According to a developer at Naughty Dog, no crunch was required to complete development on The Last Of Us Part 1. In a Twitter post, seen below, principal environment artist Anthony Vaccaro explains that “across multiple studios”, he “didn’t need to crunch to finish a game.” For the first time in thirteen years, no less.
Vaccaro describes development as a “really good” experience. In avoiding crunch, Naughty Dog were able to reach “the same quality bar as TLOU2. More work to keep doing but proud of the big changes so far to make the studio healthier.” Crunch, in its most simple definition, means working overtime in order to meet a schedule. In recent years, greater focus has been placed on avoiding the process in game development. Naughty Dog appears to be taking this cultural shift in stride.
Vaccaro started working with Naughty Dog in 2010, contributing to every Uncharted game from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, The Last Of Us, and 2020’s sequel, The Last Of Us Part II.
This is the first time in my 13 year career, across multiple studios that I didn't need to crunch to finish a game. Feels good, really good. Especially hitting the same quality bar as TLOU2. More work to keep doing but proud of the big changes so far to make the studio healthier. https://t.co/gbzyHKpVbh
— Anthony Vaccaro (@vaccaro3d) July 11, 2022
Typically, the crunch culture within the video game industry takes place in the final weeks before launch. However, this is not always the case. A report from Kotaku details the crunch culture within Naughty Dog, highlighting the mental and physical toll it takes on its employees. Reports on crunch culture such as this one raise the question of whether this approach to making a video game can be sustainable in the long term.
The scale and ambition of a project can determine whether a studio will implement a crunch to meet deadlines. It stands to reason, then, that the slightly smaller scope of The Last Of Us Part 1 would help the studio avoid overtime.
The Last Of Us Part 1 will launch on the PS5 on September 2, with a PC version coming at an unspecified date in the future. For all future updates on The Last of Us and more, stay tuned right here at GameLuster.