We'll be here for the next couple of hours to answer some of your questions about stuff.

Proof: Link to Twitter

Max's Twitter: @maxdyckhoff

Doug's Twitter: @dougvfx

Reuben's Twitter: @reubshah

Edit: Well that's it for us. We have a launch party to attend. Thank you guys so much for your questions. I wish we could answer them all. Enjoy The Last of Us and if you're in L.A. We'll be doing midnight releases at various Gamestop stores and some of the Dogs will be there.

Comments: 1313 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

westhebes556 karma

Based on previous series, when will we see Unkarted?

NDDoug1246 karma

I'm personally working on The Last Crash of Drake Daxtercoot right now.kidding

zik303467 karma

I have a question:

I see that Doug and Max are answering questions, but neither one is at their desk. Where the heck are you guys?

NDDoug774 karma


maxd424 karma

At your desk.

yoghurt2000429 karma

  1. How long is The Last of Us?

  2. Will we see Nathan Drake any more?

  3. What's up with the PS4?

  4. How's it like to be one of the Naughty Dogs?

NDDoug1082 karma

  1. 17+ Hours
  2. I see him every day. In the face of every baby. On the smile of every child.
  3. Should be awesome!
  4. An honor to be a part of the kennel.

remorst285 karma

Being an ND is pretty darn special. This place is filled with amazing talent, and some pretty darn cool people. I am humbled everyday...

maxd220 karma

Hey thanks for the questions!

  1. I took about 17 hours to do my first playthrough, but I was trying to see everything. Some coworkers did it quicker.
  2. To be determined!
  3. I think the PS4 is pretty awesome. I actually know very little about it, been too busy working on TLOU, but what I saw at the announce makes me excited.
  4. I love it. I've been here just over a year and it's the best place I've worked. Everyone is very intelligent and love what we do. I love coming to work every day. :)

only_revolution356 karma

Any word on the Crash Bandicoot series making a re-appearance in the future?

maxd654 karma

We don't own the rights to Crash Bandicoot any more!

thevowel225 karma

Max! What kind of beer am I buying you when I see you next week at E3?

maxd466 karma

Lots of beer.

remorst182 karma

beer is awesome. nuff said.

BatgirlPMS153 karma


maxd227 karma


optiplex9000222 karma

How's Jak & Daxter doing? I haven't heard anything from those guys in awhile

remorst240 karma

Daxter bookfaced me the other day... he's enjoying life, he bought a piece of island property and is just relaxing... coconut martinis.

jasonpressX179 karma

Is the balance of power AI system still in the game? What did you go through to create it?

It looks extremely impressive, and must have been stressful for the programmers.

maxd341 karma

Hi! I actually wrote a significant amount of the AI for the game, so I hope I can answer it sufficiently!

Yes, we managed to get a lot of reactivity in the AI. If they out number you they will be a lot more confident, if you out gun them they will be a lot more cautious, etc. They will hide from you, flank you, wait you out, flush you out, and coordinate to attack you.

There are a lot of systems running behind the scenes which make it all work, including some really neat environmental analysis, an upgraded pathfinding system, and ultimately some carefully hand crafted and tuned behavioural systems.

anexanhume303 karma

The Polygon review complained of AI companions being in plain sight but you still not being spotted if you yourself can't be seen. Is that intentional to compensate for potential unpredictable/undesirable NPC companion behavior that may frustrate the player?

maxd577 karma

Hey thanks for the question; someone downvoted you but I countered!

That was absolutely intentional, and it was a very hard decision to make. As Sessler and a few other reviews pointed out, the alternative would be extremely infuriating. We are trying to make a game where stealth is an important aspect, and we knew we wouldn't be able to guarantee the buddy AI would be able to stay hidden as well as the player. If the buddies were seen by enemies, it would be extremely frustrating.

The buddy AI was actually what I have spent the last four months or so writing, and I think we did a good job of making them seem believable. Ellie will stick in cover with you and hunker under your protective arm, and she is good at keeping up with you.

