• Sony directors talk 'God of War' at an exclusive event in Hollywood, introducing Ballistic Publishing's 'The Art of God of War III'.
    CGSociety :: Event Coverage
    7 September 2010, by Peter Rizkalla

    The tiny El Portal Theater in North Hollywood California, was the host location of an event that would feature all five game directors of every God of War title ever released all together for the first time ever, to be interviewed in front of a host of devoted fans.

    The featured directors were David Jaffe from the very first God of War, Cory Barlog from God of War II, Stig Asmussen from God of War III, Ru Weerasuiya from the PSP title God of War: Chains of Olympus and Dana Jan from the upcoming PSP title God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Before the interview began, Sony's Ken Chan stepped out to announce the giveaway of various prizes to attendees after the show which included a copy of Ballistic Publishing's The Art of God of War III art book to one lucky fan who would receive the book that night before it became available to anyone else in the world.

    The fans line up.
    G4's Alison Haislip questions the directors.
    God of War directors.
    The interview process started with questions and answers touching on the inspiration and development of the main protagonist Kratos and the God of War series as a whole. Many of the questions asked by G4's Alison Haislip were solid, however some of them teetered towards the realm of 'peculiar' with queries like 'What have you learned from Kratos?' to which Cory Barlog jokingly responds, “Killing people solves problems.” As the interview progressed, it quickly turned into a class on becoming a game director in today's game industry to which all of the game directors on this panel provided outstanding advice especially from David Jaffe. After the event, I was able to get a hold of the directors for God of War 1 through 3, David, Cory and Stig, to receive a few extra insights on their experiences working on their respective God of War titles.
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
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    Stig's first response to “How do you feel?”, which was only meant as a greeting and a prologue to my actual interview questions, was “My butt feels better” That, of course, being the present feeling he had after sitting in a chair for hours answering questions in front of the God of War fans. All joking aside, I first was interested in knowing what remarkable challenges both he and Cory had to face when developing their respective games. “There's the Pegasus which was an overall disaster,” says Cory. I actually really liked the Pegasus scene. Understandably though, it was probably a gigantic chore to create a Pegasus with flaming wings on a system like the PS2 which had very limited resources for rendering things like flame effects. Cory shares another instance of disdain with the development of God of War II. “For me, the most personal disaster was me insisting on casting Christopher Lee as Zeus and costing us a large sum of money to get him only to realize that he was terrible and difficult to work with. We cut everything he did and ended up going with a SAG actor instead,” referring of course to Corey Burton who continued his role as Zeus in God of War III.

    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.
    Stig also shared a moment of hardship when developing God of War III. “I was really disappointed that we couldn't get the proper boss fight at the end of the game. We were going to have Gia, Zeus and Kratos all going at it at the same time. Basically, it was going to be the third big Titan sequence in the game. We were pretty close but it was one of those deals that by the time we got to the Alpha build we would have had to take away from other scenes to add to this one.” Cory Barlog chimes in; “I think that's the curse with every God of War franchise because every end boss is always like that. It's the last thing you end up doing and you have this huge aspiration so you say to yourself 'we are going to do it right because we screwed up on the last one'. But we ended up having the same problem.” Agreeing with Cory, Stig continues with, “Yeah, we said we were going to do it right this time and we totally over produced on it.”
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
    On a much lighter note, Cory Barlog recounts a pleasant characteristic of the God of War II development process by honoring one of his colleagues. “The one person I loved working with is William Weissbaum.” As he points over his shoulder to William who was standing right next to Cory. “This guy right here was fantastic. He was a light sleeper.” Cory had pointed out earlier on in the interview that becoming a dedicated developer means that you have to learn to do without sleep.

    I then got a chance to chat with David Jaffe whose vocabulary was “colorful”, to say the least. David talks about the main goal of creating God of War. “Well, there were two things. As the game goes, the most important thing was I wanted to make, and for the team to make, an adventure for the player. I wanted to take the player, lead them by the hand and show them an amazing adventure like opening our own theme park. To let them know that 'you're going to be entertained all the time.' So the pacing was really important as well as the set pieces constantly throwing new stuff at the player. To me it was really about 'can we succeed in giving the player this amazing adventure?'”

    “In terms of the team, it was always about the player so I gave my all, the team gave their all and it was about 'can we give the player everything? Can we treat them like the very important people that they are and not make the game too hard? To make sure we focus stressed the hell out of it so we get the pacing right. Make sure that if you die that you don't have to repeat shit that you've played for five minutes.' It was always about thinking of the guy or girl sitting on their couch on a Sunday morning lost in our world and asking 'how do we take care of them?'”
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC
    David then rants a little bit about common game industry trials of having to develop a brand new IP from the ground up. “The biggest issue of developing God of War was having members of the team who didn't see the game that I saw in my head early on continually going to my bosses and saying “Jaffe has no f@$king clue what he's doing, do my idea instead!'”

    It was a great night all around. The directors were all very down-to-earth and very open in who they were as just regular guys. I'm sure many fans left the El Portal Theater with new found respect for these directors for what they do and for their generous insights on what it really takes to be a game director. 'God of War III' is available now exclusively for the PlayStation 3 and 'The Art of God of War III' is available for pre-order now from Ballistic Publishing.

    Related links:
    God of War III
    Ballistic Publishing The Art of God of War III
    © Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.
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