This game was originally conceived as a lower-priced add-on, and then it grew into something bigger. Can you talk about how Bungie may have struggled with the concept of value, and drawing guidelines between, "This product here is worth $40, but this here is worth $60?" Was it just a matter of adding bigger spaces, or bigger levels? When was the pricing decided?
CC: Earlier on, we were talking about it in terms of it being an expansion pack. It was basically because we didn't have any data or understanding of how long it would take us to build an environment in an engine that was pretty much done and stable, and that the artists actually had some experience in.
We had tons of data regarding how long it took to build a Halo 2 or a Halo 3 mission, but that was always based on an engine undergoing work. There were stability issues where you would lose time, and so on. We just didn't have a great idea of how much we could make.
We really didn't want to over-promise on something we weren't sure we would be able to deliver. [The question of] "What can we make?" was in competition with our high aspirations for what we wanted to do. We had great ideas for what the city of New Mombasa could be like, and the type of gameplay we could do that would be different.
When we thought about value and the $30 or $40 price point, we were thinking that if we did end up making just an expansion, like a two- or three-hour campaign add-on experience, we would team that up with the additional work we've been doing on the Halo 3 competitive multiplayer experience with the extra maps we've been making. That seemed like it would be a reasonable value offer for $30 or $40.
But basically, as we went through development, realizing these efficiencies we had been trying to get, the game was ending up to be quite a bit bigger than anything we thought we could pull off at the beginning. That's when the value of it changed. We really were able to come up with a complete campaign experience, like you would expect from any of the previous Halo games.
On top of that, the Firefight game mode ended up being a lot more successful than we thought it would be, and we were able to create a lot more spaces for that to happen in as well. We thought that putting all that together with the Halo 3 competitive multiplayer experience was a good, full-sized product.
There are reports that the game was done a while ago, sometime in the spring. If that's true, why is it launching at the end of September? Is that purely a marketing move, to have it be a big fourth quarter release?
CC: That's a decision that gets made by our publisher, Microsoft. We did finish the game. It was handed off at the beginning of May, and it was up to them to make the right decision as to when it made the most sense to release it.