Ghost of Tsushima has charmed many both in the west and in Japan, but Sucker Punch was fairly nervous about tackling the setting, as shared by producer Brian Fleming during a panel at PAX Online.
Fleming explained how the studio was not fully confident about representing the setting as westerners.
Yet, they decided to do tackle the project on the strength of Shuhei Yoshida’s encouragement and Advice.
“We didn’t know: could we do it? and even more importantly, could we convince Sony Japan that we could do it? An important litmus test for us was, Ok, if we aren’t able to convince Shu (Shuhei Yoshida) — who was actually the person we went to — that this was a good idea and that we could do this, obviously with plenty of help, then we couldn’t do it.
So the pitch wasn’t widely shared inside Sucker Punch. It was maybe six or seven people who knew about it, and we took a meeting with Shu and Scott Rhode first just to vet this issue because we were so nervous about a western team tackling this material.
It was on the strength of Shu’s encouragement that we would embark on this journey. We sort of pre-vetted our concerns and I think Shu encouraged us and I think his advice was very sage. As you know Shu can be really really helpful. He’s a very wise guy.
His take was “You’re never really gonna fool anyone about this game having been made by a western team, but you can surround yourself with resources — some of which are inside Sony and outside resources — to do this well.”
He’s like “Your goal isn’t to pretend you’re something you’re not. Be a great version of yourself. Go on this journey and you can do well.”
It was on the strength of his support, which then turned into support from Sony Japan, and of course, the consultants that we used here in the studio, in L.A., and around the world… All of that contributed to us tackling it.”
Fleming also shared that the studio decided early on that claiming that the game was “authentic” was wrong. On the other hand, they wanted to communicate that they would create the game respectfully, be “really curious,” and immerse themselves in the material.
They wanted to take the game as an opportunity to “learn a ton” and “to share some of that learning” with the Ghost of Tsushima’s players and to bring some of that cultural and historical themes to the market, as opposed to representing themselves as historians.
“Don’t represent ourselves as what we aren’t. Know that we’re westerners trying to learn this material, and then incorporate it respectfully into our game. This is again sort of Shu’s advice: “Be who you are, know who that is, and approach the material appropriately.”
Creating an original story with a fictional villain also contributed to make sure no one thought Sucker Punch was trying to represent the actual battle even though it really took place during that time, on that particular beach. There is a lot of creative license taken within the game and the developers didn’t in any way try to hide that.
The game was originally announced in 2017 at Paris Games Week and if you want to see more, you can enjoy the launch trailer, another from Japan, one focusing on the story, some videos showcasing the world, an extensive gameplay reveal, the previous trailer, another recent Japanese trailer, an earlier video, beautiful concept art, another trailer showcasing combat, one featuring exploration, and another showcasing customization.