Canceled Ensemble project = Halo MMOG?

Source: Game-biz information wellspring Gamasutra. What we heard: Exactly two weeks ago, the game industry was shocked by Microsoft's announcement that it was shuttering Ensemble Studios. The news was especially surprising given the studio's solid track record of real-time strategy PC titles...

Source: Game-biz information wellspring Gamasutra.

What we heard: Exactly two weeks ago, the game industry was shocked by Microsoft's announcement that it was shuttering Ensemble Studios. The news was especially surprising given the studio's solid track record of real-time strategy PC titles such as the Age of Empires and Age of Mythology series. The studio is also currently hard at work on the high-profile Halo Wars RTS game for the Xbox 360, currently scheduled for a late-2008 release.

Halo Wars' existence was first revealed in April 2006, when the then-flourishing Ensemble revealed it was working on a then-secret 360 RTS game. At the same time, it also confirmed a 2005 report that it was working on a massively multiplayer project, which executive producer Patrick Hudson said would eschew the genre's typical fantasy setting. "It's safe to say we won't be chasing the fantasy genre," he told Next-Gen (now Edge Online). "It seems like there are so many coming out [but we're] still pretty far out from even thinking of taking that prototype to a greenlight phase."

With the studio's sudden closure, it appears the Ensemble MMOG will never see the light of day. If Gamasutra's report is accurate, that will come as a major disappointment to the Master Chief's legions of fans. The site claims to have "discovered" the game was set in the Halo universe, and surmises that it was the "major project" that Shelley said was "canceled" six months prior in a June 2008 blog post.

The site also posted screenshots purportedly from a very early build of the game from an "Ensemble-linked online artist portfolio website." One of the shots (pictured top) shows an USNC marine in a tropical setting typical of the Halo ringworlds, with the chat box, health bar, and quick-access inventory and skill buttons typical of massively multiplayer role-playing games. Another screenshot features two wrecked warthogs and a third depicts a human dual-wielding energy blade weapons with what appears to be a female using some kind of energy field--likely related to the "psionic" bar in the first shot.

By themselves, the three unsourced screens are shaky evidence, as they could be merely convincing-looking mockups for a fictional game, which can be easily generated. However, following the post, Flickr user "goneisgone" posted 50 screenshots which appear to be of a Halo MMOG prototype. In addition to the previous three shots, the gallery shows a host of iconic Halo items, including Forerunner architecture, Covenant weapons, and UNSC marines (pictured middle). There are also more detailed game interface screens and images that name two character classes: "Rogue" and "Psion Female". The gallery also features a USNC-esque "Aardvark" vehicle and effects shots of psionic powers in action.

The official story: Microsoft did not return requests for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. It's a fact that Ensemble was working on a massively multiplayer game in 2005 and mid-2006--a game that has not been heard about since. By its own account, the studio canceled a major project in late 2007. Are the two projects one and the same? And if so, is said game a Halo MMOG? The well-regarded Gamasutra says they are--but isn't naming its source.

[UPDATE] This afternoon, game-gossip blog Kotaku posted a slew of concept art reportedly from even earlier stages of the Halo MMO. Many of the images, which remain officially unconfirmed, show further character concepts for the game, which was reportedly code-named "Orion." The fact the new art gallery shows the same Aardvark vehicle (pictured bottom) as the Flickr photostream confirms the two are connected, making this rumor look more legit. Also included in the new gallery is the "Grackle" USNC motorcycle, which looks like a military version of the two-wheelers from the anime film Akira.

