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By Pierre-Arnaud Bouyer

Just like in Ghost in the Shell from Masamune Shirow, some might wonder which of the two heroes between the Master Chief or Cortana is the machine. In the latest episode of their adventures, The Master Chief, who happens to be an enigmatic cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier who dons an iconic sci-fi armor, is on the run to help Cortana, his sick AI companion, while fighting some new enemies: the Prometheans…
Just like in the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling, this happens to be a tale full of drama, thrills, science fiction, suspense, with some macabre and unexpected twists. And of course, headshots in first and third person. Meet Jeremy Goldstein, the man in charge of the Xbox 360 games in France, a man who loves Halo. Halo, the FPS series that made console gamers like what originally came from PC.

Since Halo 3, one of the main strengths of the series is the Forge mode, and the possibility for players to create, share and play maps with their friends. What makes Halo 4‘s Forge so unique to you?

For over 5 years, Forge mode has been a part of Halo‘s DNA. The community was able to embrace all the possibilities offered by this tool that Bungie and 343 made available to fans. The Halo universe, like it or not, is one of the strengths of the series. And it seemed obvious that to perpetuate the mythology, the fans had to seize it. Halo 4‘s Forge mode saw the arrival of the improvements that were also requested by fans parties. They affect several layers of the game like the ability to save more maps on your hard drive, adding shadows to objects, being able to fool around with gravity, etc. In short, many technical details to make both creation and experience more rewarding.

During the Halo 4 Infinity contest held last December, 2,800 prizes were involved, such as a 2013 Ford SVT Raptor pick-up with a V8 engine, sporting UNSC, and designed by 343 Industries. What was the impact on Halo players’ community, and how many of them entered the tournament ?

I do not have the exact number of players in mind, but all went well. The other No. 1 prize was to be scanned and appear a few minutes as a soldier in the next Halo iteration. As a side benefit, a new DLC will be released on the 20th of August: The Champion’s Bundle. And of course, we are currently in the second week of the new qualification round out of 6 for the world tournament with $500,000 divided between the eight top players, and a series of random prizes. The benefits are numerous.

For future players and newcomers, can you describe Halo Waypoint, and what it brings? Is it available on your smartphone?

Halo Waypoint is a kind of hub, a super interface of your Halo profile. It allows players from all around the world to access a wide range of information about the Halo universe, the games and all the other things that revolve around Halo, but also the possibility to access your profile and to make it evolve. For example, Halo Waypoint will assign you a grade in the Halo universe, not only related to your performance in Halo 4, but as a result of the accumulation of all the Halo games you’ve played. Halo Waypoint is available on Xbox LIVE, on PC but also on from your cellphone: Halo is with you wherever you go.

The Forge mode is cool, but the real strength of the series lies in custom games and LAN mode which can connect up to 16 players via 4 consoles locally. This was the heyday of American campus students and French pro players. The multitude of customization options coupled with the ability to play together as a team of four on the same screen, then to challenge another team online shows a real respect for the multiplayer mode. Where does this desire come from and what is the future of the series regarding these points?

It is true that the success of Halo is strongly linked to local multiplayer. Whether split-screen or LAN, we have “created” a generation of players who carried their TV console or with friends. On holidays, in the evenings, on weekends, it became normal to walk with their equipment. And when we remember the weight of CRTs or even the original Xbox and its power unit, we can not tax the video game of “softening” the muscles of our young ones.
The split screen is something that generally disappears in most video games, but at Microsoft we try to keep this option available because it is part of the success story of the Xbox. Whether on Halo, Gears of War, Forza Motorsport or even Fable, we’re always committed to provide this opportunity to our players. So sometimes, for technical reasons, it becomes more complicated (you lose a lot of display information in split-screen, and therefore experience) but overall it’s something we love about Xbox. Perhaps with the advent of 4K displays, we will go on to 8 players on a screen, who knows! No, I’m kidding obviously.

As a former MLG pro player, map designer and custom games fan, I noticed that a large part of the community cried out for the return of all the customization options present in the old Halo. For example, the differentiation between social and ranked games, the return of Firefight mode, and the return of bots. Another common request is for vehicles such as the UNSC Falcon and the Hornet. Can you explain these disappearances and is restoring these options in the agenda?

Then you should know that 343 is close to Area 51 in the U.S., and sometimes some disappearances remain unexplained… More seriously, a video game is a living product, unlike many others. It will evolve between each installment, as it can change even within the same game.

Firefight mode was created for ODST, we left it in Reach but since 343 wanted to innovate and add many new features, we could not keep everything. We had to do some balance between new stuff, the space available, modes that are used the most by players as well as our studio human resources, as adding a game mode, even if it existed before, takes a dedicated team just for that. Then in order to add the Parasite mode, your Spartan’s “career”, and creating this revolutionary Spartan Ops mode we had to make choices. We are very pleased with the results and feedback from the fans on these modes. Afterwards it is difficult to satisfy everyone, and fans are always the most difficult to satisfy a 100%. I do not have more information regarding the other options, but anything is possible.

