The Last Of Us Director Reveals Why He Left Naughty Dog

It's because Uncharted 4's development took a toll on him.

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Now Playing: GS News Update: The Last Of Us Director Reveals Why He Left Naughty Dog

When The Last of Us launched back in 2013, Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann established themselves as effectively the face of developer Naughty Dog. Together, they went on to lead development of Uncharted 4, further cementing their reputation as a directorial duo. But Straley left the studio after the game launched--and now we know why.

Appearing on Kotaku's Splitscreen podcast, Straley revealed that his departure was due to the stresses and pressure of Uncharted 4's development. It was the first time that a project had felt more like an obligation to the team and company, rather than a passion project for himself.

"Uncharted 4 showed up and it was like, I guess there's a difference between doing something for yourself which feels passionate--and I had my own theories that I was trying to expand upon between Uncharted 1, 2, and The Last of Us--and then Uncharted 4 became more like, 'How do I do this for the team and for the company?'" he said.

Straley and Druckmann also had a relatively short timeframe to work on Uncharted 4, which further contributed to Straley's feeling of burnout. They only had two years to work on the game; for comparison, their work on The Last of Us began in 2009, four years before its release.

"We needed to get the game out the door, and we needed it to be something good, so that it didn't put a mark on the Naughty Dog name," he said. "I felt like, I guess in hindsight I took on that role more for the team than for me personally... Two years to create that beast, that then became the hardest project [I had worked on]."

He explained that his break and later departure from the studio had "nothing to do with Naughty Dog, nothing to do with games." Instead, his thought after Uncharted 4 launched was, "'Oh my god, it's time to take a break. It's just time to step away.'"

Straley hasn't announced what he's working on, but he's expressed excitement to continue the creative process. Neil Druckmann, meanwhile, remains at Naughty Dog and is leading up development on The Last of Us: Part II.

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Avatar image for cornbredx
cornbredx

Makes sense.

If you're not enjoying your work then leave. Life is too short.

I've done it. Nothing wrong with it. That's the world we should live in now. Do what makes you happy.

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@cornbredx: Chilling and doing nothing makes me happy. Too bad there ain't no pay job for that. It ain't that simple.

Avatar image for jako998
Jako998

@cornbredx: agreed life is to short to be stressed out like that. Problem is though is that when you want better for yourself on a job that pays more its hard because you aren't guaranteed to get anything.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16
chiefwiggum16

Sounds like a whiney bitch to me, lots of people work on shit they don't want to do. Like 99% of people actually, I don't know many people that love their job.

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@chiefwiggum16: BIN-to the fucking-GO! He is a whiny bitch. I'd give one of my nuts to have a career like his. These idiots think passion is the only driving force there is. He's not driven. No grit. Just bitching. Dead end labor jobs...now this guy with that attitude would die there. Because passion is non existent there. Just pure old grit and persistence with shit pay, stress beyond belief, no future, no growth, nothing. Pure slavery. This guy lost respect from me after some whiny shit like that. He would've died in the jobs I've done.

Avatar image for pax_augusta
Pax_Augusta

@chiefwiggum16: You know a lot of idiots then.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16
chiefwiggum16

@pax_augusta: as does 99% of everyone

Avatar image for fromfame
Fromfame

@chiefwiggum16: forced labor wasn't the reason TLOU became a masterpiece.

If you're making an experience you don't like, how do you expect your customers to like it?

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@fromfame: Really? There have been people who made "masterpieces" that didn't enjoy making them. Just because you don't enjoy it, doesn't mean somehow that'll magically spill into anyone viewing your work and they'll hate it too. That's a false belief guy. If it's good despite not enjoying making it, then it's gonna be good. If it sucks, it sucks. Not to mention there are people who LOVE making movies and games but holy shit their creations SUCK. You can't argue that Lmao!

Avatar image for fromfame
Fromfame

@clay544888: Hardwork is required for things to develop, I'm not arguing that, work is proof of development, otherwise its talk. Im arguing the importance of attraction because it automates productivity. This is common knowledge in entrepreneurship for example.

Attraction is fundamental and applies from physics to the social world of any living thing.

Figures like Musk, Jobs or even living cells that make you, apply to this law as well.

As do most comment sections, otherwise we wouldn't be inclined to respond. The magnitude of passion determines the quality of work.

