Friday, 6 July 2012
New 343industries Interview From Microsoft ExpertZone
A new interview with 343industries (presumably Frank O'Connor) has been posted on Microsoft's ExpertZone portal, which is a resource for retail employees to get information on upcoming Microsoft games and products. You need to pretend to be a GameStop employee to view the article so I'll repost it here, there's some good new info in here. There's not a great deal of new news, key points are:
- Forge news coming soon
- More of a "saga" than a trilogy
- Ranking spans multiplayer and Spartan Ops, recognises experience AND skill.
- Not working on Halo 2 Anniversary "at this time"
- In co-op everyone appears as Master Chief
Q: So....Please tell us this is not the end! Halo will live on, right?! Ok on a serious note - How hard is it to "Live up" to the name "Halo" when designing this game?
A: Living up to what Halo is, was and just is importantly will be, is the toughest thing for everyone in the studio. In part, that’s because Halo means so many different things to so many different people. Everything from the way the skyboxes look, to the way a Warthog handles has to not only feel or look right, it has to feel or look better too. That’s tough. I’m not suggesting we’ll get there 100% of the time, but I am saying that’s our target. That’s our focus.
Q: I just have one very important yes or no question that needs no details at all; I just need to know the answer because it's been eating away at me: Will Forge be present in this game?? I've heard NOTHING about it at all. I need my random maps to play on too...
A: Yes. Watch this space. Or rather, watch some other spaces. News soon.
Q: Will there be a beta available?
A: Nope. All our “at-scale” testing happened (and continues to happen) internally, with thousands and thousands of users, but all MS employees or partners. No public beta.
Q: The game is the first part of the "Reclaimer trilogy". Will halo 4 have a cliffhanger ending ala halo 2 or will it provide more closure?
A: We’ve started referring to it as a “saga” instead of a trilogy, since so much important story is happening in Spartan Ops, but 4 will have an ending that satisfies, even as it forces the player to think hard about the shape of the universe.
Q: Hey 343, I was wondering if you guys were influenced by other games while making Halo 4, and if so, what were those games?
A: There are 250 people in the studio with 250 disparate sets of experiences and influences. The short answer is yes, the long answer is “all of the games.”
Q: I'm very interested in the multiplayer! I loved the way the ranking systems were done in Halo 2, and wasn’t as happy with the ranking systems in Halo 3. Would there be a chance that they would bring back a similar ranking system in Halo 4 like it was in Halo 2? It felt more competitive and fun in Halo 2 to reach a 35+ level.
A: We have a different career progression model in Halo 4 that spans traditional MP as well as Spartan Ops. It should be a satisfying measure of experience AND skill, but we will have more to say about that and other stat tracking at a later time.
Q: Hi! Halo 4 looks amazing! My question is: Will Halo 4 have stereoscopic 3d support?
A: Nope. One of the benefits of the way Anniversary rendered Classic and New graphics modes simultaneously, was that it let us have stereoscopic 3D with relatively little effort – but Halo 4’s new renderer is much more complex, and higher resolution. So no stereoscopic 3D (except for those rare TVs that brute force this effect).
Q: Being that it is such a beloved and fan-filled franchise, were you nervous about taking over the Halo name?
A: Yes. Terrified. We’re more relaxed now, but too busy to worry about it anymore is probably a more accurate definition.
Q: Will the multiplayer aspect of the game tie into the single player campaign? And will you be announcing any future DLC for the game?
A: Multiplayer and Campaign will be connected by sandbox ingredients, obviously, but also by Fiction. Some of these ties will be pretty light (especially as it relates to traditional MP) but some will be pretty deep and compelling (especially in Spartan Ops).
Q: Can we as Microsoft ExpertZone members get any exclusives to the game? Will you be creating extra armor skins that we might get access to?
A: I don’t know! (You’ll have to wait and see).
Q: All of the Halo games have improved on their predecessors, and make a lasting impression in all of our minds. Will this game be a stand out beyond all of them, and what is one thing that will make this stand apart say from halo reach or halo 3?
A: That’s honestly something for fans and history to decide. We’re confident and happy about the state of the game at this point, but only time will tell. It is testing very well and the reaction at E3 has been overwhelmingly positive.
Q: What is your favorite addition to Halo's long history of online multiplayer? What can we look forward to in Spartan Ops?
A: I like Infinity Slayer and I am really fond of the progression system – I feel like I am moving forward, but I never feel like I am missing some vital tool or ability. I think that’s the balance we needed to strike in a competitive Multiplayer game. Tuning rather than overhauling your character.
