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Game Dev "The Last of Us Part II: how Naughty Dog made a classic amidst catastrophe"

Bartski

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Awesome read full of insight into the final two years of development of The Last of Us Part 2
The Last Of Us Part II, inspired by cinematic greats such as The Godfather, is the most-anticipated PlayStation 4 title ever. We spent two years behind the scenes while Naughty Dog and its creative director, Neil Druckmann, overcame pressure, delays, a pandemic and then the unthinkable to make a game-changer
 

KOS MOS

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There is a part of me that wants to be happy for those who are legit excited for this game (and I am) but then there is another part of me that wishes I was mature enough to just stay out of these topics since I rarely have anything constructive to add to the conversation, aside from the game looking as good as one would expect from a ND made game.

The mocap, the voice acting, atmosphere, and the graphics all are top notch.

It's the writing I don't like, and there is something about Druckmann (tired of calling cuckmann, to be honest) just has this face that screams "kick my ass."

The only other dev I can say that makes me feel the same is Jeff Kaplan.
 

REE Machine

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There is a part of me that wants to be happy for those who are legit excited for this game (and I am) but then there is another part of me that wishes I was mature enough to just stay out of these topics since I rarely have anything constructive to add to the conversation, aside from the game looking as good as one would expect from a ND made game.

The mocap, the voice acting, atmosphere, and the graphics all are top notch.

It's the writing I don't like, and there is something about Druckmann (tired of calling cuckmann, to be honest) just has this face that screams "kick my ass."

The only other dev I can say that makes me feel the same is Jeff Kaplan.
How can you say you don't like the writing when you haven't experienced or seen a full playthrough of the game yet?
Its like reviewing a movie without seeing it
 

KOS MOS

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How can you say you don't like the writing when you haven't experienced or seen a full playthrough of the game yet?
Its like reviewing a movie without seeing it


because I played the first game multiple times and while I don't know the plot of this game, I know enough about it's writing in general to make that call? There is a definate style here, much like any other dev.
 

REE Machine

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because I played the first game multiple times and while I don't know the plot of this game, I know enough about it's writing in general to make that call? There is a definate style here, much like any other dev.
What do you know about its writing you don't like?
 

REE Machine

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How can GQ call it a classic before it’s even released? 🤔
Someone reviewing it or someone they know has played it because the article details things even i didnt know about the game and all of the impressions so far Have been stellar and say its not a step ahead but a jump
Ahead from the first
 
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One Big Room, Full Of Bad Bitches

From the GQ article

According to its creators, The Last of Us Part 2 is a story about hate and the cost of revenge. In part, it was inspired by a news event creative director Neil Druckmann witnessed as a child.

“I don’t want to go into specifics about it, but I saw a video of a lynching when I was much younger” Druckmann said in a GQ interview. “It was like an actual… like a news thing. And then, feeling intense hatred for the people that committed the lynching and thinking, like, ‘oh man if I could hurt these people in some horrible ways then I could.’”

Damn, that's dark

While writing the story for Part 2, Druckmann spent some time reflecting on those feelings, that intense hatred he felt at the time. “I was like, oh we can make the player feel that,” he explained. “We can make you experience this thirst for revenge. This thirst for retribution, and having you actually like commit the acts of finding it. And then showing you the other side to make you regret it. To make you feel dirty for everything you’ve done in the game, making you realize ‘I’m actually the villain of the story.’”

Druckmann also says The Last of Us is a kind of love letter to American landscapes, as seen through the eyes of an immigrant. “I have a certain affinity and certain love for the United States that’s in some way unique to an immigrant,” he said. “I remember the first time we arrived, a couple of days later we drove through Manhattan. And I’m like ‘oh my god I’m in one of the many movies I’ve seen that have taken place on this street!’ For me, a lot of The Last of Us has an Americana vibe that is a love letter to these landscapes.”
 
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Collin

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Fucking great article. Very well-written and enlightening into aspects of game design i've always been curious about. Druckmann definitely sounds like he's got a big ego on him, but that's not always a bad thing. I mean, shit, Kubrick had a huge ego too and look at the masterpieces he made in film. And no, I don't think equating Druckmann to Kubrick is unfair either, the dudes atleast earned the comparison at this point.

I also love the idea of glorifying the game director in the same way we do film directors. Kojima is an obvious one to have gotten that treatment, I'm excited for others to get that love like that as our game industry continues to grow and mature.
 

