On the official Naughty Dog blog today, Bruce Straley announced his departure from the studio. Straley joined "The Kennel" back in 1999 and started as a texture artist on Crash Team Racing, but more recently he's known for co-directing blockbusters like Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us.
"This has been the hardest decision of my career," Straley wrote. "Naughty Dog is home. The Kennel is family. I've learned and grown so much from working with this incredible team. But after heading up three extremely demanding projects, and taking some extended time away from the office, I found my energy focusing in other directions, and I slowly realized this was the signal that it's time to move on."
He continued, "I'm leaving Naughty Dog with the strongest team it's ever had, and that's saying a lot. But more than the talent, it's the people that I'll miss the most. The work culture at Naughty Dog is about getting out of your seat and solving problems together. It's what has allowed me to build so many friendships and gain so much respect for this stellar group of people. I get it - 'it's just work' - but when you spend as much time as we do together, in the pressure cooker of creative work and deadlines, you really get to know a person. And I've had my share of difficult and humbling moments.
"But having the privilege to see people grow beyond their concept of what's possible for themselves technically, creatively, and personally has been the most rewarding aspect of my job and continues to motivate me to do the same. I'm so proud to have been a part of this team. I can't wait to see what they create in the future."
Straley did not announce what his next venture would be. He thanked Naughty Dog co-founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin for "taking a chance" on him and he expressed his gratitude to president Evan Wells, Christophe Balestra and everyone else he's worked with at the studio. The praise went both ways, as his colleagues took to Twitter to say kind things. Balestra called Straley "the most talented Game Director I know." Naughty Dog designer Matthew Gallant commented to Straley, "I learned so much about making great games under your direction."
In a separate blog post, Wells remarked, "Over the past few months, Bruce and I have been discussing his eventual return to Naughty Dog after his well-deserved break following Uncharted 4. As we talked about it more, it became clear that his time away led Bruce to realize it was time to move on from Naughty Dog, however hard of a decision that may be. Over the years Naughty Dog has had to part ways with many talented team members, and it's always sad to see them go, but this one is particularly hard for me...
"Bruce's drive for excellence and enthusiastic support for his teammates has helped shape the studio culture and will continue to have a lasting impact. For that alone, the entire team is grateful. And for me, I can attribute much of my own personal growth as a game developer to having worked alongside his amazing talent for more than twenty years. It's really crazy to think that much time has passed! And through it all, I'm even more fortunate to be able to count him as a friend.
"Although I am sad to see him go, I couldn't be more excited to see what ideas Bruce is working on. We all wish him the best luck on his new endeavors."