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Neil Druckmann Wants To Work On Smaller, More “Low-Key” Projects As AAA Games Are Becoming Too Much For Him “It Takes A Lot Out Of You”

Neil Druckmann is one of the industry’s most heralded developers, credited as the person who brought The Last Of Us into the world. Since that seminal game hit shelves, he’s only risen further through Naughty Dog’s ranks and is considered to be one of the best developers working in the industry right now.

Druckmann isn’t the same young developer he was when he first joined Naughty Dog decades ago, but he’s not entirely an old man. Still, he’s feeling the strain that AAA game development has had on him, and doesn’t see himself continuing at this pace forever.

In an interview with rapper Logic on the musician’s podcast Logically Speaking, Druckmann spoke on those feelings saying that he’s not certain he has many more big project games left in him.

“I guess that I don’t see myself doing this forever at this scale. It’s just a lot, and it takes a lot out of you. It’s very stressful to manage that many people and multiple studios worldwide.

So, you were talking about how you’re entering this new phase in your life, where your kids are number one, and I’m in a similar place where my kids are number one. And I know that, especially, my daughter’s now 13, and I feel like life is pulling her away from me.

I know that time is limited, so it’s very precious to me, and I don’t want to waste it when they do want to spend time with me, that’s number one.

Yeah, so I’m just at a point in my life where it’s like, you start looking at ‘what’s the end game here? When is it time to call it?”

Druckmann continued that he doesn’t want to exit game making and put the brakes on working entirely, he just wants something that has a different pace, a different level of stress – namely a lower level of stress.

“I could see myself transitioning to something that’s like more low-key, and lower stressed, that still allows me to have this creative outlet. But you know, I’ve started thinking about how many more of these games do I have in me, and it’s not that many.”

The Naughty Dog boss even hearkened back to the development of Uncharted 2 as the last time before everything changed, and things got bigger and more stressful.

“Uncharted 2 was the most fun I had making any of the games I’ve worked on because Uncharted 1, a lot of people loved it, but it wasn’t this huge success. It was successful enough again that we made Sony happy, we made enough money.

But with Uncharted 2 we felt like we had something really special, like we all knew it, and we knew we were flying in under the radar, and no one was going to expect what we were about to deliver.

And I remember we’d spend late nights playing the multiplayer as well, and there was just the camaraderie and the stress wasn’t there, and afterwards everything has been incredibly stressful, after Uncharted 2 because now you’re no longer flying under the radar, now everybody is expecting something to be great.

And you have to think, ‘how do we make it great and how do we do it in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re just repeating ourselves?’ So you always have to make it great and new, which is really, really hard.”

Though Druckmann might not be knocking on the door to retirement just yet, it’s clear that he’s yearning for things to slow down, at least sometime in the near future.

For now, Naughty Dog is working on a brand new, unannounced narrative title, and Druckmann himself teased there’s work being done on a Part III of The Last Of Us.

The status of any of those projects however is potentially up in the air, after Naughty Dog suffered layoffs as part of Sony’s 900 employee layoff announced earlier this week.

Source – [Logically Speaking via VGC]