Ghost of Tsushima: Mastering the Katana by Chris Zimmerman, Sucker Punch Co-Founder
I know The Last of Us Part II just came out last weekend, but the next (and possibly final) major first party release for PS4 is roughly three weeks away. In fact, it just went gold yesterday. I am pumped for this open-world samurai game. It just looks so spot on.
Chris Zimmerman took to the PS Blog today to shed some light on the katana in combat and the studio’s design philosophy for it.
A lot of the design work we did on katana combat was dancing around these limits. There’s no problem with your attacks being fast, of course — the NPCs can react instantly if we want them too. We actually ran some experiments with NPCs having more realistic reaction times and it looked totally wrong. That’s probably because our ideas about how a sword fight looks are driven by watching movies, not real sword fights, and in a movie everyone knows the choreography ahead of time. (We actually watched real sword fights with blunted weapons during development, and they’re way sloppier than we wanted the game to be.)
The attention to detail and attempts to mirror the real world always strikes me as fascinating. The development team not only deemed it necessary to observe real sword fights, but actually made it happen. Sony funded this experiment and it directly lead to influencing gameplay and design. Sucker Punch also had a trip to Japan and worked closely with Studio Japan.
It would have been nice to have solved this before Hideo Kojima visited Sucker Punch and tried Ghost combat, since that was the first thing he tried. Sigh.
Kojima’s famous game studio world tour. Classic.
If you concentrate, if you stay focused, you’ll survive the fight. If you lose focus, you’ll die. We’re trying to put you in Jin Sakai’s footsteps; those are the rules he is forced to live by, and they apply equally to you.
I like this stance on applying the rules of the narrative and world to the player. It lends itself to fuller immersion. I’m eager to get my hands on the combat and learn how steep its curve is.
We work hard to make our animations fluid, to flow naturally between movements — but if forced to make a choice, responsiveness wins out over physical accuracy.
Even with all this dedication to realism, gameplay feel wins out the day. Striking a balance is necessary and must be a crazy challenge to actually find.
While I’m not done exploring what The Last of Us Part II has to offer (I started my survivor+ run) and I am working on my review for it, I am eagerly awaiting Ghost of Tsushima. It is a great time to be a PlayStation fan.