GribbleGrunger

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“I felt things for Joel and Ellie. I was moved,” Craig Mazin, writer of Chernobyl and cowriter for The Last Of Us TV show, told me recently. “It’s ironic that in a medium where technology has progressed so rapidly and incessantly, the narratives so often feel 8-bit. That’s not because of lack of plot. Video games have been drowning in plot for years. The problem was always the lack of compelling characters. Neil brought emotional sophistication, but, maybe more importantly, he brought confidence – confidence that story and characters were worth stopping for.”

Now I'm interested in the TV show! It's also a perfect description of why TLOU was above all other games.
 

T_LVPL

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because I played the first game multiple times and while I don't know the plot of this game, I know enough about it's writing in general to make that call? There is a definate style here, much like any other dev.

So you played through a game you don’t like multiple times just to complain about it?

Lol just admit you thought the game was brilliant which is why you played through it multiple times. You’ll buy the new one and think that’s brilliant too, same as everyone else.
 
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KOS MOS

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So you played through a game you don’t like multiple times just to complain about it?

Lol just admit you thought the game was brilliant which is why you played through it multiple times. You’ll buy the new one and think that’s brilliant too, same as everyone else.


You lack reading comprehension. I never said I did not like the first game, only that I did not like what I am seeing in this next one. I will admit nothing because I am not going to be a liar. Does my negative opinion really make you this ass hurt? Perhaps what you really want is an echo chamber like Resetera? Have a nice day.
 
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GribbleGrunger

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On the other hand, this is something I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR. If it feels like that, I'm going to hate it. I'm now pissed off. I'm not reading any more.

It’s also the most diverse blockbuster of its kind… maybe ever. Ellie is an openly gay protagonist, but there are also trans and ethnic minority characters in leading roles, pushing the boundaries of representation further than any before it. In a medium often as anti-progressive as this one, Part II feels like a big middle finger.
 
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T_LVPL

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You lack reading comprehension. I never said I did not like the first game, only that I did not like what I am seeing in this next one. I will admit nothing because I am not going to be a liar. Does my negative opinion really make you this ass hurt? Perhaps what you really want is an echo chamber like Resetera? Have a nice day.

Ok.
 

KOS MOS

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What do you know about its writing you don't like?


Far too melodramatic, imo. it's fine if that's the story that he wanted to tell, but I'm more interested in the lighter adventury stuff like Uncharted. Not this "life sucks and then you die very very horribly" story we have in this series.

Got no problem with people who are into and can enjoy that sort of story, but it's just not for me. I played through the first game twice, once for the story, and the second time to finish off some missing trophies, so I skipped all the scenes in it that time around.
 

THEAP99

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That last part though..

"The game’s final scene hangs, still, for the longest time, then cuts to black. Druckmann sits forward and looks at me, his hair a little greyer, his smile wider than ever.

“So, what do you think?”

I think it might have been worth it.
 

Clear

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Has to be said, thematically a lot of what's being talked about for TLOU2 was already covered in Nier a decade ago.

It was nice that Yoko got some deserved if belated praise for Automata, but the original is still the most ferociously emotionally potent thing I've ever played.
 

peter42O

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Just pre-ordered the game a few hours ago. Have watched that State of Play three times already. It's the combat/gameplay that im excited for the most. Visuals and audio will be superb. Comes down to the story, writing, narrative and characters in which I'll judge it after I play it. Even if this area is lacking for me, the other three will make up for it.
 
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Strategize

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That last part though..

"The game’s final scene hangs, still, for the longest time, then cuts to black. Druckmann sits forward and looks at me, his hair a little greyer, his smile wider than ever.

“So, what do you think?”

I think it might have been worth it.
Chills.
 

T_LVPL

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I don’t think there’s ever been another game where so many people who didn’t even like the first one all that much and hate the story, characters and scriptwriter, are still all buying the sequel. Doubt we’ll see this phenomenon again. until Part 3.
 
D

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From the GQ article



Damn, that's dark
Can you imagine the direction TLOU II would have taken if he saw 2 girls 1 cup as a child?
 
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Can you imagine the direction TLOU II would have taken if he saw 2 girls 1 cup as a child?

LMAO. Ohhh...I can imagine....I can imagine...

 
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CamHostage

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I also love the idea of glorifying the game director in the same way we do film directors. Kojima is an obvious one to have gotten that treatment, I'm excited for others to get that love like that as our game industry continues to grow and mature.

