As one of the most long-anticipated titles in recent gaming history, The Last Guardian's lengthy and tumultuous development cycle has been an emotional roller-coaster filled with behind-the-scene changes, uncertainty and anticipation. Finally set to release this year, the mythical action-adventure's extensive development process was "completely unexpected", according to the game's creator Fumito Ueda.
"We thought that Ico and Shadow of the Colossus took a long time to develop," Ueda said in an interview with IGN, "So, one of the missions of The Last Guardian was that we wanted to create something good in a short period of time, so the fact that it took a long time to develop was completely unexpected for me."
When asked about how he feels to finally approach the finish line, the legendary designer says a part of him is sad for it to be over.
"I've never been on a game that has taken so long to develop," he said, "so a part of me feels sad but a part of me feels like I just want to complete it. I have mixed feelings."
The Last Guardian has been in development for almost 10 years since 2007 and was formally announced at E3 2009. After years of silence and speculation about whether the game would ever see the light of day, it was finally re-introduced at E3 2015 with a brand new trailer.
"It would be nice to talk about all the struggles we've been through," Ueda said, "but there's a lot of things that we can't say yet."
In December 2011, Ueda left Sony and continued to work on the game as a freelance contributor. Originally envisioned as a PS3 title, the development team decided to shift the game to PS4 in 2012 — a move that Ueda says he wasn't too keen on initially.
"When it was decided that the game would be transitioned to PS4 it was difficult for me to accept," Ueda said. "Now that I look back at it, the PS3 market has become smaller at this point and now I think the PS4 market is the main market so I am happy to have this title as a PS4 exclusive title, but when the decision was first made I had some difficulty and I felt a little disappointed because I wanted to release this game earlier."
In 2014, Ueda launched his own studio called genDESIGN with Jinji Horagai, the lead programmer of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, after which development on the game was split between Sony's Japan Studio and genDESIGN.
"At genDESIGN we are mainly in charge of the direction of the art, game design and animations," Ueda explained. "At Japan Studio they're in charge of the implementation and the testing... so I do the creative direction, and then the implementation is done at Japan Studio, and then I look at it and we go back and forth."
"Initially I was worried about whether this kind of structure would work out," he continues, "but when I look back at it now I think it's gone very well. The way we have it right now is very easy for me to work, and if there's an opportunity in the future where I can do it in a similar way I would definitely want to."
More information about game is expected to be revealed at Sony's upcoming E3 conference.
The Last Guardian is set to release exclusively for PS4 by the end of 2016.