Richard Lemerchand, most recently known for his role as co-lead designer on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, has decided to move on after eight years with Naughty Dog and has accepted a teaching position at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Division, accompanying his work on a series of experimental games as part of a research project. Lemerchand has been closely associated with the program for quite some time, with numerous friends being involved within the program.
In a chat with Gamasutra, Lemarchand clarified his reasons for leaving the popular developer:
“I think the simplest answer is that it seems like a natural transition point.
“I was involved with the development of the Uncharted series not quite from the beginning, but almost… and even though the Uncharted series isn’t intended to be viewed as a trilogy, maybe there’s something about the number three that felt… there is a certain amount of completeness for me.
“For about 10 years now, I’ve wanted to make a different kind of game, alongside my professional practice. I’ve always really loved working on the kinds of blockbuster AAA games that I’ve had the opportunity to work on, and I think I’ve been exceptionally lucky — it’s partly by luck and a little bit of judgment I’ve gotten to work on big games that are also, I think, real exemplars in terms of craft, and hopefully, ultimately, with some transcendent aspects to them.”
Lemarchand has had some previous experience teaching, acting as an external thesis advisor for USC, as well as having filled the role of teacher for the younger developers at Naughty Dog in an informal manner. He is set to start working after completing a three-month backpacking trip all over the world that is linked to his research project.
Analysis: This news came to me as somewhat bittersweet. The Uncharted series is one of, if not my most favorite, gaming series of all time as they’re beautifully crafted and resonate with me. My first reaction to hearing that the co-lead designer was leaving, taking away his personal touch on the game, was not great. However, with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception itself, I have mixed emotions. Sure, the physics, visuals, and more emotive storyline would lead one to believe it should of be superior to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but this didn’t turn out to be the case. Both are great game,s but it seemed that Uncharted 3 just lacked the x-factor that Uncharted 2 had, whatever that may be. So it’s possible that the series could use some fresh blood moving forward.
Lemarchand appears to have his heart set on this choice and is visibly excited for his new line of work, and that’s never a bad thing. The prospect of having someone who worked on some of the most well-crafted single-player campaigns to begin teaching the new developers entering the industry can only benefit the single-player component of future titles. I personally wish him all the best in his new endeavors.