Previously, I have looked at the game Journey and made a zine which examined the game’s use of the Principle of Flow. I wanted to re-examine this game with the previous discussions we have had regarding the use of level design, abstraction and architecture in games. This blog post examines the game’s use of architecture, particularly as a game play and level design feature, and its use in the game’s narrative.

Let’s talk about Weinies

One of my favourite talks at Play by Play this year was delivered by former MDS student Victoria Smith (2016). Smith spoke about the use of certain world design tools that Disney’s Imagineers make use of and how we could apply this to games. One of my favourite parts was the use of weinies, not just because it’s hilarious and I am immature, but because it is an essential part of level design in any game. Weinies are a way of directing the player to a certain location. Journey makes excellent use of weinies, communicating to the player from the very beginning of the game that their ultimate goal is to reach the glowing peak of the mountain. But as we traverse the rest of the game, it is always very obvious where players should be going based on where in the scene the weinie is.

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Architecture as an experience

Journey’s architecture serves as a means of directing the player, usually making use of arches, lighting and particle effects. More importantly though, the game makes use of its architecture as puzzles and as mechanics for traversing the world. Giving the player the ability to use cloth to boost themselves and fly adds an extra level of interaction within this space. Journey’s architecture is not just used as an environment for players to try and traverse but forms a key part of the game’s story and narrative. The game’s architecture adds detail to the overall narrative experience, taking players on a quest to explore a decaying world – it gives players a very open ended story to interpret as they traverse the ruins or their once-great civilization.

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Abstraction

It is still difficult to place exactly where the game’s architecture is derived from. Journey was based heavily on Eastern architecture, with creator Jenova Chen stating that he wanted something that felt somewhere between the East and the Middle East (Ohannesian, 2012). The game still feels like it could also be taking influences from ancient Mayan architecture, as well as being heavily Buddhist influenced. However, it is not necessary for it to be influenced by any one of these particular movements, as it is through the abstraction of different architectural inspirations that it becomes unique, with the game’s use of orientalism adding to its mysticism and fueling the player’s desire to explore.  

 

Journey is still one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had, it offers players a memorable experience that is worth repeating. It is Journey’s unique use of multiplayer, architecture, abstraction, weenies and flow that make it the experience that it is. Games have taken years to get to such a level of ease and playability and Journey is a game has perfectly blended a winning combination.

 

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Bibliography

Ohannesian, K. (2012) Game Designer Jenova Chen On The Art Behind His “Journey” [Interview] Retrieved from: http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680062/game-designer-jenova-chen-on-the-art-behind-his-journey

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