While a lot of the concern over the Naughty Dog exodus died down after the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End reveal, many still wonder where the numerous former ND devs might end up. Some have already taken up new residency at high profile outfits like Visceral Games and Giant Sparrow, but even more are still looking for homes.
Two former Naughty Dog developers who just recently joined new teams are Taylor Kurosaki and Jacob Minkoff. Both Kurosaki and Minkoff are now fully-fledged employees of Infinity Ward, developers on the Call of Duty franchise.
For those who might not be familiar with their work, Kurosaki and Minkoff were important pieces to the Uncharted puzzle. Kurosaki served as Narrative Design Lead on the team and Minkoff was Lead Game Designer. In other words, these folks helped craft the story and the gameplay of one of the most visually impressive and compelling PS3 franchises.
New job! Design Director at Infinity Ward. Love ND; canâ€™t wait to play Uncharted 4 as a fan. Excited to work with the talented team at IW!— Jacob Minkoff (@JacobMinkoff) August 1, 2014
What’s most intriguing about these new additions is that it gives a considerable boost to Infinity Ward’s narrative and level design department. Story has always been one of the Call of Duty franchise’s weaker points, but perhaps with Kurosaki on-board we might see bigger and bolder stories.
These recent hirings, combined with the news that Neversoft would be folded into Infinity Ward, also draws questions of whether the developer is working on a completely new project. Sure, their focus over the last decade has been on the Call of Duty franchise, but with a staff this large some may wonder whether IW has split into a two-team studio. About a year ago we would have said that wasn’t possible given the crunch time required to get a new COD out the door, but now that the series has switched to a three-team, three-year cycle that might afford some flexibility.
For now, though, Activision’s focus is on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the first franchise iteration developed under Sledgehammer Games. AW looks to offer some unique gameplay opportunities thanks to its near-future setting, but we still haven’t heard a peep about multiplayer. But that should change soon. Whether or not Infinity Ward’s status as solely a Call of Duty studio will change is something we’ll have to wait on and see.
How do you feel about two Naughty Dog team members joining a Call of Duty developer? Would you like to see Infinity Ward take on a new project?
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