Developer in Focus: Naughty Dog

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Naughty Dog have proven time and time again that they’re one of the best game developers out there, knocking out great game after great game in their 30-year lifespan, especially in the last decade.

Releasing such classics as Crash Bandicoot, the Uncharted series, Jak and Daxter, and, of course, The Last of Us, Naughty Dog has rightfully earned a great reputation for itself. Starting at the beginning of their career with their first big break, Crash Bandicoot, Naughty Dog proved itself as a developer unafraid of challenging norms in video games. A platformer, it follows the titular character as he travels through the Wumpa Islands, fighting the minions of antagonist Doctor Neo Cortex. Often seen as one of the most influential titles in early 3D platformers, Crash Bandicoot spurred several sequels, spin-offs, and even appearances from the main character in other titles. It put Naughty Dog on the map, and is still going strong today, with the recent announcement of a fourth instalment: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.

Following the PS2 days, Naughty Dog released the first instalment of the Uncharted series on PlayStation 3 in 2007, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. An early PS3 classic (I myself have replayed it several times), the game sold 1 million copies within the first 10 weeks of its release, and catapulted Naughty Dog to legendary status. The company went on to release 3 more titles in the series, as well as a standalone spin-off. Following the story of Nathan Drake, an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer seeking fame and fortune, Uncharted was massively acclaimed throughout its run as a series, winning several Game of The Year awards from multiple publications. With well developed, lovable characters, great game mechanics and a riveting story, Uncharted is up there with some of the best adventure-action titles.

Finally, Naughty Dog branched out into the overdone but not often done well zombie/survival genre with The Last of Us in 2013. And god, did they do it well. The Last of Us redefined what the zombie genre was, because the game wasn’t really about the zombies. It was about a relationship between a grieving father and surrogate daughter: Joel and Ellie. Wrought with emotion, great gameplay and twists and turns you’d never expect, The Last of Us is still rightly celebrated as one of the greatest games of all time. It’s easily Naughty Dog’s magnum opus. With the release of The Last of Us II only this past June, this time following Ellie rather than Joel as the primary protagonist, Naughty Dog are seemingly just getting better and better with each new game that they release.

Naughty Dog are a console-centred developer. Uncharted is one of the best-selling series across the PlayStation 3 and 4, and Crash started out as one of the front-runners of PlayStation 1’s market; The Last of Us is also a PlayStation exclusive, and the same can be said for it’s sequel, The Last of Us II. The company has been commended for it’s narrative-driven gameplay, wherein the action is moulded around the story, rather than the story being moulded around the action. With their successes in modern narrative gaming, they’re often credited with re-vitalising said video-game style, and bringing it to the forefront of contemporary releases.

Despite facing content criticisms recently, Naughty Dog have had an overwhelmingly successful run over their lifespan. I’m curious to see what they’re going to do next.

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records editor 2020/21 !! 3rd year film and english student. can be often found arguing about costuming in the avenue cafe or crying into a beefy novel in hartley

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