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Interview – Ready at Dawn’s Ru Weerasuriya on God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Wii development, piracy and more

Tuesday, 26 October 2010 12:58 GMT By Johnny Cullen

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Having taken on the God of War IP for a second time with Ghost of Sparta, developer Ready at Dawn is getting set to work on a new project: a game hinted at this morning.

Creative director Ru Weerasuriya chatted with Keza MacDonald about the PSP spin-off as well as development on Wii, piracy issues for PSP and DS, new IPs and what the future holds for the developer.

[Interview by Keza MacDonald]

VG247: How was developing Ghosts of Sparta different to the experience you had with Chains?

Ru Weerasuriya: Chains of Olympus was a big learning curve for us.

It was our first time making a God of War game and we didn’t know how to do it at the time, so we spent half of its development making the mistakes that the team at Santa Monica had made.

Ghosts of Sparta was more of our chance to show what we are capable of on a title like God of War.

How did you manage to squeeze more out of the PSP?

Ru Weerasuriya: After two games on PSP with Daxter and Chains of Olympus, we thought that was it for us. We even sent our dev kits back. It took us about three or four months to really look at what we’d done, what we’d had to cut out of Chains of Olympus, and determine that we might be able to just push a little bit more.

So we started off thinking we’d change one or two things here and there, maybe pushing the graphics, whatever we could basically.

After we talked to Sony – we signed again in August 2008 – we started with one system and before we knew it, every aspect of the game started changing – gameplay mechanics, navigation, combat. The way we did that was brute force. There’s no better way sometimes.

We were trying to beat up the PSP as much as possible, get the most out of it.

Did Sony persuade you to sign back on for another God of War game after you had sent back your dev kits?

Ru Weerasuriya: No, it was kind of a mutual thing. After Chains shipped we weren’t really sure where we were going to go; a lot of people were asking us what our next-gen or current-gen stuff was, and as we were pondering on what we should do.

It became a mutual decision – we talked to them, they talked to us, they definitely wanted a second game. It was a push on both sides that made this happen.

Has it changed much aesthetically?

Ru Weerasuriya: It absolutely has. You can see that from the opening sequence alone. We do a lot more in-game stuff as far as cinematics go. Kratos’s game model is probably close to the PS2 model that they used on GOW2, though we did our own take on it.

But with the graphical quality alone, the full-screen effects, we’ve done things that I don’t think you can find on PSP normally. I’m talking about depth-of-field, full-screen bloom, things that normally you would expect of a PS2 or PS3 game.

Is this definitely the maximum you can do with PSP? Are you finished now?

Ru Weerasuriya: This time – I know this is like the boy who cried wolf, but this time we are definitely done. We have pushed the PSP as far as possible; we’ve even had to scale back because some things were not doable.

We’ve done the absolute maximum with it. As a team we believe we have leveraged 100 percent of its power.

Do you plan to work with home consoles next?

Ru Weerasuriya: We’ve got a bunch of plans, we definitely are moving forward with other consoles right now. We have some things in the works that it’s hard to talk about because it’s very early.

Which consoles would you like to work with?

Ru Weerasuriya:,Any and every one of them – as long as there’s something good to do on them. Whether you’re making a game for the PSP or something else, it’s the same thing – we’re ready to make a great game for any console, as long as we think we can prove something.

Ready at Dawn has worked on the Wii before with the Okami port. What was that like?

Ru Weerasuriya: In all honesty we’d never thought of doing a port – I don’t think we built the company for that, but we just decided to do that as a passion project.

I loved Okami, I think that artistically it’s one of the most amazing things to come out of the industry. Working on it was more of a technical challenge – we started with no assets and literally reverse-engineered the whole thing back onto Wii. It was not your typical port, but it was fun.

But it’s not something we would do again, I think.

Would you make your own game for the Wii?

Ru Weerasuriya: To tell you the truth, I don’t think it’s something we would do.

I understand the power that the Wii has out there, but at the same time, I’ve tried to be a Wii gamer, like all my friends, but most of us have picked it up and dropped it after a few months. I think it wears off.

I think the whole novelty wears off with the Wii, and that’s one of the big reasons why we wouldn’t tackle a Wii game.

Is the novelty wearing off across the board? Do you think it will affect sales?

Ru Weerasuriya: I think so. I think you’re already seeing that now. The novelty is wearing off, and the only people who are really successful on the platform is Nintendo. It’s not like anybody else out there is really happy with the games and the sales that they make on that platform.

