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Feeling the Love: PlayStation Studios dev teams share their favorite fan interactions

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One of the joys of working as a game developer is experiencing the deep impact games can have on players’ lives across the world. Within the PlayStation Studios family, we often hear stories about how our games have sparked new friendships, rekindled old ones, formed life-defining memories, helped people overcome grief or inspired them to greatness. 

This week, our friends in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving. And while Thanksgiving isn’t a globally recognized holiday, I couldn’t think of a better time to celebrate some of our favorite developer-fan moments. Many of the best interactions between fans and developers occur unnoticed, without spectacle. 

We asked the teams at PlayStation Studios to share some poignant memories that have positively affected them. These are their stories.

Bend Studio


“When I played Days Gone for the first time in 2019, I had no idea how it would completely change my life. Over the past two years, I began forming relationships with some of the team at Bend Studio — first, as a passionate fan through my Days Gone content. This included my personal blog focused solely on Days Gone that consisted of fan-fiction stories I wrote, interviews with the actors and dev members of Days Gone, a gallery of my in-game photo mode shots, fan art from around the community, the weeklong anniversary event and more. 

I did all of this simply because I love to create and share my passion of games. Between being a father of three little ones and my full-time job where I worked in a warehouse, most of my spare time would go into creating more content and working on community events to hold in my small space on the Internet because I loved to do it. I started out as just a fan of Days Gone, but crazily enough that led to landing my dream job at Bend Studio, where Chris Reese (Studio Director) and Eric Jensen (Design Manager) gave me an opportunity to join their team and officially become the Online Community Specialist.”

Kevin McAllister, Online Community Specialist


Guerrilla


“For us here at Guerrilla, one of our fondest memories was when it became clear how much Aloy was going to mean to people. This became very real when people started cosplaying as Aloy before the game was even out. Cosplayers spent so much time crafting these beautiful outfits and trusting us to make Aloy everything they hoped her to be. 

During one of our later playtests for Horizon Zero Dawn, we had a whole group of Aloy cosplayers over, in full costume, playing our game as Aloy, and we were all hoping that we pulled it off for them. Speaking with them afterwards, they let us know that it was an emotional experience for them, and they were thrilled with Aloy. That made us really happy, and was a special moment for me personally, as my own daughter Laura provided the voice for Baby Aloy. Laura is almost six now, and is starting to realize how cool it was to be ‘the voice of Baby Aloy’. When she’s a bit older, I will give her the beautiful Nora necklace Raven Star, one of those first few cosplayers who came to the playtest, custom made for her when La

Horizon Forbidden West: An authentic world

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The Forbidden West is vast and deadly, filled with ancient ruins, awe-inspiring machines, and hidden threats. Surrounded by danger, its human inhabitants need places to train, rest, and improve their gear. The game’s settlements form these sanctuaries, and they are just as vital to Aloy as they are to the tribes that live in them.

The living world in these settlements is a complex character of its own. Every detail establishes credibility, creating an authentic environment through visual storytelling. For example, the Nora live in relative solitude in the isolated valley of the Sacred Land, making it difficult for them to communicate with the outside world. As a result, they are less technologically advanced than other tribes, and more wary of outsiders. Their settlements are made of wood and rope, featuring minimal furnishings other than what is needed for daily life. Food and resources are obtained through hunting and gathering, so there’ll be pelts, baskets, or sheaths full of arrows lying around. All the objects and people within such a settlement feel like they belong, and more so: like they’ve always been there.


Spoiler Alert: Please note this article may contain some spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn and its storyline.


World building with intention

With hours and hours of exploration in the Forbidden West, how do you create a lush and thriving world filled with activities, but without overwhelming people, or detracting from the overarching story? Espen Sogn, Lead Living World Designer at Guerrilla, explains how his team is central to this very question.

“When you walk through the Forbidden West, everything should feel like it belongs there. The Living World team at Guerrilla works on aspects of the game that make the world feel authentic and alive:  the tribes, the settlements, and the people within them. There’s an intention behind everything we place within the world.”

Clarity on those intentions comes from collaboration with the narrative team. “At the start of a project, we put a lot of thought into every tribe we’re going to encounter,” says Annie Kitain, Senior Writer at Guerrilla. “What their conflicts are, how they fit into the story, and how they interact with the world around them. Take the Tenakth, for instance. Many of their beliefs are influenced by the ancient ruins of the Forbidden West, and unlike other tribes, they’re comprised of three distinct clans. Their shared history, convictions, disputes – all of that is important to developing the characters that Aloy will meet on her journey.”

“Our main challenge is translating this narrative framework  into visuals that are integral to the world itself,” says Espen. “For example, the Tenakth are known to be competitive and combat-focused, but so are other tribes. So how do we distinguish them, and how do we communicate that visually?”

‘It then becomes all about the details, the animations, and the behaviors. Within their settlements, you’ll see the Tenakth working out, readying themselves for battle. They’re often younger because they need to be capable warriors. Their base is an ancient ruin, from which they’ve picked up certain Old World gestures that they may not fully understand – like using a military salute to say hello.’

‘Ultimately, our goal is to make sure NPCs feel connected to where they live, and we work closely with other internal teams, such as Narrative, Quest, and Environment, to make sure that every location feels authentic.”

