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Santa Monica Studios may have picked up a real winner with rebooting God of War as an over-the-shoulder, cinematic, hack-and-slash adventure game, but that doesn't mean that creative director Cory Barlog is done with the series. In fact, he wants to make more... plenty more.
According to an interview with Kotaku, Barlog revealed exactly how many games will be made using this new God of War setup with the creative director giving a definite number...
That's right, they plan on making five games. The interviewer assumed that the team would be starting over with each new iteration and that it would take them a quarter of a century to make five new God of War games. However, Barlog shot that down by explaining that this newest reboot was built from the ground-up that required a lot of technology to be built from scratch, but every new game would take significantly less time to build.
The lead time between this newest God of War and a sequel could be reduced down to around two years now that all the tech is in place, since it's a lot easier to build new games on top of existing technology. As Barlog explained, just about every department had to work from the ground up on new tech, from the art assets to the physics, from the lighting engine to the asset management, and the way the game would seamlessly stream and load in content in order to maintain the single-camera direction that Barlog was going for.
As he pointed out in the interview, when making first iterations of a game it's all an uphill struggle because it requires all new assets, all new engine framework and all new ways to build the engine around the hardware.
Publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision have opted to alternate years and studios when pumping out sequels for annual games that require overhauls. For instance, Activision has been giving the studios three year lead times instead of two years to work on the annual Call of Duty games, which allows the teams to have a lot more time to create the game. EA also gave BioWare five years to work on Mass Effect: Andromeda as the team switched over from the Unreal Engine 3 to the Frostbite engine that DICE's Swedish team had made available company-wide across Electronic Arts.
Given that the rendering tech is finished, the lighting system is done, the combat system is already implemented, and the loading and object handlers have been optimized for the PS4 and PS4 Pro, the only heavy lifting now would be on building new assets for new levels, scripting new cinematics, and doing the performance capture, all of which can still be taxing but won't require several years of infrastructure engineering like this newest God of War required.
The same is happening right now with a game like Star Citizen, which required a complete overhaul of the CryEngine in order for it to handle a procedurally built galaxy based on real life astronomical scale. Not only that, but the team had to fit all of that, plus the ships, planets, player-characters and NPCs in a single instance while retaining AAA graphics, physics and open-galaxy exploration. Now that the hard part is done we're seeing lots of rapid advancements in the content creation department for Star Citizen.
For God of War, Santa Monica went through something very similar and managed to get the core foundations complete within five years. So, now there's no telling exactly how long it will take the team to build out the next set of games for the PlayStation consoles.