Ghost of Tsushima: Creative Director Interview (with Spoilers)



Have a very special guests with us this week that we're both very excited to talk with Jason. Connell from sucker punch. Thank you so much for joining US A. Awesome ear. Very happy to have you of course to go super in depth on Kgo Suma, so for those who are watching end jumping in. Be warned there will be some spoiler fil talking here if you haven't played through the game if you haven't. Checked out everything you want to in the game beforehand. Please do that first and then come back. There's a lot to dive into. We're going to be jumping into as much as we can. Of course if you want spoiler free impressions. We did record episode that a little earlier. Even can go check that out, but. There's so much that we can jump into this game I off. Jason I. Just want to say congratulations for recording this on the day. The game is starting to roll out on launch. Worldwide is already available in some territories as where speaking so congratulations to you on the team on that It's very exciting for to finally be out there as a fan of it and I'm sure it must be exciting for the team. Yes, it's a super exciting to have it out. There cited everybody host their photo mode favorites sin. Just enjoy the Games. I feel like an Brian I think this is true for both you and me. We could probably spend the next forty minutes talking exclusively about photo mode. Yeah, no I. Just get into that very quickly. What you've created, my favorite voted in video game history, but also. You might notice you. Create one of the most not-so-subtle advertising tools. That is perfect for this game. Because every time I seen pictures of it I WANNA? Play it again, and I think for a lot of people who were just sort of like on the outside, looking in a video games in general like people who aren't just totally head down on stuff all the time. They're like wait what that's! That's a video game. Where do I play I play it? They're going to get that so Yeah, that's a very very smart. If you guys it's absolutely stunning game. A cool. Photo of his crazy because we were one of the first, you know infamous second son was one of the first. At least I know of modern games that have put like a like a photo mode in in that game. It was just like this cool idea to show off all the cool particles and lighting. That game was a while known for. But it was wasn't crafted as a personality around. It was the cool photo mode, and then over time over the last few years. You have these games that out and Spiderman my favorite of version of this where they like adds the flavor of their game to its photos like tied to the personality of that gain. On, the building tops, doing like little cell fees and Doing it with a phone. That was awesome made it. You need to spiderman so when we were like. Hey, what are we gonNA do for voter mood? To? Whatever the ghost photo mode. One, it's gotta be way better than our first one because. Our, follow up one and two. It's gotta be semantically. You know connected to the game, so we're like. Well motion in Wind I. Haven't we like? Make it less about a static image. You can do that, too, but have be about moving frame that I think is so beautiful about our game kind of spun out from there. I didn't think it was odd that you give the main character, a Selfie, stick and the iphone. His drone that goes along with. Little you know little out of place, but I thought butyl. Oh God you know it's been incredible thing to play around with, and you can do what Brian said. Every time I see more of it. It's one of those things where I've been playing every night. Still in, it's like Oh, no, I need to go jump back in the middle of the day. Because like Oh. That's a great spot I never thought. I could take a photo of I've been a particularly obsessed with going to bamboo strike locations and trying to get all the great photos. I cannot have those spot often. You know like perfectly placed at an edge or something. I sort of wondering. Because obviously this was built more with like the photo mode in mind as you development went on, because it's become so much bigger, what was world creation influenced at all by the photo mode, or were there any aspects of designing this game that were influenced by it because it is more like prevately used feature these days I guess than back when second came out. You know. A little secret you know we. We always knew we'd have a photo modem. We knew that this ambitious version of like I. said a second ago better and more dramatically connected. Owning, really work on it until pretty late, so you know we were so. Dedicated to the stories in crafting the world, so when it came to the beauty of the world. That add add everything that's in the game. I would have to imagine that that had the most iterating over anything, because it's one of the first things you do before you have the whole story articulated and put into the game. Certainly don't have cut scenes. You know it's like you're laying out terrain and at that like how does the island look and then it gets into the direction the feeling Cutting, trees down growing trees, making procedural tools like the world is the by far the most iterative on thing now. There was a point where we're like. This is how we make our game. Look good clearings. Big giant swath of like in forests, you know that you can see for miles. Off using color as like landmarks again, the Golden Forest, or read flower fields, and then, and then a you know, certainly that sort of made its way into some of our features of a photo, but the the world designed stuff. took the lead on on end photo mode. Okay, now that we've created this amazing awesome place. How do we utilize the photo mode in like critical photo that will. Take advantage of how great our team at did at creating a beautiful world. I think one of my favorite things about this game is the sort of balanced that it's constantly striking Between being sort of completely serene, and then the music swells up and swords or out, and they're slashing against each other. How hard was it to sort of get that that tone down because I could see. You know I think in in lesser hands I could be a very kind of dangerous. Push and pull, but I feel like you totally nailed that and I think that that's like some people when they look at an open world game want like nonstop jam-packed activities in in your team made the decision to pull back and let things breath every now and then How did all that come together? Well you know for me. It's the first game that I was certainly a visual director on, and so I I would I you learn something about yourself with everything you create, and for me I personally learned that I don't have a natural tendency to like create incredible. Violence, I just wasn't that was uneven. Favor Games, bloodborne like as absolutely my favorite game. Guide. You're