Q: Spartan Ops is an exciting new mode with weekly installments, almost like a TV series. How ambitious is this project? How big is the writing staff? From a development standpoint, is it almost treated like a TV show? I know of at least one television writer who is working on it.
A: Our full time writing staff is just a few guys, but we have a huge number of designers, cinematics folks, animators, concept artists, engineers and more working to make this thing happen. It’s herculean and now that it’s finally taking shape, it’s satisfying.
Q: What aspects from past Halo games are you trying to keep intact with this new title? Also any word on a Halo 4 legendary edition? Thanks for answering our questions 343!
A: Honestly, the “feel” and “soul” of the game are vital. We’re adding, evolving, building on those foundations, but we’re respecting the heart of what makes Halo feel like Halo. And there’s no Legendary edition, but our Limited Edition is an amazing value – tons of content, tons of variety and a very cool package.
Q: From the initial trailer for Halo 4, we see Master Chief standing at the ruined end of his ship and looking into the "Eye of the Storm". It reminds me of a gigantic Guilty Spark and since the new gameplay trailer showed Forerunner technology for weapons. Will there be bosses related around the Guilty Sparks, Forerunner technology, and so on?
A: We won’t be discussing plot today!
Q: When it showed the Covenant dropping in and causing chaos for Master Chief yet again, it threw me off since the Humans and Covenant came to a treaty 7 years ago at the end of Halo 3. Are these Covenant somewhat like a stranded unit set to patrol a deeper part of space or are they like (relating to another 360 exclusive) the Savage Locust where they were cut off from the main group and had to survive on their own?
A: The Covenant politics, the state of their society, the divisions and chaos they are going through, will be germane to our plot. It will be addressed.
Q: Even though this hasn't been done with any other Halo game, will there be DLC for the single player campaign? I definitely know there will be DLC for the multiplayer adding skins, armor enhancements, and levels, but DLC that would expand the Halo universe would be great.
A: Spartan Ops will help scratch that itch.
Q: The Halo community has historically been one of the most active and involved. As you move forward into the new trilogy, how to you plan on building the community to fit the staff at 343?
A: 343 takes community interaction and engagement very seriously. The community is our family, our base and our foundation. We will never forget that.
Q: The Forerunner trilogy and Halo: Glasslands contain a lotof context and information (especially about the Precursors and the Mantle) that leads directly into the new trilogy. Without spoiling anything, how do you plan on conveying this information to players that haven't read the books?
A: Those novels and extended fiction will make some gamers feel an extra sense of resonance and connection but they are for universe building and absolutely not necessary to enjoy or understand the story of Halo 4. As a matter of fact we intend Halo 4 to be the most approachable game in the series and a great place for the Halo-curious to start.
Q: A couple of months ago, Neil Davidge was announced as the composer for the Halo 4 soundtrack. He said during a small interview at E3 that he's given a Spartan (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist) overview for each level and essentially writes what he feels will fit. Was this done for any particular reason?
A: Neil continues to work with us on the actual scoring, rather than simply the original composition – but the game content changes so often that scoring “live” is impossible – so Neil creates themes for levels, characters, moments and then we work with those compositions to have them appropriately scored and fit. Think of the Imperial march from Star Wars – you can compose that, but how and where it is layered s fundamental.
Q: I loved the addition in Halo: CEA of the cryo readout for Linda. Will we see any Easter Eggs that specifically reference the expanded universe, especially the books?
A: Yes. There will be plenty of easter eggs and hidden goodies.
Q: Halo 4 will be the first game to not feature Firefight since its inception in ODST. While it has been said Spartan Ops is replacing FF, or is Firefight but with a story, or however you'd like it to be stated, what would you say specifically to fans of Firefight (like me) to appease them?
A: That Spartan Ops is different, but feels similar socially and in terms of the online cooperation and intrinsic competition.
Q: The E3 demos for Halo 4 looked fantastic, but they made me want to replay the other numbered Halo games. With the great job 343 did with the HD remastering of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, is there a chance we will see Halo 2 HD before the end of this console generation? Maybe a Halo Trilogy pack to promote the new saga? Pretty please?
A: We are not working on that at this time. We are kind of busy.
Q: In regards to co-op, will we see an actual 2nd character are do both players play the role of the main protagonist like before? And how do you feel about the Metroid references?
A: In co-op, players will all play as the same person. Since much of Campaign has the Chief alone for fictional reasons, it wouldn’t make sense to have the three other co-op players in the fiction – it’s a conceit designed to put gameplay first. Spartan Ops however, has individually created Spartans who all have the identity you give them.
Thanks for the opportunity, you'll hear more from us soon!
- Cowboy Out.