Journey producer says developers should design “aesthetics first”

Thursday, 31 October 2013 05:59 GMT By Ewan Miller

Former producer of Journey and co-founder of Funomena Robin Hunicke wants more developers to think about the feelings a game should inspire in the player, rather than designing mechanics first and working down to aesthetics. Clever thoughts after the break.


“Instead of thinking of your game from the mechanics first, think about the aesthetics first,” she said at Gamesbeat. “Think of the feelings that you want to bring to the players. I believe if you start with the aesthetics and move backwards towards the mechanics through the dynamics, you can create successful games.”

Hunicke identified Minecraft as a game which very successfully drilled down on the feeling discovery and exploited its aesthetics to achieve that feeling. “”Every bit of Minecraft is built to make you feel that feeling or share that feeling with others”.

However, she identified a lack of inter-office communication as a hurdle to creating games with such a singular focus. Artists, designers and composers can all address a particular emotion in fairly disperate ways, so it’s imperative, she says to have developers sharing their feelings with one another early on in the project before work gets wasted creating differing ideas. Additionally, developers must be willing to address issues they see outside their own role within the team, which is traditionally taboo.

Speaking specially to the experiences of her new company Funomena, Hunicke praised the “powerful” experience of co-op gaming on a single iPad and said the team had gotten a lot of useful information by exposing their prototypes to children at an early state to understand how different types of players might try and interact with the game.

“If you wait until you’ve got the game six months down the line, you’re putting more barriers in front of your ability to reach a demographic.”

In reaching new demographics, she cautioned designers away from traditional combat interactions to challenge players and “reward creativity romance and dialog with other players” instead.

Thanks, Game Industry.