It’s impossible to summarize 18 of the most influential years of my career in a blog post, but here we are — today, with the heaviest of hearts, I am announcing my departure from Naughty Dog.
This has been the hardest decision of my career. Naughty Dog is home. The Kennel is family. I’ve learned and grown so much from working with this incredible team. But after heading up three extremely demanding projects, and taking some extended time away from the office, I found my energy focusing in other directions, and I slowly realized this was the signal that it’s time to move on.
I joined the Kennel in 1999 as a texture artist on Crash Team Racing. Back before Naughty Dog even had a coffee maker. I was employee #15. From day one, I knew I was surrounded by some of the most talented, driven, and passionate people in the industry. They were pushing themselves to do things beyond what they even thought was possible, which in turn pushed me, and I loved it! I mean, it was also extremely intimidating, but the energy and determination to make something great, something we could all be proud of, was infectious. And that’s the way it still is to this day.
I’m leaving Naughty Dog with the strongest team it’s ever had, and that’s saying a lot. But more than the talent, it’s the people that I’ll miss the most. The work culture at Naughty Dog is about getting out of your seat and solving problems together. It’s what has allowed me to build so many friendships and gain so much respect for this stellar group of people. I get it —“it’s just work” — but when you spend as much time as we do together, in the pressure cooker of creative work and deadlines, you really get to know a person. And I’ve had my share of difficult and humbling moments. But having the privilege to see people grow beyond their concept of what’s possible for themselves technically, creatively, and personally has been the most rewarding aspect of my job and continues to motivate me to do the same. I’m so proud to have been a part of this team. I can’t wait to see what they create in the future.
With the deepest gratitude — thank you to everyone I’ve gotten to work with over the years. I’ll miss you and your energy profoundly. Thanks to Andy and Jason for taking a chance on me and setting the bar. Thanks to Amy and Neil for being great creative partners. Thanks to Christophe for all the support and inspiration — I’ve learned so much from you. And an extra special thanks to Evan Wells. You were the first person I met who truly inspired me to believe in the power of gaming, and if not for you I may never have made it to Naughty Dog in the first place. My appreciation goes way beyond what words can say.
And a sincere thanks to the fans. Knowing I was a part of creating something that touched or moved any of you made this whole thing worthwhile — and now I, too, get to anticipate the next Naughty Dog masterpiece!
As I close this chapter with a heavy heart and an appreciation for everything Naughty Dog has done for me, I open the next with an excitement to continue the journey into the creative process. I don’t have anything to announce just yet, but I look forward to the discovery and to sharing it with you all soon.
You can keep a lookout for any announcements on my Twitter: @bruce_straley
Dog for life,