New Halo Infinite leak allegedly shows 343i dev processes, outsourcing info

Halo Infinite
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • A leaked Halo Infinite design document allegedly shows some of 343 Industries' development processes and how it collaborates with its partner studios.
  • Specifically, the document focuses on the creation of cinematic narrative cutscenes, and is positioned as a guide for developers working with 343 to use.
  • The guide features full details on the cutscene creation process, how 343 splits the work with other studios, and more. A link to the document is included in the text below.
  • Last week, Xbox Game Studios Head Matt Booty strongly suggested that aspects of Halo's and Halo Infinite's development would be outsourced to other teams, though he reaffirmed that 343 would continue working on the series.

Details about Halo Infinite's ongoing development and 343 Industries' collaborations with partner studios have allegedly been revealed in a leaked design document. Specifically, the document pertains to the creation of the game's narrative cutscene cinematics.

Initially shown by known Halo leaker Bathrobe Spartan on Twitter, the document is positioned as a guide for developers working on Halo Infinite's live service story content alongside 343 staff. It features a detailed overview of cinematic scene development, including processes, team sizes and roles, goals, milestones, a glossary of terms, and a rough timeline of how long a cutscene takes to make. You can download the document yourself here.

One of the biggest pieces of information discovered in the guide is what both 343 and its partner studios are responsible for during collaborations. While a new cinematic is being developed, 343's accountabilities include script writing, audio mixing and music, level and branch setup, engineering and build support, support for various "Discipline" tools (lighting, FX, animation, etc.), creative feedback, and SKU performance tests. Partners, meanwhile, are responsible for cinematic direction, mocap work, animation, lighting, FX, geometry and character creation, object and character rigging, the creation and implementation of UI, and bugfixes.

The document also highlights the six key pillars of 343's storytelling approach with Halo, which are Diversity, Camaraderie, Spectacle, Adventure, Community, and Meaning. Additionally, it emphasizes the "stage play" style of Halo Infinite's cinematics, in which lights are often dimmed and the scene directly focuses on characters, their dialogue, and their body language. Then, towards the end of the scene, "the house lights come back on" to signal players that they'll soon regain control of their character. 343 calls this "the distinction between the game story and the player story."

From start to finish, the guide indicates that cinematics take roughly 24 weeks to complete for a "very small team," though this timeline was drawn from the creation of a cutscene in which everything was done from scratch. In scenarios where the scene's environment has already been made or its characters were previously modeled and rigged, development length can be shortened considerably.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Ultimately — if it's legit — this leaked design document provides a fascinating look at how 343 made Halo Infinite cutscenes, and also how it will work with partners to develop more in the future.

Notably, Xbox Game Studios Head Matt Booty recently said in an interview that "the [Halo] team that got us here is probably not the same team that's going to take us forward," and indicated that additional studios might work with 343 in the future. Therefore, other aspects of Halo Infinite's live service development may be outsourced to other developers moving forward.

Earlier this year, 10,000 Microsoft job cuts directly affected a significant number of 343's staff members. A few months later, Head of Creative Joseph Staten left Xbox, with Halo Franchise Director Frank O'Connor exiting a little over a week later. Pierre Hintze, the leader of the team that fixed and improved Halo: The Master Chief Collection after its widely criticized launch in 2014, now serves as 343's Studio Head.

The Halo Infinite campaign is available with any tier of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass service, and its multiplayer is free-to-play on both Xbox and Windows PC. Halo Infinite Season 4 is scheduled to release June 20, 2023, and will bring the Infection game mode, new sandbox items, and more to its multiplayer experience.


Halo Infinite

Despite its issues, there's plenty to like about Halo Infinite. The core multiplayer gameplay is enjoyable, and since it's free-to-play, there's no barrier to entry. The campaign is fantastic, as it features an excellent story, fun open world gameplay, and plenty of action-packed levels to play through.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.