But in an interview with The Guardian, producer Robin Hunicke has explained that the developer designed the world in a way that would encourage player connection.
One of the things we talked about early in the project was this idea of creating a connection between players in an environment where you feel small and less empowered than you might in a tradition video game setting. We thought this would be conducive to a feeling of wanting to spend time together, she said.
We wanted to create this connection without forcing it we dont make you play with someone else, but we chose the desert setting because we thought a desolate and unfriendly place might actually encourage a connection between players.
Using clever integration of online features, Journey will see players brought together. But — unlike traditional online games — you will be unable to chat or message your companions.
If you see a persons online identity, if you hear their voice, if they send you text messages, youre getting a lot of information that might get in the way rather than facilitate the connection, she explained.
So we wanted to see as an experiment if we could take away a lot of that noise, in the same way that the desert takes away noise from the visuals. The tactile experience of moving through that environment is quite different from, say, a cityscape with tons of buildings and doors and stairs. Similarly, not being able to talk to each another, you just have to be together.
Therefore players must utilise the game's very limited communication tools — movement, jumping, etc — to form their own methods of communication.
Some designers have been able to build environments in which the player is also able to create games. Glitch by Tiny Speck, for example, Hunicke continued.
The game world itself is an excuse for people to participate in an event with each other. From there on, its kind of Wild West they want to see what happens in a world where players can alter the environment.
And building a world where players see the game as an interface between each other, its like going back to board games, but through digital technology, which is really fascinating.
It all sounds brilliant. The game's due out next Spring.