Halo 4's Spartan Ops Could Run For Years

Ever since we made the connection that games are played less like movies, with three act structures, and more like high end television shows, developers have been trying to find ways to make the idea of 'episodic' gaming work — mostly without any real success. Spartan Ops multiplayer is Halo's attempt to make this concept work and, if it's successful, it could conceivably run for years.

"We wanted gamers to have a continual water cooler conversation that revolves around shared gameplay experiences," said 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor, speaking to The Guardian. "So if you have four people working together to get through these missions and then watching and experiencing fiction at the same time ... it's not that you have to go and blow up a reactor and then you watch a cinematic sequence of a reactor blowing up; it's real characters with really significant universe-changing events going on in the narrative.

"We have the Spartan Ops story mapped out, at least loosely, for a few years. The first season is very rigid at this point and we know where this story goes. If it's successful, if people enjoy it, we have a narrative arc that can last for years, with a known beginning, a middle and an end."

The first season will be part of the on-disc content and is free. It also represents a pretty sizeable amount of content over and above the regular single player campaign.

"The first season is absolutely free if you buy either the special edition or the regular edition - that's a really significant amount of content; it's being compared to an entire campaign on top of the one that ships with the game," said O'Connor.

"Yes, it's a lot of content and yes it's an expense, but we think it's worthwhile. Halo has long tradition of doing innovative things: Halo 2 had Xbox Live multiplayer; Halo 3 had social and sharing aspects. It's a tradition that goes back to the first game and we wanted to continue that spirit of experimentation. But this works, it's fun and it's testing really well. It's going to be interesting to see if those water cooler conversations emerge organically and naturally. We have our fingers crossed that they will."

E3 2012: Frank O'Connor on Halo 4 – 'Spartan Ops could run for years' [Guardian]


Comments

    I dig it, and thank god they aren't pulling any Day-One-DLC crap with this one!

    Halo is a community based game. With the way the community acted in Reach then Halo is pretty much dead, sadly.

      I'm a halo fan, and you're right about the community's reaction to Reach. 90% of them were acting like little kids, thinking they deserved everything and hating on the new features. I stopped visiting Bungie's forums because every second post was a rant about bloom. I sincerely hope that the new trilogy succeeds, the series deserves to live on.

    Sounds like a decent plan - I suspect DLC will become a much more of a time-efficient way to add significant chapters to games. Unless, of course, the company's name is Valve.

      Beat me to the valve comment....

        ... it's alright burgies,

        There's still one Valve comment free, but after that we're not allowed any more ... ever

    Sounds great! Pity Xbox 360's online experience isn't free and is laggy :( I would eat this up were it on Steam!

      It's only laggy because developers are stuck in 1997 and refuse to add in local only search options.

      The Halo games are the most lag free on xbox 360, and since Reach prioritized local connections it's been even better. As as Aussie I hardly ever play against yanks.

    "We can basically recycle game assets for years" is what they are trying to say then?

    I'm not against it, so long as their heart is in the right place and the phrases "Duty" or "Black ops" don't come into play.

      At least they seem to be saying 'we'll sell these as dlc at future points' and not 'hey buy this new episode in cod71 series for the bargain price of a full game!.. Hey we put a lot of effort in to reusing this engine, we deserve your cash.'

      Well, considering they're putting this in on top of the usual campaign and multiplayer experience it's a bit cynical to call them on what seems like a bonus.

    To be fair Mark, that first statement is a generalisation, perhaps that is how a majority now play games, I still much prefer the movie arc structure to the episodic structure. I love to get down and dirty with a specific game for 3 or 4 days then be done with it until another playthrough. Hell even when I do watch TV shows I do it over a couple of days, which is not often because so much TV is horrible and full of filler. What's that, another television programme where the series premiere and finales are the only ones that advance the plot? And everything in between is not even slightly relevant to the main story except 2 or 3 lines at the end of each episode that only serve to remind you there is an overarching plot and just MAYBE it'll advance next week but then it doesn't? That's exactly what I don't like/want in my gaming :(

    /jadedgamerviewerrant
    /initiate reading books instead mode
    *calming down*

      Well, it does come as an additive to the normal campaign (which will play just how you like it) and because of it's long life time and it's offering of month-spanning free content for season 1, this seems much better than something you just get done with. Multiplayer is about making something last, and just another campaign wouldn't last as much as it should. An overarching episodic campaign that unleashing a CGI cutscene and five missions every week for a couple of months for free is not only much better for a multiplayer mode but extremely rewarding. Spartan Ops, Campaign, War Games and the yet unannounced Forge mode (which has been confirmed) will make Halo 4 one of the most worth-the-money games to ever exist.

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