The Last of Us may be one of the most lauded games of the previous console generation, but at one point in development, the creators were concerned it would be a failure that could ruin Naughty Dog's image.
“We thought it was going to tank," co-director Bruce Straley told Wil Wheaton in a roundtable discussion with key members of the development team. “We thought we were ruining Naughty Dog’s image.”
"The joke throughout production, we'd say it's the downfall of Naughty Dog," creative director Neil Druckmann added.
According to lead designer Anthony Newman, this was mainly because the mechanical side "wasn't gelling. It wasn't coming together. It was a set of really lucky breaks in gameplay decisions we made that made everything fall into place and turn into a fun game."
Druckmann said that a few weeks out from wrapping up the game, a couple of people approached him to talk about how much they loved the game, including Uncharted 3's technical art director Teagan Morrison. "He was like 'guys, I don't know what you did, but it's one of the most intense, emotional games I've ever played.' And that's the first time were like, 'maybe we're okay. Maybe we'll be alright.'"