God of War III Interview with Design Director Todd Papy

73 5

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend our God of War III event in Hollywood, where we revealed the opening portion of the game to press. Yes, as you could imagine, jaws dropped.

I’m not going to spoil anything here, and frankly, I made sure to keep my head turned for the majority of hands-on time because I’m all about going in fresh when I finally have retail copy in hand. But, in addition to hosting the event, key members of the Santa Monica Studio development team were on hand to chat. Last week you sent me questions for Stig, but unfortunately, he was sick and very limited during the event. So we’re saving most of those up for when we talk to Stig during GDC next week. But Design Director Todd Papy was nice enough to fill in (and he’s an insanely cool guy), so we sat down to talk God of War III, and I couldn’t help but throw a few of your questions his way. Hope you like it.

And make sure that if you do have more questions for Stig, drop them in this post via comments, as we’re definitely getting some time with him next week during GDC.

God of War III Event 3

Was there a lot of stress when it came to living up to the previous God of War games, not only in the fans eyes, but with the developers too?” – Vaughn Johnson via Twitter

Well I think we put more pressure on ourselves. There’s always that stress, and you don’t wanna be known as the guys who F up God of War [laughs]. You really don’t want to be known as that! You know, it’s one of those things where I think we were able to pull it off and hopefully exceed expectations even though the bar is set so high.

And you’re setting your own bar.

Yeah, and that’s the thing that’s always scary…how are we going to outdo ourselves. So when we started talking about God of War III, it was like, “What are we going to do with the Titans and how are we going to change the weapons to make things new and interesting?”

At what point do you reach a level that you’re happy with in development? When do you know when to stop?

Obviously time. I think all of us are artisan in a way and being able to noodle the game to death…there’s got to be a point in time where we say, “This is enough, let’s get it out the door.” But with that, we want to push the envelope, so we do a lot of play tests to see if we’re getting the reaction we want out of players. Are they getting it, and are are they enjoying the experience. But also, we have cameras on their faces when they are playing so when they get to that kill — what’s the reaction? Some people are stone cold and we can’t read them, but when they’re filling out the paper, they’d say they loved it. Others are like, “Ohhh! Oh my god, I can’t believe I just saw that!” Then we know, alright, we’ve got something special

What has been most challenging about the game, handling the tech or the story/gameplay?

I think the Titans, just because the way that we design the levels is under designer control. So we can do iterations really quick, say adjust the jump if it doesn’t feel right, change it and get it into the game quickly. Versus the Titans, when we’re designing in T-pose. We have to figure out what the arms is going to look like, or how the shoulder is going to look when its climbing. And basically, it’s the designer working with the animator to say, “Hey bring that down a bit.” There’s a lot of working back and forth, and it’s just very time consuming.

Well, it’s paid off because you’ve really done some amazing work. Are you happy to be done with the game?

I love it. I am very happy to be done, but at the same time I’m like, “Oh sh*t, what are we going to do next!”

It’s something that you’ve lived with for song long, just the process of creating a game, right?

Yeah, we’ve been doing it for 3-plus years and 10-plus months of crunch. We actually had a couple of designers come in today and we said, “No, no, you’re supposed to be on vacation, go home!” Really, we all love it, and even when we finished this one somebody was noodling around creating new ideas and new designs. It’s something that we live for.

God of War III Event 2

What is the most difficult thing about adapting mythology to a video game? – Brandon Gedrich via Twitter

Well, it’s our take. We don’t follow mythology to a T. It’s us taking what we want and what we think is interesting, and basically weaving a story around Kratos. And with Greek mythology there’s a lot of inspiration to draw from, but it’s, “What do we think is cool? What wrapper can we put around that?” And if it happens to be something in Greek mythology, we’ll say, “OK, that’s cool. Let’s use that.”

Was there anything you were influenced by with UNCHARTED 2 during your development process?

Well, we didn’t really see the game [during development]. But we did have design meetings with them like Richard and Neil, and we’d basically talk and say, “Hey, how do you guys do things?” Their system versus our system is completely different, even in the way they handle their big wow moment which was probably the train sequence. And now this [the opening] is one of our big wow moments. They saw one of the titans early on and saw what we were doing, and hopefully our communications with them and they way we talk about our enemies…hopefully that will influence them. And the way they tell stories, I would hope that we would do some of that stuff in the next game.

Knowing God of War, though, God of War III will probably bring a lot of those “wow” moments, right?

Right, and that’s the thing. In the beginning of the game, Stig and I went through and listed our all our wow moments once we knew the locations and set pieces. And we listed out how many of those moments were wanted to hit, and said, “We’ve got to be in this range.” And I think we hit it.

