Surprisingly, God of War wins this year's The Game Awards, and beats out the favorite Red Dead Redemption 2 for Game of the Year. Perhaps the reason why the smaller team (300 people) at Sony Interactive Entertainment Santa Monica Studio knocked out the Rockstar Games team, with thousands of contributors, was that God of War had excellent writing.
SIE The Santa Monica Studio team spent more than five years on the title, which came out in April, and became one of Sony's best outsiders on PlayStation 4. I played through the game and felt it was ending resonance, just like Sony & # 39; s The Last of Us did.
While the game extends over 40 hours, the beginning and end of God of War come together, bringing focus to the father and son. Cory Barlog, the creative director at the studio, teamed up with GamesBeat for a long interview on how the team created the story and mechanics of God of War. In this part of the interview I have taken our discussion of the ending, which gives a surprise.
"We shall begin, and we shall not explain everything at once," Barlog said in our interview. "We are going to give you really powerful moments that feel important, but you don't understand why. That way you look back and they get even more weight. But we want you to feel like you're part of everything and have that feeling of what happened. "
We talked about the symmetry between the beginning and the end. In the first two questions, Barlog addresses how the team had the freedom of design to find the beginning and end it. And he revealed how two of the game's characters ̵
Here is an edited transcription of our interview. We will also publish our full interview and other parts of the discussion separately.
Spoiler Alert – This interview has many historical poets for those who have not completed the war of God.
GamesBeat: You had this design freedom. I'm curious about what it really meant. When did you talk to your bosses, what were those conversations like? How did you get the license to do just what you thought was best?
Barlog: Some of it is about working on the franchise before. But I think it's a small part. The reason for this is people like Shannon Studstill and Yumi Yang. Basically, they are the two partners I had throughout the project. They are the shields, and they are the swords. They protect, and then they fight back to hordes.
Shannon is always letting everyone know – even if you don't see anything, good things happen. Have faith. She is a solid defender of the creative process. She knows that the creative process does not always bear fruit for a while. It's easy to get nervous. "Nothing is shown. Do you break this up?" At times we show them things, and that's what they think. "You mess up this. This is terrible." But it's the feeling of having that partnership there – you always have someone who has your back.
In the beginning, the beginning there were some discussions with some groups in the company that had said, "I don't think you should keep Kratos." Some people said keeping Kratos was a good idea. I was very closed about how much information I distributed, but they all assumed that if I kept Kratos, we would just make another god of war. At high level, I said, "We're not going to do that. I'm not telling you what it is yet, but here are the little pieces of information."
They said, "We think it's a bad idea to keep Kratos. I don't understand. "A person even said," Should he put on a backpack and go up to Scandinavia? "At that time, we were pretty close to making that decision. We were in the last stretch, but we didn't tell everyone at the company about it. He said it negatively, but it was actually literally, that was what we were supposed to do. I hit him, the same person who said it, about a month later when everything was finished, and he said, "I love this."
It was a good example of that feeling – we don't know what we want. We think we know we don't want anything. But if you can figure out the right mix, it sounds good. It's a testament to one, the creative support I have from the partners, and two, don't tell anyone anything before I figured it all out. When you put a half-baked idea, it's so easy for someone to pick it apart and hate it.
GamesBeat: Are you jumping it off someone like Shannon? Or did you go to Shannon and say, "Here's why you should trust me because I'll figure it out?"
Barlog: I've worked with Shannon since 2003. Her and Yumi – I have an inherent trust with them. But she would say, "Barlog, you gotta get it together. I need a pitch. I need to know what's going on." It was a moment when I realized we were writing the wrong game in our first draft, the focus went away Father's son's history and went much more into the plotting and everything else. It was seven or eight months, and I had to throw it all out. We had an overview and everything, and I had to get rid of it. I knew it would upset the authors.
