Naughty Dog And Sony’s Development Secrets Revealed
There has been talk about Sony’s fabled ICE Team for quite some time, although it has always remained a mystery. Sony acknowledged in the past that such a team exists, but never provided specifics or detailed how the Naughty Dog-based department came to life. Up until now that is.
Legendary developer Mark Cerny from PlayStation, recently speaking in an extremely interesting presentation on his career at the GameLab conference in Barcelona, has shared a bit of background on the mysterious ICE team. The lecture is dominantly focused on the PS4.
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“At the very start of development on the PlayStation 3, [current Worldwide Studios president] Shuhei Yoshida had concerns,” Cerny said.
“Some of his concerns were about cost. There were many good [first-party] game teams in the United States, but they were all working independently, and the size of the typical team had tripled over the past years.”
According to Cerny, Yoshida’s proposed solution to save costs was to have more collaboration between Sony’s subsidiaries, and it was this move that resulted in the ICE Team being formed, also known as the Initiative for a Common Engine.
“We ended up forming a specialised technology group whose function was to spearhead SCEA’s entry into the next generation,” he added.
“Shuhei thought that Naughty Dog would be a good base of operation, and after some conversation with the [studio] founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin, we decided to free up some people from Jak & Daxter and use them as a base from which to grow a technology team.”
Cerny continued: “The team’s goal was to investigate advanced graphics techniques or other technologies, and also to build and disseminate various early systems that could be used as other studios began their preliminary next generation game development.”
As we know, Sony eventually formed Worldwide Studios to further its cooperative vision, which is its strong network of developers such as Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Guerrilla Games, Sucker Punch, Polyphony Digital, Media Molecule and more.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Quantic Dream, the developers of Heavy Rain and upcoming Beyond: Two Souls, it’s mostly because of semantics. They’re not technically a first-party developer for SCE Worldwide Studios, and are interestingly labelled as a second party studio. Although, they may as well fall alongside the rest seeing as how they’ve been exclusive to Sony since 2010, and have said it will remain that way as long as they can keep making the games they want to make.
To sum it all up, basically, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering why many first-party PlayStation exclusive games appear as though they’re in their own league, you may want to credit the ICE Team.