Holding the position of assistant producer at Kojima Productions, Ryan Payton was one of the first big name talents to join then-unnamed 343 Industries team at Microsoft back in late 2008.
Initially the industry veteran was reportedly involved with the Bungie/Peter Jackson-collaborated Halo Chronicles project as creative director, before that wound up being canceled; afterward he was moved over to unannounced Halo 4, where he took up the position of narrative designer.
Three years and an official announcement of the new Halo trilogy later, Payton is taking his leave from 343i. Speaking to Kotaku, the former staffer says, “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.”
“For somebody who loves this industry as much as I do and know how lucky I’ve been, 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.”
According to Payton, “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.“
“I think time is the most valuable thing we have, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to waste one more day working on something that doesn’t speak to my values.“
While he’s no longer going to be involved with 343i, Microsoft or Halo, there are still games in his future. A new Japanese studio dubbed Camoflaj has been established by Payton, where two unannounced, and seemingly less financially risky projects are currently being worked on.
Payton had nothing but positive words for his now former colleagues at 343i and for Halo 4, which he, naturally, thinks will turn out just fine next year. There are a number of employees at the studio under the same and/or similar roles, too, so this really shouldn’t alarm anyone.
[Update]: Microsoft responds:
“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.”