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Naughty Dog: "We Feel Like Storytelling Is So Poor Right Now"

Naughty Dog is once again trying to take an ambitious leap with their latest project, The Last Of Us.

And in a recent OPM UK interview with Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann, and voice performers Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie), Druckmann spoke about the team's goals. And Baker added that he believes players "crave substance" and are reaching out for something special.

"As a gamer I think that it’s almost daunting some of the expectations those gamers have. If you show an announcement trailer and it’s anything short of Jesus backflipping over a sea of ninja and turning orcs into candystripe game controllers it’s going to be underwhelming, because that’s what people expect now. And I think for so long technology has limited us, and I think now, especially the way Naughty Dog does it, people are exceeding the technology.

People are ready for something, they crave substance, they’re reaching out. People always want connection to something, for something to resonate with them. Gameplay is always a core part, yes, but I think more than anything people are really ready for something to resonate with them, and just blowing people up doesn’t do that any more."

Druckmann said they "want to change the fu**** industry" simply because they think storytelling can get a lot better. And although we've seen examples of great strides taken in this respect, we have to agree.

"...we want to change the fu**ing industry because we feel like storytelling is so poor right now. And we try so hard at Naughty Dog to push things, and games come out which are fun and exciting and visceral, but to read in reviews that they have amazing stories is disheartening for us because we work so hard at it. We really hope we can raise the bar, that people will look at it and say ‘OK, I really need to learn the craft of storytelling, I really need to think about characters, I really need to involve my actors in this in order to get realistic performances. That’s what we want to do."

There's no doubt that we need the next level when it comes to scripting, storytelling, dialogue, etc. But having a team like Naughty Dog leading the revolutionary charge is encouraging; given the Uncharted titles, they know exactly what to do when it comes to professional acting and writing.

Just keep goin'!

Related Game(s): The Last Of Us

Tags: the last of us, naughty dog, the last of us characters, the last of us interview

3/12/2012 8:52:28 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (25 posts)

Twistedfloyd
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 9:13:14 PM
Reply

Naughty Dog are some of the best storytellers in the industry, and Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley I think were one of the many reasons that Uncharted 2 was such a masterfully told story. Even though Uncharted 3 was great, their presence was missed.

I really look forward to seeing what they do with The Last of Us and my expectations are through the roof. Storytelling can improve and needs to keep improving for our industry to continue grow. These guys are among my inner circle of great storytellers within gaming.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 9:54:09 PM
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That's all well and good and it's nice to hear but I felt the story in Uncharted 3 was a bit of a nosedive. I don't mean the characters and what they went through, but the underlying story that was supposed to be based on history didn't live up to the other two even remotely.

They just kind of did some Dan Brown and tossed around names of secret societies and plots with connections that made no historical sense at all. It also fell into the hollywood trap of too much globetrotting action and not enough substance.

I sure hope The Last of Us delivers on making the proper survival connection with the gamers.

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Temjin001
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:56:01 PM

I thought the curve ball, "Whoa, Drake, you're going to far" charade wasn't buyable. For two games this group of treasure hunters have been facing odds and deadly danger, and now all of sudden Sully and Elena are so concerned about "how far Drake is willing to go"
While I liked the attempt at deeper sentiments, it was forced upon the story and didn't mesh with the history they've shared together.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 1:00:36 AM

At some point wether it's sully and Elena, or you're own two best friends they are only going to let you go so far, when doing something crazy, deadly, etc... You get the point.

I agree, as much as I loved Uncharted 3, the other two are better games and told better stories, but that doesnt mean anything when these games are phenomenal to begin with. The first is still my favorite and favorite game, and that's saying a lot when you have Uncharted 2, and even 3 and how good they were.

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archs13
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:09:08 PM
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The problem with videogames right now is that there are too many sequels. I think the only people I can think of that are focused on storytelling right now are Kojima and definitely Quantic's David Cage which is a pretty low number. I read one of the previous articles about David Cage and it seems like he always wants to do something new instead of using the same platform or story in the sequels.

It's kinda like that "sequel syndrome" in movies, where the second and third movie always tend to be much watered down than the original. With that said, the Call of Duty series is definitely the one to blame in all of this because of making a game at least a year. Not too much storytelling in Call of Duty, it's the multiplayer that sells.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:19:20 PM

I think in most cases the sequels to games are usually better. Exceptions would be yearly releases and colossal screwups like with Final Fantasy and Resident Evil.

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archs13
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:44:10 PM

Well see, the main problem of releasing too many sequels isn't just storytelling, it has to do with the graphics and gameplay too. Let's say I haven't touched a single Assassin's Creed game, if I were to start at the very first Assassin's Creed I already know that the graphics aren't too good compared to the newer Assassin's Creed, and also the gameplay mechanics are not that great compared to the newer game. I think that's the other thing that developers need to consider before releasing sequels in a short amount of time. Don't release a lot of sequels unless if the story of your game is deep enough to have us coming back to your earlier, outdated previous games.

Kojima has done that with his Metal Gear Solid series, why can't other developers do that as well?

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CheddarClyde
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:22:30 PM
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Great storytelling in a game is what will make me miss dinner in favor of playing thru and seeing what happens in the story. InFamous was one of the first games that I've played in a long time that had me up til 2am on days where I had to be at work at 8am, and I enjoyed every bleary-eyed minute of it. Thank god for Naughty Dog (and Sucker Punch) for catering to those of us that truly care about narratives, especially at a time when it may not be the most popular option right now.