on this show. This is gonNA be worthwhile and. About it anytime. But no, seriously like. That's my favorite game, but. When we were crafting the world would I navigated towards with Joanna. Who's environment our leader? This did this amazing a blog post recently on playstation bar. was the beauty of it was taking taking a moment to breathe in, and then I realized that some of my favorite games that are not. Show the classes certainly embraced the idea of atmosphere in a sense of this and you know I donate Fox's is is resonates. Conversations resonated with him as well so then then the conversation shifted into. Okay well. We definitely have it. We have a summer game. So you know without saying anything else as you say Amer game, you know you're going to be hitting things with a four-foot razor blade so. You know violence is GonNa come so we certainly work on that stuff. allied and we wanted to be great and gritty, and the you know like you really WanNa feel like you have contact when you have contact but the other stuff doesn't come as natural, and you have to actually work on that stuff to balance it out, you really do, and so that means like the idea is about creating Haiku, which was actually named idea You know really. Or believe it was taking a moment to. Allow the beauty to take hold, and not what I think is cool about the ICU that I hope people enjoy about it is is that they're not tied till like progression like you're not. You're not like intrinsically forced to go, do it? You know there's a sense of you have to have the wonder and curiosity desire to do it. It's not like game telling you go do this to reach next level certainly, a lot of that is tied to corporation auto out to have to consider that, but it is. It is a work philosophy to try to get that balance of that contrast It takes years to get right for sure. I really enjoyed the Haiku sections actually He was like you said. It's sort of provided like this. This relaxing breeder and I did like the you were able to select different things who essentially collate them into one kind of fresh Haiku each time. Yeah I I mean I did every single side quests in every single objective in this game, but I I really enjoyed those wow awesome. The accuser, some of my favorite ones to the cinematography. You know it was at the moment to like. You know certainly we call them breathing. Moments definitely say that studio, but it was kind of a moment. Regis Art Geek out a little bit like the people who do the cameras. Mottaki, they can place it in to get the right motion and you know, and then the writers have an opportunity to like. Give you give you a couple of cool options. Just the beauty kinda comes through which is which in the end has been a very positive thing for the experience. Yeah, the balance that Brian was. Speaking to how you were sort of describing how that all came together? I could imagine. It's a very fine line between making sure it's peaceful and calm in certain areas, but. It's still engaging for the player because you could always run the risk of it. Being something that the player doesn't want to engage with, but as Brian. Saying like finding those high coups feels like this wonderful moment of solace after I have assassinated an entire Cam Mongols. And need to reflect on Jin's life, but also just the world I, it's this really great balanced that a I think as Brian was sort of saying you always get in games, but it feels so refreshing to hear. And it's a huge part of our philosophy. How we treat. Treat the game. Whether it's a Haiku great example, he could probably keep talking about, but you know the music style music how the music comes on not having things like combat while you're doing, shrine climbs or anywhere near them so that we can let those be their own experience, and so are these, are we? Everything wanted these features that are not mainline missions. Our conversation is like about how much combat how much non-combat and what is the purpose and what are the? What's the feeling for its existence like what what is the emotional goal for for these features and these are conversations? We have a lot and sometimes triple times over we try. We don't like it. We try something else. Well and for me, what's really interesting is sort of the place that all of these features and the things you go on, have sort of in the context of sucker punches past work, because it is I've been such a huge fan of both cooper franchise and infamous. Stir a year and. You know you get increasingly larger, but often more urban. City expenses that you're exploring a lot. In both of those franchises to certain extent here you're out in the wild. There are of course settlements and encampments and things like that, but there is a there's a lot of stretches where it can just be the world around you that you're exploring and I was sort of wondering on a world design level. How do you? How do you balance? Making all of these locations unique to explore as well and interesting. Even though you know a lot of can just be more, the environment's like what are the challenges that come with that? Yeah, so one of our. Our Contractors Jeff He. He talks a lot about content density, and what is the correct density and I really am really thankful that he brought that conversation up to light so much because It's such a you know Thinking about if you're currently doing something, you're going across the world and run into something. How much further would you have to ride your horse before you might find the next thing, or can you see the next thing from where you currently are? How how dense is it and I really enjoyed that conversation? Because it let us think about what's the right philosophy for for our game and it it certainly it allows us to you know if we want to in one place, you just completed something, and you should be able to generally speaking, look around and find one more thing on horizon or see the shrine trying on top of the mountain. It influence our world design alive, because when we first had the game built for the I you know I'd say maybe two years. It was a lot of forest. It was a ton of trees and it was cool, but you always were felt like you were in this like. Tunnel beautiful, but really deforestation. which does a couple things one is? It is very cool, but. It makes it really hard to know where you are without a compass or many map. Something telling you kind of giving you that extra information that your brain is just really needing. So what we did is we started opening up fields and I definitely some shadow, the classes photos out and was like fields as as reference vm. Because it just feels so epic when you're going through field, but but you know the criticism it could be that it's boring or something like that, and and really have to embrace a philosophy that it won't be boring because there's beautiful music. There's five