Interviews// Naughty Dog's Justin Richmond

Posted 12 Oct 2009 15:09 by
For PS3 owners, Uncharted 2 is this Christmas? big, standard-bearing exclusive game ? the one game which will let them converse with Xbox 360 owners in a smug and patronising manner (a rare pleasure these days). We?ve played it and it certainly stands up to the hype, setting new standards for action-adventure games, and providing what is probably the most cinematic experience ever encountered in a game, without compromising its gameplay at all.

We managed to catch up with developer Naughty Dog?s Uncharted 2 game designer Justin Richmond in Sony?s London HQ, while he passed through Europe on a typically whirlwind tour extolling the virtues of Uncharted 2. An intelligent, articulate chap, Richmond has clearly spent many a day talking about his baby ? he required very little prompting in the form of questions. And he certainly provided a fascinating insight into the intense effort that goes into producing a triple-A blockbuster.

Justin Richmond on starting work on Uncharted 2:

Naughty Dog has been around since 1994, and we?ve done tons of sales ? 40 million units worldwide on all the franchises. As we started on Uncharted 2, we realised we already had this really solid tech-base that was pretty awesome from the first game, but there was a bunch of stuff we wanted to upgrade and make better.

So, we went in and started optimising everything, so we could do more and more stuff ? we could put more enemies on-screen, more stuff in the backgrounds and optimise all our levels for new physics, so you can have moving objects, with Drake standing on them and taking cover, while things are exploding and bad guys are rag-dolling. We basically optimised everything so we could put it all off to the SPUs, the five processors on the PS3, and keep those running at full speed the whole time. That was the big win for this game: getting everything onto the SPUs and off the GPU.

Justin Richmond talks tech:

Basically, we are really pushing the PS3 pretty much to its limit at this point. Obviously, we can optimise more stuff in the future, but we?re pushing the system hard, getting as much stuff on screen as we possibly can. We have brand-new lighting effects, brand-new HDR stuff, brand-new shadowing, brand-new occlusion stuff, a whole new blur field for depth of field, all running at the same time while maintain 30 frames per second. And on top of that we add multiplayer ? we really wanted to push it into a whole new realm.

So, we added a whole bunch of custom net-code to make all that work, and make sure that the mechanics from single-player translate perfectly online, and that the gameplay is fun in both single-player and multiplayer. We put a lot of time into balancing that out.
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