The Last Of Us: David Ballard Interview

The Last Of Us: David Ballard Interview

Prologue:

It all started when one of illGaming’s most unholy Naughty Dog fan took it to Twitter in order to praise his stars on their incredible work on The Last Of Us Online, also known as Factions. When IGN introduced the beauty of all the maps in The Last Of Us Factions, they got on board one of the leading artists who made this online fight for survival possible, Mr. David Ballard. And it took one tweet to get across to the maestro.

dbal The Last Of Us: David Ballard InterviewIf you have seen his name somewhere before, then here’s an interview to sort yourself out, yup, been there executing the ultra-intricate environment in one of my favourite games of all time, Uncharted 3:

The Last Of Us Online:

The Last Of Us has just got from being good to great, because at Naughty Dog, they know how to keep their fans jaw dropped for the remainder of the season. Speaking of seasons, I am a proud Season Pass Holder this year on The Last Of Us (hoots!) They first blew us away with the very emotional Single Player Story of Joel and Ellie. And when time was up, it was game on for the online bit of The Last Of Us, also known as Factions. Two closely matched groups pitted against each other in maps from the game (famously the Dam, the Checkpoint, the Lakeside and Bill’s Town to name a few) that required each of the players to use their head more than their libido to go all guns blazing and be trigger happy all day.

Like I said in my previous article about Factions, the levels were fantastic, and after the minor patches that they released, that includes the more reasonable player sorting when it comes to random matchmaking, it was time to hit the jackpot. A brand new game, free for all, Interrogations, it dropped like a bomb as compared to other online shooter games out in the market. Blending the pitch perfect The Last Of Us style stealth tactics/combat with outrageous teamwork. By now, I’m sure you’ve got a hang of what Interrogations is all about. And if you don’t, well then, walk out into the sun and you’ll know:

With so much gaming being thrown around this last quarter of year 2013, including a massively populated GTA V Online and an anticipation around the possible franchise redeemer Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Naughty Dog felt it right to give its fans reasons enough to stay put in the best fan camp ever.  Enter the Abandoned Territories DLC Map Pack.  Check out the trailer if you haven’t already:

The DLC introduces brand new territories to feast your hands in, including a dingy and dark Hometown, a very confusing and open Bookstore, the phenomenally detailed Suburbs and my favourite, the Bus Depot. It is a breath of fresh air, but watch out, as more and more Factions players drop by to gain experience in these four challenging maps for supplies and heads. Still upset about your lost character in GTA Online?

david ballard The Last Of Us: David Ballard Interview

David Ballard, artist at Naughty Dog

David Ballard’s E-Interview:

After seeing so much happening at Naughty Dog, I decided to trust my fanboy spirit and decided to shoot David a couple of questions that I had around this massively entertaining online mode amongst a horde of headless drab. In an email of course. It took him some time though, considering the fact that he was having many a sleepless nights over the brand new DLCs, but here he was proving why fans mattered at Naughty Dog. These are questions that I raised to David, and the following are his answers that he replied back to me:

T: How did you mathematically end up producing one of the best offensive/defensive looking multiplayer maps ever? The effort you and your team put in if you could elaborate in some words.

D: Lots of experience, lots of late hours, lots of hard work. Passion drives us.

T: I already heard this from your IGN interview. How did real buildings and real instances from life help you design the most real looking maps (even with the Go Eagles banner)? How much of reality is in there, in each of those maps?

D: We use real architecture to make the environments as real as possible, so we look at similar real life cities/places for reference. However, we try not to replicate a place exactly.

T: You basically painted with a magic brush in the TLOU maps and made it look so real. How different is a conventional artist from a (genius) game artist like you?

D: I don’t think I’m a genius artist as you say. Just a hard worker with a strong team I work with.

T: Were you ever slapped/kicked/scolded or disowned as a child because of being a gamer? Did you fight or ease your way in within the industry as a game artist? (regarding the social stigma Indian parents have about ‘video games’)

D: It’s always difficult for people to believe you can make it into the video game industry and be successful, and to be quite honest, it’s very difficult. I was unemployed* for almost a year before landing at Naughty Dog, and it took a lot of hard work and hardship to make it.

*Yup, there you go workaholics!

T: The Factions maps put you in a very scary situation. It’s the post apocalyptic setting, the intensity of the MP matches and the lesser choice in inventory. Was it always conceived this way, or were these adapted after some beta testings?

D: Scarcity was always a key aspect of both single player and multiplayer. The level of scarcity was adjusted through beta testings.

T: India has a huuuuuuge fanbase and deep respect for Naughty Dog. Any surprise to you?

D: I’m always surprised by how many people love the games we’ve developed. It’s a huge honor.

Epilogue:

His sweet and short answers not only make me happy but I’m sure makes each of us Naughty Dog fans to just go out there, get a Seasons Pass in The Last Of Us and settle down in life. These guys have worked incredibly hard, to have come out with two solid titles back to back, Uncharted 3 and The Last Of Us and are still not calling it a day. Check out the giraffes walking around as you play a match in one of the the brand new DLC maps and you’ll know what I’m saying. This is Naughty Dog treating a gamer as an experienced customer, these guys simply keep them craving for more.

Hope you loved what you just read.

Image credit: David Ballard’s Twitter DP

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