This post is part of My Career Series.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this post are my own and does not represent Naughty Dog in any way.
Edit: Thank you for all your concern. I already ran this post through the PR people at Naughty Dog before posting. Rest assured. My NDA is not violated.
I started working at Naughty Dog a few months ago, and I decided to share about my life so far at Naughty Dog and some interesting tidbits about the company. It is a brain dump, so I will just present it as a list, in no particular order of importance:
People at Naughty Dog use scooters a lot as a means of travel within the office. From my standpoint, designers and animators visit the programmer section on scooters to communicate with us quite frequently.
When you see a scooter parked outside the restroom, you know someone is in there.
The Signing Counter
The kitchen counter at the office is used as a signing counter. People put things on the counter to be signed, such as game cases, posters, art books, etc. Usually, these things are products of Naughty Dog, which makes sense. However, people sometimes put things on the counter to give them away, usually followed by a company-wide email informing everyone.
If a giveaway stays on the counter for too long, someone eventually will mistakenly sign on it, and more people will follow. There was an old DVD player left on the counter for a week, and people just started signing on it until it was covered by signatures. Then one day it just disappeared. Perhaps someone took it home because of the signatures, not because he or she needed a DVD player.
Basically, if you leave stuff on the kitchen counter for too long, no matter what it is, people will start signing on it.
As employees of Naughty Dog, we can easily buy company swag at the front desk: t-shirts, stickers, license plate frame, you name it. The most common one around the office is probably the Naughty Dog mug.
I got one when I finished my on-site interview. I got one as part of my welcome package on my first day of work. I bought two for my friends and two for my parents. People use it for coffee and tea at the kitchen quite often.
One day I received an email saying that a lost Naughty Dog mug had been found at the kitchen and asking the owner to come pick it up, with a picture of the mug attached. That mug looked just like the other one thousand mugs at the company, so I wonder if it ever got picked up, and, if it did, by the right owner. People probably need to start labeling their Naughty Dog mugs. I keep mine at home, so I don’t have to worry about it.
Next Big Thing
If you went to the Naughty Dog panel “Pitching The Last of Us” at PAX last year, you probably have heard Neil Druckmann say that That Last of Us was code-named “project T1”, which is why it says “t1” on Ellie’s shirt in this concept art. You would also have heard him say that the “T” stands for “Thing” instead of “The Last of Us”.
What he didn’t tell us was that this code name is actually part of a bigger “scheme”. You see, the code name for Jak and Daxter is “Next”; the code name for Uncharted is “Big”; finally, the code name for The Last of Us is “Thing”. Next Big Thing. It all makes sense now, right?
Naughty Dog spent more than a decade (2001-2013) pulling this off. Pretty impressive.
Every Tuesday is Curry Day for programmers. On a Curry Day, programmers will gather at lunch time and go to a particular Japanese curry restaurant. I was told that the programmers at Naughty Dog have been doing this over a decade. Sometimes, people still go to the curry place when it’s not Curry Day, because that’s what people do whenever they don’t know where to go for lunch.
“When in doubt, go to the curry place.”
There was a week where a certain group of programmers went to the curry place for lunch four times.
“You can never have too much curry.”
I don’t always go with the programmers to the curry place on a Curry Day, because having too much curry is a thing for me.
There’s an internal mailing list nicknamed “lunch dogs”. The leader uses it to announce where to go for lunch on Wednesdays. We rotate restaurants every week, most of which are Asian restaurants, and in my biased Asian opinion, they are the best. Participants include people from different departments of the company, unlike Curry Day, which is mainly a programmer thing.
A street next to the office is known as the “food truck street”, because it’s filled with food trucks at lunch time. It is always crowed with people from around the vicinity, including game devs from thatgamecompany (TGC) and Riot Games. I used to go there a lot with some of my friends from DigiPen when they interned at TGC. TGC’s office is just one block away from Naughty Dog.
End of Brain Dump
That’s it for now. I might do another brain dump after a while. Who knows?