Almost all official map packs and one free forge map are out. The community really appreciated them. In retrospect, what was the amount of work on these (tests, design, creative process, etc) ?

When you decide to develop a game, you do not limit yourself to say “ok, the game is released on this date, what can we put in it? “. From the start you have also to think about what you are going to add later on, once the game is released. And that changes everything regarding the creative process. We keep things for after the release date for several reasons: what we do not have time to finish for the release, what you want to keep for the release but is not on the disk, what we will develop in parallel and provide after the release to keep the game’s community alive. Map packs and Forge map were also part of the process. The work began well before because everything had to fit in our production schedule. Everything is carefully calculated in terms of time, resources, development and testing. Then we also knew that by offering the Forge map for free, we did it to please the community. The aim is not to make our players pay for everything they download: the Spartan Ops mode is the biggest proof, and also Forge map. But all this comes at a cost, of course, so we can’t give everything away for free either.

Can the community expect other gifts such as free maps and other content to celebrate its decade of loyalty to the franchise?

The decade has already been celebrated in 2011, you’re a few months late. That’s why we released Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, which had a lot of success for a “remake”. It’s also a proof that Halo is really a game that stands apart. We also knew that many young players had never tried the first Halo as they were much younger when it first came out (10 years old then) and it’s an opportunity for them to finally discover this game in more “modern” conditions. Other than that, when you receive a gift, I think you’d rather be surprised right? So if there are other gifts, we’ll make sure that these remain a surprise, so let’s not disclose everything here.

Another recurring demand for a remake is about a Halo 2 HD anniversary edition, so that players can possess the entire saga on the same platform. Can there be hope yet?

Hope? But after all that you have lived in the Halo saga, and what just happened in Halo 4, and the Didact’s appearance, I will bow down to you if you still have an ounce of hope left… But so much the better, for the UNSC needs valiant soldiers “finish the fight.” Back to business, first the saga is not over, since Halo 4 is the start of a new trilogy and second, Halo 2 in HD is something that fans have been asking for quite a while, like Halo 1. So who knows, there is still hope, even if I do not know what will happen to this game.

Finally, a word from you for all Halo fans?

I was delighted to discuss with you, it feels good to talk to fans. By the way, you still have not tell me when is your next Moljnir and Latex party?

Thank you thank you, but this was supposed to remain secret ! It will take place once I get a decent ranking in the competition: for the moment, I was ranked 6084th, so Tier 1, but there’s still work to do. Then we’ll come to celebrate at Micro between Spartans! (laughs)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Pierre-Arnaud Bouyer

Just like in Ghost in the Shell from Masamune Shirow, some might wonder which of the two heroes between the Master Chief or Cortana is the machine. In the latest episode of their adventures, The Master Chief, who happens to be an enigmatic cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier who dons an iconic sci-fi armor, is on the run to help Cortana, his sick AI companion, while fighting some new enemies: the Prometheans…
Just like in the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling, this happens to be a tale full of drama, thrills, science fiction, suspense, with some macabre and unexpected twists. And of course, headshots in first and third person. Meet Jeremy Goldstein, the man in charge of the Xbox 360 games in France, a man who loves Halo. Halo, the FPS series that made console gamers like what originally came from PC.

Since Halo 3, one of the main strengths of the series is the Forge mode, and the possibility for players to create, share and play maps with their friends. What makes Halo 4‘s Forge so unique to you?

For over 5 years, Forge mode has been a part of Halo‘s DNA. The community was able to embrace all the possibilities offered by this tool that Bungie and 343 made available to fans. The Halo universe, like it or not, is one of the strengths of the series. And it seemed obvious that to perpetuate the mythology, the fans had to seize it. Halo 4‘s Forge mode saw the arrival of the improvements that were also requested by fans parties. They affect several layers of the game like the ability to save more maps on your hard drive, adding shadows to objects, being able to fool around with gravity, etc. In short, many technical details to make both creation and experience more rewarding.

During the Halo 4 Infinity contest held last December, 2,800 prizes were involved, such as a 2013 Ford SVT Raptor pick-up with a V8 engine, sporting UNSC, and designed by 343 Industries. What was the impact on Halo players’ community, and how many of them entered the tournament ?

I do not have the exact number of players in mind, but all went well. The other No. 1 prize was to be scanned and appear a few minutes as a soldier in the next Halo iteration. As a side benefit, a new DLC will be released on the 20th of August: The Champion’s Bundle. And of course, we are currently in the second week of the new qualification round out of 6 for the world tournament with $500,000 divided between the eight top players, and a series of random prizes. The benefits are numerous.

For future players and newcomers, can you describe Halo Waypoint, and what it brings? Is it available on your smartphone?

Halo Waypoint is a kind of hub, a super interface of your Halo profile. It allows players from all around the world to access a wide range of information about the Halo universe, the games and all the other things that revolve around Halo, but also the possibility to access your profile and to make it evolve. For example, Halo Waypoint will assign you a grade in the Halo universe, not only related to your performance in Halo 4, but as a result of the accumulation of all the Halo games you’ve played. Halo Waypoint is available on Xbox LIVE, on PC but also on from your cellphone: Halo is with you wherever you go.