Avatar image for asnakeneverdies
ASnakeNeverDies

@chiefwiggum16: I'm sure Uncharted 4 was compromised by the rush. Going from a four year development for an already familiar platform at the end of its generation to a two year project of a flagship title for a next gen console is enough to foresee the likely future. If you find that you don't like your job and believe it's only going to get worse, it would be stupid to remain. Unless you're expecting to be rewarded, in the afterlife, for your earthly suffering that is. Ha!

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Oogazi

@chiefwiggum16: it's only whining if he had stayed.

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@Oogazi: How is it whining if he stayed? That makes no sense. If he shut up and kept working, that's the opposite of whining.

Avatar image for Oogazi
Oogazi

@clay544888: I don't think you got my meaning. It's only whining if he had stayed and continued to complain without doing something about it. Clearly he did something about it and quit, so everything hes saying now about being burnt out can't possibly constitute as whining. In other words, if you don't like something, you have to do something about it - and in this case, the director did.

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mcnichoj

The rush job on UC4 really shows. Beyond being a tech demo, it's easily the weakest in the series.

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ASnakeNeverDies

@mcnichoj: I thought the third game was the weakest one, but I do agree in that Uncharted 4 felt like a tech demo.

I was most disappointed by the absence of the supernatural element in the final chapters. I was really looking forward to encountering pirate ghosts that would set a new the standard for ghosts in games. An exquisite combination of shaders, post processing effects and reactive particle systems along with complex procedural mesh deformations and maybe even the capability to influence the materials and textures of objects they move across, like soaking surfaces and leaving stains. Something fancy like that!

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hardcoregamer1

So in other words he could not take the fire so he ran out of the kitchen, he is weak.

Avatar image for TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

@hardcoregamer1:

I'd like to see you work under the conditions that a lot of developers have to endure during "crunch time".

Don't call someone weak until you prove you can do what they do and understand what conditions people have to work in. Otherwise, you have no clue what you're talking about, and it makes you look like a douchebag.

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@TheWatcher000: Shit I've done harder jobs with tons of pressure too. He IS weak given that great pay and huge fan base he has. He's in a privileged position that even if it was hard, it was all worth It. Only someone who doesn't know miserable hard labor, would bail on such a privileged job. He's weak plain and simple because he depends only on passion to do anything. Anything is barely work when passion is your gasoline. Try doing it on pure grit and force because you have to pay bills. Now that is tough. I bet that guy's house is a mansion. Ooo such hard living. The poor guy still has his pathetic little mansion. So much worse than living on the street. There are people out there with tons of pressure on their jobs that don't get to come home to huge fancy luxury houses or make millions a year doing their "passion". Not everyone has a passion. And if you say "Well It's your fault, do something else!" Well someone's gotta do the hard grit jobs right? If everyone followed your advice, who's gonna build your homes, paint them or move them? Yeah nobody. Now **** off.

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TheWatcher000

@clay544888:

It's so easy to sit behind your computer and judge someone you know nothing about. You don't know the guy's situation, you have no idea about the circumstances he was dealing with, and because he wasn't doing "hard labor", he deserves no compassion, no understanding, etc. You think just because he is in the position he is in, he is privileged. I've got a lot of friends in game development, including people in higher up positions. You have no idea what people with those jobs go through, or what they are put through. So your words are born from pure ignorance. You know **** all about the subject, yet you think you can sit in judgement.

"He's weak plain and simple because he depends only on passion to do anything." This statement is the definition of ignorance. Just because someone makes a lot of money doesn't means their work isn't hard, or that their lives aren't hard and challenging.

As for me fucking off, I don't think so. I will say whatever I want, whenever I want, and you will do nothing about it. :)

You take care now, "voice of the working man." I'll let you get back to your imaginary class war.

Avatar image for kaminobenimizu
KamiNoBeniMizu

@hardcoregamer1: Barely anyone can stand Gordon Ramsay's screams without leaving--- oh. Wrong kitchen, sorry!

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nintendians

when you work that hard, you got to take a break once in a while.

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BarcaAzul

That's a real shame. Really enjoyed what he and the team have done over the years, hopefully this won't impact quality going forward.

Last legacy is great and a real surprise.

Avatar image for xnshd
xNSHD

that companies trying to push you to make what sells for them instead of what you as a studio and a team want to make as creators. not bashing on sony all companies are the same whether that be sony microsoft EA activision whoever.

