EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JOSEPH TUNG DROPPED INTO ITS FINAL HALO GAME, AND GAVIN OGDEN MANAGED A FEW WORDS. NEW ZEALAND JUST AS BUNGIE ANNOUNCED IT HAD FINISHED
GO How does it feel to have wrapped up development on Bungie’s last Halo game for the foreseeable future?
JT We all love the universe we created. It’s defi nitely bittersweet, but we’re super excited about what comes next for us. And we really do think that Reach is a fitting farewell for Bungie to the franchise.
GO Is this the best Halo game yet?
JT That’s like asking which of your children you like the most. I’m personally extremely proud of Reach. Without a doubt it’s the biggest, most ambitious game we’ve ever done. There’s never been a game where we have competitive multiplayer, Firefi ght, Forge, saved fi lms, an epic campaign with four-player co-op and, on top of that, the player awards system. We haven’t even come close to offering that much of a game in one box before. It’s a massive breadth of experience, and regardless of what type of gamer you are or what mood you’re in, there’s a pretty awesome experience waiting for you.
GO If you’ve never played Halo before, is Reach a good place to start?
JT Absolutely. I want to say this in a way that doesn’t give anything away, but Reach is where it all began. It’s the origin of the Spartan programme. We didn’t make it so that only hardcore fans of the fi ction could understand what’s going on. If you’re a newbie it’s a great game to jump in on because of the breadth of experiences we’ve got in there.
GO How do you tell a story that remains surprising to those hardcore players that do know all the fi ction?
JT It’s like watching The Titanic, right? You know what happens at the end of that. You might know the macro story but we always said from the beginning of development that
Reach was going to be a boots-in-the-mud type of story. Even though you know what’s going to happen in the end, you don’t know what happened to Noble Team in the days leading up to the end of Reach and how they might have affected the events of the universe.
GO Has the way the story has been delivered changed from previous games?
JT We did a lot of things to make the story feel more grounded. If, in Halo 3 you saw an unbelievably long camera shot with a giant arch in it, Reach will feel like there’s a cameraman behind the game camera all the time. We wanted to make it feel like the dust from the Falcon taking off is kicking into the camera.
GO How do Reach’s cinematics differ?
JT As far as cinematics, effects and audio are concerned, all of them make for a darker vision for Halo: Reach. The cinematics are told in a very different visual style. Grounding the camera was a big part of the director’s vision. We used motion-capture for the fi rst time in cinematics and the way they achieved the camera was to place markers on a 2x4, so when the actors were acting out a scene we were capturing the data of the camera itself as a real-world camera.
GO What kind of support are you giving the game post release?
JT I don’t know if we’re talking about the specifi c details, but we’re defi nitely going to support the game like we have previous titles. If there are great community maps made in Forge, we want to get those into matchmaking.
So we’re absolutely going to be supporting it for the foreseeable future.
GO What proportion of the features and game modes are public knowledge and what are you leaving for the player to discover?
JT I don’t know the exact percentage, but we’ve talked about a decent amount of the maps as far as multiplayer’s concerned and the same with Firefi ght. There are certainly a bunch we haven’t shown either.
GO How close is the fi nished game to the original vision?
JT I’ve been on Reach since day one, when it was four guys sitting in a room thinking of what the next project was going to be. I go back and look at the materials we put together for pre-production and it’s the game that we wanted to make. Of course the game changes over time. Forge World – I don’t know if anyone’s talked about this yet – was sort of a happy accident, just like Forge was. It’s defi nitely a darker epic campaign; we introduced the world to Noble Team, brand new modes in multiplayer, threw a bunch of new ideas at the sandbox; it’s all there.
GO What was the biggest unexpected challenge during development?
JT I think containing scope is always a challenge for Bungie in general. It’s a very fl at studio, and by fl at I mean anyone can come up with a great idea that can make it into the game. That makes it hard to contain the great ideas so that we ship on time. It’s my job to say ‘no’ to people. If we let the good ideas keep coming we’d never ship the game on time.
GO Were there any ideas that didn’t make Reach that might be used in a future game?
JT I honestly don’t know. 343 Industries is plugging away at something. I don’t know that we’ll hand over our book of ideas. In reality we actually got a huge amount of what we wanted to get into the game done, much more so than previous games. I think our test manager might say that we should have not shipped Forge World because it came on late, but the team was so passionate about it that we had to get it in.