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Fumito Ueda Details The Last Guardian

Team Ico focuses on creating a realistic Torico and adopts new development techniques for PS3.

 

A new trailer and a vague release time frame for The Last Guardian were all it took yesterday to get Team Ico fans buzzing. Director Fumito Ueda didn't share any new details on the game during Sony's press briefing, but he was more open during a subsequent Famitsu.com interview.

That "vague release time frame," which appeared at the end of the game's new trailer, was "holiday 2011." Ueda confirmed with the site that this means October to December. "It's not spring break," he joked about the use of the word "holiday." "Now that the release time frame has been announced, we believe expectations will rise even further for those who have been looking forward to the game, so we feel that next we must make it into a title that meets expectations and does not let people down."

One notable point about the trailer was the cheerful music in the background. The team wanted to choose something unexpected when selecting the song, Ueda told the site. As the song was to be used just for TGS, they went with an existing song.

The reason for choosing this type of song, he said, was because everyone has been anticipating a sad ending for the game. Allowing such anticipation to continue may not be appropriate here because as a game that deals with the theme of animals, Last Guardian also has the concept of showing comical scenes and physiological actions from the Torico creature. The latest trailer attempted to depict these areas.

Some scenes from the trailer showed Torico burying its droppings and performing other such realistic actions. Ueda explained the reason for the inclusion of such scenes. "ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were set in fantasy worlds. People who like movies were hooked in by the fantasy parts and bought the game and played it. However, we wanted to evoke feeling in a greater range of people. While the selection of an animal theme does this, we also thought that in addition to this, showing such physiological occurrences would reach that broader base."

Those types of scenes may not be just for show though. "We also felt that the physiological occurrences could be worked in to create a new type of game design." You'll be able to feed Torico, for instance. However, Ueda doesn't want people to think that the feeding will be part of some sort of synthesis system, for instance. It's just one physiological element of the creature, an area that players can't control. You might not know, for instance, if you're feeding Torico something that he can't eat. As another example, when you're fighting an enemy, if one of those physiological effects takes over Torico, he may not be able to protect you.

"The inability to control is one of this game's concepts," said Ueda. "Not that you'll be totally unable to control things, but there will be some areas that you can't control. This connects with the game's reality, and also with the mystery of the game design."

Ueda mentioned in his responses that you'll be fighting enemies. These are the armored knights who appear for brief moments in the trailer. "The boy cannot directly defeat the knights," said Ueda. Regarding your combat with the knights, he reiterated something that he has said in past interviews. There is a paper-rock-scissors style relationship between the boy, Torico, and the guards. For the most part, you'll need to get Torico to defeat the guards for you.

The trailer also showed the player interacting with gimmicks in the areas of play. One thing the staff is focused on, said Ueda, is making sure that players will be able to grasp the game structure, so they'll know, for instance, when they have to move something in order to advance further.

Famitsu also asked Ueda about how the game has improved from when we last saw it. Graphically, he said, the game is mostly unchanged from the previous trailer, as this area of the game was pretty much in complete form at that time.

In contrast, movement has gotten a considerable brush up since our last glimpse at the game. Torico was previously only able to move in set movements. Now, it moves in accordance with the environment.

Regarding those environments, Famitsu noted that there seems to be very fine details, down to moths and other insects. Such details can be placed in the game due to a change in production style from Team Ico's past projects. For past titles, explained Ueda, a single artist would make an entire stage on his own. However, because of the more advanced technology in the PS3 allowing for greater detail and wider spaces, they had to toss this method aside. Now, the team makes use of LEGO block-like pieces. Doing things like this allows them to put details into areas where no one will even go, while still maintaining efficient production.

As an example of this creation method, Ueda mentioned the stones that make up the areas we've seen thus far. This is actually where the method is most heavily put to use. However, the method also works in nature environments. He mentioned one as yet unseen stage whose scale is so impressive that people will get the impression it couldn't have possibly been made by a single person. It's because of the use of this development methodology that the game can have detailed stages with such scale.

Famitsu's interview also covered PS3's ICO and Shadow of the Colossus remakes. You can read that part of the interview here.

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