The Last of Us writer Neil Druckmann clarifies the writing process for his next game after an out-of-context quote goes viral.
Chief Game Officer and Co-Chairman of Video Game Developer The naughty dogNeil Druckmann, took to Twitter to clear up some confusion over comments he made about his currently unannounced upcoming game in a recent post by the new yorker. In the play centered on the upcoming HBO adaptation of The last of us and the patchy track record of video game adaptations to movies, Druckmann said his next game would be “more structured like a TV show”.
Naughty Dog has a long history of developing games with strong cinematic influences. Taken out of context, Druckmann’s comments about his next game taking more influence from TV than film have left some thinking his next game would be episodic in nature; closer to Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series than Druckmann’s previous standalone narrative projects. The broader context of the quote proves otherwise.
The final paragraph of the New Yorker article details Druckmann’s move to writing The last of us alone, surprising his Naughty Dog colleagues by bringing in screenwriter Halley Gross to co-write The last of us part 2. Gross previously wrote two episodes of the now canceled HBO series Westworld. Inspired by the writers’ rooms of television, for his next game, Druckmann didn’t just bring in a single co-writer, but rather assembled a full writers’ room to flesh out the story.
Quote tweeting the official Game Awards Twitter account, which tweeted the quote out of context, Druckmann said, “I’m sure no one will misunderstand what this means!” followed by the “face with tears of joy” emoji. He went on to say that the quote in question was about “making our games even more collaborative.” the new yorker explains that many of today’s Hollywood screenwriters grew up playing video games, unlike the video game adaptation writers of years past. This fundamental understanding of the medium that previous generations of screenwriters lacked made it easier for screenwriters to transition from film and/or television to video games. Druckmann uses the video game culture of the modern screenwriter to his advantage. Should this become a trend, Druckmann could once again place himself at the forefront of gaming narrative innovation.
the new yorker the article also hints at how HBO’s upcoming adaptation of The last of us expanded the narrative threads that the original game only had time to imply. Without having to worry about bloating a game with too much story and not enough gameplay, Craig Mazin, the showrunner of the HBO adaptation, was able to delve into the details of the romantic relationship between Bill, a secondary character met by Joel and Ellie in the source material, and his partner Frank. Bill’s backstory was only hinted at in-game. All other details regarding Druckmann’s next game aside from forming a TV-style writer’s room are still being kept under wraps.
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