Inside Infinite – December 2020
Hey everyone, I’m Joseph Staten. If you’ve been a longtime part of the Halo community, you may already know me. If you’re new to the community: Hello! It’s great to meet you.
I was part of the Bungie team who made Halo CE, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. I came up on the design side of these projects, wearing many different hats over the years including writer, cinematic director, creative director—even a voice for the Grunts.
After Reach shipped, I became a Halo fan, cheering-on 343i from the sidelines. But I’ve spent the last four months immersing myself back into the Halo universe, and it’s my honor as creative director to help our team ship Halo Infinite in Fall 2021.
Yep, that’s when the game is coming out. And from now until then, every one of us at 343i and our great partner teams will be building, testing, and polishing an experience we hope all of you love.
I joined 343i right as the team was wrestling with feedback from the July campaign demo. This discussion boiled down to one fundamental truth: we needed more time to do things right. That included pushing hard in the Fall, giving the team time to recharge over the Holidays, and then coming back in January to finish the game at a healthy pace.
Because Halo Infinite in the Fall of 2021… is just the beginning of the adventure.
I’ll be back at the end of the update for some closing thoughts, but now, Brian, take it away!
ART & GRAPHICS UPDATE
Thanks, Joseph! In the months since our Campaign demo, the team has been heads down working on everything from lighting to fog to wear-and-tear on Spartan armor (as you’ll see further below). We know the community has been eager to hear about, and see, the improvements and progress the team has made since July so today we’re joined by a few members of our art and graphics teams to talk shop.
Hi guys! Thanks for taking time to talk about some of the great work the team has been up to since our Campaign demo. Before we jump in, can you please briefly introduce yourselves and explain your role on Halo Infinite?
NB: Hi, my name is Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier and I have been a senior Concept Artist and Art Director for 343 Industries since 2009. My role in the studio and within the team is actually very clear: making sure we are conveying a unified visual direction for Halo Infinite, based on specific pre-established pillars that represent the backbone of our aesthetic. With the help of our two Associate Art Directors, Darren Bacon and Martin Deschambault, we review all assets (environments, characters, vehicles, and weapons) that make it into the game, from start to finish. We basically look for three conditions: making sure all assets fit into the gameplay needs, that they fit into the Halo Aesthetic and Legacy, and finally, that they look awesome.
NH: Hi, my name’s Neill Harrison and I’m the Director of Art Management at 343 Industries, working on Halo Infinite. I’ve been managing the Art team since Halo 4, and the way I would describe my role is that Sparth, as our Art Director, provides the artistic direction for our game, and my role as his partner is to build and manage the Art team that executes on this vision.
AS: Hi, I am Ani Shastry, and I have been the Development Manager for the Graphics team on Halo Infinite over the last two and a half years. All the graphics engineering initiatives for this project roll up through me, and my teams and I collaborate very closely with Neill’s and Sparth’s teams on the visual fidelity of Halo Infinite.
Back in July, our teams pulled together a slice of representative gameplay that introduced fans to the expansive nature of this new ring world and we got the first look at Master Chief using the Grappleshot and various weaponry to take on the Banished. Despite excitement around the gameplay, we knew we had plenty of work left to do on the art and graphics side. Can you speak a bit about the demo and the team’s perspective?
NH: The primary goal for the Campaign demo in July was showing Halo Infinite gameplay for the first time. While that aspect generally landed as we wanted, the reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo – even in a work-in-progress state.
Much of the feedback we heard from the community aligned with our own views and work we were already committed to doing around things like indirect lighting, material response, foliage and tree rendering, clouds, level-of-detail transitions, and character fidelity. Still, the feedback was humbling, and it also pushed us to look at additional opportunities for improvement.
It really is a privilege to work on a Halo game, we have such a strong community who care so deeply about the Halo franchise and who we can always rely upon to provide valuable feedback on every aspect of our products. It’s not always easy to hear, but we truly appreciate the community’s passion which drives us to do better.
AS: July was indeed a very much work-in-progress slice of the technology, and a reasonable set of key features from global illumination and dynamic time of day, to GPU-driven rendering and variable rate shading were all in active development. Much of the graphics team’s capacity, along with that of some key technical artists, was focused on achieving high resolution and performance leading up to the demo, which meant several of these features didn’t quite get the level of polish and bug fixing that was warranted.
Visual fidelity is a very important goal for Halo Infinite, and the graphics and art teams have been continually aspiring, and working closely with each other, to create the best-looking Halo game ever. I definitely want to acknowledge the input that we got from the Halo community and our fanbase; staying open to critical feedback and looking at areas where we can learn and do better is an inherent part of our culture at 343.
