Housed along one of Amsterdam’s canals in a non-descript old building lies one of the most unlikely companies. Unlikely because the Dutch don't immediately spring to mind when one thinks of high-profile developers.
Guerilla was founded nearly three years ago, originally known as Lost Boys Games, formed from the merging of three smaller Dutch software developers. Its credits include multiple projects (Call of the Dragonfly, Shellshock: Nam ’67, to name a few), that graced the PC and several video game platforms. In 2003, the company became a part of The Media Republic Group and was renamed Guerilla Games. Prior to that however, they pitched an ambitious project to SCEE.
That project of course is no other than Killzone which Sony invited us to check out first-hand at a recent Guerilla Games studio tour.
So on a chilly Tuesday morning, we hopped on the TGV high speed bullet train from Brussels Belgium to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to spend an afternoon with the company formerly known as Lost Boys Games. I won't indulge too much into the actual game details because frankly, that’s what reviews are for.
Being no stranger to the way games are developed and subsequently marketed, the tour didn’t have much that could surprise me, yet at the same time, it did offer something fresh, something I am not used to.
A company in my own backyard so to speak, (considering most companies I visit require me to fly for 12 hours) that had just developed one of the most anticipated PS2 games of this year, it felt strange discussing a high profile game with the developers of said game in my everyday language (Dutch).
The tour was conducted by Guerrilla product manager Alastair Burns, a short, energetic and passionate man whose sideburns can best be described as the stuff legends are made of. Sadly, complications with my camera prevented me from offering a quality picture of his impressive and meticulously maintained sideburns for the time being.
The tour started with one of the artists showing us the designs for the game and explaining to us how its respective environs were influenced by real world designs. Their objective -- to create a fictional world that adhered to some of the real life elements and architecture, ultimately setting gamers within a believable game environment.
From there, we got a chance to see how multiplayer maps are developed and tested, including an explanation of the scripting process for the game’s AI. During this time, we had a short chat with some of the project programmers, the testers and of course, the composer.
Upon closer inspection, the designs of the characters, CG, buildings, weapons, etc. really can’t be faulted. It's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into almost every part of the game and the high production values really shine trough in that part of the game. Non-existent weapons and surroundings still manage to portray a feeling of familiarity and that certainly helps the suspension of disbelief.