Video game development is, but its nature, a very secretive business. However, Sucker Punch Productions has peeled back the curtain a bit and discussed how the game that ended up as Ghost of Tsushima could have been a game about pirates, Rob Roy MacGregor the Scottish folk hero, or the Three Musketeers.
Co-founder of Sucker Punch Productions Brian Fleming took to the PlayStation.Blog to describe the studios thought process in figuring out what its next game would be following inFamous Second Son and First Light.
“Early on, we concluded that we wanted to build a large, open world experience — and one that featured melee combat,” Fleming said. “But beyond that we were uncertain. Pirates? Rob Roy? The Three Musketeers? All these were considered — but we kept coming back to feudal Japan and telling the story of a samurai warrior. Then one fateful fall afternoon we found a historical account of the Mongol invasion of Tsushima in 1274, and the entire vision clicked into place.”
While many can envision a pirate game sharing similarities with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, a tale about Rob Roy could be focused on his “Robin Hood” persona. He was an outlaw who had a larger-than-life story written about him called Highland Rogue while he was alive. This actually helped lead to a Royal Pardon in 1726 while he was still alive, making him a “legend in his own lifetime.”
The Three Musketeers is obviously the classic tale by Alexandre Dumas about d’Artagnan and his hope to join the Musketeers of the Guard. There have been smaller games focused on this story, such as WiiWare game The Three Musketeers: One for All!, but it has yet to get a AAA re-telling.
In the end, Sucker Punch decided to choose the Mongol invasion of Japan that was led by Kublai Khan of the Yuan dynasty following its victory in the Korean kingdom of Goryeo. It knew it wanted to tell the story of the only samurai who survived that initial assault at Tsushima, but wanted to make sure the story had weight.
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Not only did Sucker Punch want to tell a story that featured a “relatable, human experience,” it also had to figure out a way to build a world with no technology. This meant “no cellphones to help us communicate with the player,” and “no glitzy super-powers to create visual spectacle.”
One of these workarounds Sucker Punch arrived on was the Guiding Wind feature, that has the in-game wind helping the player find where they need to go, a blend of using modern technology to create a natural solution.
All these challenges were made greater by the scale of the game that was “5x, 10x, 20x, even 40x [bigger than inFamous Second Son] in some cases. And none of the tools from inFamous were up to the task… except for our visual effects system.”
Fortunately for us, Sucker Punch made it through the six-year process to bring Ghost of Tsushima to life. In our review of Ghost of Tsushima, we said it is “an enormous and densely packed samurai adventure that often left me completely awestruck with both its visual spectacle and excellent combat.”
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