Internally I remember we discussed the feedback with two key areas in mind – visual fidelity and art style. Before we get into the former, can you briefly touch on the latter and help clarify our intentions as it relates to the overall art style of Halo Infinite?
NB: From a player’s perspective, I absolutely must mention that I have been sort of a child of Bungie’s Marathon from 1994. It was the very first FPS game I got hooked on, and a lot of its original DNA prevailed in Halo several years later. All this to say, I have always been very attached to visual continuity, especially for such a large franchise. I felt that Halo 5, despite many successes, didn’t take player feedback enough into account, and many felt the game’s visuals were deviating off course. It was vital to embed Halo Infinite within very stable foundations that would borrow from the past as well as making sure that any new assets would convey a sense of legacy that would resonate with all players, old-timers and newcomers alike.
We knew it wouldn’t be trivial to combine the cleaner and simpler forms of classic games like Halo 1 or 2 with the next-gen requirements and expectations of Halo Infinite. Merging both was going to be a challenge, but we stood close to our visual principles and made it work in the best way, one day at a time. We managed to find a balance of modernized visuals combined with a classic aesthetic that will definitely speak to all, and we couldn’t be more proud of this.
There’s no denying that the return to a classic art style immediately evokes the unmistakable look and feel of Halo. When it comes to visual fidelity, the team has been making progress since July as we can see in some of the latest images we’re sharing here today. Can you talk about some of the specific areas the team has been working on?
AS: On the graphics technology front we have made improvements along with fixing bugs that were inherent to some of the techniques, as well as iterating and polishing the features that were still in development.
Some of the key areas of progress include better quality of global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, volumetric lighting, sky, and atmosphere. We have also addressed issues with our GPU-driven rendering and texture streaming solution that should mitigate the LOD popping and texture quality issues that were prevalent in the July demo.
There is more to be done, of course, and we are actively partnering with Neill’s and Sparth’s teams to drive the visual quality forward from both an engineering as well as an artistic front.
NH: In addition to the graphics tech changes, we have made a lot of improvements on the Art/Content side across all disciplines such as Environment, Lighting, Weapons, FX and more. There is too much to cover here but I’ll just talk through some of the more impactful changes in my mind….
Firstly, there’s been a lot of work done re-tuning our dynamic lighting values to add more punch and contrast to the image. These included adjustments to our sun intensity, fog/atmosphere, and the addition of color grading which did not make it into the July gameplay demo.
We’ve improved some of our materials to get more specular response, more wear-and-tear on weapons/vehicles, more fidelity in our characters, and more macro breakup on large surfaces like rocks, terrain, and the hex walls. We’re now also getting more of our textural detail coming through to the final frame thanks to a sharpening process that our graphics team have added. This helps offset some of the natural blurring of temporal anti-aliasing and it certainly helps our assets shine.
We're eager to show the progress the team has made in Campaign as soon we can, but we want to make sure we have all the right pieces coming together and this can be tricky with a lot of moving parts and an expansive world of this scope. We know everyone is keen to see more and we look forward to sharing more in future updates in the months ahead.
Speaking of improvements on the art/content side, one big outcome from our demo was the emergence of the now world-renowned “Craig.” While we and the internet have come to love dear Craig, we know he wasn’t his “best self” back in July. Can you give us any updates on Craig as he stands today?
NH: Firstly, I can confirm that the facial animation on NPCs was not fully implemented in that build, which resulted in Craig’s incredibly deadpan/lifeless look. All characters are modelled in a neutral pose, prior to blendshapes & animation being applied. So, poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition which is not something that was evident during the gameplay. It was only later, in the close-up freeze frame of his one bad moment, where it came to light and the legend of Craig was born.
There’s been further work done on the material fidelity and more variety added for Brute faces, we’re also working to add some hairdos and beards which was something we hadn’t gotten to in July. So, whilst we have come to love our dear old Craig, he’s certainly undergoing a significant makeover.
Craig isn’t the only model to see improvements though, there have been significant changes to other characters & 3D models as we continue to evolve and polish our content, some of which can be seen in the Spartan and weapon renders being shared today.
In today’s update, we’re providing the first glimpses of an interior space via one of Halo Infinite’s work-in-progress multiplayer maps. From a content and graphics perspective, how is the approach similar – and different – when it comes to the look and feel of these more intimate traditional spaces vs. the open and expansive outdoor environments?
AS: From a graphics technology perspective, the majority of the rendering pipeline and rendering techniques are shared between interior and exterior spaces. Very similar shading models, shadowing algorithms, and post processing effects are used in either case.
