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Joystiq interview: God of War 3's Ken Feldman - Page 2

Kevin Kelly

"There is a trilogy -- at the end of this game, it ends."

Are we going to see any more references to things like the moment in the first game when you see a modern day soldier in the ruins of Pandora's Temple? Are those kinds of moments going to be re-explored?

The story of God of War III will definitely tie things together from the first two games. There are definitely some brilliant moments that they have written into the story that are like, "Oh yeah! That is something that I remember from the original God of War," and it is brought back in a more meaningful fashion for God of War III.

So yeah, we are definitely brining those things back, and that is for the fans. I think as Stig also said, we are wrapping the story up. There is a trilogy and it ends. At the end of this game, it ends.

At least for Kratos.

At least for this storyline it ends.

So Stig was the art director for the second title?


So you may be directing a game sometime after this?

[Laughs.] Oh my God! I just want to go to sleep!

I'd imagine, but do you have any ambitions to move in that direction?

I love going to work and being creative. You are always being pulled in different directions at work, and one thing that I want to maintain is that I am in a creative position. So whatever that is on the next project, if it is being art director, then I just want to be a better art director than I am on this project. It is really my first opportunity to be an art director, so I am learning a lot right now. I would love to push that even further.

What other titles have you worked on before, besides the first God of War?

I have worked at Sony for eight and a half years. I am almost on my ninth year now. We started with Kinetica. That was the first game that we put out. The goal with that was we opened the studio, and within the first year we wanted to build an engine and ship a game. We worked our tails off. We were very successful with that.

And then we took that technology and we came up with Devil May Cry -- that a big game for us. So was Ico. We wanted to start developing character-based games. So we took that technology, we took the team that we built, and we started making the God of War game.

Speaking of Ico, that brings up Shadow of the Colossus, which was kind of the "spiritual sequel" to Ico. Is there going to be another Shadow of the Colossus? Have you heard rumblings? That was such a great game. God of War almost seems to kind of owe a lot to it, especially with those Colossus battles.

I hope that team is busy and working.

Were there moments or tasks on this game that were particularly difficult?

Every day was like that. Stig has always thought big. From when he was an environment artist, we put him in charge of some pretty big things. The things that he came up with were unbelievable. Where he took God of War II, from an art standpoint, was bigger and better than where we were on God of War 1. Now as director, I think he is just trying to push that vision even further.

Everyday we have to come to the office and think, "Okay, how are we going to pull off this Titan?" What he wants to see is the camera zoomed in on Kratos's face, which is a level of detail and a scale at a micro level. And then that camera immediately zooms back, and now you see Kratos as a spec of dust on this massive Titan. No camera cuts. No pulling through a tree to hide LOD swapping or anything like that. "How do you guys make all that seamless within that system and the limitations of that system?:

Everything has limitations, even something as powerful as a PS3. So that is something that everyday, you struggle with how to make that happen, but I think that is what makes what we do a difficult job. It makes it very fulfilling also. We don't let problems like that ... We think of them as opportunities to do something even cooler.

Stig was saying that Kratos's model wouldn't even fit on the PS2 ...

I know. He stole my line! [Laughter.]

Is he talking about the cut scene model that we are seeing?

There is no cut scene model.

So it is all the same game model.

"Anything that you see in the trailer, we are doing it in the real game."

Yes. Anything that you see in the trailer, we are doing it in the real game. We are not super sampling stuff in the trailer. We are not loading a higher resolution Kratos with higher-res textures; nothing. It is all exactly the same. Again, if Kratos is standing on that Titan and you are at a micro shot, and you pull out to a micro-shot, I don't want any camera tricks. I want it all to happen in real time. I don't want any popping. If we have to do a pre-rendered cinematic, it is all just frames that we take from the engine, because it has to look exactly what the game looks like. We do not want to pull the player out of the reality of that fantasy.

If you look at Kratos on the PS2, he is about 5,000 polygons. He is about 20,000 polygons now. I think he had three textures on the PlayStation 2. I think he has at least 20 textures on him now. The animation data on him is probably about six times as big. So Kratos went from being a couple of megabytes to now, it would actually take two PS2's to fit his memory footprint all in there. He is always loaded in the game. The other thing is that he has many more weapons, too. He can load between all of those different weapons, so all that stuff is loaded with him also, and all of the move sets.

As art director, if Sony decided to design a PlayStation Home God of War space, is that something you would oversee?

Yes, absolutely; and anything. When you see marketing material, when you see commercials, when you see trailers, everything goes through us. We have maintained that, throughout the project, we want to have quality control over everything.

I probably won't get in and actually build a texture or push a polygon, but I will art direct the concept for Home, and I will art direct, if it is in-house or if we are going to use another studio, to build that Home environment. Or if we give them assets from our game, that will all be art directed by us.

And any way that we even extend the franchise further. It could be a t-shirt. It could be a watch or an action figure, or something like that. All of that always goes through me and Stig. Little Big Planet -- those characters. We did the concept in house. We art directed that. When they did the 3D models, it went through a number of revisions from our studio. We just want to make sure that we maintain quality control over what happens with Kratos.

I think the same thing was on the PSP God of War project in that we spent a lot of time with the company that made that game. We spent a lot of time with them from a gameplay and art direction standpoint.

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