Taking a classic video game designed for a two-dimensional, small screen and converting it for display on a larger, 3D screen takes a little bit of fearlessness, a dash of persuasion, and a healthy dose of hard work and dedication to make it look great.
Sony Computer Entertainment America is releasing “God of War: Origins Collection” as a PS3 exclusive on September 13 for the PlayStation 3. It is rated M for mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, and sexual content. The pack contains “God of War: Chains of Olympus” and “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” - games that were originally released on the PlayStation Portable (PSP), but have been remastered in high-definition and 3D for the PS3.
It is the first time PSP titles have ever been made available for the PS3 in the US. Chip Blundell, director of marketing at Sony, said the goal was to take fan favorites from the PSP and present them in HD and 3D for gamers to enjoy.
The 3D upgrade was particularly challenging for the Ready At Dawn team, who designed the original PSP games and were given the task of updating their work.
Moving a video game from a small screen in 2D (480×272 resolution and 30 frames per second) to a large screen in 3D (1920x1080p at 60 frames per second) is more than just making things bigger and viewing it from two different angles. Their art team had to go through every single character by hand and increase the resolution by double or triple as well as repainting every texture on characters and environments.
Ready at Dawn worked with the Sony Santa Monica Studio, who had experience moving “God of War” and “God of War 2” from the PlayStation 2 to PS3. Producer Marc Turndorf said the Santa Monica team really pushed 3D, because, at the time, there were a lot of 3D skeptics at Ready at Dawn.
“I never expected it to be really compelling gameplay, but the end result (in 3D) is just amazing,” Turndorf said. “There were a lot of people here who felt like I felt, but we are all converts now.”
However, Turndorf said there was a drawback.
“We weren’t planning on re-rendering all the cinematics, but the game looked so good and then you plop back to the blocky PSP cinematics and it would take you out of the experience,” Turndorf explained. “It was worth it. Every time you jumped into a cinematic, it would have reminded you that it was originally a PSP game, but now they look fantastic.”
Jeremy Nikolai, senior programmer at Ready at Dawn , said fans that have played the titles on the PSP are going to be wowed when they see it on the PS3.
“It is just a completely different experience in surround sound,” Nikolai said. “3D looks really, really good. We’ve got one of the best 3D experiences with this game.”
The remastered games’ look and feel as if they were originally made for the PS3. Players who want to play the entire series in order (“Chains of Olympus,” “God of War,” “Ghost of Sparta,” “God of War 2,” “God of War 3”) will be hard pressed to distinguish between the remakes and the original versions for the PS3.
Turndorf said when they put a game together, they concentrate on making a great game first and don’t worry about the console the game will be played.
“We were making the best ‘God of War’ game we could make (in 2008) and it happened to be for the PSP,” Turndorf said. “We weren’t thinking PSP-centric in the development, but obviously we were in certain areas technologically speaking.”
Developing the best game they could originally helped when they found out they were going to remaster the titles for the PS3. The roots of a great story were already in place. The team just needed to improve the look and feel of the game.
Turndorf said the focus of their work was to make sure players got as great an experience on the PS3 as those who did on the PSP. While time restrictions limited what they could change story wise (both PSP titles were remastered in 10 months), they did add one important element to the controls.
“(Controller rumble) was something when we were designing the game on the PSP, obviously there is no rumble support. We tried to simulate that with a lot of camera shakes,” Turndorf said. “It was really great to actually add controller rumble and we had to do a little bit of work to make the shakes more subtle.”
“If you’ve played a game in 3D or watched a movie in 3D, that’s when you truly appreciate how immersive the experience is,” Blundell said. “Content for 3D is really what’s going to drive adoption for 3D. We have great content in gaming that takes advantage of 3D technology and really immerses (the player) in their entertainment experience.”
When the games first were released on the PSP in 2008, some fans were also expecting them to be released on the PS2, even though it was never announced that it would be anywhere other than the Sony handheld console. Now, those fans will get their wish to play all the games on the home console.
“The fans are the ones who told us that. They responded in great numbers in bringing ‘God of War’ to the PS3. That was direct fan and consumer feedback,” Blundell said. “We’ve had nothing but positive in the forums and the blog about these (games).”