When Naughty Dog does something, it aims to do it properly. That's what Uncharted 2: Among Thieves game director Bruce Straley told us and he wasn't joking - when he answers a question he does it properly.
That said, we have one hefty, internet-snapping interview right here, in which Straley spills the beans on absolutely shed loads of new gameplay mechanics and details and describes the new direction for Nathan Drake.
So many details in fact, that we've split it into two parts for easy digestion. So stop messing about and tuck in...
Many reviews said that the original was a mix of tried-and-tested influences. Did you intend to play it safe with Drake's debut?
Bruce Straley: Our goal from the beginning of Uncharted was to capitalize on what we call the "comfort food" of the action-adventure movie genre and translate that into a satisfying, fun gameplay experience for the player.
By "comfort food" I mean those elements from the movies that people have grown up loving and associate so closely with the genre. If you were to make a sci-fi game or horror game, there are certain hallmarks that make up those genres that the developer would need to at least tip their hats to.
Basically we set out to use the action-adventure genre as our palette and paint a really good story, create compelling characters, and place them in exciting predicaments, just like our favorite action-adventure movies do.
Delivering that experience is something I think we've excelled at. I don't look at delivering a fun game as being safe or unsafe, but as accomplishing a very difficult goal that any game developer would be proud of had they made Uncharted!
A player's experience throughout the game is the key in crafting a satisfying experience. "How does the player feel when playing our game?", and "Do they finish it?", are an example of the big questions for us. We've found that an overwhelming amount of players have completed Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. That tells us a lot about how successful we were to hook players into our game story and mechanics once they got the controller in their hands.
How have you approached the sequel in terms of giving the game more of a unique identity?
Straley: We looked at our review scores and the feedback on the forums only to discover that so many people got what we were doing with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and had a great time playing it. So in Uncharted: Among Thieves we're not looking to break the franchise, but really build upon the foundation we laid in the first game.
We've been hard at work on creating a new story to propel the game play. We got praised for our story in Uncharted and we don't want to lose what drew people into it. We worked hard to make Nathan Drake feel like a real person, and as grounded a hero as we've yet seen in video games. He's not your typical video game hero, destroying 50 foot aliens in his armored space suit.
He's a real dude existing somewhere on this planet right now, dealing with the people he's surrounded himself by, and the situations he finds himself in. Just like in a good movie, we've strived to make Uncharted a character-based story, meaning character motivations are driving the plot and the protagonist's decisions. We want to explore more of the cast characters around Drake and the pressures they apply on him in Uncharted 2.
Those characters that exist in this gritty, realistic side of the modern-day treasure hunting world, which is chock full of scavengers, backstabbers, and thieves. It's interesting to us to ask, "If you were a criminal, who would your friends be? Who would your lovers be? Who can you trust?" So, we're happy with what we're planning on delivering to the video game world in terms of a fresh story that's also going to provide some interesting game play events.