We may have received a slightly reassuring update concerning The Last Guardian nearly two weeks ago, but today the long in development project has received another setback of sorts. After Team Ico frontman Fumito Ueda announced that he would be leaving SCEJ and simply complete his work on The Last Guardian in a contractual basis, yet another Team Ico staffer is departing Sony.
While not as key as Fumito Ueda in being the main creative figure, Team Ico/SCEJ Producer Kenji Kaido has announced via Twitter that he has departed Sony this month. Serving as the producer on Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Kenji was continuing his work with Team Ico by being the Line Producer on The Last Guardian. Again, Kenji’s position within Team Ico may not have been as important as Fumito Ueda, who created everything Team Ico has produced thus far, but it’s nonetheless another disheartening update in the continuing saga that revolves around The Last Guardian.
SCE Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida may have confirmed that The Last Guardian was still in development, despite suffering from several technical setbacks, but seeing another staffer associated with the project suddenly leave is alarming. Usually people don’t jump ship from a studio until a project is completed and those who do whilst a game is still being developed is usually perceived as a sign of things going horribly wrong (example: Stuart Black leaving Codemasters before Bodycount was done).
Gamers, at least those in the PS3 camp, may have bemoaned the lack of an impact SCEJ has made this generation, but the studio has bounced back based on the reveals of Puppeteer and Rain, both of which look amazing and have been in development for two to three years. Both Puppeteer and Rain may be PSN games, but considering that that one of those teams once aided in the development of The Last Guardian I’m beginning to wonder what’s truly troubling the project. Is it merely a case of Team Ico not being prepared for PS3 development or has everyone on the project suffered from a mental breakdown seeing as how this is possibly year three of its development and nothing has been shown publicly for the last two years?
Kenji hasn’t announced where he’s headed to next, but if given his connection to Team Ico I’m sure some gamers will watch closely to see where he lands, especially if it’s a new company with Fumito Ueda. For now there’s only so much we can speculate about The Last Guardian, but if the game is once again absent at TGS this year then I think it’ll be safe for us to put it in the far recesses of our mind. Though I am wondering if The Last Guardian will become a disappointment not seen since Lair, which despite the talent of Factor 5 and an ungodly high budget was a complete dud from top to bottom.