Flower Intentionally Made Less "Fun"

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Flower Intentionally Made Less "Fun"

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Flower creator Jenova Chen talks about how he removed 'fun' elements from the game to keep his original vision intact.

Hot on the heels of Silicon Knights president Dennis Dyack saying that "gameplay isn't everything", comes the revelation that Jenova Chen, head of Thatgamecompany, removed features from the PSN game Flower in an effort to make it less 'fun'.

Now, before you leap on him and bash him for his hubris, let's be clear that by 'fun' he means 'like other games on the market'. In a speech at the Develop conference this week, Chen said that Flower had originally had more traditional gameplay elements like spells - included at Sony's insistence that the game needed more depth - but that their introduction spoilt the feeling that the game was meant to convey, so Chen had the features cut.

"Those emotions just derailed the experience - I didn't want to make a game where people just play and shout out 'yes!' all the time."

It raises an interesting question over whether games have to be 'fun' to be good. Indie titles like The Path aren't fun, not in the sense that Street Fighter IV is fun, but they can still be powerful experience. Chen addressed this point by saying:

"As grown up gamer I don't want to see the games I have been playing with love turn into toys. I think games need to have more mature content - but not like [Dead or Alive] or [Manhunt], but more sophisticated works ... Games should make the player think and touch the gamer's emotion. Gameplay needs to be like any other medium - it has to evoke all kinds of responses. Otherwise our industry will flatline."

Source: Develop Online via Fidgit

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Thats understandable, Indie developers are always taking the industry to new places.

Makes sense, if Flower had been a more traditional game there is a good chance we wouldn't regard it as highly, I can also understand the desire for sophistication but along with that understanding I get that it should never be 'all 'fun' games' or 'all sophisticated games' there has to be a balance

While it is a bizzare move in my book, It is his game to make and do with as he pleases.

So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

I saw the game and the decided to just ignore it.

Great idea, bad marketing ploy.

Since when is dead or alive a mature game...?

On topic: It kinda makes sense. I hate seeing very indie game turned into a grindfest, the original ideas swamped beneath the efforts of EA's and Activisions EVILNESS.

I agree with what he said, casting spells in Flower would have been just a diversion. Glad he kept that feature out. The title is pretty misleading though, he explains his reasons well.

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Did you read the article?

Brotherofwill:

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Did you read the article?

Yes (a few times), I just feel that fun stems from raw emotions and if he wants thinking responses rather than emotional ones then he's taking the fun out a of a product that's supposed to be fun.

Thinking and puzzle solving can be fun but I reckon he wants this to be the kind of "thinking outside the box" thinking.

But I'm odd and probably don't understand 100%.

You have to think out side of the box in order to create something new and different. FUN isn't everything. A game like Silent Hill 2 wasn't FUN to play, but it was still an amazing experience. More gameplay isn't always better

Cpt_Oblivious:

Brotherofwill:

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Did you read the article?

Yes (a few times), I just feel that fun stems from raw emotions and if he wants thinking responses rather than emotional ones then he's taking the fun out a of a product that's supposed to be fun.

Thinking and puzzle solving can be fun but I reckon he wants this to be the kind of "thinking outside the box" thinking.

But I'm odd and probably don't understand 100%.

Flower is quite the emotional game, probably the most emotional game I have ever played. I agree that fun can stem from emotional responses, Flower really excelled at this for me. It's not too much of a thinking game, atleast it wasn't for me.

The only type of 'fun' he removed was traditional gaming related, like casting spells or maybe fighting. He just simplified his creation and made the drive and purpose behind it a lot stronger in my opinion. I've had plenty of fun with this game (I realize I might be the minority here) the flying was extremely intuitive and satisfied my core-gameplay urges with speeds that topped most modern racers.

I don't think his product was meant to be 'fun', especially when he got the idea for it. He (and his company) is one of the only developers that has approached gaming differently; rather than creating the kind of 'oh yeah! that's awesome!' response that most games do he just created something more subtle. I am one of those misty eyed hippies, so maybe that's why I like the game and these kind of approaches to gaming that much.

It's great that developer's are thinking of this stuff. Games should make people think and have an emotional impact.

However... that's a terrible PR ploy. Hope they're not looking for a blockbuster. But it might be 'fun' just on the basis that it's a little more 'artsy'.

What next, let's make books less enjoyable by removing every dialogue from them? Or maybe we should return to black and white deaf movies, but not add subtitles?

Brotherofwill:
I agree with what he said, casting spells in Flower would have been just a diversion. Glad he kept that feature out. The title is pretty misleading though, he explains his reseans well.

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Did you read the article?

From these posts i'm gathering that some people aren't aware that Flower has been out for yonks.

EDIT: or that it's an indie game.

