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Naughty Dog Game Director Reveals Anger Over Jak II Design

A leading Naughty Dog developer has revealed the frustration he felt at some of the gameplay mechanics introduced by the studio’s popular PS2 platformer, Jak II: Renegade.

During an in-depth interview with GamesRadar on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, game director Bruce Straley spoke of the importance of “building up mechanics that you can use again and again” throughout a series, before citing Jak II as an example of how not to create such systems effectively.

Straley, who served as an artist on the Jak & Daxter series, recalled his frustrations that a protagonist-ridden rocket was introduced during one level in the game, with players having to invest a lot time in learning the intricacies of its mechanics, and even more in trial and error – only for said rocket never to appear again. He said: “I didn’t like the design process in Jak II; it didn’t feel like there were really systems. It was the first time I got angry about our own development internally.”

Straley added that the developer has since turned to more “systemic approaches” when designing games like Uncharted and The Last of Us, describing its processes as being “a constant evolution”.

For more information on the seminal Jak and Daxter series and all things Naughty Dog, you should check out our recent series that explores the history of the Santa Monica-based developer.

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  • andy

    Er that was in Jak III. The part where Daxter is sitting on a propelled rocket and you awkwardly have to steer it through the docks avoiding everything but boosts that make the rocket go even faster. And yes it was the most annoying part of the game that it never came up again. At least it WAS in Jak III so there was a checkpoint midway through this section (lol there wouldn’t have been if it was Jak II)

    • Chris Mawson

      I thought it might’ve been in Jak 3 as well, but I trusted Bruce’s memory over my own. 😛 But yeah, you’re right.

  • The Pieman

    Why’s he complaining over one of the most fun parts of the game yah it was a little aggravating but it was also insanely fun & unique unlike everything else which was done over & over again until it was bland & routine