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Opinion Game Dev Neil Druckmann: "There are games that are just comfort food. This is not one of those"

IbizaPocholo

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Dec 1, 2014
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It's nearly here. Seven years after The Last of Us, Naughty Dog's sequel is almost upon us. We've spent several hours with the game, analysed its staggering tech and here, ahead of our The Last of Us Part 2 review which will be landing on June 12th at 8.01am BST, is the first part of an interview with director Neil Druckmann (a word of reassurance, too - this is spoiler free, and we'll be delving more into story details with Druckmann at a later date).

I hope it's okay, just briefly to touch on the elephant in the room as well. I was wondering if the leaks had any impact on the studio?

Neil Druckmann:
They sucked. You've worked on something for so long, and then to have it come out in the way that it did was disappointing, to myself and other members of the team. But pretty quickly we huddled together and wanted to discuss it. First of all, The Last Of Us One had stuff leak, Uncharted 4 had a truck where the games were stolen off that truck early and people were like posting the ending early. And that didn't take away from anything at the end, because nothing compares to playing it. Nothing compares to being Ellie and feeling those moments, not just in cutscenes, but in gameplay, conversations, the music and the emotional effect that has on you. And the story was constructed in such a way that it's really not about twists and turns. It's about slowly ratcheting the crank and feeling the tension with the choices the characters make.

So okay, it sucks. But we know once people get their hands on it, they're going to feel what it is we're after whether they've seen it or not, and that's that's what made us confident. Okay it's going to be uncomfortable for a while, the games gonna be out there, and I think you're going to get what we want you to get out of it.

Yeah, it totally sucks. And it really annoys me as well because it just felt like there's a toxicity around aspects of the game at the moment, and a minority that won't accept any depiction of diversity at all. I'm curious as to what your thoughts on the reaction to that is because it seems so contradictory to what the game itself is trying to say.

Neil Druckmann:
There's a lot of the feedback that came out, our take on it is, you don't know. Right? There's so many false things out there. We don't want to go out there and correct anything because that would be spoiling the game in a way - by saying what it isn't, we're kind of saying what it is.

And then as far as the kind of characters we put in our game, we try our best. We made a journey with Ellie, and Ellie is who she is. It's been defined in the previous game. We're going to continue going forward. She's now 19. How do we explore all the facets of what it's like to be 19? You think you're invincible. You think you know what's right and wrong in the world. You are sexually attracted to people you're attracted to. Those are all things we want to explore for this character - that's how we do honest storytelling.

So if you somehow have a problem with that, well, then that sucks, but the story's gonna win for us. It's ironic or maybe sad - I think that people will benefit the most from this kind of story are the ones that are yelling the loudest right now, but I hope there's enough in the game to draw them in and just normalize stuff that is normal. It is part of our society and it is part of owning up to an interesting nuanced character.

Yeah, 100%. I feel so bad that you guys have to weather the storm. But I really think that it's going to be worth it for the people who are finally going to see themselves represented in a game like this. And I think that the people that matter are really gonna appreciate it. Just, you know, from my perspective.

Neil Druckmann:
And yeah, a lot of the misconception is like, oh, we're somehow sacrificing the story to win diversity points. And that's not how we work. Everything is in service of the story. Getting better diversity gives us better story, gives us fresher perspectives on conflict. And I hope once they play the game, they'll realize it.

Did you ever worry it was a consequence about making a game about hatred that it kind of begets more hatred in kind? I guess I think a lot of players are uncomfortable with having any kind of a mirror held up to themselves in that respect.

Neil Druckmann:
Oh, it's interesting that some of the reaction is very much indicative of what the game is designed to do. And I think it's a bit into spoiler territory, but we want to elicit certain feelings from the player and then have them reflect on those feelings for the second part. So for us, it's like okay, we got the first part. Now let's see if we can get the second part once the game is out there because again people just don't know. There's all these theories about what the ending is but the ending is not out there. You actually don't know how it all comes together.

We're finally getting it into people's hands, to see this meticulous journey that we've crafted for Ellie and how these events affect her, the highs and lows of that journey - that there's beautiful sweet moments and these dark, hard moments to deal with. And we want it to be challenging, right? It's like, yes, there are games that are just comfort food. This is not one of those games - there are moments in the game that are comfort food, and there moments are really challenging emotionally to play through. That's part of the design of it.

Check the link for more.
 
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Lionel Richie

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It's like, yes, there are games that are just comfort food. This is not one of those games - there are moments in the game that are comfort food, and there moments are really challenging emotionally to play through. That's part of the design of it.