Agreed, it's a good sign of the advancement of the artform, and yet... I'm actually a big "Development Team" guy, rather than focusing on a singular director.

These iconic guys like Kojima and Molyneux and to a degree Miyamoto have a distinctive stamp on all that they touch, but you can also get lost looking for the "creator" in a collaborative work. So many people contribute to a project, and the deeper you look at game developers, the more you see of the melding of minds and the little pieces of everybody in the fabric of the work. For those who deep-dive and can say, "This Mecha-Designer did awesome work here, and this Sound Designer really made this sequence unforgettable, and this Engine Technician was invaluable in making this baby run, and this Level Designer showed so much skill here that they deserve to be a Director someday....", then you're really into the artistry and doing the Gaming God's work, but those folks are rare (and aren't me, sadly.) Putting all the credit on one person follows the "auteur theory" of creative credit that movies use, and sometimes I agree with it, but more often I find it too limited or slippery.

For example, Kazunori Yamauchi is the proper face of Gran Turismo, and that's outstanding that somebody other than Sony gets credit for that massively-successful franchise... but, what does he do, exactly? It's a car game, with real cars and real tracks and real physics and (these days) a lot of player-based competition. So somebody might question, where does the "auteur" come in to make art in something that's largely built from existing reality? Nebulously, he is the guy who everybody on the team answers to and who has an idea (or at least picks the idea from the team's pitches) of how flow through the game should look and feel. He is the boss, and under a great boss, miracles can be performed. But is he ever knee-deep coding the graphics engine and plotting out the acceleration curves for each vehicle model? Probably not. Is he even the "game maker" if he's mostly the guy in meetings and discussions; what if he never actually "touches" the game program itself? Yamauchi is a leader, and without him, GT wouldn't be the same GT, but also he has a phenomenal team to lead. So we credit both Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital for the Gran Turismo phenomenon. In a way, they even become synonymous/interchangeable. (Yamauchi 'is' Polyphony Digital, kind of like how Dave Groll 'is' Foo Fighters even though that's a killer, vital band backing him up.) I like it this way, that gamers still think, "Who was the Developer on this game?" when thinking about buying, and don't get too caught up in the Creative Director unless it's a Director they really admire.

My favorite thing is when I finish an Insomniac game, and all those names are just listed out as a team. Something about that just warms my heart.
 
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KOS MOS

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Agreed, but... I'm actually a big "Development Team" guy, rather than focusing on a singular director. These iconoclast guys like Kojima and Molyneux and to a degree Miyamoto have an iconic stamp on all that they touch, but you can also get lost looking for the "creator" in a collaborative work. So many people contribute to a project, and the deeper you look at game developers, the more you see of the melding of minds and the little pieces of everybody in the fabric of the work. For those who deep-dive and can say, "This Mecha-Designer did awesome work here, and this Sound Designer really made this sequence unforgettable, and this Engine Technician was invaluable in making this baby run, and this Level Designer showed so much skill here that they deserve to be a Director someday....", then you're really into the artistry and doing the Gaming God's work, but those folks are rare (and aren't me, sadly.) Putting all the credit on one person follows the "auteur theory" of creative credit that movies use, and sometimes I agree with it, but more often I find it too limited or slippery.

Like Kazunori Yamauchi is the proper face of Gran Turismo, and that's great that somebody other than Sony gets credit for that massively-successful franchise... but, what does he do, exactly? It's a car game, with real cars and real tracks and real physics and (these days) a lot of player-based competition. So where does the "auteur" come in to make something that's largely built from existing reality? Nebulously, he is the guy who everybody on the team answers to and who has an idea (or at least picks the idea from the team's pitches) of how flow through the game should look and feel, but is he ever knee-deep coding the graphics engine and plotting out the acceleration curves for each vehicle model? Probably not. And then, is the the "game maker" if he's mostly the guy in meetings and discussions; what if he never actually "touches" the game program? Yamauchi is a leader, and without him, GT wouldn't be the same GT, but also he has a phenomenal team to lead. We credit both Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital for the Gran Turismo phenomenon, and in a way they are synonymous/interchangeable (Yamauchi 'is' Polyphony Digital, kind of like how Dave Groll 'is' Foo Fighters even though that's a killer and vital band backing him up), but I like it this way that gamers still think, "Who was the Developer on this game?" when thinking about buying it, and don't get too caught up in the Director unless it's a Director they really admire.

