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Fine-tuning The Last of Us Part II’s interactive guitar

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Music has always been a cornerstone of Naughty Dog titles, but with The Last of Us: Part II we knew we wanted to take things a step further, and put the music directly into players’ hands.

The idea sprung first from a narrative angle: between our first internal story pitch and our first external trailer, the guitar was always a story focus. And as designers, we wanted to make the guitar playable from the get go, to make the player feel that connection between Joel and Ellie.

However, the world of The Last of Us is grounded and somber. A flashy guitar mini-game wouldn’t fit the tone of our post-apocalyptic environment. Moreover, Ellie playing guitar shouldn’t be about showing off your skills or fulfilling your dreams of being a rock star, it should be about remembering a loved one and expressing oneself through music to connect to them.

We felt early on, then, that we should avoid rhythm-based games.  While those experiences are extremely fun, our tone was better-suited to introspection and expression, rather than high-skill riffs, combos, and the like. 

But what are our alternatives? How could we craft a playable guitar that matched our expressive, melancholy tone? We started looking for inspiration not just from existing games, but from music-making apps – tools for people to create music of their own. Of particular note were smartphone music apps, whose touchscreen interfaces got our gears turning about harnessing the DualShock 4 touchpad.

Thankfully, one of the earliest captured cinematics for the game was Ashley Johnson (Ellie) singing “Take on Me” by Aha. So even early on, we had a reference to use as our goal for the minigame. With that target, we asked ourselves how much of the song should the player play before we transition over to the cinematic? Should we try to layer Ashley’s singing over the player playing as we transition? Stepping back, how much freedom do we give the player before we consider it a failure? We saw that a good way to distinguish success from failure was by tracking chord progression but leaving the plucking of strings up to the player. This allows for more musical expression – including things like tempo, time signature, and style – to be determined by the player while still keeping the song recognizable.

Once this “Take On Me” prototype felt solid, we started to consider the rest of the game, and the other songs we needed. We knew “Future Days” by Pearl Jam would be a critical one to figure out, but there were ideas kicking around for other songs as well. Knowing that either way we would need more chord wheels, we started to ask ourselves…how many chords might we need to cover any potential song we might want to include down the line?

This was the origin of our Free Play (Practice) mode. This mode wasn’t our original intention, but rather an idea that emerged from expanding the system to multiple songs. Once we started down the Free Play rabbit hole, we got to lean even further into our goals of player expression. Our goal was to lay out the chord wheels so that they’d be intuitive to players with some musical knowledge, but also allow novices to still sound good even when strumming around randomly with a wheel.

Creating the new and classic outfits of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

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The Guardians aren’t just great at saving the galaxy – they also have impeccable style. For Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, we created over 40 outfits for the band, from classic comic looks to all-new designs.

When we set out to create original looks, we wanted to work with a Marvel comic book artist who’s reimagined a variety of Marvel Super Heroes over the years: the talented RB Silva. We collaborated with him to create a line-up of team outfits with a vibe that clearly stated: “this is what we’re wearing for the final battle for the fate of the galaxy”. We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the creation of the Golden Guardians outfits, along with some exclusive concept art for you to enjoy.

How did you come up with the core concept for the “Golden Guardians” outfits?

RB Silva: I was immediately informed by Eidos-Montréal and Marvel that some of the required costumes were meant for a team, and I had lots of ideas for that, but one of these ideas, the one that stuck in my mind, was that these should be an armor or something like an armor. As soon as the material was established, the ideas flowed naturally.

How did you go about adapting this core concept for each Guardian – five characters with very different builds?

RB Silva: First, I needed to establish a common element that would identify the outfits as a team. The easy part was establishing the color. Working along with the people at Eidos-Montréal and Marvel, we concluded that the outfits should be white and gold. The hard part was all the rest. Kidding! But developing these outfits according to height, body type and personality was a task we executed very carefully. Many shapes used in Rocket Racoon’s armor were not functional for Star Lord’s armor. That’s when working very closely with Eidos-Montréal and Marvel went very well and, with a few sketches, we managed to establish an individual concept for each character.

What was your favorite aspect of designing these outfits?

RB Silva: Seeing the characters together, each one wearing something visually alike yet different pleased me a lot. I did a lot of research and had access to an image bank with lots of military outfits, and maybe it’s not easy to spot many military characteristics in those outfits, but they’re there (lol). I had to think of something very resistant, fit for very extreme, aggressive conditions, so a costume sewed by a teenager in his bedroom to fight crime might not work very well here.

I loved seeing the final results developed by the 3D modeling team.

What was the most challenging aspect of the creation of these outfits?

