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Team ICO: Aesthetic Appeal Is Crucial

There's a significant difference between technical achievement and overall aesthetic appeal; you don't necessarily need one to acquire the other, and Team ICO's productions in the past are proof of that theory.

Team ICO founder and creator of The Last Guardian, Fumito Ueda, spoke to Develop about creating beautiful, absorbing worlds that utilize the "full potential" of the system in question. Despite his drive for the best of the best in terms of visuals, though, he clarified that "visible technical flaws and limitations are inconsequential when placed in an aesthetically impactful game world." He still wants any game he creates to come as close to reality as possible and in the end, he's on the fence regarding technical limitations:

"I both hate and love the technical limitations. It's kind of a Catch-22 for me. If we don't have any limit to work from, it becomes hard to make anything good out of an idea. But if we on the other hand have a very distinct technical limit it's impossible to go beyond it. It will put the bar in a certain place without any way to raise it."

As far as Ueda is concerned, just because the limitations of a visual presentation are obvious, that doesn't mean the player can't enjoy and appreciate that fictional world. It all comes down to aesthetic appeal, and one can easily point to previous efforts like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.

"It's thanks to that my games have a very special aesthetic profile. It's a way to make the player forget about technical limitations and focus on the gaming experience. If a player sees a beautiful landcape or pretty light effects that's probably what he will remember and not the bad texture next to it."

Well, we can say, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that we'll be focusing on the gaming experience when we sit down to play The Last Guardian. Sure, we'll be blown away by certain visual accomplishments (as we were in SotC), but any technical limitations won't dissuade us. We can promise that.

Related Game(s): The Last Guardian

7/8/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (28 posts)

Natalisrubbish
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 11:08:34 AM
Reply

I am actually really interested in this game and I am glad to see it's creators appear to be quite down to earth.

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Highlander
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 11:20:47 AM
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Well, I'm interested in the Last Guardian, if for no other reason than the griffin-like beastie which looks so awesome in the preview videos.

I always like the way that Japanese developers talk about their art. It always sounds more philosophical, perhaps even artistic. Here Ueda is saying that he strives to make his games as close to reality, but says that if there were no limits on the technology it would be hard to know where to draw the line, where to stop and say "this is enough". I like that he also expresses the other side of that. After all if a platform has a distinct performance limit, and has no hidden depths, then a game designer will run up against that limit and be frustrated at not being able to go further.

I guess it's always a balancing act between always searching for better ways, more efficient ways to do things, and keeping the game within the scope of the platform's capability. So you push the limits as much as you can, but you need the limits to prevent your scope from becoming too large to handle.

Interesting.

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Jawknee
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 11:21:42 AM
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I can't believe I have never heard of these guys until recently. IGN gave Shadow of the Collossus a great review. I ordered it from Amazon. The Last Guardian looks great too. Day one puchase for me.

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Button Masher
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 12:06:04 PM

SOTC is a FANTASTIC game. You will not be disappointed. If you have an HDTV make sure you select the widescreen option beforehand.

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Jawknee
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 1:01:24 PM

Word, thanks.

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Metal Head
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 12:10:01 PM
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A must buy from day 1. Is a shame most people will overlook this masterpiece. Team Ico brings refreshing and unique ideas to an industrie that is saturated with crappy fps. off topic resistance 2 is the excepcion.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 1:44:27 PM
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I've always felt the same way as this guy as I am a very forgiving gamer, just because you can find a few bad textures here and there has never hampered my experience with games. I always focused on the awesome creepy gameplay of Dead Space and not the fact that the guy's helmet pixelates a bit when it gets too close to the screen. It's no biggie if the game still rules and the critters startle you.

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Alienange
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 4:01:53 PM

No kidding. You wouldn't be much of a gamer if you refused to play games where you can see a pixel.

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Fane1024
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 4:26:52 PM

I'm playing R&C FTOD right now and it is so nice to play a game with so few visual glitches that I don't care whether the textures or lighting or whatever are the BESTEST EVAR. The game looks gorgeous, but (more importantly) it plays gorgeous because there's no slowdown or screen tearing or whatever to break my immersion in the game.

Plus, Insomniac's artists are excellent.

p.s. Team Ico's artists are even better.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 7/9/2009 4:28:29 PM

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556pineapple
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 2:12:51 PM
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I was blown away by SOTC. A friend of mine complained that the characters looked like they were from a PS1 game, but I pointed out that the lighting is by far the best I had seen in any game to that point. Also the way the colossi behave and the whole physics aspect of the fights seems pretty realistic, though maybe a bit monotonous. I guess that's due to the technical limitations mentioned in the article. Anyway, Last Guardian looks phenomenal.

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sunspider13
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 2:59:38 PM
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LG is a first day buy for me as well. I've been impressed with Team Ico since Ico was released. I can't wait until this game comes out.

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Alienange
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 4:00:06 PM
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SotC was out of this world. As good as it was though I never really felt the need to go back and try ICO. Well I recently did fire up ICO and boy was I impressed. I haven't finished it yet but I certainly will. It's amazing how this dev can hook you into a story without hardly a word. There's no doubt in my mind LG will be fantastic.

