Can “The Last of Us” Break the Curse of Bad Video-Game Adaptations? by Alex Barasch for The New Yorker
[Neil Druckmann’s] next project, he revealed, was a game that was “structured more like a TV show” than anything else Naughty Dog had made—for which he’d taken a highly unusual step. He wasn’t writing the script alone, or with a single partner. He was assembling a writers’ room.
I was reading Alex’s story, snipping out quotes I wanted to share here, when his closing paragraph just casually name drops Naughty Dog and Neil Druckmann’s next game that’s (probably) not the The Last of Us multiplayer game. When you take this quote and pair it with the rumors a couple weeks ago that The Last of Us Part III is Neil’s next game and is in production, the ideas begin-a spinning.
“Structured more like a TV show” is a bucket of a phrase that carries possibilities and implications. Would it be more segmented than the hard split Part II adopts? What’s the player perspective? How could this approach be applied to the “on the stick” storytelling? Is it all just a fancy way of saying we hired a lot of writers for this game?
As intriguing as Neil’s statement is, there’s no real direction to be gleaned from it without confirmation of the project. The big difference between last gen and this gen I suspect will be Naughty Dog’s zipped muzzle when it comes to what they are working on. The time between announcement and release for The Last of Us Part II was just under 1,300 days. In contrast, The Last of Us Part I was 86 days.1 I think both Naughty Dog and Sony prefer the shorter turnaround in the public eye.
The HBO show is just two weeks away. I wonder what other TLOU-related things will emerge throughout 2023.
Update: Neil apparently tweeted about it too. Here’s what he said:
I’m sure no one will misconstrue what this means! 😂
(Spoiler: it’s about making our games in an even more collaborative manner! Stoked to show you our projects as soon as we can!)
This shows that Naughty Dog is staying tight-ish lipped with their games. Collaboration helped make Part II the masterpiece it became. More collaboration can elevate whatever game the studio is making. I look forward to learning what this all means.
1. I get that Part I is a remake, so that alone lends itself to shorter turnaround out in public. And that it started out as a project outside of Naughty Dog. The real barometer will be the gap between announcement and release for the multiplayer game. It was either announced on Sept. 26, 2019 – when Naughty Dog confirmed that Part II would have no Factions mode – or on June 9, 2022 alongside Part I. The clock is ticking.