things now that you can see what you want to do next because you're in a field, there's more clearings and it created a Great beauty in the game, but also more opportunity to engage with that density and I I. Really I think that that was one of the conversations that was ongoing throughout the project, but we landed in a really. I think unique spot for. When when when you? When your team was the helping this game, you obviously weren't anticipating a significant portion of the world's population to be stuck indoors for months on end, but At one I mean there were obviously there. Are you know a lot of sort of like entertainment? Things that have come out during quarantined. That didn't really. Fair as well due to their. SORT, of like the way they were delivered or their subject material something that, but this is a game that I really more than ever appreciated as a guy who's in a two bedroom apartment really appreciated huge open fields and. Mountains in like sprawling rivers and seas and stuff like that but I think one of my favorite things about the big open fields is that there's always something? Or there is like a lone tree. And you're just sort of naturally drawn towards it, and I found that like that sort of like beautiful use of negative space to be like so powerful. In terms of like never felt to me like there's nothing ahead of you. This is boring. It always felt to me like this. Is this is this is like a sort of triumphant use of minimalism and and charging towards something. To reveal that there's like one loan item in the distance was so much more engaging tomato like at a mini map that had a hundred time trials, but Hamas other stuff like I. Found Myself uncovering the dog on the entire map which. I was I was like basically riding around in spirals like in that movie alto like I was trying to. Five is in half the time I was on foot to. It was really wonderful game to explore so I. WanNa ask you about that the. The the sort of the way exploration on unfolds in this game is something I. Really Really Love and I think a lot of open world games are going to take note of following the wind and talking to people and following Fox's two locations rather than just you know overtly stating the player. This is where you're GonNa go, or you go to. The map in this big thing opens up. All that come together. What was the push and pull on that to sort of find the right way to keep players in the no, but without making like overwhelming them with information. Yeah I'll talk about kind of our studio kind of struggles, but I also kind of throw in my own, maybe personal philosophy, too. So I. I judge Games my favorite game, especially them really harshly by. How does it feel if you're? You're actually not doing anything on the sticks. I would if you're just sitting there. Just sitting in the world, you're standing in the world. You're on your horse in the world like is there. Is there a what's the feeling and some of my favorite games by just sitting there? There's like things that go through your mind. Like why do we? What are you anticipating? That are stuck on the story or like. Where's that next objective like you're just what's going through your mind? because. That's when you're not doing anything. That's what you're thinking of next like. You're just taking in the beauty looking around our game I hope that translates into that sense of exploration and sense of curiosity like if you do stop for a second yearly, you're not already on kind of a train of thought it is more. One of curiosity is one of like. Hey, what? What do I want to do next? Oh, there's something over there. There's something of their. Oh, I wonder band before, so they're having gone to could check it out and I. think that the more information you were to have on your screen compasses many maps. It kinda answers those questions before you even have time to ask the question. It's just like the dots right there. Let's go do the DOT. It doesn't matter what the DOT is. It's just there's thing let's go do it, and so that that to me is is a really important part of what I think. The Games, Tries to do in the world, and and certainly we did not have the wind when we started on this project at all. In fact, what the wind was which is has got this cool story I'll say quick is. on the first direction slides on the you know we did. A presentation is like one of the first presentation out the way look and feel and everything moves was was one of them like a wind. We're going to double triple quadruple down on win, and you know there's a lot of attack that has to go into that. He got Capes moving I gala hair moving. You gotta get trees and Bushes, and especially for procedurally generated now artistically procedurally generated world. That's really tough. Two years later. Something like that. That became true and you've standing I'm standing in this world and we had other elements we were helped. Augmenting are kind of navigation and get around the world and I'm just like holy crap. The wind is amazing. It actually works at that time. It always like went from East West or West. East or something I can't remember always just directional and it's just. It's really good. And then we started having conversations like how going to get more stuff off the screen to stay in the is like beautiful world more and more because it's just. It's really stunning even years ago. And a one point I had this idea like. The Wind. It sounds kind of crazy and Adrian is like our longtime worked on has been sucker punch. Long Time. They tried a little quick prototype with me. We had like fifteen people play at were removed all the you I just to hey. Can you just just try to follow it and just and it sounds crazy, but follow in if you can get to that hot spring or that on. And it worked like the first prototype fourteen out of the fifteen people were able to easily get there so cool. Yeah and I. I was like Oh. Yeah, we have to do this. Question. Like. This is something that is going to be unique to the game and then an analyzing. Say on them about the wind because I can do it all day, but is it had like the matic ties to the island in historical kind of. Poetic, Tian's to you know. The Mongols came in as typhoon sweeps them all out to see and. You know we name the sword the sky storm after that you know him being a storm, a metaphorical storm on the island for for the island, rooting for the island, and then it was like about nature, and then the animals came along, and I, you know it just felt like a bunch of like one of these critical pieces you don't know exists, and then you find it, and you're like that fifth straight there and does and then nearly. Oh, I, think we have a good. I can see the puzzle now so. Cool, it was cool journey. Having having that comes away. It all it feels so true to the world that the team has created in those moments. Because you