The Amy Hennig Interview: On What Changed With Uncharted 4, Leaving EA, and What's Next.

IbizaPocholo

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https://www.usgamer.net/articles/amy-hennig-interview-uncharted-4-leaving-ea-ragtag-star-wars

Amy Hennig always speaks her mind. At the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, the first thing that came to the former Uncharted and Legacy of Kain series director when asked about the development of Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City in the early '90s was that "there was a lot of cocaine at EA during that time. I wasn't indulging in any of it."

She said this during an on-stage talk at the second day of DICE Summit with Double Fine founder Tim Schafer casually interviewing her, who also got started in the game industry around the same time. Their on-stage talk bounced around her career, with Schafer teasing the entire time that they'd eventually get to what Hennig is up to next.

It's been a big point of discussion since Hennig's highly publicized exit of EA in early 2018, following the dissolution of Visceral Games and the Star Wars single-player adventure game codenamed Ragtag, with Hennig behind it as creative director. The day after Hennig and Schafer's chat, Hennig and I had our own conversation in the eerily quiet press room in the early morning. With coffee at our side, Hennig again spoke her mind, just as she did on-stage just a day before.

Check the link for the full story.
 

Ka-Kui

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I would have preferred to play Amy's Uncharted 4, what we got was definitely much more somber in comparison. I like that her Uncharted 4 was kind of going back to its roots somewhat in terms of feel.

Also she mentions that her and her team's Star Wars game was canned because it didn't fit EA's "business plan"... Interesting.
 

Nickolaidas

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I would have preferred to play Amy's Uncharted 4, what we got was definitely much more somber in comparison. I like that her Uncharted 4 was kind of going back to its roots somewhat in terms of feel.

Also she mentions that her and her team's Star Wars game was canned because it didn't fit EA's "business plan"... Interesting.
I thought it was said months ago that the reason was lack of microtransactions.
 

Ka-Kui

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I thought it was said months ago that the reason was lack of microtransactions.
Was it? Last time I remember the sentiment appeared to be that the game probably sucked and that Amy Hennig may have mismanaged the project.

Unless there was confirmation I wasn't aware of that it definitely was because of lack of microtransactions.
 

John Lee Packard

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Now I'm surprised to learn she had such a hand in Uncharted 4, I thought the whole thing was Druckmann and co.

Well, she truly was the mastermind behind the series then and it's a shame she left Naughty Dog.
 
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Was it? Last time I remember the sentiment appeared to be that the game probably sucked and that Amy Hennig may have mismanaged the project.

Unless there was confirmation I wasn't aware of that it definitely was because of lack of microtransactions.
No.

EA lost appitite for multimillion dollar investments in games that weren’t going after the GaaS model in some form (Anthem, Battlefront II, etc).
 

Stuart360

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I doubt they canned the SW game because of a lack of microtransactions in it. Its up to EA whther one of their games has microtransactions, not the devs.
Its a shame though and surprising really. A Uncharted style game in the Star Wars universe, you could see that selling a ton. The game must of had some serious problems.
 

Zephir

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I believe it was a mix of EA unable to get more revenue from a singleplayer game and the frostbite engine being awful to work on for non-fps games

Now I wonder what will happen with fallen Jedi order
 

Hostile_18

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I would have preferred to play Amy's Uncharted 4, what we got was definitely much more somber in comparison. I like that her Uncharted 4 was kind of going back to its roots somewhat in terms of feel.
It's impossible to say really without been on the inside. You might well have lost beats you liked in the product that was shipped had she stayed.

Also hindsight is a wonderful thing when looking back at what works in a game with the benefit of time, critical/fan and commercial reaction.
 

Nickolaidas

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I doubt they canned the SW game because of a lack of microtransactions in it. Its up to EA whther one of their games has microtransactions, not the devs.
Its a shame though and surprising really. A Uncharted style game in the Star Wars universe, you could see that selling a ton. The game must of had some serious problems.
I remember her making the pitch and the EA board asking her where is the game's equivalent of the FIFA ultimate team.
 

wutnau

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I remember her making the pitch and the EA board asking her where is the game's equivalent of the FIFA ultimate team.
As much as I like to shit on EA (and believe me, I do), I don't think the failure of the "Ragtag" project can be entirely attributed to corporate/EA.

It more sounds like, she wanted to make an Uncharted Star Wars game. Without the Uncharted team or Uncharted tech (say what you will of contemporary ND games, but their tech is seriously god-tier). As such, the project was doomed to fail from the start.
 

Nickolaidas

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As much as I like to shit on EA (and believe me, I do), I don't think the failure of the "Ragtag" project can be entirely attributed to corporate/EA.

