Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on over at Naughty Dog but they seem to be losing people left and right which is downright strange considering the high status and pedigree of the studio. Cranking out hits like Jak and Daxter, the Uncharted series, and more recently The Last of Us, you’d think that Naughty Dog would be a place people flock to.
This time around, lead character artist on The Last of Us, Michael Knowland, has left the studio after three years of service there. The news comes courtesy of Superannuation, the game industry super sleuth, who managed to discover this piece of information via LinkedIn. Currently, it’s not known if he had any role with the next Uncharted title being worked on at the studio.
By my count, Knowland makes the fifth high profile departure at the studio in the last couple of months. Things kicked off with Uncharted’s creative director and writer, Amy Hennig leaving the studio under controversial terms. She’s now with Visceral Games working on an unannounced Star Wars game. Next came Justin Richmond who handled Uncharted 2’s multiplayer, directed Uncharted 3, and was currently game director on the next Uncharted. He left to join up with Riot Games of League of Legends fame. Nate Wells, formerly of Irrational Games who joined on with Naughty Dog as Art Director on The Last of Us, left the studio to join up with Giant Sparrow who released on the PSN title The Unfinished Swan. Finally, Todd Stashwick who was acting as a writer and playing a villain character in the next Uncharted was removed and his role recasted in the game. He’s now at Visceral Games working with Amy Hennig.
I can’t help but feel like something is going on over at the studio. Then again maybe this is a normal change of pace for people who are looking to tackle something different, I don’t know. Either way though, doesn’t it just feel a bit strange that so many people are leaving for various reasons in such a short time span? I’m sure it’s nothing we’ll hear about publicly, but it’s pretty interesting either way.