Team Interview: Horizon Call of The Mountain

Category: game

March 7, 2023

Bringing the world of Horizon to VR with Guerrilla

A collaboration between Guerrilla and Firesprite, the co-development of Horizon Call of the Mountain, has been an incredible and very special journey for us. We’re so very proud to have joined Guerrilla on this wonderful adventure, becoming a part of expanding their iconic Horizon franchise and the launch of the exceptional and immersive PS VR2 hardware. Today, some of our sprites celebrate favourite moments and lasting experiences from their journey with our good friends, Guerrilla!

What are some of your most memorable moments from your time on the project?

“As Principal Environment Artist, I had so many memorable moments! Horizon is a fantastic world to work in and full of so much lore and history. Being able to be a part of creating the beautiful rock structures in the Carja tribe areas, and the snow-capped mountains of the Nora tribe, wrapped in rusted Horus tentacles, it was all just magic! I also love feeling inspired by the team I work with, getting to see the character art, beautiful concepts, VFX, and everything else is very, very special.”
Jody Sargent, Principal Environment Artist

“When we added the first things that the player could pick up, push, or play around with in the environment. This seemingly basic addition made this entire world feel like a place that could exist and someone could live in.”
Philipp Stenger, Game Designer

“There have been so many highlights from my time on the project, but one of the things that stands out is the first time I saw the Thunderjaw walking around in VR. It was just a test level to work on his locomotion, so he wasn’t attacking at this point, but it was a hair-raising experience seeing such a huge, well-designed machine moving around in front of me. I was already nervous about when we would start making it attack!”
David Chambers, Associate Lead Animator

“The memorable moments for me were working with the combat team on machine encounters. We had a fantastic cross-discipline team of designers, animators and coders who worked together collaboratively to solve lots of conundrums. It was fantastic to see whenever someone had a problem with a machine, others dived in to suggest solutions and help out. We got quite fond of the machines to the point of giving them pet names – the Shell-Walker will always be “Shelly” to me now.”
Anna Marsh, Associate Game Director

“Implementing the climbing mechanics early on in the project was a highlight. It’s a mechanic that’s instantly tactile and fun, and our teams enjoyed experimenting with how far and fast we could throw ourselves around test levels. Besides adding support for moving climbing holds such as zip lines and the Tallneck, this mechanic remains largely unchanged from the initial version.

Being a part of adding physical interactions to the player’s in-game hands was a very cool moment for me. Outside of the visuals, this was one of the big things that to me made the game begin to feel like a modern VR experience. Very quickly, we were able to get all sorts of interesting physics objects into the game that were instantly fun to toy with, from destructible pottery to giant gongs and other musical instruments.

The Grabcaster tool too! I think this is a mechanic that really works with VR. Casting and retracting the hook are gestures that come very naturally, being able to grapple with physics objects in the world feels very immediate and tactile, and swinging across a huge crevasse always feels very cool.”
Tom Vernon, Programmer

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the most memorable moment was knowing that I was going to be part of a game in the Horizon franchise! I’m an avid player since I was a little kid, and I loved so much both Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West, so the idea of being a part of one of the best series that I’ve ever played, was the most exciting feeling of my entire career! Plus I must say, I had a little tear when I saw Ozzy Osbourne in the commercial, I’m a metalhead since I was 17 years old, and watching the king of Metal playing the game that we made, was for sure one of the most joyful experiences I’ve ever had.”
Paolo Crimaldi, 3D Prop Artist

“My first best moment was when I found out that I would be working on Horizon Call of the Mountain. I have never worked on any VR games before, and my assumption was VR games would be very poly and have low texture, but when I saw the assets that had been made, it blew my mind, and I got the opportunity to be a part of creating some of the assets. Working on this game has completely changed my perspective towards VR games. I was proud when I could see the vistas being appreciated when the trailer for this game was released.”
Hansa Pallavi, Senior Artist

“Seeing some of the fights develop over time as everybody’s changes and fixes have gone in has been amazing. A few of the fights were pretty challenging to get right, and they’ve improved thanks to the work of everybody across the teams. Some of the most difficult fights to get working are now my favourite fights in the game. Bringing in other people from the studios to playtest and seeing them having so much fun with something that had been hard to get working was incredibly rewarding.”
Justin Keverne, Combat Designer

