2014 is here and much is afoot in the Halo universe. This past year has been a time of great transition at 343 as we’ve moved our engine and team from Xbox 360 to Xbox One and begun building the next chapter in the Halo saga. We’re proud of what we accomplished with our first release in Halo 4 and now we’re focused on something much more transformative as we make the leap to the next generation of Xbox. We showed a hint of what we have in store at E3 last year and we’re excited to share more in the not-so-distant future. Please be patient – we can’t wait to show you what we have in store.
Beyond the transition of platform and technology, we’ve made some notable additions and changes to our team.
As some of you may know, we added a new Creative Director to our team in 2013. Tim Longo joined us last May, coming to us by way of LucasArts. Tim carries with him almost two decades of game development experience during which he has worked on titles such as Tomb Raider, Star Wars: Republic Commando and most recently the unreleased FPS, Star Wars: First Assault. Finding Tim was the result of a long search on my part. In many ways I felt like I was searching for a unicorn. I needed someone with a mastery of game narrative and storytelling, a deep understanding of game mechanics, experiential design and aesthetic, with the ability to define a compelling creative vision and inspire a large cross-functional team to achieve it. With Tim, I found that person and over the past seven months, we’ve formed a great partnership working together. His keen sense of vision, collaborative spirit and creative generosity have made him a terrific addition to the team.
In hiring Tim, I have moved from my former role of Creative Director to that of Executive Producer, heading up the internal development team. In my new role I am responsible for overall project leadership and business ownership, for setting the high level project vision and goals and leading my team to achieve them. It’s been an interesting shift in focus and I’ve been grateful to have such a stellar team supporting me.
But what about Kiki, our EP from Halo 4? Our intrepid Wolfkiller is right here, developing exciting new stories, experiences and technologies that will transform the way that you experience Halo. She will have more to share at a later date, but I can promise that what she is working on is really cool.
Finally, our beloved Art Director, Kenneth Scott, has made the decision to move to California and bring his family together in one place. As a result of this move he will be stepping down as AD, though he will continue working with us remotely in his new role as Visual Design Consultant.
Obviously this is a big change for our team and we are going to miss having Kenneth here in the building with us. Ken is a founding member of 343 Industries and working with him on Halo 4 was one of the highlights of my career. He was my creative partner and brother-in-arms for many years, and through his vision we managed to establish a bold new look for the Halo universe. He was also instrumental in building the amazing team of artists that we have here at 343 today.
Kenneth leaves some pretty massive shoes to fill on the Art Director front, but we are lucky to have another artistic giant stepping up to take the reins. Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier is taking over for Kenneth as Art Director. Nicolas has been with the studio since the beginning as our Lead Concept Artist and he has worked closely with Kenneth over the past five years to define the visual language for 343’s Halo. In fact, Ken and Sparth have worked together for over eight years now in the industry and it has been said that the two share the same brain (except Nic is much more French). Nicolas is a master painter and visionary artist with 17 years of industry experience. He is world-renowned for his concept work and is someone whose work I have followed closely long before I came to 343. (I would pay money to live in Sparth’s dreams!)
Kenneth had this to say about his move:
It was hard to make this decision. This team has been my family for half a decade and I love them dearly. Helping build this studio and team is easily the highlight of my career. It's heartbreaking.
I'm excited to hand the big pants to one of my dearest friends, Nicolas 'Sparth' Bouvier. Nicolas and I have worked together for the last eight years, and we've shared a brain for most of it. He was one of my first hires to 343, and not seeing him day-to-day will feel as weird as losing a limb. I have the utmost confidence in him and I know the future is sound in his mighty fingers.
We just can't get enough of each other, so I will continue to support 343 and this universe as a Visual Design Consultant from sunny Santa Monica.
In my underwear. :)
Those Skype meetings will get awkward...
In closing, I will leave you with this image from Sparth – an early exploration of a new location that features prominently in a little game project we’re tinkering with….