Interesting interview over at Kotaku, in which Ryan Payton, a creative director for Halo 4, explained why he’s leaving Microsoft’s 343 Industries to start his own studio.
The short version: Working on Halo was burning Payton out. “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,” he said.
Kotaku makes clear that Payton doesn’t think Halo 4 will be a bad game. And while he didn’t disclose specifics about the popular Xbox 360 shooter’s next sequel, I get the impression that Halo 4 will follow a familiar formula. “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,” he said.
Payton’s comments play into the idea that Halo has run its creative course, even as it remains commercially successful. Halo: Reach, the most recent game in the series, was the most refined sequel yet, but it didn’t break new ground like Halo 1 and 2 did on the original Xbox. Even Bungie, the studio that created and worked on the franchise until last year, is moving on, signing a long-term deal with Activision to create something new.
On a separate note, Payton is another example of an industry veteran leaving a major studio to start his own smaller one. This is a trend in full swing, thanks to online and downloadable platforms like iOS, Xbox Live, the Playstation Network, Facebook and Steam. (For other recent examples, check out Ben Kuchera’s feature onveteran game developers going indie at Ars Technica.)
Payton says he dreams of some day creating a game “that one billion people play at once, and it’s something that hits them harder than a great book or film.” Sounds better than another Halo trilogy to me.