I remember being disappointed when Stephen whisked by my stand, heading straight to Clint Hocking and the incredible, newly-unveiled FC2 map editor. I read MTV Mutliplayer a lot, and along with N'Gai, there weren't many journalists I was more looking forward to a grilling from then Stephen (although if I could have sparked even a minute's interest from Brian Crecente during our preview stage, I would have considered that a coup). When he left that day without spending any time with POP, I basically resigned myself to the fact that POP would not be able to attract Stephen's attention - probably ever.
Last week, I saw a post on Multiplayer about POP. Then a couple of days later, another. Then another. POP has featured several times in the last week or so, and in very positive ways. I'm happy that we finally managed to get Stephen's attention. :)
Nothing, though, could prepare me for his most recent (and last, I think) post about POP and, more specifically, the ending. A quote:
I believe Ubisoft Montreal identified the potency of forcing the player to commit an action that requires minutes of premeditation, internal conflict and pending regret. This moment is a triumph, because it assumes the player will think about the gameplay and will ponder what they are perpetrating.There were few elements of the game that were as fixed in our mind from day 1 on POP as the ending. It was literally one of the very first things we knew we wanted to do with the game, and stayed 100% fixed in our mind throughout development, despite its rather unorthodox nature. Last week, in fact, I met with JC (the game's creative director) for a coffee and asked him if he was monitoring the boards - he said he was with the single-minded intention of seeing if people 'got' the ending. Stephen most certainly did.
Some people have asked why we didn't give the player a 'real' choice as to how the game should end (other then just turning off the console, that is - something we predicted during development that 5% of the players would do). The easiest and simplest answer to this is because of the 'Warrior Within' issue. On WW, there were two endings. One 'normal' one and a second 'special' ending. When we started work on The Two Thrones, we needed to decide which ending to support as the official ending. It wasn't easy, and a lot of fans were upset at our decision because the ending we started from was not the one they saw - the continuity was lost.
As I've said several times, this POP is designed with the potential of a trilogy in mind (and to be a stand alone experience as well), so it was very important to us that a theoretical POP sequel would not have this same narrative incongruity to deal with.
Finally, on the off chance that Stephen reads this - SoTC was a big inspiration for us, but mostly with the intention of making the boss battles epic and emotional - something they succeeded in masterfully and that we only touched the surface of (in terms of emotional connection on the part of the player). Many of the similarities you pointed out are coincidental, but I certainly don't mind the comparison. We've always been very open about the huge influences that Ico, SoTC and Okami had on us during our development.
Okay, for real this time, Merry Christmas.