TGS: Reawakening The Last Guardian
At a packed press conference at Tokyo Game Show, The Last Guardian creator Fumito Ueda held forth on his upcoming, long-awaited PlayStation 3 title.
He held the press conference to explain why there hasn't been much word on the title since last year's Tokyo Game Show -- Ueda skipped this E3, and the game wasn't even mentioned at Sony's press conference in June.
It seems that the delay has arisen primarily because the studio has adopted a new production process. Said Ueda, "On the last [two] titles, the team worked on R&D and production in parallel and so the game was delayed. This time we decided to do the R&D first, lock the core elements, and then progress with the production of the game."
Good news, though, in Ueda's view: "I'm quite satisfied with how the production has been polished... It's time for us to go into full production crunch mode." He then launched into the latest game trailer -- which revealed the game won't be released until holiday 2011. "We'll do our best," said Ueda, to make that date.
"First and foremost, I want to clarify some of the rumors that are floating on the internet these days. Those of you who saw the last trailer... may have speculated another sad ending," referring to the finales of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. "However, it's open-ended, and for you guys to figure out."
"We've been working on the R&D side, and the Trico character [the griffin] has a lot more character to it now," said Ueda, which was apparent compared to older trailers for the game.
"Obviously, you will see the boy character and the Trico character, initially they have a very unfriendly relationship, and as the story progresses -- we don't want to tell you too much -- they'll naturally find a bond. Let's leave it at that."
When it came to what the new production process made possible for the game, said Ueda, "looking at the Trico character, for example, I and my team wanted to focus on the function, and how the character moves. We wanted to make sure it's flexible and adjustable to any sort of level design.
"Another would be looking back at Ico or Shadow -- a lot of times the level designs were generated by one artist... We've restructured our workflow to allow for flexibility. These elements sound easy but they take a lot of time."
Moving onto the gameplay, "although the clips were very short, if you watch it over and over again, it will be quite self-explanatory. It goes back to the boy and Trico -- it'll be about elements where you find that bonding. Emotional attachment is a key to progression."
In response to an audience member's question, Ueda later said, "One thing that I'd like to clarify is that it's not like Trico will not listen to the boy every single time... Maybe it will, maybe it won't. This is an animal you're talking to, and in real life, this happens too. However, the important part is the emotional attachment, as we mentioned earlier, and how that builds."
In response to a question about whether that means gameplay will be more dynamic, Ueda responded, "We don't want to give too much away, but the PS3 has a lot more power, and the trailer was designed to show that gameplay." It seemed that the animal will have an effect on the environment of the game, as well.
Ueda also showed a trailer of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, which compiles the team's 2001 and 2005 PlayStation 2 games into one PS3 disc, similarly to God of War Collection.
The compilation will be released Spring 2011, and include the improved, "complete" European version of Ico on the U.S. disc.
"Naturally, the assumption would be that we took the PS2 version and just ported it to PS3. It's obviously not that simple. We've had to work with the texture up-res as well, and I'm very happy with the progress we're making so far," said Ueda.
"I'm being honest with you -- looking back at the Shadow of the Colossus days, there are some areas where I was not happy with the framerate. With this time around, with the PS3 generation, to be able to have a solid 30 frame experience, I'm very happy with the overall gaming experience. This is something I'd originally designed the game for, in terms of gameplay."
Of course, the compilation is also -- like a huge swath of the Sony's first party lineup at TGS -- compatible with 3D television technology.
"They [the two games] were very 3D-centric designs... Where it gives the player a good perception of depth. A lot of these elements come to life with real 3D implementation on the PS3. It's another area where I'm very happy with how we're making progress," he said.
An audience member asked if Ueda has changed his approach to game creation over the last 10 years, since Ico was in development.
"I'm looking back on that game, and how I designed it. There are some areas that I look back and say, 'Why did I spend so much time concentrating on this part of the game?' With more history behind me, I realize those things. There was an awkward balance of energy I tried to extract from myself, maybe, and put into the game. And those are the things I look back upon."