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The Last Guardian’s Development Timeline is a Tale of Suffering
The Last Guardian is rumored to be making an appearance at E3 2015 during Sony’s press briefing. This perhaps is the strongest rumor about the game being brought to the public that we’ve heard in quite a while.
It’s important that if the rumor does come out to be true, Sony has to do more than just mention the suffering title. Nothing short of a gameplay trailer will sooth this crowd, which pretty much has lost its interest in a project that has been delayed beyond measure.
We’ll see next week what Sony has in store for us, but until then let’s recap and go through The Last Guardian’s bumpy development timeline. A timeline that is riddled with false promises, mass confusion, blunders, singular statements on a loop, and mismanagement on the part of Sony and Team Ico.
Rumors of Team Ico working on a third title, following the amazing reception of its Ico and Shadow of the Colossus games, arose as far back as 2007. In January of 2008, the game was spotted for the first time in a job listing on Sony Japan’s corporate website for the PlayStation 3.
Director/Designer Fumito Ueda and Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida followed these rumors by revealing minor details about the game. Both noted that The Last Guardian’s development status was still too early for it to be presented at TGS 2008.
March 25: During the Game Developers Conference, Ueda brought up The Last Guardian, saying that “the essence of the game is similar to Ico.” Considering the early stages of development, it would be fair to assume that Ueda was forced to not reveal too much.
May 19: A couple of months after, PlayStation Lifestyle published a leaked early footage of the game. The scenes featured a young boy and a large beast, both of whom interacted in some instances for cooperative platforming. At the time it was known as Project Trico (in reference to it being the third game from the developer).
June 2: At E3 2009, Sony officially announced The Last Guardian for a release on the PlayStation 3. The debut trailer focused on a compelling relationship between a young boy and a strange dog-like creature.
September 23: The game would then later on also make an appearance at TGS 2009 where an extended trailer was shown, along with a batch of new screenshots. Ueda stated that the PlayStation 3 was the best console platform to realize his vision.
By the end of the year, The Last Guardian was one of the most anticipated games for the PlayStation 3.
February 1: The year began with Sony Japan updating the official website for the game to include new screenshots.
February 3: In an interview with Famitsu, Ueda teased major announcements to arrive in the year. Many expected these to materialize at E3.
June 16: 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 to the bare bone once the time was right.
September 9: 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.
February 2: Team Ico invited select members of the press for a live demo of the game behind closed doors in Tokyo. The demonstration left everyone extremely impressed. Eurogamer described the game’s animation as being “astonishingly lifelike,” and compared the presentation to that of a Studio Ghibli film.
March 2: Team Ico revealed that it was considering to include the same demo for The Last Guardian with the upcoming Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection. The prospect was never followed beyond that consideration.
April 9: The Last Guardian was officially delayed with no mention of a new release date. According to the developer, more time was required so as “to provide more challenging and better quality of content to users.”
September 8: The Last Guardian disappeared from the news scene entirely, and was also absent from TGS 2011. Team Ico diverted all the media towards the remastered Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection which was set to release on the PlayStation 3 the same month.
November 30: A strong rumor began circulating the internet, suggesting that Ueda might be parting ways with Sony.
December 7: Yoshifusa Hayama, the Executive Producer, exited Team Ico.
December 13: Ueda’s departure was finally confirmed by Sony. However, he would still continue to work on the game from the outside as a freelancer, which was dictated by the terms in his contract.
Sony assured everyone that regardless of the new structural changes, production of The Last Guardian has not been stopped.
February 14: 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.
February 21: It came to light that Team Ico had enlisted the aid of several studios across North America and Europe to help finish The Last Guardian. Amongst these studios was Sony Santa Monica, the ones behind God of War.
June 6: 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.
August 9: The trademark filing for The Last Guardian expired. It was just a small hiccup and mostly involved someone at Sony forgetting to renew the registration. Nonetheless the news was enough to scare fans into believing the game was pretty much done for. The trademark was renewed by next month.
November 6: Previously announced for a 2011 launch, 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.
February 13: Ueda finally left the studio, but as stated before, continued to remain as its creative supervisor. In a blog post, he assured everyone that the game had not been abandoned and everyone should look to Sony for any announcements from then on.
February 22: In an interview with Kotaku, Shuhei Yoshida said that Sony is still waiting for the right time to reveal details about The Last Guardian. His decision to label that as “re-introducing” the game, made everyone wonder if the game had now been shifted to the PlayStation 4 instead.
June 11: 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.
October 3: Like a tennis ball, Sony had Yoshida arrive at TGS 2013 to say that the game was still in development. He outed the same lines as before, saying that Sony was waiting for the right time to “re-introduce” the game in an appropriate way.
November 19: In an interview with Edge, Ueda explained that his job with The Last Guardian “finished a long time ago.” While apologizing to fans for the repeated delays, he also said that further details about its completion “are beyond my control.”
June 11: The game was forgotten by everyone for the most part, and only brought back up when we neared E3 2014. Like clockwork Yoshida stated that The Last Guardian was still in development. On the rumors of it being scrapped, he said that “When we cancel a title and it is something we have announced already, we’ll say so.”
Sony’s Scott Rohde would later on single out the massive fame and following of The Last Guardian as an important factor in the game’s delay. He explained that for such a high valued title, it’s important for the team to take their time and ensure that the final game is not a disappointment.
August 19: The Last Guardian had gained a mythical status by now. The point had been reached where no one exactly cared for it, unless it was rumored to be appearing at an event. The game had skipped Gamescom 2014 and later Yoshida confirmed that it would not be appearing at TGS 2014 as well.
September 19: In an interview with Famitsu, Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida commented on the fate of the title, saying that it’s being developed in “top form” and fans should stay tuned for its news.
December 10: In an interview with Kotaku, Ueda resurfaced to state that the game continues to be in development despite its many issues. He, though, refused to specify what development issues the game was facing.
February 17: The trademark for the game expired, yet again. Sony, however, was quick to respond that the lapse in the renewal of the registration in no way translated into the project being abandoned. We were told that The Last Guardian was still alive.
June 9: The Guardian claimed to have inside information that Team Ico would finally be presenting The Last Guardian at E3 2015, presumingly for the PlayStation 4.
June 10: Mark Cerny, architect of the PlayStation 4 and developer of Knack, was rumored to be now leading development on The Last Guardian.