Back when gaming first started, it was a lot of coding, beeps and a lot of boops. With video games now an industry that rivals movies and television, in terms of artistry, there’s a lot to cover. Let’s start with Naughty Dog’s incredible hit: The Last of Us.
We’ve talked about the 2013 PlayStation Exclusive before here but we haven’t really engaged in one of the vastly impressive aspects of the game and with the sequel coming out here soon — it made sense to do so. This isn’t to say that there aren’t arduous jobs aside from the voice and performance capture — as the people who visually build this game, writing the dialogue and story and code this beast are monolithic heroes within video games. Yet, it’s the writing being acted out within this cast that snatches us by our wrists and holds us to that controller. Between Troy Baker’s granite-hard performance and the symphonic range of emotion in BAFTA Award Winner Ashley Johnson, it’s a cast that could carry and inspire most anyone who took up the Firefly mantle. Haven’t seen the Performance Capture? Don’t worry — because I need you guys to see how gorgeous it truly gets.
While I’m not expecting a ton of people to complain about spoilers for a game over five years old — I will let you know to just stay away from this article if you’re avoiding plot points. You truly should get on playing The Last of Us, however, as you’re going to want to be first in line for Part II which will draw us right back into the insane lives of Joel, Ellie and more. You want that, right? Word of warning: There’s some salty language in some of these and if you’re sensitive to that, well, you were warned. 😉
Ellie and Joel road-trippin’ is a mood that we should all look for in our own lives. It’s about to get real though and slowly but surely, you can see how much real acting goes into this kind of work. No realistic props or costuming and a whole lot of make-believe.
Eventually, you start to see roles forming just naturally between these performers and that’s what this is meant to do for the people coding and building this game up. They need to see emotion and movement in order to encapsulate what the characters are going to be put through. Until the bitter end, right? The Last of Us was wonderful at embodying the concept of ‘the bitter end‘ and I loved that.
Watching all of the layers that go into something this delicately crafted and stitched together can really make you appreciate the massive teams that put games like this together. The way Troy and Ashley work together in the booth is something that makes me so happy with an added bonus of Neil, the game’s director, giggling.
Let Neil Druckmann set the scene for you on a take of The Last of Us‘ climactic ending moment — that went awry out of nowhere but is the most iconic performance capture that you’ll ever see.
Now, skip to 30 minutes into this video above right here to see something that will be beautiful if you hadn’t witnessed it before. Naughty Dog loved the performances so much when it came to their actors and musicians that they did a one-night-only performance of some of the most pivotal scenes in the game. Acted out, with pure passion, from the very same folks that made the game what it is: masterful.
And here, if you’ve made it this far — you get a documentary about the Making of The Last of Us and it covers the details about motion capture and how it affects and builds on performances. Three years of these folks lives went to these characters and telling this story and that’s pretty awe-inspiring. I’m still evangelizing this game to literally anyone I find who hasn’t snatched it up and lived within its dark yet hopeful story.