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Discussion

241 comments
JAAcker
JAAcker

I hope that Microsoft is not going to become the Fox of gaming or even worse cancel projects before the are even announced.

priboy15
priboy15

wow i dont care about the graphics but if it was now i was trying to get it looks fun

Megaship
Megaship

The graphics are too horrible compared to the actual Halo series. Some might say a MMO is good or bad for popular series like Halo. Oh well, it's cancelled now so it doesn't really matter.

cookie857
cookie857

this cant happen to halo it has happened to alot of good serieses like star wars

Dragonknight0
Dragonknight0

the hell mmog of halo O_o wow this is wuiet intersiting ( sorry cant spell things good)

YoJim8obaJoe
YoJim8obaJoe

man that bike really is like Kaneda's bike

djpwns
djpwns

That doesn't even look like halo

djpwns
djpwns

If that game was cancelled, WOOT...jk. But seriously, if halo turned into THAT...I would not play it. And Halo wars looks awsome, 'cause I like halo, and I like RTS. ya, if they cancelled the game up top, yay

J_Kramer
J_Kramer

I think this is a good call. I was afraid that MS would try and squeeze every dollar out of the halo franchise by making bad games. Even though this did have potential to be great, i still feel that the Halo Series should stay within a tight realm; even the Halo RTS is a bit of a stretch for me... but ill live with it.

antman69r
antman69r

The first one looks like someone who's level 1 on WoW lol!

js0823
js0823

About the first picture on the right which many seems to be talking about here, The portrait bar at the top looks incredibly alike to Agunitframe addon from WoW. Now there is a program addon in WoW(I forgot what it's called since I quit WoW a year ago) that changes the whole look of your character, and even NPCs of your choice. It only looks different from your computer obviously, other players who doesn't have the program will see the default skins of everything. This program may have been used, but seeing that the terrain also is changed completely, either the program has undergone massive development to be able to change even terrain, or it is photoshoped. Photoshop may be much more convincing.

NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

Some of the screenshots don't look anything like Halo. lol.

NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

Some of the screenshots don't look anything like Halo. lol.

Farloth
Farloth

WoW free server? looks to me, and as a guy said way below me it could be photo shoped

leoleez
leoleez

I think this is just something to try to get more money out of Halo, an RTS sounds cool, but killing the company after the games release sounds tragic (losing such great people AoE! :(. ) but yea making an MMO sound weird and a little saddening, this is what people call trash used to sell and make money off people who do not know any better.

GhostStalkerX1
GhostStalkerX1

The Halo Univers is somewhat like the Star Wars one but on a smaller time scale. Star Wars that we know as of right now. (KOTOR time period - Jedi Outcast "Ten Years after Episode 6" I think). The Halo univers (Halo Wars "Start of the time line/war" - Halo 3 "Present time line/end of the war"). Alot canbe done to fill the time line. Vie Space/Planet battles. N stuff like that.

blazezaku
blazezaku

a halo MMO? I would totally play it. Before halo 3, I always wanted to play as an Elite, but playing as a grunt would be "da bomb!"

gameboy360
gameboy360

bout time ms did something good. if ms allowed a Halo mmo to be released that would be an all time low for gamers everywhere.

sirkoj
sirkoj

Samar, Bungie didnt the project...Ensemble was working on it and Microsoft shut them down. From the looks of the game, it didnt look very promising anyways..

Rot_Kopfsalt
Rot_Kopfsalt

Any1 else notice one of the icons at the bottom of the interface is a hand with a dagger? Does that suggest fake to u?

Darth-Sifh
Darth-Sifh

Honestly I think this is a good thing. A Halo MMO I think would undermind the entire series in general. I can't even imagine what it would be like. Unless they were going make it similer to the upcoming Star Trek MMO where you picked a side and commanded a fleet. That might actually be cool but I still think that it would be a step away from what the Halo series is about. That's just my opinion though and I don't really know what plans they had for the game, so I could be wrong.

SAMARAI117
SAMARAI117

thats not like bungie to cancel a game or project damn there gonna have sum losses.

