Michael Knowland, Lead Character Artist of The Last of Us, Leaves Naughty Dog – Report

GearNuke: "According to the listing on the Linkedin profile of Michael Knowland, he has left Naughty Dog after working for them as Lead Character artist for more than 3 years."

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Mikelarry1633d ago

Whos next to leave naughty dog... I predict the dog itself. But seriously tho this is no longer something that can be ignored something really bad is happening at that studio and i fear for the uncharted series

Abriael1633d ago

You mean four people in 250 leaving a company across two months?

Yeah. It can be ignored, because it's absolutely normal, and it's hilarious to see how now people scramble to report on it like it's big news :D

Mikelarry1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Four people in the space of a couple of weeks apart. Also these people leaving are a higher ups who are deeply involved with the uncharted series not secretary or receptionist. Also if you paid any attention i said uncharted series not naugty dog as a studio

Abriael1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

1: across a couple *months*
2: Knowland wasn't involved in uncharted. He was part of the TLOU team, which is separate from the Uncharted team.

Conclusion: you're wrong. This is entirely normal in the industry. Other companies just don't have tens of hungry journos browsing their linkedin lists because "sky is falling at naughty dog" = money :D

CerebralTiger1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

At the very least, it's factual information, which is more than what I cuold say for those Tidux 'rumors'.

Bennibop1633d ago

I think some camps are desperate for this to be a sign that Naughty Dog is falling apart ( I wonder why!) However this is fairly normal in the industry, Michael Knowland only started there 3 years ago so he would not have been involved in Uncharted 1,2,3 character design and had minimal to do with The Last of Us.
At the company I work at we have last 12 people in 2 months (from 250) does not mean we are going out of business.

FlameHawk1633d ago

Wow you must be joking if you think nothing is going on with Naughty Dog but somehow when some random Sony country division says the word "Naughty", they are going to reveal the next Naughty Dog game ROFL.

Massacred1633d ago

While this is certainly true, these are some of the key people at the studio.

Ones, if you remember, Sony assured us were working on Uncharted on PS4 when they first announced it's existence.

hellzsupernova1633d ago

These are not just another employee, these are leaders at naughty dog. Just brushing over this is ridiculous.

However I'm sure they will be fine. They had a similar turn over between the ps2 to ps3 generation

meatysausage1633d ago

all your articles are rubbish based on tweets and rumours, so i fail to see how this is any different

joab7771633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Whether it is nothing or it is something in reality is irrelevant at this point. They are one of the best known gaming studios in the world and all of this is happening just after the release of a new console when ppl are deciding whether to invest in a new product.

Its about perception now. I was the biggest advocate that nothing was wrong but now I am a little worried. Why? B/c if it was simply nothing they would comment. Yes it is normal for ppl to leave after successful games launch and rap up. But Henning departure wasnt amicable and I am sure that she was beyond beloved at ND.

Hey Sony, if it t ruely is nothing, comment on it. Set us at ease.

GarrusVakarian1633d ago

It's gotten to a point now where i would like Naughty Dog or Sony to let us know what's going on. I know the media like to sensationalise things like this with top tier studios, and i know ND are still a huge team, but i would like to know what is going on, for two reasons -

1. To give reassurance/confidence to actual, genuine fans of ND.

2. To hush the Xbox fanboys who spew fake concern and hyperbole everywhere. Only the most bitter of fanboy would actually make fun of studio lay-offs/departures.

Although, i do realise this guy isn't working on Uncharted 4. But still, a little communication would be nice.

starchild1633d ago

Yeah, this really is normal. It's only news because Naughty Dog is a very successful studio and people thrive on drama.

UnbiasedOpinions1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Sounds like an important person to me "Lead Character Artist" on a prestigious game like The Last Of Us just up and leaves? lets not forget Nate Wells, Justin Richmond, Amy Hennig all leaving as well and they also held top positions

Concern is valid

UnbiasedOpinions1633d ago

@Bennibop: "he had minimal to do with The Last of Us" lol he was the Lead Character Artist dog, the keyword is "Lead" meaning he ran things, now hes out, how is this a good sign for ND exactly?

ravinash1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Until you actually hear someone saying I've left because of XYZ, then there is no reason to say the company is in trouble.
If someone really had a problem or was fired, we would hear about it, but the fact is out of everyone who has left, none have turned round to say a bad thing about the company.

