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GDC 2007 Day 2 part 2

By dcacho
Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 at 6:10 pm in Gieson Cacho.

Listening to these indie developers, you get the sense that there are two worlds in the video game industry. There’s the mainstream consoles that are reminiscent of big-budget Hollywood and the alternative, small-time developers that make quirky and often innovative titles.

The best example of this sector seems to be Thatgamecompany, an indie developer that was started by students at the USC Interactive Media program. Two members of that group — Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago — showed up at a session, describing their latest project “Cloud.”

This is the same group that created “flOw” for the PlayStation 3. Similar to that serene title, “Cloud” puts you in a role of a bed-ridden boy who has a dream of taking to the sky. The game lets you fulfill that vision, flying around and gathering clouds to make objects out of them.

There’s something whimsical about it and that’s because like other games from the team, “Cloud” is obsessed with capturing an emotion. For the most part, Thatgamecompany accomplishes that goal but they couldn’t have done it without one important element — the music.

Created by Gamasutra writer Vincent Diamante, “Cloud” uses its orchestral score better than most mainstream games. It’s evocative and adds to the immersion and story.

“It was a collaborative process,” Diamante said. Chen “was giving me the art and I was working off of that.”

The two worked together, using art and music to help capture the distinct feel of the game. Diamante wrote the music after getting each description of a level from Chen and the game progressed from there, going on for four levels. Judging by the results, it worked.

As for the team’s next project, Santiago didn’t have any updates. Thatgamecompany is still in the planning stages. Maybe they haven’t tracked down that emotion yet? But whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll have the slick interface and polished mechanics that characterized both “flOw” and “Cloud.”

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