The Unfinished Swan is an unusual game with an unusual history. We wanted to give you an exclusive look into its history before it lands on PSN October 23rd — as well as some secrets you’d never guess. Find out where we came up with the idea, who helped make it happen, and some techniques we used to make the game feel just right.
- Virtual reality: The Unfinished Swan started as a student project in the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media program. Originally it was meant to be played with a head-mounted display. Over time, the game eventually became a PS3 exclusive.
- Showing our roots: The pond, which is the opening area of The Unfinished Swan, hasn’t changed since we entered the game into the Independent Games Festival in 2009. The reasons were partly to keep a homage to the area that got us started, and also because it’s a successful level layout.
- Tiny team: Giant Sparrow started as a two-person company and grew to 12 people at one point during production of The Unfinished Swan. Being a small team provided a lot of advantages; we were able to try things big studios wouldn’t touch.
- Auto-aim: When we were first testing the game, we heard more than once that players wanted some sort of gun that would shoot paint where they were pointing. We weren’t about to give Monroe – the main character of The Unfinished Swan – a gun but we did come up with a fix. It happens behinds the scenes: the game will adjust the arc of your throw to hit things that you’re pointing at.
- Secret run: It’s very subtle, but if you walk forward for long enough, Monroe starts to pick up his pace. We added this for players who like exploring so there’s less time spent walking long distances.
- Not quite white: The white color you see in The Unfinished Swan is actually not pure white, but a slightly warmer yellowish white. On certain LCD TVs, pure white shows up with a bluish tint – which is not very befitting of a storybook style.
- Getting closer to the narrator: The voice of the narrator was originally recorded with temporary dialogue – it’s the voice of creative director Ian Dallas’s aunt. After auditioning other narrators, we weren’t able to find a voice as authentic as a real mother.
- Legendary art director: The Unfinished Swan’s art director, Hokyo Lim, was previously the art director for League of Legends by Riot Games. While they are tonally very different, Hokyo’s strong 2D skills have translated beautifully to both League of Legends and The Unfinished Swan.
- Stay a while: The Unfinished Swan has four different chapters, each with their own visual style and mechanics. Part of the design philosophy for The Unfinished Swan is to let players figure things out for themselves, so there are a few parts of the game that have never been shown before.
- Becoming a minimalist: The Minimalist trophy, unlocked when a player walks through the opening area without using more than three splats of paint, was originally unlocked by not splatting a single ball. Ben, the level designer, could stumble through it using sound but when the rest of the team tested it nobody was able to figure out how to navigate without using paint. After changing it to three splats maximum, it felt like a more balanced challenge.
Want to find out more about The Unfinished Swan? Keep reading PlayStation.Blog for all the latest on this unique and beautiful game.