September 20, 2021


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Inside the Massive Open World – Diversity

5 min read

In developer Sukar Punch’s exclusive PlayStation 4 “Sushima’s Horse” released this Friday, players entered the shoes of samurai warrior Jin Sakai during Japan’s first Mongol invasion in 1274. From the invaders in the process of defending Jin’s homeland, players can traverse almost every inch of Sushuma Island – a huge, exploration-heavy open-world game built that represents curiosity and makes sense with small details.

Getting the player to feudal Japan, especially on the island, was not an easy task, but it was an exciting challenge, said Joanna Wang, environmental director at Sukar Punch. Diversity. Creative director Jason Connell and Netflix were open about taking inspiration from Japanese films, especially Akira Kurosawa (even there is an alternative to “Kurosawa mode that puts a black-and-white cinematic filter on top of the game”), but the “Ghost” team is older than all sources. From advertisements to historical documents, Susima took pieces on the island.

Below, Wang breaks down how they began the huge task of building the world around Jin’s samurai voyage.

Details below

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Courtesy of Soukar Pushpa

While not rebuilding the island of “Sushima’s Ghost” with brick-and-mortar, the team focused on getting the details right to enhance the sense of authenticity. Sukar Punch took several research trips to Japan and Wang described some of the “culture shock” for most of the team – “even the air, the humidity in the air” felt different. They record the audio of various bird scales in addition to some sounds of nature and photo-scan the texture of the leaves. They also took advantage of Sony Interactive’s localization team in Japan; Wang received some surprising feedback from them about the island’s rocks early in this development.

“They mentioned, ‘Oh no, the earth isn’t smooth enough, especially the rocks,'” he said. “As we were,‘ What do you mean? Rock is rock. They sent us lots of references and said, ‘Hey, this kind of rock is more suitable than Japan – you see them in Japan. But this kind of rock is sharper or something that you see more in other types of rocks around the world. ‘

In addition to just the environment and architecture, there were cultural notes that Wang took from the philosophies that entered the game. He remembered buying a small souvenir in the store from an elderly man and the way he carefully wrapped the gift in a special kind of special paper.

“It was so amazing to even see how he rolled up this little gift for us,” he said. “So we want to add the little detail that we’ve felt – it’s different than the West, and we want to add that feeling.”

Illing to fill historical gaps

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Courtesy of Soukar Pushpa

Of course, when the team toured Japan, they were doing this hundreds of years after the game. In order to bring the players back to the true sense of 1274, Sakar Punch had to look at all sorts of details – not only in the vicinity of the Mongol invasion, but what everyday life really looked like for the citizens.

“We tried to find out at that time whether they were eating eggs, or whether they were eating meat.” “You want to live that world on your own.”

While building a farm village, Wang’s team came up with the idea of ​​pepper in a few apple trees to beautify the area. However, in their research, they realized that apples were not imported and grown in Japan until the 1800s. It’s not something that would have changed drastically if the game had been included, but it was an example of how important the details are in emphasizing immersion.

“It’s not that an apple tree is a big thing,” “but I feel like, you know, there are certain elements – the reason why people think it’s ancient Japan is the little details that make you believe it or not. By “”

And there was some freedom that needed to be taken to eat the gameplay. Wang noted that during their trip to Japan, some of the group could not get into some of the older buildings without leaning their heads against the door frames, as the structure of thirteenth-century Japan was small. The “Ghost” buildings, however, need more space for combat and exploration, so Wang said that when players first enter, they focus on creating a “small” feel as well as enlarging the interiors a bit.

Encourage exploration through the environment

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Courtesy of Soukar Pushpa

“Sushima’s Ghost” has such a huge world that it can be irresistible, but there are many small touches that add to the game to give the game the right direction. Foxes and golden birds, for example, appear during travel and, if followed, lead players to interest. Wang said the team was aware of the environment as well as its inclusion – there was always something that could grab the player’s attention.

Wang recalled early in the development of a clip of a classic samurai film near Connell, and noticed how the two samurai stood facing each other, when everything in the scene moved around them. He said they have made a point to include this kind of image in the environment, even in favor of “exaggerating” the pages.

“We ended up treating our environment like a character,” he said. “It’s moving, it’s breathing. It’s giving you direction.”

As far as creating each separate territory across the island, Wang said they had finally discovered that the “more or less” approach encouraged free search. Susima Island, he mentioned, is affectionate and enriching games with mountains and hills can create some walking problems. He remembered being inspired by a picture of a huge Pampas field in Japan and wanted to recreate it in the game – a rolling field of Pampas, running miles away.

“It’s something very memorable and then once you travel there you just want to roll in that grassland,” he said. “So after that moment, we realized, ‘Oh, it’s actually successful, but we’ve made this region a success because of the simplification.’

Above all, Wang wanted to keep the regions memorable and give players a reason to explore.

“If you climb to the top of a hill, if you look around you will see a golden forest in your right hand and then you have a pumps field in your left hand and then far away, there is a field of green grass with water,” he said. “And far from it, there are yellow swamps. So it gives you that view – you already think ‘I want to go there, I want to do it,’ and that ness, that’s what we tried to present. “

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