know, I'm I'm a completion is player like if you give me a list of a thousand things to go collect if you give me, you know like an infamous. Charge to go collect I. Collect all of them, but there's something that I think does speak so much to this world and end you wanting to be invested in that. It is really by pulling everything. Out of the screen that you're looking at and just letting you look at the world you get more familiar with it, and you start to learn more about Oh. Yeah, I've taken that pass before. That leads to that pillar of honor or there's that cemetery over there as you start to. Trek across the land. It really gets you invest in the world in a way that I think just having a list or a neon sign to tell you where to go would. Deliver it in the same way. Yeah, that's great. That's so. That's the goal so I'm glad you had that experience. And I it's one of those things you know that the open world I think speaks so well to what the team really accomplish with this game, but one of the things I was curious about wasn't and I know. We talked about this a little bit, but released, but since we can. Talk to the island as whole, but what was the? I? Guess the poll the. The back and forth poll of wanting to make sure you stay true to the spirit of this real world location, and honor the history and the people that are but also create a world that at the end of the day would be fun to run around or write a horse around in as a game. Yeah and it's a great topic, and it's kind of been the the struggle for and I would say struggle in a creative sense. It's the creative. From from from once, we actually knew we were making Susha and we started doing all this research, and and you learn so much about the island. Like the fact that at that time it was likely to be like ninety five percent covered in dense forest. Which again I told you we tried. We tried very dense forest in. It's just hard to ride a fun horse through tree. Trees it's. Pretty tough. Also, it's incredibly hilly. We went there just like it's just hill after hill after mountain after Mount After Mountain, also challenging to create a interesting layouts in combat spaces in so. So, we worked with our team in Japan. We're like hey, this is how we were planning on You know being inspired by the shape of the islands. It looks very similar to the actual shape, but here's some kind of Ford as we'd like to take or game reasons you know, make the game more fun to to roam around. The landscapes in have layouts that have. Have Cool puzzle climbing challenges, or what have you were interesting missions, and and they were totally for it you know. And they gave us feedback of maybe when we went too far and then they also they know is in a fun way. They gave us feedback of win. Hey, you could go further with us, and so that was. It was a lot of ultimately. We're super inspired by history, and what happened and then the general beauty of greater. The greater nature of Japan as a whole, it's definitely hugely inspiring to us but we also make in a game and a PR and original story and a lot of things that. Have to Challenge it, but work in tandem with it, so it's it's definitely been a challenge I'm in a good way and we learn so much. And I will say the last thing I'll say on that. Is that within Joyon on the environment? Our team myself in the constitution. We talk a lot about like realism. And You know like A. Maybe painted realism, or maybe, how can we do it like a slightly stylized version of that? And and and you know this is not even if you've ever been to Seattle only did infamous. It wasn't really a stone by stone. Kind of recreation. Roads aren't lined up exactly. It's sort of like if you blur your eyes, you're like Oh. Yeah, that's definitely definitely Seattle like it rains. A lot of people drink coffee. PUNK ROCK and grunge music. It's You know the things that are there the spacing? Like the things you would expect, but it's not the like. Let's put a magnifying glass over, and let's get it like perfectly accurate and we take that same philosophy here. We want to feel like that. This is plausibly. Dass what it could feel like. That's what if we could do smell through it. That would we would try to. Feeling into music, we're going for a as a is a is a main heart. Smell will actually be unlocked on the playstation six. Thirty I. Have Rumor, we have an today since three. Hey listeners. We know you love gaming and have excellent taste, so we want to tell you about the official. The last of podcast in the show writer podcasters stand up comedian and huge fan of the. Host Christian Spicer we'll revisit the first game and talk with the people who created that critically acclaimed work hit. Also give you what you've all been waiting for. A behind the scenes look into the last of US part to Christian wanted to crawl into the minds of these visionaries and talents who created this highly anticipated game the podcast. We'll recap the news story. Story and episodes five through eight while also diving deep into the making of the game in the first episode. Christian will talking with Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson also known as Joel and Ellie may land combat designer, Anthony Newman, and the writer and creative director of the last of US Neil Druckman. The whole series is crammed with conversations with developers invoice actors. The official, the last of podcast episode one arrived on June ninth, and they'll be releasing new episodes of this limited series every Tuesday for the following eight weeks available now on Itunes spotify, and all your favorite audio sources, stream, or download the official, the last of his podcast from June ninth. The the combat in this game is awesome, and that's coming from somebody who to be completely transparent. Wasn't crazy about it. At first 'cause my immediate reaction was. There's no lock on. Think what do you mean? There's no lock on like you can't. You can't have a certified again without lock on and as as I grew to. Appreciate. The sort of dynamic happenstance of a dashing between those four stances and. Fighting different types of enemies. In synchronicity while switching and switching back and forth using my sub moves and everything I was like. This is one of my favorite combat systems interview ever But what what? How did how did that decision? Come to not have have lock on? was that was at a debate internally in the studio? Because that's to me, that's one of those things that people just expect from a video game and I found myself not even thinking about it after a few hours in. I. It's definitely debate right like it's A. It was heavily debated and talked about how you know. From all corners of the CEO there was not some like. I mean because it's a it's a standard. There is a standard anytime. You go against the standard. You need to prove it out and. I'm glad we tried something