We all know them, love them and are aware of the great games that they make, but what makes Naughty Dog such an excellent developer?
The studio has a tendency to create a new IP every generation for the Playstation. As we all know, they are the creators of the hugely popular Crash Bandicoot franchise on the Playstation. They moved on to their Jak and Daxter series. While boasting rather similar platforming, the sequels brought guns into the mix. Of course, on the Playstation 3, they began their Uncharted franchise, which boasts amazing visuals and an incredible cinematic experience.
I list the following reasons why Naughty Dog is one of the best developers around.
I’m sure many of you, myself included grew up with Crash Bandicoot, having very fond memories of it being the best game around at the time. Naughty Dog managed to produce 3 great platforming games in that era as well as creating in my opinion the greatest cart racing game of all time, Crash Team Racing. What I admire about them is that they don’t milk their franchises creating sequel after sequel. They have the talent to create a whole new experience, which is exactly what they did with Jak and Daxter. The franchise has definitely made a landmark on platforming games for the PS2, showcasing likable characters and innovative gameplay, which they continued throughout their time on the Playstation 2.
Jak 2 and 3 pushed the boundaries further creating the best platforming experience on the system. Moving onto the Playstation 3, Naughty Dog has once again done the same, entered the console with a new franchise delivering unforgettable experiences with its Uncharted franchise combining intricate story telling with great dialogue and great gameplay. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is still one of the best single player experiences on the system. Do I even need to say anything about Uncharted 2? It sets the benchmark for visuals on a console and single player experiences.
My point of the praise is that Naughty Dog, time and time again has delivered and not only met expectations, but surpassed them in many cases. Every single game they have made is not only a “good” game, but a fantastic game. To rank the top games of all time on each Playstation console, a Naughty Dog game will pop up on everyone’s list. This is no small feat, and I applaud them immensely for this.
Their support for their fans and online community
Uncharted 2 being their first online multiplayer game ever is one hell of an entry. I myself am an avid fan of the online and have sunk hundreds of hours into it. While following closely on the online news and being part of the community, I have been very impressed with Naughty Dog’s involvement. They are constantly updating the game with title updates and bug fixes, trying to make the online experience as best as they possibly can. While many other developers do this, I am impressed with the level at which Naughty Dog has done it.
I have been impressed seeing Arne, Senior Manager of Marketing Communications answering many questions that people ask on their website and forwarding feedback to the team. They have just announced more DLC, which is very impressive. It will contain more maps, skins, medals and trophies. I’m sure they will continue their efforts on the online, further pleasing the community.
From watching many interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, Naughty Dog operates differently to other developers I have seen. First of all, they are open with their methods and have talked with many developers, including Bungie, Infinity Ward and Insomniac. They also have what seems like a fantastic work environment which is described as having no hierarchy of power. All employees have equals rights and contribute to the company. The employees are open with each other and work very closely together. It’s not a matter of “here is the finished product, add your part to it,” it’s a collaboration of the ideas of all employees. Issues are pointed out and worked on until a desirable outcome is reached. This means that all teams are constantly communicating with each other.
This also applies to the voice acting. Creativity is encouraged and many lines in the game are improvised by the voice actors adding their own style to it, It was not a case of reading between the lines. Another interesting method is that they also give their employees a break after games are developed, this gives them time to relax and think of new ideas, it is reported that most ideas came from this time period. Certainly a unique company, but whatever they are doing is paying off.
Their effort and talent
While silly and rather hard to justify, it shows. In just two short years, they have managed to attain such progress in their games, the jump from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is astonishing. In two short years, they have redone their own engine, which has produced the best visuals on a console to date, showcasing breathtaking environments and amazing character models. They also added their first online mode to any of their games and an in-depth one at that, having fantastic co-operative and competitive modes while retaining the same amazing visuals in the game. Not only this, but delivering arguably the best single player experience ever. Amy Hennig wasn’t kidding when she said they slaved in those two years.
I myself am a huge fan of all of Naughty Dog’s work and appreciate the effort they put into their games. I hope you appreciate them a bit more and that they continue to make great games in the future.