It apparently wasn’t a picnic porting The Last of Us over to PlayStation 4. Instead, it was “hell” according to Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann who wished they could just hit “Turn On PS4 Mode” button.
Speaking with Edge, Druckmann said the team didn’t expect it to be easy in the first place.
“We expected it to be hell, and it was hell,” he said. “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. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3’s SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over, you have to go back to the high level, make sure the systems are intact, and optimize it again.
“I can’t describe how difficult a task that is. And once it’s running well, you’re running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn’t screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it’s a drastically different look. That’s not ‘improved’ any more; that’s different. We want to stay faithful while being better.”
He went on to say that cinematics are now running at 1080p and 60fps, and in order to accomplish this, the team had to render them all from scratch.
“It’s interesting that now [instead of a technical bottleneck], the bottleneck is ‘Can we fit all this on the disc?’,” he said. “How do you show it on the Internet? Any next-gen game?. We have the game running in 1080p at 60fps, and YouTube brings it down to 30fps and does a compression on it, and it’s hard to tell the difference.
“When you see it running on your big TV and you see all the hi-res assets running smoothly, it’s hard to go back to the previous version after that, but it’s hard to show all the work, the optimization and the artistry that went into it. We tried to put a non-compressed version of the trailer running at 60Hz for people to download, but it’s several hundred MBs. It’s a huge file, and it’s something we have to address.”
Other than the port for The Last of Us, Druckmann said Naught Dogy is also at “the same time working on two other brand-new experiences.” Whether this includes the next Uncharted game in the works or two other games besides that, wasn’t clear.