Bruce Straley has announced his departure from Naughty Dog in a heartfelt blog posted to the studio’s website. He’s best known for his work on the Uncharted franchise, as well as his role as co-director on The Last of Us alongside Neil Druckmann.

“This has been the hardest decision of my career,” wrote Straley. “Naughty Dog is home. The Kennel is family. I’ve learned and grown so much from working with this incredible team.” There’s no word on what’s next for the designer, but by all accounts he’ll be continuing his creative endeavors elsewhere.

Straley joined Naughty Dog in 1999, doing texture work on Crash Team Racing. Before that, he spent some time at Crystal Dynamics, where he first crossed paths with Amy Hennig, who he would later collaborate with on the Uncharted games — he described both Hennig and Druckmann as “great creative partners” in his farewell blog.

Throughout the production of Jak and Daxter and its two sequels, Straley played an important role bridging the gap between Naughty Dog’s artistic and technical staff, helping carve out the game’s visual appearance. His good work saw him named co-art director on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune alongside Bob Rafei.

By Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, he had been promoted to game director, setting himself and the game a target of winning a game of the year award. This came to pass, a first for the studio, and so Straley was afforded a great deal of creative freedom as he embarked upon the creation of The Last of Us alongside Druckmann.

“Although I am sad to see him go, I couldn’t be more excited to see what ideas Bruce is working on,” wrote Naughty Dog president Evan Wells in his own post. “We all wish him the best luck on his new endeavors.”

Given that Straley and Hennig go back such a long way, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the pair work together once again in the future. Hennig is currently hard at work on an untitled Star Wars project for EA. Whatever happens, a top-tier talent such as Straley is sure to be in high demand, whether he wants to head to another major studio or strike out in his own.

Source: Naughty Dog