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343 Industries, commonly shortened to 343i or 343, is a subsidiary of Microsoft Studios located in Kirkland, Washington. It is tasked with overseeing the Halo franchise and creating new properties for the series. The team's name is a reference to 343 Guilty Spark, the monitor of Installation 04.
Before the formation of 343 Industries in 2007, the Microsoft Game Studios Franchise Development Group (MGSFDG) was responsible for expanding Microsoft's video game franchises. A prominent example of their contribution in the Halo franchise would be their book publication arrangement with publishers Ballantine Books and Tor Books which published a number of Halo novels over the years.
Following the end of partnership between Bungie and Microsoft in 2007, Microsoft sought to form an internal studio from its internal development group to oversee the future development of the Halo franchise; 343 Industries was thus established. A small number of Bungie employees transferred to the internal studio, notably Frank O'Connor and Chad Armstrong. In addition, several members of the new studio were hired from the Halo fan community, including Jeremy Patenaude and Jacob Benton of Ascendant Justice and later Jeff "GrimBrotherOne" Easterling.
Projects and partnerships
343's first project was Halo Waypoint, a downloadable Xbox LIVE application developed in conjunction with Certain Affinity and released in 2009. Its content is also available on the official Halo website at Xbox.com. Certain Affinity also created the maps in the Defiant Map Pack, the first map pack to be released by 343, and has since worked with 343 Industries on several projects.
In 2010, 343 released the first episode of their official podcast, entitled 343 Sparkast. After Bungie announced they would discontinue Halo-related Bungie Weekly Updates on July 7, 2011, 343 Industries started publishing the Halo Bulletin, a weekly writeup of Halo news.
343 Industries often works with outside companies to produce content; these include ONE and MoreFrames, who created several motion comics based on Halo: Evolutions stories, as well as Sequence, who have worked on the terminal videos in 343's game releases as well as Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series. 343 Industries' first game release, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, was developed in conjunction with Saber Interactive and released in 2011. Saber Interactive also worked on Halo 2: Anniversary, a similar remastering of Halo 2 released as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in 2014. The top-down shooters Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spartan Strike were co-developed with Vanguard Games, while Halo Wars 2 was co-developed with Creative Assembly. Blur Studio created the CGI cinematics for Halo 2 Anniversary and Halo Wars 2, while Axis Animation produced those for Spartan Ops and Halo 5: Guardians. The tabletop games Halo: Fleet Battles and Halo: Ground Command were co-developed with Spartan Games.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was the first Halo release on the Xbox One console, marking the onset of a phase of the series known as "The Journey". This multimedia project would encompass a number of works, including the digital series Halo: Nightfall, which would tie into the next major game in the series, Halo 5: Guardians. The Halo Channel was introduced as a next-generation replacement for Halo Waypoint on the Xbox One, while Halo: The Television Series remains in development.
Universe development and storytelling
Although Halo "expanded universe" fiction has always shared the same continuity as the games, under Bungie's watch material from outside the games was generally regarded as ancillary and was rarely intertwined with the games in a significant way; references to the novels, for instance, rarely amounted to more than throwaway lines. This was in part due to a disconnect between Bungie and Microsoft's Franchise Development Group, who were largely responsible for the creation of secondary media at the time. An effort was made to keep different pieces of media as their own, self-contained "bubbles," so that they would not have a significant impact on other stories. For example, Frank O'Connor stated that the story of Halo Wars effectively exists in a bubble, having little bearing on the Halo story at large. According to O'Connor, this approach was "safer" from a development perspective, but it made many pieces of fiction seem extraneous or "disposable," as they had no crucial impact on one another.
Circa 2008, however, 343 Industries decided that all future media they released would be more heavily interconnected. This included further integrating the fiction of the games and the novels into a seamless whole, with different pieces of media complementing one another in meaningful ways. Even though the main game series is still the primary focus of the studio, all other fiction has been stated to have a resonant impact on the games' stories in a way unlike before. For example, the novels of the Kilo-Five Trilogy and The Forerunner Saga have direct connections to the story of Halo 4. 343i also sought to establish more characters to tell stories with in different parts of the Halo universe, with studio head Bonnie Ross stating that the previous approach of killing characters at the end of games made it more difficult to tell connected stories.
By 2016, 343 Industries had come to deem the stories of their past games overly complex and decided that in the future, the Halo games would have "simpler" narratives while secondary media would be used to tell deeper stories, with individual narratives being kept in their own "swimlanes". According to Bonnie Ross, "while we love our transmedia, sometimes I do think we do tell a little bit too much story in our games; you know when you have a gun and then you have aliens shooting at you, it is kind of hard to digest a lot of story." Ross cited Halo Wars 2 as an example of a game story that followed the studio's new approach.
343 Industries has built up a mythos of in-jokes related to Unicorns, which is referenced in the background of the FOTUS armor permutation. There is also a tongue-in-cheek in-universe counterpart of the studio itself, named the "434 Combat Readiness Lab". 343 Industries also has a in-universe company with the same name.
Upcoming and ongoing
- Halo Waypoint - An in-house production for Xbox LIVE.