The best thing is that because the AI is emergent, the playthroughs will be different for everyone, and different on successive playthroughs.

jasonpressX56 karma

Thanks for your response. The reason I asked is because some one on r/games said he watched his cousin play the game early, and that the Ai system is not even there, and its identical to uncharted.

The AI system was a huge selling point for me.

Once again, thanks for the response

maxd145 karma

The AI was completely rewritten from Uncharted. :)

Hope you enjoy the game, it's the best game I ever played!

lolpancakeslol28 karma

Is the AI the same as it was in the E3 demos or has it been toned down since then?

maxd92 karma

Not sure what you mean by "toned down". We have been actively working on the AI since E3 last year, and it has progressed a lot. A lot of new features have been added, and I'm extremely proud of the result. There is definitely a lot more AI than there was a year ago. :)

lolpancakeslol26 karma

Sorry for not being clear.

What I meant was is the AI in the final product the same as it was in the demo that was presented to us back at E3. There is some concern that the demo was highly scripted and that the AI does not react to the player as it did in the demo.

Happy to hear though that it has been improved since then. You guys have every right to be proud of this product. Good work!

maxd70 karma

I've answered this elsewhere; the AI reacts to the player just like they did in the demo. It is systematic and emergent gameplay, so it is different every time you play.

SweetButtsHellaBab18 karma

It's been noted over in /r/games that the AI fails to flee even when obviously in a poor position (just seen their friends killed by you, you pointing a gun at them when they just have fists etc.); are those instances just bugs, or is the AI simply not programmed to react that way? Will you be developing the AI at all through patches (and is that even possible)? Congratulations on the great review scores, however, as I'm sure they're deserved. I'll certainly be picking up a copy on release day.

maxd67 karma

I'm curious about what the guy in that /r/games thread was seeing. We absolutely handle those situations, he may have managed to find some bugs. The AI are extremely reactive to you, I love them!

The reviews have been great!

lolpancakeslol52 karma

Based off of what you guys are saying it's more than likely the guy on /r/games is full of shit.

maxd115 karma

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, he may have had a bad experience or found some bug. I am extremely proud of the AI in The Last of Us though, I feel it is my best work yet.

maxd62 karma

Hey you should go and watch this stream about TLOU from about a month ago. Bruce Straley plays through one encounter in the game, and I think it's pretty clear from his playthrough how emergent the AI is.

(The playthrough is near the end of the video. There's no real spoilers).

imaac145 karma

On a scale of 1-10, how's Reuben's hookshot?

maxd777 karma

Usually 10, but Polygon gave him a 7.5.

suprduprr123 karma

what'd you guys think makes your company pump out AAA games like this?

aside for the "we got a talented group blah blah" bs... you guys all get along? fun work environment ?

is there some specific "idea" guy there

NDDoug295 karma

I remember on Uncharted 3 before E3 I was working on the cruis ship with Jacob Minkoff and there was this part where Drake falls into the water in the cargo hold after the ship rolls over. It wasn't looking right and I had an idea where we would cut to a camera under water as Drake fell in so I could so a bunch of underwater effects. I had only been working here for about 2 or 3 months and Both Evan Wells and Jacob were like "Yea. Sounds good. Let's do it." That blew me away. We are able to share ideas and solutions so quickly and any good idea that has merit is explored.

remorst136 karma

You know... I was hoping someone would ask this.

It boils down to the people here, and the fact our hierarchy is pretty flat. We have the most talented group of designers, artists, animators and programmers in the industry (I'm biased?).

It makes it easy to work with people that are generally passionate about what they do and not just in it for the paycheck. We all sacrifice a lot (time) for our titles and it really does show. Blood, Sweat, Tears... fo reals (I cried). ;D

Twenty44118 karma

What skills (programming languages, math/physics backgrounds) does Naughty Dog look for when hiring programmers or developers?

maxd194 karma

Good question!

Hiring engineers is really difficult, and it's hard to quantify exactly what is necessary. Clearly, you have to know how to program and have a decent grasp of mathematics, both of which will be questioned extensively in the interview process.

