John Swisshelm
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Uncharted 3


Naughty Dog


  • Melee Combat Design
  • Scenario Design
  • Level Scripting
  • Assisted Mocap Direction    

Project Highlights:

and Gallery of Awesome

Melee 'n Gun
Melee during Traversal Gunplay

Bar Brawl
UC3's Intro and Tutorial

Horse Escape
Equestrian Setpiece

Boss Battles
Cinematic 1-on-1 Fisticuffs

Gallery and Overview

Drake's Deception is the third cinematic action adventure in Naughty Dog's award winning series starring treasure hunter Nathan Drake.

  • "This one's on me!"
    Environmental melee weapons grant instant KOs.
  • This Brute battle kicks off Uncharted 3's signature high-flying setpiece.
  • Even when grabbed from behind, the player can counter incoming attacks.
  • The kitchen showcases Sully and Drake's environmental attacks and buddy-film feel.
  • Finishers feature cinematic camera angles and over-the-top action for satisfying kills.
  • Cutter's skull attack is homage to Macbeth.
  • Drake counter-attacks the bartender; scripted to join the fray at just the right time.
  • A brawl on a pirate ship includes usable mallets, bottles, and wrenches.
  • Drake finishes a pirate, destroying a crate in the process.
  • Pub windows make satisfying one-hit kills.
  • Fighting a hallucinating Cutter, the player has to avoid damage while not hurting Drake's friend in the process.
  • The destroyed state of the bar had to be carefully re-constructed for each checkpoint save.
  • Sometimes Drake fights dirty.
  • The Brute says hello and introduces Drake to Mr. Bar.
  • It was a challenge creating a suspenseful knife fight without blood and extreme violence.
  • The bottles, glasses, and ashtrays knocked through this window are driven via scripted physics events.

  • The thugs on the side of the bar won't attack unless Drake gets too close or finishes off their buddies.

On Uncharted 3, I assumed responsibiltiy of designing and implementing a cinematic melee combat system that captures the chaos of a classic action-adventure brawl.

I scripted hundreds of fight moves in our LISP-based language and worked with stunt men and excellent animators to bring the fisticuffs to life.

I also designed and implemented other sequences, including the game's opening bar fight, exploration in the London underground, boss battles, and a horseback escape.

"For the first time, the words 'fun' and 'useful' describe melee combat." -IGN

"The result of all these little tweaks make melee combat of Uncharted 3 feel off-the-cuff, fluid, and fitting to Nathan's scrappy and clever character." - 1up

"A much tighter feel and a very welcome focus on hand-to-hand combat... Fighting in a giant group of enemies is not overwhelming, as the controls are tight, resulting in much more than just a panicked mashing of the attack button." - Destructoid


2014 John Bernhelm (formerly Swisshelm)
Uncharted 3 images and logos © Naughty Dog, SCEA