Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Flower dev doing third game for Sony

"Something you've never experienced."

thatgamecompany is working on a third, unannounced game for Sony (and probably PS3) to follow in the footsteps of flOw and Flower.

Speaking at the Brighton Develop Conference, studio co-founder Jenova Chen said it will be "a totally different game" - albeit one that "feels like a natural progression" for the company.

And, he added: "[It's] definitely something you've never experienced before."

Chen dodged specifics, but revealed plenty about his "innovating on feeling" future direction during his talk.

Clad in salmon-pink, he said games need to have more mature content and appeal to a wider variety of emotions, because the audience has grown up - an intellectual move away from the "primal" core of extremes, and out to the subtle perimeter.

When talking about films, said Chen, critics use words like "magical", "passionate" and "captivating". You would never ask someone whether they watched films, he argued. But when addressing games, feelings are limited to: "this is really fun, this is really cool" - "as if they were describing a car".

"In the future there's a lot of feelings that videogames haven't explored that are open for us to find," he added. "Variety is a sign of a mature medium."

Chen dodging specifics may also be because they are not yet nailed in place. He talked about how the game mechanic for Flower - wind blowing petals - took two years to decide upon, and many prototypes.

There was the concept of landing a seed on soil to sprout a plant and let-fly another seed - a bit like golf. "Probably more fun than golf, actually," said Chen. There was a prototype about playing as a mind that Chen got very excited about but nobody else could understand. And even when the petal idea did blossom, Sony wanted "depth and challenge" to the game, which meant more work.

But Flower's development was "way better" than flOw before it. That was "50 per cent under feature" and "100 per cent over schedule", which Chen said totalled "400 per cent fail".

Inexperience was his biggest challenge, he said, although this represented "yummy pain" in the grand scheme of things.

That his company would look anywhere other than PS3 for this third game, then, seems unlikely. His admiration for Sony is gushing, too. "I really really appreciate what Sony has done for us," he said. "They still keep funding our project, and that's really, really nice. It's a really pleasant experience.

"They have this appreciation of games that are more interesting to adults. They prefer adult entertainment and the games we make are a good match for them."

After the third project, Chen said he would have to have a "rethink". "Seems the future is coming much faster than I expected," he admitted, referring to Project Natal and the PS3 wand.

And while thatgamecompany has targeted love and happy feelings, Chen said we may see "cool and dark" games in the future.

"I really like negative-feeling games. I played a lot of competition games when I was young," he revealed, not mentioning no names. Although, he added: "God of War is a really good game about hatred."