Ico, and Design by Subtraction | Game Designer Philosophy


Among designers, few modern games are held in such high regard as the PS2 cult classic, Ico. Let’s figure out what has made this quiet and reserved game so hugely influential.

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The influential Ico:

Papo & Yo –
Brothers / Rime –
Journey –
The Last of Us –
Prince of Persia –
Halo 4 –
Hidetaka Miyazaki –
Fez –

Recommended reading / viewing:

1UP: “Shadow Talk”

1UP: “The Method of Developing Ico”

Tale of Tales: “Fumito Ueda GDC Talk Transcript of Slides”

Games shown in this episode (in order of appearance):

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capybara Games, 2011)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo, 1991)
Braid (Number None, 2008)
Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985)
Ico (Team Ico, 2001)
Papo & Yo (Minority, 2012)
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Starbreeze Studios, 2013)
Journey (thatgamecompany, 2012)
Rime (Tequila Works, 2017)
The Last of Us (Naughty Dog, 2013)
Prince of Persia (Ubisoft Montreal, 2008)
Halo 4 (343 Industries, 2012)
Dark Souls (From Software, 2011)
Limbo (Playdead, 2010)
Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga, 2013)
Another World (Delphine Software, 1991)
Flashback (Delphine Software, 1992)
Prince of Persia (Broderbund, 1989)
Chrono Trigger (Square, 1995)
Shadow of the Colossus (Team Ico, 2005)
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft Montreal, 2010)
Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North, 2013)
Dying Light (Techland, 2015)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Kojima Productions, 2015)
Batman: Arkham Knight (Rocksteady Studios, 2015)
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Ubisoft Montreal, 2011)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (Neversoft, 2002)
Fez (Polytron Corporation, 2012)

Music used in this episode:

Under a Tree (Sword & Sworcery LP)
The Ballad of the Space Babies (Sword & Sworcery LP)
Little Furnace (Sword & Sworcery LP)
Dark Flute (Sword & Sworcery LP)
Com64 (Sword & Sworcery LP)

Sword & Sworcery LP – The Ballad of the Space Babies (C) Jim Guthrie

Clip credits:

“Warrior in the City of Light Part 13” – Curlsbel90

“Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition 60 fps test” – Birm

“Unreleased ICO PS1 Beta gameplay” – lockyixbt

“Assassins Creed Revelations: Den Defence” – CircularGaming

Nguồn: xemhai.org

Xem thêm bài viết khác: https://xemhai.org/game/


  1. I get that this game is apparently quite great and influential, but as you explain it and show footage I gotta say, it looks boring and unfun.

  2. Fitting that I watch this video while playing Just Cause 4. The just cause series (starting from 2 at least), has always been about giving the player wacky ways of blowing up stuff and being agile. The thing is that they kept adding or changing how the player can interact with the world, but without adding anything meaningful to it.

    The wingsuit and jetpack (dlc)from 3 are fun additions, same with some of the grapple upgrades that make it stronger. But they then added unlimited bombs. Why try to ram a car or plane into a structure when you can just plant bombs and detonate them ad nauseum.

    Why use all of the complex grappling hook elements in 4 if destroying structures is now not a core part of the game and its usually simpler to just use explosives or a single combination of grappling effects that's the most effective? I like the game, but it feels bloated now. Like it just wanted to add more features without making a game where they properly fit.

  3. i so agree with the subtraction thing. i'm writing a shortfilm and after writing it for a longtime you start to see that the things that you write gets simpler and simpler. less is more

  4. the anxiety i used to have as kid playing this game was every time u take a long time solving puzzle away from her, the shadow will come and take yorda ( i know i spelled it incorrectly)

    I never like a video in the first few seconds but …. BUT…. showing #sworcery gameplay AND using Guthrie’s amazing soundtrack wants me to like thrice!

  6. Said the guy who also says every game should overcomplicate dialogues, movement mechanics and be more existential than stereotypical 14 year olds.

  7. It is interesting that the opposite of this philosophy, the group the will almost always break this philosophy when it is creating, is fan creation. From modding to fanfiction to even fanart, producing things for all ready completed works just because you like it is adding on to the work in some very special way only you can do. While the quality of fanworks often varies, it would be a crying shame if they just stop producing for what they love.
    Perhaps their can be several different ways for for one to make content and design by subtraction usefulness is based on what you are making. And maybe sometimes design by subtraction can be the worst thing on can do for their project and that is the thing that destroy it completely. Just food for thought.

  8. Shadow of the Colossus just felt like an unfinished game to me. It seemed like the developers had the landscape, riding mechanics, and bosses done, but everything else was full of bugs so they decided to cut their losses and pretend like this was the game they intended to make all along. I'm still not convinced that's not what happened and everything they said about it isn't just a pretentious cover. If the game that came out was what the developers were going for, it was meant to be a game that could easily be completed in an hour if not for being padded with cut-scenes, long boring treks across empty landscape, and some battle mechanics that make players wait around on top of pillars for ten minutes at a time so they can get another shot at a boss. I would have been I don't know why people have such a high opinions of Shadow of the Colossus. I think It would have been a really good game if it would have been finished and wasn't just running in an empty landscape to get to the boss fights, but it just feels like a very early beta version of a game. If 'design by subtraction' is indistinguishable from 'design by having to ship an unfinished game to meat a production deadline,' is it really that great of a methodology?

  9. I watched the developer commentary of Portal and was immensely intrigued by the actual process of designing the game.

    Primarily what they chose to cut out and keep, and I believe this video does that kind of developer mindset justice, and it will be yet another video I download for the big screen.

  10. John Ford inspired Akira Kurosawa who inspired Sergio Leone – “video games are weird” but film is too… inspiration is circular 🙏🏼

  11. I'm loving the addition of the Sword and Sworcery soundtrack. I love that game but I love the soundtrack even more

  12. This game has no issues that stand out more today, absolutely none, nothing offensive. 100%. Never. Except sexi-

  13. I remember playing Ico a long while ago. I distinctly remember, after having first run around with Yorda for a little while, I realized that running full speed everywhere while holding her hand kind of jerks her around by the arm awkwardly, and found myself trying to move Ico slower during those portions. I didn't do it on purpose, I just caught myself trying to be nice to a collection of pixels on a screen.

    Of course, during an attack, I had no such compulsion, and it felt much more natural trying to drag Yorda out of danger.

    I suggest trying it, if you're still playing Ico. Do a run just going at Yorda's pace. It's very relaxing.

  14. The video ends with cool sounding advice but not exactly "good" advice. You can also just keep cramming game features in and still end up with an awesome successful game… (ex. World of Warcraft & Grand Theft Auto [5] Online ). Also you can keep throwing things against the wall to see what sticks… (ex. all HiRez games)

  15. This is the first video I watched from this channel that's over 2 years old and hahahah, love how you make your voice like 2 octaves lower than usual here


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