The developers of The Last of Us were apparently less than confident in the game's success while it was in development.
The Last of Us is easily one of the best regarded games of the last console generation. A hit both in terms of critical acclaim and sales, it was for many the crown jewel of the PS3 library. It's almost hard to even think of the game as anything other than a beloved modern classic. It's funny, in turn, to find out that the game's developers at Naughty Dog initially expected it to "tank."
That, at least, is what co-directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann along with lead designer Anthony Newman revealed in a recent interview. Speaking about the game, Straley shared that Naughty Dog was initially apprehensive about The Last of Us and the effect it might have on the studio's reputation. "We thought we were going to ruin the name and image [of Naughty Dog] that's been so heartily built for years with blood, sweat, and tears," he said. "We thought we were ruining Naughty Dog's image."
Their worries, according to Newman, stemmed from "mechanical" problems the game's team kept running into during its development process. "I thought, 'We'll be lucky to scrape by with an 85 Metacritic.' Just because it wasn't gelling," he said. "It wasn't coming together. So it was really a set of really lucky breaks in terms of gameplay decisions we made that really made everything fall into place and turned it into a fun game." Druckmann himself didn't feel good about the game until people outside of the development team began to play it and respond positively.
In other words, when you're working on a creative project, don't give up even if it feels like it's crap. We're not saying perseverance will turn everything into a Last of Us, but you never know what might fall into place if you keep trying.