As the creator of lauded PS2 titles Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Fumito Ueda is well accustomed to taking his time to ensure things are right.
The Japanese designer’s latest title, The Last Guardian, finally received a release date at this year’s E3 after almost a decade in development.
Kotaku asked the acclaimed developer how Ueda and his team have ensured the game stays true to the original concept they came up with nine years ago.
“One of the things that can be very difficult is when you start making a game, the first thing you have to come up with is ‘What kind of game do I want to play?’” Ueda said. “But the longer you spend in development, the more you forget that original impulse.
“That’s something I take very seriously. I always take a point of reminding myself periodically: ‘When I first started this, what was I aiming for? What was the game I wanted to play?’ I continuously remind myself that along the whole process, in order to keep that consistent vision.”
Expanding on the methods he uses to recall his initial inspiration, Ueda admitted: “I don’t use any special techniques.
“Basically, I go back to my old notes [and] old sketches from the very beginning of development. Reading over those, looking over those, tends to make it pretty easy for me to remember what I was going for.”
The Last Guardian was announced as an exclusive for PS3, but was later moved onto the PS4 as the years went by. Ueda said that making use of new hardware capabilities is secondary to delivering the originally planned idea.
“As a developer, you’re focused a lot on the technology, and as the technology improves, you can do more things and that improves the game,” he observed. “But in the end, what’s most important is that the players who have never played this game before pick up the controller and have this experience. What experience do you want them to have? What experience do I want to have and share with other people? That’s been central to us the whole way.”
Ueda concluded by discussing his interest in developing for virtual reality, seeing it as a continuation of his work to date.
“If we’re just talking in genres, I’m really interested in VR and the move toward VR,” he enthused. “As a developer, I started thinking about the business of it: how do we sell this sort of thing? How do we work with that?
“My goal has always been to give players an experience – a virtual experience – of this world we’ve created behind the screen. I want them to enter this world, I want them to interact with this world. In that sense, virtual reality is the logical extension of what I’ve been trying to do all these years.”