Halo 4 is a whole new trilogy featuring the return of Master Chief to the 360. The original trilogy, as well as the offshoot ODST and prequel Reach, was developed and created by Bungie Studios. Microsoft and Bungie have parted ways, leaving the continuation of Halo in the hands of 343 Industries. Made up of Microsoft employees, Halo fans, and a few former Bungie employees the studio is under pressure to live up to the hype created by the series.
It’s still early in development, but creative director Ryan Payton has left the project. Not only that, but he’s walked away from 343 Industries as a whole. “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,” Payton told Kotaku in a statement.
The project is still young, with release currently scheduled for sometime in 2012. So, what does this really mean?
Creative directors and developers at video game studios aren’t usually household names. Payton himself is known to hardcore video game nerds as the guy who made Metal Gear Solid 4 playable and comprehensible to the western world. He made the podcast rounds during that game’s press tour, and sort of took over as the face of Metal Gear.
Despite his achievements with a game that is finished in MGS4, there’s just no telling whether this departure is good or bad for Halo 4. Truthfully I don’t see this is a condemnation of the game by Payton, just a personal decision to move on. To not be involved in something that he no longer believes in, and that’s the smart move to make.
Halo 4 could turn out to be a huge stinking pile of shit. It could destroy the Halo franchise and make children cry. It could become the greatest artistic achievement in the history of interactive entertainment. It could just be a whole lot of fun. But very little of that will have to do with Ryan Payton.
I’m not sure what Payton did on the project, as he’s under a non-disclosure agreement and therefore unable to give any hints, but it sounds like the decision to leave was entirely personal. I firmly believe you should love what you do for a living, and never compromise on that ideal.
Halo 4 is scheduled for release in the fall of 2012 for the Xbox 360.