Well, congrats on being done! Without revealing any spoilers, is there anything you want to say to the PlayStation fans? These are some of your biggest fans who will be reading this.

I hope you love it. If there are things that you like about it, or anything that you dislike about it, trust me – all of us read the boards and we watch out for that stuff. So if there’s something that irks you, write about it. And we’ll find it, look at it and review it.

Comments are closed.


5 Author Replies

  • There will be portuguese in the american version of God Of War 3?
    Or there will be on all european versions,including Uk?

  • Out of curiosity- HOW COME(?!?!) did you not decide to include OPTIONAL SUBTITLE for God of War Collection??? It is quite not fair to us that cannot hear and cannot understand what is going on given the fact that every information are out there in this Collection Edition… How about Optional Subtitle for God of War III game itself? Will this one include it?

    Any surprises await us once we complete the game…?

  • Coolio, wish it were in a video though (i am too lazy to read :D )

  • I have a question:
    Can you send me an advanced copy as soon as possible?

  • I wouldn’t mind a GoW animated cartoon, in which the end of each episodes consists of a moral, a lesson that Kratos from learn from. Hilarity could very well ensue.

  • lostinplainsight

    wow march is becoming a great month for me first the kreator show this saturday then god of war 3 a week after what more can one man ask for?*cough*twistedmetal*cough*

  • Sounds excellent, i am on a complete media blackout on this game, not watching any videos or reading anything. I had to read this and it was nice that it was spoiler free. Cant wait to get my hands on the game.

  • “payed off” should be paid off :P

  • But anyway I can hardly wait these agonizing 13 days!!!

  • Dear Sony,

    I hate you for taking all of my hard earned money, carry on.

  • sony santa monica and naughty dog working together on something would be a dynamic duo!!

  • Nice Read!
    Cant wait to get my hands on it!

  • You guys are awesome, keep it up Sony Santa Monica! God of War III will be EPIC

  • worldagainstjose

    great interview. i cant help myself from looking at spoiler vids, its just such a long wait. the graphic jump is astounding.

  • Will you guys be giving away any GOW3 items on the blog? what am I saying. I want the LE box!

  • lostinplainsight

    hey Sony you guys should totally hire Vince Zampella and Jason West activision’s stupidity can be your gain. if you give them a studio they may know a few people willing to come over. just thought I’d throw that out there.

  • hey Chris..

    Ask the God Of War Team could they please pick up development for making a Heavenly Sword 2.

  • SONY listen to this man! The PSN user lostinplainsight has a great idea! HIRE the infinity ward guys ASAP!

    I quote what lostinplainsight wrote:

    “hey Sony you guys should totally hire Vince Zampella and Jason West activision’s stupidity can be your gain. if you give them a studio they may know a few people willing to come over. just thought I’d throw that out there.


  • Great day for the my PS3 to die! Lol. It’s alright though, my new one should arrive mid next week. No FFXIII on release day for me.

  • There will be portuguese in the american version?

  • thanks for the interview, keep bringing awesome games! day one for me

  • @18…so we can have a first party glitchfest?…no thanks, we have SOCOM for that.

    On topic (sort of)…just started working through GoW1 again yesterday…hopefully get 1/2 wrapped up before 3 launches.

  • lostinplainsight

    Listen to that man telling you to listen to listen to this man he knows what he’s talking about.

  • question for Todd:

    What order do the departments tend to work on something when making the game? Obviously there is some back-and-forth but in general what kind of pipeline do you guys use in creating your game? Where do things start at and who puts the finishing touches on?

  • Is there going to be DLC for GOW3 – Yes or No?

  • So guys…. when does the review embargo end? I know this game is going to be epic and it’s a Day 1 buy for me…. but just want to see what other people think, as do many of my fellow gamers out there.

  • i’m curious what all the various “skins” do if you pre-order with amazon or gamestop? what about the dominus skin with the limited edition copy? will it give me a nice tan in-game? i’m kinda pale – sigh.

  • lostinplainsight

    yeah, but unlike SOCOM people would actually play their game.

  • This game is going to make it incredibly hard to finish Final Fantasy XIII.

  • I do hate it when a game becomes “old enough to spoil”, such as Final Fantasy VII, which I only recently got a chance to pick up. Luckily even reviews of Shadow of the Collosus remained completely spoiler free, so I will keep myself blacked out on it.