different than you know. As person bloodborne like my favorite game, I like games that allow you to really kind of hone in and focus, and and control that since a control comes, comes with locking, but and you know, and certainly as a samurais sense of control is a huge fantasy so Yeah, man. We talked about it a ton Maybe when it comes to combat, I would say it's in the top three conversations that we had over the entire course of the project while. But I have to give massive. Shout out to you know. One of the studio heads. You know I've found Sucker Punch Christopher. Men he's he's behind the core design, a lot of the combat and he he works out of the code for it, and there's another Guy Ted. Who is awesome designer? And he liked those two brains man. They worked together, and they figured out a way to create something that is first of all feels like you're hitting the person when you do hit them like it's a tandem as animation, so it's not like a hit box based. It's like these. This animation links up to this one. Is I very newbie? Animation Brain. And it's not just like the slash through thing right, and so they feel like you're hitting the person it feels. A goal is a gritty feeling, but it's also incredibly fast paced at times. You know as you get like five or six people around you you can be, you could be like. Changes. In planning, and when you're going to do the smoke bomb, go around the building and do another. Jump down from the top, you know. It's just like a it. Almost like a the style of it is is better with how the walk on. That's kind of the thing that we found over time especially when she became pro at it. And locking on actually with slow down, maybe in some ways and a sense of control will be got out of it instead was things like standoffs in duels, obviously assassinating somebody having that jump on, somebody gives you that, too, but we decided to really push that those moments or mythic abilities I think are. Usually will help take out people pretty quickly. The mythic abilities are interesting because I I think i. I I'm really glad that this game never really went like supernatural despite having the Word Ghost, in the title. There's. There's other there's an alternate version of this game. Were you guys just want preserved and people are summoning dragons and stuff like that. I appreciate that a lot of the crazy stuff that you got away with felt grounded even like the fire sort is ridiculous, but there's like. Oh there's there's sort of like a scientific explanation. Yeah. And then when you start doing some really intense stuff that feels deliberately over the top like dude, get terrified and they starts crawling away like. Is Watching people just straight up running around. Disappear and stuff like that. It's crazy like this is a i. mean even when we pitches his game. This was another heavily debated. Topic is going to be fantasy based or not, and obviously nate and I felt really strongly as well as many other people that we should not make it fantasy base in like high fantasy base because. It really those first of all there's. Several of those games out there already, and they do a wonderful job and I love neo I love sector, Oh, these games are awesome and they lean on that a little bit more as their unique. You know and so. Good. It's smart of us not to do that, but the reason why we didn't do the reason we did was because we were definitely were focusing a little bit more on the Human Story certainly one of the world to feel plausibly real. And you know if you like, I'll take the example. You just threw out there like having people fall in there, but get scared. Scoot away, man if you could just like, pull out a fucking dragon every five minutes. Scares them like I feel like a real challenge to overcome like and so you have to be constrained. So that when we do pull out something that's really incredible or scary or something like that that it actually has wait to it, you know and. I one of the things I do love about our game in might be some of my favorite content, actually mythic missions because. They. A build up the idea that people were legends like they talk about people in their connection to the island. The lightning one is a great example where you know, they burn the black sand, the sands black, which always like wire, the sands black back answer black, and it just bill out as they build up this legend of people that may have come before you, which is Kinda cool because? because. You're kind of building your own legend. To maybe one day, people talk about mythic stories of the ghost You know that humans can do maybe slightly crazy incredible in your living, example of that and people tell tall tales. I think that's cool. I love win. Jin would go around to the stories and people would be like. There's ghosts in the woods and he's like. No, there's not. Watching watching the people run away after a battle, though my favorite things in the game because it's it teeters on like on on like. Comedy, you would find in like vintage Kung Fu movies where somebody would come and kick. A bunch of Bass and one guy would be like away. Runaway ended every single time was I would let him run like maybe like hundreds of feet pull out my arrow. Cruel Man I know you you put it there. You know you gotta sit there, don't. If you give Brian the high ground. He will let them run as far as he wants to. I what I do love going back to the mythic tells them. You know maybe people one day telling the story of the Ghost I. I'm always sort of a sucker for. Stories that are about storytelling to a certain extent, because I do think you get so much of the human nature that we all deal with on a day to day basis of why we tell stories and everything and I I love that that permeates so much of this game, and not just in the quest, but on the on the ques- structure as a whole in this game I think is really unique, but it works really well. Because as Brian was saying earlier, you can go to a house in. Someone's saying Oh. There are nearby. Please help me or someone one of my favorite stories early on one of the side missions I found was. A woman send you to get food from the bandit that stole it from her. And then you bring the food back and she's like. Oh, thanks! I finally have food down. You're like. Wait a second. That wasn't yours to begin with. I just killed all those guys because you can't, there's. There's this. Stark sadness to a lot of the stories that I think really works in this game and I was just curious on like a total storytelling. Horrible 'cause there are moments of levity. You know like everything with Kennedy I think is so great, but how do you you know balance? I think this is a land and a group of people who are under siege. They're under attack by the suppressive force. At the same time. They are living their lives. There's this humanity going on the island. Hugs, what