I prefer my games to be challenging mechanically. Incidentally, when it comes to actual gameplay, Naughty Dog games are the definition of comfort food.
 

NoviDon

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This was one of the few special games that was a no-brainer purchase day one. There are only a few like that every gen for me. But after "recent events", I'll be considering purchasing after people I trust get their hands on it and I hear their thoughts on some of those interesting "hatred/revenge" themes..
 
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SentientStone

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I think forced diversity is the wrong way to put it, I think it is more of diversity as a substitute for character/quality

It is not really about diversity. Humans have a great instinct to detect phoniness, hence the term "keep it real".
It is not just for diversity, but it can be for anything as a substitute for true character and integrity.

EDIT: But in the case of The Last of Us 2, I feel people are overreacting a bit due to the politicization of culture at the moment.
Game should be great and I am not even a lesbian.
 
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DeeDogg_

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I want escapism. I want entertainment. I want to explore new worlds and ideas. I want carefully crafted products made with a vision and molded by passion. Not an agenda pushing lesbian simulator that talks down to me.

Ill enjoy looting TLOU2 from store shelves
 
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I want escapism. I want entertainment. I want to explore new worlds and ideas. I want carefully crafted products made with a vision and molded by passion. Not an agenda pushing lesbian simulator that talks down to me.

Ill enjoy looting TLOU2 from store shelves
This bolded part doesn't come across in your post at all; j/s.

"The lesbian simulator that talks down to me", seriously, go see someone about this.
 

PrimeTime

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Nov 28, 2014
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It's the hate theme that he seems so proud of that makes me want to stay away from this game for the time being, not his """"inclusiveness and diversity."""""

I think that was a very interesting statement you made. I find it ironic that this game is (per Druckmann) organically driven via diversity and inclusion and yet the theme of hate is sprinkled throughout. Is that really what the world needs? Minority and marginalized or even non-minorities represented as angry, vengeful, blood seeking victims who put justice in their own hands? How is this promoting responsible thinking? To me, it just seems like the game is subconsciously promoting the themes that have so many enraged by today’s current climate but marketed in a way that promotes inclusion. I apologize if that’s nowhere near the mark with this game as I haven’t seen the spoilers but I think I’ll stay away from this game as well.
 

Paracelsus

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Just look at all those tryhard edgelords who want to see Dark Superman from the Snyder Cut.

I think that was a very interesting statement you made. I find it ironic that this game is (per Druckmann) organically driven via diversity and inclusion and yet the theme of hate is sprinkled throughout. Is that really what the world needs? Minority and marginalized or even non-minorities represented as angry, vengeful, blood seeking victims who put justice in their own hands? How is this promoting responsible thinking? To me, it just seems like the game is subconsciously promoting the themes that have so many enraged by today’s current climate but marketed in a way that promotes inclusion. I apologize if that’s nowhere near the mark with this game as I haven’t seen the spoilers but I think I’ll stay away from this game as well.

They're angry women that beat each other up like men, that's inclusive, they're also angry women that beat each other up for revenge, but each other has got valid points, so they're cleared of any guilt, that's inclusive.
It's the flawed-not-flawed mary sue writing, see Rey in SW, where she gets angry but the plot is with her more than the Force.
 
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DForce

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Nov 23, 2017
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From the leaks it's not a conforming game for the passionate fans, no.

Neil Druckmann:
There's a lot of the feedback that came out, our take on it is, you don't know. Right? There's so many false things out there. We don't want to go out there and correct anything because that would be spoiling the game in a way - by saying what it isn't, we're kind of saying what it is.

Lets see what these people have to say when they found out that a lot of these plot leaks were fake.
 

Larryfox

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Apr 27, 2020
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I’m really curious whats going to be the reception of the game because the leak of the story isn’t that really interesting to me.
 

Shadowstar39

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This bolded part doesn't come across in your post at all; j/s.

"The lesbian simulator that talks down to me", seriously, go see someone about this.
You know people wouldn't have that opinion if we didn't spend the last 8 years going through countless rants about how we are all bigots for not promoting their behavior. I have no issue with lesbian or whatnot in a game or movie. I have an issue with self righteous preaching and superiority against people that disagree with the lifestyle or just people who don't want it jammed down their throats 24x7. Or all the activists types who seem to purposely try to get people fired or shutdown with mob tactics.

Plus the cringe and constant, "I'm oppressed because someone doesn't celebrate who I sleep with" bs. And constant drawing attention to that every 2 minutes (especially on social media). It's like your whole life doesn't revolve around sexuality. Go do something constructive and be you. You don't need to shout it from the rooftops every 2 seconds and call people names if they feel uncomfortable by it.

