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How The Jak And Daxter Reboot Became The Last Of Us

Sometimes it's strange to think that the Jak and Daxter guys are the same dudes that created The Last Of Us.

And it's interesting to see how Naughty Dog arrived at the latter project. During a keynote address for IGDA Toronto 2013, The Last Of Us creative director Neil Druckmann revealed that the team that made the game was originally assembled to produce a fresh Jak and Daxter installment. Yeah, I wanted it, too.

After the success of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the company wanted to branch out, so they made a second team with the express purpose of rebooting Jak and Daxter. Druckmann said they "spent a lot of time exploring the world of Jak and Daxter," but the ideas they were really passionate about represented a departure from the franchise.

"We were questioning 'are we doing this for marketing reasons? Naming something Jak and Daxter, when it's not really Jak and Daxter? Or, are are we really passionate about it?' And the answer is that we felt like it was more for marketing...we felt like we weren't doing service to what the fans of this franchise really liked, even if the reinvented Daxter was pretty damn good looking."

They opted to come up with another idea, and that eventually became the core of The Last Of Us. It began in 2004 when Druckmann was a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, and was asked to pitch the idea of a zombie game to "Night of the Living Dead" director George Romero. Romero rejected the pitch, but it was an interesting idea: It combined the mechanics of ICO with a zombie-filled world and a protagonist modeled on Hartigan from "Sin City." Years later, Druckmann pitched an idea as a story called "The Turning," which had the male lead as a former convict who had lost his daughter, and was protecting a different girl to redeem himself.

Sound familiar?

The next step was when Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley considered a game called "Mankind," which would have the main character guiding the first immune girl around a world where the cordyceps virus had infected all of the planet's women. But some female co-workers at Naughty Dog said this came across as a "misogynistic idea," so they expanded on the concept and...well, you know the rest. One of the best games ever made found the light of day.

Related Game(s): The Last Of Us

Tags: the last of us, naughty dog, jak and daxter reboot

10/4/2013 8:51:01 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (11 posts)

Knightzane
Friday, October 04, 2013 @ 9:06:52 PM
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That is so cool. I love Naughty Dog so much. Now I need to replay it with that in mind.

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Draguss
Friday, October 04, 2013 @ 10:27:14 PM
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"We were questioning 'are we doing this for marketing reasons? Naming something Jak and Daxter, when it's not really Jak and Daxter?" So they chose to make a completely new game instead of destroying the identity of a beloved franchise for the purpose of milking the name? My admiration of Naughty Dog just shot up pretty high. If only S-E and Capcom thought like that.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 04, 2013 @ 10:40:10 PM
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I think they made the right decision, Naughty Dog should stick with grown up games now.

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Sol
Friday, October 04, 2013 @ 11:28:19 PM

That perspective is slightly skewed World. Jak and Daxter, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, and to a certain extent Sly Cooper are games that start out seeming childish, but as the series progresses, the characters do as well, growing up along with the audience, which in turn made the games more memorable. Jak's first words spoken ever were in the sequel, and they were "I'm gonna KILL Praxis!" Kingdom Hearts grew as well, showing an older protagonist, and far darker themes. Even Ratchet, which while not done as well as it could've been, explored the more serious tone of a older more serious adventure, with Deadlocked which was still fun to play.

Some memorable characters need to age with the audience to keep that link between the game and the consumer there for a great experience. Personally Spyro should be full-grown by now... Anyways, I digress. Should Kojima only work on Metal Gear, though Z.O.E. is still pretty great? Should Megaman have never advanced to the X, Zero, and ZX generations of the Robotic timeline?

Last edited by Sol on 10/5/2013 12:34:47 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 04, 2013 @ 11:34:29 PM

Fair point.

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Banky A
Saturday, October 05, 2013 @ 5:27:08 AM

+1 for ZOE.

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Jawknee
Saturday, October 05, 2013 @ 12:04:23 AM
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So glad they decided on a new IP instead.

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Sol
Saturday, October 05, 2013 @ 12:45:38 AM

Oftentimes as a writer, I come across several good ideas. However, as the main idea grows, some of the others while still good, just don't fit any more. Those ideas themselves can either mesh with other misfits, or simply grow on their own. Eventually one supernatural fantasy adventure story became, one supernatural/fantasy/adventure (and its sequel), one adventure/fantasy, one science fiction/action/drama (and its sequel), one noir/detective story, one teen action/fantasy, one apocalyptic fiction thriller, one horror, and one supernatural drama/romance story. There are others too...

A lot of good ideas can start with a simple concept. It's funny how that works, isn't it? I can't complain though... Makes things fun if you ask me. For them though, I'm sure the Jak ideas are still there, but I also wonder what's going to happen with the other ideas that didn't make the Last or Jak cut...

Last edited by Sol on 10/5/2013 12:48:45 AM

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Temjin001
Saturday, October 05, 2013 @ 12:35:36 AM
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Maybe they're better off leaving J & D alone. Having played Jak, Jak 3, and nearly all of Jak 2 back to back within the last few months I can say I both hate and enjoy the games. They're heavily trial and error, cheap death, rinse and repeat exercises. The choice to move away from traditional platforming of the first game to becoming more of "everyone's game" isn't something I really like about them. I can see though how ND's experience with Jak2 and 3 led right into the creation of Uncharted. There's many similarities in cinematics and character types from Jak that matured into the sort of game Uncharted is.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/5/2013 12:36:12 AM

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xenris
Saturday, October 05, 2013 @ 10:47:26 AM
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I really hope they make a new Jak and Daxter game sometime though. I did enjoy The Last of Us, but I really had so much fun with the original Jak trilogy that I'm just dying to get a sequel or a reboot done in the same world.

I do hope that if they make one it goes back to the style of Jak and Daxter 1. I think that that was the strongest game in the series and the best platformer.

The rest felt like they were trying to be more mature, and trying to add guns and vehicles when they weren't really needed.

Like temjin said it does show how they were evolving into the studio that would eventually create uncharted, but still I miss the brilliance of Jak and Daxter 1s platforming and exploration.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Saturday, October 05, 2013 @ 8:06:31 PM
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well that is an interesting story and it shore wud be gud if they cud come up with another jak game some time when they can get all the ryte chips in place it wud be great

happy gaming =)

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