- Halo Channel - A next-generation hub of Halo multimedia.
- Reclaimer Saga - A saga of Halo games.
- Halo: The Television Series - An upcoming TV series in partnership with Steven Spielberg.
- Halo: Legacy of Onyx - An upcoming novel by Matt Forbeck.
- Halo: Warfleet - An upcoming technical manual of the Halo universe.
- Halo: Retribution - An upcoming novel by Troy Denning.
- Halo Wars - A real-time strategy game made in conjunction with Ensemble Studios and Robot Entertainment.
- Halo: Helljumper - A comic book series written by Peter David and drawn by Eric Nguyen.
- Halo Encyclopedia - Edited by Tobias Buckell and published by DK Books.
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - A collection of short stories written by Eric Nylund, Tobias Buckell, Karen Traviss, and other critically acclaimed authors.
- Halo: Blood Line - A comic book series written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Francis Portela.
- Halo Legends - A collection of anime shorts created in partnership with numerous Japanese studios.
- Revised versions of Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: The Flood, and Halo: First Strike.
- Halo: The Essential Visual Guide - A guidebook to the Halo universe published by DK Books.
- Online support for Halo: Reach - DLCs, stats and the Title Update.
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - A remake of Halo: Combat Evolved, featuring several multiplayer maps for the Halo: Reach engine.
- The Forerunner Saga - A series of novels written by Greg Bear.
- Halo: Fall of Reach - A comic book adaptation of the novel of the same name, written by Brian Reed with art by Felix Ruiz.
- Kilo-Five Trilogy - A post-war novel series written by Karen Traviss.
- Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn - A live-action prequel miniseries.
- Reclaimer Saga
- Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide - A guidebook to the Halo 4 lore.
- Halo: Spartan Assault - A top down stick shooter for Windows 8 systems, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
- Halo: Initiation - A comic book series written by Brian Reed and drawn by Marco Castiello.
- Halo: Broken Circle - A novel written by John Shirley.
- Halo: Nightfall - A live-action miniseries produced by Ridley Scott.
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection - A bundle of games for the Xbox One.
- Halo: New Blood - A novel by Matt Forbeck centering on Edward Buck.
- Halo: Spartan Strike - A top-down shooter for Windows 8 platforms, Steam, and Apple devices.
- Halo: Hunters in the Dark - A novel by Peter David about a post-war mission to Installation 00.
- Halo: Saint's Testimony - A digital short novel by Frank O'Connor exploring the nature of AI.
- Halo: Last Light - A novel by Troy Denning.
- Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series - An animated adaptation of the novel of the same name, made by Sequence.
- Halo: Escalation - A comic book series written by Christopher Schlerf, Brian Reed, and Duffy Boudreau.
- Halo: Shadow of Intent - A digital short novel by Joseph Staten.
- Halo Mythos - A reference book of the Halo universe, detailing the events from the Forerunner era to post-Covenant War era.
- Halo 5: Forge - A port of Halo 5: Guardians' Forge mode to Windows 10.
- Halo: Fractures - A collection of short stories by various authors.
- Halo: Tales from Slipspace - A comic anthology regarded as a spiritual successor to the Halo Graphic Novel.
- Halo: Smoke and Shadow - A short novella written by Kelly Gay.
- Halo Wars 2 - A real-time strategy game for the Xbox One and Windows 10.
- Halo: Envoy - A novel written by Tobias Buckell.
- Bonnie Ross – General Manager 
- Frank O'Connor - Franchise Development Director, formerly an employee of Bungie 
- Kevin Grace - Managing Editor 
- Jeremy Patenaude – Content Creator (Formerly of AscendantJustice.com) 
- Gabriel Garza - Artist 
- Andy Dudynsky - Community Manager
- Nicolas Bouvier - Senior Art Director
- David Ellis (formerly of 1up.com) - Content Producer 
- Jason Pace - Creative Director for Halo Waypoint 
- Kenneth Peters - Franchise Writer
- Sotaro Tojima - Audio Director
- Kenneth Scott - Visual Design Consultant
- Chris Lee - Executive Producer
- Tim Longo - Creative Director
- Kevin Franklin - Design Director.
- Brian Reed - Lead Writer, formerly of Marvel Comics
- Daniel Price - Senior Service Engineer 
- David Wu - Chief Technology Officer 
- Sally Huang - Producer 
- Chris Buckley - Graphic Designer
- Kiki Wolfkill - Executive Producer 
- Neill Harrison - Art Manager 
- Brad Welch - Lead Designer 
- Tom French - Multiplayer Director
- Maggie Oh - Senior Technical Artist
- RJ Ranola - Environment Artist
- Patrick Gillette - Gameplay Animator
- Kathy Gehrig - Associate Producer
- Lani Blazier - Franchise Creative Producer
- Nicole Makila - Producer
- Hoop Somuah - Senior SDE
- CJ Markham - Motion Capture Supervisor
- Kazuma Jinnouchi - Music Supervisor/Composer
- Jeff Easterling - Writer
- Josh Dean - Senior Lighting Artist
- Nick Ardizzone - Writer
- Justin Korthof - Community Manager, now working at Robot Entertainment.
