Creative Director Of The Last Of Us: ‘Storytelling Is So Poor Right Now’

Creative Director Of The Last Of Us: ‘Storytelling Is So Poor Right Now’

Even if you have complaints about the linear scripted paths of Uncharted, it’s difficult to deny that Naughty Dog games are home to some of the sharpest writing in the games industry. Now, with The Last Of Us, Creative Director Neil Druckmann claims the studio push the level of storytelling craft in video games to new levels.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Druckmann claimed that the studio is looking to “raise the bar”.

“We try so hard at Naughty Dog to push things,” said Druckman. “And then games come out that are fun and exciting and get visceral things right, but to read in reviews that they have an amazing story is disheartening to us because we work so hard at it.

“As critics we need to raise the bar, otherwise no-one’s going to change. We’re going to keep pushing ourselves, and kill ourselves to make this story happen — but hope that by doing it, the rest of the industry is going to take notice and try to do the same thing.”

While I felt as though Uncharted 3 stopped short of feeling as polished as its predecessor, the whole relationship between Nathan Drake and Sully was just so perfectly implemented. It gives me faith that the core of The Last Of Us, which appears to be the father/daughter relationship thing. Normally I’d be worried about how this was handled, and prepare for cringe — but somehow I have total faith.

“We approached this genre because we felt no-one is getting to the heart of it. It tells you something about the human condition – that’s what you want to do as a storyteller,” continued Druckmann.

“We’re not saying every game needs a strong, compelling and dramatic story, but if you are going to make a narrative-based game then you better learn the craft.”

Naughty Dog wants to “change the f***ing industry” with The Last of Us [Eurogamer]


  • I really find it hard to believe. Happy to be proven wrong, but very skeptical in this case. Time to zombie is modern games equivalent of Time to crate, and this looks like it fails pretty quickly.

  • “We approached this genre because we felt no-one is getting to the heart of it. It tells you something about the human condition – that’s what you want to do as a storyteller,” continued Druckmann.

    If you think people who like zombie games are interested in exploring the human condition in their zombie games, you don’t know a goddam thing about the human condition.

    My god, ‘the heart’ of a zombie game is never/has never been that, (in video games), and even if you do succeed in telling a decent story (for a videogame) you won’t have gotten to the heart of it, you’ll just have taken it in a different direction.
    I suppose it’s understandable but my god ND have gotten big heads.

    • Then you can go back to playing mindless zombie slaughter games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Island.

      Why is 28 Days/Weeks Later and The Walking Dead so well liked? because it’s about the people in the situation primarily, not about the blood and gore.

      • “Then you can go back to playing mindless zombie slaughter games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Island.”

        Pretty much. I’m excited about The Last of Us because it looks like they’ll focus on narrative and character rather than “LoL there’s zombies killz them all in different wayz!”
        I’ve been hoping for years for someone to come out with a zombie apoc RPG or something like that. L4D and shiz is fun but it gets old quick, if I actually give a shit about the characters and what they’re trying to do it’ll make the game infinitely more interesting.

      • I’m sorry what? I hate most zombie games…. I’m going off what every person I’ve known who likes them wants in a zombie game and also what all the people who aren’t interested in zombie games want.

        Take 28 Days Later, I actually really like it, but make no mistake it’s a rarity in zombie games, and it’s far from a masterpiece in storytellling regardless. BUT everyone I know that loves zombie games actually HATED 28 days later because it wasn’t juust 2 hours of stupid action

        As someone who does love a strong narrative, I’m just not interested in zombies, at least not in the traditional sense because the traditional sense involves excessive gore, if you want to make a different type of zombie that is say mindless but doesn’t need to eat brains in the most violent way possible that’s great, but for all intents and purposes you’re talking about a different thing, you don’t make nutella and say this is just better vegemite, because the fundamental aspects of vegemite as we’ve come to know it aren’t there.

        Perhaps you’re right and there’s a massive market of people who love zombie games but want a deep and meaningful story, if so they’re certainly a quiet bunch.

        • “Perhaps you’re right and there’s a massive market of people who love zombie games but want a deep and meaningful story, if so they’re certainly a quiet bunch.”

          As they should. They don’t need to harp incessantly about what zombie games need. Developers at Naughty Dog clearly understand what’s popular and what’s not. I have a feeling you’re the one that doesn’t really understand people if you think they’re all mindless idiots.

    • I really don’t think it’s a case that ND have “gotten big heads.”

      They are simply saying that there plenty of room in video game development to implement stronger stories and greater character-driven experiences. However, they are not saying that they’re the only studio capable of achieving a ‘holy-grail’ of interactive story telling. Rather, they are saying that it is a goal they want to achieve, and they want the industry as a whole to move towards that goal — for the betterment of ALL games, not just they’re own.


        No, that sounds completely reasonable.
        The big headedness is simply how I’ve interpretted all their comments since the imminent release of Uncharted 3, it’s funny you use the holy grail example because that’s exactly how it feels to me they’ve been acting since the success of Uncharted 2.

        I didn’t see CD Projekt spurting a stupid amount of hyperbole about how their game was going to a completely amazing experience like no one had ever seen when the game wasn’t even completed, which ironic since it has far superior storytelling to any of the uncharted games (I’d argue this objectively, not as an opinion) with all their linearity and setpiece A to setpiece Z.

  • While the dialogue in Uncharted 3 was pretty sharp, the actual story was pretty weak.

    Apart from the predictable (SPOILER) death of the main villains (END SPOILER), did anything else of note happen?

