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Journey dev's new game is 'still in pre-production'

Jenova Chen expresses interest in using new Kinect

Thatgamecompany's follow up to Journey is still in "very pre, pre-production mode", according to studio co-founder Jenova Chen.

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Speaking to The Telegraph, Chen indicated it will still be some time before the studio's next project is shown.

"It's always been the pattern of ThatGameCompany that we spent 75 per cent of time doing R&D and a smaller portion of time on production. When we go for a particular goal we have to do a lot of trial and error. It can feel like you are reaching out in the fog trying to find something."

Although Chen didn't provide any concrete details on what's next for the much-celebrate developer, he described the project as a "natural evolution" of its work so far.

"The next game after Journey is like, ok we've done it with strangers on the internet, can this also happen among people who know each other. It's a natural evolution of everything we are doing," he teased.

"Our goal is always to make games that can move people, that are designed for everybody so the whole family should be able to play it together and that bring people together and really move them in a way. It feels like the history of the studio and everything we do is slowly heading towards that direction."

The release of Journey marked the completion of a three-game deal between Thatgamecompany and Sony. Chen has said the studio is now looking to release its next project "on as many platforms as possible".

During the interview Chen expressed an interest in Microsoft's next-generation Kinect: "A while back someone was asking me what I was looking for and I said 'I wanted to have an input device that captures the player's facial expressions and gestures and fingers' I think the Kinect 2 is finally there."

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The budget for Journey was "in the millions" and costs took the studio to the brink of bankruptcy. Offering an update on the commercial performance of Journey, Chen said the game became profitable last year, Thatgamecompany has now recouped the cost of development and royalties have started to trickle in.

"We made the money back last year," he said. "This year we start to see royalties coming in. It seems like the Journey sales are not really going away. I'm curious to see what happens in the next quarter."

Thus far the studio's games have been critical darlings and flagships for Sony's efforts to explore understated gaming experiences. However, Chen has previously said he is aiming for a 'big financial success' with his next game, which is targeted at a much wider audience.

The ambitions fall in line with advice given to him by John Hight, former head of external development at Sony, which Chen recounted.

"[Hight] half joking said 'you just need to make a couple of games to let your artistic ego out, so then you can actually focus on a game that will have mass appeal'," he said.

"Cloud and Flower are very much egocentric about my own expression, Flow is more utilitarian and Journey is more about collaboration between various creative voices in the team. Our next game is going to be something that will relate to a wide audience on a human level. It is very exciting to see my own maturing and the team's maturing and I'm curious to see what this next game could be."

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