News:Archive/31 March 09/Interview with Bungie on ODST

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Interview with Bungie on ODST

Story by CommanderTony
March 31st, 2009

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Hello Halopedians, and welcome to the first news story of our new service here on the site. I hope you enjoy this as much as I will!

Surprisingly, this interview was one of the most randomest ones in history. While playtesting at Microsoft Game Studios, I had the chance to talk to Joseph Staten, the writing and cinematic director over at Bungie.

Here's what went down:


Thank you Mr. Staten for taking the time to conduct this interview with Halopedia News!

Pleasure to be here. Halopedia... I've heard of you guys before. Keep up the good work!

The pleasure is all mine. Alright, let's get started! I think one of the most mind boggling questions that most Halo fans have right now is how you got ODST going in the first place? What sort of inspirations and necessities allowed you to go through with the project?

That's a great question. The fans, I would say, are the catalyst for the ODST project. They provided us the answers they want (and don't want) and through those requests, we tried to work it out to fit it within the project. You need to be efficient and clever to give players the game they need. But you don't want to push too hard or they'll reject it.

How does the story of ODST relate to Halo 3, especially in the events around Kenya in Halo 2, do we see Truth's fleet at the end of the game?

I don't want to ruin any surprises, but ODST is a direct story that hopefully will fully fill up the empty tales among other human forces between the event of Halo 2 and Halo 3. I can say this; ODST revolves around the arrival of First Battle of Earth by the Covenant till the sudden activation of the mysterious Portal. Now, that said, the project sets a darker tone than most other games that are a part of Halo. Basically, Halo 3: ODST happens while the Chief is away from Earth - after he leaves for the "Delta Halo" in Halo 2 and before he crashes into the jungle at the start of Halo 3. ODST doesn't cover all the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3 but it does fill a very interesting part of that gap.

What kind of ODST unit will the protagonist be a member of, and could you tell me anything about his teammates?

The Rookie, or the protagonist, is part of a new ODST unit formed a little before the invasion of the Human fortress world of Reach - I believe you've read the book. [laugh] Given the game's position on the Halo timeline, the unit is.. Well, on second thought, I'd ruin a lot of the game's fun if I got too specific.

When you say before the Invasion of Reach, does that mean the new Helljumpers comic is a prequel to your prequel. (chuckles).

Somewhat, I really can't say much as the Helljumper project (the comic, game, and other stuff) is still under development under Robt supervision.

In past interviews you've stated that the Rookie will face a new villian, one we've never seen before. Is there anything you can tell us about him/her?

That is correct, though the Rookie never meets her until the very end. Just to hold the fiction: the villian will be one of a kind and would be (somewhat) similar to our previous games. So, put that in your speculation pipe and smoke it, Halo fans!

Her? That is one of a kind, and something we've only seen in [your] novels. Why did you go in that direction instead of the standard Covenant male?

That's a great question, and I thought a lot about this very issue when I was writing out the plot. Unfortunately, I can't reveal much as the project is nearing its end but here's what I can reveal: Gender, regardless of what species are at least not as far as the Covenant leadership is concerned.

ODST is reported to have a more open-world approach to the gameplay, what made you guys stray away from the linear gameplay followed in the "original trilogy"?

Well, ODST is aimed to "the game" where you're pretty much free to roam the dark, Covenant-patrolled streets of New Mombasa however you like. This is intended by Lukems and myself to allow the player to explore and understanding what happened after the slipspace rupture over Mombasa. Regarding why we did this, it was unplanned honestly speaking. We didn't think we were necessarily going to make ODST after splitting up from Microsoft but seeing the positive responses we received from the Community, well, the Board decided to try it out.

Besides the famed Brute Pimp Chieftain, will there be any new classes of Covenant soldiers in the game?

In short, no. Our ODST's design director has conceived a new "cover first" tactic for the Brutes that makes them even more interesting to fight. And when I say "interesting" I mean downright nasty. Brutes in ODST are much more interested in self-preservation than they were in Halo 3 which makes for terrific, multi-layered encounters. They'll lure you into traps, gang up on you [generally] makes you wish you'd hit them in the flanks instead of hard-charging, Spartan-style.

Of course, everyone has seen the supressed Submachine Gun in the trailer, though are there any new and/or familar weapons that are being introduced in ODST?

Because ODST leverages the Halo 3 sandbox, there will be a lot of returning weapon favorites. I can't really say much but we're absolutely expanding the sandbox in critical areas.

Any new experiences with vehicles in the game?

Unfortunately, no. Most vehicles we see in the trilogy wouldn't even be drivable in ODST. This is to keep up with the new gameplay we've employed within the game - to remind the player that they are not as invulnerable as they are in the trilogy.

Multiplayer; Anything new or interesting coming in the ODST package?

Well, ODST will include a variety of new multiplayer maps that apply to Halo 3. Some of these maps are actually part of the Mythic Map Pack. [pause] Before I forget, the multiplayer content is "Halo 3" in nature, meaning you will not be playing Slayer, CTF or other traditional favorites as anything other than a Spartan or Elite.

I think that about wraps it up, i'd like to thank Mr. Staten for this interview, and best of luck to you and Bungie in the future. Is there anything you want to say for the readers on Halopedia?

It's nice to meet with a passionate fan. To users of Halopedia: Keep up the good work and soon, we'll return the favor!