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Naughty Dog On Uncharted 2: No Animator Could Achieve This

We say Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the best looking game of the generation, and we're hardly the only ones. Naughty Dog really went off the chain (heh) with this one, and how they did it has been a hot topic of conversation lately.

Perhaps most impressive is the game's character animation, especially in regards to facial expressions. This alone separates Uncharted 2 from every other video game on the planet but don't think it came easy; in fact, with the sheer amount of effort involved, Naughty Dog stands proud and says they doubt another animator could do better. During a recent video interview, one of the project's lead programmers explains how the team was able to harness the power of the PS3's Cell processor. It's an interesting interview but the part that stands out is this:

"Really no animator could animate enough animations to produce the same look that we've been able to do by mixing and matching, by layering animations on top of each other, by blending between animations even of different layers. And that really give the players a lot more control over what he wants to do that's not limited by our animators."

There's just so much about the game that's worth talking about, even though the outstanding graphics have taken center-stage. Both the interactive and non-interactive animations are truly groundbreaking in every sense of the word so if you haven't yet had the pleasure, you need to see it for yourself. It's very difficult to describe all the little things that Naughty Dog did so well in bringing these appealing characters to life, so...yeah, you just gotta play it. Or play it again. Whichever.

Related Game(s): Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

10/23/2009 10:49:21 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (36 posts)

SILVERAMMO
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:07:24 AM
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yea i believe them

Agree with this comment 5 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Bandit1
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:16:43 AM
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Yeah the facial expressions are amazing definitely the best on any game to date.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

AshT
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:17:51 AM
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Couldn't agree more, there are so many small things in the game that make it the best console game so far this gen.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

TheJackyl
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:18:43 AM
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I haven't played through the game yet, though I saw a good bit at the sneak peak and the numerous trailers. Which if anything I think them and Batman AA might be tied in that category.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 14 down Disagree with this comment

Troy Powers
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:25:35 AM

You won't think they're tied any more once you play it.

Agree with this comment 14 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

www
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 1:50:19 PM

Pfft Batman AA? You gotta be kidding me!

Agree with this comment 6 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Kowhoho
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 3:16:06 PM

I'm sorry you got so many thumbs down; you were just sadly misinformed. Or maybe your eyes weren't working correctly (or at all) at the time.

Last edited by Kowhoho on 10/23/2009 3:17:50 PM

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TheJackyl
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 4:58:23 PM

Haha wow! I don't know if I've ever seen that many thumbs down before! Do I get some kind of reward for this?

I get that Batman is a way more stoic character than Drake however take a look at the facial animations done with characters like the Joker even in the opening scene. Especially if any of you have the PC version where you could really crank up the graphics that was highly impressive.

Well, I'm off to rent a copy of U2 now. Maybe I'll retract my statement later on... or maybe not.

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www
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 7:01:47 PM

You'll SURELY retract your statement and that rent will turn out a buy.

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Fane1024
Saturday, October 24, 2009 @ 3:21:23 PM

I think someone got over 30 down-votes once, so no prize for you. :)

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Highlander
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:19:56 AM
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The facial animation is very, very good.

The only caveat I have is that when Drake picks up the GAU-19 and moves, the animation looks a bit 'pasted in'. Especially when he goes up stairs. That said, it's not a facial animation. However it's so different from the rest of the weapon wielding animation of Drake, all of which are silky smooth and natural. I have a feeling that weapon was added into the game for the Multi-player, and was added into the single player game late in the process. All the other weapon animations of Drake work really well, and the animations of the soldiers carrying the GAU-19 weapons are smooth as well.

Oh well, the solution of course is not to use the GAU-19 except to get a trophy or beat Crushing...

Incidentally, as I posted in another comment....
For all those wondering whether there will be an Uncharted 3, here is a quote from a Naughty Dog.

"We've been so busy on Uncharted 2 that we've done a very poor job of planning for the future right now," Wells jokes. "Certainly, there will be another Uncharted. We have lots of ideas of new adventures for Drake."

There you go, straight from the horse's - I mean Dog's - mouth. There will be another Uncharted.

Happy dance time...

