Naughty Dog wants to change the industry by rising above the 'idiot plot'
- Posted February 8th, 2013 at 18:52 EDT by Kyle Prahl
- 6 Comments
Naughty Dog is, undeniably, a pioneer in the discipline of video game storytelling that seeks to achieve - and transcend - cinematic mastery. After hands-on time with The Last of Us at a press event last week, I firmly believe that the vast unknown through which the storied developer sails will soon change the industry. Jacob Minkoff, lead game designer on The Last of Us, agrees with me.
Shortly after my hands-on demo, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Minkoff and discuss the studio's role as the foremost leader in advancing games as a narrative art form. Minkoff first shared an amusing anecdote: "People were like, 'What do you want to do with this game?' and [Neil Druckmann, Creative Director] said, 'I want to change the [expletive] industry, man.'" He continued: "We all play games, right? And, we LOVE games, and it bums us out when we play a game that has great gameplay and it's trying to tell a story, but you don't buy into the story because they don't know how to make your emotions parallel the character."
To clarify what he meant by parallelism in storytelling, Minkoff explained, "There's a cinematic term called an 'idiot plot.' An idiot plot is when a character makes a choice that the audience wouldn't make. It's like, don't go through that door! And it's very important to us that we do it right, that we make you - every moment - buy into what the characters are feeling and make you feel the same way."
"Our dream would be for every great game that's trying to tell a story, to do it with proper pacing and character-driven and all of that. If we can do it, if we can prove that it can be done, then people can learn from us."
That's all well and good, but what can Naughty Dog teach other developers if the hard-hitting post-apocalyptic drama has been done before, and very, very well? I cited Telltale Games' The Walking Dead as an example of excellent zombie fiction, and asked Minkoff if Naughty Dog is prepared for comparisons to recent media. "We know that those comparisons are going to happen," he assured. "We don't really need to care about them, because we know that if we tell a story that is compelling, with characters that you invest in, and gameplay that's fun, and graphics that are beautiful, it doesn't matter."
"Just because something has been done many times doesn't mean that it can't be done better than anyone else has ever done it."
Naughty Dog hopes that The Last of Us will change the industry as the greatest piece of post-apocalyptic fiction ever produced. You can judge for yourself when the game hits store shelves on May 7.
Namdead | XvNamdeadvX
- 7:33pm EST - February 8th, 2013
Interesting. I personally prefer games where I'm giving a choice of what path to take. I feel more inclined to play the game as if I was that character, rather than have the game play the character for me.
- 7:36pm EST - February 8th, 2013
where's the +rep button for naughty dog? xD
i LOVE getting lost in stories, be it books, film, or video games. ND proved with uncharted 2 that they are capable of achieving that quality :)
- 1:25am EST - February 9th, 2013
There's two types of games: The ones where you follow a narative into a new world and the oens where you;re placed in a world to make your own story. The second type ALWAYS takes more reasources and takes longer to develop because they want to make it just as immersive as that first type of game. Maybe someday they'll manage it more easily but until then the first type will always be the first thing they attempt to make because despite how difficult it is it will still be easier.
- 5:16am EST - February 9th, 2013
I'm a big uncharted fan because of the excellent story telling, plot and characters, I will surely buy this game with out trying the demo. I have faith in naughty dog that they will deliver us, yet again, a great blockbuster masterpeice of a game.
- 5:48am EST - February 9th, 2013
I love Naughty Dog
- 6:41am EST - February 10th, 2013
"Just because something has been done many times doesn't mean that it can't be done better than anyone else has ever done it." Damn right! Look at Uncharted. Borrows heavily from other media like Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, and yet blows most other games this generation out of the water. It's the characters that make it so damn good, the characters ARE the story. Uncharted is undeniably in my top 3 new franchises of this gen.
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