Interview: Whitney Wade (God of War Senior Producer)

On Monday, we posted about God of War Ascension. We were invited to the reveal of God of War Ascension’s multiplayer mode. It must have been funny to watch the room full of press trying to figure out what the team was showing us throughout the demo. After the demo we sat with Sr. Producer Whitney Wade to talk about God of War Ascension and what this new adventure means to the team.

GamingAngels: Hi Whitney. Describe to us what it’s been like to return to the God of War series.
Whitney: It’s exciting times! We love making God of War and so we’re happy to do it. The franchise is so strong, I think that in focus testing we did, fans want more. So who are we to deny the fans?

The major reveal is the multiplayer concept. How did that idea come about? Is it something you wanted to add for awhile and now it felt right?
I think all along the way any developer is going to look at what the options are and multiplayer was always out there. Based on how we have grown from God of War 1 to 2 to 3, it felt like after evaluating our options in moving forward it felt like the right time to try this.

What are some of the difficulties if any you have run into?
We knew going in it would be a crazy challenge to network our single player code. What you saw today was our first announcement. There is still alot of work to be done, but it’s starting to solidify in a good way and we are feeling more confident as we go.

In talking about the multiplayer in terms of number of maps, we spoke about the ability for different levels to play together. Whitney stated that there will be a matchmaking system. The team is working hard to make sure that no matter what level the player is at, he/she will have a great experience.

In the level we saw, there are many ways to kill your enemies. There is the straight forward attack, but there are attacks based on setting traps and projectile weapons to allow players to choose their favorite way to play.

Online gameplay can be a a negative experience for women at times. Is the God of War team taking kick/ban or reporting features into account?
Since this is the first time we are doing this, we have talked to our monitoring department and are learning from their experience.

Todd mentioned that there may be a tutorial specifically for multiplayer because it’s new to the franchise. What do you think might be difficult for players to wrap their head around?
I think that the fundamentals of the combat system that people love are still there. But we had to make some changes to work with the networking. It’s just a slight ramp to make sure people when coming in don’t feel bombarded and start off with the same knowledgebase.

In terms of characters to play in multiplayer, Whitney address this by talking about how their first thought was to let people play as Kratos. But then everyone would want to play as Kratos and you would end up with “the Skittles of Kratos” and it wouldn’t feel very good. Instead the team came up with a character model that would let the players feel powerful and strong and not cheesy. We then asked Whitney why a female character was not included.

Why is a female character not included in the demo today?
We did really look at trying to incorprate a female character. Again, I’ll be honest, it just wasn’t right. We didn’t have the resources to dedicate. In order to create the animations for Kratos, that demands a team. It’s something that we really wanted to do, Todd wanted to do and we played around with other player options that would probably surprise you. The depth of Kratos’ moves were just too great to tackle on this. It really comes down to resources and what makes sense.

As someone who likes to play with her husband, were there any thoughts to putting in a co-op mode?
As we were evaluating our options, we tried some things and we wanted to make sure we focused on the stickiness and replayability. We felt that what we showed today was most successful at that. Co-op is not out of the running for this game or future games, but we’re focusing on the multiplayer right now.

In the demo, I noticed the familiar highlighting or visual cues to help players know what to do.
Every time we approach a God of War we try to approach it as if you have never played any God of Wars before. So it’s important for us to keep the visual language similar to previous God of Wars and make sure it’s clear to new players. What Todd said in the presentation is that we want to make sure we keep true to the things we are good at and enjoy and translate them into multiplayer.

With almost every God of War title there is a new director that comes aboard. How excited are you to see Todd, who has been with the series for along time, be in the director’s chair?
I think that, it’s a new role for me too, we’ve both kindof grown in a similar path. I think there is an aspect of it that is..holy shit, how are we going to take this and make it better and put our own spin on it without reinventing how we operate? As well as taking the opportunity to make it our own and how we function. So it’s scary and exciting at the same time.

In the game, players will choose a god or goddess to team under. Whitney stated that she would choose to play for Hades, cause he’s mean and could probably do some major damage.

This team has grown with each other through the years. Many of them have moved up the ranks and you can definitely feel the “family” feel when talking to the team members.

You’ve had an awesome career. What advice do you have to people just starting their game careers?
I interview alot of people that just want to get their foot in the door and it’s work your ass off and get as much as exposure as possible. You don’t need to come in knowing that you want to be a level designer, but if you do know you want to be a level designer just do everything you can. It’s really about work ethic and doing your best. Always be respectful.

Thank you Whitney and Sony Studios for inviting us to the reveal. We’re excited to learn more at E3 that we can share with our GamingAngels readers!