Since its announcement at the end of October 2017, “The Soul of the Horse” has always been a half-covered face of the lute. Apart from a few videos, there has not been any material detailing the content of the game. In May, we were finally able to glance at some parts of the game through a nearly 20-minute demo. The exploration and battle of “Soul of Horse” are very samurai style. Unlike traditional sword action games, it has the charm of the classic samurai movies of the last century.
Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Jason Connell, the art and creative director of “The Spirit of the Horse”, with several domestic media, and discussed some interesting things about the battle, exploration and game development process that players care about.
When it comes to “Soul of the Horse”, the first thing players think of is the theme of the game-the Battle of the Horse Island, in fact, want to develop a game with the Japanese medieval as the background, there are many options, and the reason why I chose to Sucker Punch has also discussed the Battle of Horse Island as a story stage.
When deciding to make a game about the history of Japanese medieval times, the development team began to look for the right background. Although there are many movies and games that can be used as a reference, but after studying some of the stories that happened to the horse, they found this history to be very intriguing. It tells the story of the warrior protecting his homeland. It is a deed that reflects courage, which inspired Inspired by the production team to tell stories in that world.
Few entertainment works will involve this period of history, and more will put the story in the later era. Focusing on the Battle of Ma Island gave the development team more room to play, which is also one of its more attractive factors.
As part of SIE Global Studios, Sucker Punch has a close working relationship with the SIE Japan team. SIE Japan is very satisfied with the background of the story chosen by Sucker Punch, and provided quite a lot of support. Sucker Punch was able to travel to Japan soon, and he took a lot of photos on the island. They took many photos and visited many Tibetan A museum rich in historical materials.
In addition, Jason is a loyal fan of Akira Kurosawa, and he also likes Samurai movies such as “Thirteen Assassins” directed by Sanchi Soushi. He has received a lot of inspiration from it to make games, and he can make “Soul of Horse” like this. The theme game is a great honor. The “Warrior Movie” with the style of Kurosawa movie allows the game to present the world with a more nostalgic style. Players can start or close the “Samurai Movie” in the menu at any time, which is convenient for players to experience traditional warriors in some special places The style of the film, “Samurai Movie” will also have sound adjustments, so that it has the charm of an old movie.
Now that we have talked about the inspiration of the samurai movie for the game, we must mention another character that is crucial to the island of the island-composer Mei Linmao (composition of movies such as “Ambush in Ten Sides” and “Grandmaster of the Generation”) , He created an excellent piece of music for “The Soul of the Horse”. When it comes to inviting Mr. Mei Linmao to join, Jason said that the music team of SIE Global Studios is very good, and they have been working hard to find the most suitable musicians for each development plan. During the selection period, the developers listened to the music of many different composers. They found that the style of Mr. Mei Linmao was very suitable for the atmosphere of the game world, and his musical touch, friendly personality, and rigorous attitude towards the work all made him excellent. Candidates.
Before the cooperation, Jason visited Mr. Mei Linmao in Japan, and found that his genre matches “The Soul of the Horse”, so Mei Linmao was invited to join the project. Due to the huge volume of the game, the production team invited the composer Ilan Eshkeri (who has collaborated with the soundtrack of the movie “Young Hannibal”) who had previously collaborated with Mei Linmao. The music of “Soul” is taken to the next level.
Speaking of the plot, the story of “The Soul of a Horse” tells a warrior who has learned to follow the samurai way from an early age. In order to defend his homeland, he must change and sacrifice himself. It was not easy for him to choose. There will be many people around him-family, friends, or someone who happens to be saved by him-telling him various options. Some people are very supportive of him as a war ghost, with the priority to save Qimao, while others disagree, and feel that reputation is more important than life, and it cannot tarnish the way of the samurai. Although the game does not include the plot branch option, the plot will be reflected in all the people the player meets, so the more people the player meets, the more branches they participate in, the more protagonist Jing Jingren will see People and world views.
As the game that contains the largest world in the history of Sucker Punch, the content of “Soul of the Horse” naturally attracts players’ attention. Jason said they want to create a game that can take into account players who like to explore slowly and go straight to the main line, so the clearance time of the two players will also be significantly different. During the game test, some testers did not complete the content of the game after playing for five days, and even some people did not even finish the main line, because there are too many things to explore. Jason is confident to say that “Soul of a Horse” is definitely the largest and most ambitious game in the history of Sucker Punch.
After reading the latest demo content, I believe many players will have some questions about the design of the open world of the game. I want to know what is the difference between “The Spirit of the Horse” and other open world games. Jason said that although there have been many wonderful samurai-themed games in the past, there are few games that combine samurai legends, strong adventures, and open-world content like Soul of the Horse, so this is the most unique game. It also allows the development team to create a world different from others.
Comparing Sucker Punch’s previous housekeeping series “Infamous”, the world of “Soul of a Horse” is also not very large, but the focus is far from it. “Infamous” does not focus on world shaping, but allows players to enjoy extraordinary powers and enjoy the experience of transforming into a superhero, while “Soul of a Horse” puts players in a beautiful world and requires Players come to protect their homes.
