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Porting  The Last Of Us  to PS4: 'We expected it to be hell, and it was'

Porting The Last Of Us to PS4: 'We expected it to be hell, and it was'

May 16, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

"We expected it to be hell, and it was hell. Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds... that took a long time."
- Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann opens up about the technical challenges in porting The Last Of Us to PlayStation 4.

Speaking in an interview with Edge, The Last Of Us creative director Neil Druckmann offers up some interesting insight into the work that's involved in porting a game built to run exclusively on the PlayStation 3's insular hardware to the PlayStation 4.

"I can't describe how difficult a task that is. And once it's running well, you're running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn't screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it's a drastically different look. That's not 'improved' any more; that's different," Druckmann told Edge, claiming that Naughty Dog engineers optimized The Last Of Us specifically for the PlayStation 3 at the most basic level.

"It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again."

Druckmann also points out that the decision to port the game was made primarily for technical and business reasons; Naughty Dog sees the process as a valuable way to give fans something to buy for their new console and smoothly transition their development pipeline to accommodate the PlayStation 4 in the process.

"Even in the early days of PS3, we were thinking of the transition to PS4, because of how hard transitions have been in the past," said Druckmann. "One way to [test the tools] is to take an existing game and port it, and The Last Of Us Remastered gave us an excuse to bring those systems over, refine them and optimize them for the hardware."

Druckmann also delves into the challenges of marketing a remastered game and explains why Naughty Dog chose not to make any significant gameplay changes to The Last Of Us Remastered in the full interview, which can be read over at Edge.

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