Microsoft studio 343 Industries has insisted the morale of its Halo 4 development team hasn't been affected by the high-profile departure of creative director Ryan Payton.
The ex-Metal Gear Solid 4 producer, who was working on narrative design for Halo 4, confirmed his exit from 343 earlier this month, putting his decision down to not being "creatively excited" by the project anymore.
Speaking to CVG's TGS foot soldiers following Payton's exit, 343's franchise development director Frank O'Connor claimed most Halo 4 staffers "probably wouldn't know what he was actually doing on the game" anyway.
"I'm not really going to get into that conversation because Ryan's a friend of mine and he's nearby, but Ryan hasn't been the creative director on Halo for more than fifteen months and he was doing something different in the game when we left," O'Conner explained.
"He was working on the narrative design on the game. I absolutely get that in some ways he was making a game with cinematics and for want of a better term - fairly conventional storytelling.
"Ryan comes from a Japanese gaming background; he worked on Metal Gear, obviously, and he chose a fairly surreal blend of storytelling and action. I think he wanted to do something much more...
"I don't want to speak for him, that's so unfair, but definitely coming from his Japanese narrative background, the narrative design stuff that he was doing with Halo was very sort of European-American style of conventional narrative story-telling," he added.
"I can absolutely see why he wouldn't find that challenging and innovative. I wish him well. He wasn't working on game design at all."
Asked if the exit affected team moral, O'Conner said: "Not really. I mean Ryan was reporting to a guy called Armando Troisi from Bioware, who was heading up our design. We valued Ryan's input but he hasn't been leading the project for more than fifteen months so it didn't affect us at all.
"Ryan had actually been gone for quite some time before that news story showed up, so it was kind of a surprise for us that it actually came up.
"If you ask a lot of the team they probably wouldn't know what he was actually doing on the game, so that hasn't been a negative for the team or the studio. It was just the noise from the story has been a little bit unexpected."
O'Conner concluded: "He was one of the only people that people knew was working on the game, period. But it would be like if I left the studio! They would get on just fine if I left tomorrow, but it would be big news because I'm one of the main names associated with it. Yeah they know what they're doing."