Friday, 10 February 2012

Frankie Talks Halo 4 Launch Plans

Frankie has spilled the beans over on Halo.Xbox.com about the launch plans for Halo 4 and what we can expect over the coming months. I've chosen to take Frankie at his word, it would be easy to dismiss much of this as marketting fluff or fanboy catnip, but until we know otherwise it's only fair to take his points literally.

I'll pluck out the key points:
Campaign is playable from start to finish (not to be confused with complete or polished) and multiplayer has been running for a while. It’s amazing to see changes big and small have a dramatic effect on making the game smoother, more playable and more enjoyable in almost every session.
Take the jump for more:


Fairly standard stuff, but the fact that the campaign can be played from start to finish is reassuring with such a long time left to release. 
I have been traveling a fair amount in support of the impending year-long launch activity. Visiting with our partners and colleagues in Europe to talk (and walk) them through the game, the features, the U.S. marketing plans and the sheer scale of the project. We certainly surprised some folks with the ambition and concrete realization of where we’re at, but it was kind of cool to see genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the game.
Interesting nuggets here, "year-long launch activity" means they have to be readying a media onslaught imminently, which I know will please a lot of you. There's been a number of people on the Waypoint forums getting restless about the lack of activity we've seen so far, so this should be welcome news for you guys.  

"sheer scale of the project", "surprised with the ambition and concrete realization of where we're at" Now this is exciting! Reach and Halo 3 before it where two of the biggest, most ambitious games we've seen, packed to the brim with content. For the scale of Halo 4 to surprise people it has to be something truly special.  
Our show and tell was pretty BIG, since the European partners (marketing, retail guys, etc.) need as much information as is available to make their plans and start building the path to launch abroad. So they went from knowing practically nothing about the game, to knowing practically everything about it. Which is a weird feeling when you expend so much effort and energy on security and secrecy. It’s amazing how much detail you need to go into. It’s not good enough to simply list off the changes and additions and improvements, you have to contextualize them. It’s been almost five years since Halo 3 and a LOT of stuff has happened between then and now: ODST, Reach, multiple map packs, loads of story and a whole swathe of technical and gameplay changes.
Curiouser and curiouser.. This suggests that much has changed since Halo 3, I guess we expected that already, but this confirms that in order to get to grips with what's going on in Halo 4 much had to be revealed and explained. I expect Frankie had to assume his audience wouldn't have read the books and so it could be a case of just giving them a 'story so far...' including information from Glasslands and the Forerunner books. That last line brought a real grin to my face. 
Creating material to explain those changes, walking people through the game features – showing them a lot of this stuff in action, it’s fun, but it’s nerve-wracking. In a way it’s a preview of our public showings, where we get a feel for which changes, which additions, which refinements are going to get people excited. It’s also a chance to get a feel for which new features are complicated and how to distill the explanations to capture the essence of what we’re making. Training wheels, as it were, for showing you guys.
I hope this is an indicator that we'll get more than a trailer at the Spring Showcase. Trailers are great and the community dissection is always fascinating, but you can't beat a developer giving you a few paragraphs of real info and not having to rely on community interpretation.  
Launching a game is a massive undertaking, with literally hundreds of people all over the world preparing and planning to make sure that every aspect, from the box art to the matchmaking, is executed flawlessly. And if it seems slow, ponderous, even, then remember that there’s a plan and a process, and that you’ll see Halo 4 soon enough. And we can’t wait to share it with you.
 You're right about the reveal feeling slow, Frankie. :D

I know people will be reassured to hear that Halo 4 is getting the full blockbuster launch treatment. Halo deserves it. 

- Cowboy Out. 

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