Creative director Cory Barlog discusses the process of improving the framerate and achieving the core combat loop.
You don’t need anyone to tell that SIE Santa Monica’s God of War is a well-made game. From the initial reveal trailers to the demonstrations, the game managed to reinvent the franchise for a contemporary generation while maintaining its core identity. However, game development is never easy, especially for a project this large. Speaking at Devcom (via GamesIndustry.biz), creative director Cory Barlog laid out the many challenges that the team faced.
One of those challenges was combat, the core gameplay loop of which was taking “forever to get done.” “[In previous games] it felt good. We got that feeling good early and we built on that,” said Barlog. “But we didn’t have anything feeling good. The core loop didn’t feel good, but the combat team was super confident and I trusted them. They got it, but I needed them to get it way earlier, so I was really trying to force it.”
As a result, a demo was requested before PlayStation Experience 2017. This meant that Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios for Sony Interactive Entertainment, would be going hands-on with the game.
“He [Yoshida] comes in once in a while, but we don’t let him play,” Barlog said. “We don’t let anybody play. If the game is ready to be played by somebody we give them the controller, but very rarely do we do that.”
Suffice to say, it didn’t go very well. “I mean, the framerate was terrible, everything just felt bad… He’s playing, he’s got scrunched up shoulders, head shaking a little bit. I definitely get the feeling while he’s playing that he’s not having the greatest of times – which is great. I mean, it bums me out a little bit, but that’s what I brought him in here for.”
Talking about how Yoshida left afterwards to catch a flight, Barlog notes that, “He kinda just shook his head and walked out the door. He never told me how he felt. In fact, he only told one of my friends, who he saw at a party. He [Yoshida] said, ‘Oh, you’re working on God of War? I just gotta say, I played the game the other day. I was horrified.'”
As a result, Barlog and his team needed to “nail that core loop down, and get the framerate back up” to impress Yoshida. “Everyone had to rally together; not just the combat team, but the engine team, the rendering team. In the end, it worked. He played it again, and you can see the two different poses of Shu. Horrified is much more rigid. The second time, he was not horrified. It was super good. Very exciting.” Given that the development team achieved this with the game only six months away from release is only more remarkable.
Barlog noted, “The lesson I had to keep learning was to put the difficult thing in front of us, and not get comfortable. We need to force ourselves sometimes to be very uncomfortable.”
It certainly paid off – the PS4 exclusive sold 5 million copies in a month and “significantly exceeded” Sony’s expectations. You can check out our review of God of War here, and if you’re keen on revisiting the game, it will receive New Game Plus mode on August 20th.