Like thatgamecompany’s acclaimed adventure Journey celebrates its 10th anniversary, the game’s art director Matt Nava has shared some behind-the-scenes info on social media which reveal how the project took shape all those years ago.
Over the weekend, Nava compiled a thread comparing early development images with screens of the finished product, and it’s fascinating to see how Travel of scintillating aesthetics and booming gameplay transformed during production.
For example, Nava explained that at one point Journey had several playable characters (as shown below) that helped inform the final design of the travelers we see in the game, adding that it “went from humanoid to very detailed, and back to the minimum possible” before to land on the final look.
In particular, the version of Journey which has been dispatched has only one player character, although it is possible to interact with other player-controlled wanderers as you venture towards the fiery peak on the horizon.
Offering more information, Nava noted that Travel of The iconic surf level, which allows players to weave their way through desolate ruins and glistening dunes, was one of the “most complex levels to build”.
“I spent so much time fine-tuning the angle, position, and shape of each ramp and gully,” Nava continued, before sharing an image of the level in its entirety (below) to show how those considerations informed the final layout.
The artistic director also explained that Journey had no auto-shadows, which meant he was tasked with hand-painting them all, including those soulful columns of light and dark that bombard players as they walk through a crumbling Parthenon.
“The shadow texture was not high resolution,” he said. “To make the iconic sunset columns cast sharp shadows, I made sure they lined up with the texture’s pixel grid.”
Discuss the larger mantra behind Travel of artistic direction, Nava said the game company “always tries to do the most with the least”, citing the 3D visual mockup below as proof of this philosophy in action.
You can read more about Nava, who also worked on The pathless and Abzuby check the full thread on twitter.
After that, why not take a look at our recent conversation with Journey composer Austin Wintory to find out how the maestro revamped and re-orchestrated his iconic score for the game’s 10th anniversary.