So it’s going to work well for [Nintendo], as all of their platforms usually do, but even in America we’re seeing now that it’s slowly dwindling down.

Purely from personal experience, I can tell you that most of the people I know who have bought a Wii have it sitting on a shelf somewhere with dust on it, and they haven’t used it in a long, long time.

All of your games so far have been collaborations. Are you keen to start work on your own IP now?

Ru Weerasuriya: We do have some ideas. When we started the company it was really to do our own stuff. We’ve done three games with Sony, and one with Capcom, but we definitely had our own ideas and we started building IPs from the day that we founded the company – that was one of my personal tasks from the get-go.

The games we’ve picked and worked on were very much learn-by-experience – it was us trying to perfect our skills in a certain genre. For instance I can tell you that the team we’ve built is an action adventure game kind of team.

That’s what we’re going to do and that’s what we’re good at. And we’re going to put those skills to use with our own IPs in the future.

God of War must have been a good training experience.

Ru Weerasuriya: Absolutely. It’s always good to be able to learn something from the best IPs.

We have a great relationship with Sony Santa Monica, because not only have we learned from them, they’ve learned from us, we’ve brought a different perspective to God of War.

It’s been a great experience being able to build our skills on something that was always such a good idea.

Ready at Dawn had to downsize back in July. Are things especially hard right now?

Ru Weerasuriya: Yeah. I think across the industry you can see that things are difficult.

We saw things happening at Australia not too long ago, we’ve got teams at Disney dying here and there, they took a pretty big hit about two weeks ago. It is hard; it’s tough that the industry is not at a very healthy level right now, and especially for the last few independents.

If you’re a developer right now and you’re owned by a publisher it’s hard enough, so imagine what it’s like if you’re an independent covering all your costs yourself. I don’t think it gets easier at any time, but the last two years have been particularly hard.

What keeps you afloat?

Ru Weerasuriya: I wouldn’t say that we’re smarter than anyone else, but we’ve always had a very different perspective from other developers out there: it’s do or die.

We’ve tried to manage our expectations, make sure that we shoot high but that we don’t ever get to a point a few weeks away where we have to make a [harsh] decision. We’ve always made sure that we’re stable.

Even the downsizing we had to do [in July] was a healthy one for the company – it wasn’t just because times are hard, we wanted to make sure that we started off again from a healthy beginning. But there’s no magic solution to this.

Try not to put all your eggs in one basket and end up having to make a really harsh decision for your company.

What’s next for Ready at Dawn?

Ru Weerasuriya: There are so many things we can do. We’ve got a lot of opportunities with different people – there are a lot of people out there looking for good teams to work on their stuff, so to tell you the truth right now I want to see what the team wants.

We haven’t had time for a postmortem on Ghost of Sparta yet, but after every game, we always talk with the team and we decide what people are passionate about. I can tell you, for example, that after Daxter, that’s how GOW happened – we finished Daxter, and everyone was so gung-ho about God of War 1 at the time that we jumped on the project, that’s why we proposed it to Sony.

I think it’s going to be the same at this point. We have to figure out where all are heads are, and where our hearts are, and where we want to go.

Are you feeling positive about how Ghost of Sparta will be received?

Ru Weerasuriya: I think critically, yes. We’re very proud of it – what team isn’t proud of the game that they make? – but at the same time, it’s a great God of War experience.

One thing we’ve brought to this one is that it’s a more complete entertainment experience – the story is really well intertwined with the game. I think critically it’s going to be well received.

The biggest problem we’re fighting against at the moment is seeing how piracy is going to affect sales on PSP at this point.

How bad do you feel the piracy situation is on the PSP and DS?

Ru Weerasuriya: Both of them have problems. I’m not very familiar with how it is on the DS, but on the PSP it’s pretty rampant now all around the world.

It’s getting to the point where it doesn’t make sense to make games on it, if the piracy keeps on increasing. It’s a tough call right now to say what’s going to happen to it and where it’s going to go, but it definitely hurts a lot of developers out there who are trying to make great games.

Do you feel it’s as bad as PC piracy has been, now?

Ru Weerasuriya: Yes, and actually more so, even.

The PC market has had connectivity and multiplayer, which brings down the piracy, and a lot of the PC games right now, the big ones at least, require you to be logged into a specific network – like Battlenet, when I used to work at Blizzard – that controls it, and has made it easy to curb some of that.

