June 20, 2012

Frankie Interview: Why 343i Changed Halo


Venture Beat interviewed Frank O’Connor about the change that 343i was bringing to the Halo franchise. This post is reposted from Venture Beat 

If this is a new beginning for Halo, why bring the Covenant back?

O’Connor: The Covenant are honestly an important part of the Halo sandbox and the fiction, and in our fiction, the Covenant is still a huge problem for humanity. We reached a semi-stable peace with them at the end of Halo 3, but it wasn’t built on a very strong premise. They’ve lost their religion, they’ve lost a war, they’ve lost their leadership, and they’re doing what any nation in chaos would do…they’re splintering and falling into factions. The Covenant you’re fighting in the game is one of those factions, and in some ways they’re a more dangerous aspect of that former Covenant.

So where do the new bad guys fit in?

O’Connor: The Promethians make up the bulk of your encounters. There’s a limit to what I can say, but ostensibly, they’re the warrior sect of the long-vanished Forerunner society. The ones that you encounter appear to be artificial and remotely controlled. We’ve seen the Crawlers, these fast-moving pack creatures…they’re pretty easy to kill on their own, but they do swarm and cause you significant difficulties. But it’s definitely worth it for the rare time where you get to assassinate one and ride it like a bucking bronco before you pop its head off.

The Knights are the main foe, but Knights can also spawn Watchers, which are a tactical assistance units, shielding and respawning and even generating new enemies onto the field. It’s incredibly important that when you enter into a big encounter that you pick the right targets and deal with them in a very specific order, depending on your play style.

We’ve got a really good high-res picture of a Knight. It looks like there’s a small organic creature locked into a huge set of armor.

O’Connor: Promethian Knights have existed — and will continue to exist — in our fiction in a huge variety of forms. There are different types of Knights, but I can’t say more than that.

Will the Halo 4 campaign be a complete story unto itself? One of the first things we see in the campaign is the USNC Infinity crashing into the planet Requiem. But six months later, when the fiction for [co-op multiplayer mode] Spartan Ops takes place, it’s back up in the sky. And isn’t that a little spoilery?

O’Connor: That is a little spoilery, and it’s a necessary spoiler. But the game will end with the universe having changed pretty dramatically. It’ll be a satisfying ending, and you’ll have achieved a lot, but you’ll lose stuff, too. We’re trying to tell a much more emotionally resonant story this time.

What prompted that move to delve deeper into the Master Chief as a character? Isn’t it a little risky messing with an icon?

O’Connor: He was always kind of an interesting mix. And people missed him, right? They didn’t say ‘I miss being the Master Chief,’ they said ‘I miss the Master Chief.’ He always had a bit of a personality — he’s stoic, and brave, and a great leader. I think sometimes people think of him as a vehicle for their own heroism, and so they miss that, too. We’re not suddenly going to have the Master Chief spouting long monologues. Most of the storytelling and depth is going to happen contextually. He’s still going to be stoic, brave, and heroic, and actually fairly quiet. The events around him will define what you learn about him.

You guys also made a very specific decision to add narrative to the multiplayer. It’s never really needed one before…why do it now?

O’Connor: We made a philosophical decision to make everything count, to make everything matter. The [player-vs-player multiplayer mode] War Games fictional wrapper is a really simple conceit…you’re training in a simulator for live-fire ops that you’re gonna do in [the story-based] Spartan Ops, and that’s why you’re fighting other Spartans. And of course, it’s not necessary, but it also ties directly into the fact that you’re building a real career this time. You’re not just customizing the appearance of your Spartan, but you also tune the way that he plays and feels for you as a player, which is connected across the different parts. If you unlock something in War Games, you can use it in Spartan Ops and vice versa. That’s another reason to connect those dots.

Given there’s a lot of overlap in personnel, what unique factor does 343 Industries bring to Halo that differentiates that team from Bungie?

O’Connor: There’s a few ex-Bungie people at 343, but the vast majority of people are new, but they’re all old to Halo. Every single person came to the interview because they had some passion for Halo. Normally you can’t chose your family, but in this case, we could. And they also bring in different cultural experiences, different technological experiences, different design ethics and visions. So we have this incredible melting pot of passionate Halo fans with incredible new ideas and brilliant new approaches.