Where the primary difference comes into play is the sheer density of content in the expansive outdoor environment and the challenges that brings in authoring the content at scale, and then at runtime efficiently streaming all that data and rendering it at a smooth 60 frames per second at high resolutions. Another difference that is unique to the exterior environment is the seamless time of day, which requires a more dynamic global illumination approach, along with providing various knobs to control the elements of lighting, sky and atmospherics, and color grading as time progresses.
This is the first time that a game in the Halo franchise has had to tackle either of these challenges, and so the team had to spend a lot of cycles building and optimizing engine and toolchain functionality to facilitate this experience in Halo Infinite.
NH: At a high level, the approach and our processes are pretty similar between the two, we go through the same stages of construction and polish for our modelling, texturing and lighting and we are always building our assets in a modular way that facilitates their reuse in different scenarios.
The big difference is that typically our interior spaces are somewhat more linear, controlled, and constructed spaces built from hard surfaces, meaning lots of metals, reflections and more curated lighting. When creating the large & open natural environments, this involves many more organic assets, meaning our biomes and terrain are one of the main focuses.
Obviously with Multiplayer maps, collaboration with designers is key. Layout, sight lines, and player navigation are crucial and are all things that we iterate on constantly as we fine tune the experience.
There’s something really cool about the juxtaposition between the intimate and expansive spaces in Halo Infinite and whilst they each offer different challenges, they should bring a nice balance and variety to the experience.
The extra time has already yielded progress on the visual fidelity front, but we’re still not done. Can you talk some about remaining priorities and work the team is focused on?
AS: On the graphics engineering side, we have a team that is continuing to polish up the last bits of feature work on lighting, global illumination, and atmospherics. We are also iterating very closely with Neill’s teams on making sure our content creators can take full advantage of all the cool technologies we have built over the last couple of years. Another group of graphics developers is staying heads-down on optimizing the end-to-end rendering pipeline so that we can deliver a great experience on resolution and performance, across all our target platforms, to our players.
NH: On the Art side it’s mostly further polish and bringing it all together, we have a concept of “Content Complete”, where we get all of our content into the build and then we have time after that to assess holistically and further polish areas that would benefit the most. Often times, significant improvements are made after our Content Complete milestones. Set dressing, mask painting, texture/material improvements, FX/Lighting tweaking and animation polish/variety are all still being worked on.
We’ve made significant improvements on our foliage, trees and grass, both in terms of rendering, fidelity and how we maintain that over distance, but this is another area still being worked on and fidelity will further improve. We’re excited to show you as soon as we’re able to bring things together and showcase the work in the best light.
Thank you very much for diving into the visual fidelity work the team has been focused on! Before we shift gears to our next section, any final words or parting thoughts to share?
NH: I’d just like to thank everyone reading this update, we really appreciate your continued support for Halo and again for all the feedback that the community provides us. To know that people care so much about the Halo franchise is a huge motivator to us all at 343 and we are working tirelessly to deliver the best possible Halo experience to you all. I’d also like to state how proud I am of our team, everyone is working incredibly hard to deliver you the best experience possible in Halo Infinite. We’re making fantastic progress every week despite the continued and unprecedented challenge of these difficult times and we’re excited to be able to share more with you all soon.
AS: It is awesome to see how much the community cares about the visual fidelity of our beloved franchise. We will always welcome feedback and look at taking appropriate actions to address that when and where it is feasible. As Neill says, it is our goal to deliver the best possible Halo experience, and we are continuing to work hard towards building something that we will be very proud of and the fanbase will hopefully love. We look forward to sharing more in the coming months.
NB: Making a game from hundreds of "at home" desks is clearly something that initially reduced our ability to merge all game assets into a single successful vision. It was without a doubt the biggest challenge we have been facing this year, but with time, dedication, and perseverance, we are making it work. The improvements have been phenomenal. Ani, Neill, and all teams have been fully focused at improving communication between tech and art, and it's giving fantastic results. I cannot wait to show more, of course!
Thank you again guys, I’m really looking forward to sharing more of the team’s work with our community in the months ahead. And now to kick it over to Unyshek, Ryan, and Chris to talk more about the Halo Infinite Live Team and armor customization.
LIVE & CUSTOMIZATION
As ske7ch said, it’s time to sit down with our Live Team and talk about our approach to designing a live game such as Halo Infinite, free to play multiplayer, and armor customization. Without further ado, let’s dive into a Q&A; with the team!
Ryan, Chris – thank you so much for joining us today to represent the Live Team! Since this is the first time you’re both talking about Halo Infinite publicly, I wanted to give you a chance to introduce yourselves to our community. What do your roles at 343 entail and what’s your experience with Halo, as a fan or employee?
