Destructoid interview: God of War III design director, Todd Papy


Not too long ago, Sony gave us the opportunity to check out God of War III and it was -- as we had expected -- glorious. 

After wiping ourselves off, we sat down with the game's design director, Todd Papy. Papy knows his God of War, having worked with David Jaffe on the first title on the PlayStation 2. We talked about the influence of Shadow of the Colossus, working with the new "Titan" gameplay, downloadable content, and more. 

Hit the jump for the transcript of our full chat.

Tell me a little bit about your role on God of War III.

Design Director, I'm basically the lead designer.

OK, so what exactly does that mean?

Basically bringing Stig's vision to life. I work very closely with him, and I work closely with Adam [Puhl] who's our lead combat designer. I basically work with all of those guys, to make sure it flows correctly. Things like making sure the puzzles are great, building on the three pillars which is combat, navigation, and puzzles. Making sure that the experience and "wow" moments are all in the right place. That kind of stuff.

Is this the first God of War game that you've worked on?

No, I worked very closely with Dave [Jaffe] on the first one, doing all the A.I. scenarios and combat, and building some of those levels. On the second one, I left and then came back to do the Pegasus Wing bits. Before Corey [Barlog] left along with a couple of the other key guys, I was the lead fight guy.

So this is God of War III. It's gotta be like "holy shit," and there has to be a lot of pressure for you and the entire team. How have you guys been dealing with that?

There's always the pressure of "we've done that before, we can't do that again." So part of it is coming up with ideas and making sure they feel fresh.

But at the same time, if you look back at God of War I, there were parts of that we couldn't get it. You know, we wanted to do Pegasus Wings, so let's bring that into II. We wanted to do an Icarus Wing kind of flight section in II, but we couldn't, so let's do it in III. Or even with the Chimera [enemy] -- we had him built, and ready for II, but we just didn't have enough time. We don't want to ship with crap. We want to make sure we polish everything and lock it down, so it shines.

So does God of War III kind of feel like the culmination of everything?

I think for us, it is. Like Stig mentioned with the Titans -- we're not "faking" the Titans in this game. That is refreshing, yet very, very scary. Because we are venturing into a whole new realm of having moving levels. So an arm turns, and then you'll be on a wall. Arm turns again, now you're on a ceiling. Trying to tune that and pace that, that's a huge challenge.

We're looking forward to having some new experiences, trying to blow the player's mind, basically. It would be my goal, however long the game is -- we're still pacing it out and everything like that -- but if the player never gets up and goes to the bathroom. If he wears a diaper and plays, I'd be fine with that.

Those scenarios, where the Titan arm moves and shifts, and Kratos falls backwards -- like we saw in the trailer -- are those scripted and linear? So you'd hit a certain point in a level and that's going to trigger?

No. Well, it could be that if the Titan's thinking about something or moving, and he flows into a different animation, you could be anywhere on that arm. It will be very free-form, about as free-form as we can make it.

That has to be extremely difficult to design levels for.


Yeah, it is. Like Stig said, if you're on the arm, well where can you go? You can go to the side, or whatever. So we have to figure out, either we want to funnel to player and have the goal in the background so you're always working towards something. So the way that we think about levels, we have a certain philosophy with that. We try to bring that to the Titans to see if that still works. But also making sure that the camera pans around the arm to give you that motion feeling.

Like the Colossus in the second game, we just had the camera swaying. That was a static level, but it was just camera sway. But if gave you that sense of movement. With the Titans [in III], you really get that movement. You can get detached and possibly re-attach. That's something that we need to have sound.

One of the first thigns I thought when I saw the tiny Kratos on the enormous Titan was Shadow of the Colossus. Obviously, this is on a much larger scale ...

A little bit.

So you were influenced by that when designing God of War III?

Yes. We definitely looked at that. The biggest thing for us was being able to take that and put our twist on it. I think they did a great game. It ran a little slow on some stuff, but you know, Kratos isn't the kind of guy that's going to hold on to fur for dear life. He's going to be very aggressive. So how can we fuse that to get Kratos' personality through on that level?

To clarify, he's going to be on multiple moving beings?


Is he going to hop from one to another?

As far as one Titan to another? Oh, we haven't tried that out yet! [laughs]

But he's not going to be on one Titan the entire game?

No, no. But for story moments, I can't divulge who the other Titans are.

Is it safe to say that each Titan is sort of a different level, or has a different feel to it?


So to simplify it, you have one that's the lava titan and the water titan ...

Yeah, we're not going Mega Man style on this one. [laughs]

But the biggest thing with Titans -- which you kind of saw in the trailer where the one guy is moving from his butt crack all the way to the shoulder -- it didn't feel like you were on a Titan. It just felt like a normal level, that you're just running through. So a lot of it is finding key camera shots. You know, there's a hand in the background or a shoulder. So it reminds you "Yeah, I'm on this creature." Or seeing her face turn so she's looking at you while you're walking around, or something like that. So we're always thinking about what's in frame. Because any can just do something on the back and not show anything, and just say it's a Titan.

The game itself, it sounds like you're trying to wrap it up pretty nicely, in terms of this epic conclusion of the God of War trilogy. Obviously now in this generation, downloadable content is pretty popular, and it's almost expected, whether it's maps or an Epilogue like Ubisoft is doing for Prince of Persia.

Considering you're actually wrapping this game up at the end -- and I'm assuming it comes to a conclusion -- is there room for downloadable content in God of War III?

Yeah, that's definitely something we're looking into. But as far as any multiplayer experience, this is a solo campaign. Kratos has never really had a buddy for the trip so ... but we are looking at downloadable content, and also Home support.

So can you comment on what you're looking at in terms of downloadable content? New levels, new story ...?

Well currently Stig and I have briefly talked about it, but we're so focused on making this one first. Once we start wrapping up everything, that's when our attention will go to what the next downloadable content's going to be.

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Nick Chester
Nick ChesterFormer Editor-in-Chief (2011)   gamer profile

Editor-in-Chief @ Destructoid.com nick at destructoid.com  more + disclosures



Filed under... #Destructoid Originals #God of War #Interview #PS3



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