The truth of the matter is, this is a creative industry employing creative people.
Creative people want to go off and do new things, it's in their nature.

An example of this is "Papers please".
Here is another guy who worked at Naughty dog and then went off to do his own thing.

morganfell1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

"At the very least, it's factual information, which is more than what I cuold say for those Tidux 'rumors'."

Tidux has been extremely reliable as insiders go. It would be odd to get 100% accuracy from such persons. That usually smells like a plant. But he is as close to 100 as we have seen lately.

"... the keyword is "Lead" meaning he ran things, now hes out, how is this a good sign for ND exactly?"

Carmack was a Lead. But his skills had stagnated. How earthshaking was Id Tech 5? There was a lot of talk about mega texturing and IT5 being the Holy Grail leading up to the release of Rage and then it went flat.

Leads often need to be replaced to reinvigorate matters, because that person does have other goals, or because they simply have not kept up with the changes necessary to insure cutting edge production. There may have been someone else chosen to be the lead and his ego would not withstand such a blow. We simnply do not currently have insight as to why 4 people left across a period of months.

USMC431633d ago Show
GribbleGrunger1633d ago

I guess this is the price you pay for being the most famous development team in the world.

christian hour1633d ago

Okay let me explain a few things for people who seem clueless as to a persons involvement in the creative process, be it movies, games, comics, an art installation etc.

Uncharted 4 started pre-production right after uncharted 3 wrapped up.

Amy Hening's work would have been over before she left, her involvement as creative director and writer to the uncharted series would have been mostly completed during pre-production, before they artists and level designers even started bulding assets. She was offered to work on a game that sparked her imagination back in the 70's, of course she's not going to turn down that offer, and she would have made sure the work she'd done was in capable hands before leaving.

If Michael Knowland was the Lead Character Designer on The Last Of Us, his work would have started in pre-production too, around the time the first or second draft of the script was in and they had an idea of who these characters would ultimately be, concept art would be drawn up etc (not sure if he also worked on physical 3d character models, but his job title suggests otherwise). He may also have left to look for something new, or was offered something he couldnt pass up. It's also possible after finishing up on The Last Of Us he was given arole on the uncharted team that would have been a step down from his previous role as Lead Character Designer. Or he was working on early concept designs for a possible Last Of Us sequel and now he's done with that and moving on.

You also need to understand Naughty Dog is home to some of the best talent in the industry, they don't operate within a hierarchy and everyone gets equal input on a game, artists and programmers work in tangent, and it's actually a very rare thing in this industry. VERY rare. There's little corporate meddling getting in the way and it's this laid back, we're all equals kind of attitude that was the reason Druckmann could approach the studio lead about possibly splitting in two and making this idea he has for a post apocalyptic game.

So taking that in to account, of course their services will be in high demand, other studios will want the talent and it's not uncommon for this to happen, they will be flooded with offers and now and then one will seem too good to pass up. Some like oh say, getting to write for Star Wars.

Or you know, in your free time, just making THE BEST RAMBO GAME EVER!

You also need to understand how the media operates. The hobo across the street that hassles the staff for change when they go on lunch could move to a new street and it would be reported by gaming sites the world over, because right now reporting on anything changing at naughty dog is guaranteed hits and sweet sweet ad revenue.

Where were all these stories when people left during the development of UC1,2,3 and TLOU? Nowhere, because we werent at the dawn of the new console generation and the last of us was yet to be in the consumers hands, so we didn't have so much hope and anticipation and mystery surrounding their next game. It wasn't sensationalist enough back then.

