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The Last Guardian review and Gameplay

It wouldn't be without reason for gamers to be worried about the fate of The Last Guardian. Sony has spoken little of the title throughout its multi year development, and the game has lost its executive producer. However, the title is still on and "making progress," a Sony representative has confirmed.
Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida told 1Up this week that The Last Guardian is making progress, albeit "slow progress." He said development on the title has been "tough" but noted that developer Team Ico has not altered the focus on the title.

"It's still a really important project and a vision we want to see realized, and [Fumito Ueda's] vision is really causing a very difficult challenge for the developers, so there's some scrapping and rebuilding…iteration in the process. That's why [it's taking so long]."

In November, word spread that Ueda had left Sony in full, staying attached to The Last Guardian on a contractor basis. Yoshida confirmed that move to 1Up, but he also noted that Ueda was also tirelessly working on the project.

"He comes in every day, and he's probably one of the people who works the longest hours," he said.

Formally announced at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, The Last Guardian tells a boy-and-his-dog tale, where the dog is a giant and feathered, yet seemingly amiable, beast. Team Ico has not been forthcoming with specific plot details, but gameplay will involve the boy manipulating his companion to navigate a variety of environmental puzzles. In short, that’s what happens to any game. Especially games made in Japan since the majority of them aren’t relevant to markets outside of Japan. There are always processes between product development and marketing in U.S. and Europe. All things considered, it’s part of the issue of making games in Japan. The game development in Japan typically is made horizontally where all assets are made in parallel, so it’s difficult to figure out what the final state of the game is going to be.

The western style game development is typically a vertical slice. So in the very early process, the team tried to create a small piece of the experience that resembles the final product.  What happened with Demon’s Souls was until very late in the game’s development, we were not able to play the game through. There were framerate issues and the network was not up and running. We underestimated the quality of the game and to be honest, the media in Japan did the same.

For my personal experience with Demon’s Souls, when it was close to final I spent close to two hours playing it and after two hours I was still standing at the beginning at the game. I said,  “This is crap. This is an unbelievably bad game.” So I put it aside.

Luckily, third party publishers, Atlus in North America and Namco in Europe [stepped in], and it really became a great hit outside of Japan.

We definitely dropped the ball from a publishing standpoint, including studio management side. We were not able to see the value of the product we were making. The Last Guardian is the followup to Sony’s critically acclaimed, innovative, artsy (and commercially unimpressive) PlayStation 2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The games are made by a small team of only about 35 people in Sony’s small internal Japanese development studio, a team that is clearly both taking its time to ensure that the final product is up to fans’ standards, and also having a serious issue grappling with the game’s development: If they know now that they can’t make Christmas, that speaks to some fundamental design issues, problems that won’t go away by throwing contractors at them.

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