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Trail: FumitoUeda


ElegantMedia Games

“The most staggering development was the realization that most of the game was planned and created by Ueda-san exclusively. After forming his initial game concept, he created a non-interactive, CG pilot movie in Lightwave. While the video features several different characters and environments not featured in the final version of the game, in many ways the concept is still very clear. When the fingers of the girl with horns delicately trace the young boy’s face - yes, the initial concepts featured slightly different starring characters - it’s very clear that Ueda’s vision was merely expertly refined over the four years the title was in development. That said, when the game was nearing completion, there were about twenty people on the team. Yet, the finished product is very much in-line with Ueda’s initial concept… only with much more impressive graphics and most of the fat trimmed from the edges.
Of course, the emotional pull of ICO is it’s most impressive trait. Though the game’s tale is of the rather standard “boy meets girl” variety, it’s ability to move the user without dialogue or text is stunning. During the game’s creation, one of Ueda-san’s primary goals was to attempt to create characters with which the player could build an emotional connection. He wanted to create a game with a new level of “reality” never before seen in a video game. How could he claim to be creating “reality” when the story revolves around a boy with horns, a vast magical castle, and smoke beasts that drag beautiful girls into dark pits reminiscent of those seen in Saturday-morning cartoons? The intention was not to craft a game that was absolutely photo-realistic or even remotely plausible. Instead, Ueda-san was aiming for an emotional reality. There’s something very simple and very pure about two young people meeting in a traumatic circumstance who happen to only be able to communicate with simple hand gestures and unrecognizable dialogue. Additionally, there’s something very moving about two people holding hands. That connection feels very real.
Of course, ICO’s graphics are rather impressive and realistic as well. But, Ueda-san was very intent on developing a game that didn’t necessarily look like anything else on the market. The game had to look fresh and innovative without looking like just another 3D adventure title. ICO was originally developed as a PS1 title and even in it’s very early stages of development it looked much as it does today. In fact, when Ueda-san showed a bit of footage from an early build, it became instantly clear that had ICO been released on Sony’s debut console, it would have been one of the most graphically impressive titles to ever hit the machine. But the move to PS2 obviously allowed for the creation of a new graphic engine. Only then could all of the beautiful lighting and particle effects be implemented. In addition, due to the increased graphical fidelity the PS2 allowed, some elements of game play were changed. For example, initially, all of the enemies in the game were humanoids. But increased detail in textures and in quality of animation made the attacks on Yorda - the game’s lead female - seem far too brutal. For this reason, the enemies were transformed into the black shadow creatures that exist in the final build.”

old interviews with Fumito Ueda:
FUMITO: The main character never understands what Yorda speaks. We set up the language barrier because we felt we would not be able to express Yorda’s AI (artificial intelligence) naturally. If she speaks eloquently with so much ready-text, the player can’t help but feel that it sounds cheap. Also, we wanted to fill the gap between the cinematic scenes and the gameplay in the characters’ “acting,” so we concluded that subtle expressions such as holding hands and calling for name are more natural ways of communication. It somehow added philosophical meanings.


lifted from:
interview was conducted for Gamasutra by Tim Rogers i believe

Fumito Ueda is a product manager at Sony Computer Entertainment, and directed the critically acclaimed ICO for the same company. He is currently working on an action game by the Japanese name of Wanda to Kyozou (also known as Wanda And The Colossus in the West).

GS: When did you first start thinking of making games?

FU: I didn’t originally intend to make games per se, but in middle school I had various interests, including movies and games, and when I saw something I liked, I thought I’d like to make something like that of my own. But it wasn’t that I wanted to make a game from the beginning - just something that would make people happy.

GS: What kind of games did you play in middle school?

FU: Normal Famicom games. Then I didn’t have time to play for a while, but in college I played games on the Amiga, and maybe some arcade titles.

GS: What games specifically do you like?

FU: Lemmings.

GS: Do you still play games these days?

FU: Yes.

GS: What kind?

FU: Recently, hmmm…I’ve played Prince of Persia and Katamari Damashii.

GS: What did you think of the ending? It’s kind of sad once you’ve gathered everything up.

FU: Oh, I haven’t seen the end of it yet! (laughter)

GS: I wonder what kind of person it was who created ICO.

FU: The way I’m different from a normal producer, or a normal person, is that I really like technology, for example graphics technology and computer technology. So I feel like I can find a good balanced way to express what I want to do, within the limits of the technology. No matter what size world I want to create, I can do it, if I think about the constraints of the console, like the PS2.

GS: Why did you name the main character Wanda?

FU: Well Wanda, W-A-N-D-A, is kind of a play on words, because it also means wander, which you do a lot of in this game.

(Note: in Japanese, Wanda also has the same pronunciation as both ‘wander’ and ‘wonder.’)

GS: The Wanda to Kyozou music was done by Kou Ohtani. Why did you choose him?

FU: ICO’s composer was (female composer) Michiru Ohshima, and I didn’t want to create the same image for this game. Aside from that, ICO was a game that both male and female players could enjoy equally. But I think this is a game that male players will enjoy more. So I chose a male composer.

GS: Do you like music?

FU: Of course.

GS: What kind?

FU: I mostly listen to movie soundtracks.

GS: What’s your favorite movie then?

FU: Kind of tough, since I don’t rank them in my head. But recently, I liked Spiderman 2 and Gladiator.

GS: What was the inspiration for the graphical style?

FU: The concept is to express giant scale comparative to the player perspective, but within the scope of realistic experience for the users. Take a block, for example - in normal games, the size of a block tends to appear much bigger than it would in reality. But in this game, it’s a believable size to involve you in the world.

GS: How can you meet these sort of sentimental graphics with an action game?

FU: Well perhaps they’re a bit lonely looking now, but it’s not done yet. I think that once the game is more complete, and we put in more greenery and such, it should be a bit livelier. But I don’t think that a graphical sadness is out of place in an action game, and really that wasn’t exactly our intention to begin with.

GS: Why are you making Wanda an action game?

FU: Because I like them. No real other reason. Well, I guess also, since the last game was very quiet and peaceful, I wanted to do something different, even though it did have some fighting elements.

With Wanda to Kyozou, I wanted to create a firm-feeling environment, so the design was very dense. An action game seemed to flow naturally from what I was doing.

GS: What is your dream?

FU: Hmm, I have a lot of them.

GS: For example?

FU: Some day I want something that I have created to make a large group of people feel something. That would be interesting.