We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Eric Monacelli, Naughty Dog’s Community Manager of more than two years. We talked Jak and Daxter, The Last of Us, 30th Anniversary ideas and more.
Note: This interview was conducted prior to the news of Nate Well‘s and Todd Stashwick’s departures from Naughty Dog hence the lack of questions related to it. And no, he wouldn’t tell me anything about Uncharted.
So to start off, “For those that don’t know, what’s your role at Naughty Dog?”
I’m a Community Strategist at Naughty Dog. It’s a fancy way of saying I handle any communications that go public from the studio be it online or in person. This can be community, marketing or PR focused information. I also do some video producing as well as managing of our licensing partnerships. So, in short, I wear a lot of hats.
What makes Naughty Dog, as a developer, so special?
There’s really just an incredible work ethic and drive to be the best here. These are some of the most talented developers I’ve ever worked with in my eight year career in the gaming industry. Smart, determined people who are willing to iterate and iterate until something plays memorably and is awesome. No special secret. Just hard work.
If I remember correctly, your role as CM at Naughty Dog is the longest you’ve had at any company so you clearly enjoy it, what’s so great about working there?
It is my longest gig and it’s been my most challenging. That’s what I love most. Every day is a new challenge. It’s the kind of company that encourages creative thinking and unique approaches to business practices. I thrive in and enjoy this kind of workplace.
Why did you decide to port the Last of Us yourselves as opposed to a third party similar to the Jak and Daxter HD Collection?
When The Last of Us wrapped on PS3 we had just started to get a handle on the PS4 architecture. Internally, we felt that bringing The Last of Us over to PS4 might teach us some things about how we could get our game engine to work on PS4 and in doing so, would help us understand the architecture better for future projects. Also, The Last of Us for PS4 gives us a chance to provide a definitive version of the game in full 1080p with Left Behind and all core DLC included.
Referring to patches, how much do you listen to fan feedback vs your (Naughty Dog‘s) vision of the game?
It’s a balancing act. We design our multiplayer to be fun after play-testing the hell out of it internally. It goes public. People notice things, such as the aiming in Uncharted 3, which we could improve. We assess. We’ll tweak and we will continue to make the best multiplayer game possible.
You’ve now partnered up with Dark Horse for two art books and a comic, is this a trend we’ll likely see continue?
We have a lot of licensing partnerships going on and more in the works. You’ll see some announcements this year. For instance, we just announced our 30th anniversary art book with Dark Horse.
With the 30th Anniversary of Naughty Dog round the corner will we see merchandise relating to some of ND’s older franchises?
We’re hoping to get merchandise specific to the 30th anniversary made but it’ll depend on a lot of factors – involving legal terms, team resources, or timing.
Thanks for your time, Eric!
Are you glad that Naughty Dog are porting The Last of Us to PS4? Or do you wish that they’d devote all their resource’s to new games? Will you be picking up any merchandise for their 30th Anniversary merchandise? Let us know in the comments bellow. Also, check out our awesome The Last of Us giveaway!