Mathijs de Jonge Game director
Why did you decide to have a female lead character?
Aloy was in the initial pitch, and the way she was presented was more like Sarah Connor from Terminator or Ripley from Aliens, so she was a very strong female lead. After many years of Killzone games, with stereotypical male Marine leads, we felt it was a nice change of direction. But there were doubts along the way, for sure, like Shu’s [Sony’s Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida]. We explored many directions for her; it wasn’t easy to shape her, but I’m glad we didn’t give her up.
How did you learn the craft of open-world game design?
We’re not only developers, but gamers, too, and we play a lot of open-world games. It was our desire to go towards this kind of game development because as designers we felt like we wanted to expand our capabilities. In playing open-world games you get some references, of course, but we also realised we needed to hire experts who had made them before, like our lead quest designer [David Ford, who worked on EverQuest and The Elder Scrolls Online].
How did you approach designing the game’s beginning?
We felt we had to gradually open up the world and slowly soak players into it. The story starts with Aloy as a baby; it’s very slow and we wondered if players might not be patient, but we needed to tell this story right as the first in a new franchise, and to get this attachment to Aloy. The game at the opening is narrow, and slowly opens up, giving tastes of the open world, so we can direct what mechanics are used and which machines we reveal.