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Apr 22 2013
By: AKyemeni Naughty Paw 11598 posts
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A quick chat with Bruce Straley

45 replies 302 views Edited Apr 22, 2013

Some time ago, I got the chance to try an updated demo for The Last Of Us. Not only did it scare the sh*t out of me (never play this game with headphones), it once again showed the creative genius of Naughty Dog. I sat down with Game Director Bruce Straley to find out a bit more about the game ahead of its release in a few months time. (NB: This appeared on IGN ME previously on 04/02)

 

 

 

Ever since your reveal at VGA and E3 and the subsequent information you've disclosed since then, The Last of Us has been one of the most talked about games to be released. What's been your reaction so far on what people have been saying or expect from the game?

 

It really came down to Naughty dog wanting to expand into two teams, the Creative Director (Neil Druckmann) and myself are honoured with the opportunity to take on the challenge of creating a new, successful Franchise for Naughty Dog. We wanted to make a game that we wanted to play, that’s really what it came down to. I mean on Uncharted 2, I think I followed my heart and that was the game I wanted to play and just hoped that other people wanted to play the game too and with this game as well. Taking Naughty Dog's amazing team and talent that they have along with the budget that Sony avails us and allows us is lucky. To then apply that story telling with the technique and the craftsmanship of Naughty Dog to then getting invested with characters to create beautiful and lush environment that actually tell stories and then to have game play and controls that are accessible and feel like you are not encumbered by them. That marriage between story and gameplay in this world, the new genre of 'Survival/Action' is what we are calling it, is what we want to do.

 

The Last of Us features a lot of improvisation when it comes down to combat style as well as using weapons and items. How easy is it to get through the game with these kind of limited resources?

 

We try to make it very easy on the player who doesn’t want to explore too much. Easy meaning if you take the main path you're going to find 'something' for you. It’s not an absolute requirement but it’s something that if you don’t do it you're going to have a harder time generally in some of the combats. Harder meaning you'd have to be more strategic in your choices that you make, to be a little bit quieter. You can’t be over the top and just going guns blazing because you only have two bullets. So guns blazing lasts for two seconds and then you're like "Oh no, now what?" but the scavenging isn’t a difficult thing, it’s actually a pleasure because you get to unveil more of the stories of Joel and Ellie, Joel and Tess, you get to see a dead soldier in the first stairwell and by clicking on him you pick up a note and that reveals what their orders were when they got trapped inside this building when they ran into Clickers. So the exploring is rewarded in this game and we expected that to be a part of the average gamer's experience.

 

Ellie seems to hold it together as she travels with Joel, she doesn't seem unfazed when he kills enemies or when they come across something disturbing in the environment. Is there more to her than meets the eye?

 

Ellie has come from a world that’s already dark and she’s already carry around a switchblade when you first meet her, a little butterfly knife but that’s almost normal for her and kids her age, that’s the state of the world. When she gets out she almost doesn’t trust Joel, she doesn’t trust a lot of people and she has this wide eyed naivety about the world, and trying to find out what it was like before. Due to circumstances beyond their control they’re pushed together and you’re going to see Ellie over the course of the game build more trust for Joel and Joel build more trust towards her, and you’re going to see her capabilities rise up, she’s going to start stepping into combat, she’s going to start taking care of herself, she’s going to call out things for Joel and say like “There’s an enemy on your left” “There’s an enemy on your right” and you’re going to see these abilities transform over the course of the game.

One of the interesting things about the relationship between Joel and Ellie is that Joel was born before the Pandemic hit, so he's seen the world fall apart. He's seen a lot of loss in his life and lot of loss in the world and had to deal with that and become a survivor through that Ellie of the other hand has been born after the pandemic so inside the contained environment like the quarantined zone and she’s only fourteen so she has a completely different prospective of loss and infection and oppression and it’s almost like daily existence for her.

 

How did you come up with some of the level designs for the game? A lot of it shows areas that have been reclaimed somewhat by nature?

