Bruce Straley, co-director of The Last Of Us and multiple Uncharted games, is stepping away from Naughty Dog. The 18-year Naughty Dog vet broke the news via a heartfelt post on the developer’s website today, saying that “after heading up three extremely demanding projects, and taking some extended time away from the office” he found his “energy” focusing in other directions and realized it was time to move on. “I’m leaving Naughty Dog with the strongest team it’s ever had, and that’s saying a lot,” Straley wrote.
He is the second Uncharted game director to leave the company. His Uncharted 2 co-director, Amy Hennig, left in 2014 amid rumors she was “forced out” as Straley and Neil Druckmann were given more control over Uncharted 4 after co-directing the hugely acclaimed The Last Of Us. (Naughty Dog denied those reports.) Hennig has since landed at Electronic Arts where she’s working on a new Star Wars game.
The stated reason for Straley’s departure hints toward Naughty Dog’s notoriously intense development process. Hennig once noted in an interview that she commonly worked 80 hours a week during her 10-and-a-half-year tenure at the studio and that “a lot” of its employees, especially those in leadership roles, put in similar hours. The company’s struggle with that insane work ethic even informed the story and themes of Uncharted 4, which saw swashbuckling treasure hunter Nathan Drake having to choose between settling down and going on another final epic adventure. Maybe that “time away” has convinced Straley to go with the former.