With a flood of news surrounding the release of the PS3, it only seems fitting to get a little bit of depth on some of the original titles coming to Sony’s next-gen system. After having an interview with the co-owner of ThatGameCompany, Jenova Chen, regarding their original project, Cloud. It seemed only logical to get some insight about flOw for the PS3 as well.
ThatGameCompany is actualy a fresh-out-of-school development team who designed Cloud, a critically acclaimed and well-received indie-title. It was a freeware game, but offered gamers a very unique experience. I asked Jenova if there’s anyway we could be seeing a sequel to Cloud, and he simply replied with “ It's more about the right timing and the right team. We are still waiting. And we are planning to make new games that fall into the same direction.”
As for flOw...this unique downloadable game for the PS3 offers up an evolutionary gameplay schematic that has players venturing through an abyss. Kellee Santiago, the game’s lead producer, basically said that the game doesn’t fit into a genre, but rather... “We classify flOw as a "Zen" game. It's a game that you play when you want to relax and take a break.” That’s the same sort of concept that Cloud was designed around. And really, Cloud is an extremely challenging and relaxing game. Odd, because usually game designers are trying to make us pee our pants or have an aneurism. But ThatGameCompany seems to have a completely different outlook on their concept of game designing.
The thing that made me most curious about this game, flOw, is the fact that it’s based on a thesis project by Jenova Chen, who turned that project into a flash-based game. So how on earth did Sony decide to take a project like this into consideration for online distribution? Well, Kellee explained: “Between Cloud and flOw, Sony became very interested in us as designers. We (Sony and ThatGameCompany) came to the conclusion that developing a PS3 version of flOw would be a good first project; for us, to learn PS3 technology and console production, for them, to minimize the risk because flOw is a much smaller project than Cloud.”
She went on to say, “I know that Sony is very intentionally using the lower-risk environment of downloadable distribution to experiment with content and technology.” ... “What we saw when we were pitching the game around was that many publishers claimed to be interested making more experimental, smaller games, but few seemed willing to really be the first to take that risk. I think Sony has proven in the past that they are always willing to take the risk of jumping off the cliff first; sometimes they fly and sometimes they fall on their face.“
As for the PS3 version of the game, it will feature far more content than its flash-based predecessor. Kellee commented that “...I think the fans of the Flash version will be very happy with the different experiences the PS3 version will provide. There is also localized multiplayer, which right now I just can't get enough of.” And that’s no joke. FlOw is a snazzy little title that is more addictive than watching Pamela Anderson in a “How to jump rope for dummies” video. Still, flOw is a good start for Sony’s online content. Let’s just hope that they can manage to mount enough follow-up titles to at least give casual gamers a reason to ignore XBL. Otherwise, Sony’s online service will fall prey to Xbox Live in the same subordinate way the PSP fell to the Nintendo DS.
For more information on flOw and Cloud, you can visit ThatGameCompany’s Website for downloads and details.