Sucker Punch Productions co-founder Brian Fleming revealed at this week’s GDC Showcase that Ghost of Tsushima‘s combat was “hands-down” the most difficult feature to implement.
As transcribed by IGN, Fleming said that Sucker Punch worked on combat “nonstop” for six years, and made “multiple versions of it with multiple approaches.” Apparently, crafting a combat system that fit into the game’s world posed challenges at every step.
The combat system along with a few other systems… they’re kind of the center of everything. They have to work in every situation, they have to work in every lighting situation, they have to work in every terrain, they have to work in every strange mode the game might be in – combat could potentially break out in.
It was an elusive, nonstop effort over literally a six-year journey continuing to work on that. I think the results were good but it was a long, difficult road.
During the same talk, Fleming reiterated that Sucker Punch approached the game’s setting with great caution, and said that the team approached it without “remotely pretending that we understood it.” The studio sought help from Japanese developers and guidance from Shuhei Yoshida.
“We wanted not just his guidance and his assessment but really his blessing that this could be done, that a team from the west could really do this”, Fleming said (via Video Games Chronicle). “And with his support, we then began engaging with a wider audience, and that almost immediately included the team at Sony, the Japan team, and their participation in the game throughout, from the original pitches to each of the videos that we would show.”
Ghost of Tsushima released in July 2020 to universal critical acclaim.