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Why Uncharted 4's action-packed demo began with 30 seconds of standing around

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The good thing about E3 demonstration gaffes is, hey, at least it's a reminder this is live gameplay. The bad thing, of course, is that they happen at all — particularly if they close out the show.

PlayStation wrapped up its E3 news conference on Monday with Uncharted 4, and when it came time for Nathan Drake to swing into action, he just stood there.

For 30 seconds.

Bruce Straley, the game's co-director, recapped what exactly happened in this video (above) the day after the presentation. It begins straight away with the recap if you want to hear Straley describe what it's like when your game eats it during that kind of a close-up.

"Sheer panic, horrifying," Straley said.

What happened? Straley said he went out to the PlayStation stage in pitch dark with a stagehand carrying a stool — but no controller.

"I notice when I get out there, the controller's not where it's supposed to be, I'm like, uh-oh," Straley said.

"Now my brain's not working."

You might remember there was a long pause after the lights went down and before the demo came up. That was Straley fishing for a DualShock 4.

"I dig into the well, I find a controller, OK we're good. It has a light on, the blue light's on, I start the game, the game starts, I'm like, cool. I sit on my stool," Straley said.

Whatever this controller was connected to, it wasn't the PS4 being displayed on the screen. Straley started manipulating the sticks and got ... nothing.

"Nate's supposed to move, I'm supposed to hit the analogue stick and he responds," Straley explained rhetorically. "This is gameplay, this is what happens when you're playing a game. Nothing happened!

That wasn't the only malfunction.

"Now my brain's not working," Straley joked. He grabbed a backup controller and it, too, was not working.

As this unfolded (or didn't) Neil Druckmann, the game's creative director, was backstage in a sweat. "I just start spinning," he said. "I didn't know what to do."

Ultimately, Straley figured it out. The controllers were operating a backup PS4. He tried pointing to that unit, but the control booth noticed the feed to it was playing the game and switched over. Straley restarted the demo, blew through it flawlessly, blowing away the crowd to finish out the night. All's well that ends well.

While it sounds like a simple case of not having the right controller, Druckmann has an alternate theory for what went wrong.

"I think the Final Fantasy 7 remake screams were so loud," he said, "they shorted out the controller."

You can see the full seven-minute demo — without the 30 second slipup — below.

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