Honestly if anyone thinks this is a big deal to naughty dog, and that they're "doomed". I'm sorry but you are an imbecile, you have no idea what creative minds are like, or how a creative industry operates. I hope some day you do, but until then please don't go spouting off like you do or joining in on sensationalist journalism, its a dirty tactic and gives genuine journalists a bad name. You may as well be reading the Tabloids.

Sharingan_no_Kakashi1633d ago

something IS going on at Naughty Dog. Amy, who created Uncharted, was removed from the team (she didn't quit. she was removed). They recast the only confirmed actor after he'd already done mocap work, whom mysteriously followed Amy Hennig to work on the Star Wars game. And the Art director left. The only 3 names associated with Uncharted on Ps4 are now gone. And now this guy just left.

Look I like Uncharted and Naughty Dog as much as the next guy. Them and Rockstar are tied for the best developers of our time. But you have to call a spade a spade here. Something funky is going on at the studio. Not to say Uncharted won't come and it won't be great. You'd have to be blisteringly ignorant to say this is normal.

jcnba281633d ago

Damage control at its finest.

Mega241633d ago

@everyone who says any company is going under because they loosed someone important

This is a summary of What has Marc Whitten has done for Microsoft and Xbox team division :

"Marc has delivered three console generations and one of the world's largest entertainment networks: Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox LIVE to market. With more than 100 million units now sold and more than 50 million active users on the service, he has led the product and vision of one of the largest and most loved entertainment ecosystems in the world.

Marc is a customer-focused visionary product leader – obsessed with using technology and design to deliver a simpler and more magical experience across all your entertainment: “The entertainment you want, with the people you care about, wherever you are – made easy.”

Under his leadership:
• Xbox LIVE has grown to over 50 million users and expanded far beyond being the best gaming service to deliver the best entertainment service in the living room.
• Xbox 360 changed the definition of a console by shipping new, deeply innovative software changes on an accelerating schedule – including the critically acclaimed “New Xbox Experience” and services such as voice-powered Bing search across all your content.
• Xbox One has come to market – smashing the Xbox record by selling over 2 million units in less than three weeks – and delivering on an integrated all-in-one experience that combines all your entertainment around you.
• Kinect has launched and heralded a new era of natural user interface by allowing you to use gesture, vision, and voice to control your world.
• The Xbox organization has grown from a tiny startup within Microsoft to a world-class organization.
• Every version of the Xbox user experience has broken new ground in terms of functionality and usage."

So by popular believes like what's happening at many studios right now, Xbox team is doomed?

avengers19781633d ago

That's what happens when you have top talent, other companies offer them big money to come work for them, it's called head hunting and has been going on forever.
People leaving studios to work for other studios is nothing new, people leaving studios to start there own company is nothing new. The only thing new about it as everyone seems to think it's some huge deal, and really this is just some attempt to slow down the massive PS4 hype.

CrazedFiend1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )


You think its only 4 people out of 250? You think we're gonna hear about every assistant, 2nd assistant and whatever else that leaves?

No, we only gonna hear about the leads and department heads.

4 keys leaving in such a short period from any company is a bit worrisome if you ask me.

Death1633d ago


Not exactly apples to apples is it? Marc's padded resume is hardly the same as losing talent in multiple positions at Naughty Dog. There is no doubt "something" is happening. It could be Sony restructuring with ND seeing budget cuts. It can be contracts not being renewed. It can be people wanting to move on to something new. With NDA's in place we will most likely never know. What people are finding odd is the fact ND is one of the best development houses out right now and you would assume people would never want to leave. That's not realistic though. With ND's success, these key people are probably at the height of their careers and at the best point to make a move.

thezeldadoth1633d ago

yeah like it was just some random programmer or tester. the people leaving are the top employees responsible for the games success. keep spinning it though if that makes you feel better.

Visiblemarc1633d ago

Yep, picking on Naughty Dog is the big thing right now because they are at the top. Sure, some high profile people have left, but then again, I'm willing to bet they are being promised the world from these other studios. Acquiring someone from Naughty Dog has to be considered the big win in talent acquisition these days. In the end, the vast majority of of the people who made the games we love are still there.

