Now that God of War is finally out in the wild, it feels like we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. This was a game that took half a decade to make, and was the subject of wild rumors for longer than that. In a recent interview with Kotaku, director Cory Barlog explains why that was:
"A big portion of the five years was, we had to start from scratch," Barlog said. "Everything really needed to be redone, because we just had torn the engine apart in so many different ways that when we finally brought the team together, everyone realized, 'OK, this is not where it needs to be.'"
"So even when you see E3 2016, the rendering engine wasn’t there, the lighting engine was half-there, the atmospheric engine was half-there. The core mechanics were there, but a lot of the way we were streaming and loading everything was still getting worked out, and figuring out how we were going to get it logistically to work. We knew what we wanted, we just didn’t know technologically how we were going to get it in the right order."
Barlog also spoke to the difficulties of working with multiple teams, and the demands each department was making. The level designers needed to understand the game's mechanics, but the mechanics weren't built yet, because the gameplay team didn't have the tools they needed; the bottlenecks went on and on.
Barlog said the "structure and skeleton" were there, but that a lot of the project wasn't coalescing until shortly before release. Menus, for example, didn't come online until the final eight weeks of development. "It is the adage of any creative thing; it looks terrible, it is an ugly baby, until the very last second," he said.
Thankfully, Barlog said he and his teams are already thinking of ways to improve not only the core mechanics of the game, but the pipeline for making a future installment. And yes, there will almost certainly be another installment - if the game's cliffhanger ending and high sales weren't enough indication of that, Barlog himself said he has plans. When Kotaku asked how much of the future Barlog has mapped out in his head, Barlog bluntly responded: "Five games".
Now, don't go setting aside pre-order money for God of War 5 through 10 just yet. Barlog is not giving a promise of what will be, and later attempted to clarify that his plans revolve mainly around what he wanted to put into this entry. He explained that, going into the project, he did not have plans for DLC or sequels, and wanted players to feel like they had purchased a complete product.
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While the game's ending tease (which I won't spoil) may seem to contradict this philosophy, Barlog likened it to Lord of the Rings. "I love the sort of Lord of the Rings concept of, when you finish Fellowship [of the Ring], you're getting ushered into Two Towers. I think, for me, that is continued engagement. There is the end of the credits scene that teases something."
And while hopefully we won't be waiting five years for the next installment(s), don't expect a follow-up right away. As Barlog told Kotaku with an exasperated sigh, "I need a rest!"
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