WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Stig Asmussen, game director for God of War III.
WP: You talked a lot about scale, and moving levels. One of the bonus features from the first game talked about the Kronos level, which sort of hinted at that. One thing that stood out about the second game was the boss confrontations. Are the boss battles going to match that sense of scale, and how much of what was mentioned in the first game apply here?
SA: Absolutely. We just set the bar higher than ever, so you can expect to see massive bosses. As far as what was talked about with the scale, it was smoke and mirrors before … that was all just us being really clever, adding movement to the camera, making foreground objects move, and picking camera angles, and you can always do that with God of War. We wanted to make it appear as if it was real. But this time, we're really doing it. If we were to put Kratos on the shoulder of one of these creatures and pull the camera all the way out to reveal the whole creature, he'd be a pixel.
WP: What are some of the ideas that have been bounced around in terms of downloadable content?
SA: That's something that we're still evaluating. For the PSN, there's a lot of great opportunities for us there. We've discussed things like skins and levels, but nothing has been defined yet. We're still working that out.
WP: What's been talked about in terms of the demo release? It's not going to come out the day before or anything like that, right?
SA: No, no. In the past … it's definitely not going to be the day before. I don't know exactly when it's going to be, I would assume it'll be like what we've done in the past, where the demo comes out weeks, months, a couple months, something like that. We want people to really understand what we're trying to do.
WP: As far as the Kratos character is concerned, what are some of the things you wanted to bring to the forefront about him that weren't as evident in the first few games?
SA: I think in general, the easiest thing for us right now is just his physique — making sure that, like, the strain (of his muscles) and everything comes across. When he rips an enemy apart, you'll get to see his muscles flex and his veins pop. We're working on ways of setting that up with some of our CS mini-games, where the camera gets really close to kind of show that off. You'll definitely be able to see it in cinematics. Everyone seems to understand the personality of Kratos on the outside, so we're working on the outside first. The story involves what's going on inside. We've really enhanced the density, how many joints we have in the face using techniques like normal maps … we're really going to be able to show emotion. A lot of things don't need to be spoken with Kratos. In the past, you needed to say words, now we're going to be able to show the nuance and emotion through his face.
WP: What are some of the other ideas you can put forth now that you have the PS3's power behind it?
SA: We can do real Titans. We couldn't work at this level of scale before. Some of the gory stuff that we were showing with that level of detail, that's something we couldn't do on the PS2. That character of Kratos that you saw … he's more memory than the PS2 can hold, quite a bit more. Just on a base level, the technology has given us that. I think we're going to be able to tell a better story because of the emotion and the flow that we'll be able to do with the cameras.
Lighting is a huge thing … and something as simple as the grunts, we always have the grunts in our game. They're kind of a bread-and-butter character, kind of a staple. The reason why is because they're flexible and they're fun. One thing we've always tried to do in the other games is make them interchangeable with swappable parts and random animations and stuff. What you're seeing right now, no two grunts are the same. If you watch the crowd, it's all lifelike and moves in a very natural way. Some games, you see everyone doing the same animation … none of our guys are doing that. We've got that stuff working now, and at this point, it's just a matter of making it better.
WP: You have kind of an interesting issue here. You mentioned all of the possibilities available to you now that you're working on the PS3. What challenges come with actually having this much at your disposal?
SA: A very easy limiting factor is something called a budget and a schedule. That always is something that … I'm told as game director not to think about that stuff, but it becomes a reality all the time. The fact of the matter is creating assets for this generation takes a really long time. So, to a certain extent, we're bound by that, but there ARE limitations to the technology. Part of that is we're building a new engine from the ground up, and all the features that we want aren't available from day one. We're still adding new features every day, and it takes time to learn how to use those things once they go in. There's a lot of cool things you can do with this system, but it's not always available.
WP: Aside from the Titans, what was the hardest new gameplay element to try and implement?
SA: Based on what we saw today, the hardest thing has been rideable creatures. Even though he [the demo player, Todd] died when he was playing, they feel really good. We weren't even sure when we finished if we had a proven concept. But I think we're in pretty good shape, but it took a while to get there. I can honestly say that the gameplay of what you guys just saw is rock solid. It's fun, it's really fun.
WP: What the challenge in finding the balance between being able to show off this sense of scale and detail but still providing gamers with info they need, like a life meter or other display items?
SA: Well, I look at a game like Dead Space, and I think it's awesome that they were able to do it with absolutely no clutter. That's the way the game was designed. The bottom line is that there's information we have to give out, and we're trying to streamline that. Our system has worked well in the past. There are things we want to improve, and we're designing that part of the game just like any other.
More articles about God of War III