Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut Interview: “we’re really interested in getting as many people as possible to be able to play the game comfortably”

Ghost of Tsushima has been out for over a year now. When I did my original review back in 2020, I had said that the game just barely hits the bullseye when it comes to really good accessibility. Well, we’ve had several updates with accessibility included and a Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is right around the corner.

So, I wanted to take a look back at the game to see what improvements have been made since this came out and also what is going to be in the Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut for accessibility. Well, I sat down with “Sucker Punch’s” creative director, Nate Fox, to find out.

Transcript

The following interview is from CIPT Media Partner Steve Saylor and begins at 4:22 in the above video. The full video contains Steve’s Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut accessibility review

Steve Saylor: So, now that we’ve seen what the old accessibility menu and what the new accessibility menu looked like, a comparison from the original launch to the new director’s cut a year later, I wanted to sort of go with a little bit behind the scenes as to sort of find out what decisions were made when wanting to be able to support accessibility post-launch. So, I sat down with Sucker Punch’s creative director, Nate Fox, to find out more. Let’s jump into that conversation.

Well, Nate, thank you so much for joining me today and especially how close the director’s cut is upon us. I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me.

Nate Fox: That’s a pleasure, thanks for having me.

Steve: Alright, so let’s get into it because I’m very curious about Sucker Punch’s approach to accessibility when it comes to Ghost of Tsushima and obviously that leads into the director’s cut. So, the first question I wanted to ask was just kind of going back to when you first started the project, what inspired your initial want to add accessibility into Ghost of Tsushima when the game was in development?

Illustrating the lock on icon.

Nate: Well, for us, accessibility is just trying to be as inclusive as possible, so, that as many people who want to play the game can play the game. And wherever we find frictional issues, just try and stamp those out. And that includes not being able to play the game in the way that feels natural for you because of things like handedness or that parts of the game just represent too big of an obstacle from a difficulty perspective as well.

Steve: I love that. I remember kind of going back like about a year now and thinking about sort of what was being released at the time, and obviously, with the, you be kind of hitting on the heels of the Last of Us part two, when you were kind of working on developing a new base or kind of working on accessibility roughly around the same time. So, did both last, like did you have any discussions with a Naughty Dog about sort of what, like what accessibility you both were working on?

Nate: We did talk to some experts on accessibility that Sony has to offer. You know, in retrospect, I wish we had talked to them more. They did such an amazing job. It’s inspiring to play their game and see just how broad their commitment is to put in all these many options. And, you know, I felt it was very inspiring.

Steve: For sure. Yeah. And, but I, I, that’s the thing it’s like, not even to like even discount Ghost either because it had actually an amazing accessibility options and I feel it’s kind of like a, like a gross to bit a kind of compare the two because they’re two completely different games, but I personally did love what accessibility you’re able to to add in there and including in post-launch. So, what made you kind of decide on wanting to be able to keep supporting accessibility in your sort of post-launch plan?

Nate: Like I said, we’re really interested in getting as many people as possible to be able to play the game comfortably. And when you ship the game, you start to be able to read reviews. You can read posts that people make online, starting getting a lot more feedback.

And we took that feedback and we said, “Okay, where are these frictional elements for our players? Let’s stamp those out.” So, we just got into process of listening and also talking with that Sony expert again, because of course when you play the game before it ships, it’s one thing. And after it ships, it’s more polished. All the pieces kind of come together to get a bit of a different experience.

Okay, where are these frictional elements for our players? Let’s stamp those out.

Nate Fox

Steve: So the game has been out for just over a year now, and you have been able to put out a lot of updates since then included content and just patches, but you’re able to add a lot of accessibility improvements in that along the way. And the director’s cut is no exception. So, can you talk about some of the features that you’re able to include post-launch and including the director’s cut, that you were happy to be able to include into Ghost?

Nate: Well, in particular, we wanted to be able to let players remap the controller around how their hands wanted to play the game. So, adding four new configurations or the three on top of the original ones, so that it would sit more comfortably based on hand dominance or what you wanted your finger to do in relationship to different inputs. That was number one.

On top of that, I think just, you know, listening to people’s feedback, like the classic example is the game comes out and we hear that people want it to be much harder. And at the same time we want it to be easier because of course, swordplay is at the heart of that samurai fantasy. So, we released an update that made the game lethally difficult and easier to play at the same time, just trying to widen that funnel so that people of different levels of dexterity can get just the right experience for them. And that all came from player feedback.

Steve: I love that. What was just, kind of, what was your sort of your favorite feature that you, that you were excited for, for disabled players to be able to, to jump into and try out?

Nate: Okay, my favorite thing that we have in the director’s cut this is goofy, but when we shipped Ghost of Tsushima, all the accessibility options were scattered across all the settings menu. And in retrospect, it’s ridiculous. So, what we did was we put all of the accessibility options on one tab so that the accessibility is more accessible.

