343 Industries on building the Halo universe

Comic-Con 2010: Creative director Frank O'Connor talks with Greg Bear, Karen Traviss, Peter David, and more to discuss upcoming novels, comics, and animated films set in Microsoft's acclaimed franchise.

Who was there: 343 Industries' creative director Frank O'Connor was joined onstage by a host of contributors to the Halo-dedicated establishment. Among them were novelists Greg Bear and Karen Traviss, Tor Books editor Eric Raab, and famed comics writer Peter David. 343 Industries producer Alison Stroll and managing editor Kevin Grace rounded out the panel.

Halo won't end after the fall of Reach.

What they talked about: Bungie's Halo: Reach panel, which delved into user-generated content and new modes for the September 14 release, wasn't the franchise's only presence at Comic-Con 2010. Microsoft's 343 Industries was also on hand to provide a deeper look into the developments and people behind the Halo universe, in a panel titled, aptly enough, "Halo Universe Panel."

The session opened with a brief trailer recounting some of Halo's non-gaming exploits, ranging from the Halo novel The Fall of Reach to the Halo Legends anime. Of course, it also showed previously released footage from Halo: Reach, the final Bungie-developed installment in the franchise.

Stroll, who moderated the session, asked panelists what it was that kept them wanting to contribute to the Halo universe. Raab led off, saying that world building offers the ultimate sandbox, because it lets a writer take a universe that is self-contained and flesh out the limitless stories within it. David concurred, saying that the nice thing about Halo in particular is that all of his contributions are canonical, and its satisfying to be part of something that's bigger than himself.

Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Bear then discussed what brought him into the fold. He said that the Halo universe offers the classic hard-boiled military sci-fi that he grew up on and that it is entertaining for him to carry on the tradition of writing about extraordinary characters accomplishing extraordinary feats.

Traviss, who is also a primary contributor to Microsoft and Epic Games' Gears of War story, noted that her draw to the universe is that there are very dark, disturbed characters in the Halo universe, and those are exactly the types of stories that she likes to tell. She said that she feels like a tribal storyteller and feeds off the way people react to her stories.

David was then asked about the process of taking the Halo universe from the realm of games and bringing it to another medium--in his case, comic books. He said that it was actually quite easy, because Halo was born as a visual experience and was geared for being conveyed in such a manner. The Halo universe is especially nice, he continued, because of the massive amount of feedback he receives from the people who created the lore.

The conversation then turned to some of the upcoming releases in the Halo universe, with Raab noting that Tor will be reissuing all of the Halo novels with bonus content, the first of which will arrive by the end of August. He also said that a new collection of short stories will arrive in November and December.

The next new novel, which is being penned by Bear and focuses on the Forerunners, is expected to arrive this holiday. Delving into what fans of the novels can expect, Bear said the story focuses on humanity's origins in the Halo universe, as well as the construction of the massive space rings themselves. The story will be told over the course of three novels.

With Reach due on September 14, Grace said that gamers can also expect to get more information on Dr. Halsey (who created the Spartan program) with the game's limited-edition package. Included in the release will be Dr. Halsey's journal, which will recount her experiences with creating the supersoldier program, of which the iconic Master Chief was a member.

Stroll then queued up the next animated film in the Halo franchise, which will be titled The Mona Lisa. The brief trailer showed a group of humans happening upon a pod structure near the remnants of a destroyed Halo space station. On full alert and guns raised, the soldiers pop the seal, and out bursts a humanoid figure, blood-soaked and screaming. Stroll indicated that the flood will be central to the film.

Quote: "We would have to be the world's biggest a******* to not follow through. You're all applauding, but I didn't say we weren't the world's biggest a*******."--Frank O'Connor, responding to whether Master Chief's story will continue after the cliff-hanger ending of Halo 3.

Takeaway: The Halo universe is one that offers near-limitless possibilities for those who want to play in the Bungie-created sandbox. And Microsoft has certainly tapped some of the top sci-fi writing talent around to ensure that those stories come to life. Those who want more Halo beyond just the games should have a lot to busy themselves with for some time to come.

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Discussion

160 comments
skywalkerforce
skywalkerforce

@etusfart18 Thats not Halo....That Call Of Duty. At least Halo has made more than FPS. Its tapped into a few things. COD is so friggin dull. I dont see the purpose of buying anymore CODs in the future.

