Ghost of Tsushima Dev talks about respecting Japanese culture and how Sony made Sucker Punch take their time
Today, Sucker Punch producer and co-founder Brian Fleming took part in a question and answer session on the GDC Showcase and provided some interesting details about Ghost of Tsushima.
Fleming was asked what Sucker Punch had done to ensure that Ghost of Tsushima provided a proper representation of Japanese culture, which was praised by many in Japan.
“From the beginning, at home, we were aware of the level of responsibility we needed to have in this area.
There is a story that fans may know about, and that is that we actually introduced him to Shuhei Yoshida. He was one of the first people we spoke to because we wanted not only his advice and evaluation, but really his blessing that hey… it can be done, a team from the West can really do it.
And with their support, we began to engage with a wider audience as Sony’s Japanese team almost immediately included, and their involvement in the game throughout the game, from the original releases to each of the videos. What we were showing were reflected. for us the parts of the pictures and the parts of the story, and the parts of the characters, the names of the characters, all the details that they found worked well and the things that didn’t work for them.
Therefore, we are very grateful for these comments and this responsiveness. This process was really a healthy part of the ongoing development throughout.
Certainly, without your guidance, we would never have accomplished what we have accomplished.
There are even little stories… One of the details that I really like is that this team was so committed to the project that they made sure that for every Kanji in the game, they understood that this kanji actually existed in the 13th century. There are often several different ways to describe something, and they went out to look for the exact kanji that would have been used at the time to make sure we were authentic even at that level. It has been a great effort and collaboration with this team.
One of the joys of the project was committing to being a learner and not pretending from a distance that we understand it. To recognize that we have to go out and learn, and then you have to find your selection of teachers and mentors who can really help us on that path.
Fleming also talked about the challenges the team faced, mentioning that from Infamous to Ghost of Tsushima, they were moving from a small open world to a large one. It really screwed up your game building toolkit.
They went from a hundred tiles to 1,200 that were four times as large, so “everything broke.”
“The biggest challenge was the journey to get to the point where we once again had a solid Earth under our feet.”
For 18-24 months, things were “really very difficult to synthesize into a game that you could just sit back and play.” So many things that worked for the studio couldn’t handle the scope of the new game.
The first two years were pretty tough to keep the game going, and then things started to progress.
Fighting was another great challenge. The team behind this worked tirelessly for six years, creating multiple versions of the system with multiple approaches.
The goal was for it not to be so easy that players could just press buttons, but also not so complicated that dealing with the control scheme and the different modes would confuse the player.
“It has been an ongoing and elusive effort for this team during a literally six-year journey working on it. I think the results are really good, but I think it has been a long and difficult road.
When asked if there was anything he would have done differently, Fleming explained that the team would have been better served if they had been braver in cutting things that weren’t working before. Some of those cuts were carried over and as a result more time was wasted on things getting cut anyway.
Fleming thinks that if you have doubts about something in a game of this magnitude, it is probably better to cut it because there is much more content.
The other lesson learned is that complexity will overwhelm the game and the player. The game is so big and has so many systems and interactions and each team that works on these parts thinks that each of them must be individually rich and detailed.
The problem is that when there are so many different components and they are all rich and detailed, the player can feel overwhelmed. The big advantage Fleming wanted you to know early on was making sure that each individual item pretty much met the standard of being as simple as possible, as the combination of all of them is quite complicated.
Fleming also spoke about the relationship with Sony, which has caused the team to take its time.
“We are very fortunate to be in a situation where our relationship with Sony I think we have a very healthy relationship with them where we both understand that the real goal was to make a game like Ghost. It wasn’t to make a game on a particular date. It was to create something that was a great experience for the players.
Being a new IP, Ghost of Tsushima had to achieve a certain level of success. Although it took longer than expected, it was on the right track, but Sony only convinced itself that Sucker Punch was not a waste and that they were really diligently protecting the company’s investment and making progress.
Sucker Punch hadn’t originally planned a six-year process and that was only possible because of the progress they made and the relationship with Sony, so everyone agreed that an additional investment to try to ‘find the real diamond that the thought was there ”was justified.
The original forecast in terms of time wasn’t even close to the six years it took, and it’s a reflection of the studio’s relationship with Sony that they were actually able to finish such a great game.
Interestingly, Fleming mentioned that the team was shocked by all the news about Ghost of Tsushima’s long load times. Smart solutions were applied, but in the end it was just “good solid engineering work”. All the data was organized correctly and the artists did an excellent job within these limitations.
Speaking about the future, Fleming said he’s excited to see how the PS5’s new storage system will change the way games are created. Gardez à l’esprit qu’il parlait en général et qu’il n’a pas mentionné qu’il s’agissait nécessairement de Ghost of Tsushima, donc cela ne devrait pas être considéré comme une confirmation that Sucker Punch travaille sur un port PS5 Play.
Ghost of Tsushima is currently available exclusively for PS4 and you can read our review. We recently heard that the game has sold over five million copies and is the best-selling original PS4 game of all time.