Halo devs share the decades-long story of the series’ creation and legacy
“It really was a collaboration from the beginning, a journey we took together. And as more individuals introduced their own creative ideas and unique perspectives, it continued to evolve and grow.”
- Marcus Lehto explains how the first Halo title moved from a concept to a full-fledged game.
Waypoint sat down with sixteen of the developers, composers, designers, and directors that played a key part in the creation of the Halo games. The result of those conversations is a multipart, oral history of the Halo franchise, from its first inception to its current generation.
There are a lot of interesting comments captured within the full story that the game development community may find particularly interesting. The dev team chats about how Bungie broke away from its library of strategy games like Myth to create a first-person shooter, and later how development transitioned from Bungie to the series’ current developer, 343 Industries.
But one interesting segment of the story captured some of the hidden struggles and solutions that came hand in hand with developing a first-person shooter long before the genre took off.
Composer Marty O’Donnell notes that one particular challenge faced during the creation of Halo: Combat Evolved was how to tackle first-person shooter mechanics on a controller rather than a mouse and keyboard. He credits designer Jaime Griesemer with finding the solution for that problem.
Griesemer says that his own experience with games like Golden Eye had taught him that controllers felt like a handicap to many players when compared to mouse and keyboard controls. The team knew that Halo’s success on the Xbox would largely ride on having controls that felt right, and that knowledge ultimately helped inform the creation of the controls in Halo: Combat Evolved.
“There’s a lot of code in Halo that interprets what you’re doing—how fast did you move there, what are you looking at?” explains Griesemer. “If it’s an enemy, we can assume that when you slow down, you’re trying to aim. So there are pages and pages that interpret the input that comes in, in a way that isn’t blatant and in your face. We tried to conceal how much help we’re giving the player.”
“It essentially buffers your movements, so that you get the movement you wanted, not necessarily the one you were making,” interjects Microsoft Game Studios general manager Stuart Moulder. “Which gives you a really controlled, precise experience, beyond what your thumb could actually give you, unassisted.”
There’s a lot more of this behind-the-scenes development banter to be found in the full oral history, so be sure to head over to Waypoint to read through the piece in its entirety.
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