The just-launched, NPD-topping PlayStation 3 exclusive Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is regarded as one of the best-looking -- if not the best-looking -- console games of the current generation.
The game's developer, Santa Monica's Sony-owned Naughty Dog, now hopes that the studio can help both internal and external PlayStation 3 developers reach the same kind of technical prowess on the uniquely challenging hardware.
Uncharted 2 lead designer and writer Neil Druckmann told Gamasutra, "We have an in-house team that actually develops tools for other first parties and even for third parties. So hopefully, you're going to start seeing that shift, where more and more games that aren't even Sony first-party games get similar [technical] results to what we have, hopefully. I'd like to play more games that look like [Uncharted 2]."
Naughty Dog, which also created Crash Bandicoot and the Jak & Daxter series, has been sharing its development tools with other developers for years. The studio's technical chops are widely acknowledged -- 2007's Uncharted earned accolades for not only its movie-like pacing, but also stunning graphics.
Uncharted 2's visuals are a marked improvement even over the original game's. Druckmann explains that the studio wanted to push the hardware as much as possible. "We re-wrote almost our entire graphics engine... the first game was entirely on the GPU, and in this one, we were able to spread it out," he said.
"I'm sure people have seen reports in the past where we said we were using '100 percent of the PlayStation 3,' and we're not lying or exaggerating when we say that." But Druckmann said the studio doesn't intend to imply that the console is maxed out. "What we mean is that none of the SPUs are ever idle. They're working 100 percent of the time. In the first Uncharted, they were idle about 70 percent of the time, because we were just on the GPU."
He continued, "That let us put all of these systems in parallel and let us get better shadows, ambient occlusion, and much better depth of field effects, which gives us much better camera work than we had in Uncharted 1. We had more compression on our animation. It let us push all of these different things in different directions, and there's still room to optimize, so the future is looking even better."
For more from Druckmann regarding the transition from Uncharted to Uncharted 2, how Naughty Dog polished the game to a fine shimmer, and writing and designing a very linear, focused game, read the full Gamasutra feature.