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343 Industries game jams

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Artwork for the Halo: Starfighter pitch.
Concept art for Halo: Starfighter; the only known game jam with released artwork.

"All those Hackathon games...lost in time.... lol"
— Kevin Schmitt, former Senior Gameplay Designer at 343 Industries[1]

A number of game jams (or "hackathons") have occurred at 343 Industries; internal events in which small teams of game developers spend a few days making a small game prototype. These events are often used in the games industry as a way to encourage prototyping for new games projects, or as a fun event for developers to experiment with ideas. The internal game jams at 343 have resulted in a number of known prototypes that have never seen the light of day, generally surrounding takes on the Halo franchise exploring game concepts outside of the series' typical first-person shooter and real-time strategy roots.

Due to the nature of a game jam, these projects are not games that were ever intended to go into full development, nor are they an indication that the projects in question were to have ever been released.[2] Despite this, their cancellation has been attributed by several ex-343 developers including Halo Infinite Senior Designer David Ellis and Senior Gameplay Designer Kevin Schmitt as having a negative effect on internal studio morale - a particular issue during the tumultuous development process for Halo Infinite.[3][4]

As of February 2024, there have been 20-30 Halo ideas pitched within 343.[5]

Known projects[edit]

MOBA Halo game[edit]

One of the projects created in the game jams was a MOBA. The game was presented internally by Kevin Schmitt, though no other details are known.[4]

Turn-based strategy Halo game[edit]

A turn-based Halo game, inspired by Valkyria Chronicles,[6] was created by David Ellis during the internal game jams and mentioned by him on Twitter in response to a custom user-made Forge map that turned Halo Infinite into a turn-based role-playing game.[7]

Starfighter Halo game[edit]

Main article: Halo: Starfighter

Halo: Starfighter was a game jam prototype worked on by a number of developers at 343, and first revealed by Josh Kao in a portfolio upload on ArtStation.[8] A few details followed this, including a name and basic premise; a space fighter combat game in the Halo setting, similar to the Sabre and Broadsword levels in Halo: Reach and Halo 4.[9][10] Writer Jeff Easterling noted that the project was unlikely to ever see the light of day.[11][12]

Other projects[edit]

One such unnamed project, undertaken some time prior to mid-2016, involved the development of a weapon prototype known as the Multi-Target Tracked Attack. This weapon was taken by Halo 5: Guardians Senior Systems Designer Chris Proctor and implemented in-game as the Shardstorm launcher weapon the Grunt Goblin which was ultimately implemented in the Warzone Firefight update.[13]

A game in the same style as Halo 3: ODST was pitched at some point.[5]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Twitter, Kevin Schmitt (@kevindschmitt): "All those Hackathon games...lost in time.... lol" (Retrieved on Nov 14, 2023) [archive]
  2. ^ Twitter, David Ellis (@DavidEllis): "This wasn't an actual game pitch. Just something a group of us put together during a studio game jam." (Retrieved on Nov 14, 2023) [archive]
  3. ^ Twitter, David Ellis (@DavidEllis): "Perfect example of turning what should've been a net positive for studio morale into an L." (Retrieved on Nov 14, 2023) [archive]
  4. ^ a b Twitter, Kevin Schmitt (@kevindschmitt): "Tell me about. Heck, I still remembered when we showed the MOBA-like game at a company meeting." (Retrieved on Nov 14, 2023) [archive]
  5. ^ a b GameRant, 343 Pitched '20-30' Halo Ideas, Including New ODST Games (Retrieved on Feb 20, 2024) [archive]
  6. ^ Twitter, David Ellis (@DavidEllis): "My take was inspired by Valkyria Chronicles." (Retrieved on Nov 14, 2023) [archive]
  7. ^ Twitter, David Ellis (@DavidEllis): "Makes me wish the footage of the turn-based Halo demo I put together for an internal game jam would see the light of day." (Retrieved on Nov 14, 2023) [archive]
  8. ^ ArtStation, 343 Industries Team Pitch: Halo Star Fighter (Retrieved on Jan 17, 2022) [archive]
  9. ^ Twitter, Kevin Schmitt (@kevindschmitt): "Wow, Nice to see this again. I was a part of that team. I think [Jeff Easterling] even wrote up some lore for it." (Retrieved on Jan 18, 2022) [archive]
  10. ^ Twitter, Kevin Schmitt (@kevindschmitt): "Highly doubt we will ever see Infinity again. People who went to E3 before 5 shipped were the only people to get close, but they didn’t know it. ;) I worked on Halo Starfighter. Just a hackathon project, no real dev time." (Retrieved on Apr 15, 2023) [archive]
  11. ^ Twitter, Jeff Easterling (@GrimBrotherOne): "I'll look into it. I was on that project - was always an [internal]-only experiment, never meant for anything more. And whatever you are likely imagining is more than reality lol." (Retrieved on Jan 11, 2021) [archive]
  12. ^ Twitter, Jeff Easterling (@GrimBrotherOne): "Ahhh.... didn't realize that snuck in there. lol. From a project I was part of that likely won't ever see the light of day unfortunately. Maybe one day. (Not Infinite)" (Retrieved on Jan 11, 2021) [archive]
  13. ^ Halo Waypoint, Warzone Firefight Preview (Retrieved on Jun 25, 2016) [archive]