Naughty Dog spreek honderduit over de franchises van Uncharted in een exclusief interview.
Naughty Dog spreek zich uit over Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted PSP en een mogelijke Jak & Daxter op de Playstation®3, zelfs downloadable content komt even ter sprake. We kunnen zelf dé herfsttitel sinds deze week testen (welliswaar de multi-player), maar het wachten is bijna voorbij. Naughty Dog’s Co-President Evan Wells geeft in tien vragen openhartig antwoord over bovenstaande zaken.
1. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was said to only use 30% of the power of the PS3. It’s been reported that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is using everything PS3 has to offer. Would you still call that a fair assessment, or do you feel you could squeeze even more out of the hardware?
Evan Wells: This has been a very confusing point for a lot of people. What we said was the Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was using only 30% of the Cell processor, not 30% of the power of the PS3. There are 6 SPU’s on the Cell and it takes quite a bit of effort to keep them all busy 100% of the time. With the first Uncharted, we were only able to keep them from being idle, about 1/3 of the time. So when we started production on Uncharted 2, our programmers dove in and started moving more and more of our systems onto the SPU’s and by the end of the project we were able to hit 100% usage. So all that means is that there is no idle time, but it does not mean that we can’t be more optimized with what we’re doing. We feel very confident that we will find ways to continue to squeeze additional performance out of the PS3 on future projects.
2. After releasing two entries of the series on the PS3, what are the chances we’ll see a third installment before this generation comes to a close? By now, you are familiar with the hardware and know your limitations. Knowing the hardware so well now, do you feel like you should develop another entry before this generation comes to a close?
Evan Wells: You make it sound like this generation is close to being over! Naughty Dog has definitely become comfortable with the PS3 and we’re very familiar with the hardware. There’s still a lot that can be done with it and I’m sure Uncharted 2 isn’t the last you’ll see of Nathan Drake. What exactly we’ll do next, and the specific time frame is something we aren’t ready to discuss. However, what I can say is that we will be doing another game for this generation of hardware.
3. You chose not to include local co-op due to having to compromise the visuals of the single player. Do you still believe this was the best decision? If we see another Uncharted title land on the PS3, is there a chance we may see the inclusion of local co-op appear in the game?
Evan Wells: The decision to not include split screen for Uncharted 2’s multi-player was made for a variety of reasons many of which are technical. Given that we were already adding multiplayer, co-op, cinema mode and a much larger single player adventure to what we had offered in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune it was a feature that we decided that we just couldn’t include this time. I know that it’s a very desirable feature and we’ll definitely look into adding support for it in our engine for future games.
4. The multiplayer has been very well received. It could very well become the most played online PS3 game. Many are comparing it to Gears of War and Call of Duty. Did you expect to have this much success when you decided to throw in a multiplayer mode?
Evan Wells: You never know how something is going to be received until you put it out there, but knew we wanted to create a multiplayer mode that lived up to the expectation of quality that we’d set up for ourselves with the single player mode. It wasn’t something that we threw in for the sake of a bullet point on the back of the box. When we first experimented with multiplayer, we realized that we had something genuinely unique. Most shooters, whether first or third person, have very limited traversal mechanics and are often restricted to a relatively flat plane. With Drake’s move set, that allows him to jump and climb and really take advantage of a 3D space, we knew that we had something that could be a lot of fun and stand out from other multiplayer games.
5. Staying on the topic of the multiplayer, the PlayStation online community has been relatively weak in terms of overall communication and in options for being able to play with friends. Uncharted 2 seems to make the whole process much simpler and in my experience online, everyone is really talkative and excited about playing an online match. Was it your goal to take the PlayStation online community to the next level?
Evan Wells: We wanted to add as many features as possible to foster a strong online community which is why we spent as much time as we did on our Party System. We made it easy to check your friends list and invite whoever might be online to your party. From there you can either use Matchmaking to find other people to play with or start a Custom Game. And in Matchmaking, if you enjoyed who you just played a game with, you can choose to Party Up with them so you can continue to play with people you know you’re having a good time with. Co-op was also included to reach the part of the community that might like to play with other people, but doesn’t like the pressure of the competitive modes. Building community was also behind the decision to include Cinema mode where you can replay your matches and watch them from any angle. In this mode you can take screenshots to post online, or even upload the entire match so that you can share it with your friends. And we also completely revamped our website so players can go to Naughtydog.com to check their online statistics and even review their match history. So from the beginning it was our intent to make this a fully fleshed out online experience.
6. Unfortunately, gamers will sometimes quit a game or their connection may drop and they’ll leave their team one player down. Will we see a patch or option made available in the future that’ll allow for a new player to join the session? If not a new human player, perhaps a computer bot will replace the dropped player?
Evan Wells: We definitely see players quitting as an issue. What we intend to do is to address as many of the issues which cause players to drop from a game as possible. We’re going to adjust the playlist structure to offer more choices for the types of modes you can search for, so people won’t drop from a game when they’re stuck playing a mode they don’t want to play. We’re also going to adjust the win conditions dynamically as the number of players adjusts to put the goal at a more attainable level for both teams. Finally we’re going to implement a penalty for frequent quitting, so players won’t do it without thinking twice.
7. This title seems to fit the category for downloadable content perfectly. Do you plan to offer new maps and other content via DLC to keep the multiplayer feeling fresh? Could we see some minor content added to the single player campaign as well, maybe a new chapter and location to explore?
Evan Wells: Naughty Dog absolutely will be supporting Uncharted 2 with DLC. Exactly what and when has not been announced, but it will be multiplayer focused.
8. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is regarded as one of the best releases this generation by the fans. This puts a lot of pressure on you to top your first entry. Did you at anytime feel like you wouldn’t be able to deliver to the fans expectations or hype?
Evan Wells: That’s always a big concern of ours and one that we thought about throughout the development of Uncharted 2. We want to stay true to the franchise and deliver everything that excited players about the first game while still keeping it fresh and original enough that we didn’t end up repeating all the same notes. It’s certainly not an easy task and one that sequels can easily fail on. So we without a doubt felt the pressure but I feel confident that we made a game that will please both our fans and new players to the franchise.
9. The Jak and Daxter series is one of your most popular creations. It’s now seeing a full PSP release with Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier later this fall. Would you like see Nate Drake appear on the PSP in the future with his own portable entry?
Evan Wells: Of course! We’d love to see Uncharted grow beyond the PS3. It would be interesting to see what sort of changes to the design one would make for a portable system. But right now Naughty Dog is purely focused on PS3 development so we can’t promise anything from us in the near future.
10. Finally, will we see Naughty Dog take the reigns back with the Jak and Daxter franchise and craft a brand new Jak and Daxter adventure for the PS3? I’m sure you’re well aware that the fans want to see it happen. If you had to give us a percentage of it happening, what would you say the chances are? Above 50%?
Evan Wells: I think you know I can’t answer that question. But I will say that all of us here love the Jak and Daxter franchise and would love to play in the universe again. Right now most of the studio is on a much deserved vacation and with all of the hard work that went into finishing Uncharted 2, we haven’t even decided what we’ll be working on when they get back.