Fire, Fistfights And £20 Notes: Uncharted 3 Interview

In case you haven’t seen my video interviews with Insomniac Games and thatgamecompany, I was at the PlayStation Experience press event in London last week, talking about the most anticipated PlayStation games of 2011.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will be right at the top of that list for many fans and I got the chance to sit with Arne Meyer, Community Strategist at Naughty Dog. After half an hour of idle chatter about ice hockey and London’s historic markets, we got on to the game and discussed what Naughty Dog is doing to ensure Drake’s third adventure is the most immersive yet.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

To kick things off, which Uncharted 3 level are you showing here today?

We’re showing an extended version of a stage called The Chateau – you may have seen footage of it on the Internet, but what we have here today shows off some of the technical things we’ve been working on, new character interactions and a few gameplay mechanics that people haven’t seen before.

We’ve also brought the 3D trailer that was only previously seen at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Care to elaborate on those new gameplay mechanics?

I think that the key ones are the new melee options and an expanded repertoire of stealth movement, one of which sees Drake jump from above for a silent kill. I’m personally excited about the new brawling moves, which let you take on many enemies at once and use the environment, whether that’s grabbing a chair, slamming an enemy into a wall or removing their gun and dispatching them that way.

We’ve also taken a look at the traversal gameplay and made some improvements there, many of which are physics based, so objects react more realistically when Drake climbs on top of them. A lot of the work we’re doing is on animation, so that there’s more realism when you start running from standing, for example. Essentially, we’re adding more steps to each character animation so that it blends better when you switch from one routine to another.

Everything we do is aimed at blurring the line between the game and reality, and making the player believe in this world.

Do you do all of your motion capture in the studio?

We have two motion capture spaces – a smaller one in the studio that lets us pick up smaller pieces, like idols, and then we have a dedicated stage at Sony Studios, and that’s where we get both the motion capture and the audio – because we do all of the dialogue at the same time – for both gameplay and cinematics.

It’s big enough for us to set up and perform everything from rehearsals to the final performances, and that approach, which is basically the same as producing a major motion picture, is what makes the performances so fluid and realistic in our games. When we’re in full swing, we’re doing new motion capture every week.

Uncharted 3

The actors you work with always seem so generous with their time, whether that’s rehearsing or appearing at Comic-Con.

We truly feel that they are part of the studio and they come down a lot on their own. Between working with them solidly for such a long period of time, and giving them input into what their characters are and should be, it’s collaborative and totally in the spirit of how Naughty Dog operates.

They feel invested in Uncharted, and it’s really appreciated when they take the time out to come along with us to events. They’re popular around the studio and we generally just like having them around.

Uncharted had water and jungle, Uncharted 2 had snow and ice. Which element are you working to perfect with Uncharted 3?

We’re always on the lookout for new technical challenges and we’re really happy with what we’re achieving with our fire effects. It’s not just a static asset – the fire deteriorates the wood realistically and there are blowback effects, like you would expect. The smoke is looking much better this time around.

Uncharted 3_4Uncharted 3_3

If the fire is eating away at the wood in the chateau, will it burn to the ground if you take too long?

You could sit down and watch the chateau burn around you, if you sit there long enough; however, we want the player to proceed through the game at a decent pace so that’s not going to happen. Even in this demo, you can see beams deteriorating as they burn, and you can even take cover behind them when they give way and fall to the floor, only for that cover to disappear when the beam has burned away completely.

Procedural fire is a pretty difficult technical challenge, especially on top of everything else you’re trying to get in the game, but it produces some brilliant effects, like the corners of the wallpaper starting to roll and then igniting, and then the embers flickering in the air. Essentially, we’re programming oxygen and then having the fire follow it around the environment.

I caught a glimpse of a wad of £20 notes in the teaser trailer we released at the end of last year. Does this mean Drake is coming to the UK?

Drake is going to be exploring many locations across the world. We’ve only shown two of them, the desert and the chateau, but he’s going to be exploring many different places. We like to drop hints everywhere so you should probably keep your eyes peeled.

4 Author replies

Drake in the UK would be awesome.

He should come to Shropshire. I bet he’d like it ;)

Loves the Morricone’s whistle!
Most anticipated game for 2011! Yay!

Carnivius_Prime 07 February, 2011 @ 17:10

Cannot wait.

almighty-slayer 07 February, 2011 @ 17:18

He should give Lincolnshire a try. He could have some nommy sausages.

Also, i love that “reveal” trailer. It’s amazing and sends a shiver down my spine

Looks great. I hope I can get some hands on time with it soon!

In one word awesome..

I’m begging you to make Crushing more difficult in Uncharted 3, it was challenging in some parts in Drakes Fortune but a complete cakewalk in Among Thieves, I couldn’t even tell the difference between Hard.

