Halo Weekly Update 12/19/13

Welcome to the last Weekly Update of 2013! The Bulletin for this week is rather straightforward, but brings up a few interesting pieces of information!

Q&A With Frank O’Connor

This week’s Bulletin had one primary focus, a long and informative Q&A session with 343i’s Franchise Development Director, Frank O’Connor! I’ll be a killjoy and cut out the “silly” questions for the sake of not over-lengthening this post, but if you want to see the full list, check it out here!

Who is your favorite character?
– AStreamOfCream

In the entire history of the franchise? It would be a tossup between Guilty Spark and Foe Hammer. The former because he’s an interesting, pivotal and possibly misunderstood – and in my opinion – sympathetic character. The latter because a lot of people think she’s a spaceship and not a callsign. And just as many who think she has an especially lyrical and overwrought surname.

What is your favorite weapon, generally speaking?

The one I’ve used most consistently across the series is the Plasma Pistol – as a secondary to strip shields or stop vehicles. As a utility weapon, either the H3 BR or the H4 DMR.

If you could change one thing about the Master Chief, what would it be?
– xLG Atomix

I would change his rank, or better still, people’s understanding of his rank. The Master Chief Petty Officer is a naval rank that is the highest attainable for enlisted men. It demands respect but demonstrates worth, ability and hard work. All things that you can assume are true of someone in that role. And the role demands such respect that you’ll even see senior commissioned officers defer to, or at least acknowledge that rank in decision making and general behavior.

What is your favorite game type in Halo 4?
– YouTube Unyshek

SWAT.

Why did the UNSC stick to projectiles as their main form of weaponry, or even now when ONI has developed lasers?
– Seeeyeare

The truth is that creating a distinctive human flair, sound, silhouette and look for the universe is important to the nature and identity of the canon, and the canonical reason would be that projectiles are something you can build easily and cheaply in almost any human-friendly environment. And we don’t shy away from the fact that we have a massive military industrial complex at play. Halo actually takes place at the cusp of a more energy-efficient shift in our tech – and you have these contrasts – FTL travel and standard caseless ammo. Frankly speaking it is like that because it feels good.

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If I wanted to join 343 Industries someday, what would you recommend I study?
– RJCCJ

Where’s your passion? If you’re literally a human blank slate that can do anything and has no feels, be an engineer (Computer Science) because you’ll get paid slightly more when you start and you’re harder to hire and in greater demand for more varied jobs. If you’re not a carte blanche, pick the thing you care most about, or the thing you’re best at.

Did Beamish survive the attack on Corbulo Academy using his mighty mop?
– DHG Siul S249

He survived a massive Slipspace jump outside of a cryotube, with nothing legal to eat. He’ll survive a glassing. In fact, being Scottish, he’s probably already been glassed.

What is your favorite moment in Halo, be it in novels, games or any kind of media?

You haven’t seen it yet. But I have.

From your practical experience, what are real and meaningful steps an industry outsider can take to work his way into PR / Marketing for game development studios?
– FatalFord

There are a ton of perfectly good college courses dealing with marketing, media and public relations – and knowing the subject matter helps.

Any chance of an in-game ranking system in Halo Xbox One?
– FroZeN 4S

There’s always a chance.

What do you exactly do at 343 industries?

I do everything imprecisely. I work on story, franchise, canon, licensing, even marketing. A bit of everything.

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After creating your first Halo as a brand new studio and taking on one of the largest franchises, what would you say was the biggest success and failure with Halo 4?
Austin7934

Like any new studio, we had plenty of failures. Our biggest success will be accepting them and learning from them. I think that our growing understanding of the audience and ourselves and the new platform will stand us in good stead.

There has been a ton of feedback, both positive and negative, in regards to the direction that Halo 4’s multiplayer took the franchise. What feedback have you taken to heart the most, and what changes have 343 made to their multiplayer philosophy and approach to reflect said feedback?
– a Polish Korean

I think that’s probably the most important question for our community, and I think we’ll start answering it honestly and directly in due time. So I won’t touch on philosophy here, other than to say you’ll see a lot of those learnings when we start showing things. There’s no semantic dance I can do here that will satisfy every segment of our audience – there are just too many pitfalls and inter-community disagreements on what makes Halo MP great. So we will be open and receptive and honest with ourselves.

Was the inclusion of cosmetic elements (armor variants, weapon skins, etc.) in Halo 4’s DLC seen as a success? How do you think you can improve DLC more broadly?

Yes, but everything can be done better, more simply or reinvented in unexpected ways. I will leave it at that.

Has there been any discussion in regards to the merit of returning to a veto style voting system as opposed to sticking with the voting style from Reach / Halo 4?

