Fu­mito Ueda, di­rec­tor, The Last Guardian


The Last Guardian has now been in pro­duc­tion for more than eight years, start­ing life as the third project of in-house Sony stu­dio Team Ico. An­nounced dur­ing 2009’s E3 as Project Trico, the game has had a trou­bled ges­ta­tion, suf­fer­ing nu­mer­ous de­lays and a shift from PS3 to PS4. That pe­riod also saw Fu­mito Ueda’s de­par­ture from Sony, along with sev­eral mem­bers of Team Ico, who set up Gen De­sign to con­tinue work­ing on the project – though a ded­i­cated team re­mains at Sony to pro­vide sup­port for the small startup. De­spite ru­mours that the game may be about to slip again, di­rec­tor Fu­mito Ueda as­sures us that 2016 will be the year The Last Guardian fi­nally emerges. Here, we ask him about the dif­fi­culty of stay­ing fo­cused on a project for so long. How do you feel about the project now? Do you have the same ap­petite for it that you started with? As you know, the de­vel­op­ment pe­riod has been very long, so there have been some times where it was quite dif­fi­cult for me to keep my mo­ti­va­tion up. But my other games have also had long de­vel­op­ment pe­ri­ods, so in that sense, I think I‘ve been able to keep my mo­ti­va­tion quite high. And also, since this year we will see the game’s re­lease, I do have some wor­ries, but I’m also very ex­cited. So it’s a mix of feel­ings. There’s a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion sur­round­ing The Last Guardian – are you con­scious of it as you make the game? The thing we want to achieve most is to max­imise the hap­pi­ness of play­ers. The ba­sis for that is that I first try to think what I my­self would en­joy and want to play – that’s where the con­cept be­gins. So, in other words, I view my­self as the first cus­tomer. How do you bal­ance that de­sire to please an au­di­ence with your own vi­sion for what the game should be? I think there are var­i­ous ways to ap­proach that. Some peo­ple cre­ate games think­ing only about what the cus­tomers would en­joy, but I feel that that wouldn’t re­sult in a real prod­uct that can com­mu­ni­cate. So what I try to do is cre­ate some­thing that is first of all fun for me to play, and I think that com­mu­ni­cates bet­ter. Mean­while, in or­der to try to stay neu­tral, I try to keep in touch with the games and movies that are trend­ing right now, so that I’m not too dis­tant. Has set­ting up Gen De­sign given you a sec­ond wind? Com­pared to be­fore, I think I’m able to fo­cus more on the cre­ative as­pects. Be­fore then, I had to do some other stuff as well, but now I feel more at ease. Was that the main mo­ti­va­tion for set­ting up the stu­dio? I think that’s maybe half of it. When we first set up the new stu­dio, that wasn’t the in­ten­tion, but that’s how things worked out. I think that ul­ti­mately it was good for me, but in terms of the more de­tailed back­ground about why we set up the stu­dio, I can’t re­ally talk about it right now.

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