To mark the launch of Halo Legends on Blu-ray and DVD, we asked you to submit your questions for Frank O’Connor, the “master chief” at Microsoft’s Halo studio. Read on to find out who of you won the Halo Legends packs and got your questions answered by Frank.
Thanks to Madman Entertainment, we had TEN Halo Legends prize packs, each containing a copy of Halo Legends on either Blu-ray or DVD (up to you!) and a limited edition Halo Legends poster, to give away to the Kotaku readers who could ask Frank O’Connor the best questions.
Below is the complete Q&A. Unfortunately Frank declined to answer one of the questions, but don’t worry Chuloopa, you still get your prize.
How was 343 Industries formed/created and how did Halo Legends come to light from it?
Microsoft has always had an internal Halo Publishing and support team – right now mostly focused on the broader Halo franchise and helping Bungie create the next epic installment of Halo games. This is just the formal extension of that, with its own identity. We’re a growing team and responsibilities range from marketing to making comic books.
Halo Legends is a natural extension of that franchise development – and based on lots of ideas and conversations over the years.
What was the reasoning behind picking multiple studios to produce the shorts and did these studios control the story they were animating or was the story handed to them?
We wanted variety and perspective – we did something similar with Marvel on the Halo Graphic Novel and in some ways, this is an animated extension of that premise. Studios had varying levels of input on the studio, but each was allowed and encouraged to fully express its own vision. We helped as asked. Sometimes that meant writing the whole thing, sometimes just consulting and collaborating.
The anthology format naturally allows for a greater exploration and opening up of the Halo universe. Outside of each short’s distinctive animation style, can you discuss the effort that was put into the production of the stories to make each fresh and unique piece of fiction?
Well we had some basic subject matter we wanted to cover, and even studios in mind to handle it. So we discussed those story seeds with each of the studios and came to an agreement. It all went so smoothly that it’s embarrassing to explain – we got what we asked for, from the folks we asked. But as I stated elsewhere, the studios’ own visions were paramount.
Anime is clearly big business in the East. By creating an anime based on a popular western FPS, a genre not so popular there, how have you remained faithful to the fans in the west, and introduced the Halo franchise in Halo Legends?
We had to stay faithful to canon, with some slight exceptions, but we had no intention of staying faithful to western art styles. No point hiring Picasso to paint a Monet.
Hello Frank! In an interview last year, you mentioned that despite most of the stories in Halo Legends should be considered canon, there were still some discrepancies that arose from the artistic interpretation of the Japanese animation studios.
If this were the case, do you see any possibility of such artistic interpretation to have influenced you in a way regarding the future adventures of the Halo franchise?
We definitely took some ideas from the Anime and will incorporate those in future franchise stuff. Can’t reveal anything here though.
Did you find the current complexity of the Halo lore to be stifling when it came to creativity on the project? Or was it nice to have a set story, in which to help communicate with a new medium that is relatively new to the Halo franchise?
Actually, stories outside of games are easier to create than inside of games. Game design imposes structure and strictures that are often as, or more important than the story. No such problem with animation, comic books or novels. Bungie created such a rich, strong universe that the ancillary fiction can luxuriate in its depth and breadth. Our stories are both new and inherently connected to the rest of the universe.
The Spartan vs Covenant ideologies broach the current debate of the science vs religion dichotomy from a very unusual angle with Humans doing the ethically questionable genetic tampering and the Covenant believing in their religious mandate. Were you aware when creating the Halo universe that you would be delving into a potential idealogical mindfield? And are there any plans to explore this further in future, post Human-Covenant war, games and literature?
Luckily it hasn’t been a minefield. There are no deliberate political philosophies or viewpoints being promoted, just eternal human themes of conflict, sacrifice and resolution. War is the oldest story of all and its impossible to explore it without creating symmetries.
Halo has become somewhat of not only a gaming behemoth, but also cultural. Many see it as one of the greatest franchises of all time, if not the greatest. I’m not one of those people. I’m actually the complete opposite. I fail to understand to see how Halo has become the lumbering hulk it now is.
So my question to you, Mr. O’Connor, is what makes the Halo franchise special in your eyes. Aside from the masses of hysterical fans, spin offs and mass market product placement, what sets the Halo franchise apart from the rest? Why does Halo stand out as “special”?
(Frank declined to answer this question – Ed.)
The Halo franchise has expanded far outside of it’s original scope, we now have 3 pure ‘Halo’ FPSs, 1 RTS ‘Spinoff’, 1 FPS ‘Spinoff’ with abother one in the works, not to mention the many extra media material outside of video games. But in terms of video games, when do you feel you’ve exhausted a franchise, when will be the switching point where you say “That’s it, no more Halo games”?
When people stop enjoying them, or when the games themselves stop evolving in compelling directions.
Here’s my question: “What would you do if you had a Covenant plasma grenade stuck to you?”
What I always do. Run back to my team, screaming and ticking.