Uncharted: Golden Abyss originally starred a teenage Nate “running scams at college”. Developed on PS3
Uncharted: Golden Abyss director John Garvin has admitted one of the first versions of the game had Drake as a teenage con artist. That adventure saw the hero chasing treasure across Louisiana, New Orleans and the Grand Canyon.
The making of Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Garvin says that work on the game started in 2009. At this point he admits, “Our entire studio would often have one or two of the latest [PS Vita] development kits which didn’t stretch too well across a team of 50-plus”. To ensure development could proceed most of the game was actually developed on PS3. “In fact all production continued on our PS3 engine up until the final year, prior to launch of the PS Vita in Japan” says Garvin.
The earliest concepts were a Drake origin story which Garvin says, “Started with him as a young dropout running scams on a college campus. He had met, and fallen for, an ambitious graduate student who’d been screwed out of an important discovery in the Grand Canyon” That love interest eventually evolved into Golden Abyss’ sidekick Chase.
The contents of this first story included, “Grave robbing in Mesa Verde, lost temples in the Louisiana swamps, a museum heist during a hurricane in New Orleans and a boat chase through the Grand Canyon”. Garvin says, “One of our earliest PS3 prototypes of the game took place on the New Orleans streets: we had built an entire section which could be traversed, which contained our first AI proof of concept, and where we showed off our touch melee, SLR camera and interaction prototypes”.
He also talks about the supernatural elements that were ultimately cut – creatures called the Chindi. “In an early draft of the story,” he explains, “Drake reached the underground city of gold and discovered that all of Guerro’s men had been killed, victims of what the local superstitions called ‘Chindi’ (who would turn out to be ancestors of Quivirans, mutated by generations of exposure to the radioactive gold)”.
They were ultimatly cut because of all the new AI, animations and combat mechanics the creatures would require. The final straw came when Naughty Dog’s own Amy Hennig told Garvin that “the Uncharted formula: didn’t require a supernatural element”.
Thanks to Gamasutra, where you can read a full and throughly excellent port mortem from the team.