If you don't know Andy Gavin, then you don't know Crash Bandicoot. Mr. Gavin and partner Jason Rubin (now President of THQ) founded Naughty Dog as high school buddies in 1985, and eleven years later, PlayStation's first mascot was born. Despite the orange marsupial's power as a nostalgic icon, it's hard to deny that Naughty Dog's second major franchise - Jak & Daxter - did more to shape the future of 3D open-world gaming.
Mr. Gavin (now a best-selling author) was recently interviewed by the official PlayStation Blog about the legacy of Jak & Daxter, and where inspiration for the duo came from. "With Crash we enjoyed enormous worldwide success . . . So for Jak & Daxter we set out to create a character and environment that merged elements from worldwide cultures," he answered. "You can see the result in Jak, who is a hybrid of Western cartoons and Eastern manga."
It's an interesting background for a character that PlayStation fans have grown to love, and Gavin isn't shy with his love for Jak, whose control mechanics he personally programmed. "Jak has really good control, as good as any game ever. His animation is incredibly fluid, yet he is supremely responsive to both the player and the environment." The environments are something Gavin is particularly proud of - "We wanted to put you into this beautiful, fully-rendered fantasy world and yet allow full interactive exploration. We wanted no loading, elaborate storytelling . . . [I'm] supremely proud of our completely load-free seamless world. We were the first to do this - I even have a patent on it - and few have attempted it since."
In the end, the real legacy of Jak & Daxter might be the impact it had on storytelling in the medium. "The most important thing," Gavin believes, ". . . is its consistent and complete integration of game and story elements. This comes to full fruition in Jak 2, and continues peerlessly today in newer Naughty Dog games like Uncharted . . . it's never a semi-interactive movie, it's a video game!"
I grew up idolizing Mr. Gavin and Mr. Rubin, and it sparks my inner child to hear the man behind some of my favorite PlayStation characters speak candidly about how the trials, tribulations, and victories in the making of a platformer classic. Check out the full interview by our friends at the official PlayStation Blog; you won't regret it.