Even the best studios have problematic periods, and Naughty Dog is no exception. Lead Animator Jeremy Yates described during a livestream hosted by Gamesradar how the studio had a dark period during the production of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.
Yates explained that after the release of the first trailer there was a year in which the studio worked on the vertical slice named “Jungle A2” for the longest time, and it was a “really dark period” at Naughty Dog, because prior to that time people would never quit. The studio hired very rarely and developers wouldn’t leave often. It was about one person per year.
Then there was a transition from the period in which everyone at the studio had been hired for their ability to do cartoony and stylized games, to one in which they needed to do something more realistic. A lot of new people were hired, and they were new to how Naughty Dog worked.
During the second year of production, the studio got in a period in which all of these new people lost faith, thinking that the game was never going to be finished, that the studio was “screwed” and “bit off way more than they could chew.”
At that point, almost every day someone was resigning, and over a period of couple months at least thirty people quit.
On the other hand, those that had been there for a long time knew it would have been hard. It was the first game on a system and the first game of a new franchise, so they steeled themselves and pulled it off.
According to Yates, the team was basically split between those who left, and those who wanted to make it work and make it awesome.
Ultimately, it looks like history proved that “team awesome” was right.