Many moons ago two world famous characters were born with similar last names. One was created in videogame form, and the other was created out of necessity. This is the origin of Mister Chief. To commemorate the release of the Mister Chief Xbox Avatar Costume, we sat down with the man who birthed this wonderful character years ago – 343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor - to find out his inspirations and aspirations for the beloved Mister Chief.
When did you first start working on Halo?
I started with Bungie about halfway through Halo 2. Or at the point where Halo 2 got pretty radically overhauled in mid-production, depending on how you look at it. At that time we were in the Millennium E building, whose acronym was “MILE” – next door was the far sexier Millennium F building. You do the math/syntax.
What circumstances lead to the creation of Mister Chief?
A wise man once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention” – and it was poverty that led to the creation of Mister Chief. We had no assets or screenshots to share at the time, so for a laugh, I created an off-brand, non-union variant of Master Chief. Carefully and elaborately named “Mister Chief” which in itself was a derivative of an insult I used to belittle my old roommate’s car (a Toyota MR2 that I called “Mister Two” to hurt him). His name was Sven and he went on to become a VP at Capcom in spite of my efforts to destroy his manhood.
What were your inspirations behind the design of Mister Chief?
The inspiration behind Mr. Chief, apart from the paucity of screenshots at hand, was a level of childlike simplicity of line and form that maps at a 1:1 level with my overall artistic talent.
What kind of reaction did you expect?
If there’s one thing I am good at, it’s understanding the public reaction to things. I expected hatred, revulsion, rage and chafing. And I believe I delivered all of those things.
If you had to justify Mister Chief’s existence in Halo fiction, what would you say?
A rampant bathroom AI tries to create a rival to the Orion project.
If Mister Chief had a voice, what would it sound like?
It would probably sound a little like a Scottish TV character named Rab C. Nesbitt. You should YouTube that. Good luck understanding more than 25% of what he says.
In what forms are the most interesting ways you’ve created Mister Chief?
Paintings are SUPER HARD. It takes like, an hour to do a painting. Photoshop (and yes, I use a $600 pro app to draw Mister Chiefs, not MS Paint, which I could, but I roll hard) is much easier because you can like, blast color-in. I think that is the proper artist term. Also I can do more lens flare than J.J. Abrams.
How does it feel to have Mister Chief created as an Xbox Avatar Costume?
I personally receive 30% of the profits so I expect this will be my final contribution to the community. Starting next week if you want to find out what I am up to, I suggest reading the US Weekly tabloid, whose “Stars: They’re Just Like Us” column will feature pictures of celebrities, including me, no doubt, doing “ordinary” things. It will be stuff like “He fills his own gas tank.” Only my car will be a replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang made from Kim Kardashian’s hair. Or, "He buys Starbucks for his friends” – only I will actually purchase the entire corporation and give it to Bravo so he can always have free Wi-Fi.
What was the Mister Chief Costume creation process like?
This is actually the true story: They asked me to draw a 3D turnaround so they could see what his back looked like. But I hadn’t really thought it through and when they got the turnaround sketch, I think they thought it was an “approximation” and tried to add detail and perspective. Which was kind of missing the point. So a lot of my feedback was like, “No, make it dumber and worse.”
If you were given an unlimited budget to make a Mister Chief game, what kind of game would you like to see him in?
Shadow of the Colossus set in a city, where a Crackdown type dude has to take down various giant ugly poorly drawn monstrosities in a fully realized world. Leap from building to building to scale a giant Mister Chief and destroy him from the top down, climbing into his body to smash his brains and intestines. Or you could deliver a massive internal dose of super powered laxative so he could crap his insides outside. And then in co-op mode, a creature with a mop and bucket could clean up the mess Katamari style.
What would you tell aspiring artists who yearn to create art as beloved as Mister Chief?
First, clear your mind. Then you have to find a space that you’re comfortable in. For me, that is the bathroom. I gots Wi-Fi and a Surface Pro and I can just doodle while I toodle.
Have you created versions of any other characters in the Halo universe?
There were some failed efforts. Jarbiter, Sgt. Johnson & Johnson (Siamese twin) and Lord Hoodie (highest ranking Chav in the UNSC), but they never really gained the traction, adulation and critical acclaim that Mister Chief did.
P.S. One last thing, one last message to the world before I get set to retire on next week’s Avatar riches: I AM BANKSY. Peace.
Head on over to the Xbox Live Marketplace to nab your Mister Chief Avatar Costume today!