In 2013, Naughty Dog released a new game, The Last of Us. The 3rd-person zombie thriller followed behind the popularity of the Uncharted series, and it turned out to be a great success for the studio. However, that success was not an expected reaction for the new game – in fact, most of the developers at Naughty Dog thought The Last of Us would negatively affect the studio’s reputation, which was also responsible for beloved series such as Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter.
In the most recent episode of “Conversations with Creators” on PlayStation’s official YouTube page, host Wil Wheaton talks to a few creators that had a hand in the creation of The Last of Us: Evan Wells, co-president at Naughty Dog; Neil Druckman, creative director; Bruce Stranley, game director; and Anthony Newman, co-lead game designer. In the 37-minute video, which you can watch above, the 4 discuss some of the hopes and worries they and other Naughty Dog developers had when designing The Last of Us.
When production on the game was in it’s early stages, Stranley remembers how he and many others in the studio “thought The Last of Us was going to tank, and ruin Naughty Dog’s name.” There was even a joke running around the studio that the game would be the downfall of Naughty Dog.
See, when developing The Last of Us, those at Naughty Dog wanted to create a game that revolved around creating a relationship between two characters, and immersing the player in that experience. That isn’t always easy to do, specifically for a studio that hadn’t done it before, so they had every right to be worried about the success of the game. The whole zombie-apocalypse theme was also widely used at the time of the game’s development, so that may have also impacted the feelings of the developers.
But, as the records show, the devs at Naughty Dog needn’t worry. The Last of Us turned out to be one of the most well received video games of 2013, earning numerous awards and gaining a large fanbase of existing Naughty Dog fans and players new to the developer. A remastered version of The Last of Us was released last year for the PlayStation 4, which only helped extend the popularity of the title.
The interview also discusses the upcoming Uncharted 4 title from Naughty Dog, and how the developers are injecting this new title with some of the techniques that made The Last of Us so good. If you’d like to watch the video, you can find it above.
Did you enjoy The Last of Us? Are you excited for the next Uncharted game? Leave your thoughts below.