The Last of Us Devs Bet Big on Accessibility – Jen Glennon

The Last of Us devs bet big on accessibility — and made a better game by Jen Glennon for Inverse

“The technology and features of one game are often very easy to port over to another game,” says Schatz. “So some of our biggest tasks, like text-to-speech — we’ve done it now. So that investment in our future is now paying off in that way. We can put those features into The Last of Us Part I.”

The work put into accessibility in The Last of Us Part II has begun to reap benefits with subsequent Naughty Dog games. With The Last of Us Part I a week away, part of the press tour is promoting and discussing the near identical feature set between the two games. Some of the features even surpass Part II’s offerings, like the full audio descriptions during cutscenes.

This flag planted for accessibility has marked all Naughty Dog games going forward. Major regressions in these support features going forward would be a loss. It has also raised the bar for other developers. I’ve noticed other PlayStation Studios putting emphasis on their accessibility features. Microsoft has also led the way with first-party games and their accessibility controller.  I hope the trend continues.

I wonder what the feature slate will be for the Factions multiplayer game from Naughty Dog, considering its presumed online nature.

In Schatz and Gallant’s view, the most innovative games in the coming five to 10 years will likely take more of a less-is-more approach, refining a more personalized approach to interaction rather than focusing on flashy visuals or superfluous embellishments.

“We’ve reached a point in game design where everything is maximal. I think there’s a lot of innovation in the future in paring that down,” says Schatz. “Do we really need to use all these controls? What do we get out of a minimalist experience, where we’re just pressing one thing? I’m really looking forward to evolving toward more intentional design in all sorts of ways.”

This reminds me of Journey. Two buttons and two control sticks make up the control scheme for one of gaming’s absolute best.

Update: Not five minutes after pressing “publish,” PlayStation released an Accessibility trailer for Part I.

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