DragonKnight1633d ago

There's nothing happening at Naughty Dog. If this was a case of Sony restructuring anything, then the scale would be much bigger than 4 people across two months. People are trying to stir up controversy over nothing.

I suppose Adam Sessler leaving Rev3 games means that Discovery Network was in deep trouble and needed to let him go right?

christian hour1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

And what about Joe Staten? He's been with Bungie for years, he was the creator and writer for all of bungie's halo games, he also voiced the grunts. He has been with them a long time, He was the brainchild responsible for the world of Destiny, a planned trilogy and their first foray in to a multiplatform title. He left before the first game has even come out? Going off how people makes these things such a black and white issue, I guess that means bungie are doomed too huh?

His work on Destiny was over long ago, as a writer the story and universe would have been one of the very first things fleshed out and conceptualized, ever here of the Halo Bible? It was a supposedly large book/notepad/whatever full of all the key points that would happen in the Halo story, backgrounds and dossiers on characters, worlds, species etc.

All of this was written by Joe Staten when Halo was originally under development as an RTS for Apple Mac computers. It's safe to say he's most likely done the same with Destiny, and the planned trilogy will be epic. See joe, like a lot of these people leaving NAughty Dog, left for a new position, a very high profile high paying job at the Xbox Division in fact.

He's spent the last 14 years writing scripts for games and being a creative lead in the process and also directing the voice actors. He's going off to do something new and challenging and more power to him for doing it.

Its the same with these naughty dog departures and a lot of other staff departures from many other big studios you people just don't hear about because, simply, its not naughty dog or someone high up.

It's not deemed news worthy or sensationalist enough to warrant hits from people who fall for that crap.

Did nobody care to notice Jaime Greiseimer, the guy responsible for the "15 seconds of fun" that was Halos core reason for being so fun to play, leave Bungie?

Not at all, but you sure made a big deal about it after he left Sucker Punch once production on Second Son finished up.

I wonder why that is?

Could it be because there is nothing coming from sony in the last year that could be deemed spin-worthy or headline grabbing other than people leaving their job for a new job or not having their contracts renewed? And these days, thats all insane fanboys have to clutch to, to make them feel less insecure about their purchase?

At the end of the day, the people singing doom and gloom about this, are just very insecure people looking for reasons to justify their own purchase, or people who have no idea how common this is in the industry and gets strung along by Headlines and Sensationalist journalism. Go watch FOX News or something, I think you'll really enjoy how they deliver the "news".

pheature1633d ago

its big news when its a big person.
in this case not so

truefan11633d ago

Ps4 fans stop the damage control, this is not another routine departure. A majority of the leadership for their top two games are leaving. The worst part is that most are leaving for lateral positions and they aren't leaving kind words for Sony or ND. This is not good news for the studio.

GarrusVakarian1632d ago (Edited 1632d ago )

Truefan...why are you here? Ask yourself that. You will never own a PS4, nor will you ever play and Naughty Dog game. There is zero reason for you to be in here, trolling and spreading hyperbole. I know how much you desperately....DESPERATELY want ND to crumble to the ground, but im sorry, it ain't happening.

I know the success of their games and success of the company as a whole makes you bitter to your core, but they are still a massive studio full of arguably the most talented people in the industry such as Neil Druckmann, Bruce Sraley and Corrinne name a few. Whatever they put out is gold and will continue to be gold, revered by the entire industry.

You're just making yourself look like an insecure little X1 fanboy who sees a tiny opportunity to spread BS about a company that intimidates you and makes you jealous of their games. I wonder if you also commented on any of the hundreds of praise articles for ND games over the years?.......Probably not.

Prime1571632d ago

This is normal for the industry. Remember how they hired corrine yu (sp?). People come and go fast in the industry.

DigitalRaptor1632d ago (Edited 1632d ago )

@ christian hour

Your 2 posts are thoughtful and chock full of logic. Bubbles to you.

