343 Industries is heading into Halo 4 territory with one less crew member, as creative director Ryan Payton has resigned from the company to pursue new projects at his newly formed studio, Camouflaj. Discussing the reasons for his departure in a recent interview, Payton said his split was driven by a lack of energy for the new Halo chapter(s), and a desire to flex his creative muscles on fresh new properties.
"I had a great run at Microsoft...I don't regret one day of it. But after a few years, there came a point where I wasn't creatively excited about the project anymore," said Payton in an interview with Kotaku. "The Halo I wanted to build was fundamentally different and I don't think I had built enough credibility to see such a crazy endeavor through."
Payton said he was inspired to fly under his own flag after witnessing a friend and fellow developer Jake Kazdal leave EA to work on his own indie RTS game, Skulls of the Shogun. With two titles already in development at Camoflaj, Payton believes he's taken the first step toward achieving a personal goal, explaining, “Some people say I'm crazy, but I want to make a game that one billion people play at once, and it's something that hits them harder than a great book or film.”
More or less burnt out after dedicating years of his life to the hit FPS franchise, Payton explained it took a bout with depression to motivate him to start his own company, noting, “I never thought I'd get to a point where I was so drained... That was when I knew I had to do something else."
Although his time with Halo has ended, Payton stressed his departure from 343 Industries is not at all indicative of Halo 4's quality. In fact, Payton anticipates big things for the 2012 Master Chief sequel, and believes the game is in good hands with franchise director Frank O'Connor and the remaining creative team.
Sep 6, 2011
UPDATE - GamesRadar received the following statement from a Microsoft spokesperson regarding Ryan Payton’s departure from 343 Industries:
343 Industries has assembled an all-star cast of talent working on “Halo 4” under the design leadership of Studio and “Halo 4” Creative Director, Josh Holmes. We're excited to tell the next story in the “Halo” universe with “Halo 4” as the first game in the Reclaimer Trilogy. Ryan Payton, who left earlier this summer, served as Narrative Designer on “Halo 4” for 15 months. Armando Troisi was hired as the “Halo 4” Narrative Director in March, having formerly served as the Lead Cinematic Designer on “Mass Effect 2.” Ryan has been a great friend and colleague during his tenure at 343 Industries and we appreciate his contributions to the team. We wish Ryan the best in his new game development venture.