Microsoft "Hated" The Name Halo And Multiplayer Was Almost Cut, Designers Say

A huge new feature on the origins of Halo is packed with a lot of interesting insight.


Waypoint has posted a huge new feature on Halo. Titled "The Complete, Untold History Of Halo," it's a wonderful read that gives fans incredible insight into the creation of the now-huge series, told from the people who were there when it started and still shepherd the series today.

Those featured in the oral history report include Bungie founder Alex Seropian, FPS control designer (among other things) Jaime Griesemer, composer Marty O'Donnell, writer Joe Staten, Halo prototype designer Marcus Lehto, and a number of other senior developers.

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There are loads of fascinating takeaways, and you should read the full story to get all the details. Among them is the notion that Microsoft apparently "hated" the name Halo.

"They said that it doesn't mean anything, and to people it does mean something to, it's not on-brand, because what we're selling is the super soldier, not this weird space junk," Griesemer said. "In every foreign language it sounds stupid, it's feminine--they had so many reasons why the name should be changed. They went for months and months, and they came back with a bunch of names. It was another border dispute."

That's how the Combat Evolved subtitle came to be.

"At some point they said, 'Okay, we're going to do a subtitle.' And this was before subtitles were the thing every game had," Griesemer said. "We thought that was dumb, but whatever, we could ignore it. Eventually they came back with Combat Evolved, and we thought that was the stupidest thing ever. It doesn't mean anything, it's not really informational, and it's not even good grammar."

We also learn in the feature that Bungie almost removed multiplayer from the first Halo, which seems almost unthinkable now.

"Multiplayer was also kind of bad until very shortly before the game shipped," Griesemer said. "You would just shoot at a guy forever, and they wouldn't die."

Former Bungie designer Paul Bertone added, "Multiplayer is actually something that was on the chopping block until very close to the end of the project, which would've been an obvious tragedy."

Max Hoberman added that Bungie originally wanted Halo's multiplayer to be more "arena-based," but they ran out of time and the more head-to-head multiplayer was added. "It was never really by design, the way it worked. It was just a scramble to get something done," he said.

Another incredible takeaway from the report is the situation surrounding Halo 2 and how Microsoft put Bungie in something of a tricky spot. Here's what former Xbox boss Ed Fries had to say on the subject:

"I remember I was in a meeting about Halo 2, and the reality was that we needed to move it back a year to deliver the game that we wanted. (Former chief Xbox officer) Robbie Bach turned it into a vote," Fries said. "The choices were to force Bungie to ship Halo 2 a year before it's ready, or give them the extra year to get it done right.

"All the senior people who worked for Robbie voted to force the team to ship it," he added. "I walked out of the meeting, saying: 'I'm going to quit right now if that's what we're going to do.' So they went back on it and gave Bungie extra time, but I still quit six months later. That vote had showed the attitude of what was going on there."

Go to Waypoint to read the full story. It is really good.

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