Aside from the Chief and Cortana, was there something you said absolutely had to be in Halo 4?

O’Connor: I think the number-one thing, and there was unanimous agreement in the studio, was that sense of exploration and awe and wonder that you had when you first tumbled out of the Bumblebee onto the surface of Halo in the first game. And it was deliberate, of course…you’d been playing this pretty awesome sci-fi shooter in a very claustrophobic starship, which is a pretty normal thing to do in a video game. And then you find yourself in this incredible alien place, and you look up in the sky, and you see the other side of the Halo, and you think, ‘I want to go there.’ That’s what we wanted to bring back.

As you were developing the game, did you have a Hell Yeah! moment where you personally said to yourself “This is it. We nailed it.”

O’Connor: A moment I remember very vividly…it was just this one game of Slayer we were playing months ago, and it all clicked. Even my new control scheme. And I felt this is totally Halo. But the stuff that’s new is perfectly attached, and it also feels like Halo. And we were planning it and building it, but it’s not real yet, right? But the second it’s real, and the second all the pieces are together, and you play a mission with real fiction in it, you’re like, I get it. I get why this did this. This was the right call.

  • Halo4Dabest

    Wow lots of new info sweet!

  • Blu

    As i said before Tim i Love this site and i like the new comment system.
    Also i like the fact there are covenant but they’re a faction and if you read the books, in Halo: Glasslands their are a few and one is A religious class of elites They are strong and fully armed and i have good reason to believe they are the class of covenant in the game if you want me to fill you in on all the details i can.
    they hate humans so yeah i see it as them

    • jammin

      The Elites hate Brutes waaaaaay more than they hate Humans. If Glasslands said otherwise then they just broke Canon.

      • Shane Davis

        Five years have passed. For all we know, the elites already took revenge on the Brutes, and now have the Humans in their Crosshairs.

    • Shane Davis

      Finally, someone who actually knows his Halo Lore. All these people are assuming they know everything about Halo so ignorantly.

  • Forrestgump998

    They seem really interested in bringing us the halo experience we all know and love and the franchise seems as if it is in good hands what do you think?

    • Blu

      I think 343 is going to do well with the new trilogy and maybe they will make games like Reach and ODST but better.

    • Anonymous

      No, The covenant should not be in this new trilogy at all. In Halo 3 we finished the fight, now they are telling us that the fight was not really finished? Worst cop out I have ever heard in my life. The storyline is ruined, I can only hope the gameplay will be good.

      • Shane Davis

        You are not looking into it deeply enough. You need to get rid of your linear train of thought, and delve into the possibilities, and realities of the Halo universe. At the end of Halo 3, we finished the WAR, but some factions of the covenant still maintained their beliefs, and hatred for the humans. When this happens, people form together and create their own government. It’s not like at the end of Halo 3 all the Covenant (who HATED the Humans) were like “Oh the humans won so let’s all hug and never fight again!” No. obviously some factions of the broken covenant will want revenge on the humans. Especially when they made such a fool out of the Covenant. Delve into the minds of the elites. Think deeply about their personal experiences. If an alien race killed off and destroyed the government that your species relied on. How would you feel? Think about it.

  • Blu

    Now that i look at the comment he said on the Covenant again. IT makes SINCE. The group of the covenant Specifically Elites then the Servants of Abiding Truth an Old but strong and extremely powerful Faction still has loyal Grunts and Jackals so they could easily be the right faction.

    • Jammin

      IT MAKES NO SENSE, I can’t control my anger, they are breaking canon, after Halo 2 THERE WERE NO LOYAL ELITES, The prophets ordered the brutes to kill all elites, so the elites were betrayed. ALL the Elites left the covenant.

      • Ilija

        there are two factions of the covenant, Covenant Loyalists and the Covenant Separatists, some elites stayed loyal to the covenant some went with the separatists, those are called Elite Loyalists and Elite separatists, the covenant loyalists have grunts, elites, brutes, jackals, drones and hunters, while the separatists have some grunts, elites and hunters.
        I’m guessing we are fighting the loyalists sense the separatists are kind of being led by our friendly neighbor the arbiter

        • Blu

          True but few and there was the servants of abiding truth who also had more elites grunts and jackals drones brutes and hunters.
          also if it relates to the books then it will be the servants of abiding truth.