It more sounds like, she wanted to make an Uncharted Star Wars game. Without the Uncharted team or Uncharted tech (say what you will of contemporary ND games, but their tech is seriously god-tier). As such, the project was doomed to fail from the start.
Maybe it was a mix of both. But it's not like nd are the only ones who can make a solid uncharted ... as the newest TR games have shown. And ea has the budget to fund a god-tier team, have they not?
 

wutnau

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But it's not like nd are the only ones who can make a solid uncharted ... as the newest TR games have shown.
Uhh... this is just IMHO, so take it as you will, but I think the latest TR games (especially the last one - seriously, Jonah is like the most annoying/useless sidekick ever) have shown precisely that doing "Uncharted" is hard. When it comes to mechanics, it's easy to be better, and many games have done so. But when it comes to characters and how they interact with each other (outside cutscenes too), ND has raised the bar quite high.
 
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Nickolaidas

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Uhh... this is just IMHO, so take it as you will, but I think the latest TR games (especially the last one - seriously, Jonah is like the most annoying/useless sidekick ever) have shown precisely that doing "Uncharted" is hard. When it comes to mechanics, it's easy to be better, and many games have done so. But when it comes to characters and how they interact with each other (outside cutscenes too), ND has raised the bar quite high.
No arguments there. I guess I should have pointed out that I was referring to gameplay, not characterization.
 

mejin

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I think I read something about development hell lol

She wanted to have max control about everything but it wasn't working since she' not that good to begin with.
 

dirthead

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Pretty much the only redeeming thing about UC4 was the graphics, which she had no hand in.

Can't say I'm impressed. I think NG saw an old horse who wasn't really relevant to contemporary game development and put it out to pasture. I mean honestly, what can she really do? Her writing's always sucked. She's not a visual artist. She can't code. Look at UC4. Terrible game design.



If she can afford it, she should just retire.

 
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Clear

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I thought it was sad that Amy really had to cover herself when saying that in her career she felt she hadn't been subjected to egregious sexism and oppression because of her gender.

Although she claims that part of her success may have been down to obliviousness to it on her part, its very clear that she isn't oblivious to the threat posed by going against the party line that gaming is a boys' "locker-room" environment that institutionally holds down women.

How wrong is that? If there was a real desire to get more women involved success stories like hers would be shouted from the rooftops, rather than making her be almost apologetic about it...
 

dirthead

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I thought it was sad that Amy really had to cover herself when saying that in her career she felt she hadn't been subjected to egregious sexism and oppression because of her gender.

Although she claims that part of her success may have been down to obliviousness to it on her part, its very clear that she isn't oblivious to the threat posed by going against the party line that gaming is a boys' "locker-room" environment that institutionally holds down women.

How wrong is that? If there was a real desire to get more women involved success stories like hers would be shouted from the rooftops, rather than making her be almost apologetic about it...
It's entirely possible that she wasn't harassed because she's always looked like a frumpy Walmart cashier. Just saying.
 

Clear

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You honestly think that unattractive and attractive people are sexually harassed in equal measure? That's cute kid.
Attractiveness is relative; game-dev isn't actually populated by the "beautiful people". Especially going back to the time she entered the business when there was nothing remotely modish or cool about the scene and it was 95% freaks and geeks.

But that's beside the point, your comment(s) throughout have been asinine.
 

dirthead

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Attractiveness is relative; game-dev isn't actually populated by the "beautiful people". Especially going back to the time she entered the business when there was nothing remotely modish or cool about the scene and it was 95% freaks and geeks.

But that's beside the point, your comment(s) throughout have been asinine.
Attractiveness is relative my bright red rosey. Basic shit like symmetry and not being fat are almost universal. Whatever.
 

danhese007

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It's entirely possible that she wasn't harassed because she's always looked like a frumpy Walmart cashier. Just saying.
Because as we all know sexual harassment is only based on how attractive someone is. This is about the stupidest comment I have read this year on gaf. Congratulations.
 

dirthead

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Because as we all know sexual harassment is only based on how attractive someone is. This is about the stupidest comment I have read this year on gaf. Congratulations.
Actually, I didn't say it was only based on that, making your comment more stupid than what you claim to be the most stupid of the year.

And really, given how early into the year we are, that's not much of an accomplishment anyway.
 

JohnnyFootball

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I think I read something about development hell lol

She wanted to have max control about everything but it wasn't working since she' not that good to begin with.
Yeah, I can’t say I’ve come away with a high opinion of Amy Hennig as of late. I mean the Uncharted game, UC3 that is considered her baby is often considered the weakest.

That’s not to say she is not great, let’s be clear.
 

