Nathan Drake is a klutz. That's why we care what happens to him.
Back when Naughty Dog was first developing Uncharted they knew they wanted a character-driven game. Making sure that happened was one of Amy Hennig's main axes to grind when she came on as the series creative director and head writer.
"We have always been very deliberately focused on character-driven versus plot-driven stories," Richard Lemarchand, co-lead game designer on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. "The way [Hennig] got there was a very interesting. Rather than piling on special attributes and super powers, she made them very human, fragile and flawed.
"That expresses itself in the game mechanics."
So Drake isn't always as sure-footed as you might expect from the leading character in an action game. He stumbles, or barely makes a jump. Sometimes Drake nearly falls, hanging for a moment on a life-ending precipice.
"Fragility comes over in our story from the play mechanics," Lemarchand says.
' Rather than piling on special attributes and super powers, she made the [characters] very human, fragile and flawed.'
His awkwardness isn't always physical either. When he first runs into his ex-girlfriend in Uncharted 2, the writers made sure that players could tell that Drake was in way over his head.
Uncharted 3 will continue down that road, though Lemarchand declined to say just how the story is shaping up.
"We are keeping it close to our chest," he said. "I can tell you Drake and Sully are back together and that relationship is a big focus for us this game.
"Sully is a favorite of ours. We hadn't used him much in Uncharted 2, and this was a great way to return to this relationship and examine it."
The subtle exploration of the almost father-son bond between Sully and Drake will likely play a backseat to the more over conflict of Uncharted 3, though.
"Because we are focusing on the relationship between Drake and Sully it wouldn't be wrong to call it a sort of bromance," he said.
The main story line will revolve around the ownership of Drake's ring, an heirloom that Drake claims comes from Sir Francis Drake, who according to history had no sons.
Katherine Marlowe, introduced to gamers at an event last week and voiced by English actress Rosalind Ayres, is the head of an order of conspirators.
"I'm relishing the way we are developing Marlowe's character," Lemarchand said. "She taps into this history of spy fiction."
While Uncharted 3 will continue to develop its characters, in part, through gameplay mechanics, that doesn't mean that the team is relying on all of Uncharted 2's techniques.
One of the most interesting, in terms of plot, was how Uncharted 2 opened on a pivotal scene that takes place maybe halfway through the game.
"We looked to cinema a lot in making Uncharted 2, was saw that as a common cinematic technique," Lemarchand said. "But we don't want to overuse that. I can't say too much on what we're doing this time [to open the game], but we are certainly keen not to repeat ourselves."
'"Multiplayer is extremely important to us. We see it as an important part of the future of video games.'
While Uncharted and Uncharted 2 were best known for their gripping, evocative story-telling, the second game did have a robust multiplayer element.
Lemarchand said that multiplayer remains a high priority for the team in Uncharted 3.
"Multiplayer is extremely important to us," he said. "We see it as an important part of the future of video games. We love both styles of gameplay."
While he declined to say if or how multiplayer will change for Uncharted 3, Lemarchand did say that the multiplayer team is "going all out."
"They're working very hard," he said. "They are doing some new things."
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is due out for the Playstation 3 on Nov. 1 in North America and Nov. 3 in the U.K.