That makes sense after all its not a "game" game....

Abedeus:
What next, let's make books less enjoyable by removing every dialogue from them? Or maybe we should return to black and white deaf movies, but not add subtitles?

What? How does that even make sense or relate to the article?

Onmi:

Brotherofwill:
I agree with what he said, casting spells in Flower would have been just a diversion. Glad he kept that feature out. The title is pretty misleading though, he explains his reseans well.

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Did you read the article?

From these posts i'm gathering that some people aren't aware that Flower has been out for yonks.

EDIT: or that it's an indie game.

True, you're right about the 'people just repeating popular opinion' bit. It's amazing to see so many posts have absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand.

You and me are probably the only ones that have played it. The changes against 'traditional fun' were made for the better.

Please, let us not confuse "stupid" and "fun".

It's fashionable to only use the word fun when you are attacking things things that are "just simple fun." It sounds like Jenova Chen had a vision for what sort of fun, or experiences, his game would have and had to explain why he should have his way. Myself, I like fun, mainly because it is fun.

Yeah... if he's going out of his way to not have people enjoy his game, he's in the wrong business, is all I'm saying.

Blackadder51:
That makes sense after all its not a "game" game....

Kindof agree, it's not a game like Half-Life, because let's face it, Half Life has no deep emotional response. Games like The Path do, i'm tempted to call the emotion games, but then I wouldn't take myself seriously because i hate emos, but i just called my favorite genre of games emo.

So what should we call these non-game games?
My vote is for "art games"

Well the very term "game" implies fun. I have no objection to artists using computers to convey their works, but I think it should be treated as something differant from gaming.

Mature gaming is pretty much on the right path, basically we need more of what is already there (sex and violence) for mature games. I see maturity as being the abillity to seperate fantasy and reality and "turn off" your play instincts so to speak. Which is why mature games simply involve very "childish" impulses taken to extremes. Kids having a greater difficulty seperating what is acceptable from what isn't when portrayed in that fashion to an extent. I don't think playing sexy or violent games turns a kid into a pervert or seriel killer (well arguably everyone is a "pervert" but that's another discussion entirely) but they can give them some rather wierd ideas.

A good example of this I think is games like "Saint's Row" where idiots talk about all the sex (well sort of), violence, and crime in the game I don't think those elements in of themselves are what make the game mature. Nobody is going to take the shooting, drug dealing, hoing, or whatever else seriously when portrayed like that. However the context it's put in overall, especially when the gang bangers start getting into dicussions of honor, loyalty, and other "positive" values in this context it can lead to a warped value system especially when viewed by the young who do not seperate that from reality as well. For example some games that are mature will take a very "Omerta" approach to good and evil, basically the idea that if you REALLY want Justice you need to get it yourself. Encouraging a mentality where say instead of going to school authorities to resolve a problem, kids are increasingly more likely to want to resolve problems themselves in hallways and parking lots, leading to things like increases in school violence.

Even games with a clear cut line between good and evil, involve methods and logic that are just as fantastic as the storyline itself. Someone who comes away from a game thinking a quest for revenge is inherantly good is getting the wrong message. That's intended to be a "Dark" motive which many adults will understand better than children. I've talked to teenagers about morality and such (say in discussions about RPG alignment systems) and noticed that a lot miss the distinction between Revenge and Justice even when it's part of
a storyline. Younger players oftentimes missing the subtext when a protaganist is asked
which one they actually want, and the point that it's NOT supposed to be a good thing if
they choose revenge.

At any rate this is getting away from the subject,

Ultimatly I do not consider things like "Flower" (as described, I have not played it) and similar programs to be games, but works of electronic art. It's fine, and people can appreciate that, but I don't think it should be presented as a game but rather a genere of it's own.

Similar to how I feel many so called "Adventure Games" should not be considered games but rather "Interactive" or "Visual" novels. Japan sort of makes a distinction here and I think thw Western Audience could learn from that.

I have not played "The Path" yet (largely because I believe it's a Steam Exclusive) but I've heard about it and people have tried to sell me on it. As it's been described to me it's really not much of a game (not that this means I wouldn't appreciate it).

To take something with a vaguely similar theme, I'd say "Rule Of Rose" is an example of someone making a game along those lines (very surreal and artsy elements surrounding a VERY odd premise, but also including things like combat mechanics). Indeed discussing Rule Of Rose which I think is one of the more original "survival horror" games to ever be made, is when I had "The Path" suggested to me.

Cpt_Oblivious:

Brotherofwill:

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Did you read the article?

Yes (a few times), I just feel that fun stems from raw emotions and if he wants thinking responses rather than emotional ones then he's taking the fun out a of a product that's supposed to be fun.