John Lee Packard

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Don't worry, I'm sure the forum will achieve peak groupthink soon enough.
What the fuck are you even talking about, man? You say UC4 had "Terrible game design", It's a third person shooter, you take cover, sneak around, shoot dudes, walk around, solve puzzles.

You can say it's generic I guess, but what part of that is "terrible game design"? Something like Ride to Hell is an example of "terrible game design", You are spouting negative opinions for the sake of being a contrarian, nothing more.
 
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Redneckerz

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The stillness of time.
Pretty much the only redeeming thing about UC4 was the graphics, which she had no hand in.
I think UC4 was more than just graphics, there was attention to detail, and i think it had a lovely story.

Opinion as fact and aggressively so, a common Dirthead staple.

It's entirely possible that she wasn't harassed because she's always looked like a frumpy Walmart cashier. Just saying.
Ballsy! Coming back from exile and then instantly go on look shaming someone. I guess that's how deflated ego's work: Not admitting what the problem is, just blaming someone else on how they look.

Appalling. The tag you were given is correct. You really are a dog.

Because as we all know sexual harassment is only based on how attractive someone is. This is about the stupidest comment I have read this year on gaf. Congratulations.
Agreed. We may have had our quarrels between one another but yeah.

Its no surprise though, User in question is known for making off the cuff remarks which lack nuance or tact.

EDIT: Ah, accusations of groupthink. Even more hints on the deflated ego theory.

What the fuck are you even talking about, man? You say UC4 had "Terrible game design", It's a third person shooter, you take cover, sneak around, shoot dudes, walk around, solve puzzles.
User is simply doing a slow account suicide with his groupthink accusation.
 
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dirthead

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What the fuck are you even talking about, man? You say UC4 had "Terrible game design", It's a third person shooter, you take cover, sneak around, shoot dudes, walk around, solve puzzles.

You can say it's generic I guess, but what part of that is "terrible game design"? Something like Ride to Hell is an example of "terrible game design", You are spouting negative opinions for the sake of being a contrarian, nothing more.
Did you even watch the video I linked? The game is fucking DULL. It's one step up from Dragon's Lair. It's scripted to shit. You can't even fall off platforms. It might as well have been a rail shooter with a lightgun.

It was laughable trash for the time it came out.
 

John Lee Packard

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I think UC4 was more than just graphics, there was attention to detail, and i think it had a lovely story.

Opinion as fact and aggressively so, a common Dirthead staple.


Ballsy! Coming back from exile and then instantly go on look shaming someone. I guess that's how deflated ego's work: Not admitting what the problem is, just blaming someone on how they look.

Appalling. The tag you were given is correct. You really are a dog.


Agreed. We may have had our quarrels between one another but yeah.

Its no surprise though, User in question is known for making off the cuff remarks which lack nuance or tact.

EDIT: Ah, accusations of groupthink. Even more hints on the deflated ego theory.


User is simply doing a slow account suicide with his groupthink accusation.
Well, he's on my ignore list, that's for sure.
 

ROMhack

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Back on topic, I must admit that I preferred UC4 much more than the other games. I don't think that's a slight on Hennig though. The gameplay is just so much better than the others.
 
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John Lee Packard

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EDIT: And now he's banned. Proof that reporting does work, thanks anonymous staff member for making this call.
Fucking lol, that didn't take long at all.

Back on topic, I must admit that I preferred UC4 much more than the other games. I don't think that's a slight on Hennig though. The gameplay is just much better than the others.
I think it's without a doubt the best game of the series as well, although 2 comes the closest.

However 2 suffers from extremely generic bad guys, 4 is the one that fires on all cylinders, which really makes it almost a shame it's Nathan Drake's last adventure, like just when it starting to get REALLY good, ya know? But at least it ended on a high note.
 
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ROMhack

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However 2 suffers from extremely generic bad guys, 4 is the one that fires on all cylinders, which really makes it almost a shame it's Nathan Drake's last adventure, like just when it starting to get REALLY good, ya know? But at least it ended on a high note.
I got a feeling they realised the series was started to drag so commend them for ending when they did.
I thought the series was set-up perfectly for a new series featuring his daughter - I fail to understand what the purpose of the epilogue was if it wasn't for that. Maybe a launch titles for PS5.
 
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John Lee Packard

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I got a feeling they realised the series was started to drag so commend them for ending when they did.
I thought the series was set-up perfectly for a new series featuring his daughter - I fail to understand what the purpose of the epilogue was if it wasn't for that. Maybe a launch titles for PS5.
I respect them for quitting while they were ahead on Nathan Drake, but honestly, if it were up to me I wouldn't have done so until an Uncharted 5, seems like somewhat of a waste to utilize Nate and Sam for only one game, I loved the interplay between those two characters.

