Naughty Dog’s older games like those of the Jak and Daxter felt extremely smooth and responsive, but it’s difficult to achieve the same effect when you’re moving from cartoons to realistic characters. Lead Animator Jeremy Yates said something rather promising during a livestream hosted by GamesRadar
Yates mentioned that at the times of Jak and Daxter, without considering the animation, Jak basically felt like a ball responding to stick movements. He was completely procedural. You could jump and move around and it felt really good. He was “really smooth and really responsive.” Apparently the studio managed to achieve a similar feel with Uncharted 4: a Thief’s End.
To move from that to making a realistic character that has to move with weight, he needs to feel like he’s 190 pounds, but we want it to feel like Jak and Daxter, it’s like buillding two opposite things, right?
That was a really hard problem for us to solve. It took us a while to kind of perfect that. I think we’re just now getting to the point, on Uncharted 4, where we’re like ok, yes, we finally got it. We finally got it to where it feels like a ball.
Later in the interview, Yates mentioned that “gameplay trumps everything,” and at times having something feel really good goes against making the character feel like he’s 200 pounds. If you make a character move completely realistically, it’s just really slow and it’s just not gonna feel good. That’s why lots of little compromises are made between realism and gameplay, trying to get the best of both, but gameplay and making it feel good is what Naughty Dog cares the most about.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet gotten a chance to test that ourselves, and it’s difficult to really perceive it from hands-off demos. Hopefully Sony Computer Entertainment will let players get their hands on the goods soon. I personally can’t wait.