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343, map out the story over the new few years

OP TRUe REDEMPTI0N

It goes without saying that the previous few Halo games have not really had a planned plot. Halo 4 seemed to be the beginning of a story involving Chief rediscovering his humanity, the Didact and return of the Forerunners, etc. They may have had some early plans in place. However, Halo 5 came along and shattered everything that was set up in 4. Frank O’Connor and Brian Reed claimed that Cortana coming back and being the villain was planned all along, thought up before Halo 4’s ending was written. Now with *Halo Infinite*, it very much seems like it may be a soft reboot of sorts while being a continuation from where Halo 5 left off. It’s no shock then to say that they haven’t really had a plan or road map of where the story and characters will be going. I hope with Infinite (it’s a 10-year platform like MCC), 343 has planned out and mapped the story and characters for the next few years, maybe even decade as a whole. Aside from planning the story out in advance, I hope that they have come up with a single vision that can be carried across various campaigns. I understand sometimes plans may have to alter and adjust during game dev, and that is fine and totally understandable. I just hope that they in general have a through-line of where they are taking the overall plot and characters within, and some slight adjustments or alternations made of needed. Overall I think this could be a benefit to the writing team and help benefit the story quite a bit. What’d you think?
I definitely agree. It feels like 343 had a vision and an overall plan, but then veered off with the constant change in personnel. I don't think they need to go so far as Marvel and literally map out every installment over the next several years, but they need to have a stated vision that doesn't change at the whim of whoever is in charge of the narrative at the time.

The original trilogy of games logically flowed from one installment to the next. That would be a great idea going forward for Infinite. I understand that a time skip was needed to reset the franchise, but future games should probably be less spaced out.
This is something that's been on my mind with Halo for a while now.

343 should stop trying to appease the fan base with service in the campaigns and instead just tell a story.
Halo 4. A brand new story. Very few references to the old games. That's fine. It's a new journey. Some people liked it. Some didn't.
Halo 5: Guardians. They brought in Blue Team into a game. They brought back Eddie Buck and made him a Spartan (it was gonna be Gabriel Thorne originally). They brought back Cortana. They took us to Sanghelios. They brought back the Arbiter. They gave us a Forerunner vehicle. Basically, the campaign was less of a story and more of trying to please everyone. The majority of fans hated Halo 5's campaign.

If you tell your own story then you'll have some who like it and some who don't. But if you try to make everyone happy, the campaign WILL suffer.
This is something that's been on my mind with Halo for a while now.

343 should stop trying to appease the fan base with service in the campaigns and instead just tell a story.
Halo 4. A brand new story. Very few references to the old games. That's fine. It's a new journey. Some people liked it. Some didn't.
Halo 5: Guardians. They brought in Blue Team into a game. They brought back Eddie Buck and made him a Spartan (it was gonna be Gabriel Thorne originally). They brought back Cortina. They took us to Sanghelios. They brought back the Arbiter. They gave us a Forerunner vehicle. Basically, the campaign was less of a story and more of trying to please everyone. The majority of fans hated Halo 5's campaign.

If you tell your own story then you'll have some who like it and some who don't. But if you try to make everyone happy, the campaign WILL suffer.
This is a great point, and I'll take it a step further. 343 needs to just do what will make them happy. That's a lot easier said than done, but my point is that Bungie made a game that they wanted to play, not a game that they thought would be super popular. The results speak for themselves. 343 should make a game they'd want to play if they were the consumer, rather than making a game that would have mass market appeal.

It sounds like a super obvious observation, but dang near every game these days feels like something that is intended for mass market appeal rather than something the developers would actually want to play themselves. Presumably most of the employees at 343 are gamer nerds... so be gamer nerds and make a game you want to play.
This is something that's been on my mind with Halo for a while now.

343 should stop trying to appease the fan base with service in the campaigns and instead just tell a story.
Halo 4. A brand new story. Very few references to the old games. That's fine. It's a new journey. Some people liked it. Some didn't.
Halo 5: Guardians. They brought in Blue Team into a game. They brought back Eddie Buck and made him a Spartan (it was gonna be Gabriel Thorne originally). They brought back Cortina. They took us to Sanghelios. They brought back the Arbiter. They gave us a Forerunner vehicle. Basically, the campaign was less of a story and more of trying to please everyone. The majority of fans hated Halo 5's campaign.

