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Frank O'Connor: Halo needs to innovate

343 Industries' development exec discusses the future of the franchise

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By the time the second trilogy is finished in another four-to-six years, Halo will have approached a second decade since its birth.

Yeah, that's right.

Do you feel, looking ahead, the series needs to innovate?

Yeah, it does need to innovate. Bungie had this great history of evolutionary innovations. Matchmaking, for example, were not completely new but the way it was implemented was a new benchmark for the industry.

So you believe this is what 343i needs to be doing?

Yeah. But we're not trying to radically overhaul anything - we are trying to make it more fun primarily. The biggest innovation in Halo 4, I would say, is Spartan Ops, because it's essentially a TV show we are producing. We simply do not know how the public are going to respond to it.

Is there any scope to support Halo 4 with Kinect?

Not for Halo 4 specifically, but we'll be using it for the [Xbox Live app] Halo Waypoint, which you'll be able to launch directly though Halo 4.

Halo is a core game series, and more than many others is directly linked to the muscle memory of holding an Xbox controller, going back as far as the days of the Duke on the first Xbox.

Kinect is a logical extension of the UI, and with regards to some of the sci-fi themes we're actually pretty excited about it, but not for the controls. That's not what it's for, and we would never try to shoehorn that into our game. But there's a lot of cool experiences that we're going to put on Waypoint in the future that's completely appropriate for the experience.

Zoom

Technologically, Halo 4 makes a marked improvement on its predecessors. Is it an entirely new engine?

Engines are constantly evolving. The funny thing is that Id Software is probably using some code from Doom. I'm sure is a Bungie engineer from 1999 looked at our engine, they would recognise some code in our new engine too.

But ultimately every system was either radically re-written or tweaked, and there's a whole spectrum of these systems we have improved. The entire rendering graphics component is probably one of the biggest changes, and our audio and networking underwent big revisions.

So is this an engine just for one Halo game, looking ahead?

Well as I say, it's going to be this evolution of technologies that already exists. So whatever the next thing is, it'll contain some code from this engine too. But the tech is becoming more powerful and flexible as we continue to work on it, so it's going to be around for a while.

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