Ryan Payton, Narrative Designer on Halo 4, left 343 Industries, according to Kotaku. Payton – formerly of Kojima Productions, where he worked on Metal Gear Solid 4 – was diagnosed with severe depression a few months ago. “I had a great run at Microsoft,” Payton said. “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… 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.”
The split is amicable – Payton has said that he doesn’t think Halo 4 is a bad game, and 343 Industries wishes him the best of luck in his new endeavors. What are those new endeavors? He wanted to start up his own game studio and do something less constraining than work on triple A titles, and so he has started up his own studio, Camouflaj. Two new titles are already in development. Payton said, “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.”
Payton has been replaced by Armando Troisi, Lead Cinematic Designer on Mass Effect 2, as the Halo 4 Narrative Director. I have to say that what Payton did took a lot of courage, and I look forward to seeing what kind of games he can create in this new atmosphere.