Interview with The Last of Us writer Neil Druckmann

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Neil Druckmann is the creative director at Naughty Dog and writer for their upcoming game, The Last of Us. We had the chance to briefly chat with Druckmann about the highly anticipated game.

John “Spartan” Nguyen: When you first started on the project, did you want to do a zombie-type infestation first, or did you decide to do something completely different?

Neil Druckmann: For the origins of the game, the high level goal was to see if we can do a whole game based on a relationship. We started the story with two characters who don’t know each other, barely even like each other. Through game play, through story, through art, through music, and by the end of it, you as a player will totally buy that these characters are willing to do anything and everything for each other. That was our high level goal, and then as far as the genre, we felt like this genre, at least in terms of video games, was under-represented as far as character-driven storytelling. We’re a big fan of the genre as well, and we felt like we could really own this thing and tell a very unique story set in that kind of world.

Ellie is an important NPC character. Can you list some games that have influenced The Last of Us?

Neil: A game that influenced us early on was one called Ico, by Team Ico in Japan. That game has been hugely inspirational for me. It was one of the reasons I got into the industry in the first place. We wanted to take that to the next level by creating one of the best realized NPCs that you really feel like you’re with a person, and you really feel like you’re with Ellie on this journey as you’re going through what’s left of the United States.

You’ve got previous games like Uncharted where it’s rated Teen. What’s the reason to go for an M rating for The Last of Us?

Neil: Yeah. I mean, we knew from the first day we started on this that it would be rated M just because of the subject matter. For us, it was just about owning it and making sure that if we were gonna have these dark themes, that we honor them. You’ll see the consequences of violence in the game, as well as the actions that inhibit this world. Yeah, hopefully people dig how it all comes together at the end.

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