Developer Naughty Dog has lambasted the state of storytelling in games and announced that it hopes to “change the f—king industry” with its next game, The Last of Us.
Speaking with Eurogamer at the developer’s headquarters in Santa Monica, California, creative director and writer Neil Druckmann said that he wished to “raise the bar” to such a degree that other developers will take note and say to themselves, “Okay, I really need to learn the craft of storytelling, I really need to involve my actors in this in order to get realistic performances and realistic actors.”
Druckmann said critics are too quick to heap praise on mediocre storytelling, something that has given developers a pass to not improve in that area.
“Games come out that are fun and exciting and get visceral things right, but to read in reviews that they have an amazing story is disheartening to us because we work so hard at it.
“As critics we need to raise the bar, otherwise no-one's going to change. We're going to keep pushing ourselves, and kill ourselves to make this story happen - but hope that by doing it, the rest of the industry is going to take notice and try to do the same thing.”
Druckmann describes The Last of Us as a love story set in a post-apocalyptic environment: “This is going to sound corny, and it might not appeal to gamers, but I would say it's a love story. It's not a romantic love story, it's a love story about a father-daughter-like relationship.
“We approached this genre because we felt no-one is getting to the heart of it. It tells you something about the human condition - that's what you want to do as a storyteller.
“We're not saying every game needs a strong, compelling and dramatic story, but if you are going to make a narrative-based game then you better learn the craft.”
The Last of Us is a PlayStation 3 exclusive. No release window has been discussed.