Uncharted 3 Was "Broken" In The 11th Hour, Dev Reveals On Game's 10th Anniversary

The game was facing critical issues just days before it was due to be sent to Sony for manufacturing--then a developer came up with an idea to fix it.


Naughty Dog's Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was released on November 1, 2011, meaning today is the game's 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the studio published a blog post featuring insights and behind-the-scenes stories from the team that worked on it. The whole post is well worth a read, but there is one story that really stands out.

Naughty Dog vice president Christian Gyrling revealed in the post that, just days before the studio planned to send the game to Sony for manufacturing, what turned out to be a very serious set of bugs were discovered in the testing process. The bugs and glitches--which in some cases turned the ocean blood red and completely zapped some levels--were serious enough for the studio to question whether or not it could release the game.

"I myself brought the game home and started playing the game from the beginning. After a few hours of playing, the game started having glitches. The glitches got worse and worse until enemies would be invisible, the ocean became blood red, and levels would be outright missing. I freaked out, and the next morning, I walked into [Naughty Dog president Evan Wells'] office saying, 'We can't ship the game like this,'" Gyrling said. "Playing the game for a few hours on older PS3s would in almost all cases result in a broken game experience."

But Gyrling had an idea for what was causing the issue, and to test the hypothesis, the team created two versions of the game.

"I made two versions of the game. One was the current 'broken' version of the game but with some debug text printing on the screen. The second version was the 'fixed' version, and it also had debug text printing on the screen," Gyrling said. "If our hunch was right, we would be able to see that from the numbers printing on screen for the two versions. We had two of our QA staff play through the two versions of the game side-by-side. We all stood there watching them play, and lo and behold, the numbers started confirming the hypothesis. After an hour, the one tester that was running the 'broken' version of the game started seeing glitching, the other one did not. We ended up putting the fix in and shipping Uncharted 3 with this critical bug fix just two days later."

It all worked out in the end, as Uncharted 3 was a critical and a commercial success. Here at GameSpot, we scored the game a 9/10 in our Uncharted 3 review.

Also in the interview, Wells said he wished Naughty Dog hadn't announced the Uncharted 3 release date so early. To stick to it, the team had to pull developers off The Last of Us, and this was not ideal.

"Announcing your ship date the day that you announce your game is not a great idea!" Wells said. "Our reveal trailer included our release date and sticking to that was extraordinarily difficult. We had to pull most of the (already very limited) resources from early development on The Last of Us, and it was still a challenging development process for us."

No new Uncharted games have been announced, but Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy are coming to PlayStation 5 and PC in 2022 through The Legacy of Thieves Collection. Beyond that, Naughty Dog has said Uncharted 5 might happen some day.

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