Shuhei Yoshida Talks About Horizon: Zero Dawn, Dreams and Avoiding Sequel Fatigue

Shuhei Yoshida Talks About Horizon: Zero Dawn, Dreams and Avoiding Sequel Fatigue

Horizon Zero Dawn and Dreams are two big first party new IPs introduced by Sony at its E3 press conference, and there are few better men to talk about them than Shuhei Yoshida, that leads Sony’s Worldwide studios. He did so during a livestream from the show floor.

Here’s what he said about Horizon: Zero Dawn.

  • Many among the core team at Guerrilla wanted to do something new after working on Killzone for a long time. On the other hand, many that joined afterwards wanted to work on Killzone, so it was a good time for that core team to work on Horizon, while the rest of the team worked on Killzone: Shadow Fall.
  • They came out with many different concepts, but in the end they were narrowed down to what Horizon is now.
  • Horizon is made with the second generation of Guerrilla’s engine on PS4. It can do amazing vistas and can support a lot of objects on screen.
  • The gameplay is completely new, so the team focused on getting it up and running really early in the process. The game has been playable and being playtested for over a year.
  • The different machines have different AI.
  • You can use several kinds of different arrows with additional effects.
  • Each machine requires you to think a different strategy, and it feels “really really good.”
  • Since the game has a vast amount of gameplay in it, the team wanted every moment of the gameplay to “feel right.” The team’s focus on that side of the game is what excites Yoshida-san most, even if what is most visible at first is the beautiful scenery.

After that, he shifted to Dream, explaining more about the game, and comparing it with LittleBigPlanet.

  • Dreams from Media Molecule is a “huge project,” basically a next gen development platform. That’s why Sony decided that it’s going to take some time for people to understand what it is. This E3 has been used to spark some interest in the fans, and to make them think about what they can do with it.
  • At Paris Games Show, Sony is going to show a lot more and the whole scope of the project.
  • Dreams is much more flexible than LittleBigPlanet. With Dreams you can make a game of any kind, but you don’t even need to make a game. You can just do a painting, or any other creative project. The concept is to make creation more intuitive and to let artists to create as easily as they can in real life.

Finally, Yoshida-san talked about balancing sequels with completely new projects. According to him, when teams complete a successful project, they already have many ideas left for the next, so it’s natural to move to a sequel.

From a business standpoint, that’s the safest bet, because the core gameplay is already done and there is already an established fanbase. There’s less risk involved. But when you move to a sequel, and then to a third and fourth game, there are less and less things that people haven’t already envisioned and tried, and doing the same project again and again forces developers to work on the same things for ten years or more. That’s a risky situation for a studio to be in.

So, Yoshida-san continued, from a studio management standpoint it’s really important to be able to assign people to different kinds of games to avoid fatigue. He also likes to have a good balance between sequels of successful titles and new and risky concepts like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Dreams.