does someone else? Collaborative effort?

Having never seem anything about Journey before this, I can't claim to know exactly what it entails. But from what is presented in the video I can't say I like the idea. Co-op (or lack thereof) with no communication of interaction at all seems void of any substance. You might as well be playing with an NPC.

So.. is Backchat done? Two weeks without new episodes.

Don Reba:
So.. is Backchat done? Two weeks without new episodes.

Sorry for the radio silence. Nope we're not done; we were filming in San Francisco. Should be a new one going up today I think.

Sorry for the radio silence. Nope we're not done; we were filming in San Francisco. Should be a new one going up today I think.

Awesome! Any plans for filming in Barcelona?


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