are some of the struggles that come up and try to tell those stories? Yeah, well first of all. When you started telling me, which story were, I was like racking my brain like which? It was so many. I I know it's crazy and I'm gonNA. Play through a bunch probably that I've played through in a long time, I play retail, but. You know It's balanced because you don't want it to be this like we did not want our game to be this like heavy thing that was constantly hitting you over the head with a that was just not what we wanted for this particular game. Think anybody really goes from bad particularly. I think they're always in goal, but but in it's hard, though because invasion and you wanna see desperation, and you WanNa see like these people have struggles. And frankly you know we want to. You know it's not always like dude. Go kill things, and so you WanNa hear you know people having. Their kids, or this or that like our parents like I. Don't know you just want to hear something that sounds like these people are struggling a little bit. But you know the when it comes to the writing and those stories, most of the stories do most of them do exist to try and reflect at the world has been in invaded, invaded place and. For people that are like these allies, and you engage with those those will get a little bit more in depth than traveling of their story, and for these little small one off encounters. Just say look even even the hasn't class is affected greatly by this and hopefully feel a sense of remorse for them or sadness for them, maybe a sense of duty that why you're doing this stuff, but as for the tone of it. I genuinely like a somber tone in general, I think Sambre is is not dark. Sombre is not grotesque. Sambas is just like a like A. Light sadness to things and I felt like that light sadness in a world that is so incredibly. Beautiful is kind of a nice. Balance and I think we look at it now that way and to some extent. That's a really good way putting now that now that you say that. It makes perfect sense because. You have all these incredible like you know. There's Fox's in this you know. Like. Rainstorms the beautiful trees and yellow leaves, but then you go, do these side quests on. You're like Oh. Wow, that was. Your family died and you can save them and you're like damn. That hit me hard that one. Particularly, there was one side quest for like now I know, too. Hard that one's talents so hard and You know there that one people on on the team who? Created that one, and then like you know as we get through the Polish face like Alan, somebody went through and added a bunch of extra work to that one for animation, and like kneeling down, and you know I you know in from liking that mission to really like connecting with more, and this is a small thing right like this is not a. Two hour long you know big big mission. It's very straightforward and simple cement to just reflects the tone of the world, a little bit and Alan Dow was one of the ones that, even though it's a small moment in your entire through I think improved a lot of the last course of the project I'm glad it exists. That's awesome. Yeah, I I, don't even know if I necessarily have a question about it, but I'm just curious to hear more about the the construction of the the site quests when it comes to the side tails when it comes to those the supporting cast that you get because I do I do think one of my favorite things. Throughout sucker punches, history has been that there is of course he usually a pretty great main character, but also this really great supporting cast as well, and you know going back to sign infamous now with ghost. I loved finding out more about Yuna and lady Moscow and just everyone at the pace that you want to in the world. And that balance I guess my question is because I. do think that's some of my favorite story. Telling him the Games in the game comes from those lines. How do you balance having this stuff? Be Optional I guess if you if a player just wants to go through the main story, but also encouraged people to want to keep going back and revisit these stories in these characters. Yeah Yeah! It's a question you know we From I is long as I can remember. I think I, think earliest pitches of the game we talked about. How we really wanted to create sort of this. Anthology of short stories. know these little little side branches off the main trunk. You know that you could. You'RE GONNA. You'RE GONNA get invited to them on the main truck main story. You'RE GONNA. Get invited them and maybe even once or twice in an engaged with them, but it's up to you hopefully, engaging enough for that story relates to you. It's up to you to kind of go. Finish out the rest of that branch, and we do a lot of stuff like we try to reward you for doing these things but I find that those things are They're good and I'm super glad. Glad reward you in different ways for playing these, but I find that the beauty of those those allies missions. If you will Masako. Norio characters is that they're just they're. They're far more developed in terms of like there are like what they need out of the world in their stories are interesting, and and they all have a different perspective on you and life, and you know in an what I what I think is kind of cool about creating a world like this is that you have to be okay with having content that exists. You're not forced to play. And you have to embrace that you have to because that. That is what makes it joyful when you go on your own ambition to go through it. It's not that you were told to go. Do it was in the Golden Path? And there were versions of the game earlier that a lot of these characters stories were more interconnected to Go Path. Through play, testing and feedback in her own kind of iteration process. We ended up where they are. Which I think is the right spot. which is you introduce them and then? Over your curiosity, we can push them push. You can go enjoy them your own Yossi, and there. Some of them are five or six missions long. And I think that's the right model, but it takes some iteration to get to that that that's spot for us. Even having late in the game the I think it's two missions for Eureka that pop up after you've revisited home. Just was such a such a Gut Punch. In the midst of as Jin, story is starting to come, full circle meant to have this exploration both more into him, but also into her life It's it was like as you were saying I, it felt so much more rewarding because I, saw it out that story within the. Yeah I think that that's A. It's not an easy philosophy to hold you now. as a director or as a contributor designer artist, because it means that somebody is going to get a bunch of people, not GonNa, play your mission bench people are not going to see your artwork, and and it's really hard to like talk about that because I want everyone to who worked on this