I went for lunch with Shannon and said, "I know you're sorry for this, but I've gone down a dead end. I have to go back and reconsider. Here's my high level." This was before the action and the mother. This was just Kratos and his son on a journey. It had no heart for it. I realized we were in the middle of a story but not in a good way. I said, "I haven't all figured out yet, but here's the highest level. It's Kratos and Atreus trying to go to the highest mountain to spread their dead mother's ashes." She said, "Okay. Do it. "
It was literally – at any other company you had to have proofs and schedules and budgets and risk assessments and all that to make that kind of change. It was for lunch where I gave her a sentence, and she said, "You're right. It's better." Before, she didn't say what I was doing was wrong because I didn't think any of us had figured it out yet. But when I got to the one sentence, it is. That's it. That is the case. I continued to tell everyone, "This is what we do. This is the goal." Then it was the battle, well, who is the big bad guy? After a year and a half, two years I thought, it won't be an antagonist in the same way. The antagonist is Kratos. It's his inability to be open, his inability to be a father. Baldur is a mirror. He is not even an antagonist. He's a mirror. His relationship with Freya is this feeling – she stayed too close. She made decisions for him. By doing so, she ruined the relationship. This is the warning story for Kratos. Don't make decisions for your child. It's not going to be good. He needs that reminder.
Every single element of the story deals with family relationships. At any time, every character he interacts with, he teaches a good or a bad lesson, a caution. Don't go down this road, or you should listen to me about how to be a family, how to be part of the family, and the responsibility. Whether you are a child or an adult in that family, you have a responsibility towards family communication and well-being.
GamesBeat: Why did the beginning become the way it did? I looked back at many beginnings and this was very good. It has a lot of confusion and mystery. You don't know what's going on. Why is she dead? You start in the middle of things, as in the ninth year of the Trojan war. It seems at first, as the best part of it was in the beginning, but you start almost towards the end. Why did you start the way you did?
Barlog: It was a very conscious thing. It took a bit to sell to people. We never make the beginning of the game to the end, but I knew right at the start of the project that I had to start convincing people. We should not start the game with a giant boss's fight. Early discussions I already lay the foundation. In the previous games, we traded for the first 10 minutes with a huge giant creature. It was great, but it was also very difficult when we got to God of War 3. You ended up with this weapon race. "It's big, but it's not as big as the other." You always compare it to the previous one and thumbs up or thumbs down.
We couldn't do that anymore. We had to throw it out of arms. We had to focus on what's interesting. I use the example of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when they introduced Dawn as Buffy's sister. They started the episode with the fact that everyone understood and accepted that Dawn was her sister, even though she had never come to the show at all before. They moved on. I think it was two episodes before they told you it was a spell and it was all crazy and therefore everyone was with it.
I thought it was very interesting. We must begin and we should not explain everything right away. We'll give you really powerful moments that feel important, but you don't understand why. That way you look back and they get even more weight. But we want you to feel that you are part of everything, and have this feeling of what happened.
The first time I threw Shuhei Yoshida [the president of Sony Worldwide Studios] into the game, I couldn't get a minute and a half in my path before saying, "Who's the mother? What's her name? Where's she from? Shall she get in the game? How does she look? "
GamesBeat: I felt like the end is good. It reflected much of that thinking. Again, it's tightly woven. You go back and you see – why, why does he call him "kid" in the abusive way? Or even that you somehow draw attention to how Kratos doesn't call him by his name. Where are you trying to hide their identity, even early?
Barlog: It's a very interesting story about it. This is the beautiful thing about historical narration, and is supple when you write and control anything. Basically, the plan was, the name would be revealed. At the end of the game, even calling his son by name, recognizes and accepts him. Then we realized that it probably wasn't right. But I also used "boy" because I couldn't think of a name.
The first staff on it, he should just call him by his usual name. But then we thought we had this good idea. What if he only refers to him by the name of the end? That's good, because it gives me more time to stop and come up with the name. Then we realized that it wasn't the right pace. At the end of the game he must accept him as his son. It must be the first time he says "son." Because it's so charged. That's what Zeus used when Kratos killed him. He calls him "my son."
It is so emotional for him that he will not. He does not want to acknowledge this child, even though he is important to him. The boy represents a new chance for him, but he is still not ready to open for him. But yes, I didn't have the name Atreus, I think, for probably a week before we released it into the metadata of the music tracks. I waited until the last minute.
We had so many names, hundreds of names, and I liked Atreus. Everyone realized I was a fan of Neverending Story and they said, "But it's just like Atreyu." And I said, "No, it's a cool reference. It's also a great mystery. People will think he's named after the mythological Atreus, and they'll all go in that direction." Because it's not really the story of where He comes up with the name. Whichever name we choose, it becomes a soldier with whom Kratos served. It's going to be a personal thing for him. We had a name that has a connection with Greek mythology, and everyone would start reading it, all these different things.