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Kowhoho
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 7:03:11 PM

Good for you! ICO will tear your heart out.

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bearbobby
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 1:15:17 PM

I've gone and popped in my copy of Ico to once again attempt to lead poor Yarda through that perilous castle. I had almost forgotten how atmospheric this game is, how so much could be said with so little. It's core gaming at it's best. No silly sidequests, no lolly-gagging. Just you, her, some teamwork and some emotionally uplifting experiences.

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Fane1024
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 4:31:49 PM

The only bad things about Ico:

You don't have complete control of the camera.
The final hour or so doesn't have a save point.
There isn't more of it.

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Kai200X
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 6:50:05 PM
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I am very proud to say that I've played and mastered ICO and SoTC. Those are two of my favorite games of all time. I can't wait to play The Last Guardian. Okay, I did aware other part of this interview, Ueda talked about games such as SMG and GTA IV. I agree with his comments, but I did enjoyed GTA IV nontheless.

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 8:08:51 PM
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People need to open their eyes and give ICO a real chance.

it's always Shadow of Colossus this, Shadow of Colossus that. <-----Incredible game!

But people need to hunt down a ICO copy and see how amazingly awesome that one was, as well.

Anyway I agree. I mean by today's standards game's like FFX don't look amazing, even compared to XII...

With that said, the beautiful landscapes and character designs comes to the front, offsetting any graphical limitations.

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Karosso
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 8:37:15 PM

I second that!
I make not distinction between the two, the experience is amazing and totally different from one to another.
Damn my freaking eye! Just spent three brand new games on prescription eye drops :-(
When the games finally hit I will have a good eye and no money to buy the games...
This sucks!!

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 9:27:06 PM

Hope you get better Karosso

It's fine, you'll have enough money by the time Fall comes around

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Arvis
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 1:23:15 PM

I think FFX still looks great...

-Arvis

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BigBoss4ever
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 1:15:44 AM
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this is one of the most anticipated games on my purchase list in the next one to two years, other than ff13, v13, GOW3, this is the best of its kind imo.

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wquach
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 1:19:13 AM
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I just started playing Shadow of the Colossus on my PS3 and I'm on the 4th boss...and the game, even running progressive scan 480p on my HDTV, is absolutely stunning. It is one of the few PS2 games that I believe still holds up visually due to incredibly gorgeous art direction and effects.

The lighting effects, such as looking outside within the temple, to the crumbling bits that actively fall off the colossi as you're fighting them are incredible. The character animations and movements are top notch as well - you really feel how vulnerable and fragile the character is compared to the colossi as he stumbles after a jump.

And the first time I rode Agaro throughout the land with the impeccably cinematic camera angle, as well as standing still and pressing L1 to pan the landscape as the character's head turns....just wow.

Truly, Ueda knows that art direction and amazing visual effects can overcome technical aspects like textures, jaggies and low poly models (all of which are severely present when playing SotC on an HDTV, but again, as I mentioned the strengths of SotC's visual presentation above, I quickly stopped noticing those things in face of the game's beauty).

Last edited by wquach on 7/9/2009 1:25:42 AM

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BikerSaint
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 1:24:30 PM
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Question,
I'm looking to get both ICO & SOTC soon.

So is the story of SOTC more of a continuation of ICO, or is each a different story in itself?

The reason I'm asking is in case I wind up getting SOTC first, I don't want to ruin the whole storyline by playing it before ICO if it's sort of the sequel type.
Thanks

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556pineapple
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 2:28:01 PM

They're linked, but you don't need to worry about one ruining the plot of the other.

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Frenchy17
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 5:40:20 PM
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Two of my favorite all time games. I was dumb and sold both back long ago, but have managed to get them both back. I need to find a manual for ICO though as the copy I found did not have one.

@BikerSaint You dont have to play one or the other first, but I do recommend playing ICO first. Its a different kind of game and it will make you enamored with the scale of Shadow of the Collossus that much more.

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BigBoss4ever
Friday, July 10, 2009 @ 1:23:30 AM
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ICO was my first PS2 game actually, i bought it with my PS2 console in 2002. to this day, I still can not forget the grand epic feeling when I went thru the castle, and the mystic touch it delivers. SOTC is equally great as ICO --- two of my all time fav. on PS2 or of all the games I have. The Last Guardian runs at 1080p on my 46" Xbrite HD will without doubt blow me away, i just cant wait. actually I cant wait for all the upcoming great titles, FFv13, v13, GOW3, WKC, Castlevania, Demon's Soul, Resonance of Fate, Assassin Creed 2, Bayonetta ... :O

Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 7/10/2009 1:25:07 AM

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BikerSaint
Friday, July 10, 2009 @ 1:55:12 AM
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556 pineapple,
OK,
thanks for getting back to me with that 411.

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flux equals rad
Friday, July 10, 2009 @ 11:33:32 PM
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His comments bode very well for this game. If Team Ico is acutely aware of the system's limitations, it means that they are bumping up against those limitations when they optimize aspects of the game. A bad texture here for the greater good of making the griffin as life like as PS3 possible.

This and Heavy Rain will be the most emotionally engaging games of this generation.

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