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The Last of Us Remake: a development without crunch unlike TLOU 2?


Neil Druckmann will have learned from the complicated development of The Last of Us 2. A Naughty Dog developer testifies that The Last of Us Part I will go gold without crunch, a first for him in 13 years.

The “Crunch.” This word resounds with insistence in the gaming world having found its letters of “nobility” through flagship titles developed by very talented studios. One thinks in particular of CyberPunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2 or more recently The Last of Us 2.

The “crunch”. a practice far too present

The crunch for those who wonder, is a practice which consists in putting development teams under pressure at considerably increasing the work amplitude in order to meet the deadlines and the expected quality level. A strategy that has disastrous consequences, especially on the human aspect, since these talented artists are confronted with stress, or even depression.

But in front of theindignation generated by this practiceThanks to the various cries of despair emanating from the field, some developers and publishers have decided to take the lead to clean up the work environmentand it has obviously paid off at Naughty Dog. By the admission ofAnthony Vaccaro, main artist of the environment within the Californian studio, there was no crunch period for the development of The Last of Us Part I.

Naughty dog lays a foundation stone

This is the first time in 13 years of careerin several studios, that I didn’t have to crunch to finish a game. It feels good, really good. Especially hitting the same quality bar as TLOU2. Still work to do but proud of the great changes so far to make the studio healthier.

The relief of this developer is almost palpable. It must be said that discovering a healthy environment after more than 13 years of career in this field, it leaves one perplexed…

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However, it is a small glimmer of hope, since it seems that here, Neil Druckmann put his money where his mouth is by seeking solutions for clean up working conditions at Naughty Dog. Which according to this developer, were not dreaming during the development of The Last of Us 2.

They try to take care of us, bring us food, push us to take breaks. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is to finish the job, no matter what it takes.

A wrong admitted by the person concerned himself who did not hide being in the impasse before this problem at the time.

You will have noticed that I don’t talk about crunch. I avoid all conversations about it because it’s a sensitive subject for me, and I really care about the team, their well-being, and the scope of their work. I don’t want to talk about it until I’m sure we’ve made enough progress in this area…

and add.

I failed on that front, tried things that didn’t work, brought in outside people to help us…

There is no doubt that the lack of communication around the title – despite the rumors – combined with the late reveal, followed by the announcement of the release datesurely played a big role. By relieving the developers and the studio of the pressure generated by the creation of a remake so expected by fans and critics. What if the solution was just to follow the adage that says “to live happily, let’s live hidden”?

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As you can see, there is still a long way to go, but the development of The Last of Us Remake is obviously a good example to follow. Hopefully, and this may still be a sweet dream, that statements like the one of Anthony Vaccaro will be multiplied in the future…

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