Naughty Dog on Learning PC Development

How Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection’s PC launch speaks to Naughty Dog’s present and future by Christian Gyrling for PlayStation Blog

I always told my PC-gamer friends that when I can play Uncharted on PC, that’s when I’ll build one. Well, that day has finally come. I’m not in the market to build a PC right now, but I guess my bluff has been called.

To celebrate the launch of Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves on PC, one of Naughty Dog’s vice presidents took to the PS Blog to share insight to bringing their games to PC.

We also knew this PC release wasn’t going to be a one-off. As you may already know, The Last of Us Part I is in development for PC following its successful launch on PlayStation 5, and with this being, ahem, Uncharted territory for us, we knew we have a lot to learn about bringing our games to PC. But we were also determined to bring our careful consideration for every aspect of our games to this new version.

And The Last of Us Part I won’t be the last Naughty Dog PC game either. I suspect all future Naughty Dog games – all PlayStation Studios games — will likely come to PC at some point in their life.

First and foremost, we learned, particularly through our partnership, what it takes to bring our own engine to parity to deliver on PC hardware. Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy are already beautiful games in their own right, and we wanted to maintain that quality in the PC release. But we still wanted to provide flexibility in fine-tuning an experience PC players expect, and so it was important for us to support more cinematic resolutions as well as specific PC graphical features.

Naughty Dog’s engine is their own secret sauce they’ve kept refining since Jak & Daxter on the PS2. The jump to PS3 was notoriously difficult for the team. Since that console generation, Naughty Dog has prioritized adapting their engine to the new hardware as soon as possible; see The Last of Us Remastered on PS4, The Last of Us Part II‘s PS5-specific patch, Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves on PS5, and The Last of Us Part I. All of these projects have brought Naughty Dog’s engine1 to the ninth console generation and now it’s on PC.

The PC space is also one that offers users a ton of flexibility in hardware specs, controls, and more. As we’ve primarily only ever had to focus on considering one or two system specs in the past, this was simply eye-opening for us. Having primarily developed for console controllers, we had to learn about the preferences and flexibility keyboard and mouse controls offer, and we found that we had to re-evaluate certain game mechanics to fit the new input methods.

This article iterates that PS5 is Naughty Dog’s primary focus. So I am curious how bringing games to PC now will impact design. When you go from two SKUs to so many, how does that enable or hinder game design?

We also needed to account for the variability of PC hardware as it pertains to data loading, and so we reworked our engine to add a “safety valve” of sorts to ensure a smooth gameplay experience across various PC specs. This isn’t something we’ve had to worry about since the Jak and Daxter days, when we added an animation of Jak stumbling if data was loading in too slowly.

Apparently you had subtle safety valves. What a very immersive way to deal with technical limitations. Never pull the player out of the world and game. Jak and Daxter‘s original goal was one seamless world and this stumble animation was one way Naughty Dog achieved that.

We’re excited to be offering The Last of Us Part I on PC in the future, and know that, moving forward, adding PC development to the way we develop games, which in no way undermines the importance of PlayStation 5 as our primary platform, will continue to benefit our team in the long run.

As PlayStation enters the PC realm, I expect The Last of Us multiplayer game to launch on PC day-and-date with the PS5 version. A big tell will be when God of War: Ragnarök comes to PC. With the ground work laid for Sony Santa Monica’s engine and pipeline, how long will Jim Ryan and PlayStation hold onto console exclusivity? When will Spider-Man 2 swing onto PC? When will PlayStation bring Nixxes in to co-develop the PC version of titles for same-day launches? That’s the future for PlayStation Studios in one way or another.

1. I wish I knew the name they call their engine…