game at Sakkara Punch to just like the super proud of it and love every moment that they cred tributed, too, but that's one where it's like. Yeah, but your thing is optional, and I can really bad, but it. In these cases it is for the for a greater feeling that. The people that will engage with it will probably tear out will probably love or be maybe even their favor mission of the game, even not the golden path I gave might be their favorite moment in the game nest. Because you, you let them engage it at their own will in. That's A. that's a hard philosophy to to. kind of stomach, but I think it's I. think it's a really healthy one for the type of game that ghost is. It absolutely plays into who I I think. My favorite thing about the game. Is that Me In the act of playing the game, so has to the game halfway in a presents all of these options, but I have to go exploring too, and I feel encouraged and want to explore and of my favorite times playing have just been putting a dot on the map letting the wind guy. A thousand kilometers, and if I if something stops me, stop if it doesn't I just keep going until something else. Interest me awesome. It's a calming experience which I don't often say I think about games at the moment. That's exactly how I played, too I would just put a marker somewhere completely random very far from me and just go there and see what I ran into along the what along the way with stories popped up which new characters I would meet, that would show me points of interest and stuff like that. and I think that that loop was really smart in terms of having sort of random gangs of bad guys. Patrolling the land and you'd run into them, and they'd have somebody kidnapped, and you'd rescue that person and that person would tell you another place to go. It felt like you're constantly pulling on these little threads. and I loved that so much was did that did that all take awhile to come together? Like outside of the wind is sort of the way the. The optional stuff and the sort of like randomize character you know excursions and stuff all interconnect. How how was it bringing all that stuff together to create the flow that you guys ended up with? The I I you both sound like you've played it exactly the way that I would recommend somebody to play, which is like hey, you know every now and then just throw down and go that direction and see what you find, and and if you don't find some great than go to your Golden, Pastora that's awesome, but try it, and because it's. In this is true for even when we're doing play testing that we did find that that was some of the ways that people would enjoy the game the most which is awesome. will you're talking about that? Like the ecosystem imbalance of people who tell you where stuff is in? How many patrols are there that stuff I'll tell you? We tweak that probably. Maybe until weeks before gold I think. Exactly the number on no top ahead, but is very late. We tweak those numbers because. because the sense of owning the curiosity, and like not having everything told you. was so important to the global feeling of enjoying just like exploring throughout the world, and as soon as you're told, were too much. Stuff is or too many things around your map. It becomes a different problem like you're kind of you either you either go into. Let's just go through the checklist which. Is Fine I think if you found them on your own but can be exhausting for some people because they're like Oh God. There's a ton of stuff to do, or it's kind of a turn off because you already know what it is, and you don't think of anything else over there, but they're actually might be if you if you actually went look, so we actually ramped down the people that the amount of people that would tell you where things were quite a bit. It used to be far more. part of the emergent processes I've almost everybody who talked to tell you. Something is, and it would put a thing on your map and We found that to be Super Smart System, and I'm so glad that we have it, but we put it in a very specific way in a very specific amount of things on the map total. Total that it would ever tell you about so that you still had your cool moment of like i. don't see anything over here on this. I'm going to head that way and finds things along the way now balance. It's really it's really tricky. Because again it goes up to that thing. I was talking about early. Enough loss of being okay with things being skipped and. That if you don't want to be so much that you don't have any information, that would be bad too right so it it is takes time to to work out, but the team did that. No, no a healthy fund way but I think even when you like clear. Mongol, Camp and Clears up a little bit. You still get a question mark. It's not even like yours, a hotel or something like that. And it's sort of it to me. It fell It felt like A. SORT, of natural to the universe that you guys were setting your game in this is this is like a long time ago. There is those no yelp. There's no google. So it seemed natural that you'd find a random person on the street and be like Oh. Thank you so much. There's this awesome restaurants. You should go check it out. Right I really doug. That I played a ton of the game in Kerr. Asala Mode Oh cool and that was. It was really it was really difficult for me. 'cause you made such beautiful game central? And I think it's I think it's. Beautiful in a different way in Curacao mode. But there was just something so special about about like heading into conflict or a story be or coming into a new environment. or it's all black and white, and there's that film green crackling, and a I read that you guys even did some stuff with the music to make it feel almost like it was coming through old speakers or something like that. Yeah, how how how how did how did you develop that? I I know. That's like obviously. It's something that you're studios. Really proud of especially since you've got endorsement from the family. It was a that was A. That was a I. I probably will put that in my top list of my entire career as like being apart process because. I mean it's just. It's just why just kind of a wild thing that you don't go into making video games because you expect to go through that process one day, yeah. which is probably why it's cool is that it's different. You know, but. The. We knew that we WANNA. Do Black and white mode I mean I think i. I don't remember when we first talked about it, but it was definitely really early Redo black and white vote, but again it got kind of pushed towards the end of the project, and then once things started to. You know you can sit in the world and you could be like. Oh, my goddess stunning! It's really a beautiful I feel I. Do feel like I'm. There's moments of this I feel like movie. It's coming. It's coming together. And, then we're like okay well. We definitely have that