But I could see a future Uncharted 5 with a grown up Cassie Drake being cool, although the weird thing with that is it'd have to be set in the future, given her age the prologue would have to be set in the year 2030 so a game starring her would have to be well after that, science fiction elements would be kinda weird for this series, but it would be something different (and it wouldn't have to be heavy on it, of course)

I also wonder what was up with the old woman, Evelyn, and if that was teasing something in the future, reference is made to her having a daughter (I was thinking Lost Legacy would have something to do with that, but nope)
 

Fox Mulder

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Back on topic, I must admit that I preferred UC4 much more than the other games. I don't think that's a slight on Hennig though. The gameplay is just so much better than the others.
I hated UC4.

The shift towards more stealth sucks, as it's very shallow compared to even TLoU. You don't get AI distraction items to throw, you can't move bodies, there aren't any silenced weapons, and they even scaled back on the melee and countering from UC3.

It's just paced way too slowly for an uncharted game and lacked the action throughout that the others had.
 

ROMhack

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I hated UC4.

The shift towards more stealth sucks, as it's very shallow compared to even TLoU. You don't get AI distraction items to throw, you can't move bodies, there aren't any silenced weapons, and they even scaled back on the melee and countering from UC3.

It's just paced way too slowly for an uncharted game and lacked the action throughout that the others had.
Well, I agree that the stealth isn't as good as TLoU but I was happy they moved away from the bullet sponges of the earlier games. The platforming is still the best part of Uncharted obviously.
 

John Lee Packard

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I hated UC4.

The shift towards more stealth sucks, as it's very shallow compared to even TLoU. You don't get AI distraction items to throw, you can't move bodies, there aren't any silenced weapons, and they even scaled back on the melee and countering from UC3.

It's just paced way too slowly for an uncharted game and lacked the action throughout that the others had.
The stealth is just a way to lighten the load though before you clean up the stragglers, I myself would most often just start shooting when caught.

If you're trying to play it as a pure stealth game then you're not really doing it right, at that's not what it's supposed to be, it's still a shooter at heart, just with mild stealth elements.
 
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Always glad to hear more from Amy. One of the best designers in the industry, hands down. I'll give anything with her name attached a shot.
 

Shin

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She needs to catch a break, it's been bad luck after bad luck while most of it wasn't even in her control.
Would be a shame to not put her talent to not put her talent to good use (as has been proven before).
The thing with ND that's sort of expected I suppose as it's bound to go wrong at some point with such a large talent pool.
 

ArchaeEnkidu

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Ok, why was dirthead banned?
@dirthead
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Your two week ban was obviously ineffective. This is your last chance. We (and the community) have reached the same level of intolerance as yourself.

You can literally read it in the bans at the bottom of the page. He was being a prick and refused to listen to multiple mod warnings.

I hated UC4.

The shift towards more stealth sucks, as it's very shallow compared to even TLoU. You don't get AI distraction items to throw, you can't move bodies, there aren't any silenced weapons, and they even scaled back on the melee and countering from UC3.

It's just paced way too slowly for an uncharted game and lacked the action throughout that the others had.
I can't say I "hated" UC4, but it was definitely the weakest entry for me. It didn't have the fun level designs, story, or gameplay that I came to love with previous entries. It tried to be super "serious" and fell flat on its face.
 
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Ok, why was dirthead banned?
Dirthead earned that one, easily. He made a conscious -- and dishonest -- decision to re-frame the terms of the sexism discussion in such a way that he could take insulting pot-shots and shit stir. Why zero in on sexual harassment in a conversation about "sexism and oppression because of her gender," as initially Clear put it? "Sexism and oppression" includes things like social exclusion, diminishing ones abilities or achievements and withholding opportunities. Behavior that would play out based on stereotyping and gender bias that has nothing to do with attractiveness.

Amy saying she hadn't experienced that is significant regardless of anyone's opinion of her looks. The only reason Dirt brought it up was to be a prick.
 

Terenty

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Dirthead earned that one, easily. He made a conscious -- and dishonest -- decision to re-frame the terms of the sexism discussion in such a way that he could take insulting pot-shots and shit stir. Why zero in on sexual harassment in a conversation about "sexism and oppression because of her gender," as initially Clear put it? "Sexism and oppression" includes things like social exclusion, diminishing ones abilities or achievements and withholding opportunities. Behavior that would play out based on stereotyping and gender bias that has nothing to do with attractiveness.

Amy saying she hadn't experienced that is significant regardless of anyone's opinion of her looks. The only reason Dirt brought it up was to be a prick.
Ok i see, thanks