God of War has enjoyed direction from many different people over the years. Once a PlayStation 2 killer app (and one of the PS3's big hitters in 2010), Kratos' story of ultimate revenge took a journey on the PSP in 2008 with Chains of Olympus.
That game ended up becoming a huge deal for both the PSP platform and PSP owners around the world, easily becoming one of the biggest-selling titles on the handheld.
It made such an impact that developers Ready at Dawn decided to pack up its PSP development kits, believing it had pushed the platform as much as it could, and went off into the distance. Two years later, they're back with a PSP sequel, Ghost of Sparta
In this interview, I chat with the Ready at Dawn studio head, Ru Weerasuriya, about the U-turn and his anticipation for feedback and comments. We also chat about David Jaffe and a few words that were exchanged...
SPOnG: So, what's the story with you guys not making any more PSP games?
We sent our dev kits back. Honestly, after Chains of Olympus
we thought we were done with the PSP because we had pushed it where we wanted to, and also I think there was... you know, you always try and compare yourself to other games out there. You try to figure out, “Okay, whose doing something better and can we do it better than them?”
You see that on PS3, you know: one game comes out and then another one... you know Call of Duty's
coming out, and then Uncharted 2
comes out and you're like, “Okay, you've got to do better...” So there's always somebody doing better stuff.
So, at the time after Chains
we were at the point where we felt, “Well, what else do we do?” We did everything we could have possibly done on the PSP and we don't know whether we could push it any further.
It took us a few months – I would say three, four months – before we really thought about it again and realised, “Yeah, you know there are certain places we could get to if we really pushed the tech. We actually could do something better." And in the end that's kind of the reason we went back to God of War
. Because we knew that all the stuff that we couldn't do on the first one could be done again in the second one.
As much as the first one was a learning experience, the second one could really be our chance to show what we were capable of. Not only on PSP but also as a God of War
title that we could just have a lot of freedom with.
SPOnG: And what you’re showing me here - the Kratos screenshots and the cinematics - that’s all a part of the PSP hardware that you’re pushing right?
What you're seeing right here are all PSP assets. That is the in-game Kratos model, everything all of this stuff is part of the whole game. And that's part of where we went from the first to the second one.
SPOnG: When you were at the stage when you thought "We're going to return all of our dev kits" do you think that you guys were the only ones who were pushing the PSP that hard? You obviously must have thought, "There's nowhere else to go from here..”
Yeah exactly. In some ways we thought we'd done everything on the platform. Not to sound big-headed or anything, but that's one of the reasons we got a little bummed about it.
At the time we really felt like nobody else really wanted to push or, you know, had the desire to actually do more for the platform. And that bummed us out because we looked at it like, "Okay, this is going to be great, this platform is going to be awesome but if not enough people support it, it always is a hard fight to have. Competition's always good put it that way.
SPOnG: It's a bit of strange one really with the PSP because it's sold so many units - and is still selling very well in Japan - but in terms of mindshare, when people think about handhelds they don't think about the PSP an awful lot. Would you agree?
I think the popularity of the PSP, it's good. I mean if you look at the sales world-wide, they're pretty good. But, at the same time, it's not as if there weren’t enough people on PSP. I think there have been a lot of games on PSP, which is one of the good things.
But I think at the same time people don't think about PSP the same way... because you don't have that core experience you expect from a powerful platform. I don't think that I expect a core experience from a Game Boy or a DS either. I do expect more of a casual experience, so something that I feel is more fun to play in small bursts.
The thing that people don't realise is that the PSP is capable of so much more. It's amazing. We've tried to prove it with what we've done, that platform is unbelievable, it's capable of replicating that home console experience. People didn't see that enough I think.