“The way we handle pre-production at Naughty Dog is one of the things that we think makes us unusual as a studio, in that during pre-production we don’t have anything in the way of conventional deadlines or deliverables,” Naughty Dog lead designer Richard Lemarchand revealed during his GDC panel on the development of Uncharted 2.
He went on to explain that a lot of the game’s highlights were conceived during pre-production, when the team had ample time to brainstorm ideas and set goals for the production team to turn into a reality.
Interestingly, Naughty Dog took a character-driven approach as opposed to plot-driven, when it came to Uncharted 2’s story. The goal was to expand upon the world through the actions of the characters, creating for a story of trust and betrayal as opposed to the first game’s theme of greed and its consequences.
In recent years, there’s been a great emphasis in the industry on highlighting the importance of pre-production, which is especially crucial when dealing with new gameplay ideas. Critical reception would indicate that Naughty Dog’s efforts in this regard paid off, as the game turned out great despite the addition of some significant features such as multiplayer.
Another interesting piece of information revealed was that, individual pieces of the ingame environment art were so detailed, sometimes, generic structures such as a blank wall would end up looking more interactive and important than they were meant to be. A more significant problem, however, was that the development team struggled to keep the framerate consistent at 30 FPS right up until the end of the project.
Be sure to check the post-mortem out in its entirety, if you’ve already completed the game, at the link above. It’s a fascinating read.