          • Jammin

            But the servants abiding truth technically arn’t Covenant.

        • Jammin

          after Halo 2 THERE WERE NO LOYAL ELITES, The prophets ordered the brutes to kill all elites, so the elites were betrayed. ALL the Elites left the covenant.

          • Shane Davis

            The Prophets are dead. As for the Brutes, who knows, considering the fact that 5 years have passed, the elites could have killed off all the brutes. Just cause they were betrayed by the PROPHETS, It doesn’t mean that they lost their religion and hatred for the humans.

          • Shadow Hedgehog

            I don’t think that Elites kept “hatred” for the humans in the right meaning of the word. They were fighting humans because they were told by the Prophets. I think that I have read somewhere, that before the war started, Elites even thought that humans could join the Covenant. The Prophets were however against this idea and never gave any reason. They have ordered to attack humans without warring, without negotiation. I always thought, that for elites, humans were much more like opponents, rivals… but not those who they hate. Why would elites hate humans? Human have never done anything to them except that they were defending themselves. I have read that some high ranking elites even committed suicide when they have learned, that Prophets lied to them and made them to cause so many in-honorable acts. Other elites of the same faction swore, that they would remedy the mistake.
            Elites have basically learned, that all what they have done was wrong. And because of that, they do not hate humans, they hate Prophets, Brutes and themselves. “There was an honor in our kind, and there shall be again!”

            The only elites who really hate humans are those, who still believe in the Great Journey. But other than those fanatics, there is no reason for elites to hate humans at all.

        • spencerhodges

          OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, i wanna see arbiter agian, though there are different ones i wanna see the one from halo 3…. :3 separatists elites and arbiters FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • wilo

        not all covenant forces had brutes part of there legions plus some covenant commanders lost everything they new and clung to whats familiar ……waging war , if you look at the end of world war 2 fanatical german forces kept on fighting several weeks after germany surrendered not believing the allies so most likely the enemy covenant are in denial on there loss plus the gap from halo 2 – halo 3 is only 2-3 weeks and considering the size of the covenant empire alot of loyal elites wouldnt have got the message and would still think there at war

  • SlayeRLZ

    This is just awesome! Tks Tim!

  • Squatchmen

    “The Promethians make up the bulk of your encounters. There’s a limit to what I can say, but ostensibly, they’re the warrior sect of the long-vanished Forerunner society. The ones that you encounter appear to be artificial and remotely controlled.” – Frank O’ Conner

    This scares me just a teensy weensy bit, Gravemind anyone? you guys do realize that the Gravemind controlled the flood army by thought (his mind) So I guess we’ll be meeting this new guy who controls the Prometheans some point…

    Here is also another tid bit: “Promethian Knights have existed — and will continue to exist — in our fiction in a huge variety of forms. There are different types of Knights, but I can’t say more than that.”

    Just look at how many Elite ranks there are, and how their armor changes with the color

    • Blu

      I wonder about the Last Precursor arent there mentions of him controlling things and he manipulated forerunner AI
      or The Didact and Librarian but its less likely (since there was a truce between humans and forerunners after the war between them)

      • Mr. Fluffy fluffingston

        The Forerunners de-evolutionized the humans basically back to the stone age after their war with them. And i think the Precursor your talking about did manipulate one AI (as far as i know of). His name was Mendicant Bias, and he deffected to the flood, and caused major trouble to the forerunners.
        Also i think the precursor was put into an age-accelerating sphere or something, and he died, but not before telling the Didact (or some other forerunner) about their revenge against the forerunners in the form of the Flood.

  • spencerhodges

    finally, someone else notices the organic looking arms in the promethean knights armor, Thank you Tim or whoever posted this.

  • spartan 1996

    I always thought it was kickass to jump into a pile of Grunts and kill’em, so I dont mind the return of the Covies. What I do mind would be another Library playout, fighting through legions of Flood, ugh I HATE THAT!

    • Mr. Fluffy fluffingston

      There should be another Gruntpocalypse gametype even though they took out firefight. And yes The Library on Halo CEA was a bi*** to get through on legendary so i also hope it dosent come back.

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About the Author

Hello everyone, my name is Tim and I love Halo. Enjoy.

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