Thinking and puzzle solving can be fun but I reckon he wants this to be the kind of "thinking outside the box" thinking.

But I'm odd and probably don't understand 100%.

I have fun reading books. A lot of fun actually, and little of that fun stems from raw emotion. It stems from using my mind to dissect a characters motives, or to try an piece together the puzzles of the world events happening in the story. Sure it's not the same as Flower, but it is fun without the need for adreniline pumping raw emotion. If games look to branch out more into mainstream entertainment and "art", experiments like Flower have to happen.

Agent Larkin:
While it is a bizzare move in my book, It is his game to make and do with as he pleases.

I agree.
I kind of want to point out that games are meant to be fun but then I guess that argument has already been made on the Escapist a billion times over.

By the sound of it, he's not in it to be a millionaire, but to make something special, and for that we should applaud, don't most of us have a movie that we love that was a bit weird and low budget, obviously made for the love of it, not marketed to the lowest common denominator?

No reason some games can't aim to purely create a feeling and entertain, and of course entertainment isn't the same as fun.

Of course, he could have left the other stuff in as an optional mode, but again, maybe it would have detracted from the purity, in the way that I've seen games marked down for having a poor vs or multiplayer mode, yet if it hadn't been there it wouldn't have been marked down.

Booze Zombie:
Yeah... if he's going out of his way to not have people enjoy his game, he's in the wrong business, is all I'm saying.

Well as long as he doesn't disappear up his own a-se like M. Night Shyamalan seems to have done recently, I'm fine with him developing his games as he wants, with as little studio interference as possible. In the end, if the game's really bad, it'll only get sold for as long as it takes for word of mouth to totally damn it, and then it'll go out of circulation.

One of my pet gripes is when studio interference ruins a film by altering the ending or introducing a random love interest who does nothing but delay the main plot. I don't want this to happen in my favourite films (and generally it doesn't, which is why they're my favourite films!) so why should I see it happen in my favourite games as well?

As for removing "fun" elements, System Shock 2 is a genuinely great game (I think the vast majority of people who have played it would agree with me there), but I think it would have been a lot better if the "psi-amp" had been removed from it completely. You can quite easily get through the game without using psi, but it would be as close to impossible as you can get in gaming to do it without using tech, stats or weapons skills; so why include psi at all? I'm sure there are other things that the developers could have done instead. A "psi" based game is a great idea, but I don't think the system fit THIS paticular game.

And maybe that's why the developer decided to remove elements from "Flower". In the end, it's his game to develop. We can choose to play it or not play it, and we can criticize the finished product as we like. But why should we be able to influence how the game gets made in the first place? Leave it to the professional, he's probably had enough criticism of past games to know what he's doing right / wrong!

I think by "taking out the fun" they were clearly going for a different direction. And you know, I like it. Kinda like Scribblenauts. Going in a new direction always makes for good games.

Where I do get his point about the experience not being "fun" it should be entertaining. Not every movie is meant to be fun. Why should every game? Schindler's List wasn't a "fun" movie. Although it was emotionally touching. Why can't a game be made in the same vein?

Cpt_Oblivious:
So games are supposed to be fun, yet we're going to remove the fun?

Odd move, but I don't have a PS3 so I'm not too bothered.

Pretty much this, except I have a PS3 but don't use it.

Wow, I am laughing my ass off at the near instant change of tone from everyone. Guess it was tahe fact that Dyack made "Too Human" -_-

I played flOwer and I loved it. It was a very emotional game that you could make up the meaning by yourself. Plus, the way you controled the petals, with the SixaxiS controller, made it an incredibly imersive experience. It's unlike anything else I've ever played, and for $10 you better believe it's worth it.

I wholly agree with Jenova Chen. Be it as researcher, indie game designer, or writer, unless games start treating themes in a mature light, the medium will not be respected by society as an authentic cultural and artistic expression.

I have nothing against commercial blockbuster games, but lately, indie games have shown how much games have still got to explore in terms of emotions and interactivity. If we have the chance to experiment, then let's do it.

There's room for all kinds of genres and methods of expression.

Brotherofwill:

Abedeus:
What next, let's make books less enjoyable by removing every dialogue from them? Or maybe we should return to black and white deaf movies, but not add subtitles?

What? How does that even make sense or relate to the article?

If you don't give audience what they want, you will fail.

And since we buy games, we would like to have fun... Not that I have PS3.

This is a dumb argument. If a game is deep and sophisticated, it is fun. While games like Peggle are not deep or sophisticated, they are also fun.

If you're intentionally removing things that add to the fun of the game, in order to make it seem more "sophisticated" though, you're a pretentious prick.

/thread

I wouldn't have used SF4 as an example of fun. Shoddy controls in a 2D fighter do not make for a fun experience.

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