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.

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