The Last of Us just keep getting recognition for excellence. It’s one of the best-selling games on PS3 and PS4 and offered a truly unique experience on PlayStation’s platforms. However, before its release, Naughty Dog was known for its Uncharted franchise. Now they’re looking to make that series of games better than ever before, down to the smallest details.
In a previous life when I did lots of work in theatre, I remember hearing a story about sound design. The story from one of the veteran sound designers was that one day he got to visit the Star Trek set. They took him through the various noises – doors opening, computer bleeps and even the casual chatter between crew members. But it just didn’t sound quite right… until they turned on the faint air-conditioning sound that was omni-present on the star ships. While no one might have ever picked up on it, it added to the ambiance. In a similar way, Naughty Dog is working on its Foley system.
This system handles the way noises not only sound in general, but how they might change. For example, Sound Designer Robert Krekel explained that beyond making signature sounds for the various weapons, they try to make it sound different when it’s in the next room or two doors over. Similarly, the sounds made by Drake’s feet on terrain, or how his jeans and gear swish together not only have to be designed, but also change depending on the speed or violence of Drake’s actions – a walking Drake will sound different to a fighting Drake, even in subtle ways.
Environment Artist Andrew Maximov similarly talked about subtle elements that might not even be perceived by players. While modelling grass movements in the wind, he heard that there were issues animating Drake’s hair properly. By plugging the existing hair mapping into his foliage tech, they were able to make the same wind that blows the grass move the hair on his head and body. In the words of the game’s director, this is next gen.
Uncharted 4 is currently being play tested by 30-40 people and Naughty Dog is even looking to hire more testers. The game is scheduled to be released sometime next year and I’m glad they’re already testing and fixing. Plus, all this detailed tech makes me think that it could be the most life-like and innovative game we’ve seen on the new consoles. If they’re focusing on such minor things as chest hair movement and jean chafe sound effects, I think we can have faith that they will put a similar amount of effort into combat, story-telling and character development.
At least, I hope so.
Last Updated: May 18, 2015