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Naughty Dog Tells Us What Makes Good Multiplayer Design

by Jelani James


As much as Naughty Dog is known for developing great titles such as Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, Uncharted and The Last Of Us, it is probably more well known for its ability to make some of the most challenging and fun multiplayer modes in any game on the market. Now, looking to drive that point home, the developer has released a short video detailing how it goes about doing so.

During the video, Creative Director Neil Druckmann notes that obviously one of the most important factors in making good multiplayer modes is to ensure that every team member’s input is heard and properly addressed; however, curiously enough, the most important factor, he argues, is to not actually treat multiplayer modes as an actual mode, but as a unique experience almost to the point that it is a standalone game.

“What we don’t want is multiplayer to feel like a mode,” Druckmann says. “We want it to be almost its own game, its own experience. It might start with the idea of a world or the idea of a mechanic or even more recently, a sort of feeling that we’re after. Then we will explore what kind of world can evoke that feeling. What kind of mechanics can evoke that feeling? What kind of psychological situations can we put multiple people in that speak back to the theme that we’re after?”

You can see this mindset being applied to previous titles that Naughty Dog has worked on, such as The Last Of Us. Called Factions, the multiplayer is carried out in “seasons” where each player has a clan that they must provide supplies for over the course of 12 weeks. You gain these supplies depending on your actions and performance in each match. If you do well, your clan will remain well-fed and they’ll even grow in number; however, if you do poorly, members of your clan can get sick and even die.

This reinforces the notion of putting players in “psychological situations” that Druckmann mentioned before, as it’s not enough to simply win — you actually need to actively gain enough supplies to sustain your clan after each match or else they will die out entirely and you “lose”, forcing you to start from scratch. Granted, there are no gameplay-related items locked behind completing a “season,” but other players will be able to tell how many consecutive weeks another’s clan has survived by looking at the rank symbol and number next to their PSN ID in the lobby.

Going back to the video, it’s cool that Naughty Dog opted to offer everyone the chance to hear its ideology towards multiplayer “modes, and considering how well these generally turn out, it might be something that even other developers could benefit from watching.

Check out the full video below:

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