Naughty Dog‘s critically acclaimed action-adventure survival horror, The Last of Us went through over 150 names before eventually landing on “The Last of Us.”
In an interview with Edge magazine, Naughty Dog was asked how they landed on the final name for the game.
Director Bruce Straley replied: “Picking names, it sucks, let’s just get that out there. It’s such a commitment. You’re putting it on paper, saying this is meaningful and you’re going to go with this for eternity, you know what I mean? So there’s a lot of weight on names.
Obviously people read a lot into names. The dilemma you go through is difficult, but the process is rather straightforward.
We literally have a Word doc open and I create 50 names, Neil [Druckmann, creative director] creates 50 names, we polled the company so we get another 50 names, Sony contributed a bunch of names There were just a bunch of names out there and we opened it up because nobody knows where a good idea is going to come from.
There’s no source that says, this is the wellspring, tap into that, so we wanted to open ourselves up.”
He adds, “I think the name was originally on Neil’s list, but we separately kept coming back to it.
We whittled the list down and both he and I independently picked The Last Of Us. I don’t think everybody liked it but it was one of those things that could be read a lot of different ways.
You can read into it referring to a personal story about Joel and Ellie and who they are. It can be read into as being about the world and the state of the population. It can be read into as being about dilemmas about morals.
It’s a very open-ended, neat title, and like everything with this game, when you saw a list of names that had that one-word sort of approach, this was something different that did what we wanted it to do because one of the goals for this project was, can we dig into subtlety?
Straley goes on, Most games hit the player over the head with everything and you have to spell it out in clear, bold capital letters, and say, this is what’s happening right now and this is how I feel! And by allowing subtlety to enter into the characters and the experience and even the name, it felt like this is the right decision for us.
We still kicked around a few others. In true Naughty Dog fashion, we have an idea that resonates and then we keep exploring other ideas that don’t work, specifically to reinforce the idea that feels like the one we’re going with.
We can’t seem to come up with something better even though we keep trying so The Last Of Us worked for us, and I’m actually proud of the name. It’s different, it’s unique, it stands out as a title.”
Naughty Dog was asked if they can share the alternate names that made the shortlist, Bruce Straley said, “Mankind was one that was in the running for a while. Americana was being kicked around. There were a bunch of those one-word ideas but The Last Of Us just felt right.
[At Naughty Dog] we compare ourselves to other forms of media sometimes and book titles are seldom just one word, sometimes they have very long, elaborate titles.
There are some movie names that are just full sentences. A paragraph will be the title of a film sometimes. Why do they get that luxury while videogames have to simplify everything down to this blunt, Neanderthal grunt,” he concluded.
The interview above went unpublished when it was removed due to space constraints on Edge magazine.
Do you think The Last of Us was the best name? Sound off in the comments and let us know if you have a better name.
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