Video games rarely focus on mature themes and emotions, with most publishers preferring to fund titles filled with shooting and explosions, rather than those that try to tackle deeper issues and attempt to challenge our preconceptions of human emotions and relationships. That’s why we’re particularly interested in upcoming PSN-exclusive Papo & Yo, a game based on the Creative Director’s troubled relationship with his unstable father – a unique premise that sets itself apart from any other game in development.
We originally talked to the Creative Director, Vander Cabellero, back in June in the game’s first ever interview, where he shared Papo & Yo ‘s story:
The game is about a young boy, Quico, and his best friend, Monster. Monster is a huge beast with razor-sharp teeth, but that doesn’t scare Quico away from playing with him. That said, Monster does have a very dangerous problem: an addiction to poisonous frogs. The minute he sees one hop by, he’ll scarf it down and fly into a violent, frog-induced rage where no one, including Quico, is safe. And yet, Quico loves his Monster and wants to save him.
This story, the interaction between Quico and the monster he loves, is an allegory for my relationship with my father as a child.
At the time, Monster looked like this:
Since then, however, Cabellero has decided to change the way Monster looks, after talks with friend and film artist Nilo Rodis, who helped him realize that the design of the character didn’t reflect that of his father, but rather that of his pet dog. He explained further in the comments section of the PS Blog:
Hola I’m Vander, the creator of PAPO & YO, Thanks for your feedback on the monster, I really like the Rhino too. I remember going from the first sketches to a 3d model to putting him in the engine, but inside of me there was always something wrong with the character I couldn’t describe. Talking to my friend Nilo I realized what it was – I was mixing the monster with my dog! I love playing with my dog and got stuck in the loop of playfulness I wanted to have with my father which I never had. But when Nilo asked me if I see my father in the monster I had to be honest and admit that Rhino, as much as I liked him, was more my dog than my father.
The monster looks a bit scarier now and that is how I felt when I was a kid. When Nilo sent me some concept art for the new monster I saw my father in it and I feel that is a more honest view of my past.
We are still working on improving the texture and I look forward to showing you his animations soon, new monster is attaching too.
I know many will not like the new monster but I really could not ship with Rhino knowing he is the representation of my father mixed with my dog.
Rodis helped with the design of the new character, making him “something that makes you want to play with him, help him, even though he’s a beast who could fly into a rage and kill you”.
He also shared one of the very first designs for Monster:
It’s always amazing to see the level of thought and attention that goes into a game’s development process, and will hopefully make for a quality title when it releases sometime this year.
To find out more about the game, be sure to check back during GDC next week as more details have been promised. Also, be sure to read our interview with Cabellero to learn about why Sony Online Entertainment is funding the game, the troubles of addiction and what the gameplay will be like.