Sony's no stranger to remakes, as the ones that the company has pursued have done quite well, including The Last of Us and Shadow of the Colossus for PlayStation 4, and that's not to mention games like the Final Fantasy VII Remake on the platform. A new report from Bloomberg says that there was and is actually another remake of the original The Last of Us in development, but the team that developed the idea is no longer the primary team creating it. According to the report Sony's Visual Arts Service Group was responsible for the idea, and for those unfamiliar, the Visual Arts Service Group has been responsible for helping to complete games designed at other Sony studios in a variety of ways, and while they may no longer be leading the project, it does seem to still be in development.
That specialty of aiding other studios' games is why about three years ago a handful of people within the group decided they wanted to have a lead role and creative control in a game rather than just supporting other companies in titles like Spider-Man and Uncharted, and so founder of the Visual Arts Service Group Michael Mumbauer recruited around 30 other developers, both internally and from other studios, to form a new group within Sony.
Their goal was to lead development on a project, and for their first one they wanted to pitch something that would be well-received by Sony both from a project and cost standpoint, so they focused on a remake of the original The Last of Us for PlayStation 5.
The team's first idea was actually a remake of the first Uncharted, but it would have been too expensive and would require a lot of added design work, so they went with The Last of Us. The project was code-named T1X, and was approved by Sony on a probationary basis, but Sony kept the team secret and didn't allow the group to hire more people for the project. By Spring of 2019, they had completed a section to show how the game would look and feel, but Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation's Worldwide Studios, wasn't impressed and thought the project was too expensive according to people familiar with the project.
Part of the reason was the planned budget, which was higher than other remakes Sony had developed in the past. The team explained that it was because of a new graphical engine and a need for more people to help rework the graphics and redesign certain gameplay mechanics for the PS5. Hulst wasn't convinced, but the project was still alive. The team had to switch gears though when The Last of Us Part II needed help across the finish line, which slowed down progress on the remake.
Once work on Part II was completed, Sony revealed that some of the team from Naughty Dog would move over to help with T1X. Mumbauer and the team saw this as the opposite of what they were wanting, as with more Naughty Dog staff joining, including some who had worked on the original game, their voices were made paramount and it would be the same thing they had been doing all over again. This only heightened when Sony moved the game under Naughty Dog's budget, and at that point, it was pretty much Naughty Dog's project.
By the end of the year most of the original leads in the T1X project had left, including Mumbauer and game director David Hall. The project is still in development at Naughty Dog and the Visual Arts Support Group is still helping out on the project, but not in the way originally intended.
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