In a tweet that you certainly don't see every day, Naughty Dog's outspoken former animator Jonathan Cooper commented on the news of relentless crunch in The Last of Us 2 development, insisting that a more senior team would've finished it ages ago. He didn't stop there, either.
The news in question is Kotaku's piece on what's deemed a really unhealthy crunch practice in the development of The Last of Us 2. The article speaks at length about how unsustainable, not to mention risky, such a business model is, and Cooper practically confirmed it.
Interestingly, even though he insists he has no crunch stories of his own, his parting with Naughty Dog almost ended in an NDA that would prevent Cooper from discussing details of the studio's game development. Luckily, he didn't, because we get to hear it practically from the horse's mouth.
"For the demo shown last September, the gameplay animators crunched more than I've ever seen and required weeks of recovery afterwards. One good friend of mine was hospitalised at that time due to overwork. He still had over half a year to go. There have been others since", he wrote.
Cooper explained that leaving Naughty Dog was a decision rooted in his desire to work with the best, a title which he thinks the studio lost a while ago. This is in no small part due to their notorious reputation for crunch, which often than not means they either miss out or quickly wave goodbye to the most talented animators.
"Ultimately, ND's linear games have a formula and they focus-test the shit out of them. While talented, their success is due in large part to Sony's deep pockets funding delays rather than skill alone. A more senior team would have shipped TLOU2 a year ago", he concluded.
If you're more interested in learning about The Last of Us 2, you can do so in our
early preview of the game here