 

It’s interesting in video games that post-apocalyptic always means grey, bleak, ‘The End Times’ and that kind of ran its course. There’s books on it and there’s one book called ‘World Without Us’ where they talk about how the New York Subway system has to pump several hundred gallons of water out of the system every single day otherwise it will flood. It will flood in a matter of one week’s time. You’re going to have a river or a lake sitting at the bottom of New York City Subway System if you don’t constantly maintain it. That’s the reality that avails us the opportunities to expand on the layout. You can have foundation cracking on a building and have it topple over and then of course you are going to see the beauty contrasted with the abandonment, the beauty of nature claiming the earth and the wildlife taking it back as supposed to a building that you and I are familiar   and now its flooded, or there are birds nested inside of it and vines are growing out. The beauty of this game is that it’s all about contrast, contrast of Joel and Ellie, contrast of brutality and beauty, contrast of the abandonment and nature reclaiming. It’s all about making sure that we have elated moments and realistic dark moments.

Your biggest challenge of course was to come up with a game that rivalled the appeal and popularity of Uncharted - do you think you've achieved this somewhat with The last of Us?

 

I, personally, am extremely proud of the way the game is shaping up, I'm extremely proud of the game that I feel it’s the game that I want to play. I think that if some other developer was doing this and there was a sound developer with good execution and a good pedigree then I would be extraordinarily excited to see this coming out and I kind of feel like “Well, we could do that. Why not challenge ourselves?” we would push the limits of our own abilities here. Its been a really interesting and difficult process to cover things as much as we have and try to create such a possible world and to create characters that you understand and that you can relate to so you can understand the decisions they’re making and why they’re making them. That’s all very difficult stuff for a new IP and to come after Uncharted is like “Wow, its a lot of expectations” but you really have to put that aside and trust the process, trust that its all going to come out okay, trust that your team is amazingly talented and trust the vision.

 

http://www.ign.com/blogs/theregos/2013/04/21/a-quick-chat-with-bruce-straley-from-naughty-dog-about-...

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Fender Bender
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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013
Wow, thanks for spoiling some plot points in there.


Should have stayed away...

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"It's that time of the month again, Joel." -Ellie, The Last of Us


"It's that time of the month again, Joel"
-Ellie, The Last of Us
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Naughty Paw
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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013

EyeCue86 wrote:
Wow, thanks for spoiling some plot points in there.


Should have stayed away...

What plot points? There are none that haven't been told already.

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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013
I've been spoiler free ever since the 2011 VGAs

EyeCue86 is a symbol of free speech. Any attempt to censor EyeCue86 is an act of evil.


"It's that time of the month again, Joel." -Ellie, The Last of Us


"It's that time of the month again, Joel"
-Ellie, The Last of Us
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Hekseville Citizen
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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

[ Edited ]
Apr 23, 2013

Don't mean to be touchy, but could you provide a link please?

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Naughty Paw
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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013

EyeCue86 wrote:
I've been spoiler free ever since the 2011 VGAs


Then... why are you here?

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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013

AKyemeni wrote:

EyeCue86 wrote:
I've been spoiler free ever since the 2011 VGAs


Then... why are you here?


I wanted to read your chat with Bruce Straley Smiley Happy I just didn't wanna be spoiled by it.

EyeCue86 is a symbol of free speech. Any attempt to censor EyeCue86 is an act of evil.


"It's that time of the month again, Joel." -Ellie, The Last of Us


"It's that time of the month again, Joel"
-Ellie, The Last of Us
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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

[ Edited ]
Apr 23, 2013

EyeCue86 wrote:

AKyemeni wrote:

EyeCue86 wrote:
I've been spoiler free ever since the 2011 VGAs


Then... why are you here?


I wanted to read your chat with Bruce Straley Smiley Happy I just didn't wanna be spoiled by it.


No. I mean this whole forum. You know there's going to be spoilers.

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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013
Mods said u can't talk about spoilers here so I came in.

EyeCue86 is a symbol of free speech. Any attempt to censor EyeCue86 is an act of evil.


"It's that time of the month again, Joel." -Ellie, The Last of Us


"It's that time of the month again, Joel"
-Ellie, The Last of Us
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Naughty Paw
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Re: A quick chat with Bruce Straley

Apr 23, 2013

EyeCue86 wrote:
Mods said u can't talk about spoilers here so I came in.

What are you talking about? The mods mean that you can't put things like the game's detrimental events or ending without a spoiler tags. And since the game hasn't come out yet, you can't really put any TRUE spoilers that the mods would remove.

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