Another question I had is about creating a strong lead character. It sounds like a lot of it is keeping him within certain boundaries of what he would and wouldn't do. What else is there to creating that strong personality?
ND: The thing with Drake is that he's a very strong character but a very grounded character. A lot of the stuff he does is what players would do themselves. And even the things he says. He has the same reactions as a lot of our players have. When he sees a building collapse, he's like, "Holy crap, we were just in that!" That's what the player is feeling. That helps us mirror at least some of the emotions that players are feeling.
Also, what makes a character more rounded is contradiction. Here you have a guy who is a criminal and hangs out with criminals, but has a conscience. That's what differentiates him from Chloe or Flynn, to some extent. That contradiction is what makes him interesting and gives him depth.
And surrounding him with interesting characters as satellites brings different characteristics of his personality out. Chloe is there for a reason. Elena is there for a reason. Flynn in there for a reason, and he has less altruistic emotions than Drake, whereas Elena pushes him the other way.
Talking about themes in the game again, I found myself with this weird feeling at one point while playing the game. You start out, and it's this really big quest, and you're trying to find the ultimate treasure. So initially, you're going after this big goal. After the train crash, Drake picks up the key to this treasure, and it dawned on me, "All he was doing is chasing this little trinket, and all this horrible stuff is happening around him." It seemed kind of petty to me.
ND: And he kind of realizes that too. That's why he's ready to quit. Once you meet back up with Elena, she convinces him to keep going. The train wreck part is his lowest point. He's shot, he's lost his friends, and then it's just a trinket -- a material possession. It has to become more to him.
And then the way that he picks it up in the cutscene after the train his body language says, "Well, here's this damn thing that really screwed things up for me right now."
ND: And the goal starts shifting from less altruistic to more so, as you reach the end of the game. Even the big part is about revenge. That changes toward the end of the game.
People have referred to him as a mix between Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Do you think that's accurate?
ND: I'd like to think he's his own character. Especially in Uncharted 2, he gets out there on his own. It's definitely cool to be compared. We're all fans of Indiana Jones and the Lara Croft games, but by now, we think we've carved our own niche and our own gameplay enough to stand out.
There are the contrasting personalities of Chloe and Elena. Why did you guys decide to bring a second prominent female character into the mix? Was it to bring out a certain side of Drake?
ND: Yeah, we wanted to show a different side of Drake that you didn't necessarily see in the first game. In the first game, he starts out in these special circumstances where he's already out on an adventure and already on the island. You don't get to see him and what he does day-to-day.
With this game, we wanted to say, "What if you see the people he's usually surrounded with, like Elena, Chloe, and these other criminals?" And the first thing you do is go on this heist and rob a museum. It's like, "He's not the best guy. He's not the typical hero." These characters draw out Drake's traits that you didn't see in the first game. And then we bring Elena back into the story to say, "Okay, what is his true character? When shit hits the fan, what will this guy really do?"
When it comes to design, was adding multiplayer to the game a big challenge? It was initially conceived as a single-player game.
ND: It was a huge challenge. But it's something the whole team was really adamant about doing. When we finished the first game, we realized we had this unique traversal gunplay, and everybody came up to us, the lead designers, saying, "How cool would it be to have a multiplayer game like this where I can climb, jump, surprise people, and run and gun?" And at the beginning of Uncharted 2, we were like, "Let's go for it."
We hired designers just to work on the multiplayer part, and had separation so that the single-player wouldn't suffer. We had artists and programmers just for the multiplayer part. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2:30, the whole company was playing multiplayer and giving feedback and iterating on stuff. And we ended up with a pretty cool multiplayer component.