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Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Hennig: it's getting harder to make narrative-focused games

According to the former Naughty Dog developer, the first Uncharted title simply wouldn't cut it in today's market.

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"I don't think anybody would say single-player is dead," Amy Hennig said in a recent interview that took place around the DICE Summit event in Las Vegas. "Look at the current crop of games. It's just a harder and harder proposition."

In the interview with VentureBeat the former Naughty Dog developer talked about a number of issues, including her opinion that the original Uncharted could not exist in its original state in the current climate.

"I've said that I don't think a game like the first Uncharted, even though it was the foundational footprint for that series, would be a viable pitch today. The idea of a finite eight-ish-hour experience that has no second modes, no online — the only replayability was the fact that you could unlock cheats and stuff like that. No multiplayer, nothing.

"That doesn't fly anymore. Now you have to have a lot of hours of gameplay. Eight would never cut it. Usually some sort of online mode. And of course, you see where things are pushing, toward live services and battle royale and games as a service."

"All of those things," she added, "I don't know the word I'm looking for, but they play less nicely with story. They're less conducive to traditional storytelling. That has a shape and an arc and a destination, an end. A game that is a live service, that continues, does not."

Hennig then carried on by exploring the idea that writing narrative games is harder because the games need to be longer, to the extent that lots of players never actually see the story unwind as completion rates are so low.

"When we say single-player is dead — and again, I don't subscribe to that — I think people are also talking about narrative games. Not just a game that you can play by yourself, because of course there's plenty of that, but whether narrative is still front and centre as one of our key tenets of the title. It's just harder to do.

"Yes, you can look at Spider-Man and Red Dead and God of War, and they're deeply narrative. But they're also really long. There's also an understanding that a lot of people may never finish it. They'll only play the first part of a game."

Hennig later added: "That just makes me crazy, as a storyteller. That's like saying I'm going to write a book and expect nobody to finish reading it, or make a movie and expect people to walk out halfway through. It's counterintuitive to wanting to tell a good story and craft it for people.

"The length and complexity and the layers that are in these games now, sub-missions and skill trees, all these things are great. I'm not saying we shouldn't have them. But it makes it harder. It's harder to tell a single-player, narrative-focused game."

After Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog she went to work with EA at Visceral Games on a Star Wars title, but that was cancelled. Since then the developer has started her own studio that is in the early stages of its debut project.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

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