On portable platforms it’s definitely more rampant right now. You can go to Hong Kong and get one cart for the DS with practically every single game that’s ever come out for it.

It’s pretty scary to think that it’s got to this extent.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta releases on November 2 in the US and November 4 in the UK for PSP.

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5 Comments

  1. mojo

    interesting interview!

    #1 5 years ago
  2. LOLshock94

    best intrview ive seen so far on this site

    #2 5 years ago
  3. Bikki

    As far as them saying they have maxed the graphics, it’s true. For the first time i played a game on psp that actually looks “good”. Also, @2 STFU.

    #3 5 years ago
  4. LOLshock94

    fuck ya maaaaaaaaaaaa

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Robo_1

    Just on the final leg of this, and it’s been fantastic from top to bottom. Amazing graphics, combat and a nice focus on fast paced and cinematic platforming.

    Go get it, as in go pay for it, it’s tragic to see how many leaches are playing it without giving anything back to the devs.

    #5 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Valve has implemented a new policy on Steam which limits user accounts which have spent less than $5 through the store. The new policy is to protect users from phishing scams and spam. If the users hasn’t spent anything on the store, they at least have to have $5 sitting in their Steam Wallet. This […]

  • Latest Flash Sale on the US PlayStation Store discounts action games and movies

    Sony is hosting another Flash Sale on the North American store with plenty of action games, and some films, to help get your weekend started. The list is super long, so here’s a few highlights: Army of TWO The Devil’s Cartel Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Bayonetta Beyond Good & Evil HD Castlevania: Harmony of Despair […]

  • A new expansion for Postal 2 called Paradise Lost was released today

    It appears Postal 2 has a new add-on available. No, it’s not for the 2003 version, but the Complete Edition which was greenlit on Steam 10 years later. Called Paradise Lost, the add-on stars the Dude and contains a new single-player story campaign and new areas featuring free-roam gameplay. The original voice actor for the […]

  • GTA 5 patch 1.01 is now available for PC, fixes launcher and framerate issues

    Rockstar has released patch 1.01 for the PC version of GTA 5 and along with a fix to the character’s facial features changing when transferring to PC, the launcher will no longer drain your CPU and crash. Here are the full patch notes: Fixed an issue where the GTAV Launcher would use an abnormally high […]

  • Ultra Street Fighter 4 will arrive on the PS Store for PS4 in May

    Ultra Street Fighter 4 will be released on PlayStation 4 in May, Capcom has announced. All characters, levels and previous DLC will be included in the PS4 version, including a fix to input lag found in the PS3 version’s controls. The fighting game will be released digitally on the PS Store May 26 for $24.99 […]

  • Upcoming Dark Souls 2 patch to fix weapon degradation glitch

    Weapon degradation wan’t an intentional feature in Dark Souls 2, and now that it has carried over into Scholar of the First Sin, the glitch will be patched out in an upcoming update. The glitch also affected the framerate of Dark Souls 2 on PC, and on all platforms with Scholar of the First Sin. […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront is now available for pre-order on Origin, Amazon, others

    Star Wars: Battlefront is now available for pre-order through EA’s Origin service as well as Amazon and GameStop. Star Wars: Battlefront pre-orders, as previously reported, will include early access to the free Battle of Jakku DLC. The planet is included in the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and finds the New Republic coming […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront – watch the lovely reveal trailer here

    The first trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront was released today after much anticipation. Watch the lovely game reveal below, all captured on PlayStation 4. The trailer was revealed during an EA panel today at the Star Wars Celebration, and featured Lucasfilm concept artist Doug Chiang, the game’s senior producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, and other members of […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront has 40-player battles, play as Darth Vader and Boba Fett

    Star Wars: Battlefront will take place during the original film trilogy’s timeline, according to a report from the Associated Press. It appears the information was posted ahead of time, (via Kotaku) as the report is written in past tense. According to the report, players will take part in “frenzied shoot-outs between up to 40 players” […]

  • Microsoft confirms departure of Xbox Europe VP Phil Harrison

    Microsoft has confirmed the departure of Phil Harrison, its corporate VP of Xbox in Europe. According to a statement, Harrison left to pursue interests outside of the company, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GI.biz. “Following a successful tenure as Corporate Vice President in Xbox in Europe, Phil Harrison has chosen to pursue business interests outside […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Rent-a-Server option coming to both last and current-gen consoles

