343's first act - in gaming terms at least - was to co-develop the recently released Halo Reach Defiant map pack, and it's currently working on a 'triple-A' Halo instalment - but we don't know what that is yet.
To help clarify where the series is going and what we should expect in the future, we sat down with creative director of 343 (and ex-CVG man) Frank O'Connor for a chat...
You worked with Certain Infinity on the latest Halo Reach map pack. Is 343 generally open to collaboration?
343 is a publishing entity and like Bungie before it is always open to collaboration.
We've done weird things in the past such as putting a Spartan in Dead or Alive 3, we worked with Itagaki and his team to make sure the Spartan was fighting correctly and using a style that was appropriate to the Spartan, was the right height and moving correctly.
So we've always been open to those sort of mini-collaborations but as far as the core game experiences are concerned we have to keep that close to home. I think of Certain Infinity as being close to home because there's a lot of Bungie guys on that team, it's very natural.
In the future - who knows. Fundamentally, right now we're building a large powerful top tier studio to make triple-A experiences in the future, that's our general direction right now. We'll continue to do little collaborations with people but for core experiences we have to keep those close to home. There's lots of ways to do that and 343 Industries is one of them.
What is the arrangement with Bungie concerning DLC going forward?
To clarify, the Defiant map pack was a collaboration between 343 and Certain Infinity, which is made up of a bunch of new guys and a couple of people that used to work at Bungie. They've worked with Bungie and made map packs since after Halo 2 so in that regard a few things have changed and stayed the same.
Right now Bungie is supporting the community with matchmaking and stats, but at this point that's it. They're going to continue to do that and support the community but in terms of actual Halo product this marks the first where there is no Bungie, or even tertiary Bungie involvement other than matchmaking.
It hasn't felt different for me because I used to work with all of these guys so it feels like a continuation but it will be scrutinised differently by the fans, or at least the hardcore fans because there will be an apparent difference whether there is any reality to it or not.
So you're expecting some people are just going to be able to detect the change in developers?
Absolutely. There will be things that they'll say 'oh this is better than that' about but we'll just have to wait and see. I'll be watching that stuff, you have to take it seriously because your core fans are also the most educated,
But you also have to remember that probably 75% of the audience doesn't know who makes the games - to them it's like 'Xbox makes the games'. Those are a bulk of the audience that you also have to pay close, careful and loving attention to.
Is there a desire within 343 to take Halo in a new direction?