Project Had Become A "Crazy Endeavour"
Microsoft had the pick of the crop when assembling 343 Industries. Who wouldn't want to work on a brand new Halo trilogy destined to delight and earn millions? Ryan Payton, who'd spent most of his career in Japan working at Konami where most famously he'd updated Metal Gear Solid 4's control scheme for contemporary audiences, was one of the first to join the growing team at 343. However, two years on, Payton has walked away from 343 and Halo 4, having been diagnosed with severe depression due to the sheer workload and creative strife endured.
"I had a great run at Microsoft," Payton told Kotaku after announcing his departure from 343 Industries. "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." Payton went on to explain that the vision he had of Halo 4 was "fundamentally different" to what 343 was assembling. Such was the workload - both creatively and physically - that Payton was then diagnosed with severe depression. "I never thought I'd get to a point where I was so drained," he reveals. "That was when I knew I had to do something else."
Payton still speaks highly of the talented team at 343 and the work they're putting in on Halo 4, but between his depression and creative differences, he was forced to leave. He has no doubt played an important part in Halo 4's creation, working side-by-side with franchise director, Frank O'Connor, to shape the story and universe of the new Halo trilogy, and was instrumental in the hiring of Metal Gear Solid 4 audio director, Sotaro Tojima. "There's no doubt that his Japanese sensibilities will bring a lot to the new game," said Payton of his former Konami colleague, "and I'm confident the game is going to sound epic."
It's never a great sign when a high-ranking employee leaves a project midway through development - just look at how Bodycount turned out without Stuart Black - but Payton's departure doesn't appear to be tied to Halo 4's quality. He obviously has doubts over its direction, but Payton's interest in indie development - he was party inspired to leave 343 while watching his friend, Jake Kazdal, work late into the night on personal project Skulls of the Shogun.
"Some people say I'm crazy, but I want to make a game that one billion people play at once," Payton explains, "and it's something that hits them harder than a great book or film." He's already set up his own studio, Camouflaj, which is hard at work on two titles. We'll be sure to keep you updated on what Payton and Camouflaj come up with in the near future. [Kotaku]