Richard Lemarchand quits Naughty Dog
Richard Lemarchand, lead designer on the Uncharted series, has quit developer Naughty Dog after eight years with the studio.
Lemarchand is joining the School Of Cinematic Arts at the University Of Southern California. He'll be teaching at its Interactive Media Division, which has been named Princeton Review's best US game design school for three consecutive years and counts Thatgamecompany co-founders Kellee Santiago and Jenova Chen among its alumni.
Lemarchand, who will also work on a number of "experimental games" as part of a research project, told Gamasutra he felt it was time to move on, with Naughty Dog's work on the Uncharted series seemingly over. The studio is now working on another PS3 exclusive, The Last Of Us, while Vita launch title Uncharted: Golden Abyss was developed by Sony subsidiary Bend.
"It seems like a natural transition point," he said. "I was involved with 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 [sense] of completeness for me."
Lemarchand will take up his new role after three months backpacking around the world, but he's looking forward to being "surrounded by awesome people, talking craft and philosophy, and building strange new things." Yet it sounds like what Lemarchand is most excited about is turning away from blockbuster games and trying out new ideas.
"For about ten years now, I've wanted to make a different kind of game, alongside my professional practice," he said. "I've always loved the experimental and the avant-garde. I wanted to try to make a game in that sphere for the best part of a decade."
While we wish Lemarchand all the best in his future endeavours, his is a big loss for Naughty Dog; together with creative director Amy Hennig he was the public face of, and driving force behind PS3's most successful IP.
He understands the importance of an emotional connection between players and the characters under their control, telling last year's Montreal International Game Summit: "We as game developers are often too tough and too snarky when we make our games.
"It's very important we have something to say: we must be in touch with our emotions and become adept at portraying them in detail, with nuance and, and above all, vulnerability." The next generation of students at USC's Interactive Media Division are in the very best of hands.