Evan Wells-Co-President, Naughty Dog: Hey there everybody! Wanted to let you know that we hit Beta on Sunday, September 16th! That's a huge milestone and it means we're one step closer to finishing Uncharted. The team really pulled together to help achieve this deadline and we couldn't be more excited about the progress we've made. Finally, most everything is in the game and we are just chasing down the last bugs and making a few minor balancing tweaks here and there.
We've had our last major focus test week last week too, and we received the data we need to make sure that the gameplay is finely tuned for our final release. This is a process that we take very seriously here at Naughty Dog and something we've been doing since the Crash Bandicoot days. We test the game over the course of a week and track a huge number of statistics from the types of weapons used, the amount of time spent in each area, and the number of times the players died. We then use this data to smooth out the difficulty and fix any puzzles or layouts that are too tricky to figure out. This will be the fourth time we do a full focus test like this and we are actually going to squeeze a final mini test in right before we Gold Master to make sure a bug didn't creep in to mess up our tuning.
It's also at this stage that a bunch of people in the office who have been so busy making the game, finally get a chance to sit down and play it. A lot of people have been so heads down that they are discovering areas in the game they'd never seen before. And because the cinematics are usually some of the last elements that go in, most people haven't really seen the story unfold in its entirety. Our own Naughty Dogs make great gameplay testers too!
So we have a little less than 4 weeks to go now, but our bug count is actually shrinking instead of growing. There are going to be a lot of late nights ahead of us, but we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And as a sign that we're almost launching, the official game website has gone up - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.