Old_Gooseberry
Old_Gooseberry

Halo MMo would be hell, I can't imagine playing with the people below, I can't stand them.

iownhalo
iownhalo

Ok, this game wouldn't be very good, that's true. But then again, what if rather than an mmorpg set in the halo universe, how about an mmofps (massive multiplayer online first person shooter). THAT WOULD BE GOOD!

ctg867
ctg867

I love how GameSpot doesn't even know the release dates of the games they're talking about. Late 2008 release date for Halo Wars? Try Spring 2009. A quick check to the Ensemble site could tell you that. That's really poor journalism if you ask me. >_> Even though I probably wouldn't of been interested in this, and I don't think this would of been the right direction for the Halo franchise to be moving towards, it's interesting to see Microsoft expanding out the IP. And it's always too bad when games get canceled because you'll never know how good or bad they'd end up being. Anyway, this one might of been for the best. Hopefully somebody can get started on making the added fiction (novels, graphic novel, comics, etc) into some heavily cinematic game. I hope that's what Halo: Chronicles, the Peter Jackson Halo Project, actually is. We'll see. I'm also psyched to see the new Bungie project come to life, whatever that may be in the Halo Universe.

Soilworker1234
Soilworker1234

a Halo MMO, sorry that would have just been gay..sorry microsoft no

combatsoldier
combatsoldier

This is horrible news. I really wanted the game.

KH_GAMER
KH_GAMER

Meh.. no loss.. Halo should Stay FPS or RTS. Who needs to drop another $15 a month anyways.

ElectrolightSH
ElectrolightSH

Why would Microsoft cancel a Halo MMO, that is just stupid. It would have been bigger then WOW and MS would have made so much money.

Ulises93
Ulises93

that would have been a definite rental....

bikedirt
bikedirt

that would be kool if they combined all the halo games so it would be like W.O.W and take forever to complete so it would never run out of gameplay

irilthor
irilthor

i dont understand all ur comments about that an halo mmo would destroy the story... they can just make an mmo about halo 1 2 3 and make every end-boss an instance boss, i dont see what the big deal is, its not like world of warcraft had a new story, they just made an mmo and made all the bosses of the story as an instance boss, yet its praised by everyone, when they didnt even make up a new story or anything. but when halo does it it will destroy the story? :p

NJmAc4489
NJmAc4489

i really was kinda expecting that, the halo series has done remarkable well so why not make an MMOrpg, wont be better than WoW but very cool concept!!!! its better halo stays as a FPS and the one RTS of the genre, i cant see Master chief sitting in the city like thrall is in orgrimmar lol

Drrizztt
Drrizztt

Wow, this looks AMAZING. I can't believe they'd try to make a Halo mmo. The interface looks alot like wow.

Verno77
Verno77

Wow it looks really cool, but I wouldn't want this to be Halo related at all, especially with the art design they were going with and all the extra characters. It would have been a pretty cool game on it's own merit. Oh well.

ibegeorge
ibegeorge

I'm glad Halo hasn't gone to an MMO, that would totally ruin the story and everything. An Age of Empires style game, fine, but an MMO would get silly. Go Bungie!

jmil315
jmil315

i am pretty sure that screenshot is fake. the interface looks so much like WoW. it could have easily been photoshopped.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

HALO an MMO LMAO the day it gets an mmo title is the day runescape AND wold or warcrud shut down

SR71halo
SR71halo

R-Force: What battle RPG are you talking about? Oh, and the fight may be over but that doesn't mean that the Halo games are done.

andyrae11
andyrae11

How much more are they going to choke the Halo franchise? Good thing they shot it before it moved.

R-Force
R-Force

OK, this is just getting ridiculous! First the Halo battle RPG and now a Halo MMO!? Microsoft seem to be commited to spreading the Halo Universe as thin as they possibly can. Shame on you MGS for ruining Bungie's fantastic creation! :x When will they get the message. It's done. The fight has been finished. GAME OVER!

chrisyrulz893
chrisyrulz893

A Halo MMO is an amazing idea, theres just to many expectations out of the Halo Universe to ever turn it into one. The screenshots do not satisfy since when did Halo characters have magical powers ? However it was a great idea just the halo universe is to vast and complex and limited ( in an MMO sense ) to ever be turned into one.

MonkeyWrench127
MonkeyWrench127

This might have actually been a great MMO, but knowing Microsoft's track record with them, it may not have been...