Creative director quits 343 Industries

Ryan Payton leaves Halo 4 developer feeling "drained"

Ryan Payton, one of 343 Industries' creative directors working on Halo 4, has left the studio, citing creative ennui and a desire to move on to new projects.

Payton, who worked on Metal Gear Solid 4 at Konami before moving back to the US to care for his mother, had lost enthusiasm for the project but held no regrets about his time at Microsoft, Kotaku reports.

"I had a great run at Microsoft," said Payton. "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 endeavour through."

Payton still has faith in Halo 4 and the team behind it, but felt that the game's development has ceased to speak to him. Having being diagnosed with depression earlier this year, Payton needed a change - inspired in part by watching friend Jake Kazdal's progress on his indie title Skulls of the Shogun.

"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," Payton told Kotaku. "That was when I knew I had to do something else."

That something else is Payton's new studio, Camoflaj, where he's already working on two new titles.

"I think time is the most valuable thing we have," concludes Payton, "and I've decided that I'm not going to waste one more day working on something that doesn't speak to my values."

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Latest comments (17)

The question remains - what did he mean by "crazy endeavour"

Too ambitous?
Change from original vision to a new vision and requirement eg. Halo MMO + Halo 4 + halo social ?
Dilution of vision?

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James Prendergast Research Chemist 6 years ago
Good luck, Ryan. Hope it all works out for you.
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Richard Archer Global Endpoint Technologies Manager & Team Lead, Square Enix6 years ago
Don't you just hate it when over-engineering your company's trendy new name makes it sound like a wardrobe malfunction?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Archer on 6th September 2011 2:56pm

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Show all comments (17)
Well, I know how depression can be destructive... Im pretty sure that NOTHING, even if it was unbelievable in this project, could make he change his mind. Best wishes Ryan.
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Christian Philippe Guay Technical Game Designer, Gameloft Montreal6 years ago
Maybe he wanted something different from past halo, but 343 industries didn't want something too different.
We'll only know when we'll play it.

Thumbs up to Ryan to quit and do something else that might better fit with his values.
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Nicholas Tannahill Public Relations, Firefly Studios6 years ago
All the best Ryan, I'm sure you'll find that spark again soon.
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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek6 years ago
Halo has a massive fan base so its understandable Microsoft would be pushing it down the same path as before. Its like not reinventing the wheel, unfortunately not everyone wants to work on the same old wheels forever.

On the one side I really hope they change Halo ever so slightly to feel fresh, but after ODST and Reach Microsoft will be so paranoid about change after not so successful previous attempts.

I'm really looking forward to what 343 do with the game none the less.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 6 years ago
@Andreas... The good luck was for him overcoming a difficult time in his life.... Nothing to do with the artistic differences etc.
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Nicholas Russell writer 6 years ago
@Dr. Chee Ming Wong

I think he may have meant it's too complacent actually Doctor. When you think about it Microsoft is putting all their eggs in one kind of basket right now and that may end up hurting them in the long run. After all, this is a sequel we're talking about here.

As for Mr. Ryan I hope that more developers go his route. Right now, in a landscape dominated by 3's, 4's, and even 14's (I'm looking at you Final Fantasy, Megaman, Call of Duty, and all you other lazy franchises) it's getting to the point that the only way to actually do something new you have to start up your own company and go indie. I wish him all the best and look forward to reviewing his games if he goes down the iOS or STEAM route.
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Sean Warren Inspector 6 years ago
Welcome back to the land of the lost, Brother.
Thanks for all your hard work, and for the record:
Best of luck to you in whatever your next endeavor may be.
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It is quite refreshing to see such a bold and mature move in the industry. Huge fan of Payton and what he has managed to achieve in such a short period of time.

With Payton having so alot of influence and lead a position while on MGS4 you can tell he will be of the Kojima design mindset, which I am always going to be hyped for. Even with the name Camoflaj it just sounds Kojima like!

At KojiPro he must have had quite alot of control but the pace of the work must have been manic. While in the West I'm sure 343 don't want to be as expressive and different with a franchise MS pin alot of hopes on.
It's hard in the west to be able to make such bold creative changes to a franchise a platform holder sees as their "mascot"

Fortunately an Indie has shown him the light! Really looking forwards to seeing more expressive forms of entertainment from Camoflaj

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Might be easier for Payton to make or help build new IP without the boa constrictors of a giant franchise. The thing with sacred cows is they may need to be slaughtered/partly dismembered for a unique expression whilst still living within the same universe as the franchise. This doesnt mean going Lady gaga on the Halo Universe - anyways it remains to be seen who else steps into the shoes, to carry the franchise forward
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 6 years ago
There's nothing wrong with taking a break and recollecting yourself. People in our industry don't do it often enough (cites massive burnout rates).
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John Kauderer Associate Creative Director, Atari6 years ago
Well Halo 1,2, and 3 were all very similar so why would anyone assume Halo 4 would be any different? I guess Halo Reach was supposed to be a slight deviation. I couldn't be more bored with the franchise as a whole. It will be interesting to see how the next installment does. I'm sure it will sell like gangbusters but it would practically take an act of God to make me even remotely interested in playing it.
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Personally, a Halo meets Mass Effect/Uncharted adventure would be the direction I'd go if it was my IP to lend it more of a exploratory adventure feel (space the final one has really fully utilized it to good effect yet. ME is a good start). Everything else could be lobbed in the online/multiplayer aspect.
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ6 years ago
I totally hear this guy.

Creatives in the industry need CREATIVE OUTLETS, and the "tried and proven" titles that follow on from solid brands do not always (read rarely do) provide that sort of creative excitement and "blue sky thinking" that satisfies that creative desire.

It's just a fact of life, I guess.

You kind of need to be out on a limb, trying something new, trying to do something and not knowing what it's going to be exactly, not even knowing if it's going to work!

That's excitement! :)

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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ6 years ago
Would have been curious to know what his plans for Halo were. Probably something altogether too interesting and risky to go ahead with.

I find Halo totally bland-o. (Spoken by someone who's only ever briefly played Halo 1 years ago!)
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