PAX East 2010: The “Naughty Dog LIVE – Game Design with the Dogs” Panel

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We’ve all returned – and mostly recuperated – from our trip to Boston this past weekend to attend PAX East. It was both a pleasure and an honor to make it out for the inaugural PAX on the East Coast, not only to attend the show, but also to participate in panels. Everyone at Penny Arcade deserves all our gratitude for putting together such a smooth first –- and completely sold out PAX in Boston. We’re looking forward to PAX East 2011!

Naughty Dog at PAX East 2010_2

We weren’t expecting the massive turnout for our panel on Saturday, “Naughty Dog LIVE: Game Design with the Dogs.” When I got to the Naga Theater to setup for our panel, the line waiting to get in was insane – and it was a whole half-hour before our panel was due to start. I heard some people had been waiting in line for over an hour at one point. It was sad to hear that PAX Enforcers had to turn away a ton of people waiting to get in by the time they started to fill the theater. There is no doubt that it was awesome for us to see that kind of turnout, but it was also a little bittersweet that we couldn’t get in everybody who wanted to attend.

Our panel focused on showing the inner workings of how game design works at Naughty Dog, led by game designers Richard Lemarchand, Jacob Minkoff and Justin Richmond. We picked a spot in UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune that had a minor narrative hole – between Chapters 3 and 4 – and used that as the basis to explore a fictional Chapter 3.5 we titled “Strip Search.” The first half of the panel was spent laying out the objectives for the design of this chapter and the type of structure and pacing that was important for us to maintain so that everything would fit neatly into the UNCHARTED universe in look and feel.

Jacob fired up Autodesk Maya for the second half of the panel and loaded an example blockmesh level for Chapter 3.5 that he sketched out in his spare time over the couple of weeks leading up to PAX East. It was Jacob’s responsibility on the panel to pitch his level to Richard and Justin, explain his game design choices, and receive feedback to demonstrate our collaborative and iterative design process. We also stopped briefly and turned to our audience to let them give us their ideas on how to solve a specific design challenge within the level.

Naughty Dog at PAX East 2010_1

Unfortunately we started to run out of time towards the end, because we wanted to talk about how to turn this level into one that works in our multiplayer game and also open up the floor one more time to get suggestions from our audience. Perhaps we can get to that another time if we ever get a chance to do a similar panel.

Once it was all over, we met with a lot of our fans in the audience that came up to chat. We’re really grateful to have such awesome fans and we owe you all thanks for attending our panel and coming up to say hi!

If you were at PAX East and weren’t able to get into our panel – and I know there were a lot of you – you can read a recap of our panel on Joystiq. In addition, we should have the full video of our panel available on sometime in the next couple of weeks. Check back later on to check it out!

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