But the harder things are problem solving the nebulous "cultural fit". A lot of game development is problem solving, and critical thinking is an absolute necessity. Trying different approaches, using experience, reading papers and examples online, these are all very important.

As for cultural fit; we work very closely and for a lot of time, so we have to like each other. I would gladly go out for a beer with anyone at the office. Sometimes you get a great candidate for a job, but they just don't gel with the team, and sadly that means it's not a good fit.

Incidentally, we are hiring! (You're welcome Candace).

maxd105 karma

Thanks for the great questions peoples!

Kurohime97 karma

Are you guys excited that people are saying TLoU will be GTAV's strongest competition in Game of The Year category? I'm so happy for y'all! :)

EDIT: Can you guys stop with the "insert xxxx game will be in the GOTY category" replies? I'm well aware other great games and potentially great games have been/are set to be released HOWEVER, the MAIN name that comes up is Grand Theft Auto V.

maxd142 karma

I love the critical response to the game, can't wait to see the GOTY awards! :)

remorst116 karma

I second that... really honored to read some of these reviews... When I started on this project I knew it was something really special, so its amazing and great to hear others feel the same.

LightsydeLuke93 karma

Do you guys ever hang out with Nolan North? O_O

NDDoug348 karma

One does not simply "hang out" with Nolan North.

maff5088 karma

whats next for Naughty Dog??

remorst366 karma

vacations... woot :D

maxd194 karma

+1 on the vacations!

NDDoug197 karma

More skating and math classes.

Cool_Like_dat85 karma

Which Naughty Dog title do you guys feel put more pressure on you? Uncharted 3 since it was the successor to one of the highest ranked games of this generation or The Last of Us since it was a brand new IP?

NDDoug154 karma

Uncharted 3 was my first project here at ND so I felt a lot of pressure personally. The Last of Us was an expansion of everything on that.

remorst102 karma

For me, TLOU definitely had more pressure... mainly in terms of art development and making this game on the horizon of new consoles. We pushed a lot on screen and made it work.... it truly is a beautiful game. (all around)

Remny74 karma

I'd like to get a bit on the technical side:

  • In Uncharted 3 a lot of work was put into the behaviour of sand or the procedural wave system. What were some of the bigger challenges/goals in The Last of Us in this regard?

  • In this presentation about character rigging and modeling ([Link]([http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myZcUvU8YWc) from Judd Simantov, he mentions that the team implemented pupil dilation was implemented. Any similiar smaller details that people might not realize at first but just add to the realism (I notized some fancy blood effect which was slowly moving down the skin in one of the trailers for example).

NDDoug160 karma

  1. We had to put a lot of time putting blood on characters and that involved a lot of work. Our team had to create blood effects for all sorts of animations and that was a lot of stuff to keep track of.

  2. We created a way for our animators to animate tears running down characters faces. That was really cool. Also the gobo for the flashlight will behave like a real flashlight so as you get closer to an object the polarized coordinates will collapse in on themselves and begin to reverse in the center.

tycho46771 karma

Is The Last of Us better played in several small chunks? Am I doing myself a disservice if I play it in one or two big chunks?

maxd162 karma

The game is super long, you may have difficulty playing it in just one or two chunks. I think it took me 17 hours to complete it on my first playthrough, and I know where most things are!

As some of the reviews have stated (Sessler in particular) you may also find yourself needing to step away from the controller. It's a pretty heavy game, and I love it because of that.

NDDoug128 karma

I liked playing it in big chunks. Especially with some good headphones. Our sound team is mind blowingly awesome.

remorst80 karma

I personally played through it twice (at work) and can't wait to play it again at home. Not sure if you would even be able to put the controller down anyway... you'll be hooked :D

zuzerial55 karma

Before I ask my question, I just want to take some time to thank you guys and the rest of the Dogs. In March of last year I had to opportunity to go down and get a tour of your studio for my Children's Wish Foundation wish, and you guys made it by far the greatest experience of my life by making me truly feel like part of the team, so thank you very much. You guys are by far the best.

