Like a lot of folks, I first saw the tech demo for The Unfinished Swan when it made the rounds online in 2008. The idea stuck in the back of my head but it wasn’t until later when Giant Sparrow put up a job posting that I decided: I had to make that game. I had just graduated from college without much professional experience, so I did what I do best and made a game for them. You can check it out here if you’d like. The video cuts off because the end of the game says “Call me” and has my phone number on it. It got the attention of the Giant Sparrow team, and I ended up flying out to Los Angeles to work on the game. I was elated and a little shocked, but I came to learn that at Giant Sparrow, the player experience always comes first – and my little game was designed to create a very specific experience. Now, in October 2012, The Unfinished Swan is out in the wild (well, to PlayStation Plus members) and we’re proud that we were able to make a truly experiential game.
By now, you should have already tackled NFL Blitz which came in free for Plus members earlier this month. You should also make sure to download one of the best fighters in the genre, King of Fighters XIII, which is also free for Plus members. With tomorrow’s PlayStation Store update, you’ll want to get your blueprints out and cover up those fingerprints because you’ll be robbing some banks (in video game form of course) courtesy of PAYDAY: The Heist, coming free to Plus members! You’ll also be able to get Unfinished Swan before anyone else this week. That said, there’s much more so let’s get to it.
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.
At its core, The Unfinished Swan is about the joy of creation and self-discovery. These themes revolve around two central characters: one young, who has dealt with great loss and loneliness, and one old, who must reconcile his current stage of life as well as his fate.
One of the initial conversations I had with Peter Scaturro, music supervisor at the Santa Monica Studio involved using the key components of the score to offset the melancholy of the story. I consciously steered away from anything that felt too sad, stark or desolate. Instead, I focused on crafting a mood that was lush, curious, and warm. We wanted the music to serve as a companion for Monroe and the player as they explored the world of the game.
When you make a game about something unusual like, say, throwing paint in an all-white world, you expect to get a lot of questions. But we were surprised that the question we got asked the most turned out to be “when can I buy it?”
In the meantime, there’s still a lot to learn about the game. You’ve met the King, now get to know us: the team behind it all.
Like a lot of other great artists, our King is a little crazy.
He’s the one who created the entire world that players will be exploring in The Unfinished Swan. And I don’t want to give too much away, but the King built a lot of cool stuff. If you like all-white statue gardens, giant labyrinths, or colossal monuments to the King then you’re in luck.
Unfortunately, most people don’t like those things. At least not in their backyard. Turns out living in the middle of a giant labyrinth is pretty inconvenient, which is why just about everyone in the kingdom eventually moved away. But the King is the sort of guy who goes right on building the stuff he wants no matter what other people think about it. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your point of view and — like I said — how you feel about giant labyrinths.
Thanks to Jeff, Nick, and Rey, the Blogcast thrived during my absence last week. But I’ve returned from the exotic lands of the East Coast bearing priceless gifts! First, I speak with Ian Dallas, the creative director of upcoming PSN knockout The Unfinished Swan, to learn what really inspired this distinctive game — and why those monochromatic ink-blot levels are only the beginning of what’s in store.
Hey everyone! I’m Ben, a Game Designer at Giant Sparrow. Last Saturday, a bunch of us took a trip down to San Diego for Comic-Con, where we held a panel that focused on the art of The Unfinished Swan. We want to thank everyone who attended — you’re all beautiful people. If you couldn’t make it to the panel, we’ve put together this highlight reel so you can watch all the good parts! The panel was hosted by Morgan Webb, who made sure things went super smooth as we discussed the ups and downs of developing such a unique game.
On stage we had Ian Dallas, Hokyo Lim, Max Geiger, and me. We showed off some never-before-seen concept art, and talked about how we developed the art style for The Unfinished Swan.
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