Insiders describe ‘Fast and Furious’ exits from Xbox Perfect Dark studio

X-Box‘s The initiative VGC has learned that the studio has seen a “fast and furious” wave of seniors leaving in the past 12 months.

Up to half of the core development team known to be working in the future total darkness Rebooting, he left the company within the past year, or analysis of employee LinkedIn profiles revealed about 34 people.

This includes most of the initiative’s first design team, including Game Director Dan NeuburgerAnd the Design Director Drew Murraylead level designer Chris O’Neill, global lead designer Jolyon Myers, two senior systems designers, A group of three former God of War designers and more.

And the turnover of top talent doesn’t end with design: Perfect Dark’s two biggest writers recently resigned as well, and analytics shows, along with project art director, technical art director, lead gameplay architect, lead animator, QA lead and more.

According to LinkedIn, the initiative is now under 50 people (when duplicates, ex-employees, and erroneous lists are removed) and currently has Only three roles advertised on its website. Analyzes indicate that it has employed about 12 people in the past 12 months.

The departure date coincides with the September 2021 announcement Crystal Dynamics has been signed to co-develop Perfect Dark.

This, combined with the few job roles currently announced on The Initiative, suggests that the Tomb Raider developer is likely to take the lead a lot more powerfully than he initially thought of the project.

Interviews with several former senior developers cited a lack of creative independence and slow development progress as the reason for their departure, describing the wave of exit as “fast and furious” with the momentum of the project said to be “heavily affected”.

The initiative’s management told VGC that they are confident in their existing team and the joining of new talent, and noted industry-wide recruitment challenges during the pandemic.

“It’s not the job of building a studio and reinventing a beloved franchise,” studio head Daryl Gallagher told VGC. “In creating the initiative, we set out to leverage joint development partnerships to realize our ambitions, and we are really excited about all the progress we are seeing in our relationship with Crystal Dynamics.

“On this journey, it is not uncommon for there to be changes in staffing, especially during the period of global turmoil over the past two years, and there is a lot of work ahead of us to deliver a great perfect experience for our players.

“We wish all our former teammates the best, I’m confident in the team we have, and the new talent that’s joining, and we can’t wait to share more with the fans.”

In the gaming industry, the competition for experienced talent reached an all-time high after the pandemic gaming boom, and any unhappy team would have had plenty of offers from the countless AAA studios nearby in California.

Insiders describe checkouts
The initiative was formed in 2018.

Across the industry, many studios are currently facing a talent crunch, with the massive level of expansion and investment making it difficult for even the largest studios to retain and attract top staff for the number of roles they occupy.

Previous initiative developers that VGC spoke to attributed the wave of departures to frustration among top talent about the direction of the project set by Gallagher and game director Daniel Neuburger (who left the company himself last month).

although Initiative website Former employees claim that the company promotes a “collaborative” creative environment, and describe the studio’s development hierarchy as very “downward”, with Gallagher and Neuburger both maintaining a strong understanding of creative decisions.

According to former employees, many senior team members were frustrated by this perceived lack of autonomy and did not feel heard on key issues such as development priorities, project planning and team recruitment.

Sources said both Gallagher and Neuburger, who were previously studio head and director of games at Crystal Dynamics, wanted to make games the way they had always been with a top-down trend, while many of the initiative’s staff were anticipating a bottom-up approach.

As a result, it is claimed that development progressed slowly “painfully” and that a strong corporate culture was never formed. All the ex-employees VGC spoke to said they were surprised at how lenient they were Microsoft It was because of the lack of progress.

One person said, “Game making is hard enough, not to mention when you feel like you can’t reach the people who make the decisions that affect everyone.”

The culture issue was behind the decision to bring Crystal Dynamics on board, allegedly, with Gallagher and Neuburger allegedly hoping production would move more smoothly while introducing a second team familiar with their methods.

Insiders describe checkouts
It is claimed that development in Perfect Dark has been “painfully slow”.

The introduction of Crystal Dynamics is now likely to fill in the gaps left by the initiative’s staff turnover, VGC was told.

VGC sources agreed that they would be surprised if the introduction of Crystal Dynamics, along with critical departures for key staff, didn’t result in an effective soft reboot of Perfect Dark and that it’s still likely years after release.

It is understood that the Xbox leadership team is willing to be patient with new first-party teams (which includes those currently operating Stadiumtale and rare‘s Everwild), because they prioritize assembling groups capable of producing the kind of prestigious and highly acclaimed projects that come from Sony‘s obedient dog And the insomnia.

