Santa Monica built a giant cardboard boat for God of Wars rowing scenes (No, really)

It’s no secret that God of War (opens in new tab)’s boat gameplay, in which Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir frequently traverse the Lake of Nine to access new areas in Midgard, was a surprising highlight of the game for many, with its seamless animations, unique conversations, and value as a relaxing breather from all the fighting on-land. 

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19 mindblowing secrets we learned from the God of War director’s commentary (opens in new tab)

And since the game launched last April, Santa Monica Studio has been wonderfully transparent in taking fans behind the scenes of God of War’s development, as evidenced by the latest boat-focused developer account (opens in new tab) from Senior Combat Designer Dean Rymer on the PlayStation Blog. 

The post gives a in-depth history of how God of War’s boat sequences came to be, detailing the work that went into making sure it felt as seamless, intuitive, and authentic as possible. Just in case you were wondering how committed Santa Monica Studio was to this goal, the team actually made its own rowing boat out of cardboard and tape, as a reference point for capturing the movement models for the watercraft in-game. 

Additionally, the “boat banter system”, in which Mimir or Kratos will regale stories to Atreus, but will organically stop or return to them whenever the player enters and departs the boat respectively (showcased in the video below), took a lot of work, as you’d expect. 

“The banter system conditionally played back audio clips based on events which happened in the game.” explains Rymer in the blog. “When these audio clips are played, they are actually many small clips all stitched together. If you stay on the boat to listen to Mimir, the audio will play as though it is one long contiguous story, but if you exit the boat, it branches to an outro which we made sure was shorter than the animation to exit the boat. This allows Mimir to pick the story right back up the next time you are in the boat.”

You can read Rymer’s entire article if you want to get really nitty gritty with the details, but Santa Monica also offers some bitesize stats to give you a general idea of the TLC that went into God of War’s boating gameplay, such as the fact that it features over 700 animations and 650 lines of dialogue! The game even registers Kratos’ oar as a type of weapon though, sadly, no one’s yet found away to bring it ashore for some sea-themed beastie beatdowns. 

God of War is one of the best PS4 games (opens in new tab) that you can play right now, alongside Horizon Zero Dawn (opens in new tab), Uncharted 4 (opens in new tab), and many more. 

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