Sony Explains Long Wait for The Last Guardian, and Big Changes to Team Ico

Shuhei Yoshida reveals all on the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Shadow of the Colossus.

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PlayStation executive Shuhei Yoshida has discussed the changes to ICO and Shadow of the Colossus developer Team ICO, and has provided insight into how development on The Last Guardian has changed over the years.

Speaking during a GameSpot x Kinda Funny interview at E3 2015, Yoshida was asked about the current status of Team ICO, and indicated that the developer had splintered into smaller, independent teams.

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"It depends on how you define Team ICO," he said. "Many members of Team ICO--which was originally a small team of around 20 plus--moved on to Shadow of the Colossus. After that [Fumito] Ueda-san became independent, but worked with creation team.

In 2011, it was reported that Ico and Shadow of the Colossus director Fumito Ueda had left both the development team for The Last Guardian and its parent company Sony.

According to Yoshida, this was a "rearrangement of the relationship."

"Now Ueda-san has established his reputation, he [wanted] more freedom on how he spends his time. He may want to work on other concepts, so he chose to become independent, but also still work on The Last Guardian. [It’s] the main project he’s working on.

"So, Ueda-san was not fired,” he said, referring to previous rumours. “That was totally bogus. He chose to become independent.”

The Last Guardian was shown during Sony's press conference, with a new studio called Gen Design attached to the project. Yoshida revealed this studio is comprised of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus developers, and it is working with Sony's own Japan Studio.

"Gen Design’s president used to be the lead programmer on ICO and Shadow of the Colossus," he explained. "Core members of the Shadow of the Colossus, under him, became independent, to do creative stuff. But the main development team is still in Japan Studio."

"Ueda-san was not fired, that was totally bogus. It was a rearrangement of the relationship, he chose to become independent."

As for the lengthy delay in re-introducing The Last Guardian, Yoshida confirmed that the shift from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 required much of the game to be rebuilt.

"The project went on so many technical changes. We decided to move the project to PS4 in 2012, but because the PS3 code was so optimised for SPUs on that console lots of code had to be thrown away and rebuilt.

"It was a tough decision to move from PS3 to PS4 because it was running on PS3. But not at the performance [level] we needed … We knew [we had to decide] whether to continue the game on PS3 with a compromised vision, or move to PS4."

"During that time Ueda-san and the core creatives were continuing to work, but without the game up and running, they had a long time to wait."

"The setup was very good, in that they had a little bit of their own space, and could work on some new other concepts, but main development is [being done] in Japan Studio and Gen Design providing lots of creative contributions to the project. Ueda-san is directing the overall creatives."

Asked if ever there was a point where Sony considered abandoning The Last Guardian, the PlayStation exec said the response from fans and questions from journalists helped reinforce Sony's commitment to the project.

“I believed in the concept," he said. "Ueda-san and the core members always wanted to it to be realised. But what made us continue to work was the encouragement from people. Journalists always asked us every year [about it]. We knew lots of people were intrigued by the game and were waiting for it to arrive. Because of that I felt it was my responsibility to get it completed.

Sony's decision to re-reveal The Last Guardian was based on its confidence in the project and the 2016 release window, according to Yoshida.

"The project is in a really good state," he said.

"We moved the project to PS4, and we could have said that the project was now on PS4, but I didn’t want to do it until the time when we were confident about our [release] window and we can show it running on PS4.

"My thing was, when we re-announced The Last Guardian, we had to have it totally running on PS4 at the right performance and be confident about the release window that we announced. In our mind, we have the tech, vision, and design down. Lots of levels have already been made, so we are confident about 2016, so we [announced] it."

The Last Guardian launches in 2016 exclusively for PS4.

Check out GameSpot's The Last Guardian interview to hear directly from Ueda about the game, and take a look at screenshots in the gallery below.

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