Naughty Dog’s Secret: “Hire the Absolute Best People;” Pushing “to Get the Most Out of the Hardware”
Naughty Dog is now thirty years old, but what is the secret behind such longevity, and the ability to always amaze with top notch titles, over and over? A few of the key people within the studio and among those that worked with Naughty Dog over the years gave their insight towards the end of the 30th anniversary documentary.
Co-founder Jason Rubin, explained that the secret lays in the studio’s hunt for the best talent:
Naughty Dog’s Secret has always been hiring the best people to work on the title possible. And I know, if something hasn’t changed, that hasn’t changed at Naughty Dog: Hire the absolute best people.
I think with Uncharted and the Last of Us you see the culmination of putting that talent together. There are few other places on the planet that have that kind of talent sitting in a single office space, that can work on a game to that level.
On the flip side, teams are disappearing, people get tired. Irrational disappeared last year because Ken Levine, for whatever reason, decided he didn’t want to continue Irrational.
You can’t replace Irrational. They made fantastic games, but there won’t be another Irrational. If Sony wanted to make another blockbuster game, there’s only so many teams. They can’t create a team out of scratch to make it very easily, it just doesn’t happen. So Naughty Dog is special, and we set out to make the Naughty Dog name mean something and now people do say “that’s a Naughty Dog game. I know it’s gonna be quality, because I know that team.”
The PS4’s Lead Architect Mark Cerny, who also worked extensively with Naughty Dog during the early years of the studio talked of the balance between the demands of AAA development and individual self-expression:
It’s really amazing how they managed to balance the company goals, of creating these massive titles using now hundreds of people, and the individual goals of self expression in every day of work.
Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida talked about the fact that the studio demands the best out of everyone involved, him included:
When a developer has a really strong ambition and a strong talent, they demand the best out of everyone. And Jason and Andy always demanded the best out of me, so I was able to learn a lot.
Finally, current studio Co-President Evan Wells echoed the will to excel mentioned by the others:
We’re just trying to push ourselves to get the most out of the hardware, to make the most beautiful art that anybody has ever seen, to make a game that is engaging and people don’t wanna put down, to create worlds that people invest themselves in, to see all the fan art that comes out of the franchises that we create.
It’s really hard not to admire the enormous talent gathered at Naughty Dog, and not to be excited for what they’ll do next. I’m sure I’m not the only one quite eager to see more of Uncharted 4 and of the other unannounced games they’re working on.