Ghost of Tsuhima and loading times: Sucker Punch surprise of the welcome

Ghost of Tsuhima and loading times: Sucker Punch surprise of the welcome

Ghost of Tsuhima and loading times

The dramatic Ancient Japan painted by Ghost of Tsushima has quickly won millions of fans around the world, who are now hoping to see the announcement of a sequel soon.

While for the moment Sucker Punch is silent on a eventual Ghost of Tsushima 2, Brian Fleming, co-founder of the software house, has raised the curtain on some interesting background of the title creation process. After confirming that the most difficult aspect of Ghost of Tsushima to create was the combat system, the executive told in the course of a Q&A how the team was surprised by the reaction of the public to the loading times of the open world.

The speed of the latter, Fleming said, is in fact an aspect that the developers of Sucker Punch did not consider as particularly special, but which instead received a warm welcome from the players. In describing the process that led to the outcome, the co-founder cited the team's commitment to creating an efficient system for organizing game files. The aesthetic style that distinguishes Ghost of Tsushima, less expensive than that used by other large AAA open worlds, has also contributed to giving life to rapid uploads. Finally, Fleming recognized as essential the commitment of the artistic and technical departments, which concentrated their attention on making the setting an easily usable world.

Careful reconstruction of the world game was even appreciated by the authorities of Tsushima, who decided to appoint Sucker Punch Ambassador of Tsushima Island.

Ghost Of Tsushima Devs Didn’t Think Those Fast Load Speeds Were So Special

If you played Ghost of Tsushima, you were likely floored by how fast it loads. Despite taking place on an enormous open world, you can fast-travel from one end to the other in seconds, which might give you the impression that Sucker Punch, the game’s developer, employs literal wizards. That’s not the case. What’s more, throughout development, the definitively non-wizard staffers didn’t even recognise how unusual Ghost’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it load screens were.

This came up earlier today when Sucker Punch co-founder Brian Fleming participated in a digital ask-me-anything session at the Game Developers Conference Showcase. Speaking to moderator Bryant Francis of Gamasutra, he detailed the Sucker Punch team’s collective shock at the public reaction to Ghost’s load speeds.

“We lived in this world where the game worked the way it worked for years,” Fleming said. “So when we shipped, and the news was like, ‘Oh, my god, the game loads so fast,’ we had taken it for granted how big a deal it was.”

As for how the company was able to finagle such lightning-fast load speeds, Fleming credited the art and engineering teams for “understanding what was core to the game so we didn’t have to reload all the time.” The team also deployed lower-resolution versions of textures, so as to fade objects in while the player loads into a new environment. Ghost’s naturally idyllic art style played a part, too, by simply being less visually noisy than other big-budget productions.

According to Fleming, the fast speeds were also contingent on “basics” like “being careful about organising data.”

Everything Fleming said about the process is in line with what Kotaku reported last summer. (Yes, we were among “the news” that “was like, ‘Oh, my god…’”) In July, staff writer Ian Walker spoke to Adrian Bentley, lead engine programmer at Sucker Punch, about all the work that went into shrinking Ghost’s load speeds by a significant margin. If you’re interested in a deeper dive about how it all works, you should definitely revisit Ian’s piece:

Today, Fleming hinted that Ghost’s loading speeds might just be a glimpse at the truly lightning-fast load speeds in the future. When asked what development technology he was most excited about, Fleming pointed to the PlayStation 5’s new storage system.

“The loading systems there will change the way that we think about how we make games,” he said. “It’s so fast that even the idea of unloading the things that are just off-screen on the camera just in time is possible, and that really fundamentally could change how we think about making games.”

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