Today, following the naughty dog and your games, like Uncharted or The Last of Us, we looked at the size and potential of the studio in making AAA games. But, like everyone else, the studio had its beginnings. And it wasn’t with Bandicoot Crash. Years before the character that won everyone over in Playstation, Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin already had an interesting history in the world of video games.

And from the naughty dog. Those who have known the studio for some time have noticed the change from colorful and fun games to adventure themes, reaching the “heavy” The Last of Us. But the studio started its activities making RPGs, something that doesn’t even cross the minds of its fans nowadays.

From JAM Software to the Trickster Dog

In the beginning, JAM Software

Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin created, in 1984, a studio called JAM Software. These were uncertain times for video games, after all, Crash (of video games, not Bandicoot) was still recent. But good winds were blowing in favor of independent studios, which, following the recent example of Actvision, encouraged young people to create their own studios, thus creating the most varied games.

With the studio formed, Rubin and Gavin developed Dream Zone, a graphic Adventure that yielded 10,000 copies. With the money raised from the game, they set out to develop several RPGs. And, at only 16 years old each, they reached an agreement with the Electronic Arts. So, they can develop their games and count on the support of the distribution of their new partners.

Dream Zone was the first success of the duo Gavin – Rubin

However, they started with typical common problems, for new companies, and young entrepreneurs. They had developed, before all the games above, Math Jam, which would be educational, and focused on schools. However, the bureaucracy to sell something like this led both to give up.

And they also had to deal with a partner, prior to AND THE that, although they helped them in distribution, they did not satisfy the two friends in distribution, and in marketing. But there was no way to simply “go there” and cancel the contract. The solution, then, was to close the company, and open another one, free from any commitment. That’s how, in 1989, the naughty dog.

Keef the Thief – The debut of a video game legend

Promising partnership with AND THE accomplished, now it was time for work. And the work came in the form of an element that would be common in future projects: good humor and crazy characters. Check out the summary of the game: you would control a promising thief who lived on the outskirts of the city of Mercon the Merchant.

There, the penalty for theft was the removal of certain parts of the body. Therefore, the young “hero” should be very careful in his “profession”, training his skills to, finally, steal the city’s greatest treasure. And keep every part of your body to yourself.

The game was a first-person RPG. With lots of parody elements, either in game descriptions or in enemy names. The aim was to steal everything that could be stolen. In an action that involved scenarios such as dungeons, jungles, and even an arena. Although the game was in first person, the focus was on texts, with static images, which only illustrated the place or people you interacted with.

Added to this, a neat soundtrack, at a time when music in computer games was not the biggest concern of the studios. And that’s it: a typical game with the Naughty Dog seal of oddities ready to equip the computers of players of the time. Rubin, currently, can’t believe how this “dream” came true.

In an interview for the book Gamers at Work, he confessed. “Frankly, I still don’t know how we got it. It would be the equivalent today of a child with half a million views on Youtube calling Warner Bros. to make a movie”, he commented, regarding his search for AND THE for game production.

A beautiful one of a kickoff

The first Trickster Dog logo

With Keef the Thief released to Apple II, MS-DOS and Friend, a naughty dog saw the game record over 50,000 copies of the game, a considerably high number for that time. But again, the inexperience and problems among friends, such as the now distance through colleges, which made them improvise remote work, something unimaginable in the early 1990s, brought turbulent days for the studio.

they had problems with Rings of Power, and released a “Mortal Kombat Klone” on 3DO, called Way of the Warrior. With a near bankruptcy, they pooled their last resources to expose projects in the ESC 1994, when they called the attention of Mark Cerny, at the time the executive of Universal Studios, and years later, the chief architect of the Playstation 4.

Before Crash, we had this Mortal Kombat “klone” for 3DO.

That’s how they were given the mission to create a competitor for mario and Sonic, which would be released for the first Playstation. from the minds of Rubin and Gavin, was born then Bandicoot Crash. And the rest of the story we know very well, with the success, and the later purchase of the studio by Sony, in 2001. But it’s interesting to see that it all started with a “stealing” game. But that already counted, from the beginning, on the talent and irreverence of the two friends.

Keef the Thief it’s not a game that would be easily played these days. Unless it was retrofitted as a Point and Click. But with its competent soundtrack, fun and irreverent story, as well as elements of parodies at all times, they showed, from an early age, all the capacity of a studio, which today offers us games with such quality.


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