Cory Barlog, the director of God of War, recently gave a talk at the annual Devcom event. During the talk, he described some of the hurdles which Santa Monica Studios faced during development, included backlash from playtesters. He also took the opportunity to reveal that the game was almost set in ancient Egypt. According to Barlog, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the first that Sony President Shuhei Yoshida played the game, he was “horrified.”
Shuhei Yoshida’s Initial Reaction to the Latest God of War
Barlog described the playtesting stages of God of War, months prior to the game’s release. According to the director, many playtesters had negative reactions and accused Santa Monica Studios of “ruining” Kratos. Fortunately, the team’s decisions have since been thoroughly vindicated. However, it seems that Shuhei Yoshida’s first experience with the game was hardly a positive experience. The President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios first played God of War six months before the game’s release.
According to Barlog, the game wasn’t ready; “I mean, the framerate was terrible,” he stated; “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… He kinda just shook his head and walked out the door… He never told me how he felt.”
Unfortunately for Barlog, he soon found out what Yoshida felt about the game; “In fact, he only told one of my friends, who he saw at a party,” continued the director; “said, ‘Oh, you’re working on God of War? I just gotta say, I played the game the other day. I was horrified.'”
A Turning Point for God of War
Rather than be disheartened, however, it seems Yoshida’s horror only lit a fire under Barlog and his team. The director described it as a ‘turning point’; after that, the developers at Santa Monica Studios worked hard to smooth out the issues with the game’s framerate and other underlying issues. When Yoshida returned to play the game again, closer to release, his reaction was far more positive. “He played it again,” said Barlog; “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.”
There’s no denying that Barlog and his team were able to fix whatever problems may have existed before the game’s release. God of War has enjoyed widespread critical and commercial success since launch; reinventing the franchise with far more mature writing and themes.