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.