At Gamescom in Cologne last week, I stopped by the Sony booth for a quick chat with Guerrilla Games producer Poria Torkan and art director Roy Postma about the studio’s upcoming PlayStation 4 launch title Killzone: Shadow Fall.
—I was shown a live-demo running on PlayStation 4 hardware yesterday and it looked spectacular. It’s one thing to see these games played via internet streams, but it’s another thing to see it running live. Mr. Torkan here, who was running the demo, let us choose how he played, asking us viewing the demo if we wanted to go left, right, etc. One thing I noticed, though, even when the game was revealed in February, was the colors. Killzone is very visceral and brutal, and the color palette in earlier titles showed that. This one is very bright and colorful—and it looks beautiful. What I’m getting to is, in all the carnage you almost don’t notice all the carnage because it looks so nice. How did you come to the decision of making such a colorful game?
Torkan: That’s for you, Roy.
Postma: Yeah, that’s probably for me (laughs with Torkan). The main thing is, you know, we really wanted to do a little restart on the whole franchise. It’s number four by now, so… we changed a lot in the gameplay and in the approach to that, and we wanted to do the same thing on the art style. We still like all the designs, we don’t wanna change all the real design work, it’s one of our strengths. But yeah, the color is something we could easily change – well, not easily, but we could do that. We went for a whole new planet. We went actually back to the Killzone 1 planet. And back in Killzone 1 it was supposed to be green and a nice place, as well. So yeah, that’s how we started. We looked back at a really old concept from like, I dunno, 10 years ago (laughs). Looked back at those things and actually we were not using colors back then (laughs again).
Torkan: This is the Vekta we wanted to build 10 years ago, but at that time it wasn’t possible.
Postma: Exactly, we started looking it up, we started filling it in, so yeah, this is a bright, shiny, happy place. That’s how we wanted it to be before and we could go really big. I think that’s where the colors came from in the end. We want to make a happy place. And not f–k it up (all three laughing).
—One of the most interesting aspects of the game revealed in the past weeks were the new characters. There’s a female character named Echo and the male character Sinclair. And they’re on opposite sides of the conflict. There have always been very interesting and striking characters in the Helghan, but we have never seen such a well defined female character like Echo. How difficult was it to portray her as a warrior who will pursue her target, but still show her as a distinct personality?
Torkan: The actress—Jamie Gray Hyder—she did an amazing job and from the get-go we wanted to make sure that our protagonist, Lucas Kellan, had an adversary of size, someone that the player could measure up against. Basically they are matched against each other, they have different interests on the same things and each fight for what they believe in. The visual design of it was done by Roy [Postma, the art director]—of how she would look—and we’re very happy of how she turned out. The name says it, her name is “Echo,” she is the player’s echo. They have similarities but at the same time they are on the different ends of the spectrum as well.
—I’m really excited for it and I think the visuals—judging by what I’ve seen and the assets that you have released—are crazy beautiful. I was very impressed with the detail. You are no slouches in the graphics department, let’s not beat around the bush.
Torkan: Visually we are really strong.
—And you always show it. I remember reading that there’s a bit of friendly competition between the studios at Sony Worldwide Studios. I like to imagine the Santa Monica Studio guys delivering a game, then Naughty Dog thinking they can top it in the visuals department. Then Guerrilla Games will come and say, ‘oh we can beat them there.’
Torkan: All the Sony studios try to make the best game that they can. I mean, in the meantime we also share a lot of knowledge, we share a lot of technology—
Postma: We share everything that we can.
Torkan: —tools; if we have something and a different studio really likes it, they call us and they ask, “Hey, can we have that technology?” and vice-versa. Worldwide Studios is a very happy, healthy place to work in, there is a lot of friendly competition. But no real competition.
Postma: Nah, it’s a friendly competition. Everybody wants to make the best thing, so it’s good to have people around you that are good as well. It makes you better (laughs).
Torkan: But if you ask for help everybody helps you out.
—Sony’s first-party studios, I like to think, are some of the best in the world. I spent the day yesterday touring the Sony booth seeing games like inFAMOUS: Second Son, Knack and Resogun and they look splendid. These games are really what defines the console at and around launch. That said, did you always know you were going to be a launch title? Was there any pressure developing Shadow Fall? How was Guerrilla involved in helping design the console?
Torkan: Basically all the technical teams from the Worldwide Studios helped developing the PS4. There were weekly conference calls, Mark Cerny [lead architect on PlayStation 4] flew out to all the studios, talked to the people, and obviously Guerrilla had their say in that as well. So basically the things that we thought mattered for the games that we’d like to make, we pushed those. I think a lot of them made it to the final product so we’re happy with that. In regards to being a launch title: I believe very soon after we finished Killzone 3 we already knew we were going to be a PS4 launch title, so we were always aiming for that.
—Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers—a final message of sorts? Launch is coming very, very soon and we’re really excited.
Torkan: Killzone: Shadow Fall is going to be a PS4 launch title, it’s going to come out, I believe, the 29th of November in Europe and the 15th of November in the United States. It’s going to feature an extensive single-player and an extensive multiplayer mode. [In] the multiplayer mode we’re aiming for 60 frames per second. Make sure you check out the multiplayer trailer because the player gets a lot of choice, it’s all about making your own Warzone and defining your own rule sets. The single-player is going to have a very strong story, a lot of interesting gameplay mechanics and we hope you enjoy it. Roy, something else?
Postma: You said it all (we all laugh).
Torkan: And it’s really pretty (again, we all laugh).
—Thanks, guys. Have a great Gamescom!