There's definite interest in developer Naughty Dog's next project, The Last of Us for the Sony PlayStation 3. The game's debut trailer aired on the Spike Video Game Awards last week (and that's causing a stir itself thanks to Viacom), but Eurogamer reports that we could have seen it much sooner than that. It turns out that the game's writer and creative director accidentally left his iPad (which had the final trailer saved on it) on a plane back in October. Oops! In fact, it's amazing how close the game's existence came to being revealed ahead of schedule, as several different close calls nearly outed The Last of Us to all of us.
Two months ago, Neil Druckmann, creative director and writer on the project, left his iPad on a plane. An iPad with the debut trailer for the game stored on it. Frantic calls to the airline ensued, but the device was gone. Naughty Dog waited nervously. And, to its considerable relief, nothing happened. Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley began work on The Last of Us after completing Uncharted 2. No-one outside the company realised this, until a friend of Druckmann's noticed his name wasn't in the credits for Uncharted 3. But, once again, he managed to shake off suspicion. Then, one week before the VGAs, studio co-president Evan Wells emailed the entire company warning everyone not to bugger everything up with a careless whisper on Twitter or Facebook. "Don't be that guy."
With days to go, a teaser site named the game, but there was nothing to link it to the studio. Or so everyone thought. A clue was uncovered in Uncharted 3 and word quickly spread across the internet. But, in spite of the evidence, Naughty Dog's involvement was dismissed since, as everyone knew, it was a "one game studio". "We were very serious about keeping it a secret, limiting the people that we're exposed to it even internally in Sony," admits Wells. "It never crossed our mind that putting an easter egg like that in Uncharted 3 would rat us out." It turns out that this easter egg was included before the game's original planned announcement at E3 2011. When that changed, Naughty Dog forgot all about it. Luckily, though, it wasn't until the company's logo faded into view on the big screen on Saturday evening, that the penny finally dropped. What a carry on.
The article goes on to mention that Uncharted 3 was rushed as the release date announced last year closed in on the team and that, as a result of that stress, The Last of Us won't be released until it's well and truly done. I think that's a smart decision. I'd like to think that Naughty Dog is doing something unique and special beyond the typical survival horror zombie monster attack game that many have already branded The Last of Us as. Even with Uncharted 3's missteps, that franchise has always delivered a compelling narrative. Last will end up a disappointment compared to the studio's other works if all it has to offer is "Ahh, monsters!". This game is definitely one to watch. Oh, and be sure to let me know if you find a Naughty Dog developer's iPad sitting around.