Naughty Dog are in trouble? In what conceivable way could Sony's #1 studio be in the line of fire at the cusp of a new-generation, when they're less than 2 months from showing gameplay from Uncharted 4 and announcing a release date?

I smell what was possibly a shake-up, but in trouble? Ridiculous.

@ Lukas

I don't think there's been a person so desperate to see Naughty Dog crash and burn, since J-blaze was around these parts to be honest.

thorstein1632d ago

Every year a team from the NFL wins the Super Bowl.

No one claims that "something really bad is happening" on the team when the players leave for bigger contracts with other teams.

Naughty Dog is the reigning "Super Bowl" Champions of Gaming (and have had multiple championships). Everyone wants the personnel on their team, so they offer contracts to those people.

What is so hard to understand here.

christian hour1632d ago


D'aaaaaaaw :3 I bet you say that to all the boys *swoon* :)

Seriously though thanks for the support/Michael Bublé's, sometimes it feels like I'm alone in here surrounded by crazy illogical fanboys from both sides of the fence.

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gameDevWannaBe1633d ago

Dog Lead dog of naughty dog Leaves Naughty Dog – Report

arkard1633d ago

The company I work for employs less than a hundred people and has had more than ten people leave in the past couple months..... This is entirely normal in most careers, why is it so weird in the game industry?

Inception1633d ago

I don't understand either. But i think gaming journalism became more and more like gossip or celebrity journo who put quantity and drama over quality.

Lawboy21633d ago

Ur company had 10 ppl leave in a about job

also where do u work...I only ask because I wanted to know was it the partners...senior or junior...With experience leaving or was it new ppl to ur company

Fluke_Skywalker1633d ago

Wish I could agree with you twice Inception.
Gaming journalism is a joke these days.

UnbiasedOpinions1633d ago

Your company is not making franchises with loyal fans, this guy designed a major part of TLOU so if you guys are expecting a sequel, don't be mad if it sucks since your all ok with this

arkard1633d ago

I work in Healthcare. Some people were new and weren't cutting it, some people had some years under them and some were chasing something better.

avengers19781633d ago

@unbiased so what's your take on halo, since bungee started it and it then went to 343 an entirely different company, is halo no longer good, or what about the upcoming gears game, I mean it's not being made by the same people, it went from epic to black tusk so is it going to suck, cause everyone seems to be hyped over.

TLOU 2 will not suck

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littletad1633d ago

Lead character artist had little to do with The Last Us?

ltachiUchiha1633d ago

Also what ppl forget is though it might be a dream to work at Naughty Dog but u also got to remember that expectations Naughty Dog Studio carries is very high & they expect your best when working their. I believe that sum of these devs may have felt that the pressure was also too much to handle especially after coming off a Masterpiece such as TLOU. To go right into the next project & try an push it even further, despite having better hardware to work with I can bet alot of pressure can run in sum of these devs minds because of Naughty Dogs high expectations for every game they create. Not saying this is the reason but im sure HIGH EXPECTATIONS is one of the reasons. I can only imagine the pressure especially knowing this is Naughty Dog were talking about.

valet_Smerdyakov1633d ago

I'm a software developer und used to change employer whenever a project I'd been involved in completed. There's more fluctuation in IT than in any other industry, I don't understand all the fuss.

Lawboy21633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

First off what is ur job title and what did you mean to the companies u worked for

its not how many ppl that's who is leaving

forcefullpower1633d ago

Standard practice in project driven IT industry. People liked lawboy show how faboys are so ignorant.

Lawboy21633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

@ force
how am I a fanboy...not once did I say anything about any company...

also..what I said is true...All companies have a turn over rate...but that does not include heads of department...and certainly doesn't include the top ppl in charge

most of those ppl are put into those position for a reason...There an investment...

and that's in any's business purr and simple

GameDev11633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )


Can i make something clear to you?!

