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Naughty Dog co-presidents give you a peek inside the studio

Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra shrug off turmoil accusations while detailing the company's production style in new interview.
"We figure it out as we go. That's how our production philosophies work at Naughty Dog. We try not to be dogmatic. If it's not working out the way we thought it would, we shift and try something else."
- Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells In a new, lengthy interview with Game Informer, Naughty Dog co-presidents Nate Wells and Christophe Balestra express frustration with reporting on the studio's recent, high-profile departures, as well as detailing how the storied developer of the Uncharted franchise and The Last of Us approaches production. Among others, Uncharted lead writer Amy Hennig and The Last of Us art director Nate Wells left the studio recently -- but Balestra says these sorts of departures are "not unusual" for Naughty Dog. The pair also reveal that The Last of Us leads Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann have been put in charge of Uncharted 4 following Hennig's departure. She originally served as creative director on the project.

How Naughty Dog tackles development

More interesting, perhaps, are Wells' comments on how the company organizes itself. While it's often been reported that Naughty Dog has aimed to become a two-game studio, he tells Game Informer that things aren't that simple. "I don't think we ever declared ourselves as having reached the final end goal of two teams. We certainly have not, and we might have even changed that goal. We have multiple projects going. We never were able to fully staff two completely independent teams. At this point, I don't think we'll probably get there," Wells says. Things, in fact, are much looser at Naughty Dog: "We figure it out as we go. That's how our production philosophies work at Naughty Dog. We try not to be dogmatic. If it's not working out the way we thought it would, we shift and try something else." Wells discusses several projects in various stages of production, including The Last of Us DLC and the PlayStation 4 port of the title, Uncharted 4, and other projects in preproduction. "We have at least four different pretty significant things going on right now," Wells says. Balestra notes that game development is a challenge -- "We have huge problems with every game," he says -- but Wells suggests the only way forward for the studio is through: "It's not easy; there's never a clear path. As long as you keep moving forward -- even if it's 89 degrees off -- at least you're inching it along. And as long as you aren't going backwards, it's still forward progress. You take a winding route." There's much more to read in the full interview.

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