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Unearthed Uncharted: Golden Abyss presentation sheds new light on cut PS Vita features

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(Image credit: Sony)

A newly surfaced internal presentation for Uncharted: Golden Abyss reveals cut gamma correction and multiplayer features for the handheld prequel. 

Shared by Reddit user Cooper941 via the Internet Archive, the "concept presentation" is dated for October 13, 2009 and positioned as the greenlight pitch for what would become Uncharted: Golden Abyss. At the time, it only had the placeholder name Uncharted NGP standing in for Sony's then-unannounced next-generation portable.

The original pitch is a pretty close match for the handheld prequel that was ultimately released in December 2011. The mantra "enhance, not replace" sums up Bend Studio's plans to layer touchscreen and motion controls over established Uncharted ideas and mechanics, and as we said in January 2012, it largely lived up to that idea. However, there are a few notable changes compared to the greenlight pitch. 

The presentation proposed two ways to leverage the Vita's light sensor. One would "use real-world lights to reveal symbols in ancient parchments" as part of a discovery minigame that did make it into the final game in some form. However, the idea to have "cameras detect real-world lighting changes and adjust the game" was seemingly cut somewhere along the line. The Vita does have some basic auto dimming and brightness control, with some automatic settings tied to battery life or temperature constraints, but not the dedicated gamma correction described here, let alone for Golden Abyss specifically. 

The pitch also touches on the overall scope of the game, projecting a break-even point of 647,000 units sold assuming a $13.5 million budget with $4.5 million allocated to marketing (according to VGChartz, Golden Abyss had sold just over 500,000, and it's one of the Vita's biggest games). A note about the "key risks" for the project implies that this wasn't always the case: "Meeting franchise expectations within reduced budget/schedule (multiplayer?)" 

It's possible that the unrealized "multiplayer" mentioned here is related to the social integration originally pitched for artifact collecting. This would have challenged players to "compete with other players to become the most famous treasure hunter," with options to flaunt their artifact collection via the PlayStation Network or Facebook. 

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Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.