When discussing the Uncharted franchise it’s natural to mentally think about the games that it borrows from and tries to emulate. Saying that Uncharted at its core is what would happen if Dr. Jones had married Lady Croft is not a far fetched conclusion to draw from the game’s varied environments across the globe that are coupled to Nathan Drake’s pursuit of treasure and riches.
Unfortunately, saying that these concepts are what provided the basis for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is an incorrect assumption. Dan Poole, a former environmental modeler at Naughty Dog, explained in a recent interview that Uncharted was meant to be more of a fantasy game.
So what changed the game, as it were? Just business, of course. At the time that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was in production, Sony was feeling pressure from Microsoft‘s line-up of shooters, most notably Gears of War. Market forces being what they are, Sony began an organized push to have all of its developers make their games more ‘realistic.’ Naughty Dog was no exception, and Uncharted had to change according to Poole.
“So the big push from Sony, not just at Naughty Dog but at all of Sony’s development companies at the time, was to craft games for PlayStation 3 that were much more realistic. The pressure from Xbox’s success with gritty shooters was a very real force on our direction at that time.”
Poole also posits in his interview with Play Magazine (as reported by Now Gamer) that Microsoft’s game line-up was not the sole reason for this push toward the realistic. The console demographic had gotten older and were demanding games with more mature themes. While the gamble to make Uncharted more realistic has paid off big time for Sony, Naughty Dog’s developers were not too keen on the idea originally. Poole states that this was because of their backgrounds and their original ideas for the game.
“We had a lot of internal grumbling about the realist bent. More of the old dogs were from the Crash and Jak era and preferred that more whimsical style. But alas, that was a losing battle.”
What was this ‘whimsical style’ going to be? Apparently it was more related to the concepts within the game as opposed to the environments. Poole states that the game was going to be more Tolkien-esque, and feature concepts that even by Uncharted standards were pretty outrageous.
“We were talking about a more ‘realistic’ game in terms of how it was modelled and rendered but the concepts were much more far out. One was a forest world where the antagonists lived underground. It had elements of Tolkien in for sure.”
Considering the push to realism, it’s nice to know that Naughty Dog was able to still inject some supernatural elements into their games. Whether it be a mythical realm called Shambala, or a cursed Aztec (or was it Mayan) corpse or, as the latest installment is purporting, the lost desert city of Iram. Hell, perhaps the realistic backdrop has actually made the Uncharted franchise’s fantastic elements more believable.
The next game will have Drake wandering the deserts in search of the Atlantis of the Sands, escaping from burning chateaus, and attempting to shoot our friends in the face. Given the response to all these moments, it’s obvious that all eyes are on Naughty Dog to continue Sony’s push to make the unbelievable believable. Considering their past success though, we’re confident that the next installment will do just that.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, the next chapter in the Uncharted franchise, is set to release November 1st for the PS3.
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Source: Now Gamer