I’ve decided it’s time to try and pick up this blog again, but with a different intention. Previously, I wanted to get my opinion out there and maybe try to prove some people wrong. This time around, it’s going to be about me. I’m a programmer with ambitions to make the world a better place by making something you love, if that’s an app, a website, or a game it doesn’t matter. Recently I’ve found that it doesn’t take some internal cogs spinning to get a good idea going, sometimes it takes a tiny snowflake that I need to talk about. Suddenly, that snowflake is snowballing into an idea and I can’t control what comes out of my mouth, the person I’m talking to starts getting a little more freaked out by each word and their eyes are popping out of their head. That’s the basis for this blog now, getting that crap out of my head, and letting the ideas I have about personal projects get their own spark. The emphasis is still games, but instead it’s on improvements and the future.
This idea didn’t come out of nowhere, much like my previous attempts there was just something that I couldn’t let go and that led me to here. There are three major things on my mind recently, the first was an interview with Bonnie Ross shortly before Halo 5 came out. The topic was the future of Halo, and it really showed why she has the job. There’s massive ambition to build a universe that’ll last a long time and expand over many forms of media (source). That’ll be a point to discuss later on. The next was a moment in Warzone Assault when I realized some potential for where to go. Almost instantly some more ideas started popping into my head. At last, that’s when I realized at work I had started to talk to my coworkers to expand on ideas and how much it improved the final product. The urge was real, it’s time to get this out and onto a blog!
I don’t want to rant on this too long, but before I praise the potential of what Bonnie Ross and 343 Industries wants to do, I need to put a warning label for anyone who wants to follow her thought process. At one of my previous jobs, a few lawyers and business professionals were hired in some very high positions. Nothing against people who do that for a living, but as an outsider, I found a few flaws in their thinking. There were multiple times I heard the discussion about what to do in the future follow Bonnie’s logic: if someone else can do this and succeed, why can’t I? It was an Internet based company, so obvious names like Amazon got thrown out there. It came off as an attempt to follow Amazon much like a littler brother follows his older siblings. The fact that someone else did something does not mean you should, and if a company does something to succeed, that doesn’t mean follow their choices. The thinking should be “do Amazon executives get in a meeting and ask themselves who should they follow?” No, they want to keep being Amazon, and you’ll want to be the next whatever company people constantly talk about.
Halo can follow this by saying, how can we be more Halo? Do I want to be the next Call of Duty? Once you understand where you want to go and who you want to be, you’ll create a game far greater than borrowing ideas from successful video games. The great thing is it seems like they are embracing the idea of utilizing the universe outside the games. Halo 4 is the prime example, they wrote 3 books before releasing the game and they were very deeply tied together. The universe was expanded far more than 5 games from Bungie ever did. Yes, Bungie did do a lot, and had plenty of literature to keep a fan entertained, but the results did not expand into the games. To me, this leaves your bonus material as virtually useless. There’s a fine line in this potential mess though, and Halo 4 crossed it. Sounds confusing right? Well the universe was expanded massively, but for a game focused fan like me, I didn’t know about that extra information until 2 years after the game was released. I knew enough to understand why the Didact was a total dick to the Master Chief, so I wasn’t completely lost. Basically, the key point for improvement here is, don’t tie in multiple pieces of work if you aren’t going to connect them for absolutely everyone. Especially when it can change your mind from “whaa?” to “oh that’s huge”. I’m extremely excited for future Halo games. 343 has proven to have potential, so I’m rooting for them to figure out how creativity works and what it takes to tie your media together.
Now for the part I love the most, the number of places the Halo universe can go. Halo Wars 2 is another case for 343 making smart decisions. They could have moved straight onto Halo 6 and stick with the Master Chief, but here we are taking a safe trip with some old friends to explore different areas. To make things better, they’re heading to a place we are familiar with: the Ark. More praise: after a rocking the multiplayer in Halo 5, Halo Wars’ RTS gameplay gets a chance to see some of that love. My experience with the first game isn’t very strong, largely because my attention span was very small combined with my inability to actually win matches. Doesn’t mean I won’t dive deep into the campaign though, especially since it’s the first real area where we are seeing some love for something outside the main story line. It’s too late to give ideas on this game though, it’s months away from release and most things are finalized. Time to plan out the next game right? 🙂
ODSTs! The most bad a’ soldiers in the Halo universe! Bungie gave them some love, but it was a massively missed opportunity. It was probably a way for them to knock a game off their contract with Microsoft, so the lack of effort isn’t a surprise. So who is full of effort? 343 Industries! And once again, that rockin’ multiplayer in Halo 5 will prove helpful in unfortunately dividing your player base but only because there are two fantastic FPS games. The concept honestly has me wishing I could build the game myself. ODSTs lack shields, and not that anyone is thinking it, but they need to stay that way. They’re also slower, so mobility isn’t something they’ll capitalize on. This combination allows Halo to dip their hands into a PvP multiplayer much like Battlefield and Call of Duty. The unique part is the guns Halo typically has, not exactly modern stuff. It almost seems like the guns are weaker because you’d think a futuristic gun could take down a super soldier, yet it doesn’t happen so quickly. The combination of ODSTs and Halo weapons allow for slower deaths, but a SWAT like scenario in every situation. Two head shots to kill, 5 body shots, all around a quicker death than typical Halo, but slower than typical modern FPS shooters.
Halo 5 did miss something though, and it was the Warzone Assault entrance, the offense is shown to be dropping in, but no one really spawns near the drop pods. It almost seems like it’s built for story, but to the point where you can’t question or answer why you’re in a battle. Could you image if that opening scene showed your solider in the drop pod, followed by you replicating the first time you actually play in Halo 3: ODST. You hit a button and plop yourself out of the pod, the enemy team isn’t there so you can’t quite go guns a blazing. However, kind of like Breakout, you’re put in a situation where running into battle feels natural. It’d be cool if you did this more than once, but it makes respawning infinitely harder because there’s now a beacon indicating where you are at. Once again, 343’s interest to improve and create a masterpiece would take this type of thing to a whole ‘nother level in a ODST specific game. 343, MAKE THIS HAPPEN!
If a game like that was huge, then the chances of more expansive games grows. A potential problem just came to me though, a typical studio looking to be a huge success might skip unique games like this and try to cram them into a DLC or different aspect of the game. For example, Elites are not the same as Spartans, Halo: Reach tried to show that, but it was not very effective. A stand alone game stood a better chance with this, Elites wouldn’t seem like oddly changed versions of the characters you’re used to playing as. Another bonus- the fans get to explore the Sangheili side of the universe with it as the main focus. I’d by that game in a heart beat as well.
I’m very optimistic for ideas like this to happen, Creative Assembly is the primary workforce on Halo Wars 2. If the work for future FPS games could be split up like this, we could be seeing a lot of fantastic campaigns and gameplay released. With so much potential, it’s a shame to see it wasted. Hopefully Microsoft and 343 are willing to take some chances, put in a lot of effort, and create the universe + brand Bonnie Ross wants Halo to be.
Finally, I’m not sure how many people actually read this, but hit a button or leave a comment to let me know if you disagree or agree. As time goes on, I’ll be posting more stuff like this no matter what, since it is building some creativity in my head.