If you tell your own story then you'll have some who like it and some who don't. But if you try to make everyone happy, the campaign WILL suffer.
This is a great point, and I'll take it a step further. 343 needs to just do what will make them happy. That's a lot easier said than done, but my point is that Bungie made a game that they wanted to play, not a game that they thought would be super popular. The results speak for themselves. 343 should make a game they'd want to play if they were the consumer, rather than making a game that would have mass market appeal.

It sounds like a super obvious observation, but dang near every game these days feels like something that is intended for mass market appeal rather than something the developers would actually want to play themselves. Presumably most of the employees at 343 are gamer nerds... so be gamer nerds and make a game you want to play.
I disagree with this assessment. Halo 5 like TLJ was basically an example of a creator doing whatever they wanted regardless of whether the story they were telling linked with or else completely derailed the story that was being told in the last game. That’s how we ended up following a character and support cast for 80% of the game who with the exception of Buck had no previously established connections with the characters or story established so far, and whose personnel story amounted ultimately to nothing in a mid-point game that should have ultimately set the stakes for the climax of the trilogy or saga.

That’s not fan-service. Thats the entire plot arc established so far to allow one particular creator with 343 to do what made them happy at the expense of everyone else, including 343’s shareholders.

343 need to decide where, when and how the story arc there going to tell in Halo Infinite is going to end in 10 years time in the real world, then plot a path there and establish roughly what is going to happen in every game released between now and then, then actually stick to that plan even if they suddenly think of something better in the meantime. (And do whatever they can now to establish some kind of connection between the events of Halo 4 and the events of Halo 6 Infinite, so they can at least salvage something of Halo 5 derailed and not that game a complete and utter waste of 8 years development time)

If the fans like it, they like it and if they don’t, they don’t. That’s called rolling the dice.

Creators should never be afraid of meeting and exceeding their audiences expectations as they are ultimately what makes the end product profitable and guarantees it will continue. Saying creators should not pander to their consumers just feels like an excuse for failure before your product is even released.
timh1990 wrote:
This is something that's been on my mind with Halo for a while now.

343 should stop trying to appease the fan base with service in the campaigns and instead just tell a story.
Halo 4. A brand new story. Very few references to the old games. That's fine. It's a new journey. Some people liked it. Some didn't.
Halo 5: Guardians. They brought in Blue Team into a game. They brought back Eddie Buck and made him a Spartan (it was gonna be Gabriel Thorne originally). They brought back Cortina. They took us to Sanghelios. They brought back the Arbiter. They gave us a Forerunner vehicle. Basically, the campaign was less of a story and more of trying to please everyone. The majority of fans hated Halo 5's campaign.

If you tell your own story then you'll have some who like it and some who don't. But if you try to make everyone happy, the campaign WILL suffer.
This is a great point, and I'll take it a step further. 343 needs to just do what will make them happy. That's a lot easier said than done, but my point is that Bungie made a game that they wanted to play, not a game that they thought would be super popular. The results speak for themselves. 343 should make a game they'd want to play if they were the consumer, rather than making a game that would have mass market appeal.

It sounds like a super obvious observation, but dang near every game these days feels like something that is intended for mass market appeal rather than something the developers would actually want to play themselves. Presumably most of the employees at 343 are gamer nerds... so be gamer nerds and make a game you want to play.
I disagree with this assessment. Halo 5 like TLJ was basically an example of a creator doing whatever they wanted regardless of whether the story they were telling linked with or else completely derailed the story that was being told in the last game. That’s how we ended up following a character and support cast for 80% of the game who with the exception of Buck had no previously established connections with the characters or story established so far, and whose personnel story amounted ultimately to nothing in a mid-point game that should have ultimately set the stakes for the climax of the trilogy or saga.

That’s not fan-service. Thats the entire plot arc established so far to allow one particular creator with 343 to do what made them happy at the expense of everyone else, including 343’s shareholders.

343 need to decide where, when and how the story arc there going to tell in Halo Infinite is going to end in 10 years time in the real world, then plot a path there and establish roughly what is going to happen in every game released between now and then, then actually stick to that plan even if they suddenly think of something better in the meantime. (And do whatever they can now to establish some kind of connection between the events of Halo 4 and the events of Halo 6 Infinite, so they can at least salvage something of Halo 5 derailed and not that game a complete and utter waste of 8 years development time)

If the fans like it, they like it and if they don’t, they don’t. That’s called rolling the dice.

