Naughty Dog did some incredible things in order to make The Last Of Us Part 2 as good as it is, but this new behind-the-scenes look takes the biscuit. The game’s Lead Animator, Jeremy Yates, has shared some insight into how the horses were captured for the game, and it pretty much burns out everything I thought I knew about game development.
First, I think it’s important to share the above tweet with you. It shows how much fun the people working on the game had, and were able to have, while going about their day to day jobs. Right now this isn’t a real horse, but they were used in order to get the motion of the in-game horses just right. I think it’s important to see just how much of a balance there was during the game’s development between fun and precision though. No one here looks like they’re having a hard time, apart from Neil Druckmann in the background maybe.
Fun fact: Our horses were captured at Sony. The volume was enlarged just for this shoot. For safety, a layer of plywood and pretty much the ENTIRE current world’s supply of rubber matts were ordered for the floor. It arrived just days before shooting. #TheLastofUsPartII #horse pic.twitter.com/bC7M6rMkiT
— Jeremy Yates (@Jeremy_Yates) July 14, 2020
This second tweet is the real meat of the work. That horse is covered in the tiny receivers used to pick up motion, as well as Ashley Johnson. The fact that a game studio brought in a real horse is astounding. They layered the floor with plywood and then got loads of rubber mats just to be sure that everyone was safe.
There are plenty of games that have horses in but haven’t captured the motion from real horses. sometimes this is obvious, but other times the animation looks so good that we don’t even question it. To be honest, I thought the horses in The Last Of Us Part 2 weren’t that realistic, but this just shows how wrong I was. I think it’s so hard to tell what looks accurate in a game these days, that we often mistake real life for a fake because of how much we prefer the smooth animations some game developers can pull together.
If nothing else, this just shows how in-depth each project at Naughty Dog is. There really are no stones left unturned when it comes to realism and an uncompromised experience. If more game developers went to these lengths, we’d have fewer game releases, but a much higher benchmark of quality.