The last IP Naughty Dog made was Last of Us right? Neil Druckmann and Bruce Strately were the main people in charge (now if they left i would be concerned as they are also in charge of UC4)

A Lead Artist is not in charge of the project, he might lead the other artists through the project but unlike the Neil and Bruce, replacing can't be so much of a problem for a talented studio. This Lead Artist is not even involved in Uncharted

Amy Henning and Richmond did not work on Last Of Us, so were clearly not doing much after UC3, which Druckmann was also heavily incharge of

Thats how it works, these heads have worked there for years and now there will be a cycle of new people working on a new game who will eventually leave and so on and so forth

You just desperately want this to be bad news for Sony.

kenshiro1001633d ago

Lawboy rushing to turn Sony news into negativity, as usual.

Get a new hobby. Your grammar and punctuation skills need some work too.

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ITPython1633d ago

lol, all these articles about employees leaving ND makes me think that somebody from the other side of the pond is extra worried about the success of ND, and thus is trying as hard as they can to make it appear as if something is wrong.

Thing is, this is absolutely normal in a sizable company with hundreds of employees, but like many other things if shined under the right light, it can cause panic and worry.

Interesting... ND must be doing something absolutely revolutionary to get this kind of attention. What is that I smell... MS panic? MS fear? Yup.

Sad MS needs to resort to Obama-like tactics, they can't be successful simply because they are doing things right, instead they trick people and deceive them using psychological warfare to get their way.

This means that ND is the target of the enemy because they are up to something that will change gaming forever in favor of the PS4. Good news indeed!

Lord_Santa1633d ago

look... Uncharted is most likely nearing its completion, so some of the staff are not needed anymore. A lot of staff members are hired solely for one project and leave after their work is done. Yes they have a core staff that stays throughout the company's lifespan, but often they bring in specialized talent for a single project.

I don't know why suddenly people are reporting every departure as if its major, the game will be released, nothing's wrong with development and there's not Naught Dog Armageddon.

nucky641633d ago

mikelarry - how old are you? you do realize ND has been a great dev house much longer than the last 3 years don't you??

Dark111633d ago

The bleeding continues.

Magicite1633d ago

real question is - how important he was and how can his leaving impact ND's further games?

kenshiro1001633d ago

You people need to stop overreacting. People change careers every freaking day. If the person has the experience and drive to move up in their career, then why shouldn't they take that opportunity? Or it could be for other reasons.

Stop assuming its terrible news.

SirBradders1633d ago

Mate its the end/begginging of the fiscal year everybody is looking for more money or a new challenge something like the last of us is very enticing on a CV.

Some people want nice things some people wanna do something that better suits them.

showtimefolks1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )


Thank you 4 people out of 250 in 2 months. also start of every generation a lot of developers leave for new studios. Its news because its ND who mad 2 of the best games on last generation

also to those saying this concerns them about next UC, well UC has been in development on PS4 for a while now.(since the end of UC3)

I wouldn't worry about it too much, ND hasn't disappointed us so far so let's give them the benefit of the doubt, instead of over reacting

ajax171632d ago

I will only worry if Druckmann leaves.

TheRatedD1632d ago

This guy never worked on an Uncharted game.

Chevalier1632d ago

The community manager at Crystal Dynamics left february, marketing VP left March, creative director left December for 343 industries and they cut a dozen positions last summer as well. They're a pretty big studio as well, but, I have barely heard anyone mention it.

killzone6191632d ago (Edited 1632d ago )

Its clear Sony are suffering from financial issues. Hence why so many people have been leaving...more money elsewhere.

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AceBlazer131633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Oi oi oi, some people are gonna enjoy themselves with this.

Just my opinion, but how bout we wait to see how Uncharted turns out before saying Naughty Dog is doomed, because so far the studio never put out a bad game. Maybe this type of movement is normal and the internet being the magnifying glass it is, is just now letting us see the inner workings of game studios. Think of it like enjoying hot dogs till you read what's in it, had you never known you'd go about enjoying them without question.

ruefrak1633d ago

Have you ever noticed that most sports team have a lot of players lose after they win the championship? It's not doom and gloom, but most get picked off by other teams. Personally, I don't know what's going on at ND and I don't care. Let them make their game and judge them based on the final product.