Creators should never be afraid of meeting and exceeding their audiences expectations as they are ultimately what makes the end product profitable and guarantees it will continue. Saying creators should not pander to their consumers just feels like an excuse for failure before your product is even released.
The way I see it, 343 needs to make a game they enjoy, and hopefully the fans will agree with them, which is what happened with Bungie. They made a game they enjoyed and the fans agreed wholeheartedly. In other words, "If the fans like it, they like it and if they don’t, they don’t." Fortunately, we did.

And pandering is rarely if ever a good way to market a product. It hasn't really worked out so far for more than a few Hollywood productions as of late. I'm not saying creators shouldn't consider their fans' expectations. I'm mostly suggesting that the creators should be fans themselves and therefore create something that they (as fans) would want to play.
It goes without saying that the previous few Halo games have not really had a planned plot. Halo 4 seemed to be the beginning of a story involving Chief rediscovering his humanity, the Didact and return of the Forerunners, etc. They may have had some early plans in place. However, Halo 5 came along and shattered everything that was set up in 4. Frank O’Connor and Brian Reed claimed that Cortana coming back and being the villain was planned all along, thought up before Halo 4’s ending was written. Now with *Halo Infinite*, it very much seems like it may be a soft reboot of sorts while being a continuation from where Halo 5 left off. It’s no shock then to say that they haven’t really had a plan or road map of where the story and characters will be going. I hope with Infinite (it’s a 10-year platform like MCC), 343 has planned out and mapped the story and characters for the next few years, maybe even decade as a whole. Aside from planning the story out in advance, I hope that they have come up with a single vision that can be carried across various campaigns. I understand sometimes plans may have to alter and adjust during game dev, and that is fine and totally understandable. I just hope that they in general have a through-line of where they are taking the overall plot and characters within, and some slight adjustments or alternations made of needed. Overall I think this could be a benefit to the writing team and help benefit the story quite a bit. What’d you think?
I definitely agree. It feels like 343 had a vision and an overall plan, but then veered off with the constant change in personnel. I don't think they need to go so far as Marvel and literally map out every installment over the next several years, but they need to have a stated vision that doesn't change at the whim of whoever is in charge of the narrative at the time.
tldr; 343i's stories are more organised than they're given credit for, but perhaps partly due to the perceived lack of direction and continuity, in 2015 they deliberately sat down to write out the basic plotlines for the entire rest of the Reclaimer Saga that we'll see in Halo Infinite. So 343i's stories were "kind of organised" for Halo 4 & 5, but nowhere near as well as they are now for Halo Infinite.

"The seeds of our future are sown in his past" said Arbiter in the E3 2014 Halo 5 trailer, and note what Bonnie Ross then says about continuity of Chief's story from Halo 4 into 5 at time 2.19 in that video, including her quote from Halo 3's "First Announcement" about Chief's past and his future, which then hints at how "fighting Brutes on the Ark" would feature in the future story (Halo Wars 2 and Halo Infinite)! This all reveals 343i's story and hint-dropping style of "It's the Halo you know, but with 343 twists on it all..." :-D .

So, as True Redemption says, 343i did have a basic over-arching plotline (Grand Narrative) for Halo 4 / 5 / 6 (now Infinite), even if those ideas were still only loosely defined as "themes" and basic ideas, like "general notes in pads". The "Evil Cortana" idea was drawn up before Halo 4 launched, indeed, they couldn't have written Halo 4 the way they did without knowing where they were going with it. There are also multiple hints of the "rise of the machines" ideas and AI hacking in Halo 4 and Spartan Ops, as well as Chief going "rogue".

Those Grand Narrative themes were then handed to Brian Reed as Lead Writer for Halo 5. He and the writing team them fleshed out those ideas, which are also reflected in references in Lore in every book and comic around Halo 5 and on into Infinite. Meanwhile, Halo 5's trailers were Concept Trailers (ideas that can be presented any way in any style but the idea is found in the story), deliberately made to "shock" players who'd mistaken them for actual gameplay.

But by the time Halo 5 launched, the Narrative and Writing Teams had got together to create a formal plotline and story arc for the whole rest of the Reclaimer story (which is when it changed from Trilogy to Saga), so their vast new plans for Halo Infinite were better laid out with a clear vision for the future of Halo.