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AtomicJAM
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 12:21:37 AM
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Bioshock, anyone? Anyone?
*raises hand*

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 1:04:01 AM

Not a huge fan of the stories in Bioshock, nor does that mean they are bad. I Love the games, love the atmosphere and they do have great plots but overall I don't love the games because I'm hanging by the stories every advancement.

The Bioshock games are just good plain and simple!

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 3:41:04 AM

That's my idea of a really good story. Subtext by looking at society, genetic modification, slavery, mental conditioning, all wrapped up in a plot that keeps you moving through... good stuff.

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Gamer46
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 1:04:05 AM
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Uncharted 1 and 2 had great stories that were fun to follow and eventhough I didn't feel U3 lived up to those I still enjoyed it. Really looking forward to The Last of Us.

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Killa Tequilla
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 2:47:11 AM
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Why do you block the cuss words? It's not like anyone here is under 18, or we need to guess hard to try and tell what the word is. It just irritates me a lil.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 3:31:49 AM

Because that is responsible journalism...

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Beamboom
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 6:48:43 AM

@Lawless,
... In the USA, that must be. We never see that on my side of the world. I think it's a bit weird myself actually. Just like the beeping out of words on American TV.

I've just grown to become used to it. Still I think it's a strange custm cause there's not a single person in the audience who are in any doubt about what's been said.


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/13/2012 6:49:03 AM

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 6:54:33 AM

'tis so here in Australia too (somewhat paradoxically considering just about every third word in general conversation is a curse). It only really applies to journalism though... You hear such profanity regularly enough to not be bothered by it on most TV shows and the like.

Thinking about it now... it is a bit odd. Swear words are all but a part of the modern vernacular (not to mention incredibly useful at times). Still, there are certain standards of propriety that should be adhered to and this is one of them. That's what I think anyway.

Last edited by Lawless SXE on 3/13/2012 6:57:40 AM

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jimmyhandsome
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 8:33:31 AM

swear words make everything funnier

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JCARROLL
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 4:31:17 PM

Blocking profanities only draws my attention to them really. If they were just left in, I would take no notice whatsoever.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 3:31:09 AM
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Fair enough, can't blame them at all for expressing that sentiment. That being said, I love that they can plot out an exciting story full of twists and turns, yet also swing about and offer strong character development and inter-character relations. I see this and respect it greatly. However, after playing through Binary Domain and seeing the way that it brings up and deals with moral and ethical issues, presenting them in-game, I no longer see Uncharted as being so incredible. It is a series of blockbusters, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that from time to time, my preferred media is the type that makes me think.

Bioshock was awesome in this respect, as was SotC but Uncharted doesn't have that same way of presenting a subtext. I know that that is, in no way, what Druckman is saying here, but I feel that it remains relevant. Sure, the way that the characters interact and the events going on around them are incredibly important for the plot advancement, but a shallow story will remain shallow, even if the best of the best were involved. In a way, I think the statements are self-contradictory.

Baker, on the other hand, reflects my sentiments with his "craving substance" comment, only for Druckman to, seemingly, downplay that. Obviously the developer is the driving force behind the project, and this has me wondering what themes, if any, The Last of Us will tackle. So much could be explored, but I can't help but feel that it will be a wasted opportunity and that really, really worries me.

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FxTales
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 4:32:40 AM
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Good to hear. Games with depth are what we need more of.

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___________
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 5:09:43 AM
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hes right people are opening their arms waiting for a more engaging experience.
which is exactly why heavy rain was so popular!
BUT that said to say "Storytelling Is So Poor Right Now" is a bit extreme!
there have been PLEANTY games that have a awesome story!
FAR from what i would call poor.
but that point aside he never said this but he makes it sound like every game needs a story.
thats not true!
SOME games need a good story.
some dont.
SSX for instance, are people really that interested in a story on a snowboarder?
or would they rather a story on a ex serial killer?
some concepts lead themselves well to a story so story is paramount, id go as far to say its THE most important part of the project!
but other games, like SSX, story is irrelevant, useless the concept, the style of game just does not need it.
do you really need a story in GT5?
or would you prefer the most accurate advanced racing sim available?

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JackC8
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 7:14:34 AM
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Good to see that at least one developer shares my priorities.

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Robochic
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 8:42:30 AM
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And this my friends is why I love Naughty Dog. The one thing I love about this developer is they learn from each of their games so each game just gets better and better, they listen to gamers and the industry very well. I really can't wait for The last of Us, i've been replaying the UC games just to get my ND fix lol.
One thing i'm sick of is games that have no story line but hey it's cool just to shoot people i want to have a game with great story and shooting peole or something that challenges my brain and thats why i love UC it challenges me, great story lines :)

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Naksy
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 1:04:57 PM
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When you need good story telling... Who do you call?? Naughty Dog!!! (or QD) (read that in the ghost busters theme song tune :D)

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Crabba
Friday, March 16, 2012 @ 5:26:04 PM
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Naughty Dog is EXACTLY what the game industry needs right now. A company making great games, that are not just about shooting everything you see, and still sell really well!! Can't wait for The Last of Us!

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