I will say that dedicated servers and cloud technology will give us options that expand upon that premise and the former rigidity of matchmaking, period.

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Are there any major Easter eggs left undiscovered in Halo 4?
– Snoop Rocket

Major? No. Minor, yes.

Will Halo: Spartan Assault take advantage of the Xbox One impulse triggers?
– FireGhost90

Not particularly, but the next Halo FPS will.

What are you planning to do with the Arbiter and that of the Sangheili, in both the story and gameplay?
– kaine nar rano

Can’t talk about it. But a lot.

Back before Halo was a big franchise and Halo: Combat Evolved was being developed, how much of the universe did you have planned?
– Kokaza118

Bits and pieces. The reality of developing a game is that you have to delete whole swathes of ideas – and those have a knock on effect. I know roughly what the universe looks like years from now, but not precisely how we’ll get there, because the game will define that, not a roadmap.

Did you initially plan to develop Halo 2 and the rest of the trilogy?

The game was developed like any new franchise, with the hope that it would be loved and the possibility there could be another. And the humility to know that most new franchises don’t make it.

How did you balance enemies and weapons for gameplay and story? For instance, Promethean Knights use highly advanced weaponry capable of disintegrating and piercing through armored marines. They can however die by salvos of M118 bullets. In gameplay, the Sangheili have a quicker and stronger melee than Knights sometimes. What do you comment on it?
– Erickyboo

One simple example is using hardlight as projectiles that can compare with human projectiles. But really the answer is a massive chart and years of conversations and comparisons. And some of the differences are designed to be aesthetic as well as balanced for gameplay.

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The Master Chief, Commander Palmer, Fireteam Majestic, and Spartan-IVs in the Halo 4 Campaign all use full armor sets, yet we see Spartan-IVs in War Games usually wearing a mix-and-match combo. Do Spartans use different armor pieces in the canon? If so, how often do they do so?
– OompaMyLoompaa

They technically choose pieces that are suitable for both the mission at hand and their own personal fighting style.

How was Hesduros left out of the loop, to the point where it is still very religious and adopted its own traditions and technologies?
– M0aHerder

You will definitely find out more about intra-Covenant disputes and religious differences in the future.

Are there any driving ideas and inspirations behind the redesign of the Covenant look?

The changing nature of their relationship with the galaxy and the reclaiming of their own identity outside of the previous nature of the Covenant drive a lot of that, as well of course as game tech, fidelity and modernization.

Will we see more development and “humanization” of the Covenant in the future, similar to what they received in Halo 2/3?

Yes and more “alienization” too.

Will the nearly 500 year gap of the Halo timeline be further explored? There is a lot of content that can be back there, from initial interplanetary conflicts to early Human exploration and into the golden age of colonization, that can add significance to the story.

Potentially, yes.

Will there be any clarification of the events of Halo 3, such as how many MAC platforms were still up, how much of the Home Fleet was intact, or how Arby N’ Friends got back to Earth?

Those items may not be a focus for the next game. But they can be dealt with elsewhere.

What is the chance of seeing more books like Evolutions?

Reasonable.

Humanity’s post war status looks quite promising considering how close they were to being wiped out. What is Humanity’s status during Halo 4? Colonies? Rebuilding efforts? Is the Infinity and Spartan-IV Program taking any attention away from other important issues?

They are taking the initiative. Trying to keep the Covenant off balance. The Spartan-IV program is essential to that mission.

Matchmaking Updates

As it’s so close to Christmas, there’s not much in the upcoming update on Monday, but that doesn’t mean 2013 isn’t going out with a bang. Race will be switched out and replaced by Rocket Race as the new featured playlist for the next fortnight.

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Here is the post for this week’s “Top 200” in Team Slayer.

Spartan Assault

Halo: Spartan Assault will be launching for Xbox One on Christmas Eve, December 24th, with a whole host of Achievements, Operation Hydra, an all-new co-op mode, and an expanded arsenal of weapons and equipment – all for $14.99, or just $4.99 if you bought and played a Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 version of the game before December 15th.

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Head here for more information on the game!

New Avatar Items & Gamerpics

Some new items have now joined the already enormous collection of Halo-themed items on the XBL Marketplace. Now available are the Commander Palmer Helmet ($1.99), the Spartan Davis Helmet ($1.99) and the Forerunner Artifact prop ($3.99). If you want a new set of gamerpics, the new Halo: Spartan Assault Pic Pack ($1.00) may just be for you.

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That’s everything for this week, and so comes a close to 2013’s last Halo Update! Have fun on the RUL Night playing Halo 4, and be sure to pick up Spartan Assault if you have an Xbox One – let us know what you think of it in the comments!