In a special GDC Europe keynote today, Guerilla's Managing Director Hermen Hulst talked about how the studio was founded as a startup, how it worked with Sony, and the development process of the Killzone franchise. (He also used the above header -- a Destructoid original -- in a slide!)
He showed a video of a tech demo, featuring space marines, that it showed Sony in 1999; it didn't look bad for a 1999 tech demo. It impressed Sony and the rest, as they say, is history. He told the audience about how it was inspired by Nazi and Russian World War II military outfits and machines for Killzone's Helghast soldiers, and that adding glowing eyes was great for bad guys because they always look evil.
It then found out about Jin-Roh -- the Japanese anime featuring soldiers with glowing eyes -- one year before the original Killzone launched. That little thing didn't please Guerilla very much, but it stuck to its concept in what Hulst spun as the design being based on universal values. He seemed pretty honest, so he probably meant it... although as a Dutch guy I can, of course, never trust a Dutch guy.
Seriously though, he came across more as an old indie guy. He stressed how Guerilla's transition, from indie studio to Sony-published and then to Sony-owned allowed it to keep its culture. Interestingly enough, ex-Westwood hero Louis Castle had a talk earlier today about how you will always have to adapt after acquisition. But Hulst did create some confidence by talking about how it first looked at Gran Turismo developer Polyphony and Uncharted dev Naughty Dog and how they dealt with being owned by Sony.
On the Killzone side, he had some more interesting things to discuss. Guerilla apparently created a method which he dubbed "top-down and bottom-up." (He is so Dutch.) This consisted of analyzing all reviews of Killzone 1 and "all forum posts", which resulted in average scores, what was wrong about the first game, and what was good about it. It then took the top five best and worst elements and made it the objective to turn the worst five into highlights for Killzone 2. In a second analysis after Killzone 2's release, it turned out that three awful aspects of Killzone 1 (AI, death animations and cover) were now seen as being great in Killzone 2.
The studio did the same thing with Killzone 2, compiling a list of some of the game's most negative aspects as perceived by gamers and critics. Although I couldn't make out the entire sheet at a distance, one aspect that was badly received in Killzone 2 sprung out: Vehicular Combat. Suffice to say, it's highly likely that this will be a main focus for Killzone 3. It would also easily fit into their more open terrain level design that is hinted at in the trailers. Another aspect was the lack of variety. This led Guerilla to conclude that there was a lack of focus on unique experiences. "Call of Killzone" anyone?
Finally, Hulst announced that Guerilla is starting up a new studio (in Amsterdam's downtown area) which will develop an as-of-yet-unannounced new IP. They are hiring, so get on it.
How Killzone 3 will shape up is something we'll be able to find out in the not too distant future, as Hulst says the studio is "going to put their creativity in the pressure cooker" and finish it really fast. The game is apparently already stable, except for "the occasional crash here and there."
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