The Last of Us is Naughty Dog's swansong for the PlayStation 3, but heading into the next generation, the studio won't be starting over with a brand-new engine. Naughty Dog developed a new engine for the PlayStation 3's Uncharted series, but the work caused a number of issues within the studio.
"We learned a big lesson coming from PS2 to PS3," Last of Us game director Bruce Straley told Digital Spy. "There was a lot of hype over what next-gen was going to be. It was all going to be like movies, like a pre-rendered cutscene-style fidelity. That turned out not to be true. Granted, what we're able to do now is pretty damn close, but it took Naughty Dog four games to get there - one of the top developers in the industry with some on the most amazing scientists working in our programming department."
"We scrapped everything at the beginning of Uncharted 1, and we had a perfectly good engine with the Jak & Daxter franchise. We could have started with something there and then built off of it and only changed the pieces and parts as we needed, when we needed. And that really caused a lot of turmoil, he added.
Straley explained that Naughty Dog's switch from Jak & Daxter on the PlayStation 2 to Uncharted on the PlayStation 3 wasn't the smoothest transition.
"We were creating a new IP, with a new engine, with a lot of weird expectations. Nobody had a dev kit soon enough, and as we all know, trying to figure out how to program for a whole new piece of hardware was really difficult," he said.
"We learned our lesson in saying, as we move into development into next-gen, we want to take our current engine, port it immediately over as is and say, 'Okay, we have a great AI system, we have a good rendering system'. We have all these things that already work. Only when we hit a wall will we say, 'When do we need to change something? When do we need to scale it?"
"Hindsight's 20-20, and it sounds obvious to say it, but it's one of those things that you learn in development. We've gained something from this experience, and now we want to apply it moving into next gen," he added.