What Does The Return of Creative Director Shaun Escayg Mean For Naughty Dog?

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Kyle Blooicide

Publish Date:

20 Apr 2021

Shaun Escayg, the Director for the recently released Marvel’s Avengers (game) has recently posted on social media confirming his happy return to developer Naughty Dog. Shaun Escayg has quite an impressive resume of games under his belt. So, the question stands – what does his return to Naughty Dog mean? Well simply put and in our opinion, this is fantastic news for the developer. Since leaving Escayg has been able to experience outside developers’ methodologies and also get some more game direction experience under his belt. Let’s break down our thoughts exactly.

New Director Potential for Naughty Dog

It seems that Escaygs career primarily began to climb in animation, slowly then moving into animation for game development. He worked on things such as Citizen Duane, Outlander and Transformers: Dark or the Moon and from there (and a few small projects prior – like animation supervisor for the Scott Pilgram Game) Escayg found himself working on The Last of Us as a Lead Cinematic Animator. The Last of Us is renowned for its high quality…EVERYTHING - especially its animation. From there, he managed to bag himself the Creative Director role for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. AND DAMN! This was the moment where fans realised that Nathan Drake was not the only lead that could make this epic series work. So – now we know a bit about his history let's get to the point.

At this point, Escayg managed to get a once in a lifetime opportunity to direct a game for Marvel, packed his bag and left Naughty Dog. I doubt that he left the company on ANY bad terms because if you’re given a shot to direct ANYTHING Marvel, you’d be silly to skip that opportunity. Now in terms of a resume (or CV as we call it in the UK) – this would massively give Escayg credibility, and experience in fully Directing a game. Marvel’s Avengers – no one can argue – looks incredible graphically. It’s so clear that Escaygs epic history with animation was translated and pushed into this game. The story elements of the game are great too! Characters in that title are genuinely likeable. I get Marvel’s Avengers has its faults, but if you look past the constraints of probably where things were forced on the game (such as live service style mechanics) it’s a good game.

So, could we see Escayg at the helm of one of Naughty Dogs new Big Titles? We think so.

Naughty Dogs Future

Naughty Dog have been right front and centre at the rumour mill and whilst most of these rumours are not true, some have some rather good credibility behind them. It’s clear that Naughty Dog is expanding, and it’s getting clearer that they are working on multiple projects. I mean, seemingly we’re going to see The Last of Us Part 2 Factions some point soon, there are rumours of a new Uncharted that was originally being led by the Bend Team (Days Gone) who pulled out of the project in fear of being merged into Naughty Dog and also many rumours around Last of Us Part 3, Last of Us Part 1 and 2 remakes/remasters for the PS5. So, assuming all (or some) of these projects going ahead who would Naughty Dog have to lead them all, without using up other key resources in the Sony Development teams.

Well, Neil Druckmann is now the Vice President / Co-president of Naughty Dog, so his time and resource for Game Direction are going to be extremely limited. Bruce Straley (Director of Uncharted 2, Last of Us, Uncharted 4) left Naughty Dog back in 2017… but I mean he could come back. I’m not too sure what Straley is up to right now. Finally, the Infamous Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog in 2014. But what’s obvious here is that if Naughty Dog wants to expand and assuming it is going to be working on multiple projects, it's going to need game Directors, in which it doesn’t seem like it’s got many of them these days. Maybe we’ll see Escaygs take a Director role in Naughty Dog and use his extensive CV to make some truly great Naughty Dog games. We’re excited to see what he’s put into.

In Summary:

Shaun Escaygs return to Naughty Dog could mean big things for the company and could confirm its intention to expand into multiple IPs. Regardless, we wish Shaun the best and smoothest returns to the Sony Development team, and cannot wait to see what games he gets involved in. Have you got any thoughts that we did not cover in this article today? Be sure to leave a comment on our social media pages, under this post – Orrrr you could always join our Discord Server and jump straight into the conversation with us, where we talk about everything gaming.

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