That becomes the "10 year plan", to tell the rest of the Reclaimer Saga, to all be told using the new Slipspace Engine (i.e. the "10 year plan" doesn't necessarily apply to the Multiplayer!).

QUOTES FROM 343I.

In Games Radar, September 2015, Bonnie Ross and Frank O'Connor talk about 343i's long-term story plans.

Bonnie Ross highlights Frank O'Connor and his team's role back in the ODST and Halo Reach days (2007-2010), "To really lay the fictional foundation for the next twenty years (counting from 2010 to 2030). You can look at the ending of Halo 4 – and where Master Chief is, and obviously we had to know where we were going to take Halo 5 and Halo 6 with that. You have an epic sci-fi universe and we have multiple ways that we can go with this story, but all the pieces are laying there. The canvas is there for us to paint".

Frank O'Connor in that article in 2015 said "We’re doing serious real planning and even some writing on the next game (Halo 6) already, and that’s a luxury – we’ve never been in that position before. So we both know at a very high level what’s going to happen in, say, ten years from now. But at that very granular level knowing what’s going to happen in the next game and that’s just been a great feeling for me". However, the plan is somewhat flexible because Frank adds "If you start making those stepping stones too rigid, then you’re not being realistic about the game development process. That process could change the story but we know what’s going to happen in the next game, and we kind of know what’s going to happen to the Master Chief ultimately."

So yes, Halo 5 is the planned "Halo 4: Part 2" as being "The Reclaimer Saga: Part 2", and there was a barebones plot handed to Lead Writer Brian Reed to fully flesh out the story and write the script for Halo 5.

HALO INFINITE - BASIC GAME DESIGN.

It's not only the story either. In 2015, see last paragraph here as Frank O'Connor described the basic design idea for Halo 6 (now Infinite): “You asked me what I’d be excited about in the future, and certainly in terms of interactivity, I think games or methods of gameplay that aren’t simply shooting interest me. I’d love to go do a xenoarcheological expedition to the original Halo ring [ZETA HALO]. You know, take some scientists down, drive around, catch samples, do some detective work, maybe there’s a mystery. And it wouldn’t require shooting. It’s the universe and environment that can still be exciting, even without action. So that’s one of the things I’d love to see us invest more in.”

The biggest single influence on those ideas will be Halo 5 and Infinite's Creative Director Tim Longo, famous for his Tomb Raider reboot. Halo 5 already has many Tomb Raider features (including exploration and "walk and talk" missions), even down to Brian Reed's description that "Spartan Locke was designed to be a cross between James Bond and Lara Croft", all hinting at how to play Halo 5.

Now in Halo Infinite, we have "a living breathing world that's ripe for exploration" in which "exploration will be rewarded" in a vast Tomb Raider style semi-open world map, a grappling hook and a silver magnum, in a story and style that brings the return of "Hope, heroism, and wonder" as we explore and "hunt the truth" amongst the ancient xenoarchaeology of Zeta Halo in "Halo Infinite: Rise of the Halo Raider"...

Hope this helps. :-)
The way I see it, 343 needs to make a game they enjoy, and hopefully the fans will agree with them, which is what happened with Bungie. They made a game they enjoyed and the fans agreed wholeheartedly. In other words, "If the fans like it, they like it and if they don’t, they don’t." Fortunately, we did.

And pandering is rarely if ever a good way to market a product. It hasn't really worked out so far for more than a few Hollywood productions as of late. I'm not saying creators shouldn't consider their fans' expectations. I'm mostly suggesting that the creators should be fans themselves and therefore create something that they (as fans) would want to play.
What specific examples were you thinking off when you say pandering hasn’t worked for Hollywood, as I think you and I may have interpretation of what pandering actually means?

To be fair pandering may not have been the correct term for me to use. Appealing to or appeasing the core segment of the people who purchased Halo games in the past may be a better term, as it’s ultimately these people who pay a game developers bills and allow the next game to be developed.

