Michael Knowland, Lead Character Artist of The Last of Us, Leaves Naughty Dog – Report

According to the listing on the Linkedin profile of Michael Knowland, he has left Naughty Dog after working for them as Lead Character Artist for more than 3 years.

Michael Knowland was the lead character artist for the critical and commercial hit The Last of Us from Naughty Dog. He worked on the game for a grand total of 2 and half years was the lead character artist. It appears that he has left Naughty Dog now, presumably after finishing his work on The Last of Us. His previous credit includes working at Frontier Developments. He hasn’t written about his new workplace yet.


He now joins the ranks of other former Naughty Dog employees that left the company recently including Nate Wells, Justin Richmond, Amy Hennig, who all left Naughty Dog at the start of this new generation.

What do you think about this news? Let us know in the comments below.

Khurram Imtiaz

Editor-in-Chief at GearNuke. I am a hardcore Final Fantasy fan and lover of JRPGs. When I am not posting news, I can be seen sharing my thoughts over at Twitter.

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  • jacksjus

    Who cares really? It’s his business. ND will be fine.

  • Guest

    Another rat leaving the poorly paying $0N¥ PauperStation ship. Was to be expected, an exodus from a company bleeding money all over the place. Poor paupers.

  • datdude

    This just in….turnover in the videogame industry is, and has always been, high. This is especially true for successful studios with their talent often being approached, and poached, by others in the industry. It happens all the time. Many times talent will work on one game, then leave for another opportunity elsewhere. How is this news to folks? The loss of talent in and of itself doesn’t necessarily mean trouble for any studio. The only question that matters is can the talent lost be effectively replaced. Does the studio have the people in place to step in and get the job done or do they have to look outside their offices for it? Naughty Dog is no newcomer to gaming, they’ve been doing it for 30 years, so I believe they are more well equipped to handle a talent drain than most, as this is not their first rodeo. Most gamers didn’t know who Amy Hennig was before her stint at Naughty Dog. Who knows, the next Amy Hennig may work there already and has been waiting for her opportunity. Naughty Dog the studio has yet to release a sub standard game, and I hope that continues. I fully expect that it will.

    • seedaripper1973

      True dat…er..dude 😉

  • Dadrixx

    Well, it won’t affect Uncharted 4, and I really don’t think it’s that much of a big deal for us players, or even for Naughty Dog.

    But, I also think it means there won’t be a TLOU sequel. A few months ago Neil Bruckman said they were brainstorming in order to decide what their next project would be. He also said it was 50% chance it would be TLOU 2.

    But since all the departures are people who worked on TLOU, I’m almost certain it will be a new IP, and that TLOU will be a standalone game.

  • Dino DiRienzo

    $$$$$$$$$$$ nuff said

  • $0N¥ PauperStation = DEAD

    And the mass exodus from $0N¥ PauperStation’s underpaying studios continues. More after the break! Oh wait, paupers don’t get a break as they’re already behind the curve.

  • ImonadrugcalledCharlieSheen

    More xbot fantard troll food, eat up losers.

    • Guest

      The only losers at life are 24/7 keyboard warriors like you $0N¥ pauper.

  • Trim Dose

    oh shat!!!!!!!! the hell ND pull yourself together if is possible now :/

    • Dadrixx

      Or it could mean ND’s next game (post Uncharted 4) won’t be a sequel to The Last Of Us. Don’t worry, Naughty Dog is Sony’s biggest first party studio since a few years, they won’t lack talent in the years to come.

  • Hates bad writers.

    I’d saying people leaving is normal, but it’s only when the excess code jockeys leave that it’s normal. Pretty big names leaving, safe to say that isn’t exactly average. I do wonder what’s going on in that studio, what could possibly make someone like Amy work with a despicable company like EA, and the thoroughly shit Visceral. Odd times, at least E3 is looking bright.

    • Dadrixx

      Amy left because she finished her work on Uncharted 4, and because it’s probably the last game of the franchise.

      And you probably noticed that the people leaving ND have all worked on The Last Of Us. So that probably means there won’t be a sequel, and thus they leave to work on another project. Working on games is not a job where you always work for the same people.
      Departures has always been a thing, but nowadays, we just talk about it more.

      • Hates bad writers.

        No, that isn’t how it works. People have a stable job, switching the IP gives grounds to up and leave? Don’t think so, otherwise we’d have entirely new people makes every IP with every studio, and we don’t. A lot of people stay behind and keep working, but now we have important people leaving, and that’s never a good thing. Departures are normal, the problem is that you don’t know which ones are normal. If a bunch of leaders in any group up and left that wouldn’t be considered normal, but a couple of support staff? Sure. Everyone hires on glut to finish a product, that is who leaves, not incredibly important people they’ve had around for years.

        Clearly there’s something going on at either Naughty Dog or Sony, we just don’t know what. Probably related to the crash as everyone needs to restructure to maximize profits in record lows over the last few years. Not normal, not even close. We’re just starting to see the effects of the crash, nothing from here on out is normal. It’s a reaction to something that could have been avoided, and now we’re seeing people leave because they don’t want to take part, guaranteed. It’s what we call “pulling an Avellone”. You up and leave, and we’re seeing a lot of it, and not just from Naughty Dog.

        • Dadrixx

          Okay, you’ve got a point, but then, why aren’t there massive departures at ND like at Santa Monica ? Why the only departures are from very specific people, who worked on games we know probably won’t get a sequel ?

        • Hussain Naseem

          Lets look at it from Naughty Dog’s view point. Lets say they’ve just obtained a genius of a character designer who’s more in tune with the new direction that naughty dog wants to go with their games. SO they are left with the tough choice of keeping 2 cooks to spoil the soup or to let the veteran leave…. hard choice but a a decision has to be made …

          as for Amy I bet she didn’t receive the raise that she was hoping… so she goes off looking for greener pastures. IMHO I think someone like Amy should start her own game company instead of heading to EA but i guess the ‘force’ is too much to resist 😀

    • datdude

      Amy came to Naughty Dog from EA. She has worked for EA before, she knows what she’s doing.

  • ezquimacore


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