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Naughty Dog talks with PlayStation University: Part 1

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Earlier in the year we asked you for your questions to be sent to Naughty Dog. We had a huge response and so since then the Uncharted developer and myself have been sifting through the questions to produce an epic interview that’s so long, we’ve had to split it into two parts.

This is part one, where we talk to Naughty Dog’s Community Strategist Arne Meyer about Uncharted 2′s success, the studio’s development culture, their first foray into online, the future of the studio’s technical prowess, as well as talk about PlayStation Move and 3D.

You can find part 2 of our interview with Naughty Dog here, where our chat travels from talk about what’s next for the Uncharted series, the Uncharted movie, the possibility of the Dogs’ making another Jak game, and what they’ve been playing.

Our thanks go to Arne, Sony Computer Entertainment UK and of course all of the folk over at Naughty Dog.

Hello Arne, thanks for joining us here at PlayStation University. First up, how do feel about Uncharted 2: Among Thieves’ huge success?

I’m sure it goes without saying that it feels great overall to have two years of extremely hard work culminate in not only a game we are proud of, but to be recognized for our achievement both critically and commercially. We can only hope that this is an indication that we’ve created an experience in UNCHARTED 2 that stands the test of time.

You’ve had rafts of awards, how have you found the room to show them off!?

Well, luckily for us we had been planning for some time to move the studio just a few hundred feet to a new, bigger space to make sure we had plenty of room to increase our headcount over the course of development. I’m not sure if you’d heard about our studio space towards the end of development on UNCHARTED 2, but we had run out of room for our new hires and even had to build new workspaces. Little did we know at the time that we would need some of that additional space for the awards!

Congratulations on your new offices, are you comfortable in your new home?

I think we’re pretty much essentially settled in by now. All the art and posters are up on the walls, everybody has all their books, papers, and toys on display in their workspaces. I don’t think anyone is accidentally going to the old studio space at this point.

Plenty of space for your office canines?

Trumpet and Pogo are definitely enjoying the extra space to go off and explore. They’re most definitely settled in.

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How much has Naughty Dog grown since you began PS3 development?

By the time we were close to wrapping up UNCHARTED 2, between all the full-time Dogs and our contractors, we were at nearly double the employees as when we began work on UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune.

Compared to other AAA developers you’re a relatively small team, how do you manage?

We’re fortunate to have an awesome team who are both very, very good at what they do and extremely passionate about making great games. We’ve managed to grow at just the right pace to keep our unique, highly collaborative studio culture intact and still maintain the highest levels of quality.

You also stick to a strict two-year development cycle, do you find that limits or pushes you?

It works great for us – it provides us with just enough constraints in our fluid, almost chaotic, development process to keep things in scope and on time while providing enough breathing room to allow ourselves to innovate.

Your studio appears to retain a family atmosphere. Do you think that makes better games?

For us – absolutely. Naughty Dog has had a long tradition of having a unique culture that is highly collaborative which allows anyone to approach any other Dog and provide their ideas and suggestions that are seriously considered. It’s critical to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable having this kind of frank feedback loop without any detrimental fallout.

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