Agree with this comment 15 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

newchef
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 1:07:20 PM

im gonna go ahead and give you athumbs up just for saying Happy dance time

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bomba2812
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 4:01:51 PM

yeah i also hate the GAU-19 it's so useless i didn't even use when i played it on crushing, btw i just got the platinum trophy
happy dance time... LOL

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___________
Saturday, October 24, 2009 @ 9:04:32 AM

sh*t that was quick, got the plat already.
im still stuck on the tank level.
buy the time im finished this im going to need some absinth, and laser hair treatment because im going to be bald from ripping my hear out!
that said, so far, im finding it easier than uncharted drakes fortune, so hopefully it will stay that way.

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Troy Powers
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:24:58 AM
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One part that impressed me was after the little scuffle with Jeff the cameraman, when Jeff tries to help Drake up, when Drake just waves his hand and gives this look like, "No thanks. I got it." Classic. I was amazed that you could convey that type of non-verbal communication in a video game.

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Highlander
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:35:14 AM

Yes, I'm played through twice now, once on Very Easy to sight see and treasure hunt. There are a huge number of very subtle facial expressions, along with personal mannerisms and body language that you see during the game, both in the cut scenes and during some of the in-game dialog. I'll be playing through again on Hard Next, and then on to Crushing, I anticipate noticing even more then. This game is very deep.

As good as Uncharted 1 is, Uncharted 2 has more subtlty and depth to the character animation.

Last edited by Highlander on 10/23/2009 11:36:14 AM

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www
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 1:53:10 PM

Highlander, who are using now? I'm going with Karl Scahfer on my 2nd run, he shoots you and he yells 'son of a b*tch'....lol, funny old man.
I'm feeling real lazy looking for the treasures though.

Last edited by www on 10/23/2009 1:53:28 PM

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Highlander
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 3:24:55 PM

@WWW

Well, I hadn't thought about doing that, shame on me! Perhaps I'll give Chloe a spin, I've missed watching a female player character running around since the end of Xenosaga...

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www
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 3:44:51 PM

Lol yea, I might try Elena too though and Jeff the cameraman looks cool too. But looking at old man Schafer jumping and climbing is hilarious.

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maxpontiac
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 11:33:16 AM
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Naughty Dog is the pinnacle of gaming development. Sony needs to pay them whatever they want to stay loyal to the PS3.

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Jawknee
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 12:35:29 PM
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Oooh, I don't know if I would agree. In terms of games, yes. But other mediums like movies? Pixar does some great stuff.

Last edited by Jawknee on 10/23/2009 12:36:17 PM

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Geobaldi
Saturday, October 24, 2009 @ 1:49:14 AM

Agreed. Since only animators was mentioned, Pixar and others can make facial animation and lip-syncing more realistic. But as far as gaming animation, they're up near the top. Though I'm sure Square-Enix can do just as well if not better.

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furbiesmustdie
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 1:40:05 PM
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even crysis doesn't have anything on uncharted 2 it's just so beautiful.

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Kangasfwa
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 1:52:44 PM
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Naughty Dog is calling you out Pixar.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

maxpontiac
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 2:24:54 PM

That has me thinking.

What if Naughty Dog decides to take their act to another media type such as movies??

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fstop
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 2:35:13 PM

LOL! They're getting pretty damn close to Pixar's level on (the video game front). ND and Insomniac are two companies that can build great Pixar like emotions, animation and story. Ratchet and Clank is a perfect example of that but for now Pixar can't be beat. First time I saw Finding Nemo, I was convinced of that.
Thumbs up though!

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Highlander
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 3:30:08 PM

Digitally animated movies will probably always surpass games simply because for a movie you have render farms made up of many systems that are individually far more powerful than any games console out there. For a movie, they can afford to throw more at the graphics than any game will.

Then again, games today are approaching where digitally animated moves were 5-10 years ago, which is pretty good territory to tread. Games like Ratchet and Clank already have the animation and resolution to be better than computer animation for TV. As ever though, the video game console make become more powerful, but then so will the animation render farms at Pixar...