  • I just wanted to say that I CANT WAIT FOR THIS GAME TO BE RELEASE! because there will BE ONLY CHAOS! Uncharted 2 lived up to its expectations..and went BEYOND with MULTI PLAYER..thats what i call IMPRESSIVE.I know it would’ve bin a little difficult to implement that kind of game play for GOD of WAR 3..so i just hope its LONGER than its older versions..either way Im sure i will be VERY IMPRESSED with the Graphics. THANKS SONY and SM FOR CREATING SUCH A FANTASTIC GAME!

  • UnholierThanThou

    I agree with lostinplainsight and this is the first time ever that I disagree with kspraydad. Sony, hire IW!

  • Thanks for the interview. I really like hearing from developers. It makes me truly appreciate the pride and effort that some of your best devs put into these video games. I really makes me enjoy it more when I have this perspective.

  • lostinplainsight

    Sony listen to the people who listened to me who are telling you that my idea is great.
    Hire Vince Zampella and Jason West.

  • @33…

    Well go ahead and hire them…but we don’t need an exclusive glitchfest…maybe they can make SIN again.


    SOCOM seems to have a core fan base that keeps the gameplay vibrant despite all the problems.

    I’m a single player game player anyways…I’m back to playing GoW1

  • Wow,i really wanted to read something about GOW3,all i watched was the Chaos Will Rise Trailer and read some small info here and there and then this.Hope God of War3 in my country(INDIA) doesnt get delayed.Mr Chris Morell do you have the authority to convince Sony India to import the Ultimate Edition??
    We indian gamers are REALLY REALLY REALLY diehard fans of the GOW franchise and want to badly own the ultimate edition.But it doesnt seem to be happening here.Or if thats not possible,if i sent you the money for the ultimate edition would you be able to send it to my place?? I would feel miserable if i dont end up owning GOW3 ultimate edition as i would be living with guilt that as a gamer/fan i have not supported the team for making the best franchise:-(

  • FFXIII Ticket winners announced? If I won I need to buy my plane ticket :P

  • Heavenly Sword 2, do it

  • Well, since you said we can ask Stig

  • Hi, Chris.

    I’d love it if you could ask Stig what the process was like in creating/writing the story. Did it deviate from the vision laid out in the previous two games, and if so, what were the reasons for the deviation? For example, did the GOWIII team think that they needed to forge their own path?

    As games become more viable mediums for storytelling, this element of the game totally fascinates me. Also, please tell Stig that I think he’s a total class act from the word go. I love how down-to-earth that guy is (and indeed, the entire team).


  • Well, since you said that we can ask questions to Stig here Chris, here is 1 from me:

    Is it true that you have worked in the game Dr. Muto? I thought that game was fun. Not even close to God of war fun, but different anyway and better than the average press score in my opinion. Unless Sony wouldn’t have any rights on Dr. Muto, is it possible to see a small downloadable PSN game in the near future? If you have not worked in dr. muto, then please ignore the question above. What i would ask in that case is: Considering the fact that gow3 project must have been exhausting for you, do you see yourself working on a smaller project after gow3? Or do you see yourself work on a full blu ray game again?

    Please Chris ask him this :)

  • Chris, please ask Stig what he and the rest of the Santa Monica are going to be working on next? Also, tell him we have not played GoW3 yet but we want MORE & then some MORE!!!

  • I’d love to know when the Ultimate God of War Fan winners will be announced!

    On topic, I’d like to know what kind of a challenge it was upgrading the ps2 engine to ps3. I’ve read that some of the original code is used in GoW3 from Gow1/2 and if so, what hurdles did you face? Are you guys/gals satisfied with the results? I hope so, because I know I am!

  • cccccccccoooooooooooooooonnnnnnnngggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttuuuuuuuuuuuuulllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttiiiiiiiiiiooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnn

  • That is pretty sexy this game is gone meek for years to come can’t wait

  • Hey chris,please can you ask him this question.
    Why didn’t you guys make a trophy for completing the game in chaos mode?

  • I really think at this stage in the game, Sony Santa Monica Studios should really change their name (no offence to Sony) but they are a powerhouse up there with Insomniac & Naughty Dog and deserve it.
    Perhaps if Sony were keen on this they could make it fun like having a contest where fans can come up with a new name for the studio and win some cool prizes (like a trip to the studio, autographed games/posters, etc)
    Then in a couple of years when the next GOW installment comes out (you know, the prequel…..) it will be the first launch game of the newly named veteran studio

  • Thanks for the interview! Great one!

  • Oh my god, this game is going to be amazing. I can’t wait these agonizing 12 days for it to come out. I’ve had the demo ever since it came out when you had to pre-order the GOW Collection and I can’t get enough of it. This was a great read and I am so ready for this game to come out.

Please enter your date of birth.