‘Uncharted 4’ Director Neil Druckmann on Nathan Drake, Sexism in Games
Did those come about because of your interest in so-called walking simulators? You once told me that Tacoma, Fullbright’s follow-up to Gone Home, is your most-anticipated game of 2016.
Maybe subconsciously. It’s not like we played Gone Home or Firewatch and said, Oh, we’ve got to get more of this in our game. Usually when something is just a cut scene, there’s going to be someone who says, “Should we make this playable?” That’s always a motivation: How can we put more of it “on the stick,” as we say?
And it felt like, as the story was evolving, that we needed to spend more time with the kids. We’re not going to have them run around and shoot and take cover and all that. So what are some interesting things we can do with them?
That led to the whole mansion sequence, and breaking into someone’s house. We needed to show that Nate, even at a young age, was intrigued by all this stuff. And it was important to show how much Sam cares for Nate.
Dark Souls III came out right before Uncharted 4. A lot of people love how enigmatic and opaque the Souls games are. But Uncharted is sort of the un-Dark Souls.
I love Dark Souls. Bloodborne was my favorite game last year. Maybe because it’s so different from the kind of stuff that we make. To me, those games are less about story and more about mood. It’s just about this constant tension that the world gives you, which is so unique to video games.
That tension is what players describe as “fun.”
“Fun” is such an interesting word. We took it off our focus tests. It was just a weird word that people were getting hung up on. How do you rate the dive sequence at the beginning of Uncharted 4? Is that fun? There’s no real challenge. There is a perceived threat, where they talk about oxygen, but that’s just weird narrative fluff. You can’t really run out of oxygen.
But that level is important, to set up how mundane Nate’s life is. Just rating it on its own, one through five, that was constantly the lowest-rated level. But it kind of had to be. We’re not going to change that.
What word did you start using instead of “fun”?
It used to be, “How fun did you find this level?” Now it says, “Overall, how would you rate this level?” And one is “did not like” and five is “liked a lot.”
It becomes less about, “Did I have fun? Did I have an interesting challenge?” and more about, “Did I like it?” And I hope people interpret that as, “Was I engaged? Would I recommend it?”
All of a sudden the focus-test scores improved dramatically.