If its subtle like the dude in tlou1 and fits the story all good. If it's in your face with "bake the cake you bigot!" then nah I'm out.
 

Shadowstar39

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Apr 25, 2018
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since when is eating refuse and shit sophisticated? Seems to me like clown world. When I was kid we did opposite day. This is it. Imagine thinking eating shit is sophisticated... Is this for real?

Oh and pineapple on pizza is gross, so are anchovies. You can forget the onions too. I'll take pepperoni, mushroom or plain, but you do you. I'm still going to have my opinion on what I like on my pizza and pineapple ain't it.
 

eastwood333

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As a Christian, there's nothing ND can do in this game to persuade me to go against my faith and what I think is right/wrong.

I have a BIG problem with the idea of trying to force gender politics/LBGQ into the main plot of the second game. Many people like me loved the first game and now I feel like i'm being forced to go against my beliefs and support something I don't if I want to play the game. It's so forced and unnecessary. The first game was amazing and did not need to go down that path as the main plot.

I will probably just buy it when its around 20 bucks now, which is a shame given I loved the first game and double dipped with the ps3 and remaster on ps4.

And i'm not bashing the game. I just wish ND would have continue with the story of Joel and Ellie trying to survive a brutal world with the clickers with the amazing combat etc and left the LGBQ push out.

I have no doubt the gameplay/quality will be amazing like the first game based on the footage shown.
 
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Collin

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Jun 17, 2014
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As a Christian, there's nothing ND can do in this game to persuade me to go against my faith and what I think is right/wrong.

I have a BIG problem with the idea of trying to force gender politics/LBGQ into the main plot of the second game. Many people like me loved the first game and now I feel like i'm being forced to go against my beliefs and support something I don't if I want to play the game. It's so forced and unnecessary. The first game was amazing and did not need to go down that path as the main plot.

I will probably just buy it when its around 20 bucks now, which is a shame given I loved the first game and double dipped with the ps3 and remaster on ps4.

And i'm not bashing the game. I just wish ND would have continue with the story of Joel and Ellie trying to survive a brutal world with the clickers with the amazing combat etc and left the LGBQ push out.

I have no doubt the gameplay/quality will be amazing like the first game based on the footage shown.

No disrespect to your religious beliefs but if you really expect every protagonist and plot of every game to fit within your rigid christian values, you’re severely limiting the range and depth of characters we’re allowed to explore.

Also, I find it really odd that you have no issue with the several ruthless killings in The Last of Us I but you draw the line when two girls kiss each other? Pretty sure God isn’t a fan of murder either, weird that doesn’t ring to you as anti-christian also.
 

ExpandKong

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No disrespect to your religious beliefs but if you really expect every protagonist and plot of every game to fit within your rigid christian values, you’re severely limiting the range and depth of characters we’re allowed to explore.

Also, I find it really odd that you have no issue with the several ruthless killings in The Last of Us I but you draw the line when two girls kiss each other? Pretty sure God isn’t a fan of murder either, weird that doesn’t ring to you as anti-christian also.

For one, he’s not limiting the range and depth of characters “we’re” allowed to explore - just the ones he’s willing to explore.

And that’s fine.

For two, God loves murder lol at least Old Testament god did dude sent angels to fucking raze a city and some poor woman saw it and turned into salt.
 
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DForce

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Nov 23, 2017
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As a Christian, there's nothing ND can do in this game to persuade me to go against my faith and what I think is right/wrong.

I have a BIG problem with the idea of trying to force gender politics/LBGQ into the main plot of the second game. Many people like me loved the first game and now I feel like i'm being forced to go against my beliefs and support something I don't if I want to play the game. It's so forced and unnecessary. The first game was amazing and did not need to go down that path as the main plot.

I will probably just buy it when its around 20 bucks now, which is a shame given I loved the first game and double dipped with the ps3 and remaster on ps4.

And i'm not bashing the game. I just wish ND would have continue with the story of Joel and Ellie trying to survive a brutal world with the clickers with the amazing combat etc and left the LGBQ push out.

I have no doubt the gameplay/quality will be amazing like the first game based on the footage shown.

How is Ellie being in a relationship unnecessary? It's literally building off the original story from the first.
 

Tiamat2san

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No disrespect to your religious beliefs but if you really expect every protagonist and plot of every game to fit within your rigid christian values, you’re severely limiting the range and depth of characters we’re allowed to explore.

Also, I find it really odd that you have no issue with the several ruthless killings in The Last of Us I but you draw the line when two girls kiss each other? Pretty sure God isn’t a fan of murder either, weird that doesn’t ring to you as anti-christian also.
Well if you read the bible or the coran he is not a nice guy if you don’t worship him.

