Speaking at this year’s IGDA Toronto 2013 Keynote, creative director Neil Druckmann has given a few more details on the aborted Jak and Daxter reboot that formed the starting point for The Last Of Us. Front and centre is a character study for a reinvented Daxter described by Druckmann as “damn good looking”.
The whole talk’s excellent and covers the several attempts by Druckmann to create a zombie influenced story involving a father/daughter style relationship – something he started as University before finally turning the ideas into The Last Of Us at Naughty Dog. However, the initial idea was to reboot Jak and Daxter, as he explains here:
“Back in 2009 our presidents, Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra – we had just shipped Uncharted 2 and it was pretty successful for us – they decided there were a lot of people on the team, very talented and who wanted to do other stuff, maybe above the role where they were at. So they were like, ‘let’s branch out, lets create this second team’.
So they put Bruce Straley, the game director on Uncharted 2, and I on the second project. And our task was to reboot Jak & Daxter. So we spent a long of time exploring the world of Jak & Daxter and [thinking] how would we reboot? What were the story ideas we would get excited by? As much as we like these concepts and exploring this fantastical world we found the ideas we were getting passionate about were getting away from what Jak and Daxter was. And we were questioning: are we doing this for a marketing reason and naming something Jak and Daxter when it’s not really Jak and Daxter? Or are we really passionate about it? And the answer was we felt it was more for marketing. We felt like we weren’t doing service to what the fans of this franchise really liked. So we went to our boss and said, ‘do we really have to do this?’ And he said, “No I just thought it would be easier if you started with something. But if you want to do something else? Do something else.”