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Prioritizing accessibility early on was vital for  The Last of Us Part 2 's robust features

Prioritizing accessibility early on was vital for The Last of Us Part 2's robust features

June 30, 2020 | By Alissa McAloon

“Not only did it allow us to allocate the necessary technical resources to tackle these challenges, but it also gave us time to solicit feedback from the community and make changes accordingly.”

- Lead systems designer Matthew Gallant outlines why paying early attention to accessibility was crucial for The Last of Us Part 2.

Over the years we’ve seen more and more triple-A game development studios build an increasing amount of accessibility features and considerations into their major releases, the most recent of which is Naughty Dog with The Last of Us Part 2.

That recent release includes over 60 toggleable settings geared at opening The Last of Us Part 2 up to as many players as possible, including presets and customizations geared at players with varying sight, hearing, and mobility needs.

As for how the studio went about including those features, Naughty Dog explored the process in a recent chat with the team at Can I Play That, and shared its desire to help bring those same considerations to future games from other developers as well.

The full interview itself is a must read for fellow game devs as it dives into the considerations and specific areas of focus that Naughty Dog paid attention to in order to build the accessibility features of The Last of Us Part 2, and will hopefully spark similar decisions in teams that haven’t explored bringing similar options to their own games quite yet.

“By the end of 2017, we had developed our first prototypes for many of the new accessibility features: text-to-speech, high contrast mode, enhanced listen mode, and navigation assistance,” Gallant tells Can I Play Thas. “We had our first accessibility-centered tests in the summer of 2018 [and] scheduled regular tests with consultants and focus testers for the rest of the game’s development. It was absolutely critical that we planned for these features so early in development.”

Doing so gave the team time to work through challenges presented by features like Navigation Assistance and High Contrast mode (“it required a studio-wide effort to make sure they worked consistently across every level in the game”, according to co-lead game designer Emilia Schatz).

As noted in the quote at the top of this story, that time also helped Naughty Dog better work alongside its community and accessibility experts to fine-tune each offering which, interestingly enough, is the subject of another insightful Can I Play That interview, found here

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