Even though we now know it exists, and finally have a definitive release date for it, the nine year long development cycle for The Last Guardian, more than half of which was spent in the public eye under intense scrutiny, speculation, and criticism, is legendary, and will probably go down in history as one of the most interesting ones of all time. Speaking at a GameSpot x Kinda Funny interview at E3 2015, Sony Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida talked about just why the game’s development was so protracted.
“It depends on how you define Team ICO,” he said. “Many members of Team ICO–which was originally a small team of around 20 plus–moved on to Shadow of the Colossus. After that [game director Fumito] Ueda-san became independent, but worked with creation team.
“Now Ueda-san has established his reputation, he wanted more freedom on how he spends his time. He may want to work on other concepts, so he chose to become independent, but also still work on The Last Guardian. It’s the main project he’s working on.”
Apparently, Ueda broke off and created GenDesign as part of this process- a studio that is, however, still continuing to complete work on The Last Guardian.
“Gen Design’s president used to be the lead programmer on ICO and Shadow of the Colossus,” Yoshida explained. “Core members of the Shadow of the Colossus, under him, became independent, to do creative stuff. But the main development team is still in Japan Studio.”
The administrative hurdles weren’t the only thing facing the game, either- The Last Guardian was a highly ambitious project, and it remains one still. It was ambitious enough that the PS3 simply could not handle it.
“The project went on so many technical changes. We decided to move the project to PS4 in 2012, but because the PS3 code was so optimised for SPUs on that console lots of code had to be thrown away and rebuilt.
“It was a tough decision to move from PS3 to PS4 because it was running on PS3. But not at the performance we needed … We knew we had to decide whether to continue the game on PS3 with a compromised vision, or move to PS4.”
It’s good to see, however, that in spite of all the trouble that the game faced getting off the ground, Sony never lost faith in it. Hopefully, the final product can deliver on a decade’s worth of hype.