My favorite thing is when I finish an Insomniac game, and all those names are just listed out as a team. Something about that just warms my heart.




Then, don't. You can stop what you have started here. Be responsible for elevating discourse beyond playground insults and your viewpoint is a lot more valid, whether people do or do not agree with you.


I did, and that's why I pointed it out...
 

Collin

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Agreed, but... I'm actually a big "Development Team" guy, rather than focusing on a singular director.

These iconic guys like Kojima and Molyneux and to a degree Miyamoto have a distinctive stamp on all that they touch, but you can also get lost looking for the "creator" in a collaborative work. So many people contribute to a project, and the deeper you look at game developers, the more you see of the melding of minds and the little pieces of everybody in the fabric of the work. For those who deep-dive and can say, "This Mecha-Designer did awesome work here, and this Sound Designer really made this sequence unforgettable, and this Engine Technician was invaluable in making this baby run, and this Level Designer showed so much skill here that they deserve to be a Director someday....", then you're really into the artistry and doing the Gaming God's work, but those folks are rare (and aren't me, sadly.) Putting all the credit on one person follows the "auteur theory" of creative credit that movies use, and sometimes I agree with it, but more often I find it too limited or slippery.

For example, Kazunori Yamauchi is the proper face of Gran Turismo, and that's outstanding that somebody other than Sony gets credit for that massively-successful franchise... but, what does he do, exactly? It's a car game, with real cars and real tracks and real physics and (these days) a lot of player-based competition. So somebody might question, where does the "auteur" come in to make art in something that's largely built from existing reality? Nebulously, he is the guy who everybody on the team answers to and who has an idea (or at least picks the idea from the team's pitches) of how flow through the game should look and feel. He is the boss, and under a great boss, miracles can be performed. But is he ever knee-deep coding the graphics engine and plotting out the acceleration curves for each vehicle model? Probably not. Is he even the "game maker" if he's mostly the guy in meetings and discussions; what if he never actually "touches" the game program itself? Yamauchi is a leader, and without him, GT wouldn't be the same GT, but also he has a phenomenal team to lead. So we credit both Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital for the Gran Turismo phenomenon. In a way, they even become synonymous/interchangeable. (Yamauchi 'is' Polyphony Digital, kind of like how Dave Groll 'is' Foo Fighters even though that's a killer, vital band backing him up.) I like it this way, that gamers still think, "Who was the Developer on this game?" when thinking about buying, and don't get too caught up in the Creative Director unless it's a Director they really admire.

My favorite thing is when I finish an Insomniac game, and all those names are just listed out as a team. Something about that just warms my heart.

I feel you. I am a cinematographer / editor in the film industry so trust me when I say that I fully understand that it can be frustrating to watch some talentless dope take all the credit for creative choices a “lesser” crew person made that the big director wouldn’t have even thought of. (Something I’ve personally experienced on a handful of projects)

I do agree that following a studio is generally a better idea than following one director in the game world. However, I do think if we want to make work that is more challenging and more personal and emotive, following elements of auteur glorification can help make the gaming industry better and more interesting in the long run. I would love a world where we know the name of every great programmer / sound designer / art director but that’s probably not gonna happen. Credit like crazy, of course. But also elevate our auteurs.

Look at how Christopher Nolan can make these films that blend art film with big budget blockbuster. He’s one of the few guys whose director name alone can sell a movie at that scale. (Also, Tarantino. There’s plenty of others that can sell decent tickets to film dorks like me but Nolan and Tarantino seem to be the biggest in terms of profit.) Gaming just needs a few Nolan’s and Tarantino’s to help make cool shit in the future.

More Kojimas. More Druckmanns. More Miyazakis.
 

REE Machine

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Not before they’re released. But what do I know.
How does the impressions that reviewers have had of the game which have all been stellar not marketing before the game is released? Someone who may have been on the fence may like that they added more depth to the combat, made it more visceral etc.
 
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What a beautiful time to be alive if you're a PS4 gamer.

Last Of Us 2 is launching in less than 10 days. PS5 event is coming up in 2 days and Ghost of Tushima is on the horizon.

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE.

I can't wait for this game. Already pre-ordered digital copy.
 

REE Machine

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Did you play and complete death stranding? Also, it's you're, not your. Your pineapple (as in it belongs to you), you are (you're) a pineapple.
Yeah and is was trash so was mgsv and mgs4, dude hasnt had a decent written game since 3 and tech he had a writer for that one