Talking Halo 3, And What Comes After Halo 3, With Bungie

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By: Luke Plunkett

Since they were in town the other night, and we were talking all things Halo 3, figured it was a good time to sit down with Bungies' "man of the people" Frank O'Connor, along with game designer Lars Bakken. Talk about Halo 3, talk about Halo 3's Forge, talk about microstransactions, downloadable content, boss battles, what they're up to in the impending post-Halo 3 world. Basically, talk about a whole lotta things.

First up, Forge. We'd heard whispers on the wind about it, but just what exactly was it? Frankie explains that it's an in-game mission editor, which to me sounds a little like Crackdown's "Keys to the City" mode. Players are able to edit things like objects, weapons, maps, vehicles, placements and MP game settings (almost like a basic mod editor), but this is all performed in-game by players who take the role of "monitors". If indeed this plays like Keys to the City, but in Halo, it should be awesome.The addition of Forge gives Halo 3 essentially three game modes, and the pair continually refer to it as such (mentioning SP, MP and Forge when discussing game options, setups, etc). Which gives the player more game time. But just how much game time can players expect from the singleplayer campaign? "It's tough to put a hard figure on it", says Frankie. Understandable, since Halo's always been a game that lets you approach battles at your own pace, but a rough idea would be great. "Well, we don't really know if it's physically longer than the last one, but if you're an average Halo player, it should take you around the same time as it took to finish the previous two games, since they were about the same."

Finishing the last game? Reminded me of something. Fighting your way through Halo 2 only to end up in some old-school boss battle pissed a whole lot of people off. "Yeah, we found that pissed people off" Frankie says as they both chuckle. "You know, sometimes there are sets of cliches in games you can use, and use well, but...there will be huge encounters, like the battle with the Scarab, and there will be large enemies with weak-points, but no, we're not going to have any stereotypical boss encounters".

Turning things toward their own roles with the game, O'Connor says that his job is just getting started. With what he calls his "own development period" ("We don't call it marketing, we like to call what we're doing here tonight another stage of development"), he's already toured Europe, has popped in to Sydney and will keep the Halo hype-train chugging along through the United States in the leadup to the game's retail release. Busy boy.

But Bakken? He's done. Done with Halo 3, anyways. After a brief break, he says he and other Bungie team members have already moved onto their next projects. "Since the game is, aside from a few tweaks here and there essentially done, some of the guys are working on the game's downloadable content" Bakken says. They couldn't/wouldn't talk specifics on this "major" DLC, but what I did learn was that there will be microtransactions present in at least some small form for the game, with players able to purchase additional storage and display spaces for the game's file-sharing facilities, which allow the user to show off their favourite movies, screenshots, MP game settings, etc.

"We're still deciding on how we're going to implement this", Bakken says, meaning they haven't worked out how much it's going to cost you, but I'm assured that the space you get for "free" (six storage slots, a max file size of around 10-15MB and a total storage allocation of 50MB) should be fine for the average user. If you're going to be playing clan MP every day, or engaging in amateur machinima, then you can pony up for the extra space.

I notice Bakken said "some of the team" were working on DLC. What about the rest? "They're working on two projects", he says. One is Peter Jackson's Halo title. The other? A mystery. It's an unnamed, unannounced game that's "in the prototype and planning stage". Is it Halo? I get a smile and a "no comment". Is it not Halo? A smile, a "no comment". Ah well. Worth a shot.


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