You might think that bringing a game from last-gen hardware to the new, shiny consoles is a matter of pushing a button. According to The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann, it was “hell,” but absolutely worth it.
Speaking with Edge, Druckmann says that work on the update started slowly. “We expected it to be Hell, and it was Hell,” he told the publication. “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.”
He goes on to praise the work of the engineering team that is making the Remastered edition of the game on PS4 possible. It’s more than a matter of just getting the game running, though. It needs to be completely reoptimized, lighting must be reconfigured and reworked, and physics must be tweaked.
The goal isn’t to make a different version of the game. Rather, the intent is to create the same experience with higher fidelity visuals. Many of the art assets already existed at a higher resolution than the PS3 could display, giving the team a leg up.
The assets need to be reworked for the new hardware and operating system, though. The models during gameplay now look as good as they did in the PS3 version’s cutscenes. The challenge was making it all fit on a single disc.
All of this is part of an exercise that is a test of the team’s PS4 toolset. As Naughty Dog continues work on Uncharted 4, the studio’s first new-gen title, having the understanding of what sets the PS4 apart from the previous system will prove useful.