RB Silva: Undoubtedly, the most challenging part was finding elements that expressed each character’s personality in each scenario. The creative team at Eidos-Montréal sent me some referenc

Official PlayStation Podcast 417: A Gut-Bustin’ Good Time

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Email us at PSPodcast@sony.com!

Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here


Got plans for the long weekend? Settle in with your old pals Sid, Kristen, and Justin for a look back on ten years of this humble podcast (née Blogcast), then write in and tell us what you’re playing this week (also, where you draw the line at spoilers). Listen in!

Stuff We Talked About

  • Ten years of podcastin’
  • Thanksgiving
  • Solar Ash
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Death’s Door
  • Radiohead
  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Arcane

The Cast

Sid Shuman –  Senior Director, Content Communications, SIE

Justin Massongill – Content Communications Manager, SIE

Angry Alligator rampages to PS4 and PS5 November 30

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Welcome to the swamp – a beautiful and quiet place. Well.. until the humans arrived and ruined everything. Tomorrow, on November 30, Angry Alligator will finally be launching on PlayStation 4 and be backwards compatible with PlayStation 5. So are you ready to become an alligator  – and hungry for some adventure? It’s time for gator greatness.

Life as an alligator

In Angry Alligator we wanted players to do something they probably have never done: experience life from the perspective of an alligator. To make the player feel what it’s like to be both an adorable  – vulnerable  – baby gator and a vicious big reptile, we’ve spent a lot of time making it behave as realistic as possible, within its stylized world. Players will be able to choose one of four different kinds of gators to experience their swamp adventure and go on a path of revenge.

1: Early concept art of the alligator, 2: Renders of the different final alligator versions

Become the biggest, baddest gator

However, it will be too early to go after some humans right off the bat. As a small baby gator, you’ll first have to fill your belly with some juicy frogs, tasty squirrels and other small prey to get your grub on. Explore an open world filled with creatures to meet and eat and discover plenty of secrets. As you gain enough XP and nutrients, you’ll grow into a bigger and badder version of yourself and be ready to take upon a new mission: scare the living daylights out of some humans.

Mess with humans

Nothing is more fun than taking proper revenge. Especially when it’s towards pesky humans taking over your beloved swamp. As an evolved gator, you can: lure them unknowingly with loud music, wear a wig or hat to disguise yourself and blend into their pack, pull them through toilets or surprise them with an explosion. Nobody invades your swamp and gets away with it.  


That’s about all we can share for now. We look forward to seeing all of you explore the swamp and grow out your gator. Of course, as you’re the hero the swamp needs, we’re also dying to know how you’ll exact your revenge upon the humans. The fate of the swamp lies on your scaled shoulders. No pressure.

See you later alligator – on November 30!

Yahaba and Susamaru invade Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles

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Hello there, everyone! After adding Rui and Akaza to the game back in October, we are excited to announce the second in the series of free post-launch content updates is now available in Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles.

This new update adds two more characters to the Versus mode roster: Yahaba and Susamaru. In this article, we would like to introduce these two new playable demons and how they’re represented in The Hinokami Chronicles.

Yahaba

First up is Yahaba (voiced by Xander Mobus), a menacing figure who teams up with Susamaru to ambush Tanjiro in Asakusa under Kibutsuji’s orders. He has eyes on both of his hands and can generate arrows that manipulate directional forces with his Blood Demon Art, making him dangerous in long-ranged battles.

While these arrows cannot deal damage by themselves, once they pierce an enemy, they can be used to either slam an opponent into the ground (which does deal damage) or they can be used on rocks to hurl at opponents. Players will need to keep these options in mind while playing as Yahaba.

Susamaru

Susamaru (voiced by Sarah Williams) is a demon with the appearance of a young girl who attacks Tanjiro in Asakusa alongside Yahaba. Through the use of her powerful mari (decorative thread balls), she can keep her distance from any opponent. In-game, this makes her particularly strong against Demon Slayer Corps who favor close range combat.

Susamari fights by hurling her mari towards the enemy while actively moving around the field. They are a great way to lure an opponent into letting down their guard and set up effective combos that can deal high amounts of damage.

60fps Mode Added

Also, in this update, a new 60fps mode has been added to the PlayStation 5 version of the game. Within this mode, the controllable sections of exploration and combat in Story mode and certain controllable sections in the offline Versus mode will be playable in 60fps.

Alongside these new playable demons and the 60fps mode, more online missions have been added to the game for players to complete to earn Kimetsu Points and unlock new rewards, such as new quotes and profile photos. Be sure to download and install the latest update (v1.20) today to unlock all this great new content.

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