Accessibility has become a big part of many game studios these days with some supporting advocacies while others just wants the whole gaming community to experience the game without any issues at all. Naughty Dog is one of those studios who want everyone to enjoy their upcoming video game The Last of Us Part II by offering different kinds of game settings to choose from.
One of the issues Naughty Dog had trouble was the tone of the game. It was difficult for them to offer that to other gamers out there who had disabilities, but they still wanted to give them the full experience no matter what. It is a big part of the series: the focus on violence and trauma. This experience made players feel tense and uncomfortable, which in turn made them empathize with the main characters.
Game designer Matthew Gallant shared what the studio did to make this possible for the whole gaming community.
The game developers wanted to ensure that the tone of the game was there, those elements that make it happen will still come through no matter what kind of settings were enabled by the player.
When we’re making an accessibility option, we wanted to match that tone as best as possible. We didn’t want to make something that felt off, or dissonant with the themes.
One of the best examples for this was the high-contrast mode where they had to figure out what color to paint certain characters. It was not simple to make, but it had to be done for the benefit of their players.
Lead gameplay designer Emilia Schatz stated:
One of the overall themes in the game is the gray in the middle, and who is friend, and who is foe. Especially at some of the more ambivalent moments in the story, when someone might be one or the other, what color do we make them right now?
There were timings of changing color that the developers needed to implement and it had to be the exact frame of animation when these enemies died. The colors would change from what enemies are painted with into neutral colors afterwards.
There was a lot of subtlety that had to be worked out because of the tone of our game.
Changing colors from enemy colors to neutral ones has been implemented in old classics in the past with aura-like colors, but it made it look cartoonish. Naughty Dog might have perfected it with The Last of Us Part II, hopefully it will not look that bad. Also, it is an option for gamers who have disabilities, which can be turned off for us who can play normally anyways.
The game will launch this coming June 19 exclusively on PlayStation 4.