    Battlefield Hardline players will be able to take part in the Rent-a-Server program, similar to the one in Battlefield 4, when the first patch for the shooter is released. Rental servers will come to both last and current-gen consoles, and CPU issues will be addressed in the patch as well, which PC players will be […]

  • Chip’s Challenge and unreleased sequel Chip’s Challenge 2 arrive on Steam next month

    Chip’s Challenge, the 1989 top-down tile-based puzzler created by Chuck Sommerville, is heading to Steam along with the unreleased sequel Chip’s Challenge 2. After the release of the first game, Sommerville spent two years developing the sequel, only to find the trademark had been sold. The trademark’s new owners wanted him to fund the publishing, […]

  • Pillars of Eternity patch betas hitting Steam, update 1.05 to drop in May

    Patch 1.04 for Pillars of Eternity dropped yesterday, and according to Obsidian Entertainment, players can expect the next round of fixes to arrive in May. According to a post on the Kickstarter page, patch 1.04 contained quite a bit of fixes, and going forward, the team plans to continue squishing bugs, adding additional polish and […]

  • Goat Simulator comes to Xbox platforms

    Goat Simulator continues its plan to dominate all platforms under the sun by releasing on Xbox consoles. Goat Simulator has been released on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The store page for the Xbox One version is now live, but the 360 one is lagging behind. Don’t know what this game is or what it’s […]

  • Alienation: first co-op footage revealed

    We have our first look at gameplay footage from Housemarque’s Alienation. Housemarque has finally given us a look at their upcoming shooter project, Alienation. The twin-stick shooter will feature co-op and the new video shows it in action. It’s a short one but still manages to demo several environments. The game was shown off at […]

  • ReShade SweetFX supports GTA 5, user-made presets begin popping up

    GTA 5 modders started making presets for ReShade SweetFX as soon as they realised the tool supports it. To the modding community’s delightful surprise, shader-altering tool ReShade SweetFX was discovered to support GTA 5. What this means is that anyone can download the tool, mess around with the post-processing options, and inject them into GTA […]

  • Project Cars goes gold, full track list revealed

    Project Cars has finally gone gold. Project Cars developer Slightly Mad has announced that the racer has reached gold master milestone. “We know the wait for the game to be released was worth it, as we’re confident the quality and realism level we have achieved will provide our fans with the game they are all […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes has a stupid subtitle in the West

    The Western release of Dragon Quest Heroes has been given the most absurd subtitle. Square Enix announced a while back that Dragon Quest Heroes will come to North America and Europe this year. Unlike in Japan, it will launch only on PlayStation 4. Earlier today, the Japanese publisher revealed what the game’s logo will look […]

  • Minecraft vulnerability allows users to crash servers remotely [UPDATE]

    A security flaw discovered in Minecraft’s code that could give perpetrators the ability to crash servers remotely has been fixed via a patch by Mojang. Update: Mojang has released an update to Minecraft patch 1.8, listed as version 1.8.4, and it is available now. It fixes reported security issues, in addition to some other minor […]

  • Official Bloodborne merchandise now available, including a limited edition statue

    The PlayStation gear store has added a new section dedicated to Bloodborne merchandise. The first set of items is as good as you’d expect. If you’re a fan of Bloodborne and want to make sure everyone around you knows it, you’ll be happy to know that Sony has added a few pieces of Bloodborne-branded gear […]

  • Destiny Xur update: should you buy The Last Word?

    Xur is selling one of Destiny’s top hand cannons today: The Last Word. Is it worth grinding the coins for? The answer is a resounding YES. The Last Word is one of Destiny’s best Exotics, and one of the best Hand Cannons in the game. Our Destiny expert Alex notes that it’s one of the […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for April 17, 18 – The Last Word edition

    What did our good buddy Xur bring for us this week? Xur: Agent of the Nine, Destiny’s weekend vendor is back with more Exotic offers. Xur is your guy if you’re after Exotic weapons or armour, provided you have the Strange Coins for them. Head over to the lounge in the Tower Hangar, you’ll find […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt discounted for Gold members, pre-load now live

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt files are now live on the Xbox Store. Xbox One owners with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt pre-orders can start downloading the full game to be ready for launch. The file size was confirmed earlier to be just over 25GB. Those who have yet to pre-order can do so at […]

  • GTA 5 files accessed by modders, reveal horses, zombies, more

    Modders have managed to pry GTA 5′s file lock open and expose many of its interesting innards. GTA community modders have gained access to several of GTA 5′s archives on PC. These files were previously believed to be inaccessible. Popular modding tool OpenIV, which was used in editing files in GTA 4 (hence the name), […]

