I am so very excited to bring you an exclusive interview with a game designer who worked(among other things) on the awe inspiring The Last of Us. I hope you enjoy the read.
What qualifications have you got related to your job in gaming?
Before working professionally in the games industry I spent many years making games on my free time. I mostly made web games, and some of them weren't terrible. After that, I went to DigiPen Institute of Technology and built up a solid understanding of computer graphics and games programming. Those experiences were enough to land me my first job. Everybody comes with a different history, but the one qualification anybody needs to get a job making games is experience making stuff.
How long have you worked at Naughty Dog?
At what stage of production on The Last of Us did you join the team working on it?
What was it like working on a game like TLoU?
Did TLoU present any unique challenges differing from other games you have worked on?
I've been working at Naughty Dog for one year, 6 months of which I worked on The Last of Us. I jumped onto the project when we hit our internal Beta deadline, which means each area of the game was playable from start to finish.
At this point, the game's fate was still up in the air. It wasn't fun and a lot of the emotional beats weren't working the way we wanted. Work was intense. it took a lot of energy and extra hours to get to the finish line, but there are a ton of extraordinarily talented developers at Naughty Dog that made TLOU really shine in the end.
What do you think of the current console war between the PS4 and the Xbox One?
It's fascinating to see how political the marketing by Sony and Microsoft has become. I think Sony is being more careful to not upset the gaming community, but pre-orders are indicating that that probably doesn't matter much.
I see "console wars" as just a natural competition that makes both platforms better. When you look back at PS3 and 360, both of them ended up with great online networks, streaming movies, TV, and a bunch of other stuff.
I think Microsoft is being more experimental with apps/services at launch (which I don't find particularly interesting), and I think that attitude might help them stumble across something people end up falling in love with. Sony, on the other hand, is trying to analyze current gaming culture and provide features that appeal to the audience they know. Ultimately, both consoles are going to borrow features from each other and console-owners will see the benefit.
If Naughty Dog do start work on Uncharted 4, would you like to work on such a game?
I'm a big fan of the Uncharted games and the direction they went, and that's what drove me to come work here at Naughty Dog. I feel like any game we make (including The Last of Us) takes lessons from our previous games. So you can see influences from Uncharted, Jak, and Crash in everything we do. I'm happy to work on any game as long as we're learning from our mistakes and trying something fresh.
Although, the one downside of working at Naughty Dog is that you can no longer get surprised by new Naughty Dog games. But that's a hit worth taking.
How(if at all) did you and the TLoU team celebrate when TLoU was released and got the amazing reviews it did?
There's an awkward gap of time between when we finish the game and when people actually get to play it.When we wrapped up, everybody was pretty tired and ready to catch up on missed sleep.Most of the team took some time off to rest.
When review scores started pouring in, everybody in the office was in shock. There was an unhealthy amount of searching the web for every impression of the game we could find. It was an excitement that everybody needed. In the following weeks the game spread to every corner of my life; from my favorite podcasts, to my friends, to my family.
It's all very overwhelming, really. I just want to keep making new and interesting stuff, but I don't want to miss valuable feedback which could make me a better designer.
How does it feel to have worked on the game in the 6th spot on Metacritic for PS3 games of all time?
It's a good feeling to know that I helped make something that is so critically well-received, but looking at specific review scores and ranking numbers isn't especially helpful or healthy. Everything is so subjective. The best I can do is try to understand what parts of the game appealed to different kinds of people.
You are most known for your work on TLoU, can you tell us some more games you have worked on?
I wouldn't say I'm most known for The Last of Us. There are plenty of things I do and have worked on that I am proud of.
Last year I helped ship Journey for the PS3, which was also enjoyed by critics and gamers.
Have you had any conversations(which you can talk about) in which TLoU 2 has been talked about?
That conversation hasn't happened yet. I'm sure some people are thinking about it in the back of their heads, but currently the team is focusing on The Last of Us downloadable content.
Thanks for reading,