This weekend, the mission designers ordered and ate 40 corndogs. True story.
Super Crunch Time
The road leading up to Halo 4’s launch is an exciting time. It’s also a busy time, especially when you decide to throw a live-action series (Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn), books (The Thursday War by Karen Traviss and Greg Bear’s third installment in the Forerunner Trilogy), and back-to-back events (RTX and SDCC) into the mix. That’s why those of us that call 343 Industries home have officially transitioned from crunch time into the next critical phase of video game development: super crunch time.
The Campaign for Halo 4 is playable from start to finish, with some levels being near complete and others still needing some good, old-fashioned elbow grease (in the form of polish and bug bashing). The first several weeks of Spartan Ops find themselves in a similar state, as do the ten multiplayer maps that are shipping with the game.
Every time I participate in a daily play test, I am reminded of where we started and just how far we’ve come. Sometimes it’s the captivating curve of a skybox and the way it slowly opens itself up to reveal a seductively dangerous world. Other times it’s an animation, where one highly charged moment of your Spartan tackling and assassinating another Spartan makes you feel like the most bad-ass, kick-ass, whatever-other-words-you-can-put-in-front-of-ass super-soldier ever. And every so often, it’s simply catching sight of Requiem’s artificial light delicately dancing upon Master Chief’s visor and realizing, under his body-hugging suit of green armor, he's everything you've always wanted in a man… and then some.
Wait, did things just get weird? No? Good. I'll continue then.
We recently wrapped our last day of shooting on Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, with a very happy cast and crew up in Vancouver. Now we're moving directly into the final stage of production: Editorial and Post. There’s still a lot to be done, but every day gets us a little closer to its October release date. You’ll be hearing—and seeing—more about Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn at Comic-Con International, but before we touch on that particular subject, let’s talk about Longbow, shall we?
LOCATION: Northern regions of the planet Concord.
DESCRIPTION: Located in the northern polar region of the planet Concord, the frigid climate and unique gravitational conditions provide an optimal perch for Longbow Station’s channel-based mass drivers. Before the Covenant War, the UEG launched deep space monitoring relays from here in an effort to study far-flung star systems.
From Sidewinder to Containment to Snowbound to Avalanche, Halo has a long multiplayer map history speckled with various virtual snow-filled expanses. That history continues into Halo 4 with Longbow.
The goal of Longbow was to create a playspace that showcases one of our new (and unannounced) game modes. Early in development, we considered several options, including making it something like a big Arecibo-type telescope built into a valley.
We experimented with having extremes of Fire and Ice on opposite sides, but ultimately decided a glacier theme fit better with the spectrum of themes from other maps. The look and feel really took off from there to be distinctive and atmospheric.
We wanted a big engineering effort that connected to the war or the resources needed for the UNSC, so when looking at the designers’ initial idea for the map from the top, we began thinking of a Y-shape or loop shape that accommodated this single big machine—a magnetic launcher that works on similar principles as a MAC Cannon. It was an interesting case of trying to make a symmetrical map area feel natural and almost accidental, while still telling an epic sci-fi story.
Brand spankin’ new Longbow screenshot 1!
Brand spankin’ new Longbow screenshot 2!
Brand spankin’ new Longbow screenshot 3!
We then had to develop solid visual markers so the players could understand where they were. Each side is a very similar plan and path, but distinct enough to get a peripheral sense of being in a distinct "zone" in the map.
At one point, we flipped the direction of the entire map. The center building of the launch facility moved north to be a better landmark, pointing the launcher's arms out over the ocean. It’s much cooler to look at, and better for the players' orientation.
Longbow supports both infantry and vehicle play. On foot, players will notice it's mostly a mid-to-long range map with pockets of close range combat in and around the base structures. However, there are plenty of vehicles (currently Warthogs, Mongooses, and Ghosts) and routes through the map that will make fans of vehicular combat happy.