Avatar image for corsaro
Corsaro

@xnshd: they’re all the same when it comes to making money, they are a business after all.... but we can put EA/Activision on a more special category

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leblnk

Or he just simply outgrew the franchise and wanted to do something different and knew upon completion he was financially able to do whatever he wanted.

Anticipation. Making Wait. Keeping Me Waiting.

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LiveDreamPlay

Makes sense. They had to release Uncharted 4 fairly quickly, all the while maintaining the Naughty Dog quality. Must've been pretty damn stressful.

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DEVILTAZ35

@livedreamplay: Yet it was one of the worst Uncharted games ever. It had some really amazing areas to explore but the puzzles were really lack lustre for the most part. Worst being the boring clock puzzle that was too easy but too time consuming. I did like the pirate city though and that whole backstory and diving for sunken artifacts etc. The side story was way more interesting than the main story.

After seeing quite a bit about this game on Youtube the story changed so much over time . I wish they kept the original vision as it was far more compelling with his brother being against him not on the same side.

Avatar image for livedreamplay
LiveDreamPlay

@deviltaz35: I liked it a lot. It didn't excell at puzzles, but the action sequences and the level design were top notch, as was the beautifully written story.

But aside from subjective opinions, the game received an amazing reception for both critics and users, and did greatly in sales too. So for what this article is concerned, it makes sense for the guy to be stressed out after having to deliver that in a short timeframe.

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JamesBR27

I wonder who was responsible for that boring stealth segments on Uncharted 4, especially on chapter 8.

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videogameninja

Completely understand where he is coming from.

Considering the amount of hype and acclaim a franchise like Uncharted has garnered over the years it is only natural that trying to conclude the series would bring with it a heavy amount of weight. It's also not surprising that that same issue could lead one into feeling that something that started off being a "passion project" was suddenly taking on a more arduous role along the lines of "work".

That aside, I hope the best for him and his future endeavors and I hope that his departure (as well as some other more notable Naughty Dog developers.) doesn't equate to a drop in quality and care we have all come to expect from Naughty Dog.

-BURNT OUT NINJA APPROVED-

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@videogameninja: Oooo work! When something starts to feel like work, you better run! Won't wanna strain your brain a little! You might break a sweat! SMFH. People are so privileged these days.

Avatar image for darkhunterix
darkhunterix

It must be nice to be able to just up and quit your job whenever you want.

Avatar image for livedreamplay
LiveDreamPlay

@darkhunterix: Become a software developer if you want that. The job's not easy, but you can easily switch companies whenever you feel like it.

Avatar image for darkhunterix
darkhunterix

@livedreamplay: he may have been once, but he was the director now man. He pretty much retired early which is why I said it must be nice. He will be back in a year or two with some indie game in his self started company once hes bored of sitting at home doing nothing lol. Probably will make mighty no 9 II or something.

If I had a picture of this guys mansion i'd link it then you may understand what I'm saying.

Avatar image for livedreamplay
LiveDreamPlay

@darkhunterix: Haha, I know I wasn't talking about him specifically, was just sayin...

Avatar image for Terminator95
Terminator95

@darkhunterix: He work 2 years straight on a video game which usually means 6-7 days a week and or over 60 hours a week. The Average North America job is 4-5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and 40-50 hours a week.

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@Terminator95: I love how you don't mention his wonderful paycheck compared to those poor dead end job American souls.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16
chiefwiggum16

@Terminator95: can you prove this? nnnnope

Avatar image for darkhunterix
darkhunterix

@Terminator95: I highly doubt this guy was working that much. Remember, we are talking about the director here. Not the person actually programming the game and doing the art work. He was likely making 6 figures and basically retired early (41 years old). He hasn't done anything according to wiki since his departure in 2014. That's why i was saying must be nice. He made bank and then left. Not knocking the guy, most people may do the same. I'm saying wish I was him lol.

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asylum83

@Terminator95: not to mention the stress he probably brought home after work thinking about what he had to do the next day. It's all consuming.

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@asylum83: I hope you're being sarcastic. With that wonderful pay, it's all worth it.

Avatar image for darkhunterix
darkhunterix

@asylum83: I'd take the stress no problem making the kind of money he was likely making lol he was pretty much an executive. These guys make 6 figures.

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DutchmasterNYC

@darkhunterix: cool takeaway

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drwzaccc

I wonder if the early project shake up with the departure of Amy Hennig changed things for Bruce as his role got compounded.

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