This week, two beautiful games are going on sale together. Journey and The Unfinished Swan are both moving, deeply personal experiences. They evoke wonder and mystery, and chart new territory in the world of games. Together, they are amazing examples of what makes the PlayStation experience so special, and starting this week, you’ll be able to play them both for yourselves for one great price.
The Unfinished Swan is now finished and I think it’s a pretty amazing game. You probably shouldn’t take my word for it though.
See, making a game is like having a baby. You put a lot of yourself into it, there’s a mad scramble to push it out at the end, and once it’s out there’s no way you can ever be objective about it. So I’m not the best judge of whether this game is any good.
What I can say though is that it’s definitely the game we wanted to make.
We set out to create a game about a sense of wonder, about what it feels like to discover astonishing new things. We wanted to create an experience where as soon as players started getting the hang of something the game would shift and they’d be on to something new. I’m still surprised we managed to pull it off because making a game like that is crazy.
Like a lot of folks, I first saw the tech demo for The Unfinished Swan when it made the rounds online in 2008. The idea stuck in the back of my head but it wasn’t until later when Giant Sparrow put up a job posting that I decided: I had to make that game. I had just graduated from college without much professional experience, so I did what I do best and made a game for them. You can check it out here if you’d like. The video cuts off because the end of the game says “Call me” and has my phone number on it. It got the attention of the Giant Sparrow team, and I ended up flying out to Los Angeles to work on the game. I was elated and a little shocked, but I came to learn that at Giant Sparrow, the player experience always comes first – and my little game was designed to create a very specific experience. Now, in October 2012, The Unfinished Swan is out in the wild (well, to PlayStation Plus members) and we’re proud that we were able to make a truly experiential game.
The Unfinished Swan is an unusual game with an unusual history. We wanted to give you an exclusive look into its history before it lands on PSN October 23rd — as well as some secrets you’d never guess. Find out where we came up with the idea, who helped make it happen, and some techniques we used to make the game feel just right.
Virtual reality: The Unfinished Swan started as a student project in the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media program. Originally it was meant to be played with a head-mounted display. Over time, the game eventually became a PS3 exclusive.
At its core, The Unfinished Swan is about the joy of creation and self-discovery. These themes revolve around two central characters: one young, who has dealt with great loss and loneliness, and one old, who must reconcile his current stage of life as well as his fate.
One of the initial conversations I had with Peter Scaturro, music supervisor at the Santa Monica Studio involved using the key components of the score to offset the melancholy of the story. I consciously steered away from anything that felt too sad, stark or desolate. Instead, I focused on crafting a mood that was lush, curious, and warm. We wanted the music to serve as a companion for Monroe and the player as they explored the world of the game.
When you make a game about something unusual like, say, throwing paint in an all-white world, you expect to get a lot of questions. But we were surprised that the question we got asked the most turned out to be “when can I buy it?”
In the meantime, there’s still a lot to learn about the game. You’ve met the King, now get to know us: the team behind it all.
Hey everyone! I’m Ben, a Game Designer at Giant Sparrow. Last Saturday, a bunch of us took a trip down to San Diego for Comic-Con, where we held a panel that focused on the art of The Unfinished Swan. We want to thank everyone who attended — you’re all beautiful people. If you couldn’t make it to the panel, we’ve put together this highlight reel so you can watch all the good parts! The panel was hosted by Morgan Webb, who made sure things went super smooth as we discussed the ups and downs of developing such a unique game.
On stage we had Ian Dallas, Hokyo Lim, Max Geiger, and me. We showed off some never-before-seen concept art, and talked about how we developed the art style for The Unfinished Swan.
If you’ve ever heard of The Unfinished Swan before I’d like to start by saying I’m sorry.
Back in 2008, when we posted videos of the prototype online, a lot of people got really excited. And then a few years went by without another word. So if you’ve been wondering “whatever happened to that weird black and white painting game?” thanks for waiting!
If this is all new to you, here’s the gist: The Unfinished Swan is a first-person painting game that begins in a totally white space. You throw globs of paint to explore the world around you. In the game you’re a boy named Monroe who’s chasing after a swan. The swan stepped out of a painting and has wandered off into a surreal, unfinished world. Here’s what it looks like: