Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Last Guardian History

Here I will be discussing my thoughts on the Last Guardian, however, since the game has yet to appear, most of this post will be about the game's development history, it's trials and tribulations and the rumours that circulated during the long years we have been waiting for it. Note: I have used Kotaku's 'Last Guardian Timeline' article for much of the information listed here:

We were all very excited back when it was first announced at E3 2009! I immediately went out and bought myself a brand new PS3 console in joyous anticipation of Team Ico's next installment, only to realise (later) that something was wrong... something was very badly wrong!

2007 (18th May)
At a German Sony organized MotorStorm related event, a Sony employee revealed to a fan that Team ICO was working on two games, but none of this was confirmed.

24th January: News of Team Ico's third game was revealed through a job listing on Sony Japan's website with an image of a chain leading into what appeared to be a well, but what this meant wouldn't be clear until later.

Mysterious chain leading into a well

4th August: Sony's President of SCE Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, announced (Team Ico) 'have something really, really good on the way'.

6th AugustIco and Shadow of the Colossus creator Fumito Ueda divulged a few details about his new game, in particular, that it's nowhere near ready. 'Development hasn't reached the critical stage yet', meaning there's still a long way to go.

28th AugustWhen asked if Fumito Ueda's follow up to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus would be ready by this year's Tokyo Game Show, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida could only say 'I cannot tell, but I can say that they've been working very hard since the release of Shadow of the Colossus'. The team actually started work on The Last Guardian in 2007.

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus creative director - Fumito Ueda

25th MarchAt the GDC (Game Development Conference) in San Francisco, California, Ueda was asked 'Can you tell us about the new game you're working on?' He responded 'Probably, it will be similar to... ummm. Well, the essence of the game is similar to ICO'.

19th May: A Playstation trailer for the game was leaked one month before E3. The only name given for this video game was 'Project Trico', see video here:

Project Trico
We can consider this video to be akin to the early 'Project Nico' video Team Ico produced in 2004 to wow the heads of Sony for funding. As we now know, they were successful. So Project Trico is the first early glimpse we have of the The Last Guardian (TLG).

This teaser trailer start out with the now familiar chain and well. A small bird lands swiftly on the stones surrounding the chain, the chain starts to move and the bird flies off.

We see two glowing eyes appear out of the darkness surrounding the well... they seems to change colour - what could this mean? A large bird like claw appears at the edge of the well, there's a sound like metal 'ringing' on stone as the claw makes contact.

Next we see a young boy frantically running down a dark hallway - as if he's running away from something, something he fears? The boy is breathing heavily, as if he is nearly out of breath.

The scene changes and we appear to be looking through the eyes of... something. Some giant creature that is also running down a similar dark hallway. But at the end of the hallway is a lonely figure, short and squat but resembling a armoured knight.

The knight is now in focus, he is clad in metal armour with strange alien head gear, and a distinctive floral design emblazoned on his chest plate. He hears the footsteps approaching, reaches for his sword - but it's too late! From the shadows a large bird like claw swipes out and sends the guard flying off screen.

The boy is still running... he is almost there. But now he can hear the distant screeching of some unknown animal, could this be what he is running so desperately from? He can see the light at the end of the dark hallway, just a few more steps and he will be free! But now the mysterious creature is after him! Again, we see the action from the creature's own eyes as it stomps its way along the hallway at an amazing pace. 

The boy reaches the sunlight - he is free! But his momentum is too great and the ledge too narrow... he doesn't have time to stop and unceremoniously topples over the edge, grabbing the edge of the stone platform at the last moment.

The creature arrives just a few seconds later, coming to a halt and throwing up clouds of dust. Now for the first time we see the creature, a huge dog like animal with feathers covering its body, like a griffin from the ancient tales. It lets out a huge screech, high pitched and bird like, but this animal has no beak, rather a K9 snout, whiskers and ears that we would associate with a wolf or dog.

Now something amazing happens. The bird like dog makes a submissive whimpering sound as it reaches down and grabs the boy, pulling him up to the safety of the ledge. What is happening here? Why does this giant creature care about this diminutive boy? What was the boy running from if not this huge creature?

The boy pets the enormous creature, and it seems to enjoy the attention! Acting like a dog or cat would when you stroke its back or chin... a man's best friend - but just much larger ; )

The boy climbs up the creatures face, it tilts its head and the boy lands easily on its feathered neck. They both peer out at the landscape beyond... a vast stone city softened by the setting sun.

The title screen appears 'Project Trico', so now we know what to call the beast. Note: The music used in this teaser trailer was taken from the opening song of the Coen brothers movie 'Miller's Crossing' - music by Carter Burwell. See video here:

Next we see the boy running along the ledge of a stone building, Trico (the bird dog) is perched on a stone pedestal, and yaps as the boys runs further away. It's a beautiful scene, and for the first time we see the devotion Trico has for the boy! Simply breathtaking ; )

We see a close up of the boys face, at this stage, very simple, a dark brown tinge to his face - very cartoon like with a blue and purple patterned vest. He seems out of place compared to the detail of Trico and the surrounding landscape.

Next we see how the boy feeds Trico - by throwing wooden barrels into its mouth. Luckily it seems the castle is littered with these barrels, but what they contain is a mystery at this point. This appears to be a method as to how the boy can control Trico in a limited way, for instance to make it rise up to a higher platform for example.

Look at the face! How could you not fall in love with a face like that ; ) It's like a huge cuddly puppy dog! Even from this early teaser trailer footage you can already see how adorable Trico is. If you've ever owned a dog, or grown up with one you will appreciate how loyal and amazing these animals are.

Next we see Trico feeding, it's playing with the barrels like a cat playing with a ball of string. As it chomps on the barrel you see the wooden parts fall out of its mouth, much like when you eat a fish that is full of bones!

The boy looks on in interest as he crouches nearby, he seems to be interested in watching Trico feed, perhaps he's happy that Trico is being rewarded in some way for helping him?

Next we see the boy frantically climbing Trico's tail as it climbs a vertical wall, the wall is crumbling as they climb up, as if its weight is too much for the structure to handle perhaps? Below is a huge abyss, so it's a very dramatic scene, Trico seems to be under pressure to make it to some higher safe point. 

The scene changes and now we see Trico and the boy in an underwater area. Trico undulates as it swims deeper, the boy trailing behind keeping a firm grasp on its feathered head. They approach a sunken opening in the rock face and swim into it. Notice how Trico still has arrows protruding from its body - seems to have some old war wounds.

They emerge in an underground lake, a huge dimly lit cavern with a large stone temple built into the cave wall. A dark doorway can be seen nearby above a high stone platform. You can see the wetness here of Trico's feathers, the graphics have taken a giant leap forward here compared to their earlier PS2 games.

Trico rises up and the boy jumps the gap and enters the dark doorway - here the trailer ends. But there were a couple of extra Project Trico images that emerged at the time.

Boy peeking around a column

Boy sneaking past a guard

These last two images do not appear in the 'Project Trico' trailer, but they clearly belong to it based on their quality and early design. So we can only assume there was a longer Project Trico video produced and these snapshots were taken from it.

2nd June: At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) held at the Los Angeles convention center in California, Sony revealed an updated trailer for the Last Guardian. It's basically the same as the earlier 'Project Trico' trailer but with better graphics. However it was revealed later by Shuhei Yoshida that 'The trailer that we showed at E3 2009 was speeded up. It was from the development system, but we took it frame by frame and made it run smoothly.' So not a true trailer in any sense, more like a edited video made up from different assets then spliced together to show what looked like a trailer. He also candidly stated the they failed to get the game running on the PS3. See interview here:

The trailer was officially released at E3 with the title 'The Last Guardian' for the Playstation 3. However, the Japanese name is 'Hito Kui no Oowashi Toriko', which translates to 'The Giant Man-Eating Eagle Toriko'. The word 'Toriko' can be taken to mean prisoner, a baby bird, and a pairing of bird (tori) and cat (neko).

The trailer starts off with the same view we saw in the Project Trico trailer of the well and the bird being scared away from Trico - its eyes glowing in the darkness. Note: the same 'Miller's Crossing' music is used as in the previous trailer.

Comparison of the boy's head in both trailers

As it's basically the same trailer, I won't go into every detail as I have outlined these above, however there is a little more to this trailer than we saw in the earlier project Trico version. The boy's skin seems to be a darker shade in the E3 trailer, and you can see more detail behind him compared to before.

Guard comparison

You can see the difference here. The lighting is completely different now, the guard having a greenish hue to his armour. The camera angles are also a little different as I couldn't get a similar pose with his whole body in frame.

Boy running down corridor comparison

The boy's poncho has changed and he appears more in proportion to a real life boy as compared to the earlier 'skinny' little kid we first saw running through the tunnel xD. Again the camera angles have changed and the hallway is more detailed than before.

Boy holding onto the ledge comparison

From above you can see how crisp the video was in the Project Trico trailer as at this stage they hadn't added all the bloom and lighting effects. The update has softer tones and a big update to the design of the ledge. The Project Trico ledge looks crude in comparison to the broken, detailed ledge of the E3 trailer. Now the boy falls beyond the ledge and grabs onto some old pipes jutting out of the masonry.

Trico shrieking comparison

You can see above how different the background is. A lot more greenery has been added and the temple has a different colour, indeed it seems the temple has been redesigned. Trico appears to be very similar at this point with just some slight differences.

The boy pets Trico comparison

View of city comparison - camera is much closer to the boy in the E3 trailer

View of city from E3 2009 trailer

Sky comparison - hard to decide which is more beautiful ; )

Title screens comparison

Boy comparison

Trico calling to the boy

Boy sneaking up on a sleeping Trico

Boy on higher ledge

Boy feeding Trico barrels comparison

Trico's head comparison - I actually prefer the earlier version ; )

Boy on Trico's head comparison

Boy climbing Trico's tail comparison

Boy riding Trico underwater comparison

Hidden temple comparison

Update: Since playing the full game I realise that this doorway is just an entrance to one of the barrels in the second water level cave. Sad really, I always had assumed that this was how to reach a new section of the game.

Boy on Trico's head at temple comparison

The boy enters a dark doorway as Trico watches on

Boy peeking around column comparison

Boy watches a guard walking below

Close up of a guard - notice his glowing yellow eyes!

Update: This appears to be the room where we see two guards holding 'eye' shields to ward off Trico. The boy has to navigate some ledges in order to try and ram the two guards so they drop their shields allowing Trico to jump in and destroy the guards. I always thought that part of the game would rely on 'hiding' from the guards, but it appears they abandoned this concept in the retail version.

The boy climbs a chain as two guards look on

Update: This scene doesn't appear to be in the final version of the game. The boy has to climb chains in various areas but there are never any guards to escape from as in the above image.

A guard catches the boy!

The boy throws a barrel at a guard - it hits him in the head!

The guard stumbles backwards knocking down some jars

Update: This scene where the boy throws a barrel at a guard from the top of some stairs and knocking it over seems to be another deleted asset. There is nowhere in the final release that matches this area that has a shelf full of jars and pots.

The boy runs towards a wide chasm!

He jumps - but doesn't seem to make the distance!

The boy sleeps nestled underneath the protective wings of Trico

Trico hears something and looks up towards the sound - always alert!

3rd June: According to Ueda at Sony's E3 press conference, having a giant living creature was the first idea to emerge when creating the game. Ueda hoped to make the relationship between the player and Agro, the horse from Shadow of the Colossus, a bit more central to the game design this time. The staff is paying great attention to one particular environmental effect: wind. The wind determines how Torico's feathers sway, each feather is processed individually.

23rd September: A new trailer from the project was shown at the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) for the first time. It was a short trailer, only 01:47 but shows an updated version of the game compared to Project Trico. There are significant changes to the boy, he no longer looks so out of place compared to his surroundings but still has that weird orange skin.

This new trailer starts off with some views of the castle. We see the sky above a large ornate stone archway and opposite, a high platform adorned with metal spikes. Then water trickling into a basin, a large chain swings lazily from side to side in the breeze in front of a lit brazier, its light reflecting off the walls. There's an amazing amount of detail in the textures, lots of archaic symbols for later examination!

Next we see an empty chamber, again with ornate patterns on the walls. An iridescent blue butterfly flitters past the camera as a breeze shakes some grass in the foreground. 

Next, a shot of Trico, a closeup detail of its feathers. We can see one of the metal spears embedded in its hind quarters as another blue butterfly sails past. We seem to be in the same room as the lit brazier and chain, although there may be many of these braziers in other rooms of the castle.

Now we see the boy for the first time. He is reading a book (perhaps studying as part of his schooling?) in another stone chamber with a torch on the wall. We are looking through a large metal grate implying that the boy is a prisoner perhaps? It appears he lives here but who looks after him or where his parents are is open to interpretation at this point.

Next, the boy is peeking around a large stone column at Trico, like he's hiding from the beast. It seems he is curious to get a better look at the creature as it sleeps.

In the next scene we see the boy sneaking towards Trico as it sleeps. There's a playful feeling here, as if the boy is toying with the creature. A beam of sunlight illuminates part of the sleeping giant, the rest of the chamber is in shadow. Again, there are multiple butterflies here, as if they are drawn to Trico in some fashion?

Now the boy is petting the giant creature as it sleeps, stroking its giant head with wide swipes of his small arm. It appears he is familiar with Trico and has no fear of it, in fact, it seems he is very fond of the creature and may have visited this place many times before.

Trico wakes up and stretches its legs, the way we stretch out our arms in the morning after a good night's sleep ; ) You can see that Trico has several arrows sticking out of its body, how did they get there? Who attacked this wonderful majestic beast and why? These questions will have to wait for a later time. The boy jumps up and grabs the feathers around Trico's neck, and climbs up onto its head.

The scene changes, we see a large window high above illuminating the otherwise dark chamber as Trico stands up and scratches its ear like a dog or cat would, the title screen appears (in Japanese) and the video fades to black. Note: The music used in this trailer is the same 'Miller's Crossing' music as used in the previous Project Trico trailer. See the trailer here:

September 27: In an interview with Kotaku at TGS, Ueda said 'The new game is not necessarily closely linked to its predecessors. Narratively there is no initial connection there, but there might end up being some connection. The idea behind the creature, for me, is based on a cat. Whether it looks like it or not is up to the viewers of the game. But to me it looks like a cat, mixing in other elements from household pets like birds and dogs, mixing in some of the cute aspects of those types of animals'. I actually think it looks and acts more like a dog than a cat as it has that K9 snout and German Shepherd shaped ears, except covered in feathers, and with talons instead of paws... but that's just my impression.

Official website intro page

1st February: Sony Japan launches the official website for TLG, and immediately uploads a whole bunch of new hi-res screenshots.

3rd February: In an interview with Famitsu, Ueda teased major announcements to arrive in the year. 'Whether that's at E3 or the Tokyo Game Show, that is something that will be decided'.

16th June: The Last Guardian failed to appear at E3 2010. Sony stated that the developers felt it was still too early for the game to be displayed in public. A promise was made that the game would be unveiled once the time was right.

9th September: At TGS 2010, The Last Guardian came bearing a new trailer, new screenshots, and most importantly, a promise for a 2011 holiday release. At the show, Ueda also talked about the game’s lengthy development, citing a new studio structure. 'It’s time for us to go into full production crunch mode,' he said at the time with much determination.

The trailer starts off with the boy gingerly walking on top of Trico's head while it sleeps, again the boy seems to be playing with the beast, completely unafraid in the knowledge that this huge creature would ever harm him. It's the classic man and his loyal dog scenario, it's his best friend!

Trico wakes up and stretches its legs as in the previous trailer and the boy pets it. Note: Please excuse the image quality as I sourced them directly from the video which although is HD quality, individual frames don't hold up so well.

Next we see the boy carrying what looks like a huge, heavy metal vessel with strange purple steam rising from it. What this jar contains is a mystery, but you can see some light purple liquid oozing down over the rim... is this food for Trico or some other substance you need to use in the game? Trico seems drawn to this object and tries to break through the small opening it's looking through. In fact it manages to drive one of its arms through the small hole, as if it's reaching out for a reward.

The scene changes, we are outside on a narrow stone path surrounded by high temple walls. Trico starts raking the ground with its claws, perhaps to sharpen them? Kicking up huge clouds of dust that cause the boy to lose his balance temporarily. It's an amusing moment, the beast is so large it doesn't realise it's causing the boy any discomfort.

Trico attentively watching the boy

Boy climbing up to a higher platform on Trico

Trico eating a barrel - the pieces falling out of its mouth

This is a strange scene. The boy is gesturing to Trico but it's acting like it's scared or timid, but it's clear this is another playful scene between the boy and the beast. There are many amusing behaviours displayed by dogs, and this appears to be one of them.

Update: I don't recall seeing Trico act like this in the final version.

Trico jumping up to a higher ledge

Here Trico is lifting the boy but the scruff of his shirt, much like how dogs and cats grab and move their puppies and kittens. It appears this action will be used throughout the game when a gap it too large for the boy to cross.

The boy calls for Trico to jump up to a higher ledge

Here again we see the boy peeking around a column watching one of the guards. This is a later rendition of the scene we first saw in the 'Project Trico' trailer.

The boy traverses a narrow wooden ledge

Update: This appears to be the level where the boy has to navigate the narrow wooden beams high above the guards before they are activated. It's hard to tell, but there is no other area in the game with wooden beams like this.

Boy throwing a food barrel at Trico

Here we see the boy pushing a huge wooden structure of some kind perched on rail tracks. It has a large cryptic design of an eye at the top mounted with iron bars. This 'eye' design is important to the game as we will see later on.

Trico attacking one of the guards

The boy climbing a chain up to a higher platform - very reminiscent of Ico

Update: Here we can see one of those large vessels which contain the steaming turquoise liquid that so attracts Trico. Here the steam looks white (like regular steam) instead of the blue/green steam we see in the game. But there are no chains next to these large vessels in the final release, so here we have another example of a deleted scene.

Here we see Trico and the boy on some wooden scaffolding outside the temple, Trico jumps down from a higher stone platform causing the wooden beams to shake and buckle, sending the boy up into the air. It seems these platforms are none to safe!

Here again we see one of those eye symbols. This one is at floor level and appears to glow with a strange orange light. The boy throws an object of some kind at it (perhaps a rock?) causing it to break. Update: It's not a rock but one of the guard's helmets ; )

Next we see one of the guards lunging at the boy either to attack or capture him. The boy has a small barrel raised over his head, as the guard is almost on him he throws the barrel, knocking the guard backwards. So we know there is a way to fight the guards if need be, as long as a barrell is handy. 

Update: In the final version we can still throw barrels at guards, but we cannot raise the barrel over our heads as in the above image. The barrels merely knock the guards off balance, it doesn't knock them over like we see in this trailer. 

Trico paws at a chain with a claw like appendage, causing it to swing wildly, again like a cat with a piece of string. Perhaps the boy can grab onto this chain and be swung to a nearby ledge? Update: This prediction was correct for once ; )

This part is interesting. The boy reaches down to the fallen guard, presumably the one he knocked over with a barrel, grabs the guard's helmet and pulls it free. But look, the guard has no head! The suit is but an empty shell. Could this imply that these are more of those shadow creatures we have seen before in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus? Update: Again, this was true in the final version.

Seems we were right about that flimsy scaffolding, here it is collapsing under Trico's weight. It desperately climbs higher as the structure falls away beneath it.

The trailer ends with Trico and the boy safely perched on a high stone platform with stairs leading back into the temple complex. Trico scratches at its ear as the boy looks on.

The promised release date which sadly didn't eventuate

2nd March: Ueda tells 1UP that the team's considering including a TLG demo in the upcoming Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, however this never happens. But it appears a TLG demo was shown to Sony employees and some press people internally.

10th March: Ueda reveals to Edge magazine's Luke Plunkett 'The fact that Ico and SOTC didn't sell well is because they weren't good enough. They didn't have enough to appeal to users'. 'The Last Guardian wants to learn from this. I'm making the game so that it's appealing, with the hope that many people will give it a try and love it.' Being a bit hard on yourself aren't you Ueda?

20th April: Ueda officially delays TLG from the Holiday 2011 release date writing an apology to fans 'I announced at last year's Tokyo Game Show that the release timing of The Last Guardian which is currently being developed would be holiday 2011. However, to provide more challenging and better quality of content to users and to fulfill First Party Studio's obligations, I decided to postpone its release timing.

All the members of my production team are working together at a fast pace to develop and release the game in First Party Studio quality. I sincerely apologize to all the customers who have been waiting for 'The Last Guardian' for so long, but I beg for your patience. I will also announce the new release timing at a later time'.

20th July: Sony announces that the upcoming Ico & SotC collection will have a ton of exclusive video content from Ico, SotC and The Last Guardian that fans won't want to miss. 

9th August: Sony confirms that Team ICO's next big action adventure game, The Last Guardian, won't be making an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show. Sony wrote on its official blog that 'The Last Guardian is not on the schedule for this year's Tokyo Game Show. Ueda-san and the rest of the development team are hard at work to bring his lofty vision to life and deliver the very best gaming experience possible,' hopefully sometime in 2012.

27th September: The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection releases, a few staff members from Team Ico oversaw the project but it was mainly developed by Bluepoint Games. Apart from the two beautifully remastered games there is a bunch of bonus content to enjoy:

- Early concept and prototype video montage of ICO
- Early concept and prototype video montage of Shadow of the Colossus
- Initial concept video for NICO, a game that was never made but turned into Shadow of the Colossus, introduced by Fumito Ueda
- A candid 20+ minute round-table discussion between Fumito Ueda (creator), Kenji Kaido (producer) and Junichi Hosono (designer)
- A 12-minute behind-the-scenes video filmed on location at the SCEI offices in Japan. This video features interviews with key production staff members about the making of ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian, as well as concept art and prototype footage of all the games, plus exclusive never-before-seen footage of The Last Guardian.

30th November: Reports surface that Fumito Ueda is leaving Sony but will stay on as an independent freelancer to continue work on the project. According to Eurogamer's Japanese video game development sources, Fumito Ueda is completing work on the game as a freelancer. Once complete he will embark on 'personal projects'.

7th December: The former Sony Computer Entertainment Vice President and Last Guardian executive producer, Yoshifusa Hayama has left the company.

12th December: Sony confirms the game is still in development, and that Executive Producer/Director of the project Fumito Ueda has quit Sony but stays attached to the project as a freelancer.

10th February: Shuhei Yoshida states TLG is 'making progress, but slow progress, it's tough, but it's still a really important project so there's some scrapping and rebuilding, iteration in the process.'

14th February: Fumito Ueda confirms that development for the game is challenging, but it will come out. To cleanse ongoing rumors about the game being scrapped, Sony’s Head of Worldwide Development, Shuhei Yoshida, came forward to assure that The Last Guardian is in development and will be released at some point in the future.

16th February: Team Ico had enlisted the aid of several studios across North America and Europe to help finish The Last Guardian. Amongst these studios is Sony Santa Monica, the creators behind God of War.

5th June: Sony blamed 'technical issues' for the absence of The Last Guardian from E3 2012. All questions regarding rumors of its abysmal management were dodged by the company. Sony's Scott Rohde told website GameSpot, 'I will not give you a detailed update, but I will say one thing. It goes back in my mind to innovation and to gamers and to quality. The title will ship when it is absolutely ready.'

21st June: When asked how far along The Last Guardian is, Ueda could only laugh and say, 'I can't really comment on the details.' With the departure of the executive producer, rumors in the past of cancellation, outsourcing to western companies, and a no-show at E3, people have been somewhat nervous about the fate of one of the most anticipated games.

15th August: When asked if the game was going to be released on the PlayStation 4, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida insisted that the game is a PS3 title, telling Eurogamer, 'The game is developed on PS3.'

3rd September: Sony filed a new Last Guardian trademark registration.

6th November: The Last Guardian still had no release date by the end of 2012. This practically gave away that Sony was unsure of the game’s ability to release even by the end of 2013. The year ended on a disappointing note.

7th November: TLG doesn't show up at TGS 2012, Shuhei Yoshida remarked 'They're working hard on the project', but refused to commit to a 2013 release.

13th February: Rumours start to emerge that TLG has shifted development to a PS4 title for a while now and that it has been restarted a number of times. Ueda posted a message on his website, which reads:

As some of you may have heard, I left Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studio some time ago to pursue my creative passions. Nevertheless, I continue working on THE LAST GUARDIAN as a freelance contributor.

While it's been a long time coming, THE LAST GUARDIAN remains under my creative supervision and is still in development by an incredibly talented team.

I should also mention that details regarding THE LAST GUARDIAN's release is solely decided by Sony Computer Entertainment, not myself. Please keep an eye out for their official announcement.

Moving forward, it is my intent to continue my involvement with THE LAST GUARDIAN project, as well as pursue new creative projects with a fresh perspective. As I rekindle my passions as a creator, I look forward to seeing where it will take me, and I deeply appreciate your support during this transition.

Best case, we hear something about the game at Sony's big February 20 event. Worst case, hey, the game's still coming. Somewhere. In the future.

President of Sony's Worldwide Studio Shuhei Yoshida

22nd February: In an interview with Kotaku at the PS4 reveal in New York, Shuhei Yoshida said 'I apologise to people who are waiting for the game. Ueda-san posted that he's still working on it, that he's creative-directing it and that the team in the Japan studios are working hard. We are waiting for the right time to re-introduce The Last Guardian.

3rd June: The Last Guardian was listed on the official E3 2013 site, but Sony later announced that the rumour was simply the result of an administrative error.

11th June: E3 2013 saw former Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton announce that the game’s development had been paused for the time being. This statement was given immediately after Yoshida claimed the game to still be in 'active development.' It had everyone wondering what exactly was going on behind studio walls.

21st August: Fumito Ueda states 'The Last Guardian is still in development, but other projects such as Puppeteer and Knack are currently taking higher priority.'

3rd October: Sony had Shuhei Yoshida arrive at TGS 2013 to say that the game was still in development. He repeated the same old lines as before, saying that Sony was waiting for the right time to 're-introduce' the game in an appropriate way.

10th October: TLG doesn't show up at TGS 2013, Shuhei Yoshida stated 'A smaller team is re-engineering the game.'

19th November: In an interview with Edge magazine, Ueda explained that his job with The Last Guardian 'finished a long time ago.' While apologising to fans for the repeated delays, he also said that further details about its completion 'are beyond my control.'

12th MarchWhen asked whether it was still a PlayStation 3 game or if it’s migrated to PlayStation 4, Scott Rohde (Head of Software Product Development at Sony) said that he’s 'not going to announce what platform it’s coming on, who’s working on it, who’s involved. But that is still a title that’s absolutely in the mix at Worldwide Studios. That’s the most you’re gonna get.'

7th JuneTeam ICO’s eight-year development project may be at an end! Further information this morning reveals Sony Russia, the source of the original news, told journalists that The Last Guardian won't be available on any platform. Head of Worldwide Studios Scott Rohde, denied the cancellation on Twitter, so the story now seems to be a misunderstanding on the state of the game within Sony's global teams... Scott Rhode said the cancellation is just a rumour 'The Last Guardian has not been cancelled.'

11th JuneShuhei Yoshida stated: 'It exists. The team is working hard on it,' he intoned almost rhythmically. 'I was heartbroken when some article came out on some major site saying it was canceled.'

13th AugustThe Last Guardian didn't turn up during Sony's Gamescom press conference this week. When Shuhei Yoshida was asked if it would be at the Tokyo Game Show, he responded 'I don't think so - sorry.' When will we see it? 'When we are ready. I cannot confirm any timing because we are waiting for it to be in a state where we are happy that this is the game. We have a certain time frame in our mind, and the team is making great progress, but still not to the point that we can say that, here you go' (source Eurogamer).

12th October: From an issue of Dengeki Playstation, Udea stated 'Talks with Sony Computer Entertainment on The Last Guardian have been ironed out, and we're making progress under completely new conditions. I'm also working on some other things that I'll hopefully be able to show in time if progress is smooth.'

11th December: The Last Guardian sure sounds like a PS4 game! (source: Kotaku).

On a personal note, I never gave up hope that the game would someday appear. Every year since 2009 I would say to myself 'Maybe this year?' But then it would pass without any confirmation. Time passed quickly for me, the sun rose and set like a whirlwind through the sky and yet there was still no good news, only announcements that 'they were working on it'. I noticed fans started to get frustrated, rumours that it was vaporware were rampant - it was another 'Duke Nukem Forever', which suffered a long 15 year development cycle!

18th February: An eagle-eyed NeoGAF reader noticed that Sony Computer Entertainment allowed The Last Guardian trademark to lapse, even after the company received a notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The news quickly circulated around the Internet, but Sony eventually contacted several media outlets and quashed the cancellation rumors. The company even filed a renewal petition.

At this time, I was informed by an online friend of mine that it looked like the end of the Last Guardian! They had let the trademark lapse, Ueda and the Vice President of Sony had left the company, the game wasn't working out on the PS3, there were continued delays with no official statements of its progress apart from 'they are still working on it', so a lot of fans thought this was the end... time passed, and then something amazing happened!

15th JuneAfter years of waiting and speculation about if this game would ever surface, we were finally given confirmation! At the Electronics Entertainment Expo held at the Los Angeles convention centre (E3), Shawn Layden (Chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios) announced 'Our first game tonight has been long anticipated by the gaming community' - the crowd roars with excitement! 'It it conceived as a poetic story of adventure and friendship, heroism and companionship. I'm personally proud and incredibly thrilled to introduce this long awaited game'.

Shawn Layden introduces The Last Guardian of E3, 2015

The lights go out and the huge screen is dark... the audience waits to see what comes next. Shawn's vague introduction could refer to a number of games, but I think most people were sure of what was coming next. The screen illuminates and we see streams of light on a dark background, punctuated by tiny motes of light, like fireflies in the night sky. A feather appears, and lazily floats down from above. Words appear 'Directed by Fumito Ueda', until it reaches a large feathered creature... here the trailer starts.

A logo appears, it seems Team Ico has changed its name. You can see by its design that ICO is pushing a block that Yorda is sitting on. Before this they had no definitive logo that people would recognise, they were just referred to as Team Ico. Now we can recognise this dedicated team with a distinctive new logo.

The trailer starts out with the boy running down a tunnel, much like what we saw back in the 2009 trailers, but this time he doesn't seem to be in such a rush, or in a panicked state as he appeared to be before.

Instead of nearly falling over a ledge there is a nice big platform with some stone stairs leading down. The boy has a strange gait, as if his strides are too great for the narrow stairs, or perhaps he's just eager to reach the lower platform? His clothes are also different to what we have seen in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, looking more like what a buddhist monk would be wearing.

The boy stops and a short cutscene begins. The camera pans up and we get our first good look at this amazing temple complex as a wonderful soft melody plays in the background. Birds fly overhead chirping as the camera turns us around 180 degrees back to the stairs. It's a beautiful moment and when I first saw this I had goosebumps! GenDesign have once again captured that special tranquility and stillness they are famous for ; )

Update: There is no eye barrier to see here, which was added to the final version.

An enormous temple complex is revealed

Towering edifices of intricate stonework surround the boy

The boy calls out in a strange language 'Duygu'

It was pointed out to me by a fan named Atakan that the boy appears to be speaking a derivation of Turkish (his native tongue), as he recognised certain phrases. Duygu means 'emotion' but it's also a girl's name, suggesting that Trico is a female, as was Yorda and Agro in the previous two games, so this makes sense. He also says Duygu-cuk which makes the name cuter as in 'little Duygu' and is perfect for when the boy pets Trico. Hadi means 'C'mon' and the boy says this when he wants Trico to follow. Orda means 'there' and is used when the boy wants Trico to jump the gap. Read more about this here:

As in the earlier 2009 trailers, Trico slides to a stop then roars at the heavens to announce its arrival! This time knocking over some stone columns it accidentally bumps into. It looks down at the boy and here we can see some differences.

Update: Apparently, according to GenDesign's Twitter account, you can still get Trico to knock down these two stone columns. But try as I might I have yet to make this happen! If you can achieve this please let me know, or better still upload a video of it.

Trico's horns appear to have been sawn off, leaving just two glowing green stumps. This reminds me of Pelagia (colossus #12) as it had the same type of glowing green horns. We also see this in Ico, as at the end of the game both his horns get broken off, leaving just two small stumps. So this raises the question, how and why were Trico's horns cut off? The most obvious answer is to make the beast less dangerous to its captors, much like how a zoo keeper would saw off a Rhino's horn (for example). Either way, Trico is loyal to the boy and shows great affection as it lowers its head down so the boy can pet it. You can hear a guttural purring sound coupled with high pitched squeak as it enjoys the attention, again re-emphasising the duality of cat and dog in this amazing hybrid creature.

The boy calls for Trico to move closer to the ledge

Trico seems a bit unsure of the jump and takes one last questioned look at the boy

Trico makes the jump easily, even though the other side is a long way away! It seems its tiny wings are just for show, perhaps an evolutionary relic from an earlier form as it doesn't seem possible that these little feathered wings could keep this huge creature aloft. They may still be used to help it navigate in the air as it jumps.

The boy climbs down a ladder, and not just any ladder - I mean look at it! Who designs a ladder with such intricate designs embossed on it? It seems every tiny part of this game is elaborately covered in archaic symbols. The ladder is also missing its lower section, which makes me think that this place may be very old, much like the ruins in Shadow of the Colossus which may have been many thousands of years old.

Juxtaposing the elaborate stone structures we see around us are these makeshift wooden scaffoldings that seems to criss-cross the area. It looks like someone was in the process of constructing new buildings, or perhaps repairing those that already exist? Whatever the reason, they appear very flimsy and unstable. The boy carefully tiptoes along a narrow beam until he gets as close to Trico as he can. You can see how far down the valley floor is, a dizzying height, one false move and it's a terrifying fall to your death!

The boy calls again to Trico - it responds with its chirp like calls

The boy jumps - a life or death leap of faith!

At the last moment - Trico grabs hold of the boys scruff and pulls him up to safety

This is another cat and dog like behaviour as Trico grabs the boy by his scruff as all cats and dogs do to their young when they want to move them from one place to another, as mentioned earlier. Trico rotates around and plops the boy down onto the wooden scaffolding.

Here we see for the first time that Trico is vulnerable. It fears the strange eye structures that appear to be strategically placed around the temple in order to keep it from ever escaping. It seems clear that Trico was 'conditioned' to fear these designs, perhaps from birth, as a way of keeping it docile and compliant to its captors wishes. Who these captor's are and what they plan to do is not clear at this point, but I'm sure we will eventually learn the truth and have our revenge on their inhuman treatment of this wonderful beast.

Eye symbols at the entrance to the desert temple

Eye symbols at the inaccessible North entrance

In a Team Ico Reddit post by a user named 'coaron' he noticed that the eye in The Last Guardian may have a connection to a symbol found in Shadow of the Colossus. I think this connection is spurious at best, it may be a coincidence, or it may be that GenDesign are putting subtle homages into TLG to see if fans pick up on them? Historically the 'eye' symbol is ubiquitous with the 'all seeing eye of God' symbolising God watching over mankind, but in this context we can surmise that the eye symbolises Trico's overlords.

The boys runs along some more wooden scaffolding to reach a ladder

He calls to Trico but it is unable to move any closer

Realising that the eye like design is causing Trico distress, the boy pushes the large trolley like device along some tracks until it falls over the edge of the scaffolding. This is very reminiscent of the two 'push towers' we see in Ico (below).

Gondola level push tower

Underground water level push tower

In both cases above, Ico has to push these heavy metal tower like structures along rails until they caused a switch to activate some other device, allowing him to move on. In The Last Guardian they serve the same purpose, only this time, allowing Trico to move on. In Ico, he was alone, but now he (the boy) has a companion to help him along the way ; )

The scaffolding starts to collapse violently!

The scaffolding starts to deteriorate under the boy, it seems the trolley tower has caused a cascading effect on the entire structure! Soon there will be no safe place to stand, the only option is to jump and hope Trico will save the boy once again.

Again the boy jumps!

But this time he doesn't have enough momentum or height for Trico to grab on with its mouth... the action takes place in slow motion, so for us, the viewer, there is a sickening feeling of watching the boy fall helplessly into the vast empty void below him. But at the last moment, Trico's tail sails into view at just the right place for the boy to grab onto. A last second lifeline has saved him! The music swells as the boy climbs up the tail while all around him the scaffolding is collapsing into ruin.

The platforms are collapsing much faster now

Trico jumps to a higher platform as the scaffolding falls away below it

Notice the unique corkscrew shaped column in the background

Trico is having trouble keeping its grip on the narrow wooden platform

Trico desperately ties to hold on - as the boy removes a large jar

Now Trico has something to grab onto

The boy climbs up Trico

We briefly see another hallway leading into the temple where the adventure will continue, but it's clear that this level is from the demo version of the game which sadly doesn't appear to have been released to the public at this stage.  

Here the trailer ends, much like it did back in the early 2009 trailers. Trico scratches the underside of its neck, much like a dog does, some feathers break off and float towards the camera, then it looks down at the boy and makes a cute little squeaking sound.

We see another date - 5 years after the promised 2011 date

18th June: During a presentation by Ueda earlier this week, he made it perfectly clear that The Last Guardian is, in many ways, a combination of the two games' core design principles: 'We tried to take the best of both worlds.'

Ueda pointed out that The Last Guardian is 'all about a young boy who's been kidnapped under mysterious circumstances.' The pair 'take an incredible journey together. They encounter ancient ruins. Their ultimate goal is to escape from this environment somehow, and that's for the player to experience as the story unfolds.' Details aside, this is broadly the same tale that was told in Ico, where Ico is locked away and he attempts to escape a fortress with Yorda.

Ueda stated 'Looking back, Ico was more or less about the cooperation between the boy and Yorda. She was a non-playable character, so we've taken elements from that. Looking back at Shadow of the Colossus, it was more about the dynamic interaction with the giant creatures.'

15th SeptemberThe Last Guardian didn't have a place in Sony's TGS 2015 briefing, but the company did build a special interactive version of the game's bird-dog hybrid creature, Trico.

Interactive Trico display at TGS September 2015

Interactive Trico fearful of a coloured symbol held by a staff member

Ueda makes an appearance at the game show

2nd NovemberYoshida told GameSpot in a new interview, 'Development is going well, but because it's about the story, we don't want to show too much, we wanted to show that it exists, it works, it runs. It's not like we won't show anything before launch, but I think we will try to limit what we show about the game'.

26th MayIssue #294 of Edge magazine includes impressions from an early portion of the game and an interview with Ueda who discusses at length the game's star, Trico.

Ueda states 'Since this is the year we will see the game's release, I do have some worries, but I'm also very excited.' 

Boy carries a mirrored shield

The preview details a new gameplay mechanic, in which the boy wields a mirrored shield. Holding CIRCLE illuminates the device, shining what is ostensibly an ornate crosshair onto any surface it's aimed at. Trico can fire a devastating beam of red lightning from its tail, and will direct this power wherever we point the mirrored shield.

Pages from the Edge Online magazine article - contact me for the full article ; )

14th June: At the 2016 E3 trade show a new Last Guardian trailer was revealed which featured more scenes and details about the game.

The first thing we see is a huge hollowed out conical shaped mountain with the city inside it (you can see a white tower just peeking over the rim), perhaps an extinct volcano that was utilised for this enormous settlement? This differs greatly to the last two games as both were islands within a surrounding ocean. Here we see a vast landscape spanning out in all directions around the mountain. You can see narrow rivers snaking off to distant lands in the background and misty clouds obscuring the foreground as we look down at this area from a high place.

Concept sketch of the mountain

Next we get an epic view of the city from above

This looks like more of that scaffolding we saw earlier next to a large tower

A multitude of birds fly past as we look down from above

Here we see the boy holding that mirrored shield mentioned above

Two stone soldiers are trying to capture the boy

Here we see Trico (or perhaps another bird/dog creature?) with the remains of an armoured helmet on its head. If it is Trico, then it may be when we first encounter the creature. There may be some way it shakes the helmet off revealing the beast we see in its normal state. At this point, it appears these creatures are bred for war and are conditioned from birth to do so, which is why they are armoured like this and have arrows sticking out of their bodies (from earlier battles?)

Another shot of an armoured Trico

Latest shot of the boy - still has that weird orange skin and dark tattoos

Here we see what happens to Trico when the platform at the end of the demo collapses. It seems there is a time limit that once passed, causes the collapse of the narrow wooden platform, and as such Trico and the boy fall helplessly to their deaths!