  • Bethesda’s E3 invite features Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein… but no Fallout

    Bethesda is going first at E3 this year with a showcase of games on Sunday night. What clues can we see in the press invite? Skyrim publisher Bethesda has sent out confirmation of its E3 showcase, taking place Sunday June 14. The invite includes a number of Bethesda game characters including Wolfenstein’s BJ Blazcowicz, a […]

  • Here’s Crytek’s VR demo, because dinosaurs

    Dinosaurs! This is precisely what virtual reality is for. VR demos are all over the place and CryEngine developer Crytek has produced one of its own, showing off how the engine is flexible enough t- Look, let me level with you: I don’t care. I only care about dinosaurs. Hush now and watch the dinosaurs. […]

  • StreetPass update adds birthday collecting, VIP Miis and more

    StreetPass collecters should take advantage of an optional update. It’s International StreetPass Week, so now’s the time to break out the 3DS and go hunting. Don’t leave your home network without first checking out a new optional update, though. Kotaku reports the update prompt is available from the leftmost icon in your StreetPass Mii Plaza. […]

  • Massive Uplay sale offers cheap games in time for the weekend

    PC gamers can grab a sweet saving or two in Uplay’s Spring Sale. Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Alien: Isolation are all on sale as part of Uplay’s Spring Sale, among many other titles. The sale offers discounts of up to 85% off digital […]

  • Fix for GTA 5 PC Windows install bug releasing today

    Rockstar is set to release a patch today that will fix a bug preventing players from installing the game. The bug is tied to Windows usernames that use certain characters not supported by Rockstar. There’s already a workaround available on the Rockstar Support site, but those waiting for an official update will be able to […]

  • Prey 2 dev’s new mobile horror Lost Within out now on iOS and Fire

    Remember Lost Within, that mobile survival horror erstwhile Prey 2 developer Human Head Studios was making with Amazon Game Studios? It’s now available on iOS and for Amazon’s Fire devices, through the appropriate App Stores. There’s a little bit of extra info on it on the AGS blog, if you’re keen; unfortunately the blog doesn’t […]

  • Let’s take a look at Blood Bowl 2′s Chaos faction

    Blood Bowl 2: The Chaos Theory is only the latest in a much loved series of games based on a game based on two other games. Blood Bowl is a popular Games Workshop tabletop game which blends the fantasy universe of Warhammer with a fantasy sport drawing inspiration from American football and related games. It’s […]

  • “Second-person” shooter Screencheat coming to PS4 and Xbox One

    Goldeneye players should be familiar with the concept of screencheating, which is what this new indie is all about. Screencheat has been on our radars for a while but has now been confirmed for PS4, sparking a new wave of interest with a trailer and PS Blog post. However, it was one of a number […]

  • World of Warcraft Timewalking will make old dungeons fun again

    World of Warcraft will soon introduce a feature called Timewalking, designed to make you feel young again. When WoW players participate in a Timewalking event, they’ll be transported to a randomly selected classic dungeon. Upon entering, their level and gear will be scaled way, way down to the Dungeon’s Heroic level – so they won’t […]

  • Bloodborne and Dark Souls messaging – in real life

    Soapstone is a cool little app that mimics the messaging system found in Bloodborne, Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. Bloodborne and Dark Souls fans will surely agree that the asynchronous multiplayer side of things, with players leaving anonymous tips, encouragement and jokes for each other, is one of the cooler aspects of the From Software […]

  • Mass Effect fans, get a load of this My Talking Elcor plushie

    I have been waiting to write about this all day because oh my god. Mass Effect attracted a devoted fanbase and Bioware has found tons of clever ways to satisfy that fanbase’s desire for clothes, collectibles, books, comics and toys related to the future world of Commander Shepard and company. The company has been so […]

  • Homeworld Remastered Collection headed to retail

    Homeworld fans can purchase a neat little package of gloriously remastered nostalgia soon. The Homeworld Remastered Collection has been available online since the end of February, but is now on its way to retail thanks to a deal between new rights holder Gearbox and Ubisoft. The PC exclusive will launch in physical form from May […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt download size lower than predicted

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a hefty install footprint, but it’s not as bad as we expected. The Witcher 3 was expected to be a 50GB download after a note to this effect was added to the PlayStation Store. It looks like that might have been a placeholder figure, as DualShockers noted today that […]