Naughty Dog‘s creative director revealed a few new details during his DICE Summit interview.
Polygon went into detail about one of the key personnel of Naughty Dog. The creative director admitted his childhood inspirations: „I was especially drawn to narrative games, like Monkey Island and the Sierra games. I remember being blown away by Half-Life.” (He also shortly mentioned The Last of Us Part II – its dialog is inspired by the Channel 4/Netflix series The End of the F***ing World.)
He also mentioned how Naughty Dog switched from the Jak series to Uncharted: „I was of the mindset of, how do we tell better stories in games? We were a studio making cartoony mascot action games. And then we were telling stories about a character who doesn’t wear a crazy outfit. To be able to get on that and help shape it was like a dream. We were trying to come at things less as set pieces. With Jak and Daxter, we were, ‘Great; now he can ride a rocket. Let’s figure out how that fits into the story later.’ Now we were more interested in character motivation,” Druckmann said.
He also said a few interesting details regarding The Last of Us, which originally showed up on the PlayStation 3 in 2014, followed by a PlayStation 4 port in 2014. He says none of these games start as just a single idea, but a lot of ideas from different people. This game’s premise was based on one of his „failed student projects,” featuring a man and a woman in a zombie world. He had unsuccessfully pitched it as a comic book. Druckmann was working on a Jak and Daxter reboot when the team thought it was time to take a different direction altogether…
„We asked [company management], can we do something else? And they said yes, sure. We started talking about how we develop characters through gameplay, and it grew and evolved and became The Last of Us. Gameplay genre and narrative genre are not always the same. The Last of Us is an action shooter, but the story is about guardianship. So we tried to understand the classical structure of those genres, and we looked at how we could subvert them in interesting ways.”
Finally, he also said that he always tries to move story forward with moments that differ from a game’s central activities. „You have the core mechanics, but then you have specific moments that are one-offs. They take a lot of work — unique sets of animations and tech, for what might be a five-minute section — but it’s so important to pull that off.”
As Gray Newell, son of Gabe (Valve) says, sometimes it’s a good idea to try something stupid. With Druckmann, it worked!