The Last Guardian: Nine Years' Work In A Nutshell

After ten years in the making, the Last Guardian is out at last. Despite the long wait and the age of its concept and assets, it still manages to take your breath away. How did the technology of the game happen?

The Last Guardian first surfaced nine years ago but it was confirmed only in 2008 after a supposed job advertisement for the game was posted. Along with the job advert, was a mysterious motif of a chain leading into the ground.

Then in 2009, the actual video of the game was leaked online containing a target render used by the developer, which many speculate was from a period earlier than the development of the game. The leaked video had a working title called Project Trico which revealed a blueprint Team Ico was trying to make using the PS3 hardware.

True to form, The Last Guardian demo video has the basic visual concept of a PS3 game which aimed to have a CG-like quality although the limitations are obvious. Missing in the trailer was character shadows but aliasing was prevalent. Looking at the game at that time, one can see similarities between the rendering techniques used in Shadow of the Colossus which is carried over to the new engine.

This technique is most obvious in the Aztec-inspired architecture as well as in the motion control, faux HDR lighting, and the depth of field. Every element that was seen in Team Ico's previous hit game can be found in the Last Guardian.

During the 2009 E3 conference, the game debuted with its first official trailer and title, The Last Guardian. The new trailer also revealed major and obvious changes in the rendering techniques. For example, the team used alpha transparencies for the grass instead of geometric design. In addition to that, the team also downgraded motion blur and overall lighting has greatly improved.

Over the years, more changes have been made to the design and elements of the game. Although the final product can't be considered as perfect, it is notable for its own visual style. The visual improvements are obvious but one cannot shake the feeling that the core technology of the game goes way back during that time in 2009.

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