Anyway, my question is: with all the success you guys have found, especially this generation with games like Uncharted 2 and The Last Of Us, how nerve-racking is it starting a new project knowing the fans expect a higher quality game than most from you guys, as well as feeling the need to improve on your previous games which are always highly praised, and how do you deal with this stress?

NDDoug65 karma

I think it always pushes us to make the best thing we can for our fans. You guys deserve it and we want you to know it. We pour everything we have into making something we are proud of that you'll enjoy playing. You guys push us to be better.

TheAmishSpaceCadet54 karma

What games are you guys currently playing? The Last of Us doesn't count :p

maxd113 karma

Prison Architect and Gunpoint! And I need to go back and finish Tomb Raider, and possibly Dishonored.

naughtydoglover46 karma

Congratulations on making the game you guys! Just wanted to say that I'm a huge Naughty Dog fan and that I've have never been this excited about a video game. Max, could you talk about the challenges of coding how/when Ellie chooses to attack? The way she makes her decisions is absolutely remarkable.

maxd77 karma

Hey thanks for the question! Great username.

Ellie was difficult to code, and she went through a lot of iterations. Bruce Straley and I spent a lot of time sat down playing encounters and watching what Ellie was doing, and figuring out what she was doing that we liked and didn't like. Making her feel useful, but not overpowered, and not annoying, was a huge challenge. It was especially hard during the Infected sequences, where we need to try and identify if the player is trying to sneak away and break combat, because if so she needs to calm down and stick close to you.

I hope you enjoy the game; please let me know what you think.

fede01_841 karma

can we know what was the budget for creating this game? i always wondered why the budget for every movie released is available but we never know the info from game budgets

remorst138 karma

haha... guaranteed over 10 dollars... but we really don't know.

Mestitia39 karma


maxd75 karma

I am super excited about the PS4. The announce back in February was new to me as everyone else. The hardware is bad ass, the games they showed look beautiful, and I have a lot of confidence in what will be shown at E3.

remorst53 karma

<3 Mark Cerny... really excited about the PS4 :D

soitis10 karma

You guys seem to have created some incredible AI for this game. I hope you will use a significant amount of PS4s power on even better and more diverse AI.

maxd33 karma

Dude I am so excited for the PS4 hardware!

LifelessBox36 karma

Hey Reuben, is there any location in the game you gave special attention to because of meaning it has to you? Or maybe just a place in the game you're really proud of?

remorst72 karma

Hey there... one of the first levels I worked on was the E3 demo of the flooded-streets/hotel. Definitely had to pay special attention as it was the first game level we were showing off to peeps. I am really proud of the other level I worked but can't talk about at this time, but you'll see what it looks like in the full game. It was a great collaborative effort with the whole team on making a memorable experience.

Anytime we can we make something (specially) in a game meaningful / awe inspiring, I'm all aboard! :D Also I hid my kids names in some areas, woot. (EASTER EGGS!)

epsiblivion24 karma

can you hint any any other easter eggs in the game? like maybe references to other games, pop culture, etc.

remorst79 karma

my kids are named Logan and Parker

ratchetandclank34 karma

Which do you guys like better after playing them both, uncharted or the last of us?

NDDoug67 karma

I like going back and forth. They are so different in nature.

remorst44 karma

they are both different gems... I love both games for what they offer.

dizzysn33 karma

Max Dyckhoff I have a question: Are you a bad enough dude to save the President?

maxd47 karma

Obama is in town today actually, they've shut down streets all over around here!

EveryNameUnavailable32 karma


maxd98 karma

I truthfully hardly slept the night before, I was up until 4am refreshing the NeoGAF thread to see if any reviews leaked out. We all sat at the office reading reviews until after lunch, sharing choice quotes with each other. I had chicken and waffles for lunch for the first time ever to celebrate.

IPreferAnonymity19 karma


maxd36 karma

Bru's Wiffles on Wilshire and 23rd!

