Naughty Dog Thought The Last Of Us Was 'Going To Tank'

Naughty Dog Thought The Last of Us Was 'Going to Tank'

The Last of Us has been a huge success for its developer, Naughty Dog. It's been flooded with awards, glowing reviews, and fan love. It's spawned a fantastic expansion and work has already begun on a sequel. No one's more surprised by the success than the game's developers. They thought it was going to fail.

Talking to Wil Wheaton in a Sony roundtable interview, Naughty Dog's co-director Bruce Straley said that long into development they didn't think the game would work. "We thought it was going to tank. We thought we were going to ruin the name and image [of Naughty Dog] that's been so heartily built for years with blood, sweat, and tears.

"We thought we were ruining Naughty Dog's image."

The problem wasn't the story or the setting, it was mechanical. "I thought, 'We'll be lucky to scrape by with an 85 Metacritic.' Just because it wasn't gelling," lead designer Anthony Newman said. "It was a set of really lucky breaks in gameplay decisions we made that made everything fall into place and turn into a fun game."

For director Neil Druckmann, the moment he knew the game had changed was when a developer who had left the studio for a while and then returned came up to him and was gushing with praise for The Last of Us. "[He was saying] 'I've never been so touched by characters' andnas I finished it and watched someone else playing it and I was looking at Ellie and Joel at the beginning and they're such different people. I couldn't feel it when I was playing it but they change so much. Then I though OK, maybe we'll be alright."

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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour from the British isles.


Comments

    I can see their concerns, I enjoyed the game but the game play really has some glaring faults and the AI is flat out broken.

      Are you talking about The Last Of Us? Weird, I never had a problem with the AI, I think in 4 full playthroughs I've had 2 glitches. I do think though, that on the harder difficulties the AI is much better, obviously being extremely smart.

        The bad guys would aggro, I'd duck behind a bench, they'd walk around the bench looking for me and not see me. Or they'd run behind a bench I'm already behind to reload then just crouch there until I shoot them. it was bad and has been noted as one of it's biggest flaws. Like I said I enjoyed the game a lot but the shooting mechanics and AI left a lot to be desired.

          Hmm, I never had any issues like that, and I've completed it 4 times across PS3 and PS4. The AI issues for me were more to do with the way that nobody ever seems to see Ellie when she's right in front of them, but that's not so much a glitch as a concession to the fact that the game would be infuriatingly frustrating if you kept getting screwed up by Ellie getting spotted.

          I never had any issue with the shooting mechanics, either - care to elaborate on what you didn't like about them?

            No idea what he's on about. I never had any issues with the AI, in 3 playthroughs I can't think of a single moment that made me think the AI was lacking.

            The shooting was great. Not as easy as most third person shooters these days which is why I think people mention it. Gamers don't like change these days and it seems like nitpicking is the new in thing.

              Everything he mentions I have seen and more. I had enemies who would take cover on the side of my cover, infected who spun on the spot and others who had no blind spots.
              They were rare thankfully but they were there and it isn't nitpicking to mention it when it happens enough to pull you away from the game.

              Fantastic game, but not without it flaws.

                Strange.

                I'd say it is nitpicking when it's rare enough that people with multiple playthroughs don't experience the issue at all.

                But eh, there will always be those comments when a game is universally praised.

                  Except it was a subject covered in many articles, videos and message boards....and from people who also heaped praise on the game.
                  We all have search engines, it's just one way we can see something through others experiences.....if you get me.

                  Also helps to know that criticism doesn't automatically mean somebody is badmouthing something you like.

                  It's not nitpicking when it's happened to you. I've witnessed some of this stuff too.

                Replying to this as it won't let me reply to your most recent comment (not sure why?)

                I honestly never heard anything about bugs/glitches. Not saying they don't exist, I just wasn't aware that it was an issue as like I said, in my multiple playthroughs I didn't experience a single issue, nor did my friends who I discussed the game with (unless they just didn't tell me).

                I'm well aware that critisism =/= badmouthing. Even if it was badmouthing it wouldn't bother me, each to their own and all that. But to say the AI is "flat out broken" is just plain wrong, which is what made me comment.

            No issues with the AI. Or gameplay. There were exploits, sure, but that was all part of the fun!

            Definitely in my top 5 ever... And I've been gaming for a quarter of a century.

    This is a great vid. MOAR!

    I like the way Wil Wheaton talks.

    Uncharted game-long escort quest w/ zombies & crafting.

    Was a pretty good game, even if the story was a bit cliche and trite. But I don't think it was "winnar of ovar 200 awarzdz!!11" good like the remaster box says :/

      Ultimately it's subjective I guess. I've been playing games for about 25 years and this still managed to captivate me like few ever did and easily made it into my top 10 games of all time.

      So I feel it's totally worthy of praise and many awards.

        Yeah I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it - I just thought it was a bit overrated and groan-inducing with certain story points. Naughty Dog games tend to play similarly, though in saying that, if ain't broke don't fix it. Keen as a bean for Uncharted 4.

        Last edited 22/07/15 11:51 am

          That's the thing about Naughty Dog games, they are never the best of anything. They take a bunch of average mechanics and plots but roll them together in to very enjoyable games.

          Aside from some brutal finishers the combat in TLOU wasn't memorable and the story was cliche....but man it was a sweet ride I paid to go on twice lol

        Fits my opinion too, good game no doubt but I don't think it deserved all the hype it got as "the best game of all time".

        I'm 35. Been playing games my whole life. I think it's the best game I've ever played. Not for the gameplay though, but for the story. Never have I been so invested in a game's story.

