Accessibility for The Last of Us Part II

Video Games

Naughty Dog developers and accessibility consultants

Earlier this year we wrapped up four years of development and shipped The Last of Us Part II. While most of my work was on systems, combat, and AI, I also co-headed our effort to push the boundaries of accessibility.

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Combat Design & AI in Uncharted 4

Video Games

Matthew Gallant speaking at GDC 2017

Back in 2017, I gave my first talk at GDC about combat design and AI in Uncharted 4. A recording of this talk is now free and publicly available in the GDC Vault.

Authored vs. Systemic:
Finding a Balance for Combat AI in Uncharted 4

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Blocktober 2018

Video Games

Last year, my friend and coworker Michael Barclay boldly declared that “level blockouts are art”. He started the hashtag #Blocktober to celebrate the art form and encourage other developers to share screenshots of their blockmesh levels. The response was enthusiastic, as hundreds of developers gave us a sample of their early-production work. It provided some well-deserved exposure to a vital facet of game development that players normally never get to see.

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Thinking in Systems

Books, Video Games

Book cover of Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows

There is a certain class of books (Understanding Comics, The Design of Everyday Things) that aren’t ostensibly about video games, but have still found their way into the informal game design canon. Having recently read Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows, I believe it also deserves a spot on that list. The book covers a wide range of tools and methods for systems thinking, but I’d like to focus on one technique in particular and how it could apply to game design.

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Intentionality & Improvisation

Video Games

[Left] Lightning strikes in Breath of the Wild / [Right] Grass burns in Far Cry 2

While I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild over the holidays, I kept thinking about Far Cry 2. Of course that’s not uncommon; I cut my teeth writing about games in ~2008, so I tend to see Far Cry 2 everywhere (game design pareidolia). However, rather than a vague impression, Breath of the Wild evoked specific ideas that director Clint Hocking explored in a 2009 GDC talk entitled “Fault Tolerance: From Intentionality to Improvisation”. I’d like to use that talk as a framework to compare the two games and discuss some common mechanics that are used to similar effect.

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