In the gaming world, each of the core systems have their top-tier exclusives, with games such as Halo and Gears of War being native to Microsoft as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers are to Nintendo. All of these are fantastic games with long running, very passionate fan-bases. Fans can help as well as hinder game developers in the process of creating the gaming experience. Passion turns to anger for developers the moment they try to make a profit; this is especially evident with the 2012 release of Mass Effect 3. Before the game’s launch it was revealed that it would have DLC available for $9.99 at the release date. This was only the beginning of the controversy surrounding the game, with the poorly-received endings approaching along with the fan entitlement that followed. Although what follows below is speculation, we at the Unending Backlog ask you to take this into consideration:
The game developer Naughty Dog, (originally called Jam Software) has been a key component for the PlayStation, with several popular franchises under its belt such as Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. However, the company didn’t receive mainstream attention until their 2009 Game of the Year, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The game received critical acclaim across the board, praising the experience as being innovative, humorous, and well-written by the talented Amy Hennig (whose previous works included Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Legacy of Kain), garnering it over twenty-five perfect review scores. With the huge success of Among Thieves, a sequel was already in development. At this point, Naughty Dog split into two separate teams, with the first team continuing work on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and the second working on a completely new IP, helmed by the duo of Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley.
In late 2011, Uncharted 3 was released with great reviews, which called it better than the previous iterations, during this time was when Naughty Dog revealed their next project from the second team: The Last of Us. The game was eventually released in June 2013 and was highly praised by critics and fans alike, it told the story of a dark, violent and unforgiving world ravaged by a plague and being taken back by mother nature, all through the eyes of two protagonists named Joel and Ellie. With The Last of Us following in the footsteps of Uncharted 2 & 3, it made Naughty Dog a highly-respected developer with the last three games shipped by the company each being awarded 10/10. With the future looking bright as well as the PS4 on the horizon, things were looking up, but this success may be over soon.
In December 2013, at the Spike VGX awards show, a teaser trailer was shown of an untitled Uncharted game exclusively for the PS4. In the coming months, the situation at Naughty Dog would become tense, for reasons unknown. In early 2014, it was announced that Amy Hennig, the creative director and writer of the Uncharted series had been removed in the process of the new game.
Following this, several other key members left the studio including Justin Richmond, game director for Uncharted 3 and its upcoming sequel, as well as Nate Wells, an artist responsible for creating the “Clicker” art design for The Last of Us. Since this news has broke out, many fans had wondered who would be taking the directorial reins of the project, which were revealed at E3 2014 following the cinematic trailer of Uncharted PS4, subtitled A Thief’s End.
What do you think of the news surrounding Naughty Dog? Can they recapture the magic with A Thief’s End, or will it be dark and sinister like The Last of Us? Let us know in the comments below!