THE LAST GUARDIAN

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Devel­oper SIE Ja­pan Stu­dio

Pub­lisher SCI

For­mat PS4

Re­lease 2016

We spent four years work­ing on Ico, and three-and-a-half years work­ing on Shadow

Of The Colos­sus. Much of that time was spent try­ing to over­come the tech­no­log­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. For my next project I didn’t want to spend nearly so much time on tech­ni­cal is­sues. Rather, I wanted to spend that time on game feel­ing, de­sign, and the vi­su­al­i­sa­tion. Yes, I wanted to spend the time on fine-tun­ing and fi­nesse. The same ap­plies to the movie in­dus­try. In the early years, so much time was spent on tech­nol­ogy. But af­ter a cer­tain point, tech­ni­cal ac­com­plish­ments in film no longer draw the au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion. Peo­ple nat­u­rally be­came more and more in­ter­ested in char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion, plot and story. It’s sort of the same in games. I felt we had reached the point where the fo­cus needed to shift. And I also wanted to make the game quite short, be­cause I didn’t want to spend a long time on de­vel­op­ment. Well. Ob­vi­ously that didn’t work out. De­spite my best in­ten­tions The Last

Guardian had a very long de­vel­op­ment. Why? It just took so much time to cre­ate the game en­gine. It took so much time to tune it to a point that was sat­is­fy­ing. This held us up greatly be­cause we couldn’t progress to the next stage in the cre­ative process till the en­gine could do ev­ery­thing we needed it to. The en­gine is the ba­sis on which ev­ery­thing else in built, so it has to be right. Con­trary to what you might ex­pect, the time I felt most stressed dur­ing The Last Guardian’s de­vel­op­ment was at the begin­ning of the project, when we didn’t know whether we could build an en­gine to sup­port the vi­sion. It took three years to get the en­gine to the point where we could progress to cre­ative work.

The tar­get I had with all three of my games was to at­tract peo­ple who do not usu­ally play games. I wanted to ap­peal to a wide au­di­ence through uni­ver­sally ac­ces­si­ble sto­ries, foun­da­tional plots, al­most. For ex­am­ple, Ico is a boy-meets­girl story, fa­mil­iar to ev­ery­one. For Shadow

Of Colos­sus, the story’s theme cen­tres on sac­ri­fic­ing your­self for a greater pur­pose. And in The Last Guardian, the core of the story idea re­volves around the el­e­men­tal fear of be­ing taken from your bed by a mys­ti­cal crea­ture. Every­body has had that dream at some point in their life, I think. You see it echoed in all kinds of fic­tion, from Stu­dio Ghi­bli’s My Neigh­bour To­toro through to Spiel­berg’s E.T.

From my orig­i­nal plan to cre­ate a very short game, the story ex­panded into quite a tra­di­tional three-act struc­ture. In that sense it’s more com­plex than Ico and

Shadow Of The Colos­sus, both of which have sto­ries that oc­cur in a sin­gle ex­tended act. At the time of mak­ing those games I was not as fa­mous as I am now, so I had to work within a more lim­ited bud­get. But with the pro­duc­tion of The

Last Guardian I had reached a point in my ca­reer where I was given the scope to work on a broader can­vas. I was able to do some­thing more am­bi­tious in terms of the plot de­vel­op­ment, creat­ing much more of a jour­ney in terms of the relationship be­tween the two pro­tag­o­nists.

I don’t think my fans will like to hear what I am about to say. Be­fore I made games, when I’d play Su­per Mario Bros. or some other game, I’d imag­ine that the game rep­re­sented the cre­ator’s true and fi­nal vi­sion. I thought that they must have care­fully con­sid­ered ev­ery as­pect of its cre­ation, and the game rep­re­sented the best ver­sion of their vi­sion, where ev­ery de­ci­sion was in­ten­tional. All th­ese years later I re­alise that this is never the case. There is al­ways com­pro­mise. There are al­ways as­pects to a game that are un­in­ten­tional. You can’t con­trol ev­ery­thing. Some­times you’re forced into cre­ative de­ci­sions be­cause there’s no other way to re­solve an is­sue. That’s true in my games, I’m afraid to say. Per­haps it’s true of all cre­ative en­deav­our: ev­ery work rep­re­sents a com­pro­mise be­tween a cre­ator’s vi­sion, and the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of the medium and process. I wish I’d un­der­stood that sooner.

“SOME­TIMES YOU ARE FORCED INTO CRE­ATIVE DE­CI­SIONS BE­CAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY”

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