Direction of Uncharted Heavily Influenced by Xbox Shooters
How close was Nathan Drake to being an elf? An article in the 209th issue of Play revealed that Naughty Dog’s original plans for the Uncharted games were much different than the final product. Apparently, the Playstation 3 exclusives were originally meant to be more of a fantasy series that resembled some of Naughty Dog’s previous titles (Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter.)
Many gamers will remember the slow start that the Playstation 3 experiences upon its release. The Xbox 360 boasted a huge collection of hit games within the system’s first year, casting a large shadow over their Japanese rivals. Wisely, the top brass at Playstation saw the winds of change and strongly urged developers to adopt the “gritty” style of shooters that were drawing fans toward Microsoft. Naughty Dog hesitated at the new direction but ultimately wound up creating the highly praised Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Don Poole, a former Environment Modeller, gave the inside scoop of his former company by sharing some of the secrets to their success. “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. Sony kept pushing for a more realistic game in all respects. The market had changed a lot by then. The demographic was older and gritty shooters were really dominating. Sony wanted very much to get into that market share, it pushed all of its developers in this direction.”
“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. 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.”
While difficult to imagine the Uncharted games would have catapulted to the same success without Sony’s influence, it is intriguing to think what might have been if “the old dogs” had gotten their way.