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Halo 3: ODST ViDoc: Dramatis Personae

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Halo 3 ODST ViDoc: Dramatis Personae is a Halo 3: ODST ViDoc released on 10/22/2009, one month after the release of the game. It focuses on the development of the cinematics and characters of Halo 3: ODST.[1] The Latin title translates to "You See Characters" or more succinctly "The Characters You See." A dramatis personae is also known as a "cast list" for a theatrical work or film.


Curtis Creamer: So you're no longer the Master Chief. You're the newest member of a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers.

Joseph Staten: They're the mysterious soldiers with the untold tale.

Martin O'Donnell: We talked a lot about how could we still take people out of one character, put them into the body of another character, and not confuse people.

Joseph Staten: And ODST I think takes the lessons of Halo 2, and it feels a lot more natural. You're going from one ODST to another. It's not so jarring as it was with the Chief and the Arbiter.

Romeo (in-game): What am I supposed to do with this inside a Covenant ship?

CJ Cowan: Romeo the smartass, and Mickey the kind of guy who just wants to blow (bleep) up. Allowing the player to step into the shoes of all these different characters in the squad makes this a game about what happens to that squad.

Joseph Staten: It's hard to create, not just characters, but then give them a, a relationship, that's, that's even tougher.

Buck (in-game): Get. This. Thing. Off of me.

Joseph Staten: You've got Buck, who's the squad leader. He's the most hard-boiled, hard-bitten, seen everything, been everywhere, a little bit more cynical than the other soldiers, because he's survived the longest.

Buck (in-game): No! They're going to burn this city and then glass the whole planet! Covenant bastards! It's just like Reach all over again!

CJ Cowan: Buck is the guy you wanna be. You believe in him because he cares about his squad.

Buck (in-game): All I care about now is getting my men out of this city.

CJ Cowan: At the same time he's distracted by this, this ex-girlfriend of his.

Curtis Creamer: Dare. She's an ONI operative. She takes over the squad.

Dare (in-game): Replacements?

Buck (in-game): This many years into the war? Who isn't?

Dare (in-game): At least they listen.

Buck (in-game): To me. And they're not gonna like what they hear.

CJ Cowan: He wants to do his mission right, he wants to save his squad, and this whole time Dare is there, kind of poking him in the ribs.

Dare (in-game): I never thought I'd see you again.

Buck (in-game): Yeah… Well… Here I am!

CJ Cowan: There's something to be said about using Nathan and Tricia, who are really strong sci-fi actors.

Nathan Fillion: What we bring to the table is a lot of experience. A lot of space-faring. A lot of changing trajectories. A lot of slipspace ruptures. We know.

Tricia Helfer: Veronica definitely has balls.

Buck (in-game): What was that for?

Dare (in-game): Abandoning the mission.

Buck (in-game): What mission?

Joseph Staten: For me, it was about creating a credible history between the two of them, and by dipping into the history I think that creates the relationship.

Dare (in-game): Look, don’t start about my job, we both agreed to end it.

Buck (in-game): That was years ago Veronica, I'm (grunt) a little (grunt) fuzzy (grunt) on the… details.

Martin O'Donnell: We talked about what it would be like to suddenly be in the body of some other character who was just in the cinematic you just watched.

Dare (in-game): Say again, Buck you’re breaking up.

Buck (in-game): I said stay put! I’m on my way!

Martin O'Donnell: And then actually hear his voice coming out of your body.

Dare (in-game): We missed our LZ. This grid is packed with Covenant. Be careful.

Buck (in-game): I appreciate the concern.

CJ Cowan: We call them signets, and they’re basically the last shot of a flashback cinematic, right before you take control of Dutch or take control of Buck. And it’s a, it’s a shot from first person. You can see your arms, you can see the weapon that you’re holding. We use it as a kind of a, a mission indicator. The player doesn’t have control of the camera yet, the character is kind of easing him into that and leading him into where he needs to be going and what he needs to be doing.

