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The Last of Us AMA Talks Future Ideas, DLC, PS4, Alternate Endings, Cut Content, UnKarted Racing, Much More

July 31, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

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MAJOR END GAME SPOILERS IN THE ANSWERS

Because they’re gluttons for answering questions about The Last of Us, both Bruce Straley, Game Director, and Neil Druckmann, Creative Director, started a Reddit AMA today.

As with previous AMA posts here on PSLS (Ellen Page, Naughty Dog, Tim Schafer, Ted Price, Tomb Raider), we’ll be presenting this in a Q&A format and it will be added to as more interesting factoids are revealed:

What are your plans for the future of The Last of Us?

Currently working on single-player DLC. Talking about other ideas.

Can we please have some more?

DLC is going to amazing! Just wait! We’re happy with what we’ve come up with.

Was The Last of Us ending controversial internally? How many possible ideas did you have for it?

Initially, yeah… ending we ultimately went with didn’t sit well with some members of the team. Once it was more fleshed out, it became an easier sell. We went through about 3 or 4 ideas before finding the ending that worked best for the story we wanted to tell.

What were some of the other endings?

We had a happier ending at one point… where Ellie & Joel were driving completely contented & satisfied with their adventures off into a glorious sunset… but that didn’t feel right. It just wasn’t honest to the world or the characters we created. This ending felt right for us.

Can you elaborate on the alternate endings?

We’ll share some of them at a panel Bruce and I are doing at PAX. More info to come.

I’ve heard that, according to the Japanese instruction manual, Joel and Ellie’s last names are Miller and Williams. Is this true?

Those were names that were used in early docs, but we decided to remove all last names for main characters pretty early in development — no sure how they made it to any released manuals. So no, Ellie’s and Joel’s last names aren’t revealed. The only main character who’s last name you can find is Riley’s.

How difficult was it bringing this new IP to the PS3 so late in its life cycle and where’s UnKarted?

1) It was surprisingly much easier that we thought It’d be. Sony has a lot of trust with us.

2) UnKarted: Train Combat Racing X is on it’s way. :)

Is it difficult to fully immerse yourself and enjoy the game after you’ve spent years making it?

Well, it’s always hard playing a game that we’ve been so ‘attached at the hip’ to for so long without seeing the flaws. I mean, “art is never finished, just abandoned”, right? And with video game development it’s even worse. But I can say when playing through the game more strung together, I teared up at moments that I KNEW were actually going to happen. That was cool! I think some of it was the relief of 3+ years and a lot of blood, sweat & tears manifest on the joystick. What a relief!

If you’d made the game for PS4, what would you have done differently? Who is sexier, Troy Baker or Nolan North?

1. Memory wouldn’t be as much of an issue. we had to jump through so many hoops to get this game streaming (no load screens in our games still. YAY!)

2. Ashley Johnson :)

Will there ever be more story content from the universe that Ellie and Joel live in centering around the two characters?

It’s possible. We’re playing with some ideas, but no direction has been set yet for the next game.

What was the biggest challenge Naughty Dog as a team had to go through?

Growing to become a multi-project company has been extremely difficult.

Do you plan on making more comics after The Last of Us: American Dreams?

Don’t know yet. Entertaining some ideas, though.

Do you guys plan on making a big entrance into next-gen with your next game?

We always make a big entrance.

When can we expect any DLC news?

News is on the way about the first DLC drop. Should hear about it this month [Ed. he probably means August].

Why weren’t there any 3 way fights between Joel, hunters, and infected in the single player? Was it a technical issue?

Not a technical issue. We actually had the tech to do it, it just never fit with the story.

Was any sequence cut from the game that either of you wish could have made the final cut?

Infected vs humans would’ve been awesome, and there were 3 (I think? hard to remember right now) areas in the game we had it slated, but as we got deeper in production & animations & models started getting fleshed out, it came down to such a huge memory hit that we couldn’t afford it without rather large re-jiggering… so we opted to cut it. Yeah… I know :(

Why would the Firefly’s not give Joel an opportunity to talk to Ellie? Why rush the surgery? Why not give Ellie the choice to have the surgery?

All off screen, so we’re leaving all this for your interpretation… BUT you COULD say Marlene was weary of Joel and/or you don’t reeeeally know how long Joel was unconscious for.

And regarding the choice – 1. it’s just the story we wanted to tell and 2. it’s not a story-choice-based game, so to cram a major choice in at the last, final, epic set-up would’ve felt forced (to us).

What is your guys’ favorite games?

Neil: Ico, Resident Evil 4, and Monkey Island 2 (best ending for a videogame).

Bruce: In no order: ICO RE4 Yoshi’s Island hmmm… Fatal Frame II (only because no game has scared me like that ever before) what else… why are all these old japanese games? I just played Hotline Miami. That was some good fun! Not on the all-time list, but on a 2013 best of for sure OH! Limbo was awesome… ’nuff…

Would you rather fight 1 Joel sized Ellie, or 2 Ellie sized Joels?

Bruce: 2 Ellie-sized Joels.

Did story come before gameplay?

The concept of structuring an entire game around a relationship between two characters came first and was always at the heart of development.

Is there any truth to the rumors of the film?

Nope.

Were there any scenes that you guys wrote that later on that you decided were too brutal or intense and had them removed?

No. We were shocked no one ever asked us to tone down or censor any scenes.

What made you want to use Joel for the main character of a post-apocalyptic tale, as opposed to more ‘rugged’ names?

His original name was Ethan, but we felt it was too close to Nathan. I’m sure that can lead you to find out where the name Joel came from. :)

Is there anything you would change about the game if you could or do you still believe it is as good as it can be?

With the time/resources we had… I truly believe we made the best game possible. Are there things we could’ve iterated on with more time/budget? Of course.

[Head over to Page 2 for even more answers]

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