Thank you all for reading our “7 7s of Uncharted” series. Here is the last – 7 questions posed to, and answered by, former Naughty Dog Narrative Designer; Taylor Kurosaki. Taylor worked with Naughty Dog for over twelve years (in two stints), encompassing the Crash, Jak & Daxter and Uncharted IPs. He departed from the Dogs earlier this year, and now works at Infinity Ward. He kindly agreed to talk to us as part of our celebrations.
Here we go…
What is the role of a narrative designer and how does it differ from writer (because it sounds kinda similar to the uninitiated)? I assume you worked pretty closely with Amy?
I worked extremely closely with Amy. She often referred to me as her creative partner in bringing the narrative of Uncharted to life. Amy and I would work for hours on end, crafting the various story beats in the abstract. My job as narrative designer is to then take those story ideas and work with other members of the team to make sure they are effectively communicated through gameplay.
What was/were the highpoint/s for you from your Uncharted experiences?
Getting to work with our cast as closely I was was nice. They never treated Uncharted as a job or a role they were playing- instead they really helped us craft those characters and bring them to life. That collaboration was really rewarding. Making the trailers was also a really fun, very different experience. I’m a huge music fan and having the opportunity to work with Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Skrillex, or even Queens of the Stone Age (for Jak X: Combat Racing) was a blast.
With hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently; anything that would make the games noticeably different (however small) to the audience?
More and more player agency was a huge goal for us. Every game we pushed that notion further than the last, and every single game I wished we could have pushed it even further. Keeping it “on the sick” was always the most satisfying feeling and something we certainly could have done even more looking back.
You must be pretty dang proud of Uncharted. Is there anything you will particularly miss about not working on future games, and/or not working at Naughty Dog?
I’ll miss the people of Naughty Dog more than anything. There are some incredibly brilliant, fun, and friendly folks there I will always consider friends. I’ll also miss not finishing what we started with Uncharted 4. I was super proud of what we were working on- making a bigger leap story-wise than we probably had in the entirety of the franchise. I’ll miss not being able to complete it and hear the fans reactions to it.
Note – this sounds very exciting. It seems that the initial work on Uncharted 4 (prior to the departures of Amy and Taylor) was fairly substantial. Obviously anything could have changed since then, but I find it exciting that it was seemingly in excellent shape even then. If Taylor is talking about such a massive narrative leap, I think we can safely say we are all in for something pretty amazing. Anything that is said now about the narrative probably isn’t just marketing speak.
If you could spend an evening with one Uncharted character, what would you do, and why? (I trust you to keep this family friendly!)
I’d hang out with Sully for sure! I’d want him to dictate where we went and what we did. All I’d ask is to have money for bail and a week off work afterwards to recuperate!
Hypothetically, where would you like to see Nate go in future Uncharteds, or what kind of mystery would you like to see him tackle?
I’d like to see him finally reunite the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot- those two have missed each other for a long time! 😉
And finally (and most importantly); who would win in an end of the evening, a few pints too many, “you’ve always been a dick” kinda brawl between Nathan and Harry?
Really? Harry takes the cheap shot because he knows he can’t win in a fair fight! Nate all the way!
Note – that was the CORRECT answer. Good work, Taylor.
Massive thank you to Taylor for being such a good sport. We wish him the best in his career with Infinity Ward (but also kinda wish he were still at Naughty Dog). You can follow him on Twitter at @taylorkurosaki