by Gene Turnbow

Uncharted characters Nathan 'Nate' Drake and Elena Fisher

Games and motion pictures have long walked similar paths. Much of the development cycle for a game and for a movie is the same. You need a story; you write a script, you have a cast of characters, a beginning, a middle and and end, just like a movie. You have to create the pieces that will appear on screen (called “assets”) and you have to rig them, paint them and animate them, and a sound track with a soaring musical score and dialog and sound effects. The only part that’s different for a game is – well, that you play it, and there can be multiple paths through the game to get to the end.

The Uncharted series of games from developer Naughty Dog in Santa Monica, California is without doubt one of the most cinematic ever done.  This fact was not lost on Sony Pictures who had been working to develop the games into theatrical motion pictures.  The last anyone heard of the project was in February of 2012, when director David O. Russell, who had backed out of the project in 2010, was replaced by Neil Burger in February of 2012, and writers Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer began working on the screenplay. The film, “Drake’s Journal”, is still technically “under development”, but a lot of projects never leave development. 

One Reddit user identifying himself only as ‘morphinapg’ decided he couldn’t wait for Sony Pictures to get off their collective backsides and did it himself, editing the cutscenes and game play of all three Uncharted games into feature films, using as little actual gameplay footage as he could get away with to stitch the scenes together.  The results are very watchable.

The experience of playing these games gives the player the sense that they are the central figure in a sweeping story line, and it’s already a remarkable experience both in terms of gaming and cinema. But if you’re more interested in the story than playing the game, you’ll enjoy watching these. Be warned – they’re full length feature films, each one of them, with the longest of them having a whopping 195 minutes running time.

(Videos after the break)

If Sony creates feature films from these on their own, it wouldn’t be the first time.   Konami did it first  with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence on the PlayStation 2. The special edition of the game came with all the game’s cut scenes edited into a feature film.

Sony’s Uncharted franchise is getting a giant free shot in the arm from these motion pictures – and yes, that’s what they are, despite the venue.  They’re motion pictures.  We hope Sony recognizes their intrinsic value and lets them remain where they are.

Here’s what morphinapg had to say about his own work:

Considering this is the best game series I’ve ever played, and certainly the most cinematic, I decided to make them into movies. I decided that I would include every cinematic, and link them by the minimum gameplay needed to connect the cinematics without creating any plot holes. Obviously to do this I had to take out certain sections of gameplay, but doing so does not have any effect on story. As I was trying to make these as close to a real movie experience as I could, there were a few guidelines I decided to follow:

1. I would try to remove as many on screen references to this being a game as possible, such as chapter titles and button or new ammo prompts. Some of these would either be impossible or would too much negatively impact the quality of the film, such as the near constant ammo OSD, or the occasional “select” prompt for drake’s journal during puzzles.

2. I would try to include as much of the puzzles, in game cinematics and cinematic gameplay elements as I could. Some areas still needed to be cut to keep the movie flowing properly or, in the case of Uncharted 2 and 3, to keep the run length shorter than it would have been otherwise.

3. I tried to keep as much in game dialogue as I could, as I believe those really help develop the characters. However, as I said, I also had to keep an eye on how much gameplay I was using to make sure it didn’t make things too boring or make the movie too long.

In the end, my goal was to make a movie that would be watchable whether the viewer was a fan of Uncharted or not, and whether the viewer was a video game player or not. My initial reason was to find a way to show the story of these games to people in my family who don’t play video games. I think I succeeded.

Here are the movies for your enjoyment.  If you have the tools to do so, you may wish to download them from YouTube so you can play them locally.  Putting them on a thumb drive and running them on your big screen TV via your PS3 would absolutely rock.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – 113 minutes

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – 177 minutes

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – 195 minutes

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