For me, one of the highlights of PAX East was the chance to attend a Panel called “Naughty Dog LIVE – Game Design with the Dogs.” The panelists were Richard Lemarchand, co-lead game designer; Arne Meyer, community strategist; Justin Richmond, lead multiplayer designer; and Jacob Minkoff, game designer. They all worked on the incredibly successful and well received Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and the talk was sure to be entertaining.
Well this was PAX East and the convention was at capacity, which meant long lines for anything interesting. As I was rushing from interview to panel to interview, I only arrived a scant 15 minutes early for the Naughty Dog panel and was told it was full. Turned away by the Enforcers despite my press credentials, I wandered down the line and saw the incredibly gracious Naughty Dog guys apologizing to the fans that could not get in. Stopping to chat with them, they were apologetic that I couldn’t get in to liveblog the panel and offered an interview to make up for it. Amazed by their willingness to go above and beyond, I gladly accepted.
Meeting them after their panel, I was able to sit at a table with Richard, Arne, Justin, and Jacob and discuss all things Uncharted as well as touch on the industry and, of course, Claudia Black. That may need some explanation… see I have a long standing crush on Claudia Black (she plays Chloe Frazer in Uncharted 2) and opened the interview asking about her. The guys were good sports and humored me in my adoration of the beautiful Ms. Black.
Following that question the conversation was very free form — we discussed the motion cap. techniques they used, how the industry is moving towards these types of cutscenes, what is involved in their design process, the evolution of multiplayer, and the work process at Naughty Dog. All of the guys were incredibly passionate about the company, the game, and the industry at large and it came across in our conversation.
At the end of our talk I had to congratulate them on the literal mountain of awards they’ve received and they were very gracious about the accolades. I asked which they were able to display, was there a whole wing devoted to awards? All the awards are great, they said, but really only the writer’s guild award is on display in Amy Hennings’ office, that one added real legitimacy to the gaming industry because she was surrounded by television and movie writers as she accepted the award.
The audio interview is available below to stream or download and I really encourage anyone who is a fan of the Uncharted Series or Naughty Dog, heck anyone who likes games, to give it a listen. These are entertaining and genuine guys who care about their games and it shows in how they talk about them.