FlamingNinja77
FlamingNinja77

already have lots planned to do in forge with all the new stuff maybe i should make a forklift racetrack that would be epic

kaze347
kaze347

@fetusfart18 A brand new Madden game comes out every year. Halo does not. Halo has a STRONG campaign. Madden does not. Halo only has a few game out compared to Madden. Halo improves a great deal in every new iteration, again Madden does not. Call of Duty is closer to becoming Madden than Halo is. But I'll still play them, because like the people who keep buying Madden, I AM A FAN. People act like its a bad thing.

pitbull_fathead
pitbull_fathead

@ mgs16925 I think he was more saying that he finds it hard to understand why you would comment on something you state to not care about. As most would not. That being said, who ever thinks they are milking the series? (I don't know if you even said that mgs16925) They obviously are, but why is it such a big deal? CoD is definitely doing it, both the GoW's are doing it (A little more questionable), pretty much every succesful game can be labelled as milking. But like somebody said, the numbers don't lie and people are buying into ALL of this stuff. And for me as a Halo fan, I love it as it's even MORE story! Look where milking got Star Wars? No worries SW fans, I'm not comparing I'm just saying that people are buying both... How many Star Wars games are there even? And let's not get into all the other canon outputs.. And that all started from a movie series! That's amazing... AKA Haters need to stfu, if you don't like it don't watch videos about it and you shouldn't feel the need to comment (Not directed at you mgs16925).

chipichowa
chipichowa

bungie you have outdone yourself with the new and inproved forge and firefight options

FatalAffinity
FatalAffinity

Where can we watch that "The Mona Lisa" trailer that they mentioned? Also, I have faith in 343 Industries to keep the Halo legend alive for the years to come. I have enjoyed and loved every single Halo game to ever be released, from Halo: CE to Halo 2-3-ODST and Halo Wars. The company knows that if they start work on another Halo title, they have Microsoft and the world watching over their shoulders. It's a daunting task, to say the least, but like I said, I have faith. Either way, we will see how the Halo universe evolves in the hands of 343. They have a HUGE universe to play with, from the first missions that the Spartans were sent on against insurgents to later missions during the Human-Covenant war. Good Luck 343! And Good Luck Bungie with Activision :/

fetusfart18
fetusfart18

Reach is the only one since Halo 1 that looks like I might like it at all. But dear god, is Halo going to turn into the Madden of first person shooeters? At least we're not seeing any Madden NFL fiction novels..........yet.

mgs16925
mgs16925

@ penpusher this a news item that was linked off the main page when I first commented, not a halo-specific section. I made an off-hand mention of an opinion on the state of this series, an opinion about half the posts here are also showing. Why are you playing this up like I'm trolling a halo site?

DuTCHy-Allen
DuTCHy-Allen

yes indeed, because one person or a selective few thinks halo sucks than obiously halo sucks. Well if halo sucks why are you visiting pages about halo? Just wondering ...

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

Halo sucks! It always has done. I know that probably counts as trolling but... it does!

DuTCHy-Allen
DuTCHy-Allen

@mgs16925 u have a point the franchise has to stop when the time is right but really is that time now?? The halo series has been written in a way that it can take many directions, the only thing im worried about is that if they ever make a film that they choose a bad director.

penpusher
penpusher

@mgs16925 still dont understand its still having a good run. Master cheifs story line has been closed (well possibly ... we'll see) but there is an entire universe of halo to go through I mean theres 20 years of an interstellar war, which alone could spawn an entire series in its own right, but we've only seen details of master cheifs later career and a few bits of the war itself ... You and others may not really want to see anymore but the majority of halo fans do Which brings me to my next point, If you dont care about any further entries in the series dude then no one is forcing you to pay attention, no one is forcing you to buy the games and we certainly arent forcing you, nor do we want you, to come onto pages based entirely around halo and bashing the series. If halo 3 was enough for you then thats fair enough but dont come making a nuisance of yourself to the rest of us ....

mgs16925
mgs16925

@penpusher Don't get me wrong, it was a good run. But the story ended with Halo 3. It's been clinging to life with these side stories (DLC that walks like a full-priced sequel), and we should just let it go before the good memories are clouded by the zombie this franchise has become.

IrishBulldog93
IrishBulldog93

oh im so shocked more halo products ? i never saw this coming (sarcasm)

steelmouth
steelmouth

this new planet that Master Chief is going to can provide a range of completely new possibilities in the Halo games, whole new hush brutal deadly worlds unfamiliar to Halo fans, the writers should really go crazy here keeping the Halo feel but everything else different

steelmouth
steelmouth

guys ask your nutritionists MILK is good for you it got all you need in it so let this games be milked as we loving them look at the sales figures and if you have a problem with milking then you may be a lil too old for milk and games so try something new

Jawehawk-DK
Jawehawk-DK

@Bashers79 I've only ever played MGS4, but from my understanding, it seems like the game has evolved to be more than just a stealth game. The first game has a 3rd person view, which then changed to 1st person view in later games. The combat system has also changed a lot since MGS1. Other than that, I don't think a whole lot have changed.

TheJamin
TheJamin

if its fun - play it. if it's not - dont. "milking a franchise" isnt always a bad thing, it all depends on how appealing the story and characters are. take zelda... it never gets old for me. but i am starting to get slightly bored of the halo series. i enjoyed 3 more than i expected! but the "stand alone expansion" was a bit of a middle finger in my opinion. you never know what's around the corner! i personally would love to see a next gen master chief on the next xbox (or pc) if they can nail the story and experience of number 1. no easy task.

Bashers79
Bashers79

@Jawehawk-DK I totally agree, not much has changed in the Halo series apart from graphics. In the last 20 odd years, not much has changed in the MGS series apart from graphics either.