    Naughty Dog’s writers can develop relationships, but they stutter big time when it comes to twists and actual happenings. The Uncharted games are about as predictable as you can possibly get.

    • my biggest gripe with Uncharted 3 is it felt more like 4 smaller stories than 1 large one… There were varying sections where it felt like they were just showing off different side kicks and each one was loosly connected… perhaps it’s because the female presence in the games was fairly limited and it’s really hard to whack off to Sully… err, I mean… 🙂

  • Uncharted was a very solid game, I felt it was a very strong spiritual successor of UC 1&2 i’m unsure what the authors gripes with it was.

    Not sure if I want scripts to reach the over melodramatic plots like you see in movies, I don’t watch movies for a reason theeres a thin line between drama and over the top.

  • Well, I’m looking forward to this game. I’ve read about 90 Walking Dead comics in the last couple of weeks, and I would love to see a video game adaption. I think The Last of Us is going to be on par with the content and quality of The Walking Dead story.

  • “…Naughty Dog games are home to some of the sharpest writing in the games industry.”

    That’s a pretty damning indictment of the industry.

  • BAH! All of you saying that a Zombie game “Can’t be about story” and “no-one will appreciate it” are full of BS.

    Look at movies like I am Legend! That movie was ALL about relationships, and one of my favourite modern zombie movies. Maybe the REASON zombie games are so stale, is because EVERYONE approaches them the same friggin way.
    With ridiculous weapons, large body counts and sometimes silly storylines just to explain why a Z day event would happen in the first case.

    What Naughty Dog is hoping to achieve with the “zombie” genre, in very similar to what they already DID achieve with the action shooter series.

    I have total faith in them. And even if i didnt, its nice to see a studio at least TRYING. and developing new ip. Instead of just rehashing games and creating sequels.

    • Interestingly, my first thought after seeing that trailer was “this looks like ‘I Am Legend’ with fungus”. And that’s the main reason I’m so hyped for this game – it’s going to have a great, character-driven story.

    • I have absolutely NO faith, because nobody seems to remember that uselessly bland hollywood ‘drama’ isn’t the reason old zombie flicks are so beloved. They are beloved because zombies are the symptom, not the cause. They are all parables in one way or another on society at large, and also a slight bit of ‘futility of survival’ as evidenced in the finals cene of the first Dead movie where the lone survivor is mistaken for a zombie and gunned down. The perfect zombie game I believe, would replicate this. Dead Rising is fun, but can’t really achieve the necessary effect because the zombie horde is a bit of a dangerous joke and just too easy to maim in general. Frank has superhuman endurance and stamina. But fighting The Horde in Zomband really gives you a sense of encroaching futility, at the start you are weak, but you only face a few at a time so you have more than enough time to bash them into submission. In the endgame, you can finally pull a Frank West, but you need to be wielding heavy weaponry to oneshot them, ammo is a lot scarcer, and you get tired a lot quicker. Staying in one spot to fight the unending horde and making a small safe spot to sleep is suicide. There is no longer any point in fighting unless they are directly between you and your next food source/weapon upgrade. In order to make it to the military blockade in one piece, you have to learn to manage your fatigue while still keeping on the move and finding enough to eat. Combining the storyline of something like Night of the Living Dead or Zombi 2 with the gorefestness and destroyable limbs of Braindead (ie infuse some dorf fortress into your damage calcs) and you have the baseline for a stupendous zombie thriller of a game. Now the hard part? Making it 3D… Oh also you should probably make the game more forgiving on the food/water levels. It seems a bit silly to be completely dehydrated again after only two hours, and drop-dead starving in five. Now you just add in some randomly sprinkled other survivors you can pick up and escort, and have the ending change based upon your relations with them and IF they make it to that blockade alive. (And maybe have a different cutscene if they died within a half-mile of their goal with the player’s character lamenting they had just almost made it.) While the implementation is buggy, I thought The Last Stand: Union City, a flash game by ConArtist of Armor Games, was really awesome for having two survivors you could pick up and take with you. If they die right off you don’t feel so bad, but, especially Kelly since all she started with was a kitchen knife, if you helped them through the game and got them a good gun, then lose them on the very last location, oh man, epic rageboner. Turned right around and started gunning zombies until I ran out of ammo before leaping onto the boat to finish the game. “YOOOU MOTHER FUKKAAAASSSS {Brattaatatatata}”

  • I thought the writing in Enslaved was pretty damn good.

    I think that Naughty Dog do conversations very well, and I think Bioware Edmonton do plots well… but I wouldn’t say there’s a studio that’s strong in both.

    • Enslaved was written by Alex Garland though, which is not indicative of Ninja Theory’s talents when it comes to writing.

  • ND should watch the movie ‘The Road’. It can give them a few ideas since it’s a post apocalyptic story featuring a middled aged man and his young son. I hope ND can pull the story off though.

  • The trailer for Dead Island is proof that evocative storytelling can exist in a zombified world, and will be VERY well received. (The game of course didn’t live up to that, but that’s another issue)

  • Maybe people are that bitter for Uncharted 4 sooner than later?

    It looks good and sounds great – I just dislike it when people talk themselves so high up their arse. Musicians do it all the time, as if they’re competing with each other. We don’t really give a crap about the politics, just give us the god darn game. I didn’t think developers would go on so much about this sorta crap.

    I have faith in Naughty Dog – yet at the same time, Uncharted is basically their only franchise where they have taken the story seriously. Well written, yes. But great story, no. I look forward to THIS game, just ND, stfu for a bit.

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