For the game, i think some people over reacted with incomplete data.
Yeah they included LGBTQ and religious zealots in the game ... but you know what? They really exist in real life.
They want to explore revenge and hate?
It’s not an easy path but if done right it could be incredible.
I replayed the first game this week.
They are talented to make you feel what characters are feeling and with a more hardcore subject, I think it could be a masterpiece of storytelling.
I love the comfort food metaphor.

I can’t wait to play it now to see how it turned out.
And if you don’t like the subject of the game , then play something else (animal crossing should be safe)
 

PanzerAzel

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Neil Druckmann: And yeah, a lot of the misconception is like, oh, we're somehow sacrificing the story to win diversity points. And that's not how we work. Everything is in service of the story. Getting better diversity gives us better story, gives us fresher perspectives on conflict. And I hope once they play the game, they'll realize it.

Sure Neil. You made a concerted effort to seek out and hire a trans actor to play Lev because it's only "in the service of the story". Forgive me for being a tad skeptical that TLoU 2's narrative was the prime impetus behind the hiring of Ian Alexander. I eagerly await to see how transgender issues service TLoU II's story.
 

Clintizzle

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The first game was bloody amazing because of the graphics, the easy to follow story + shock ending. Basically any gamer could pick it up and enjoy their time with it.

I feel like this game it's still going to have that 'comfort' aspect but it's going to be very interesting how some of the other messages are going to be received by the super casual audience.

I'm guessing it won't matter to the casuals or not political gamers. They'll play for the comfort aspect and not understand or care about the SJW themes.

American media is going to eat it up, though. They love everything Neil and Anita et al are about.
 
S

Steve.1981

Unconfirmed Member
What a weak interview. Ego-massaging & asking bullshit questions about "did the poor devs struggle to create the nasty violent scenes?"

Game journalism is a joke.

Loved the bits where Druckman talked about tribalism, disrespecting other people's values & how Jackson has "walled itself off" as well. Sounds like he wants to explore some interesting themes.
 

eastwood333

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No disrespect to your religious beliefs but if you really expect every protagonist and plot of every game to fit within your rigid christian values, you’re severely limiting the range and depth of characters we’re allowed to explore.

Also, I find it really odd that you have no issue with the several ruthless killings in The Last of Us I but you draw the line when two girls kiss each other? Pretty sure God isn’t a fan of murder either, weird that doesn’t ring to you as anti-christian also.
98% of all other games are not pushing LBGQ in their games and certaintly not making it the main plot.
It's that simple

Because ND is not pushing for murder. It's just a video game. However, they are trying to push LGBQ
 
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eastwood333

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How is Ellie being in a relationship unnecessary? It's literally building off the original story from the first.

Not really. The relationship of Ellie and the girl was a small part of the game.It was actually a small dlc if i'm not mistaken. The first game was all about Joel and Ellie
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Jun 7, 2004
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As a Christian, there's nothing ND can do in this game to persuade me to go against my faith and what I think is right/wrong.

I have a BIG problem with the idea of trying to force gender politics/LBGQ into the main plot of the second game. Many people like me loved the first game and now I feel like i'm being forced to go against my beliefs and support something I don't if I want to play the game. It's so forced and unnecessary. The first game was amazing and did not need to go down that path as the main plot.

I will probably just buy it when its around 20 bucks now, which is a shame given I loved the first game and double dipped with the ps3 and remaster on ps4.

And i'm not bashing the game. I just wish ND would have continue with the story of Joel and Ellie trying to survive a brutal world with the clickers with the amazing combat etc and left the LGBQ push out.

I have no doubt the gameplay/quality will be amazing like the first game based on the footage shown.
Ellie did not became a lesbian in TLoU2, she already was “outed” in a DLC for the previous game. I disagree with your moral opposition to the game, but not sure why that would wash away once the game reaches the $20 mark...
 

Panajev2001a

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Not really. The relationship of Ellie and the girl was a small part of the game.It was actually a small dlc if i'm not mistaken. The first game was all about Joel and Ellie

So? Would she be in her right to be a hormonal and sexually active young adult, 19 years old, if she were straight? Even out of wedlock?
 

eastwood333

Banned
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98% of all other games are not pushing LBGQ in their games and certaintly not making it the main plot.
It's that simple
Ellie did not became a lesbian in TLoU2, she already was “outed” in a DLC for the previous game. I disagree with your moral opposition to the game, but not sure why that would wash away once the game reaches the $20 mark...
Read my post above,dude