NDDoug57 karma

I was up late as well watching for the embargo lift. Seeing how well it has been received made me that much more excited for everyone else to get a chance to play it and experience it.

remorst37 karma

I wore the numbers off on my function key 5. Super excited to see/read what people thought of all our hard work and this amazing game.

wolftwang28 karma


remorst55 karma

Crash was one of my favorites too (growing up) and lead me to want to work at ND, I got hired on the Jak series... been pretty rad since.

zenmity26 karma

Congrats on shipping the game, I can't wait to get my copy next week!

Bringing a companion like Ellie to life to be both believable and an asset instead of a liability is quite a process. What were some of the challenges you faced when creating her, and what are some cool things we should know about her and how she interacts with the player and the environment?

maxd43 karma

Ellie (and the other buddies) does a lot of really cool behind the scenes analysis of the world. She is constantly scanning for places to hide, things that she can warn you about, etc. She tries to stick close to the player, but not so close that she is annoying.

We also put a lot of effort into dialog; there are dozens of systematic events that will trigger one off exclamations or small conversations between Ellie and Joel. It really brings her to life, and I love hearing the conversations they have when I play through.

JoshvdL21 karma

Hey, How does it feel to finally read the amazing reviews for the project you have all worked so hard on for the past few years?!

NDDoug63 karma

Today I got to hold a copy in my hand. It was then that I realized it was done.


How is working at Naughty Dog different from other gaming studios? ND seems to be one of the few companies that can make a fantastic trilogy of games then stop and make another trilogy that's just as good and completely different in terms of gameplay. Also as a University student studying Game Design, what can I do in Uni to make myself attractive to great gaming studios such as your own? Thanks for reading and congratulations on another gaming masterpiece!

maxd28 karma

I love working here. It's a very electric environment, with lots of intelligent people around all the time.

As far as entering the industry, just do what you love and keep trying. Be the best at what you do!

InfamousPancakes17 karma

You people have been my life. I'm 15 and I grew up on Crash and Jak. Gonna get The last of us after my board exams end.

I was wondering how many animations are in the game for Joel Alone and are all infected different or do they have the same skins ?

maxd27 karma

Hey good question!

Joel has a few thousand animations, I don't know exactly how many though. There are lots of different Infected models, types, and skins. Females, males, different clothes, etc. There is a huge amount of variation.

reallydumb4real16 karma

What's your favorite thing or detail about the game that a typical player might miss and should look for or pay attention to?

remorst27 karma

All the subtle animations, extra care for environmental story telling, design layouts and amazing lighting... they all work together.. and if one was missing it would be noticed. Pretty sure regardless of how you play the game you'll have an amazing experience.

anexanhume9 karma

Any hard feelings over the Polygon 7.5 review?

Do you think it was a fair score, or do you think the game was judged on what the reviewer expected because of your pedigree and/or what you were trying to accomplish with the narrative?

Finally, any thoughts about game design moving forward that doesn't have a lot of "mindless" violence (as is the popular criticism of this and bioshock infinite) but also has a long play time, is fun, and engages the player and gives them a real sense of skill or accomplishment?

NDDoug56 karma

I like what was said in the text. The reviewer seemed to be emotionally impacted by the experience of the game and the result was that it was not fun for them. By "not fun" I took that to mean it was difficult to experience some of the things in the game and it left a big impact on them emotionally and that wasn't their cup of tea. They maybe expected something more uplifting and the reality of our vision in this post pandemic world is just not so. Human nature is a scary thing. The reality of such a world would "not be fun". A perfect score would have been lovely but everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that's important to us.

ZeeJules674 karma

What is YOUR favorite part of the game? I'm so excited for it, by the way! You guys are the bee's knees!

NDDoug10 karma

Ask me this question again after you play it :D

Kalesche2 karma

Would you rather fight 1 Clicker-sized duck or 100 duck-sized Clickers?

NDDoug5 karma

I'm just quickly gonna answer this one because it is such a part of an AMA. 1 1/100th sized clicker duck.

Smoothie_Guy2 karma

Even though it isn't out yet, with The Last of Us being critically acclaimed are you guys giving yourselves some time to breath?

NDDoug8 karma

My breaths are usually frantic and short.