- Ryan Payton - Creative Lead; Narrative Designer for Halo 4, left in Summer 2011, now the founder of Camouflaj.
- Armando Troisi - Narrative Designer, left in April 2013. Now working at Fathom Interactive.
- Jonathan Goff - Community Manager , now working at Bungie.
- Kynan Pearson - Lead Multiplayer Level Designer, left in June 2013.
- Jacob Benton – Content Creator (Formerly of AscendantJustice.com), left in April 2013, now a designer at Bungie.
- Chad Armstrong - Designer, formerly an employee of Bungie , now working at Crystal Dynamics.
- Scott Warner - Design Director, now working at Visceral Games.
- Christopher Schlerf - Senior Writer, left in November 2013. Worked at BioWare and Bungie before freelancing.
- Jessica Shea (Formerly of Hawty McBloggy)
- Corrinne Yu - Principle Engine Programmer, left in November 2013. Now working at Naughty Dog.
- Paul Ehreth - Level Designer, left in September 2014.
- Vic DeLeon - Lead Mission Artist, formerly of Bungie. Left in March 2, 2015.
- Joe Waters - Senior Software Developer, he passed away on December 24, 2015.
- Che Chou - Studio Producer. Left on September 30, 2016.
- Morgan Lockhart - Narrative Designer. Left in November 2016.
- Josh Holmes - Executive Producer. Left in December 2016.
- Dan Ayoub - Executive Producer.. Left on May 11, 2017, and he's now working on Microsoft Studios's Mixed Reality department.
- Chris Haluke - Lead Campaign Designer. Left on May 18, 2017.
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved portal page: MGS Development Group Expands (archived page)
- ^ halo.bungie.org: Interview with Eric Nylund
- ^ IGN: Halo: Reach Will Be Bungie's Last Halo Game
- ^ Halo Waypoint: The Halo Bulletin 6/15/11
- ^ a b Eurogamer: 343's master plan for Halo 5: Guardians
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Halo Channel Revealed at Gamescom
- ^ The Sci Fi Show: Episode 005: DC Reboot/Eric Trautmann
- ^ a b Game Informer: The Future Of Halo Wars And Halo's Expanded Universe
- ^ a b c YouTube - D.I.C.E Summit 2017 (Day 2) - IGN Live (presentation by Bonnie Ross)
- ^ Twitter: GrimBrotherOne
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction (post 2964800)
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Official Halo: Nightfall DISCUSSION (post 2988810)
- ^ Tech Crunch - Ridley Scott Halo Feature Among Microsoft’s First Dozen Xbox Original Titles
- ^ a b c d Major Nelson: #343: Interviews with members of 343 Industries about Halo and more
- ^ Frank O'Connor's Business Card
- ^ - Halo: Evolutions at Tobias Buckell Online
- ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, About the artists
- ^ Halo Waypoint: The Halo Bulletin: Your Journey Begins - 11/6/2014
- ^ a b IGN - Halo 4 Art Director Steps Down at 343 Industries
- ^ 343 Industries Podcast #1
- ^ Welcome to Halo Waypoint
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder 1/22/2016: Armory Amore
- ^ 343 Industries Twitter Account
- ^ Twitter - Tim Longo
- ^ Twitter - Kevin Franklin
- ^ Dark Horse Announces Halo: Initiation
- ^ LinkedIn: Daniel Price
- ^ LinkedIn: David Wu
- ^ LinkedIn: Sally Huang
- ^ a b c Making Halo 4: First Look
- ^ Twitter - Tom French
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j YouTube: Working at 343 Industries (HD)
- ^ Making Halo 4: Composing Worlds
- ^ Artstation - Josh Dean
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder - Buzz Generating
- ^ Twitter.com - SixOkay
- ^ Twitter: Ryan Payton
- ^ a b c GameInformer: UPDATE: Halo 4 Loses Its Creative Director
- ^ https://twitter.com/Jonathan_Goff
- ^ https://forums.halowaypoint.com/yaf_postsm2562505_Farewell-Friends.aspx#post2562505
- ^ http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobbenton
- ^ NeoGaf: View Single Post - Halo: Reach |OT3| This Thread is Not a Natural Formation
- ^ https://twitter.com/Fuvfuxn
- ^ https://twitter.com/scottfeed
- ^ Twitter - Schlerf
- ^ BioWare - Introducing Some Dev Team Leads for the Next Mass Effect
- ^ Lined in: Chris Schlerf
- ^ Eurogamer: Halo programmer Corrinne Yu joins Uncharted dev Naughty Dog
- ^ Twitter - Paul Ehreth
- ^ LinkedIn: Vic DeLeon
- ^ Twitter - Vic DeLeon
- ^ LinkedIn: Che Chou
- ^ Twitter - Che Chou
- ^ Halo Waypoint - Halo Community Update 7.7.15
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Exclusive
- ^ Halo Waypoint - Community Update: Beach Battle
- ^ Twitter - Chris Haluke