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What do game developers see when they watch the Last of Us Part 2 trailer?

This video on Naughty Dog’s E3 demo is a look behind the curtain

We sometimes forget that E3 isn’t just a time for fans and the press to get a look at what’s coming to video games in the next few years, it’s also an opportunity for developers to finally see what other studios are working on. So what happens when an animator sees one of these elaborate trailers or demonstrations from a big game? Often, they spend serious time with it to see what they can learn.

The video above from Dan Lowe, senior tech animator at EA’s Motive Studios, is a deep dive into what Naughty Dog is doing, or appears to be doing, with its animation systems in The Last of Us Part 2. Lowe’s deconstruction is over an hour in length — and you’re likely to either find it fascinating or incredibly boring — but it’s the sort of thing we almost never see in this business: an industry professional trying to figure out the work of another studio’s unreleased game.

This isn’t a new thing, according to Lowe. “The thing to know about Naughty Dog gameplay trailers is the next day, every other developer in the world is frame-by-framing it, trying to figure out how the hell they did that,” he tweeted. Most just never record their thoughts or release them to the public or each other.

And this has the further advantage of allowing developers to comment on Lowe’s own explanation of these systems, and their appreciation for Naughty Dog’s work.

“The thing here is that they are doing everything right and they are doing things that you wouldn’t even consider doing,” another developer tweeted in response. “[I] know of easy ways to do these things in scripted scenes ... but a lot of that was not scripted.”

If you’ve ever wanted to get a tiny explanation of how the sausage is made, or at least how one sausage maker thinks another sausage maker is making their sausage, this video is a great use of your time.

The next level of puzzles.

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