We recently had the pleasure of speaking to Greg Johnson from Human Nature Studios who developed the recently released PlayStation 3 / Vita / PS4 game Doki Doki Universe (our review coming soon) about a myriad of topics. In the following brief but deep interview we offer you a brand new look inside the minds behind this fresh and original take on video games as a medium of expression and indeed an art form. *Answers are unedited and uncensored thoughts of the developer, questions asked by myself, Jon Ireson (Editor-In-Chief).
RealGamerNewz: What were you looking to accomplish with Doki Doki Universe in terms of the impact on the video game community and society in general?
Human Nature Studios: You’ve asked a rather big and philosophical question, so I hope you won’t mind a philosophical answer. Some may think it overly grandiose to hope to have a significant impact on society or on the gaming industry with one little video game, but small successes can often have big dreams behind them. In this case, the dream behind Doki-Doki Universe was to offer a new type of experience that, at its core, is positive and uplifting and sweet. As everyone who has ever said the words “video game” knows, these qualities don’t exactly typify our industry. Our other goal was to create a game that can appeal to that very underserved audience of casual gamers and families who would enjoy a light-hearted, non-goal oriented, non-competitive experience that is all about character and personality. We wanted to create something that would give the sense of a sweet, bizarre, living Universe to explore, and we wanted to give players a sense of purpose in playing. In this case that purpose is satisfied by story, and by layful self discovery, rather than the more typical goals of “winning” or overcoming “challenge”, which actually turns some people off. Our hope is that our game will make people smile, and think about life and themselves, and want to share the experience with others they care about. I’m most happy when I hear that families are playing the game together.
RealGamerNewz: What is the vision for gameplay experience in terms of what players can expect to be doing in this game?
Human Nature Studios: If you play this game in one sitting, and blast through it looking for challenge it will fall short and probably feel repetitive. That was never the intention. This game is built with much more casual game players in mind – people who might pick it up for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Who are generally turned off or intimidated by challenge or competition. It’s sort of meant to be more of an open ended slower-paced exploration taken in smaller doses. It’s also meant to be a game for that underserved audience of women who aren’t necessarily big gamers, but who might enjoy a charming and more relaxed interactive experience. That’s not to say that only women would want this type of experience… I’m not a woman, but that happens to be the sort of gaming experience I like and want as well. Still there aren’t that many games out there about people, unless it’s happens to be killing them, and women tend to like things about people.
RealGamerNewz: How was it working with Sony to get the title on the PlayStation platforms?
Human Nature Studios: As I’ve gotten to know the folks at Sony (SCEA), all the way up to the top of the organization, they are a really idealistic bunch. They genuinely want to see innovation happen and are willing to take risks. It’s very unusual, and I’ve been doing this for over three decades now. This is a wonderful time for Indie developers. If you happen to be one, and you have something that you have built, I encourage you to show it to the folks at Sony. You will find, at a minimum, interest and encouragement, and maybe some good advice. If you’re really lucky and have started building something awesome maybe you’ll get a contract to build your dream game. In terms of working with Sony I can only tell you about my experience. No big company is without its internal politics. Legal departments at publishers will always be very conservative and look out for the interests of publishers. All of that said, Sony is really and truly the best publisher I’ve worked with in my career. There are always stresses and issues to deal with, but Sony’s heart and priorities are in exactly the right place, all the way to the top of the company, and that’s what matters.
RealGamerNewz: Will you ever do a sequel to this game or is it a standalone?
Human Nature Studios: I’m not sure. There are so many things I want to build. As long as Sony offers me the chance to explore new territory. I will take and build something new.
RealGamerNewz: Are you interested in working on New IP in the future?
Human Nature Studios: That’s the only thing I’m interested in. J For the next thing I build I hope to go a touch more serious and beautiful. Think Hayao Miyazaki.
RealGamerNewz: How many people have played this game so far?
Human Nature Studios: No idea. Lots? It has released in the US and in Europe. It releases in Japan in Feb. I believe.
RealGamerNewz: Where do you picture players engaging in this title the most, PS3 / PS4 / Vita or are you going to be pleasantly surprised do you think?
Human Nature Studios: I imagine most people will experience it on the PS3 since there are so many more out there. If you can I recommend playing it on the PS4 since it is so smooth and fast. There are also advantages on the Vita as that is how we first designed the game, and it takes advantage of the front and rear touch screens in some fun ways.
RealGamerNewz: Is there anything extra challenging about developing a PS4 title that will also be played on other platforms versus making an exclusive?
Human Nature Studios: Hmmm. The only thing that comes to mind here is to say that Sony has some great tools for cross platform development. This helped us a lot and allowed us to build for three platforms simultaneously with a very small team (of just a dozen or so).
***Editor’s Note: If you have any questions for the team at Human Nature Studios be sure to leave them in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to get them answered! RGN over and out!!!