Naughty Dog, keep the arrogance in check, would you kindly?
Good sales don’t mean you are the best in the business.
Chest-beating about their own game is a common practise among developers. I don’t think their marketing team will like it very much if they do otherwise. However, developers have rarely gone cocky, and have always drawn the line when it comes to keeping the hype-train reined in. This is probably a Video Game Developement 101, a tactic to keep expectations and over delivering; a chapter slowly going missing in Naughty Dog’s textbook.
“We’re trying to say something about human beings and how they exist. Now necessarily just in this setting, but in every setting. We try so hard at Naughty Dog to push things and then games come out that are fun and exciting and get visceral things right, but to read in reviews that they have an amazing story is disheartening to us because we work so hard at it. We really hope we can raise the bar,” said creative director Neil Druckmann in an interview Edge.
Now, this is not a personal vendetta-article because Naughty Dog thinks reviewers can’t tell a good story from a bad one (we can). This is only a plead to keep the apparent swelling of self pride in check. After all, good sales doesn’t maketh you the best in the business.
I am not sure what, or which game in particular, Druckmann is referring to, but I am not going to go on a rant and demand him, or anyone, to point out a review that has praised a video game’s story even though it was pathetic. But this, along with huge proclamations of aiming to change the “f**king industry”, and promising to deliver an “amazing experience that no player has experienced for this genre” is almost criminal in stoking player expectations beyond a level than it probably should.
There is no doubt that The Last of Us will be a fantastic game. Well, at least if the Uncharted series is anything to go by. But will it be a fantastic story teller as well? The Uncharted games, in my opinion, have only bordered around that territory. It’s high production values does seem to give off that illusion however, but it ultimately revolves around the handful of plot materials that have been present throughout the series. If we take out the action set pieces that Naughty Dog does so incredibly well, the ‘story content, again in my opinion, is right there with Halo and Gears of War, two franchises that have received a lot of flak of not really telling a proper story than it ought to. Stories after all are quite subjective – one man’s trash and all that.
I sincerely hope The Last of Us will be as good as Naughty Dog is making it to be. If it will “change the industry” then I really hope that developers stop bothering with a story mode if their ultimate goal is to make a multiplayer game anyway. But before we pin up hopes like that, let’s see what you got Naughty?