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Wage SLAVES
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 5:27:50 PM

@Highlander

I understand moore's law has been holding up but how that transpires to the Pixar movies and such has yet to be seen. I feel like games making leaps and bounds whereas the movie seem to be trotting a along.

I've seen Toy Story 3D and that could be the future...but I left the theater motion sick ready for my gut to explode.

I guess what Im saying is that there has to be a limit as far as graphical quality. However, technology never ceases to amaze us and push boundaries.

Last edited by Wage SLAVES on 10/23/2009 5:29:07 PM

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Highlander
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 9:35:01 PM

Moore's law only covers the increase in the number of transistors on a single device. Animation studios tend to use server farms with many systems running in parallel. Each system is responsible for rendering only a small part of the target render.

If you have 1000 Cell BEs running in parallel, You can do 100's of times more work than an individual Cell BE. Moore's law constrains what you can do with the design of the individual Cell, but says nothing about putting lots of them together in parallel. For certain kinds of problem (including rendering frames for animation) you get an almost linear increase in speed as you increase the number of processors.

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Aftab
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 3:56:55 PM
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The only thing I hope they fix, and I hope I'm not the lone voice here, otherwise it won't happen, is the ending jump animation when jumping up the stairs or jumping to slightly higher platform. You end up coming to a dead-stop as if after jumping from a couple stories. This kind of stifles the parkour-like flow of action, especially when compared to how it happens in GTA4 or AC, which ND could easily fix with a patch.

But, best looking game of this console generation, by far. I even popped in KZ2 last night (haven't played it since march when I left for traveling), and I was just embarrassed of the in-game character models. At the beginning just before actual gunplay, when Rico is getting briefed by intel (I'm forgetting her name), you'll see what I mean. She continues to finger-point and head-bob long after she finishes talking. And when the gang departs the station, and plummets to the landing zone, it's kinda of creepy to see how static their faces are, to the point where their unblinking and unshifting eyes just look like painted-on textures. Where as in U2, when though Drake is just standing still, his eyes, face and body is constantly animating, shifting his weight, looking about, and even grimacing and gets startled if bullets start flying, or an rpg or grenade explodes. And that's what happens no matter what position he's in, like hiding, running, or climbing (this has to do with the layering that happens with the CELL which otherwise would have to be individually animated for, as mentioned in the interview).

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kevinater321
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 8:54:44 PM
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What dicks! just joking i love this game, thats why i havn't been on this site much these last few days.

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ExhumeART
Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 10:48:40 PM
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What about Heavenly Sword? That game came out back in what, 2007? It had the best facial expressions I'd ever seen in a game. Looking past the faces, yes, Naughty Dog beat Ninja Theory, but I think that it's kind of sad that people don't even remember HS.

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___________
Saturday, October 24, 2009 @ 4:22:17 AM
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uncharted 2 has the best facial animations of any game ever, the only game thats out that comes close is crysis or crysis warhead.
heavy rain is looking really good too.
but come the end of next year theres going to be allot of competitors with RAGE, half life 2 epp 3 and crysis 2.
so uncharted 2 wont be holding the crown for too long.

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Highlander
Saturday, October 24, 2009 @ 11:33:31 PM

I've noticed something about you, you have a tendency to make negative comments towards Sony, Sony developers and Playstation in general. It's subtle though, almost like giving a backhanded compliment, but not quite getting the compliment out along with the backhanded slap.

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___________
Sunday, October 25, 2009 @ 9:02:31 AM

so?
criticism where criticism is due.
praise where praise is due.

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Ricochet
Saturday, October 24, 2009 @ 4:48:32 AM
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"Naughty Dog On Uncharted 2: No Animator Could Achieve This"

Come on Ben, that's too low, even for you, the title is misleading.

"Really no animator could animate enough animations to produce the same look that we've been able to do by MIXING and MATCHING"

Your title is doing a disservice to all fans who respect Naughty Dog. From the statement above, they're obviously stating that their animations are unachievable without using "their" methods.

That's kinda like saying "you can't reach from Asia to America." When it should've been "you can't reach Asia to America without getting on a plane or a ship"

Last edited by Ricochet on 10/24/2009 4:49:25 AM

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