Bruce Straley, the co-director of The Last of Us and Uncharted 4, announced his departure from Naughty Dog today in a heartfelt message on the official site. Straley has been with Naughty Dog since 1999, working as an artist on Crash Team Racing and the Jak and Daxter series. He had previously taken some time away from game development after Uncharted 4‘s release. He writes:
This has been the hardest decision of my career. 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.
It’s certainly true that Bruce Straley was a major influence in the creative process for Naughty Dog’s games, especially as co-director of both The Last of Us and Uncharted 4. The time and effort that goes into the production of these games must be taxing, which Straley alludes to in his statement. He will definitely be missed, but he doesn’t seem too worried about the studio’s future. He notes the current team at Naughty Dog is “the strongest team it’s ever had”, and looks forward to what they’ll do next.