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Uncharted 4's development team just lost another key member. Director Justin Richmond has decided to leave Naughty Dog for another developer.
"I have in fact made the decision to leave Naughty Dog," Richmond told IGN. "I love the company and the people and know that they will continue to create awesome games going forward."
Richmond led development of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' multiplayer. He then served as co-director on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception along with Amy Hennig. Hennig departed Naughty Dog at the beginning of March following a decade with the company.
Hennig's departure was accompanied by rumors that she had been "forced out" by Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann, the game director and creative director on Last of Us. Naughty Dog strongly denied this report, however. Hennig hasn't spoken about her reasons for leaving Naughty Dog yet.
There's less mystery surrounding Richmond's exodus. He's decided to take a position with Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends.
"There is some really innovative stuff going on here that I can't wait to be a part of."
League of Legends has over 67 million players as of January 2014. The game brings in an estimated $200 million per year for Riot. With pockets that deep, the studio can probably afford to hire whoever they want. Another recent hire by the studio was Greg Street, former lead systems designer for World of Warcraft.
It's not clear whether Richmond will be contributing to LoL or some unannounced project. Last year assets from a multiplayer card game called League of Legends: Supremacy were leaked by a hacker. Riot suggested at the time that this game was a prototype that won't actually be released. However, it's likely that Riot's working on another project now that their sole game is five years old. They may leverage LoL's existing player base to launch another related game, just as Blizzard used WarCraft as a launchpad for StarCraft, World of Warcraft and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
Naughty Dog, meanwhile, has to finish the first PS4 Uncharted game without Richmond's services. When Hennig left, it was rumored that Straley and Druckmann would be taking over control of the game's development. That hasn't been confirmed but seems plausible now that both Uncharted 3 leads are gone.
The studio has been making Uncharted 4 since 2011 so it may almost be complete. If so, the departure of Hennig and Richmond may not end up hurting development too much.
"SCEA can confirm Justin Richmond has left Naughty Dog to pursue other opportunities," the company said in a statement. "The development timeline of Uncharted will not be impacted."
We've honestly heard more behind-the-scenes details on Uncharted 4 than details about the game itself. All Naughty Dog has released so far is a teaser trailer that doesn't even confirm the actual title of the game. The only things we know for sure is that it's being developed for the PS4 and that Madagascar may be one of the locations in the campaign.