hat can we say. Even Game Informer editors can be fanboys once in a while. Case in point is this interview. Andy and Billy got the chance to chat with the creators of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, Producer Kenji Kaido and Director, Lead Game Designer, and Art Designer Fumito Ueda to reminisce about the past and look towards the future.
Game Informer: Can you clear up something for us? Is the boy at the end of Shadow of the Colossus supposed to be from the original ICO? And is Shadow of the Colossus a prequel to ICO?
Fumito Ueda: I didn’t intend the boy to be the same as in ICO. Yes, users have thought that Shadow of the Colossus is a prequel to ICO, and that’s my idea as well. I wanted to make it so the imagination is up to the user.
GI: Do you hope to make games that are not really connected but slightly connected in that universe?
Ueda: The stories themselves from ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are not connected, but I want to create the world and environment to be the connection between the two games.
GI: The art style that has been used in both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, what do you think you’ll be able to do to expand that moving forward with the PlayStation 3?
Ueda: I can’t really go into to much detail on our current ideas. We just started our planning stages for PlayStation 3 and other hardware. For the PS2 period, we tried to accomplish a lot with the art style which pushed the limits of the PlayStation 2 hardware. The PlayStation 2 hardware has a lot of limitations, but we tended to ignore those. I created something very unique and different within the limitations of the hardware. The same ideas cannot be on the PlayStation 3, but we’re looking to see what the limitations are of the PlayStation 3 hardware.
GI: What about bringing this world over to the PSP?
Ueda: I haven’t decided yet which platform I should work on next. I’m leaning towards PS3. If I did make a PSP title, however, I’d want it to be unique to the PSP features.
GI: A lot of game designers, when asked what games inspired them, ICO is many times the answer as far as being not only beautiful to look at but changed the way games were played and viewed. Is this something that when you guys sit down and design a game that puts pressure on you? Or does that make you want to do something new and different which each game that you work on?
Ueda: To be honest, I really don’t feel any pressure from that kind of feedback. I just want to create a game that I want to play.
GI: What do you look for for inspiration as far putting emotional value into the games you create? As far as most of the videogames that are made, most don’t have the emotional pull that both Shadow and ICO have.
Ueda: I actually didn’t intend to implement emotional issues into Shadow of the Colossus. But for ICO I did want to add emotional things. However, we found that users experienced a lot of emotional things in Shadow as well. I’ve thought about why this has happened and what this came from, because the colossi came to life for players, and the characters would attack the colossi which would evoke emotional responses – which ultimately are just images displayed on monitors.
GI: Did you look at the animal kingdom for inspiration on how the colossi should move and act? All of them seem to act like someone’s pet, and they have a lot of tendencies of real animals.
Ueda: I didn’t really have any inspirations like novels or artwork for the design of the colossi. I’m always thinking of what kind of artwork will work well with the game design process. I came up with the design of the colossi from our game design.
GI: Who is the boy in ICO to you?
Ueda: The boy isn’t an existing person, and it’s not me, or anyone I had in mind. Creating the characters, I may have unconsciously implemented some of my own personality into the boy. That boy doesn’t talk too much, and I don’t talk too much in real life. Those kind of implementations on the characters were probably done unconsciously.
GI: With Shadow of the Colossus, how was the decision made to make a game revolving around boss battles?
Kaido: There were a lot of reasons why we implemented the boss fighting as the level design. There are two major reasons. The first one is that I just wanted to fight with big bosses in the game. Second, I wanted to do something original. If we included elements outside of boss battles, it would have been similar to games that are already out. We wanted to do something completely unique, which was with the boss battles being the level.
GI: What challenges did it pose to have the entire levels located on the boss itself? It was a very interesting choice since most games have you move through the level, and then fight the boss. In Shadow, the level is the boss.
Kaido: I get asked this a lot. The one difficulty for making the boss-level was the technology we created called the organic deformation system. This is how we implemented a character on a boss that is always moving. That kind of technology was really challenging for the team. Another thing was the game balance. I always had to think about the game design itself, and the motion of the character and other element of the bosses.
GI: Would you like to do a game that would incorporate the adventure elements of ICO and the boss battle style of Shadow of the Colossus? Is that something you’d like to do or would you like to do something completely different?
Ueda: I go both ways with it. I’d like to create something similar to ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, and it would be in that same world. However, I’d like to create something different as well. I’d like to create another game that I’d like to play.
GI: You’ve kept a lot of the team members moving from ICO to Shadow. I’m assuming you’re going to keep those members on board and then expand?
Kaido: Yes. The core members of the development team will be moving to the next project, but we’ll be increasing with some staff.
GI: Your team size for both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were very small [around 20 people – ed.] in comparison to other developers that do games on the scale that you make. Moving forward with making games for the PlayStation 3, there’s a lot more assets and art that you’ll need to create. How will this affect your team size? How are you going to take on the challenge for creating games for the next generation?
Kaido: This is kind of a hard question to answer. Having a big team, like other developers is not the way we make games. Like creating a title in a short period of time, and implementing new assets in the game. Because increased staff means I’d have to educate the new staff and that’s really hard work for us. But at the same time I think the team size isn’t good enough for the next generation, so I need to think about what the balance will be. Increasing the new staff means sharing the team spirit with the new members. It’s really hard work.
- Andy McNamara, Billy Berghammer