TheHappyCamper
TheHappyCamper

I am done with Halo. That does not mean that if Bungie (or, after Reach, 343 Industries) wants to make additional games, I should start accusing them of milking a franchise. Likewise, I am not going to start calling dedicated Halo players "fanboys". If they are still getting an enjoyable experience out of their 60 dollar purchase, they have every right to continue playing in the Halo universe. This in turn gives the developers every reason to continue expanding it. I simply wont be going along for the ride.

Jawehawk-DK
Jawehawk-DK

@Bashers79 As I said in the beginning, I do think MGS Rising is milking. But the rest of the franchise hasn't. Look at HALO, and tell me what has changed over the years, besides graphics?

fullfatman
fullfatman

@Decessus I dont know about another comany making a Halo game. Look at Halo Wars that game was terrible. Nobody puts everything they have into a video game like Bungie does.

Bashers79
Bashers79

@Jawehawk-DK That's right, you don't like what I have to say, so you call me an idiot and assume I'm a child. I'm probably older than you and judging by your spelling and grammar, more intelligent as well (come on people use spell check, it isn't hard). You clearly have a good knowledge of MGS, as you've proved to me that the MGS series should of ended with MGS 4. But in doing so, you've also high-lighted the fact that they really are "flogging a dead horse" with MGS: Rising and by releasing it on the Xbox 360 as well, they are "milking" it on a whole new level. Thanks for pointing that out.

nclausen
nclausen

i'd be happy if they just made a halo 4 that continues on from halo 3 and continues to use the same formula as the previous games.

Malscyllis
Malscyllis

hehe such an amused crowd they got there :P

MissObvious
MissObvious

I really hope 343 Industries won't destroy Halo...but I really see no limit to M$'s greed, and with only a few former Bungie employees, it is really hard to keep my hopes up that they won't run it in the ground and suck out that Bungie magic. I honestly would be perfectly happy if they would just leave Reach as the final one and let the series die with honor, instead of seeing them suck all the money they can out of the series by releasing tons of mediocre games (even if I NEVER find out what happens to Master Chief!!!). But whatever, it is still way too early to tell what they will do, or if they will do it right-maybe they'll make a follow-up to the Halo trilogy and it will be the best Halo game ever... :D

Lone_Recon
Lone_Recon

343 didn't make Halo Wars. Halo Wars was made by Ensemble Studios. 343 is the people that made all the novels, shows, and live action stuff. Basically everything other than the actual games.

ShroudedEagle
ShroudedEagle

I'll stick by Halo and see what 343 can do. I have faith in them since there are a few ex-Bungie employees working there who have had experience with the Halo universe, so I can't imagine it being that bad.

Petch1984
Petch1984

343 industries made Halo wars??? LOL then Halo is truly dead after Reach. 343 are idiots.

bschroth
bschroth

@ACx7 the video in this article was a bungie panel for halo reach. the article was actually about the halo universe panel which was frank and the others from 343 industries. they just have this vid here because it's halo and comic-con related.

KTfreak4Jesus2
KTfreak4Jesus2

343 industries will turn halo upside down like it did with halo wars. i want a hard game with fun goodies to find. only bungie could achieve this

GoomSoilder
GoomSoilder

I can't imagine Halo, without Bungie...the charm of the Halo games are if another dev were to replace them...:(

jazilla
jazilla

can we get a jar jar binks character in a halo game please? could this franchise get any more strung out?

wiouds
wiouds

Halo may end up like Star Wars where they are games that does have to do with the main story of the movie.

Decessus
Decessus

I wish Microsoft hadn't gotten so greedy and gotten the planned movie made. The early script for it sounded like it could have been a pretty awesome movie.

Decessus
Decessus

@fullfatman It's all but official that there will be more Halo games. Gearbox Studios is the most likely candidate to make the games since they were responsible for the PC port of the first Halo.

thrasher510
thrasher510

What about instead of making a bunch of cool games, they make ONE amazing game that will blow everyone away and awesome to play with a lot of replay value.

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

omg just end it with a bang. The Halo series is too old now!

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

I really hope there's a Halo 4!

halofan901
halofan901

Im not sure about any halo games after reach. I think it is bungie who made the games great and I dont think 343 industries will keep the same charm that made the other games great. However i will probably still buy it because, i hate to admit it but, im a halo fanboy :)

fullfatman
fullfatman

I highly doubt this will be the final Halo game. I am pretty sure I have heard this from Bungie before during the creation of Halo 3. If bungie doesnt make it somebody will.

Danny_1993
Danny_1993

Not wishing to troll but shouldn't there be a time where devleopers just stop? Halo is getting old and samey as its other games, same with COD - maybe they should make one last great game and call it quits

Freak_Ache
Freak_Ache

I wish I could get more excited for post-Bungie Halo. Maybe I'll become more interested when we actually get a hint of what these guys are working on.

Serentor
Serentor

hope they will keep it as good or even close as good as bungie has. id QQ if i ever see a halo game *a normal one, not like the RTS one ofc.* go bad.

AirBizkit89
AirBizkit89

its gonna be like gta? i dont follow when they say sandbox. no levels just missions?