Bruce Straley, co-director on both The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, announced today he would be leaving developer Naughty Dog. He'd been with the company since 1999.
"This has been the hardest decision of my career. Naughty Dog is home," Straley said in a goodbye post on the developer's website. "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."
Straley first joined Naughty Dog in 1999 as the company's 15th employee to work on the cart racer Crash Team Racing. He's also had a hand in the company's other series, such as Jak & Daxter and the highly-regarded Uncharted franchise. For Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Straley took on a leadership position at the company as game director along with Amy Hennig. Since then, he's become somewhat of a figurehead for Naughty Dog alongside his creative partner Neil Druckmann. Together the two have directed The Last of Us – regarded by many as one of the best games of all time – its DLC Left Behind and last year's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
When The Last of Us 2 was announced at the 2016 PlayStation Experience, news quickly started circulating that Straley would not reprise his role as director, instead taking a sabbatical from Naughty Dog. As he states above, that sabbatical has since pulled his life to other pursuits.
"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," Straley said. "With the deepest gratitude – thank you to everyone I’ve gotten to work with over the years. I’ll miss you and your energy profoundly."
Straley concludes by saying he will be continuing "the journey into the creative process," but has no news to report just yet.