There's no better example of how talented devs can breathe new life into a classic game franchise than Sony Santa Monica's award-winning 2018 game God of War, and there's no better place to learn how it was made than the 2019 Game Developers Conference this March!
There's a ton of great talks lined up for the show this year, including over a baker's dozen devoted to all aspects of the design, development, and release of God of War.
For example, you may have already noticed that game industry veteran and God of War creative director Cory Barlog is coming to GDC 2019 to present a special Design track talk on "Reinventing God of War", in which he'll walk you through the long, complicated, and painful process whereby Sony Santa Monica successfully launched a fresh take on an established franchise.
After a seemingly endless climb up an impossibly enormous mountain, filled with countless gut-wrenching failures and joyfully sweet successes, Barlog will take the stage at GDC to share what he's learned from the experience of reinventing God of War, as well as practical takeaways you can apply to your own work.
However, GDC 2019 will also host a plethora of very specific, detailed deep dives into all aspects of the game's design. If you're interested in God of War's remarkable level design, for example, you'll want to check out lead level designer Rob Davis' Level Design Workshop presentation on "The Level Design of 'God of War'."
Davis will talk you through the process of breaking 10+ years of existing design rules (formed over the course of seven games!) and show you how he and his team came up with 6 new level design rules for God of War, as well as discuss best practices for taking levels from concept to completion!
If you loved the way 2018's God of War created the illusion of a single, unbroken camera tracking shot, imbuing the whole game with a cinematic feel, make time to check out lead narrative animator Erica Pinto's GDC 2019 talk on "Keyframes and Cardboard Props: The Cinematic Process Behind 'God of War'." She'll detail the specific and somewhat unconventional techniques used by the team, including the steps taken to develop the documentary style no-cut camera, the usefulness of live-action pre-visualization, and the importance of communication in a multi-discipline effort to pull together God of War's superb cinematic sequences!
Of course, God of War is a game about combat, and there's a slew of great GDC 2019 talks that dive deep into various aspects of the game's combat design. In "Taking an Axe to 'God of War' Gameplay", design director Jason McDonald will explain how the God of War team worked to preserve the "feel" of the older God of War games, while still changing almost every aspect of how the game plays (from the weapons to the enemies to the camera) in an effort to reinvent a classic.
If you want more insight, pair that talk with lead combat designer Mihir Sheth's session on "Evolving Combat in 'God of War' for a New Perspective", which will cover the same topic with a specific focus on how the team adapted the series' signature third-person combat for the more intimate camera angles at play in the new God of War. Also, senior staff technical combat designer Hayato Yoshidome will be giving a talk on "Raising Atreus for Battle in 'God of War'" that'll detail how the team worked to make Atreus a fully realized companion AI, one whose role in combat is as important as his role in the story.
And if you just want the really good fun technical stuff, we've got that too! Brace yourself to be blown away by senior programmer Rupert Renard's talk on "Wind Simulation in 'God of War'", in which he'll show you how fluid simulation works to create the game's wind effects, why it's useful, and how you get it to run efficiently on the GPU. Try to hold it together in the face of Renard's other GDC 2019 talk on "Disintegrating Meshes with Particles in 'God of War'", where you'll learn how God of War uses a new high-quality particle emission technique to remove corpses from the screen (as well as so much more!), as well as the benefits and drawbacks of the technology.
That's only about half of the God of War talks on offer at GDC this year, so if you're at all interested make sure you head over to the GDC 2019 Session Scheduler and check out the full list! There you can full details on all announced talks and start planning out your GDC 2019, which takes place March 18th through the 22nd at the (newly renovated!) Moscone Center in San Francisco.
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