The problem I have with your notion that a handful of game developers should spend a few hundred million dollars building a game they want is that they are only a tiny tiny fraction of the people the game is built for, and it’s highly likely what appeals to them is not what appeals to the the the majority of the people who will go on to purchase the game. Now true, not every consumer wants the same thing from a Halo game and a developer never knows what will be a hit with people and what will be a miss, so no developer ever sets out to make a game they would find disappointing to play. However, with a long running series like Halo and the Sci-Fi genres in general there are reliable ways to gage what the majority of people will likely want from game by looking at what has sold well in the past. As an example, every Halo game to date that has featured the Master Chief has enjoyed increased sales compared to its predecessor, with Halo 3 topping out at around 11 million sold units. Halo 4 was the first not to outsell its predecessor, probably because Chief was only the focus of the single player campaign and not the Spartan Ops campaign. That should tell any prospective story-writer that what the majority of people who have bought Halo in the past want is for the focus or the story to be on the Master Chief, irrespective as to whether they personally like him as a protagonist or not. The fact the reception Spartan Ops campaign was mixed and that people didn’t like the new Spartan IV’s protagonists should have sent up warning signs to 343 that the worst possible move they could then make was to replace Chief with a Spartan IV protagonist, but low and beyond that exactly what they did and Halo 5 was the worst selling Halo FPS console sold to date. This isn’t the case of they couldn’t have known how unpopular Locke or Halo 5’s campaign would be. The moment Locke was received people’s reaction was negative to the point 343 had to release a statement saying the story would still focus on the Master Chief, which off course we all know now was complete PR BS. Halo 5 doesn’t strike me as a game that was ever made to pander, appeal or to appease the greater half of a particular consumer base. Respectfully, it strikes me as a game that was designed along the exact advise you seem to be advocating above. A game that the lead story writer and development team would enjoy playing, but all evidence suggested the majority of their consumer base would be disappointed in at best and hate at worse.

There a terrible business for any retail product, period!

Going back to the original point of this topic, I think mapping out the overall path of the Reclaimer Saga story wise should have been 343’s first objective before work on Halo 4 ever began. They decided where, when and under what circumstances Halo 4 would start. They should have decided the exact same details for the year, location and exact circumstances under which the finale Reclaimer game would end, with a more then basic outline of how to get there. I appreciate the sentiment that no game developers intentionally sets out to make a game they and so by extension the fans will hate, but when you consider the standard development lifecycle of a game is about 3 years the whole lifecycle of the Reclaimer Saga could add up to 15+ years. That’s a long time for one person to stay in the same position, therefore the lead writer who began Halo 4 may may have moved on by the time Halo 5, 6, 7 or 8 is in development, and the new lead writer may not have agreed with where his or her predecessor originally planned to take the story. In that I case personally think it’s more important to adhere to the long term plan for the story originally set out rather then give the current lead writer the freedom to tell the story they want to tell. You end up with a situation similar to the Star Wars Sequel trilogy, where every new director uses their creative freedom to make their own mark on the franchise, rather then building on what has come before and planing for what comes after.

Climax without proper buildup seldom ever leads to a satisfactory payoff.

Case in point, what was the purpose of Hasley’s comment to Locke when she tells him ‘when this is over they’ll order you to kill us both?

There was no real build up to it in Halo 4, it never comes up again in Halo 5 and I doubt it ever will!
Halo 5 brought upon the mess the series currently finds itself in. It still saddens me to no end knowing that the brilliantly thought up plot to that game ended up being as watered down as it did. (And by plot I mean what was shown to us in trailers). Halo 5 could've had the best campaign in the series and would have given us as fans a new hope for the franchise. Maybe that plot was just too difficult for them to pull off. If so I have extreme doubts about halo infinites plot, or the game as a whole, for that matter. We've seen this downward trend happen time and time again in the gaming community and even more so with 343. I suspect that three times is not the charm but I guess we'll have to wait to find out.
They got 10 years with infinite i'm sure they will think of something
Like that's ever gonna happen
Some
BODY
This is something that's been on my mind with Halo for a while now.

343 should stop trying to appease the fan base with service in the campaigns and instead just tell a story.
Halo 4. A brand new story. Very few references to the old games. That's fine. It's a new journey. Some people liked it. Some didn't.
Halo 5: Guardians. They brought in Blue Team into a game. They brought back Eddie Buck and made him a Spartan (it was gonna be Gabriel Thorne originally). They brought back Cortana. They took us to Sanghelios. They brought back the Arbiter. They gave us a Forerunner vehicle. Basically, the campaign was less of a story and more of trying to please everyone. The majority of fans hated Halo 5's campaign.

If you tell your own story then you'll have some who like it and some who don't. But if you try to make everyone happy, the campaign WILL suffer.
Thorne's voice actor wasn't available that's why Buck was in. Cortana I still say wasn't originally planned because she wasn't originally going to die and other things make me say this too.