Home Interviews How “a Kiwi guy called Hugh” saved Horizon: Zero Dawn’s underground spaces

How “a Kiwi guy called Hugh” saved Horizon: Zero Dawn’s underground spaces


Speaking with Stevivor, Guerrilla Games’ Joel Eschler describes how a New Zealand developer named Hugh saved Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s underground archaeological finds.

“The underground spaces in the game were a huge risk for us because we signed on to building this open world and built this procedural technology to view the vegetation and the water systems and all this kind of stuff,” said Eschler. “But we kind of also built a traditional game, like an entire traditional game, in the Cauldrons and in the bunkers [all underground], and it was a huge risk for us because we had to build completely new lighting technology and we had to design all these holograms too, to light those spaces and completely new art assets and gameplay and delivering narrative.”

Sounds simple, right? Not so much.

“They literally only came together a couple days before we sent off our gold master because our lighting system is new and cutting edge and we have one guy back home who is the master of the lighting system, actually a Kiwi guy called Hugh,” Eschler confessed.

A bit of Stevivor sleuthing places Eschler’s praise squarely on Hugh Malan, Principal Tech Programmer at Guerrilla Games and a graduate of New Zealand’s Otago University.

“He was just there until super late at night and they were so committed to getting it in there and there were moments, especially last year, where we were like, ‘we can’t do this, we’re gonna have to cut it and figure out another way to tell this story and to do this part of the game.’

“But we stuck to it and I’m really, really proud of those moments because, at the moment, all the marketing is [focused on] the above ground and the beautiful lush world, and there’s this whole other game that people don’t know about.”

Thanks, Hugh.

Players will get a chance to explore the entire world of Horizon: Zero Dawn from 1 March on PS4.