Jay Weinland: You really kind of get inside some of these characters, and I think the signets helped so it wasn’t quite so jarring.

Buck (in-game): Mickey! You’re with me!

Joseph Staten: We often talked about the ODST as a kind of detective. A lone gumshoe in the dark mysterious city. Hey, let’s drop one man, that’s not a Spartan, on his own, into a dangerous environment, and let him really solve a mystery with find clues.

Curtis Creamer: We wanted to really get a different kind of Halo look and feel from what we’ve seen before. One of the cool challenges was, how do we make the city of New Mombasa, in a way a character in the game.

Joseph Staten: Sound was critical in helping us really create that pacing and mood.

C Paul Johnson: We tried to make everything kind of quieter, especially when you were in the hub.

Martin O'Donnell: We wanted the hub to be dark and rainy, and have that film noir feel. There was a point, halfway through the production, where the programmers said, "We can’t implement rain in the engine." Maybe we don’t have rain falling all over the place, but we have to have the feel of that rain is in the distance.

CJ Cowan: It’s raining in that environment because of the sound guys.

Jay Weinland: We also switched the surface types on the ground to kind of have kind of that wet, slappy footstep.

Martin O'Donnell: As the thing started taking a life of its own, in no way did I want to hear any Halo music reused. It really deserved to have its own flavor from beginning to end.

Jay Weinland: The score that Marty wrote really lent itself to both that film noir feeling and that feeling of loneliness in the hub.

Martin O'Donnell: How do you make a difference musically from the daytime actions scenes and always bring you back to the nighttime hub? It was a little bit of a challenge. The first thing I said was, "No monks. There just cannot be monks in this thing." I knew I could use a solo saxophone, which has a really nice interaction with orchestral instruments, it’s not something you normally hear with an orchestra, and it could really just sort of change the whole color and feeling that sort of carry you through the hub. As the game itself got bigger and bigger I needed more and more music, which is why I have more grey hair, so, that’s how that goes.

Blake Low: There are some key elements that you’ll find in the city.

Joseph Staten: What if the phones rang? What if the ticket kiosks began to spit tickets and coins came out of vending machines? What if the city was trying to communicate with you?

Passenger (in-game): What the heck’s going on?

Sadie Endesha (in-game): Sir, I’m really sorry about this. I was just trying to get out of the city.

Martin O'Donnell: The thing that’s the most different for me, playing this game, is the ability to randomly pick up the radio play story, which tells an entirely different story with entirely new characters.

Sadie Endesha (in-game): Old Mombasa. Dad, there’s a ship-

Hakeem Kae-Kazim (as Dr. Endesha): Listen sweetheart. I wanted to tell you at breakfast, but you left so early…

Joseph Staten: So the ringing phone became this jumping-off point for what eventually became the Superintendent. And then Sadie’s story too.

Masasa Moyo (as Sadie Endesha): A car just came out of nowhere, smashed all the Brutes. Was that you?

Dave Wittenberg (as Mike Branley): My head… I thought air-bags were supposed to stop you from getting hurt…

Superintendent (in-game): YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!

Joseph Staten: So the Superintendent’s tale is this really neat evolutionary piece, that you follow throughout the whole game.

CJ Cowan: It’s a very simple story when you get down to it, but it’s told in an elegant way, in a complex way…

Joseph Staten: You can understand and enjoy the ODST story if you don’t pick up any of the telephones ringing in the city or any of the other objects. But if you do, you’re going to be transported a little bit further back in time, to the day before, but to a whole different world.

CJ Cowan: Like a detective you have to put it all together, and it’s the layers that make the story so interesting.

Joseph Staten: We wanted to make sure you met the people of that city. You knew the stakes. What you were fighting for.

{Halo 3 ODST}


{Microsoft Game Studios}


In the ViDoc, Martin O'Donnell quoted the programmers, saying that "[they] can’t implement rain in the engine". However, in the final game, rain is clearly shown falling from the sky in the early Mombasa Streets levels.