I want my games to be near impossible on the top difficulty. So getting every trophy means something.

James Gallagher 07 February, 2011 @ 19:08

Wow… I can’t even do hard!

This game and Dark Souls are my most anticipated games of 2011!

Could we please get a awesome collectors edition this time around. You know, one that you can actualy buy?

I can’t wait for UC3! ! ! :P


Wow, progressive fire.. epic although the issue with fists and sound being slightly out of sync hasn’t quite been fixed and his elbow doesn’t seem to actually connect with that guy in the video however stuff like that is tiny and that looks amazing xD you haven’t failed me yet so I don’t doubt that #uncharted 3’s story will be awesom. Most anticipated game of 2011 (along side resistance, dark souls and infamous2) xD

I hope this isn’t just about drake and sully because it will be a bit “meh” :\ i loved claudia on among thieves and elena on drake’s frotune so, please Naughty Dog, put a female character on the movie…. I mean, game XD

Drake should go to London. south London.. he wouldnt comeout alive.

James Gallagher 07 February, 2011 @ 19:07

That’s where I live so I’d look after him.

James Gallagher# Where are the ps1 classics that was going to be revealed today? I think their was 5 games.

Looking great!!!! Oh and will Drake be in maybe any of the Scandinavian countries? :)

James Gallagher 07 February, 2011 @ 19:07

Ross is aiming to get that over to me later in the week. There was some hitch that delayed things a little.

Seriously James? Lol
Where abouts?
I live in Peckham, well used to. I live in warwickshire now.

I would like to see an all-melee action adventure from Naughty Dog, never cared for Uncharted I’m afraid.

I can’t wait for U3…
Personaly I think the storys of Uncharted would work perfectly on the big screen, I hope these storys will make it to film- surely Uncharted would be the best film from a game ever!

It must be frightening to be in ND’s shoes, expectations for this game are through the roof.Personally I can’t wait to get my hands on it, Uncharted is my favorite franchise of this gen.

This game looks insanely good. Looking forward to it. Hope to hear about move and 3D support at some stage too. I like the slightly different kick off the weapons, especially the AK. I wish they’d sped up the bullets though. They look a little slow or something (same as previous games).
Keep up the amazing work naughty dawg!


Goodness sake; do not make Crushing mode any harder. Just keep the same sort of difficulty as Among Thieves!!


looks awsome, Finally a game that doesent envolve some sort of “tea and crumpets” stereotype.

The game looks good as well, but I want crushing to be a bit more difficult as well. Crushing was easy because all you needed to do was bob up and shoot a guy in the head, and with the no-shake crosshare, it was easy to do.

a note: could you confirm the special deal ps3 has with portal 2? id hate to have my hopes crused.

Let’s all tease James for not being able to finish hard in the previous games.. :D (sorry man but I just had to)… :P

James Gallagher 08 February, 2011 @ 14:37

Hey! Actually I did beat the original Uncharted on hard but not the second. I’m too busy trying to keep this busy blog going!

I too looking forwand to U3 elena will be there the question is will drake pop the question to her? as sully went looking for the other 1 lol. :D

so i guess no PS1 post today Yes. all i can say it better be worth it a announcement of 1 Overdue PS1 classics wont cut it. :|

Procedural fire…. unbelievable

I’m stuck in Uncharted 2 at Crushing :-( please don’t make it harder.

But at least I was able to finish it on hard…


I was stuck for a while on crushing @ the end fight just keep at it you will beat it eventually. ;)

day one buy! nothing else to comment drake FTW!

Ok, James but if you have time off and you can reserve some time for hard and crushing mode you should do it.. earn yourself some platinum trophies. Can’t wait to start collecting the trophies for this one.. :D

Can we have the 3D trailer on the PS store please? Need more 3D content for my new tv.

Connor_mufc_1985 09 February, 2011 @ 10:03

day 1 buy for me uncharted 2 is by far and above the best game i ever played and if they manage to beat uncharted 2 with uncharted 3 then goty 2011 should be pretty much a forgone conclusion and after the game play in that burning chateu it does look leven better than uncharted 2 (the single reason i got my ps3 for) so hoping for a multi player beta some time in the summer and looking forward to seeing the e3 demo in summer


I also like to make a statement on the difficulty on uncharted 2, I just beat the game on hard and now I am about to beat the game on crushing. Is there even a difference on hard and crushing difficulty? I just keep killing instead of getting killed.
I still can’t wait to get my hands on this game :3

Connor_mufc_1985 14 February, 2011 @ 14:47

re:Hamusta_Swe the main difference in hard and crushing is in hard you can run and gun for a little while before you need cover in crushing u have to spend quite a bit time camping behind cover because in crushing 2 pistol bullets can kill you

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