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Postmortem - Sony Santa Monica's God of War: Ascension
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Postmortem - Sony Santa Monica's God of War: Ascension


June 19, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

4. Shared Leadership for Single and Multiplayer Teams Slowed Progress

As anyone who's built one knows, building a multiplayer game along with single-player is like making two separate games. The amount of attention required for mode- specifi c issues requires dedicated leadership for each game type. While we had the majority of the team fully dedicated to either multiplayer or single-player, some key leaders, including Todd and Chacko, were split between single-player and multiplayer.

As we were getting ready for our big press announce, which exclusively featured a multiplayer reveal, our entire focus was on getting multiplayer ready for that. During that time, the single-player game got very little senior leadership attention. By the time we refocused onto single-player and toward our big single-player E3 debut, we ended up playing catch up, and then multiplayer suffered.

We juggled this way through the entire project, which also resulted in slower decision-making than desired on most everything. Luckily, our team was able to keep the various balls rolling, but we can imagine it was very frustrating for them to have that pressure and lack of leadership from the lead producer and game director.

5. Struggling to Balance Story and the Series Tradition of "Epic Moments"

We really wanted to change the way we told the story, and try to go deeper emotionally with Kratos's storyline, giving the players more context and emotional substance to experience. We had a lot of initial ideas and even prototyped visual cues that we played with at the start of the game. We felt good about the direction. The story and script as a whole met that criteria, too.

Finding the right balance of story and the series' staple "Epic Moments" provided an unexpectedly complex challenge. As important as it was for us that we find new ways to tell the story -- and the kind of story we were trying to tell -- it was always critical that we also find ways to top the jaw-dropping setpieces of previous games. As we closed in on finishing the game, we decided to retain our primary focus on the game's biggest moments --those "epic" moments and setpieces. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of narrowing our story-telling vision. We're proud of so many moments in Ascension, but the finished game did miss many of the storytelling ambitions we had hoped to deliver to both ourselves and our audience.

Conclusion

In the end, God of War: Ascension became a strong addition to the series, a chance for Santa Monica Studio to grow (both as individual devs and collectively as a team, in terms of their multiplayer experience), and also opened new doors for the franchise with a vibrant, active multiplayer community.

Our key takeaways over the course of the project were a better functional understanding of our deeply integrated production process, and the true scope of a dedicated multiplayer experience from concept to online implementation. All in all, Ascensionrequired a tremendous amount of coordination and communication between team members in different disciplines. Ultimately, we found the solution to our challenges lies with better, more robust planning and prioritization up front. The team and the senior leadership learned a great deal on Ascension, and even now we're incorporating the key lessons into our process on our new projects.

Whitney Wade and Chacko Sonny are the senior producer and director, respectively, for internal development at Sony Santa Monica.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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