Naughty Dog is famous for its attention to detail, and Lead Character Artist Frank Tzeng explained how that influences his job on characters, and how “quality is everything” for the house of Uncharted in an interview for CGaster Academy.
I love Naughty Dog. Naughty Dog gave me a lot of freedom to create the character that I wanted to do, and we value quality so much that we are willing to sacrifice a lot of stuff to just get whatever we want.
So, if I show you a character, this character may not just have been done once. Maybe he got approved three time, four times, but we just go back and keep changing him because we just want to get that perfection down that we wanted to get.
This is how Naughty Dog works. Quality basically is everything to us. It’s very important stuff. That enables me to practice more and more, and just get some really good stuff going on.
Interestingly, Tzeng also mentioned that it took him only one year for him to become a Lead at Naughty Dog. He then went on to explain that it’s all a matter of teamwork, and that he has others having his back.
This is all teamwork. I cannot do it by myself. I have a really good theam by myself. We have a really good shader artist, we have a lot of talented character artists. It’s all teamwork. I don’t want to take all the credit by myself, because everything we do… For example this one, even though I did the model, I did the eyebrow… all the stuff… the shader has been made by the shader artist. Without the shader this model would never look like this, so it’s all team effort.
My part, texturing, sculpting, modeling, is only a part of it. In the game industry it’s all teamwork.
Later in the interview, Tzeng elaborated more on the importance of subtle changes:
This is basically the same work that I do at Naughty Dog as well. In order to achieve the feeling that we want, it’s all about subtle changes. All the subtle changes added can change the whole character.
I’d say the results of the perfectionist attitude described by Tzeng show quite clearly in Naughty Dog’s games. Many often underestimate the value of iteration, but the folks at Naughty Dog have mastered it, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re considered one of the top studios in the industry.