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Naughty Dog talks with PlayStation University: Part 2

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And so here it is – the second and final part of our interview with our dear friends (and heroes) Naughty Dog. The studio’s brought us the delights of Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter and most recently Uncharted. They’re at the top of their game on the PlayStation 3, and we hope their success continues.

Our chat travels from talk about what’s next for the Uncharted series, the Uncharted movie, the possibility of the Dogs’ making another Jak game, and what they’ve been playing. A barrellama also makes a visit…

Big thanks to everyone who submitted questions for this mammoth interview and of course to Naughty Dog, Sony Computer Entertainment UK and the Dogs’ community strategist Arne Meyer, who answers the questions for us below. You can find the first part of our Naughty Dog interview here.

You added stealth to Uncharted 2, do you see yourself expanding this mechanic?

Actually, we expanded stealth and made it more robust – you could actually pull off stealth in UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune, it just wasn’t as viable an option as in UNCHARTED 2. This all came about because it’s extremely important for us to ground the game in the real world, to have the environment and other characters react as you would expect them to from your real life experience.

As we increased the level of sophistication of our AI routines for the NPC enemy characters, we realized that implementing a full-fledged stealth mechanic only made sense, because sneaking up on people or losing a tail and flanking an enemy who can’t see you are things you would expect to be able to do. Regardless of what the game mechanic is – it’s of utmost importance to us for you as the player to feel the game is grounded in the real world, and those are the areas we’ll continue to expand and build upon.

Uncharted 2 is predominantly a linear game. Do you want to give players more freedom in your next game by offering a less-linear, more open-world level design?

The UNCHARTED games feel like linear games because our narrative is linear – there is a predetermined arc we want the players to go through as Nathan Drake. As we’ve shown in UNCHARTED 2, there’s plenty of room to provide player choice within the confines of a linear narrative.

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Uncharted’s puzzles and platforming are relatively simple. Do you think you might introduce more challenging puzzles/platforming in the next game?

As we mentioned earlier, community feedback – and feedback in general – is important to us. Our open, collaborative development process already places high value in having a strong feedback loop and iterating on other people’s opinions on our game – other Dogs at the studio, journalists, playtest groups, our fans – we take all that feedback to heart and use it as part of the learning process to make future projects more satisfying and fun to play.

What games/movies/books inspired you in the creation of Uncharted?

Oh wow, there’s not simple answer for that. Our development process is highly collaborative and, as a result, not only have many people influenced just about every aspect of our game, but they brought with them all of their individual sources of inspiration, knowingly and unknowingly alike. If we really put a list together of influential sources for even just a few people, that list would be longer than this interview!

That being said, I have no doubt you’ll recognize there are some shared genre and narrative archetypes between UNCHARTED and other games, movies, books, graphic novels, etc. That type of reference just comes with the territory of creating entertainment in established genres.

We’ve followed the historical facts of Sir Francis Drake and Marco Polo, visited El Dorado and Shambala; what other historical figures/legends have you considered for Uncharted? Atlantis?

We’ve done a lot of research to select the historical stories we wanted to use as a foundation for our two UNCHARTED games. There were many potential stories we chose not to follow or dive deeper into for a variety of reasons, and some very good reasons why we chose the ones we did. We don’t want to say too much about those we didn’t pursue, because we don’t want to rule something out entirely and close that door of opportunity when we don’t know for certain if there’s a place in a future or related project within the UNCHARTED universe.

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