“Honestly, the whole project! As QA, I was able to witness the world of Horizon come to life. The foundations of design, building the levels and mechanisms, code applying the logic and making things work to art making the world look beautiful, animation making the movements life-like, and audio providing the music to the atmosphere and sound effects for the gameplay. I am proud of all my teammates across Firesprite and Guerrilla coming together to make something like this possible!”
Hafi Rahman, Quality Assurance Tester

“There were a lot of brand-new skills I had to learn quickly, and old skills I had to dust off, that was a very challenging experience, but one that was so rewarding. Overall, in the end, it’s been one of the most rewarding games I have worked on.”
Andy Phelan, Lead Artist

“Some of my most memorable moments were working on the character Radel. The Oseram tribe have always been my favourite in the world of Horizon, so getting to contribute towards a unique Oseram character for our game was such an honour. Across all our characters we pushed what is typically possible in VR thanks to the capability of the PS5, this was especially true for Radel who as a climber and tinkerer, has lots of accessories and interesting details which create depth and visual appeal. Overall, it was a true joy getting to contribute to such strong female characters like Hami, Radel, Asera and of course Aloy! I hope our characters resonate with players and leave a lasting impression when they get to meet them face to face!”
Caleb O’Brien, Character Artist

What was the best thing about working with our friends at Guerrilla?

Horizon Zero Dawn was and still is my favourite game of all time – I fell in love with games all over again because of it. I wrote fan fiction set in that universe! To somehow stumble upon Firesprite and to be able to lead our immensely talented team of developers working with this incredible IP for a brand-new hardware platform has been an honour for me. I’m not crying, you’re crying.”
Julian Gold, Lead Programmer

“They have always pushed us to aim for a higher standard and played an integral part in forming and delivering the ambitious goals we were all striving for.”
Philipp Stenger, Game Designer

“Personally, it was being able to work closely with Guerrilla’s Animation Director, Richard Oud. He is an expert in all things creature and flight mechanics, and it was a big opportunity to be able to learn from him every week.”
David Chambers, Associate Lead Animator

“Horizon has been a fantastic IP to translate to VR. Both firing a bow and rock climbing are very natural fits for VR, since they map onto motion-tracked controllers in an obvious and very satisfying way. Another great strength of VR is the sense of scale it provides, so being able to place you in amongst these huge machines which are already so familiar and impressive was instantly arresting.”
Tom Vernon, Programmer

“Undoubtedly their attention to detail! Working with them for sure made me realize how every prop and 3D model can contribute to the storytelling of the entire game, immersing the player in a world that is alive and believable, while also being beautiful to watch and explore.”
Paolo Crimaldi, 3D Prop Artist

“Thay are very friendly people to work with and their feedback and support helped us all take this game to a different new level. It was such a wonderful opportunity to work with them.”
Hansa Pallavi, Senior Artist

“The best thing about working with Guerrilla was learning about and immersing myself in the Horizon lore, understanding what makes each biome unique and learning about the personality traits and influences behind each machine. Being able to work with the team that has created one of my favourite games was truly an incredible experience and it is a very proud moment for me for this to be my first game in the industry. It has been an incredible moment in both my personal life and my career.”
Craig Stoddart, Senior Development Manager

“The support provided to keep the world of Horizon true to the universe that it is, the environment, the machines, and the combat among many other things. That the atmosphere and the vibe of the world are embodied within a VR reality of it. Scaling and climbing the mountains to the viewpoints in the world to see how wonderful the world is fantastic and jaw-dropping.”
Hafi Rahman, Quality Assurance Tester

“They were always super nice and constructive in their feedback, so it felt for me a really lovely hand-in-hand cooperative work environment!”
Andy Phelan, Lead Artist

“For me, the best thing was our weekly Character Syncs. Shout-out to Arno, Ilya, and Felix! I’m so thankful for the amazing insights we received as they had an immensely positive impact on our characters. It was a true pleasure to work alongside those who helped define such an iconic world, and I was constantly blown away by the attention to detail from the team, a quality that has stayed with me to this day. Not only did I learn and grow as an artist, but it helped me to gain a new level of appreciation for just how much passion goes into creating a world like Horizon!”
Caleb O’Brien, Character Artist

From Guerrilla and Firesprite, Horizon Call of the Mountain is available now for PlayStation®VR2.