The Order 1886 Interview: Creative Director Ru Weerasuriya

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In The Order 1886, which is set to launch on 20th Feb, 2015 exclusively for PlayStation 4, players take the side of four members of an order of Knights dedicated to combatting the Lycans – ancient enemies of mankind.

We sat down with the game’s developer-in-chief, Creative Director & CEO of Ready at Dawn, Ru Weerasuriya, to pick on some of his personal insights on running dual (and somewhat conflicting) roles in the company, and why he likes Guitar Hero so much.

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GameAxis: The Order 1886 is the first original IP that Ready at Dawn is developing. Without any legacy issue from an existing franchise, was the pressure easier to handle?

Ru: Easier? Not at all! It’s harder to come up with something new that feels compelling and feels different. There’s also the risk of putting a lot of work and energy into something, putting it out for people and respond to it, only to see that you have wasted time on it.

So I think the risks are much bigger doing something brand new. You’re not counting on something you already have. When you do a sequel, at least one of the ‘questions’ is answered. If you answer the question about the IP being good, you have one less thing to worry about. It’s always a tricky one to do with the first project.

GameAxis: The game looks incredible. By far, one of the best I’ve seen for this next-gen of consoles. Is this a first true glimpse of what these consoles are capable of?

Ru: I’m hoping, actually, to tell you the truth. Next-gen gaming is going to be pretty amazing because just looking at such a first-generation of games on the next-gen platforms, I’m excited to see how much more we can do with every single step.

I know that every single console have come and gone over the ten-year period. It’s progressed so much and it’s been amazing. Where we are starting today is already in a good spot. It’s going to be really exciting to see how much further we can take this.

From everybody, not just us. I’m looking forward to seeing Naughty Dog and everybody else put up cool stuff.

GameAxis: Weapons in The Order, are obviously key features of the game. How do you come about with inspirations or ideas, about the type of weapons to design, and how do you work to make them feel satisfying to use without over empowering the player?

Ru: It’s always tricky. It’s always a very tricky thing to do. The way we’ve put every single weapon is by always asking the simple question of whether it feels right and whether it feels believable. Every single weapon we’ve built started off from “let’s make a new weapon…”, “what do we need to do?”, “what is the type, is it electricity, is it a dynamite?” and try to figure out what kind of weapon we will build out of it.

When we develop such a weapon, we always stop when we feel like we’ve gone to the point where it’s too far-fetched that people who use the weapon will see it doesn’t fit in the game world. There is a lot of research that goes into it, like in the behind-the-scenes video that we’ve shown. The amount of work the concept artists go through is crazy. Those guys are awesome to watch. I was a concept artist so I know the amount of work it would take, but those guys, for every bolt, every piece of wood, every single thing, from every single piece of detail, and it’s amazing to have such a team to do that kind of stuff.

GameAxis: The company has certainly grown from developing PlayStation Portable ports to now…a full fledged original IP on the PlayStation 4. How do you feel about that?

Ru: Good. I feel very good about it. I don’t think people realise how much work it took to put something like Daxter and God of War on the PSP. Everybody believed that the PSP was going to be side-scrollers. We built a game that went against all the developments philosophies of the PSP. Everybody around the world was building a different game for the PSP. It was probably harder to develop for PSP than on the PS3.

Our time on the PSP was much harder on the team because of the amount of stuff we had to do on such a small platform. The teachings that we took from showing how great the platform could be on PSP made us do the work we do on the PS4. We picked this project not only for us but also to showcase what the PS4 was capable of very early on.

I feel good because I think the first game that we built, Daxter, gave us a working culture to start with at Ready at Dawn. Daxter taught us that with 20 guys, on a platform that everyone believed was going to be a casual platform was probably the hardest time we had developing a game. It taught us to become who we are and because of that and all the experience gathered from creating these great ports, it gave us the confidence to do The Order 1886.

GameAxis: As the Creative Director and CEO, how do you juggle between these 2 somewhat conflicting roles?

Ru: I hate this question! (laughs) It’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s bad when you think about the critics and the production side and running a team that’s pretty big and considering all of those deadlines and stuff. I’m always fighting with myself a lot but it’s okay. It’s hard because sometimes you feel like you can never make a decision, but to tell you the truth, I think that for the fact that it puts more hours on you, it puts more time spent.

As a CD and CEO, my mind is perpetually running at 24/7. You go home and sleep, you think about the team, you wake up and you think about the game. It’s a non-stop cycle. But for all the bad things it puts on your life, the great thing about it is that it makes for us doing this. This is what we are as a team. For me, being the CEO meant that since we started the company, I’ve been riding on this, but it was also if I was just the creative guy, we wouldn’t have signed it the same way. We signed this (publishing deal) with Sony when we felt it was right.

We could’ve signed this back in 2006 or even in 2008. But the reality of it is I’ve always felt as not the creative guy but the CEO, we wouldn’t have had the team and everything we wanted. Having that to balance well meant that I could leverage that from the business side and be ready for it. It’s a blessing and a curse.

GameAxis: What are your thoughts on motion-sensing technologies, and some past generation versus current-gen features?

Ru: All of these peripherals are going to open the world and development for people with great ideas, but the issue is that it always has to be something built to solve a problem. That’s how the world evolved. Form follows function. You form something basically because there is a function for it. You can’t create something and find a problem for it to solve.

I loved for a fact, Guitar Hero, because that solved the issue of a music game. They created a peripheral to make you feel and play the game better. My problem is always with peripherals that are invented because someone wants to create a gimmick. There are some peripherals like Virtual Reality, which is going to be something very cool in the future. It’s the right step to make, but it’s not for every game.

The peripheral should not be something to create problems with, but rather that they should be created to solve them. As long as we go with that route, every peripheral can be useful. It brings up cool ideas, and hopefully all of these peripheral including Morpheus will bring up way cooler games. Hopefully, in the future, I want to play them and maybe work on them too.

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Aaron Yip

Aaron Yip

Aaron Yip is an industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience. When not spending time on his gaming PC and consoles, he can be found in Hyrule solving ungodly puzzles and collecting gems.