Update: I was wrong here, this scene comes from a later part of the game. After Trico attacks the hordes of guards on the wooden platforms leading to the white tower the platforms collapse and Trico has no option but to 'fly' to a nearby tower. Each successive level collapses with Trico's weight, until at last it reaches the safety of an entrance.

This scene appears to show Trico saving the boy from a group of stone soldiers as the bridge below them collapses! There's a huge amount of shrapnel and debris flying around here, showing us the huge processing power of the PS4. For a scene like this happen in the PS2, or even the PS3 would have taken a lot of processing power, so I am looking forward to seeing gameplay action like this when I finally get to play the game for the first time ; ) Can't wait xD. Update: This is the same scene mentioned above.

This part is interesting. We see some people (captors) surrounding another bird/dog like beast, but this one doesn't appear to be Trico. They have torches and spears to intimidate the beast and corral it into submission, probably from birth, or perhaps when they first captured this creature? This might be another part of the story that Ueda will leave up to the fans to speculate about... how were these creatures brought here into this vast temple complex, were they captured from the wild? Or were they bred to be warrior creatures to fight their evil captor's battles? Right now, we have no way of knowing, but once the game is released, we may be able to piece together some new information.

In any case, seeing a group of men using spears and torches in this way against a chained animal goes against all our moral values when it comes to the protection and preservation of any animal, be it a lion or a mouse. These men seem to have no problem torturing this wonderful beast, so it's clear they are our enemies - and must be destroyed!

Update: Again I was wrong here, this scene comes from the cutscene where the villagers attack Trico after it kidnaps the boy for the first time. Instead, the villagers are acting bravely and morally in order to protect one of their own against an aggressive, menacing creature! So they are not our enemies as I first thought, but rather the boy's own tribe. Also, this 'is' our Trico after all, not one of the other Tricos as I first suspected. Of course, I based all my speculations on these trailers without any clear knowledge of the full picture, so in hindsight I guess I can be forgiven for making some false predictions ; )

Another shot of Trico with head armour

The above image is hard to interpret, but it appears to be showing how Trico uses its tail to shoot out bolts of red lighting at a target that the boy lines up with the mirrored shield. The boy takes aim and places the ridicule at a certain place, such as a rock wall or wooden door etc. then Trico will shoot it with his tail. I admit, this is a strange and unique aspect of the game and seems an unlikely thing a normal creature could accomplish! I mean, what animal in the natural world that we know of can shoot red lighting bolts out of its tail? The closest weird example in the natural world that comes to mind is a very small lizard that shoots blood from its eyes to scare off predators!

Texas horned lizard shoots blood from its eyes - Grose!

This part is really sad! Trico is badly injured, the boy tries desperately to comfort it, but Trico is breathing heavily, like it has just suffered a grievous wound in battle and has lost! It appears the beast that was seen earlier (the one the captors tortured) is the beast that fights Trico. It's also quite obvious the Trico is a pup, and not a full grown version of its species, so it may be that the other beast it fights is much older and battle hardened, which might explain why Trico was so easily defeated and injured here.

Update: It's not clear how old each Trico is compared to the other Tricos, perhaps the other Trico had the advantage in the fight with our Trico due to it being fully armoured? Or perhaps it's a gender thing? If our Trico is indeed female, perhaps the males are stronger?

Here we see the confrontation between the older (hardened) beast and Trico

The other Trico type beast is threatening the boy - ready to pounce!

We can speculate here that once the boy is threatened by the other (older) battle worn Trico beast, our 'pup' Trico jumps in to protect the boy from harm. In the ensuing battle our Trico is badly injured... much like how Agro fell into the chasm in Shadow of the Colossus! It may be that Trico seems dead at this point, but will miraculously appear again when we don't expect it to (just speculation on my part at this point ; )

The title appears as Trico looks up at a tall stone tower

Next we see Trico standing on two legs as if it is eager to reach something higher up 

Finally we have an actual release date! 7 years after the first promised date.

In an interview at E3 with Keith Stuart, Udea stated 'Once we were done with Shadow of Colossus there was a moment when I reflected on what we really wanted to communicate and portray in that game, for me it was the main relationship between Wander and the girl, but after the release, I read a lot of feedback from players who were touched by the game, and they said that the relationship between Wander and the horse was the most important and appealing – we got the sense that this was what most people felt. I thought OK, if that’s the case, there are a lot of mechanics from that relationship that we could heighten and expand on. That’s where The Last Guardian came from.'

12th September: The Last Guardian is delayed (again!) In a blog post by Shuhei Yoshida he stated 'The Last Guardian development team is fast approaching major milestones in production and has made the tough decision to delay the release of The Last Guardian a few weeks. The Last Guardian will launch on December 6, 2016.' 

17th November: (Today). I still don't own a PS4 console, but I'm planning to buy one very soon, perhaps next week. So we have come back to where this post started in 2009 when I first bought my PS3 console in order to play this game! However, this latest delay has caused me some concern, is this really the last delay? Or will there be others? It's hard to fathom that GenDesign would allow another delay... but from what I can see in the latest videos and chatter on the web, it feels like this time it is really going to happen! We are finally going to be able to play this long awaited game ; )

Udea proudly shows the first copy of The Last Guardian

I'll leave this post here for now as I think it has covered almost all the details of this game's long and drawn out development history. There are a few more very enticing trailers that have appeared since the September one mentioned above, but I think I'll examine these in a future Last Guardian post. In addition, if you are one of those players (like me) who don't want too many spoilers before the game is released, I'd advise you stay away from any new feature trailers that appear on Youtube, as they give away a lot of new gameplay that would be best appreciated by playing the actual game blind for the first time.

When I first played Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, I had not seen any video footage of the games. In those days (in late 2008) I didn't watch a lot of Youtube stuff, so I enjoyed the games the way they were intended. Yes, I got stuck at times and struggled to find a solution to a particular puzzle or colossus, but I stuck with it until I had finished both games. It's much more gratifying to find your own way instead of just looking up the solution.