On December 31, Halo Infinite lead narrative designer Aaron Linde announced the "bittersweet news" that he was leaving 343 Industries to do something new. It's still not clear what exactly he'll be doing, but at least now we know where it'll happen: In a follow-up tweet posted yesterday, Linde revealed that he's now a part of Riot Games.
"Bittersweet news to report: I'm departing 343 Industries to pursue a new opportunity in 2022. It was a terrifically difficult decision; Halo Infinite will remain one of the proudest achievements of my career for the rest of my life. I'm so grateful to have been a part of it," Linde wrote in his departure tweet.
"I want to thank my dear colleagues at 343 for making the best game I've ever worked on, our incredible voice cast for elevating our work in every single line delivery, and our players for joining us on this wild-ass journey. You made 2021 an incredibly special year for me. I get squidgy talking about real shit on this stupid website so I'll leave it at that for now. But I can't underscore enough how grateful I am and always will be. See you next mission."
I want to thank my dear colleagues at 343 for making the best game I've ever worked on, our incredible voice cast for elevating our work in every single line delivery, and our players for joining us on this wild-ass journey. You made 2021 an incredibly special year for me.December 31, 2021
The mystery lasted until Monday, when Linde tweeted:
"I forgot to cancel my Adobe Premiere trial so this tweet cost me $30. Anyway I'm thrilled to report I'm joining Riot R&D!"
I forgot to cancel my Adobe Premiere trial so this tweet cost me $30. Anyway I'm thrilled to report I'm joining Riot R&D! https://t.co/jQeC3LbMaWJanuary 3, 2022
Riot R&D—that's Research and Development—is essentially a part of the studio that focuses on early-stage development of new games. "The R&D department at Riot oversees two development stages: prototype and pre-production," this February 2021 blog post explains. "Our R&D process has been optimized for the intentional outcome of each stage."
"Our R&D teams are small, with strong support and close communities around each game team. Teams are staffed by extremely talented developers from around Riot. Above all else, we aim to succeed together while making player dreams a reality."
Projects at the prototype stage lean heavily on "engineering managers, gameplay engineers, and generalists who work closely with Rioters from other disciplines," while requirements get more specialized once a game reaches the pre-production stage: Gameplay and AI engineers specializing in Unreal and Unity, rendering engineers, build automation engineers, and that sort of thing.
Prior to his lead narrative designer stint at 343, Linde served as senior writer at Bungie, narrative lead at ArenaNet, and lead writer at Gearbox, and his LinkedIn profile indicates he'll continue that tradition in the role of narrative writer at Riot. Unfortunately, there's no indication as to what exactly he'll be writing for, but there are at least a few options on the table that we know of: Riot has expanded beyond its League of Legends roots in recent years with the multiplayer shooter Valorant and the CCG Legends of Runeterra, and has at least three other unnamed projects on the go including Project F (a Diablo-style action-RPG), Project L (a fighting game), and a League of Legends-based MMO.