Ryan Payton, the man in charge of overseeing the creative team behind the next trilogy of Halo games, has walked away from 343 Industries. Payton claims that the game had become a "crazy endeavor" and that he had "a great run at Microsoft."
The news may surprise people almost as much as being blindsided by an energy sword, but Payton emphasized that he didn't quit the team Microsoft entrusted the future of it's #1 franchise to because the game was turning out poorly. Instead, Payton, who worked on Metal Gear Solid 4, stated that the way the game was turning out was not according to his original vision. "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."
In a peculiar closing statement, Payton said that "time is the most valuable thing we have, and I've decided that I'm not going to waste one more day working on something that doesn't speak to my values." This statement can be interpreted a couple of different ways, but if you believe that Payton's "values" involve crafting a deep and interesting storyline and characters, then it's a distinct possibility that he left because he felt his team was more focused on "cashing in" than crafting a uniquely great game.
We likely won't ever know for sure the real reason Payton left. But if Halo 4 launches in late 2012 to mixed reviews, we might have a really good guess.