Perfect Dark Development Team

(Departure times are marked with strike) / former team / projects in parentheses


  • Daryl Gallagher, Head of Studio (ActivisionAnd the Square Enix)
  • Lindsey McQueen, Director of Human Resources (googleCrystal Dynamics)
  • Dickson Lee, Director of Finance and Operations


  • Daniel Neuburger, Game Director (Tomb Raider series) (left February 2022)
  • Drew Murray, Design Director (Sunset Overdrive) (left February 2021)
  • Christian Cantamisa, film director (Red Dead Redemption)
  • Chris O’Neill, Principal Level Designer, Associate Design Director (God of War + Metal Gear Online) (left December 2021)
  • Richard Burns, UI/UX Lead (Horizon Forza series)
  • Robert Ryan, Senior Systems Designer (motivation + naughty dog)
  • Justin Perez, Senior Systems Designer (Serious: Fallen Order) (left November 2021)
  • Kurt Lodi, Senior Systems Designer (Software ID) (left October 2021)
  • Ian Miller, Chief Designer (God of War) (left in March 2022)
  • Kai Cheng, master level designer (God of War) (left October 2021)
  • Ray Yeomans, Chief Designer (God of War & Tomb Raider series) (left April 2021)
  • Jolyon Myers, Master World Builder (Infiniti import) (left January 2022)
  • Nigel Luster, Playstyle Designer (Alliance) (left February 2022)
  • Sean Slyback, Principal Systems Designer (reinfinity suite) (left August 2021)
  • Daniel steamER, Chief Technical Designer (Crystal Dynamics)
  • Christian Guzman, Associate Technical Designer
  • Remy Lacoste, Experimental Director (Crystal Dynamics)
  • Joy Tan, Associate Technical Designer (Insomniac) (left December 2021)
  • Branford Williams, lead production designer (Daybreak)

the book

  • Blake Fisher, Narrative Director (Xbox) (left in June 2021)
  • Kristen Thompson, Narrative Head (Saucepan 2) (left July 2021)
  • Robert Shannon, Story Designer (The Alliance)
  • Nicole Phillips, lead author


  • William Archpel, Technical Director (Riot Games343) (left August 2021)
  • Francisco Issa Garcia, Technical Lead (Naughty Dog)
  • Ben Diamond, Principal Systems Engineer (Respawn, God of War III)
  • Cesar Castro, Senior Software Engineer (EA Sports – A Brand of Electronic Arts UFC, FIFA) (left May 2021)
  • Hoare Dogramaci, Senior Graphics Engineer (Naughty Dog) (left April 2021)
  • Robert Marr, Principal Gameplay Architect (Cryptic Studios) (left April 2021)
  • John Liu, Chief Playing Engineer (Hammer)
  • Anthony Silva, Senior Engineer
  • Yuka Murata, software engineer (left July 2021)
  • Stephen Claiborne, Senior Architect, Online Services (left in June 2021)
  • Chris Panossian, Cyber ​​Security Engineer


  • Brian Westergaard, Production Director (God of War, Tomb Raider series)
  • Maxwell Morrison, Quality Assurance Leader (left February 2022)
  • Victoria Miller, Senior Producer (Play Station)
  • Johal Gao, Senior Producer (Treyarch) (left October 2021)
  • Jonathan Chavez, Co-Producer (Tryark)
  • Nicole Bloom, Director of Outsourcing (The Alliance)


  • Ryan Dauphin, Director of Playstyle Animation (BioWareAnd the Dice)
  • Lee Davis, Head of Playstyle Animation (Naughty Dog) (left in March 2022)
  • Jason Priest, lead artist (Insomniac)
  • Eric Jacobsen, Director of Environmental Art (God of War)
  • Marcia Hunseker, Senior Video Game Animator (343)
  • Eric Pearson, Assistant Technical Director (left August 2021)
  • Ryan Trowbridge, Technical Director (Bend Studio) (left in June 2021)
  • Matt Corcoran, main character artist (Jurassic World movie) (left February 2022)
  • Szy Jones, main character artist (Tomb Raider, Unknown 4) (left December 2020)
  • Tyler Thornock, Chief Technical Animator (Naughty Dog)
  • Giovanni Martinez, Senior Environmental Artist (Insomniac) September 2021
  • Justin Walters, Senior Environmental Artist (Avalanche)
  • Pasquale Scionti, Senior Environment/Lighting Artist (left in June 2021)
  • Sarah Swenson, Environmental Artist (Naughty Dog) (left in March 2021)
  • Jaime Molina, environmental artist (Infinity Ward)
  • Patrick Ward, 3D environment artist (Nixon) (left May 2021)
  • Fabian Elmers, Senior Technical Artist
  • Oliver Jenny, concept artist (Black Ops 4)
  • Isaac Yeram Kim, concept artist (Naughty Dog) (left in June 2021)
  • Victor Chavez, chief animator (amazon gaming studios)
  • Carlos G, Senior Technical Artist
  • Arlington Cruz, animator (left January 2021)
  • Sylvia Chambers, Animator (Naughty Dog) (left October 2021)

Recent new appointments

  • Adam MacDonald, Chief Designer (Alliance) March 2021
  • Stephen Tay, Principal Visual Effects Artist (Infinity Ward) May 2021
  • Lara Paulelli, Franchise Manager June 2021
  • James Zhang, Junior Visual Effects Artist July 2021
  • Will Polowsky, Support Engineer September 2021
  • Michel Bastien, Studio General Manager (turn 10) October 2021
  • Landon McDonnell, Senior Director of Engineering (Riot Corporation) October 2021
  • Alex Leonard, Chief Play Engineer (Triarch) November 2021
  • Michaela Christina Faith, Game Engineer December 2021
  • Peter Santoki, Senior Graphics Engineer (2 K) January 2022
  • Heather Jackett, Chief Designer (Alliance) February 2022
  • LJ Duey, writing assistant February 2022

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.