If you’re planning on attending RTX, you can let us know what you think of this particular map then. Speaking of which…
RTX, or Rooster Teeth Expo, will take place July 7 and 8 at The Austin Convention Center (500 East Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX). That’s a mere nine days away, for those of you that don’t have a calendar taped to your face.
This will be the first opportunity for the general public to get their hands on the competitive multiplayer modes for Halo 4 (also known as War Games). We’ll have a few different maps and game types playable on the floor, and we’ll also be hosting a panel, where two very special HORSE-loving guests may or may not stop by. Current plan is to have yours truly moderate it, but maybe someone will come to their senses and save you from having to witness my jazz hands in person. You can hope, anyway.
We have some exciting, albeit small, announcements planned, so we hope to see you there!
Comic-Con International 2012 will take place July 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center (111 West Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA). We’re excited to announce that Halo 4 will be playable on the floor, and we’ll also be presenting the following panels, the first of which will feature the premiere of the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn trailer. Additionally, you’ll have a chance to receive special prizes at the booth and meet the creative visionaries behind Halo 4 and Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn during special signing events!
Thursday, July 12, 4:45pm – 5:45pm
The Fiction of Halo 4
Room 6BCF, San Diego Convention Center
Halo 4 heralds the return of one of gaming’s most iconic heroes, the Master Chief, in a new, epic sci-fi saga. Expanding and enriching the narrative, 343 Industries, with very special guests, will share how the development of stories across the Greg Bear Forerunner saga, the Karen Traviss Kilo-Five trilogy, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Halo 4 Campaign and Halo Infinity Multiplayer have become connective tissue for Halo 4. Don’t miss the exciting premiere of the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn trailer as well as Q&A with our special guests!
Panelists: Brian Reed (Franchise Writer, 343 Industries), Armando Troisi (Narrative Director, 343 Industries), Brien Goodrich (Cinematic Director, 343 Industries), and Forward Unto Dawn’s director, cinematic director and writers (to be announced)
Moderated by: Frank O’Connor (Franchise Development Director, 343 Industries)
Saturday, July 14, 3:15pm – 4:15pm
Halo 4: A New Campaign and Halo Infinity Multiplayer
Room 6DE, San Diego Convention Center
Halo 4 marks the beginning of a new saga in the blockbuster franchise that has shaped entertainment history and defined a generation of gamers. Developed by 343 Industries, get a glimpse at how they have taken Halo 4 in new directions, introducing an ancient threat and the Master Chief’s greatest challenge, as well as an innovative and fresh new take on multiplayer in War Games and Spartan Ops.
Panelists: Kiki Wolfkill (Executive Producer, 343 Industries), Josh Holmes (Creative Director, 343 Industries), Frank O’Connor (Franchise Development Director, 343 Industries), Chris Haluke (Lead Designer, 343 Industries), and others to be announced soon
Moderated by: David Ellis (Spartan Ops Designer, 343 Industries)
Don’t miss this opportunity to get hands-on with Halo 4, and stay tuned for more details as the event gets closer.
Custom Challenge of the Week
Halo Waypoint forum member Dr Crackerjak claims to know what the ladies like. How exactly is that relevant to the new Custom Challenge of the Week, you may be wondering? Well, he seems to think persons of the female persuasion enjoy it when you get a lot of kills with the Scorpion.
To find out if that’s true, set up a Custom Challenge with the Scorpion - M808B MBT as the type of weapon. Resulting kills while in the tank will net you five times the usual credit multiplier. This challenge will be active from now until next Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, so let’s find out if the tank truly beats everything!
Super Jackpot Weekend
Summer has officially arrived. That means your days are longer, which in turn means you hopefully have more time for gaming. If that holds true for you this weekend, hop into SWAT because each game completed in that playlist will present you with the chance of receiving a cool 27,000-credit bonus. The festivities start on Friday and end on Sunday, so get it while the getting’s good.
And that, my friends, concludes your weekly Halo Bulletin. Next Wednesday is a holiday around these parts, so I’m not sure what will happen with the Bulletin. I guess there’s only one way to find out, right? See you next week… maybe. ;)