• Pierre Alexandre

God of War GDC Notes

Breathing New Life into a Hardened Spartan

Bruno Velazquez (Animation Director on God of War), Sony Santa Monica

**please acknowledge that those notes aren’t exactly representative of the speaker’s presentation. I tried to stick to the slides as much as possible. Those notes are here to give you a first taste before the original presentation releases on internet**

To fit the director’s vision (Cory Barlog), the animation team needed to introduce a « new » Kratos : more human : a father.


. important to keep the character’s legacy, while exploring his more human side (Kratos had some more subtle moments in the past games...though he was mainly slicing heads)

. change his proportions to something less « comic books » and more realistic : helps to ground him and believe in the story

. but he also still needed to look like a giant = find the right balance


. Atreus was a way to discover more Kratos, via conversations between a father and his son (studio members also had kids during development, got married…they felt even more connected to their characters)


. decision was made to use mocap (before, ~ 90% keyframe)

mocap taught a lot (e.g. : faster to get the character’s weight)

. it was good for cinematic fidelity

. Xsens suit was bought so animators could try it themselves

. mocap was rehearsed sometimes with live-action previz, acted and shot by the animators themselves

. mocap allowed animators to focus elsewhere in the animation process (rather than wasting time trying to keyframe realistic motion)

understanding the mocap process led to 2 things : animators loved it, and realized they needed a real stuntman


. no cuts, to always feel close and connected to Kratos and Atreus

. Hard Boiled used as reference to pack lots of emotions/moments in one single shot

led to shoot scenes like a play rather than like a movie


. in-house mocap to get something quick

. Sometimes live action (super fast iteration)

keyframed when impossible to achieve otherwise, thrown in the game asap


. very important. Sit down with actors, directors, and go through the scene to be fully aware of what’s happening (cause it’s a one shot game!)


. all in one (body, face, audio, virtual cam)


. finding the right actors was crucial : finding the good chemistry

they really wanted a kid to play Atreus (not an adult mimicking a kid) to get the right feeling


. Cory wants a new Kratos? Let’s remove his legendary dual blades

. give him an axe instead. Fits more the Northern theme of the game

. Originally oriented to something really grounded (« realistic »), the team shifted to something a bit more fantasy (Kratos would now perform more impressive moves, though not over the top.) more « believable » than « realistic »

. the axe was given to him by his wife...a special connection to this weapon

. a closer camera meant re-thinking the weapons’ move set

. rehearsals with the stuntman to be very efficient on the mocap stage

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