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I know this isn't Halo 4; they're not numbered right now, but into the online multiplayer this is a higher iteration of it. You've done it several times. Is there an optimal set of the way you look at the way maps need to ship in the box, or is it something that changes as players' tastes change, as player behavior changes? Is there a way you look at weapons like that? Do there become rules as you understand them, or does it always change?
BJ: I think it's something that evolves, again, as we continue development. As far as maps go, I think Halo 1 we had 13 maps; Halo 2 we had 12; and Halo 3 we had 11. (Laughs) It gets smaller and smaller because we try to focus more on quality now and less on quantity.
The awesome benefit we had with Halo 3 was Forge, and especially in Halo 3 DLC, releasing these different Forge maps where players could build all sorts of variants from the same basic environment created a lot of cool flexibility within the environment. That's absolutely some things we've been talking about internally for Reach in how we leverage all that for ship.
Yes, we need enough maps to cover the number of players that we want... and for all the different gameplay experiences we want to have in the game, but then we also want to give players a lot of tools that they can use to build cool worlds. So it's more evolution than really some hard number of "We must have 10 maps for ship."
And then, for weapons, with Reach we actually pulled back on the total number of weapons that we usually have in a game because, for Halo 3, honestly, I think we had too many weapons. A lot of them did not have very specific roles; so, again, we try to focus more on depth and quality for each weapon rather than a crazy number of weapons. That was just more of us sitting around and talking about, specifically, what did we want that sandbox experience to be for Reach.
You guys are lucky in the sense that other people who are working might get asked by their publisher, "Hey, if you guys don't have 25 weapons, we can't put 'Has 25 weapons!' on the back of the box."
BJ: Yeah, I think you're right. It's all us, since we've been here; but I think, with the success of Halo and the franchise and just Bungie's track record in general, it does definitely afford a lot of leeway -- sort of a lot of discussions about "Just trust us. This is gonna work. Trust us." Thankfully, it has.
CC: Yeah, and even like what Brian was saying earlier about the pistol, there's so much subtlety in the pistol -- so much time and effort has gone into that. We had the Halo 3 pistol, and it was good, but the pistol for Reach just -- once you get used to it and once you understand exactly how it works and exactly where it's effective -- it's just so damned fun to use that one gun. We're trying to take that philosophy and use it on every weapon in the game.
DLC has become increasingly relevant; you guys are, I'm sure, planning it -- thoughts on DLC strategy?
BJ: Well, we haven't announced anything, and I'm not going to be able to announce anything today. You are right that it is something that you have to think about even before the game is done. I think it's safe to say that we have a pretty long tradition of supporting our games through and beyond launch, and that will be the case for Reach, as well.
A lot of times, as you're working on the game, there are always more ideas than there is time to actually develop content, and that usually becomes a really nice spark to kick off downloadable content-type discussions -- when there's an opportunity in the development cycle to come up for air and actually look forward.
Looking back at what you've done in the past, did you feel like, again, is that something where, after you're done with it, you felt, "Oh, we had all of these cool ideas for what we could have done with DLC; we can worry about them in the future," or is it not the same as working on your main game content?
CC: The nice thing about DLC is exactly what Brian said, where we can push some ideas off to DLC if we do that. The other thing is that, in the past, working on DLC has been great for us because the engine is stable and the game is stable.
Right now, there's so many things changing that, even when I'm working on something specifically in multiplayer, there could be something else that's crashing the game. But for DLC, because the engine's already out there, it's a nice, stable development universe, so we can be a little more ambitious about some of the things that we try -- or at least we have in the past.