The Forge mode is cool, but the real strength of the series lies in custom games and LAN mode which can connect up to 16 players via 4 consoles locally. This was the heyday of American campus students and French pro players. The multitude of customization options coupled with the ability to play together as a team of four on the same screen, then to challenge another team online shows a real respect for the multiplayer mode. Where does this desire come from and what is the future of the series regarding these points?

It is true that the success of Halo is strongly linked to local multiplayer. Whether split-screen or LAN, we have “created” a generation of players who carried their TV console or with friends. On holidays, in the evenings, on weekends, it became normal to walk with their equipment. And when we remember the weight of CRTs or even the original Xbox and its power unit, we can not tax the video game of “softening” the muscles of our young ones.
The split screen is something that generally disappears in most video games, but at Microsoft we try to keep this option available because it is part of the success story of the Xbox. Whether on Halo, Gears of War, Forza Motorsport or even Fable, we’re always committed to provide this opportunity to our players. So sometimes, for technical reasons, it becomes more complicated (you lose a lot of display information in split-screen, and therefore experience) but overall it’s something we love about Xbox. Perhaps with the advent of 4K displays, we will go on to 8 players on a screen, who knows! No, I’m kidding obviously.

As a former MLG pro player, map designer and custom games fan, I noticed that a large part of the community cried out for the return of all the customization options present in the old Halo. For example, the differentiation between social and ranked games, the return of Firefight mode, and the return of bots. Another common request is for vehicles such as the UNSC Falcon and the Hornet. Can you explain these disappearances and is restoring these options in the agenda?

Then you should know that 343 is close to Area 51 in the U.S., and sometimes some disappearances remain unexplained… More seriously, a video game is a living product, unlike many others. It will evolve between each installment, as it can change even within the same game.

Firefight mode was created for ODST, we left it in Reach but since 343 wanted to innovate and add many new features, we could not keep everything. We had to do some balance between new stuff, the space available, modes that are used the most by players as well as our studio human resources, as adding a game mode, even if it existed before, takes a dedicated team just for that. Then in order to add the Parasite mode, your Spartan’s “career”, and creating this revolutionary Spartan Ops mode we had to make choices. We are very pleased with the results and feedback from the fans on these modes. Afterwards it is difficult to satisfy everyone, and fans are always the most difficult to satisfy a 100%. I do not have more information regarding the other options, but anything is possible.

Almost all official map packs and one free forge map are out. The community really appreciated them. In retrospect, what was the amount of work on these (tests, design, creative process, etc) ?

When you decide to develop a game, you do not limit yourself to say “ok, the game is released on this date, what can we put in it? “. From the start you have also to think about what you are going to add later on, once the game is released. And that changes everything regarding the creative process. We keep things for after the release date for several reasons: what we do not have time to finish for the release, what you want to keep for the release but is not on the disk, what we will develop in parallel and provide after the release to keep the game’s community alive. Map packs and Forge map were also part of the process. The work began well before because everything had to fit in our production schedule. Everything is carefully calculated in terms of time, resources, development and testing. Then we also knew that by offering the Forge map for free, we did it to please the community. The aim is not to make our players pay for everything they download: the Spartan Ops mode is the biggest proof, and also Forge map. But all this comes at a cost, of course, so we can’t give everything away for free either.

Can the community expect other gifts such as free maps and other content to celebrate its decade of loyalty to the franchise?

The decade has already been celebrated in 2011, you’re a few months late. That’s why we released Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, which had a lot of success for a “remake”. It’s also a proof that Halo is really a game that stands apart. We also knew that many young players had never tried the first Halo as they were much younger when it first came out (10 years old then) and it’s an opportunity for them to finally discover this game in more “modern” conditions. Other than that, when you receive a gift, I think you’d rather be surprised right? So if there are other gifts, we’ll make sure that these remain a surprise, so let’s not disclose everything here.

Another recurring demand for a remake is about a Halo 2 HD anniversary edition, so that players can possess the entire saga on the same platform. Can there be hope yet?

Hope? But after all that you have lived in the Halo saga, and what just happened in Halo 4, and the Didact’s appearance, I will bow down to you if you still have an ounce of hope left… But so much the better, for the UNSC needs valiant soldiers “finish the fight.” Back to business, first the saga is not over, since Halo 4 is the start of a new trilogy and second, Halo 2 in HD is something that fans have been asking for quite a while, like Halo 1. So who knows, there is still hope, even if I do not know what will happen to this game.

Finally, a word from you for all Halo fans?

I was delighted to discuss with you, it feels good to talk to fans. By the way, you still have not tell me when is your next Moljnir and Latex party?

Thank you thank you, but this was supposed to remain secret ! It will take place once I get a decent ranking in the competition: for the moment, I was ranked 6084th, so Tier 1, but there’s still work to do. Then we’ll come to celebrate at Micro between Spartans! (laughs)

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