In addition to the samurai elements, another unique feature of “The Soul of the Horse” is to do everything possible to allow the island to guide the player, using birds, foxes, wind and other nature-derived content to bring a more themed experience, and It’s not just an instruction about where to go next.
Let the wind guide the way forward
In the latest nearly 20-minute demo, the element of “wind” has undoubtedly become the focus of players’ attention. It replaces the small maps or cue points in traditional open-world games to guide players to explore the world. In the early stages of game development, the development team considered what style to make Soul of the Horse look, and wanted to bring a dynamic effect to the art. The wind can show that flowing image. The whole island is fresh and the trees, grass and flowers are all shaking.
Wind is the main way to guide players to explore the world. It can not only take the player from A to B, but also lead the player anywhere on the map. Players can point an unknown place on the map and let the wind lead the way. Sometimes the wind will lead the player to the place where the game can be promoted, or some hidden content that is not found. If you ca n’t see it, players can also choose to direct the wind to the nearest one, such as flowers, clothing, etc.
Jason admits that the design style as a guide will encounter many technical challenges, because Sucker Punch does more content than other games. In many open world games, there is a wind in visual dynamic performance. It is not uncommon to show the dynamic effect alone, but shaping the wind from this aspect is a new technical challenge. To make the dynamic wind need to guide the direction and guide the player to the marked position, it is not only a decorative object that exists on the background of the screen, but has a purpose, so it is really difficult to make, but Sucker Punch has great It took a long time to polish the technical and art teams of the team to make the performance of the wind more satisfying.
Sucker Punch’s goal has always been to create an immersive experience, so I hope that there will not be too much UI on the screen. They realized that they could use the wind to guide players to explore the world, instead of guiding UI like mini-maps. This kind of movie-like visual performance is very outstanding in theme, vision and meaning, and is perfect in all aspects of the game. Fit.
On the other hand, Kurosawa also uses wind to express dynamics in the movie (especially the classic film “Chaos”), and the development team was inspired by it, so the element of wind is very suitable for people who love their hometown. On the one hand Being his guide, on the other hand, can also bring a strong sense of cinema. This motivates the development team not only to use wind as a form of expression on the visual background, but also to connect with narrative and exploration.
In fact, the development team has other elements that have guided the players yet to be introduced. In order to create an open world that values the sense of investment, they try their best to develop a number of different ways to lead players with interesting and clear methods.
Fight like a warrior
Speaking of the battle of “The Soul of a Horse”, in the demo, players can see a part of the displayed content. The most distinctive thing is the “confrontation” link similar to the heads-up before the battle. Sucker Punch produced “The Soul of the Horse” to make players feel like they are in the black warrior style of the samurai movie world. Not only the scene and world view, but also the warrior battle.
When a player sees a group of people patrolling, they can walk over and trigger a “confrontation”. The player will compete with the elite of the enemy, so the challenge is even stronger, because it is necessary to seize the right opportunity to win.
Before officially entering the head-to-head battle, “confrontation” is beneficial. For example, it is difficult to deal with six enemies at the same time, but use “confrontation” to kill a few enemies. After entering the frontal battle, the remaining people will deal with it relatively well.
After entering the head-to-head warrior battle, players can switch between different racks. Two types of racks, “Stone” and “Water”, appear in the demo. The frame type is the basic operation commonly used by warriors in battle. Switching the frame type means that the warrior focuses his attention on different enemies. Switching racks in the game is to make it easier and faster to solve specific enemies. For example, you need a rack for enemies with shields, and another rack for enemies with spears. When surrounded by many people, players need to master the advantages of different racks. This choice has great value.
The yellow dot in the lower left corner of the screen is called “Samurai” of the Samurai. Players will accumulate “History” when they perform perfect actions (such as blocking counter-kill), and they can use special skills such as healing themselves, or consuming “History”. A powerful crosscut appeared in the presentation. To a certain extent, “record” is a cyclical performance, accumulated with perfect actions, and consumed through special actions.
In order to be able to restore the actions of the samurai during the battle as much as possible, Sucker Punch also made great efforts. When the development team first went to Japan for material gathering activities, they visited Gifu prefecture. In a local town, there were many knifemen who used traditional methods to forge Japanese knives (Jason called it Sword Master). At that time, they witnessed the forging of Japanese knives. Process and learn how to take a knife, this is their original source of inspiration.
The later development team also cooperated with some professionals to understand the fighting style of the samurai. They invited two masters from far away Japan to Sucker Punch’s studio for motion capture. The developers used this to learn more of the essence of samurai action. And also invited the master to try the game and make comments, the whole process is very interesting. The master also brought real Tachi and Katana from Japan. The interesting thing is that their move is too fast, and the system can’t capture its action, so the developers have to let them put the action Slow down, you can fully record the action data, complete the motion capture process, this experience has opened the eyes of the development team.
In less than two months, “The Soul of the Horse”, which is regarded as the last first-party 3A work of PS4 by the players, will be released. Under the unique historical background, whether Sucker Punch can bring us a traditional samurai experience different from other games, please wait and see.