mode. Let's are planning for it. And an I got version of it in that was a very early version of it with a sliding team and Like what do we call this thing? and You Owe Samurai cinema or classic. Why can Wyatt our traditional La just things? You know cool cool names. And member WHO's I may was Brian Studio head. I don't remember somebody was like. When we see if we can call it, Chris Allen Mode. And I thought that was brilliant and I was like. Yes, can we? What was that process so I reached out to. One of the people that I think he deserves a special shout at his name as a relay Katami. He's on our Japanese producer. He's a helped us since the very almost since the very beginning, and he helps coordinate all of our feedback through Japan, and said Hey, you hey, who's now a dear friend of mine. I was like. Is this possible. Could you look this up? And he and the Japanese team reached out to their to their state across our state and worked out You know. They wanted to see video so I. Put together a video, and then I redid it like three times because enough. People on time video, but I was like Austin. Even Brian Our leauge rendering Guy Jasmine. He was not good. No. Though I kinda Redid it a couple of times and then eventually Is this. Is it I? I looked at so many movies measured the black and white. You know in our game. You know as you both played it. Daytime Times. There's indoor's whether there's rain. There's fog and so like you have to look at movies that have all of these things you can't just be like. Here's a movie. Here's a sample. It's the black. Man Like you gotTa. Look at all these because they exist in our game and it's a filter that'd be going over all of these and so I finally got to the point where I was, I had good black levels. White levels has cool noise. We sent them a video and and It took a little bit of time back and forth, but eventually we're like asses cooling reach an agreement. They were cool with it so. Yeah it was a it was a coup processing showed up. Is Mode teams all shit? It's called. Is it was pretty cool goal process. It has a dream come true. It's so awesome on a historical level. Because obviously you're seeing the game through its you know from the reveal trailer to now there's clearly a love and Joe Majd to the cinema and the storytelling that come in the John Mara, before it, and so to have that encapsulated as a mood that you can jump into starting to such a great I. Think like touchtone full circle thing as a fan of genres well. Also I mean the. The audio! From from like A. A gigantic Blue Tang Fan. It's it sounded like like RISI's sampling. VHS, tapes of sword slashes, and like there were moments. Paint that game and I was like I expect like method man rapid right now because. If anyone was intended, but that sort of got me on a very very like neural level I was like Oh my God like this is. This is quietly the best. Wu Tang game ever made since. The fighting gave. The quote somewhere I feel. That's. But. Our audio director Brad he that's all him he was like. I have an idea that guy's a wizard, so that usually meant something cool and he. It was like we have this special thing that we developed internally at Sony that replicates old processes from like you know fifty sixty s something like that radios and TV's and and And and he he kind of took that filtered it and figured out the right 'cause he was like. If you do too much over, you know, we wanted people to play lengthy amount of times and if they wanted to the Chrysanthemum. View too much, and it becomes incredibly fatiguing. Like, not watching move hours possibly thirty hours. You know so. You got a nice balance between that and something that you can you know Listen to over and over again? I- legitimated Curacao Mode for Poly Twenty five thirty hours and I think that I like maybe fifty sixty into the game. So how yeah! That's incredible. Yeah, along along with that and to me. It was surreal to play an open world game almost entirely in black and white. That was just I've never done anything like that before and. It was such a cool. It was such a cool experience. One of the challenges with eggs I would add is like since it's black and white. There's there's missions that use color as guiding, and so there are. There are a few missions of. It really struggles with, but for the most part we redesigned icons on the map so that it would work with answer, so you're not just looking at two icons ones. This color ones that color and we just changed the icon Lopate, but but yeah it, it's it's generally speaking. You can play through most of the game with it, which is just crazy. Yeah I think there was one mission where they're like find. The purple flowers was like Oh! I was to right back on, so that was good. Leads to so many great visual moments, and as you were saying I know we're running short on time I. don't want believe the too much, but I, genuinely really loved, and as pointing to earlier the the soundtrack and the way both game uses it. It comes in from quiet to loud, but also how the score changes both from the combat setting to the open world setting you know. Moments I would say not settings, but. That Jackson position as well as even on the side, the remixes that were coming out sort of in the lead up to the Games launch. There's so much great musicality and artistry. Bear that I think really. Elevate, so much of what's going on there on visual rebel to a works so well in tandem. You know there is no single discipline that contributes more to the game. The music like a known this case we have to composers, a team of people that obviously help implemented like their artistry is like. White just level things up so much like a scene without music in a scene with music. There's a world of difference in generally speaking I know it's not one contributor. There's quite a few people that make it happen. Processing and implementation, but it's insane. What music can do in for this game? It's it's. It's one of the best parts of the Game I. Think is the the the artistry behind the music in the soulful fullness in is is really I listened to it a lot. I love and then we tokens the glitch mob. Which is just? RIDICULOUSLY COOL! Yeah, it's an awesome combination i. do think as you were saying. It elevates so many great moments, but really. A drills home like the emotional undercurrent of everything that's going on in the game. Unfortunately. We're pretty much out of time. I think Brandon I could keep talking there so much. We love and really enjoyed about the experience and are continuing to enjoy. Time in this world, so Jason Thank you so much for taking time. We really appreciate it. SUPERFUND and thank thank you to your studio for. bookending this entire console generation with my favorite games. I I don't know if that was ever the plan, but the way that

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