GamesBeat: Now that we're a little more free to talk about endings, it's the only name you discover in the end, and the immediate association is with a bad guy. Everyone knows this name as someone who is not – who doesn't show up well. And then he tells you the actual story of Atreus's life at the end. I thought about it more and realized, what if you really have a choice between being the other guy or Atreus? Atreus is a very noble character. He does a lot of good. Perhaps this boy has the choice of whether he will appear as this second name.
Barlog: It was a thought that went into it in the sense that – our identity, who we are, how much is shaped by our environment, how much is shaped by the expectation of who we are. For me, Loki is a good representation within the child's Norwegian myths. Mischievous, trickster, get into things. But not necessarily with dark intentions. It's a bit dark in Eddas, but it's not as exaggerated as it is in the Marvel comics.
But Thor, in the mythology, is a bad guy. He's not a great guy. We probably exaggerated him a little, but this man would literally charge children for a small one. He was going to kill these people, kill a family because they smiled at him, and they said, "Bring our kids," and he said, "OK, I won't kill you. I'll just bring your kids. "He's not a good guy.
I liked the idea of putting these two things up, showing that it's an expectation, what people think Loki is really about, it's really a nice little cloud hanging over him. He gets to find out, what is – who am I? That's what we're going through. It was subversive what Kratos went through at the beginning of the game. Who am I? Who have I been so long? This freight train of revenge and violence. It's still a part of me, but who am I, now that I have this responsibility? Who am I, now that I've grown and been fundamentally changed by Faye?
Their relationship changed him so dramatically, yet he was In the middle of it, he hadn't finished growing. She left so fast, that basically prevented him from completing that growth. He had to finish it with his son. He had to finish it alone. to grow on your own.
GamesBeat: You have a son. I wonder how much you look d itt relationship with him in this game.
Barlog: So much. There is so much of this – the way Kratos looks at deity as a disease he is handed over to his child is the same concept I see on my child, with my own psychological idiosyncrasies, my own obsessive compulsive nature. He shows all this. I gave him that because my wife is not like that. My wife has anxiety, but she's not close to it – everything has to be done in a particular order, and my child is that time 1000, which is so heartbreaking. It is the same as – at the moment when Atreus rushes out at the end of the game and knocks out and almost dies. It sees the terrible part of yourself in your child.
The moments in the game are drawn from the interaction with him and the interaction with my father. Matt and Rich both have children, so their interaction. So many people on the team, they would tell us stories of interaction with their children or their parents. These little stories will find their way in. It is very interesting. The test for us was – all three of us sit around, we want to say, "Someone told me this story today." And if all three of us said, "Oh, I can relate to it," we will feel like we could get more people to deal with it. It's something universal.
There were some things we put in and it didn't work out. People would say, "I don't get it at all." Okay, we'll take it out.
GamesBeat: I thought it was interesting that this is the God of War game, and a war history of God, but also this father-son story that explains a lot of what is happening in history. It is not hammered at home in a heavy-handed way. It operates unconsciously on you. You don't have Kratos psychoanalysis yourself or anything, but it's made there. I think it's also interesting about how this resonates.
Barlog: One, I work with very good writers. The guys are amazing. But I think the time I spent with George Miller understands his process of breaking characters down – he worked with a writer, Nick Lathouris, on Fury Road. While developing the Fury Road script, Lathouris had broken down the entire script with a page of scripts and a page of line by line, psychological, what each character went through, either in the screen direction or the dialogue. What is the motivation? What happens in the head?
Read through it and realize how much that actually goes in sight, how much goes in a shallow, made me realize, "Okay, we need to think about this so much deeper." When we head with, first, the story of growing up – it's easy to say it's redemption, but it's not really what he was going to do. It was about growing up. Kratos find out how to grow up, we grow up. Part of growing up is the idea of communicating information. What is your inheritance you transfer? What is the responsibility for that legacy? Everything leads to it, throughout the game.
Many times you do not start playing games. It's just, "I have a cool mechanic I want to use, let's do this!"