Halo: Reach Customization
This month I was able to talk a little bit with Max Szlagor, the Design Director on the Publishing Team here at 343 Industries, about a handful of things relating to armor customization. Implementation in-game has come a long way since the last time we shared screenshots of renders in the newly added UE4 and customization screens. To start this section of the blog, let’s look at these renders from an Xbox One build this past week before diving into our Q&A with Max. As a reminder, all images below are previews of armors that may be available at the launch of Halo: Reach. The team is still finalizing the list of content and unlock criteria and will have more to announce in the future. Please keep those developer goggles on and keep in mind that these works in progress may change between now and release. That PSA aside, here is some Elite love.
Postums: Hey Max, so firstly I must ask, what is your favorite customized armor set piece by piece? What is your Spartan going to look like in Reach?
Max Szlagor: Well it would be a Spartan, but for each piece let’s go through the list.
- Helmet – Commando UA/FC-I
- Shoulders – Sniper
- Chest – Collar/Breacher [R]
- Wrist – Tactical/UGPS
- Utility – Tactical/Hard Case
- Visor Color – Blue
- Knee Guards – FJ/Para
- Armor Effect – Eternal
What did the overall process entail of getting armors ready to go and be used in the UE4 Engine?
It was quite an effort to get armors working with Unreal in MCC. We had to go back to the original armor source files, created in long lost versions of our 3d art modeling packages. From there, we had to restore the tools and pipeline needed to export those models to Unreal, which required combing through a lot of old documentation and reaching out to people about how things worked circa 2010. Once we could display these assets in Unreal, there was a lot of additional texture, lighting, effects, and animation work to further polish and tweak these armors to look great in the Unreal renderer. But we are happy with how things are looking right now and where they have come from over the past several months of work.
A lot of people have asked about various DLC armors that came out during Halo: Reach, are we planning for them to be available?
Yes. If an armor has been included in retail Halo: Reach at any point, we are looking to include it.
I’ve worked with you for a little over 3 years now and know that this specific feature is something you have wanted to get into the game for some time. Just how excited are you to finally bring proper armor customization to MCC for Reach?
Super excited! It’s been a challenge to bring full 3d customization into the MCC UI, and seeing the results live in game makes the investment feel worthwhile. The Reach armors have never looked better.
I couldn’t agree more! For those who have not read previous blogs where we discussed bringing Unreal Engine into MCC, we have previously discussed this HERE in the May Development Update for MCC. Below is a snippet from that blog that discusses some of the factors in adding an 11th game engine to MCC.
“Currently a lot of the UI elements in the game were built using a different solution for the game’s UI. However, that original solution is no longer going to be supported with updates which will make it challenging for us to continue building and making changes in the future. Our ability to visualize and execute on future work would be more limited with older technology, with Unreal Engine we are not facing those same restrictions.
Since bringing it in, we have conducted a major update behind the scenes to allow for it to bridge both the new systems as well as the places where old implementation is still needed. There are some interesting flows that remind me of the movie Inception such as a UI inside of a UI inside of a UI inside of a UI. My head hurts just thinking about it.
An additional perk of this new tool is that we can do much more complex UI visualizations in real time to support both armor customization options and our progression system for MCC.”
Before we move over onto a flighting update, I’m going to drop some of the Male Spartan customization pics here to close out this section.