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Making Halo Anniversary Work

November 15, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Yeah, star wipe is great! What was your solution for normal pop? Because that's obviously an issue.

FO: Well some of that is taken care of in the fade -- as the screen renders, during the fade. It is popping, but you don't quite see it. But it's actually fairly efficient.

One of the other benefits that we get from the mode of rendering that we have, and actually from the way that Halo 3 works, is that we can support 3D. The way that the two buffers work is that we get that -- not quite for free, I mean, I know a lot of engineers would be super mad if I said that -- but it's effectively a freebie, given the way that we render.

The reticle is kind of confusing, though, because it's at the same depth regardless of what surface it's on. And so, suddenly, it feels like it's way closer to me, when we switch to 3D.

FO: Actually, we have a very cool discreet tuning that we can do on the 3D, even in-game. You can make some pretty sweet adjustments with the 3D, and it's one of those things where if it hadn't been effectively a freebie, I don't think it's something that we'd put as much time and effort into.

Given the percentage of people who aren't going to have 3D TVs, it's not something that you want to sacrifice a level for or, a new 3DSmax build of the Warthog for. But it was actually a really cool added extra, and it was really keeping with the nature of the product. It's 40 dollars U.S., and you have a full campaign, you have the remastered mode.

We've added some fiction to the game as well. We had journals in Halo 3 that were text-based deep fiction -- detail and story. People loved the story, but obviously they're, like, for hardcore players, and hardcore fiction-heads.

But people did like them, as sort of an easter egg thing. So we made a much more accessible story, with much higher production value -- so it's fully animated 3D and CG animation with fairly high production values, and a fairly approachable story. It tells the story of 343 Guilty Spark on the Halo -- you know, with his hundred thousand years of isolation -- and it gives you some really cool background on the Halo itself, and some hints at the story of Halo 4.

We made a decision, a couple of years ago, to make sure that all the fiction that we added to the game actually mattered, and actually had a purpose. It used to be that we always would say, "Okay, if we're going to tell a story in Halo Wars, we have to make this so that it doesn't impact the rest of the universe." And I think that is a really unhealthy, unsatisfying, and ultimately unfair way to add story, because it meant that the creators who are working have all of these handcuffs on.

It wasn't fair, and they weren't able to have a meaningful impact on the universe, so we changed our strategy, and our philosophy with that. So every single piece of story that we tell is going to have some deeper meaning, or resonance, in the universe.

We don't want to have a situation where you have to read a book to understand the game. I think that would be super dissatisfying for both sides -- but if you have read all the books, and you have played all the games, you'll definitely notice cool connections, and hopefully just feel a little bit more depth than you might ordinarily.

Am I wrong or are you keeping more defeated enemies on screen than in the past?

FO: No, it should be the same, actually. One of the funny things about Halo that we discovered, especially in testing, it hasn't dated in any really meaningful way.

No, the campaign was quite good. It's celebrated as perhaps the best.

FO: Yeah, exactly. And one of the things that you notice when you go back and play it -- especially with a modern graphics engine -- is that we didn't have to touch the gameplay, we didn't have to touch the controls, we didn't even have to touch the difficulty, right?

You will play on Heroic, rather than normal mode, you'll find, because you've had 10 years of practice in games like Halo to get much better at it. And so you find yourself kind of walking through it, if you play it on easy. But other than that we didn't have to touch anything.

And you come out of a session feeling like you played a modern triple-A shooter. You really do. You don't come out saying, "I wish I had X" or "I wish I had iron sights," or some sort of modernized thing. You come out feeling like, "Oh, this is a perfectly modern shooter."

Once you get down onto the Halo, and you're driving around, you realize there are a lot of games that still don't do this stuff in as rich a sandbox as the original Halo does.

I think that's actually a really satisfying part of playing back through it, is that you're able to approach it with 10 years of experience. And rather than feeling redundant, it feels kind of fresh, and you feel like more of a superhero in some ways. You're like, "Yeah, I'm going to ignore this and jump in a Warthog and go deal with that."

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Kevin Patterson
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I'm a bit sad that they weren't able to implement the multiplayer with the old physics. Friends and I created a jeep wars multiplayer game that wasn't the same with Halo 2 and Halo 3. When I heard about the remake, I was hoping for that... I understand the reasons, but it would have been really cool to have the old multiplayer, and the old original blood gulch.

Ardney Carter
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Along those lines, did they keep local co-op? I have read elsewhere that co-op over Live was available and that local split-screen multiplayer was removed but I have not seen it stated one way or the other whether the campaign co-op was left in. That particular feature is the dealbreaker for me.

Michael Martz
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To do split-screen co-op you have to change your network to your local xbox and go to the campaign menu. It's hidden otherwise.

Eric Schwarz
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The switching between two different graphics engines without pause and without some sort of full level reboot is an extremely impressive feat of engineering. The feature itself is rather pointless, in a sense, but no doubt many players will appreciate it even so. I've never been a huge Halo fan but I have to give a lot of credit for 343's implementation of one of the coolest features I've ever seen in any sort of remake/re-release, both in terms of the sheer ingenuity in coming up with it, and what was probably quite a bit of work in actually making it possible.

Jonathan Ronk
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Halo 1 was always my favorite of the series. I haven't purchased the Anniversary edition, but I'm beginning to become a little disappointed of the gameplay is a lot different. One thing that is important to me is the sniping zoom. I was excellent with a 2x scope, but when Halo 2 went to a 5x zoom, I was awful and have never enjoyed that aspect of the game since. Does anyone know if the 2x zoom is back?

Harry Fields
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I still wish they would've re-tooled and included every multiplayer map/mode from every Halo game. That would've been one hell of a remix.

Nick Harris
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And where is the BR?

Wylie Garvin
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I got it yesterday and its great, I'm very satisfied for my $40.. I do however wish there was a control scheme with flashlight on LB, switch grenades on RB, action on X and melee on B. "The Duke" is the closest button scheme I could find to the one that makes sense to me (which I'm not even sure why I have this particular expectation, maybe from Halo 3 or something..)

Anyway the Halo 1 campaign is as great as ever gameplay-wise, and the new graphics and remastered sound track will make it easier for players who never played the original to get through the experience. If you have friends with 360's who never played Halo 1, do them a favor and make them buy this game.