“The Living World team does a fantastic job, and it’s so great to see it all come t

Share of the Week: Hi-tech

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Last week, we asked you to turn to some hi-tech gadgets and tech-loving characters using #PSshare #PSBlog. From gizmos and weapons, to hi-tech AI, here are this week’s hi-tech highlights: 

Sefwick lays back in front of some massive screens and relaxes in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

 photo_station5 shares Selene bearing down on some enemies with alien tech in Returnal.

justinphotomode shares Ratchet feeling energized by his weapon in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

TheoBouillet shares Aloy tapping into ancient tech for some answers in Horizon Zero Dawn.

Photoingame shares how body tech modifications are all the rage in Cyberpunk 2077.

AloyUltra shares Mass Effect 3’s EDI, an AI character.

Search #PSshare #PSBlog on Twitter or Instagram to see more entries to this week’s theme. Want to be featured in the next Share of the Week? 

THEME: Feast
SUBMIT BY: Wednesday 9 AM PT on November 24

Next week we’re tucking in for some delicious in game meals. Share bountiful feasts or scrumptious snacks found in the game of your choice using #PSshare #PSBlog for a chance to be featured.

How Sifu’s death and aging system functions

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Hello everyone, following our combat system overview, we wanted to give you a preview of our death and aging mechanic. We have received a lot of questions regarding our progression system, and I tried to answer some of them below!

How Sifu’s death and aging system functions

Kung fu or “gōngfu” can refer to any discipline or skill achieved through hard work, practice and patience. kung fu as a martial art carries the concept of endless self-improvement, of a mastery kept alive and relevant by permanent practice. In that sense, a single life is never enough to know, or have, kung fu. 

In Sifu, our hero, although they’ve been training their whole life, are only 20 years old. They are driven by a burning desire for revenge and will have to face a dangerous group of assassins, who have become prominent figures of the city and are based in well defended strongholds. Our young student does not have the luxury of an entire life ahead of them to improve their kung fu, and as they depart on their path of revenge, at dusk, they will have to find and defeat all of their enemies in a single night. 

As we have already shown before, our hero has one powerful tool to help them on their quest: an ancient pendant that can heal them back to life. But nothing is ever free. That pendant has to be fueled with life energy, and every time they get back up, they will age.

That means that you will start the game with a limited resource that you must manage carefully if you want to reach the end of your quest. Aging will not make you weaker, but it has a slight impact on your abilities: as you get older, you will trade maximum health for offensive power. Your character’s model will also showcase how old you are, and you will be able to contemplate the consequences of your actions. But getting older has no drawbacks on your abilities and you will be able to complete the game at any age.

The ability to rise up after death gives the opportunity for players to get right back in the action, over and over again. Before getting back to the fight, the death screen is actually a good spot for players to take a breather and reflect on their past mistakes. It is where they’ll be able to unlock new skills and open more options to deal with the situation that caused their demise. Skills can also be unlocked in the hero’s Wuguan, accessible between missions, and in Shrines found throughout the levels. 

Shrines will also allow you to improve your character during runs, by giving the player a choice between different perks, each one with different costs or requirements. Along

How Sifu’s kung fu combat works

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Greetings to the PlayStation community! I’m Félix, marketing manager at Sloclap, and I’ve worked with the team to give you this short overview of Sifu’s combat system and a sneak peek into our design choices.

How Sifu’s kung fu combat works

Building on our experience working on martial arts gameplay with Absolver but focusing this time on a single-player game, we wanted with Sifu to offer a unique player experience, heavily drawing from kung fu and martial arts movies. Fighting villains by the dozen in a nightclub, jumping over tables and throwing bottles, we want the player to feel like the main character of a kung fu movie.

In terms of design, it meant for us striking a balance between credibility – realistic combat techniques, faithful animations – and esthetics, with crisp action and immersive camera framings. With Sifu, we wanted to mix the esthetics of classic kung fu movies with the raw close-quarters combat found in modern movies such as The Raid, Old Boy, or John Wick. 

The combat system draws from these different inspirations. We want the gameplay to offer a challenge consistent with the kung fu values of training and self-improvement. And we want players to experience a progression, to feel like they are learning kung fu, improving, and progressively earning their power fantasy. 

We designed what we called the Structure system, to emulate the real combat notion of impacting and breaking the stance of your opponent, his ability to attack and defend himself. It takes the form of a gauge, for both you and your enemies. If you manage to break your opponent’s structure, you will be able to finish them with a powerful takedown, which is the opportunity to display the devastating techniques of Pak Mei. But if your own structure gauge is filled, you’re unable to fight and defend yourself for a short duration and you will find yourself vulnerable to your enemies’ attacks.

Blocking attacks will quickly fill your balance gauge, and we’ve given the players a few more flexible defensive options. Dodges will allow you to create space at key times and can be life savers. But more importantly, parrying hits at the right time will let you deflect the blow, unbalancing your opponent and opening opportunities to counterattack or to throw them down. You can also avoid blows altogether, by ducking under or jumping over incoming strikes. It is particularly useful against strong hits that you can’t parry or to quickly recover balance and strike back at your opponent.

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