I am working on the definitive history of Naughty Dog. I’m writing it as a book that will be published for the company’s 40th anniversary in 2024.
I don’t think this really will surprise anyone who knows me or has followed my work, especially last year’s Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era. This is totally the type of project I would take on.
There was a moment last year, on the release day of The Last of Us Part II, when a personal copy of Chasing the Stick showed up in print. I had bought it for myself as a treat for a job well done. It ironically showed up on the day of the game’s release, despite me luckily snagging a copy a couple days early. When I opened the book, I had this feeling when I saw my name printed on the cover. I imagine it is similar to directors seeing their films at the theater or a musician hearing their song on the radio. I’ve felt my own versions of this when seeing reviews published at sites, seeing videos I made promoted, and seeing podcasts I create out in the wild. Printing the book for myself wasn’t enough for me though.
Normally, I work on projects in relative secrecy, and planned to do so with this book. But I’ve been really thinking lately how I can do things differently and better. I think one step toward that will be more open about the process. Maybe this can help point people and resources my way. I’ve been doing lots or research lately and just made a significant investment in the pursuit of playing Naughty Dog’s computer games from the 1980s (more on that in a couple weeks, I’d guess). Finding and talking to people from Naughty Dog’s earliest days is hard enough on my own, maybe being more public about my book will help in the slightest way.
There have been plenty of stories and articles about Naughty Dog’s history, especially stories revolving around Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. The most notable is IGN’s Rising to Greatness by Colin Moriarty. Written nearly a decade ago in 2013, Colin had incredible access to Naughty Dog’s founders and team. My goal with Chasing the Stick was to fill in the years after Rising to Greatness: Now I want to do better than Colin. No disrespect toward his wonderful work at all.
Out of the 38,000+ words, roughly 7,400 (~19%) focus on the span of 10 years that Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin made games for PCs, the Genesis, and the 3DO. I think there is a lot more than can be explored during that time period, game development on those platforms, how those games actually preformed (critically, technically, and commercially). It feels like the clock is running out for those games and platforms as well. It’s “easier” to research PlayStation and beyond, those games are far more recent (if 1996 counts as recent) and way more popular. More people want to learn about Crash, Jak, and Drake, and that totally makes sense. I want to explore it all.
That’s my plan and mission for the next three years. This project will grow over time, but the end goal will remain a published book. I have other ideas for how to disseminate information/research I collect over the next few years, but a book is what awaits it all at the finish line.
So there it is, out of the shadows. If you have any Naughty Dog information (i.e. old magazines, articles, demos, clips, interviews, etc.) please send them my way on Twitter @MaxRoberts143 or at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have worked at or currently work at Naughty Dog, I would love to talk with you about anything and everything. This goes for those early PC/Genesis/3DO days as well. It all will help me write the definitive history about one of the video game industries best developers.