Amy Hennig, lead writer on the Uncharted series, who has enjoyed over a decade of success at Naughty Dog, has left the company.
IGN broke the news first, citing "numerous trusted sources" who suggested that Hennig had been "writing and leading development" on the recently teased next Uncharted game for PS4.
Perhaps more worryingly, IGN also said that sources claim the creative director was "forced out" by The Last of Us leads Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, and that Nathan Drake's adventures will now come under their control.
Sony have confirmed the departure, issuing the following statement:
"We can confirm that Amy Hennig has left Naughty Dog. Amy has made significant contributions to the game industry and we appreciate all she has done for Naughty Dog. The development timeline of Uncharted will not be impacted."
The development timeline is one thing, but the quality of the series is another. Under Hennig's watch, Uncharted grew to become arguably the biggest exclusive franchise across PlayStation platforms during the last generation, and the stellar script and fantastically written and realised characters had much to do with that success.
To put this kind of creative loss into perspective, it's worth noting that Hennig won the Writers Guild of America's Outstanding Achievement in Writing for Video Games in 2012 and that she was listed by Fortune as one of the most powerful women in gaming. Though the central plots to the Uncharted games have often been a little stock, the series has found an adoring audience thanks to Hennig's keen eye for character nuances, excellently written dialogue, and zippy wit. Which begs the question, if the rumours are true, why the hell would you get rid of her?
Naughty Dog essentially split in two following Uncharted 2, with Hennig leading the team working on Uncharted 3 and Straley and Druckmann focussing on The Last of Us, so the consolidation of the studio under one creative team has precedent, but this is still a huge loss for Naughty Dog and we're left wondering at the reasoning behind it all. Creative clashes? Corporate fiddling? Now that Hennig had enjoyed leading the series singularly on Uncharted 3 did she not want to compromise again? We don't know at this point, but one thing is for sure -- this is something of a blow for the series, and it sounds like there's more here than is currently being said. In any case, we wish her all the best for the future, and it'll be interesting to see where she ends up next.
We'll be updating this as we get more news and context, but what are your initial reactions to this? Do you think Hennig's departure could spell danger for a series that has been acclaimed the world over for her writing and characterisation, or is this just a small drop in the ocean for Naughty Dog and Sony? Let us know below in the comments. [IGN]