IGDA LA "The Last of Us" design panel by Naughty Dog @ Art Institute of Santa Monica (4/3/2014)




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Published on Apr 25, 2014

First off, apologies for any shaking as I brought my GoPro last minute in case there wasn't an official IGDA LA recording and my hand was getting restless -- I've since ordered a tripod to use in the future. Secondly, there are game SPOILERS mentioned during the panel.

Moderated by:
Ashley Zeldin

Naughty Dog speakers are:
Neil Druckmann -- Creative Director
Ricky Cambier -- Game Designer
Anthony Newman -- Melee Combat Designer

0:30 -- How did the initial idea of "The Last of Us" come about, why did you choose to make another zombie game, and what choices did you make to differentiate it from other games in the genre?

7:59 -- Where did the idea of using cordyceps come from?

8:00 -- Can you give us some insight into the thought process in the creation of these characters that we relate to on an innate level?

11:42 -- There were so many tough yet vulnerable portrayals of female characters in this game, why did you make women play such a powerful role?

17:18 -- Can you talk about the design behind playing as Ellie?

19:22 -- How much is the player able to identify with both Joel and Ellie? And at what point of the story did you decide to switch it up?

20:57 -- In "The Last of Us" there is a large diversity of character backgrounds such as the relationship between Frank and Bill as well as exploring Ellie's back story in the "Left Behind" DLC with Riley, so for a game that doesn't focus on the sexualization of characters was this an intentional decision?

24:38 -- How much did the combat and story influence each other?

26:03 -- How did you design the melee systems to drive the emphasis of personalizing brutality (like closing in on faces during kills)?

29:35 -- Are there any combat moments of concern you might want to mention for those who weren't at the Naughty Dog GDC talk?

31:31 -- You accommodate varying play styles, but primarily force us to be confrontational and go stealth in others. What factored into how you approach enemies in certain areas?

32:42 -- You managed to make blind enemies more threatening than the sighted ones, what were the advantages and consequences of doing this and how did you arrive at the progression with these trade-offs?

37:36 -- Are there narrative or mechanical reasons as to why you don't come across many stalkers as you do clickers?

38:49 -- "Left Behind" DLC was unique because you could play the cannibals off the infected. Why wasn't this mechanic available in the main game since it was mentioned in the story, was this mechanic an afterthought?

40:18 -- Some players are disappointed in having to kill the doctor at the end. Some tried to wound the doctor, but resulted in an insta-kill. Why did you make it necessary to kill the doctor to save Ellie?

43:23 -- What do you think of the disconnect between what players want and the lack of a choice due to the narrative of what you wanted us to experience as Joel?

44:35 -- Going back to Ellie, what sort of research goes into making Ellie believable when none of you are a teenage girl?

48:18 -- How did you manage to take so many creative and technical risks with so much at stake?

52:40 -- How large was the DLC team and at what time did you start working on it?

54:42 -- "The Last of Us" movie is being written, how does a video game enhance an experience more so than a movie? Does making a game have limitations in what you're able to do in the movie?

57:52 -- Q&A: What ethnicity is Neil? Being a Creative Director, how do you ride that fine line of seeing your vision through while empowering your team even if their ideas don't align with yours?

59:40 -- Q&A: Does knowing what you're after change while you're working on the project?

1:00:20 -- Q&A: Ellie first mentions Riley in the first game, at what point did you decide there would be a romantic relationship?

1:02:34 -- Q&A: How much discussion went into why we wouldn't see Riley turn when she is infected?

1:05:58 -- Q&A: Did you guys come across the Stoned Ape theory when developing the infected?

1:08:05 -- Q&A: There is some mentions where Tess would have been a villain, why the change?

1:12:01 -- Q&A: How did you balance the combat system so the players don't lean on using one combat style? And how do you change that when you play as Ellie versus playing as Joel?

1:16:18 -- Q&A: How did the crafting system come about?

1:18:01 -- Q&A: How did the contextual attacks come about?

1:19:46 -- Q&A: What motivated the change in pacing on how you took a non-three act approach and went with a more seasoned arc, and do you think that was a successful experiment?

1:21:23 -- Q&A: How interested are you guys in looking into wholesale mechanics for casual players who just want to experience the story, or will you stay more on the gunplay side?

1:24:20 -- Q&A: Have you ever explored other permutations such as playing an adult female with her son?

My camera died here, there was about 2 more Q&A exchanges.


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