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A Fun Look at the Early Stages of the UNCHARTED Franchise

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 11 years since Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the first entry in one of PlayStation’s most successful franchises, hit store shelves. That means that for well over a decade, we’ve been hunting for treasure, fighting baddies, and learning the truth about Nathan Drake and his buddy Victor “Sully” Sullivan.

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But, as is the case with most games, the original concept for the game is a great deal different from what we have come to know. In celebration of the release of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection–which comes out next week on October 7–Uncharted writer Josh Scherr gave The Verge the skinny on what the title looked like in its infancy. In addition to detailing the developer’s vision, Scherr also included the game’s (aka “Project Big” at the time) original pitch video. To see that, head on over to the original article.

Following the success of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, the studio was looking to branch out and try something different from what they were used to. They knew they wanted a human lead as opposed to animal, but messed around with a few ideas–one of them resembling BioShock–finally landing on something similar in nature to Indiana Jones.


For Scherr, the tomb-raiding genre (sorry) was something he’d always been interested in. He stated, “I absolutely loved Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid.” He added “I saw it in the theater when I was 10 years old. I’ve always loved that [style of] romantic adventure.”

He continued, “The thing that we wanted to focus on from the get-go were characters and story.” He explained, “That was something we felt that — particularly back in 2005, 2006 when this first started getting developed — was something that was sort of an afterthought in the majority of video games out there. So we really wanted not only to tell this pulpy, action adventure-style thing, but also really try to develop some relatable, entertaining characters and have the story be what pulled you through the game.”

While the original concept for Drake was based on Johnny Knoxville, the developer opted for the handsome devil we have today. With story an important aspect, they really played around with animation to nail the realistic emotions of the character. Additionally, they utilized “additive animation” to change how the character reacts based on his situation. An example of this is how Drake runs; if he’s in danger, his movement is frantic, whereas if there’s not an enemy in sight, he’ll be more relaxed. He reflected, “It looks very simple now compared to [how it looked] back then. But we were doing a lot of things that we had never tried before.”

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Nolan North, the voice behind Drake since the very beginning, also played a critical role in character development. “When Nolan came in, it was fairly clear that he was going to be the one,” Scherr says. “He had that right kind of devil may care feel to his voice, but he could also get serious when he needed to. And most importantly, as we discovered, is that the guy was hilarious.” In addition to humor and his silky voice, the studio was also quite impressed with his physical acting skills.

As we draw nearer to both the collection and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End‘s–which releases next year, on March 18–launch date, looking back on the beginnings of the beloved franchise is nostalgic to say the least. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to our favorite fearless adventurer next year.

HT: The Verge

Image Credit: Naughty Dog

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