      TLOU is definitely my favourite game, but after playing through it on all difficulties, I think the game is much stronger on harder difficulties. I think the reason the game did so well is due to the story telling. The shooting and mechanics are nothing amazing - they feel good, but not great. Really the game succeeds (to me) due to the huge amount of dialogue that is present whilst you play.

      A great piece of dialogue I found was at the bus you climb over just before entering the bookstore. If you wait at the bottom of the bus for like 60 seconds Ellie says something along the lines of "Whaaat are you doing, you're literally just standing there" After which she pulls out her joke book and starts telling jokes. (There's like 5 instances where you can listen to jokes) There's such great dialogue whilst you move around the environment I think it really creates a stronger attachment to the characters in this game then in most others.

      Subjective of course but I haven't played a game as emotionally intense as this, especially in notable scenes with Henry and Sam, Bill and Marlene.

      Just my 2c.

        What do you think of the hardest setting though? I think it's crazy hard, ridiculously hard. I'm on it now and literally am stuck on encounters for 20, 30 deaths sometimes.

          It was pretty painful. No tells. No prompts. The clickers were fucking olfactory ninjas. Totally agree.

          Sorry for late reply. I've completed the game on every difficulty, and yeah Grounded is nasty as F***. There's a section where you're in the Hotel before the scene with the elevator, where you have to clear two full floors of hunters. That was the one section that tested my love of the game. Holy crap is it hard. You do learn a lot of tactics though, for instance when with Bill just before the school, there's the big open section with the buses. You can hop onto of the one on the right and take out zombies as they filter their way up as it's only accessible from one side.

          In essence though I challenged myself to play the game almost entirely stealth, and eventually succeeded. I've platinum'd the game. :)

          One more tip, if you get stuck with the Sniper on Grounded, do a quick youtube search, there's a surprising way to pass that section that I didn't think possible. That spot was so hard I had to resort to googling tips.

          Any questions let me know :P

            All good man. Hotel actually wasn't too bad, because I KNEW how bad it would be.

            Sewers I had a few moments where I didn't think I'd be able to complete. Then had to reload sewers because I didn't have any health going into the sniper area. Really enjoyed that bit actually. Now I'm at the hydro dam. Finding it pretty hard going but still enjoying the ride. Every couple of weeks I boot it up and put in 30mins or so. I'll get through it eventually!

            Looking forward to replaying it one day though. How amazing it will feel to have heaps of ammo and items?!?!

            I've played the whole game through at least 5 times. Just loved it.

              Yeah grounded new game plus it a lot easier, because you have full health and weapon sway (ideally). Hydro Dam section is a lot of fun. I find the lakeside resort chapter one of the hardest, due to the lack of resources you can find. The university is fun, as is the hospital - there are a lot of neat tricks you can use. For the hospital I'd advise making use of smoke bombs when you need, that very last door you have to pass through is well guarded, but if you have supplies it becomes quite doable.

              Also obviously the flamethrower is pretty OP, I think it takes around 4-5 fuel to catch a zombie alight, at which point you just stay away until they die. (obviously bloaters take a bit more effort.) So it makes the section leading up to the hospital real easy, as the only real issues are the 2 bloaters, which you should be able to either evade, or take out with 1 molotov and a few headshots from the rifle. Amour piercing is very good with that thing. :)

      Woah.

      You didnt. like. the story.

      TL: mind blown.

      IMO the best game story of all time.

        Yeah. Basically as soon as Ellie came in was when the eyerolls began. I was on board up until that with the general story; after that I couldn't give a fuck as it lost me and I only cared about the character interaction. Joel and Ellie had a good dynamic most of the time.

          So within the first 20 mins of the game you were rollng your eyes? Why even play through?

    'We’ll be lucky to scrape by with an 85 Metacritic'

    Imagine if they had released a turd of a game that only got an 85 MC! What a flop that would've been!

      metacritic is the be all and end all of gaming, if a game has a poor metacritic score then NOBODY can enjoy it!

    It was a good game (although i never actually finished it), but it had a lot of problems and didn't live up to the initial gameplay trailers they showed off. In the E3 trailer the enemy survivor ai was shown to be very high level, able to adapt based on their power relative to the player's power (this was a major selling point iirc). For example the player was shown to be ambushed by a solo hiding melee enemy, and at another point after a gunfight the last remaining enemy was shown running and hiding from the player, waiting for an opportunity to attack. From what I played, the final ai was incapable of acting in this way, the enemies acted almost identically to those in uncharted.
    Like i said, I enjoyed the game, it was nice to see a big studio try something different and bring their version of survival horror to a wide audience, however the game's initial draw-card for me was the enemy ai, and the emergent scenarios it produced, and unfortunately this was lacking in the final game.

      I think the AI varied severely depending upon which difficulty you played on. If you played on anything except Survivor or Grounded - then you wouldn't have got a proper feel for the AI, because it was 'dumbed down' to make the game easier. You want smart AI? Play on grounded.

      Enemies to triple damage, no HUd or Listen mode, extremely limited supplies. That's how you create a realistic zombie game.

      Enemy AI is ridiculously smart, I was playing in a section, and had a door-way locked down with about 3 AI alerted to my presence. I ended up dying because one of the Hunters was smart enough to descend a floor, run around beneath me, climbed up the back entrance - (which I assumed was safe as I had cleared the lower floor) - and then shot me.

      tl;dr enemy AI is dependent upon difficulty. If you started the game on a Survivor or above difficulty without a prior playthrough, you probably got frustrated with dying so much and gave up, but if you didn't start on Survivor + difficulty, you didn't experience the proper enemy AI.

      Again, I'll stress this is my opinion, but I have played the game probably 75 hours of Campaign and 50 Multiplayer. :)

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