You're talking about the foundations that were laid, and now you're trying to basically build upon those with your efforts that are more directed, I suppose, to the franchise as it is now.
FO: Yeah, and that goes to every aspect -- not just the game itself, or the community, but the fiction. We're building on that and instead of going broader, we're going deeper.
The Greg Bear novel just came out, and it was a big risk for us, because it was originally an enigma and a mystery, and we're exploding that mystery and that enigma somewhat, but it paid off.
It's on the New York Times bestseller list... and it's actually climbing back up again, so fans are loving it. We love it. We knew it was risky, but we also knew that there was a weird clamor for it.
We get a lot of mail like, "You shouldn't explore the Forerunner mystery. The mystery is what makes it awesome." But it's like it does, but we're not going to eradicate or eliminate the sense of mystery -- or the actual mystery. We're just going to explore it, and it's been a fun exploration.
The bigger something gets the more diverse your group of fans is, so how has it been for you in terms of interacting with different levels of engagement?
FO: Certainly the scale got bigger as we went through Halo 2, but that hasn't really changed. Fans split themselves pretty rapidly into affiliations, and likes and dislikes, and we have some people who will only play Team SWAT on one map over and over again, all the way to people who have never picked up a Halo game and only read the books -- and that's pretty common.
When you have a big universe and when you have a big franchise like this, that separation of your fan base is to be expected, and rather than try to corral them all into one place, you should just embrace that, and we make sure that every aspect of Halo talks to every other aspect.
So there's things that happen in the Greg Bear novel that will actually make sense in DLC maps, if you play close enough attention; but by the same token you don't need all that stuff to enjoy those discreet experiences. And having a little corner of the Halo universe that you like, and that's all you're interested in -- that works just fine, as well. But of course we have our encyclopedic completist nuts who embrace and consume everything.
When we're talking about franchises that have this kind of budget and this kind of reach, is it crucial to have a strategy like this, that reaches across all media?
FO: I think it is. I think you can do a lot. There are different approaches to this. There's a lot to be said for making stuff up as you go along, but it depends on what it is. If you're trying to make a place that feels convincing and compelling, and characters with real history, you can't afford to do that. It's not just, "Oh, you got a date wrong here," or a weird Comic-Con question. It's, "Do you believe it?"
Your best experiences in movies and literature are always grounded in a suspension of disbelief, and that's easier to do when the environment that you're describing, and the universe that you're describing is convincing, and feels true or real. And that works. I mean, Lord of the Rings is just magical fantasy, but it feels real, because it's so well described and so well thought out. And one day we might get there. We're not there yet, but that's the level of detail and the level of belief that we want to have in this universe.