(Steve laughing)

Nate: Oh, it’s just it’s so, I’m so proud of that change because it’s, I mean, it’s obvious of course you’re supposed to do that, but it took us a while to, you know, figure out the basic stuff, I guess.

Steve: Yeah, and I hear you. And I wanted to be able to talk about the gust of wind feature that’s in there, because I remember playing it when I first reviewed it when it came out and I was so like, I love that aspect of navigation was such a cool feature and it kind of, people sort of were describing it as kinda like a Breath of the Wild sort of type exploration for Tsushima. And when I started playing with the gust of wind, I thought like this is a really cool thing. And what I loved is that you were able to kind of keep updating it to make it even more visible for myself to be able to see like there was more contrast, the sound was more dominant.

Illustrating the bamboo stand button press sequences.

And even with the PS5 update in the director’s cut, I love that the haptic feedback plays into that and I can feel the wind going from left to right on the dual sense controller. Can you talk about a little bit about the process of like, of basically improving just that kind of like that one distinguishing feature, one distinguishing feature of Ghost, but like even making it more accessible as you went over the past year?

Nate: Sure. The PS5 is really offering us like I think of it as a new medium of a way to communicate the game to players. So, haptics on the controller is something that’s new for us. We’ve long used visuals and audio to bring the game world to life but as soon as you can feel with a lot of specificity, what the players feeling through kinetic feedback in your hands, the world is much more alive and you get a better feedback mechanism of exactly what’s going on.

When you swing your sword and it bounces off an enemy shield, and you feel it in your hands, you have an understanding through your body that you don’t have without the haptic feedback. And so, it is a way to let the game communicate through other means to the player that we didn’t have access to before. And I, it’s like the new country of exploration. We’re going to see so many incredible things happen because of haptics in future games.

Also, spherical audio is amazing. When you call the wind and the PS5 version, and you’re using, you know, a headset, you can hear it coming from behind you and traveling in a direction. Through your ears alone, you can get a very, very strong sense of the vector of travel that you should do. And I mean, that’s just hell of a thing, right? That the game world is making itself more present and available to you to, so that you can interface with the game intuitively and effortlessly.

Steve: I, I absolutely love it. And I kind of, as it’s simpler myself, that usually loves to build, to play, like have a 3D audio or spherical audio or spatial audio, whatever you want to call it. I’ve been playing with the director’s cut and hearing that 3D audio and hearing that gust of wind and in the pointing in the direction that I need to, it was such a cool thing.

And it was something that I do remember, like I was like, “Ah, man, I wish that there would be like, this was in the, it kind of like it was there when it, when it first launched.” But now that I have it, it’s like, it’s such a, like, it all pun intended, it’s a massive breath of fresh air because it is such a cool, cool feature.

Nate: Yeah, I’m glad it worked for you.

Showing the enhanced visibility for guiding wind.

Steve: Hundred percent. And so, that’s yeah. I just, I can’t, I can’t speak good enough about it enough for you, to you. So, now, like with obviously like with being like, you’re kind of creating this sort of a platform for new stories, obviously with the director’s cut, having Iki Island and even now legends as the multiplayer, obviously with like you’re focused on the director’s cut right now, but are there like, as your key, is you’ve been adding more content, and adding more features post-launch are there still plans to be able to include more accessibility in those, in those updates?

Nate: Well, right now we’re, you know, tirelessly working on that very last possible patch for people that are going to get the game. We’re still very focused on that. And we’re, no doubt, going to listen to feedback going forward as we have done because it’s such a great opportunity for us to improve as game makers and improve Ghost.

Steve: I love that. Cool. One last question. Is there a li- like, is there, is there like, of course, director’s cuts, you know, they love to include like easter eggs. In film, you see all the time. And in games that definitely even double sell. Is there a favorite easter egg on Iki island that you are looking forward for players to be able to try to find? Or is there one that still people haven’t been able to find on Tsushima itself?

Nate: Yes. There is a famous towering rock on Iki island that kind of looks like a monkey’s face. And when you explore that in the game, I would, I would suggest that you pay attention to the monkeys on the rock.

Steve: Oh my gosh. All right. Well, I’m definitely going to have to go off and start finding that island.

Nate: I don’t know if you’re a monkey fan but this is for all the monkey fans out there, we got you covered.

(Steve laughing)
Steve: That is a perfect answer. I love that.

Well, perfect. Well, thank you so much, Nate, for joining me, I really do appreciate it and good luck on the launch. And I’m excited for people to be able to play the director’s cut when it comes out.

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Steve
SaylorMedia partnerHe/Him

Steve Saylor is a Toronto-based podcaster, radio host, Blind Gamer, YouTuber, Twitch Streamer, Graphic Designer, Content Creator and College Professor all while being blind! Starting in 2015, his entertaining YouTube series “Blind Gamer” fuses humour with his passion for playing video games. In just a few short years he is considered a thought leader on accessibility in gaming and an advocate for developers to push video game accessibility forward. Steve is the top Blind Gamer in Canada and has worked with prominent clients in the video game industry.

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