Ryan Paradis: Thanks for having us, Uny! So, hi! I’m Ryan Paradis, and I’m the Design Director for the Live Team. That means I’m focused on overall Live Team strategy and planning, ensuring we meet our goals as a studio, that the Live game has a strong direction and plan, while ensuring the team has the agency and focus to react to feedback and improve. I’m constantly meeting with others across the studio and the Xbox team, and always looking to ensure the clearest roadmap and path forward.
My experience with Halo as a fan, I’ll never forget: it started with the E3 2000 trailer. I remember being ABSOLUTELY blown away by the visuals, the gameplay, and definitely the score. So many feels came out of that experience, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I bought my Xbox & Halo with my own money in Fall ’02 in my senior year of High School, and it definitely contributed to my senioritis and a rocky first year at college. But I was hooked!
I’ve always had a place in my heart for Halo, getting my hands on every release on Day 1, digging into the lore, and even becoming somewhat passable at Multiplayer!
Chris Blohm: Hi, I’m Christopher Blohm and I am the Lead Progression designer. I work for Ryan and I am focused on Engagement and Customization. Another way to state that is I am the designer that works with the production, art, and engineering teams to create awesome in-game content that people will be excited to access and play with in the game. I also lead the team that controls how things are unlocked, be that via challenge or levelling.
The first time I saw Halo was when I was working on MechWarrior 4. The Bungie guys worked above us and a few came down to show us an early build of Multiplayer. I was hooked immediately. We all played shooters on PC but you could feel the tectonic plates shifting when we got our hands on those controllers even in an early build.
I joined 343 after working on MechAssault, Crimson Skies, and Shadowrun. I jumped right into the Sandbox team and worked on the Railgun and the Sticky Det for Halo 4.
We’ve said “Live Team” quite a bit, so I want to ask, “What does the Live Team do?” In other words, what are the team’s responsibilities and how do they contribute to the overall game?
RP: You know, I’ve been doing this for a long time and answering this succinctly, given the shifting roles and coverage Live takes on, is kind of daunting.
The Live team takes a meta role in our contributions, in that our content tends to bridge experiences. Think of things like Challenges & Progression, Customization, Achievements, etc - there’s no one area of the game these belong to, or work to support; their best functions support players in all the ways they choose to play.
After we see Halo Infinite launch, we’ll shift a bit more to monitoring the state of the game and ensuring we react appropriately. Not only is this working with our friends on the Community team, but with Analytics, ongoing work with User Research, etc. to ensure that the team knows what’s working and what’s not. This means that we will have a direct partnership with you, the players, that we’ll use to improve the game experience together over the lifetime of the game.
Lastly, we’re working across the studio to form the long-term roadmap for Halo Infinite. What should players look forward to each Season? We’ll be partnering with the community to plan how the game is going to grow and evolve over time. And then, how do we work with you to ensure that our Roadmap can be communicated effectively.
I’m sure I’ve missed or glossed over a lot, but that’s basically it!
CB: I think the Live team's main job is to give the player goals outside of getting the next kill. We have great teams working on gunplay, the maps, the modes, the moment to moment of the multiplayer dance, and epic campaign. Our team works to bring all these separate experiences together into one cohesive Halo experience at launch and then continues to build on that and evolve into the future.
Thanks for laying that out! It sounds like you’ve got your hands in quite a few cookie jars. As you look at all those different aspects of the game, how do you approach each of them as a designer?
RP: Yeah, so as the Live team, we’re involved in almost every area of the game, in one way or another. Everything from Marketing to Multiplayer, Sandbox to esports, and teams both internal and external - these are all our partners. There’s a lot of gear-shifting, and perspective shifts throughout the day.
The easiest way for us to work across all these experiences is to ensure that we are all focused on the same principles and pillars. These serve both as a general starting point for designs and decision-making, but also as a razor to cut and hone the creative vision, and ensure that we’re building content and systems that – we feel – deserve to be in Halo Infinite.
Gotcha, so these “principles and pillars” you keep in mind essentially act as guidelines and guardrails, correct? If you don’t mind sharing them, what are the Live Team’s pillars for Halo Infinite?
RP: Given our roles, Chris and I have different focus areas, so we’re going to vary a bit here…
I’ll talk about the Strategic Pillars the Live Team has formed and continues to refine. We’re some of the biggest fans of Halo, so it wasn’t hard for us to build our founding principles in building the game.
- Healthy engagement is paramount. We want everyone to play the game in a healthy manner that they enjoy. We’re not trying to build a grind-machine that burns everyone out in an attempt to get more game time from them. Halo Infinite needs to be a place where we all look forward to spending time.
- We maintain a player-first focus. Think of all the games we’ve all played that have random rewards, ask people to play a way they hate just for a new shiny, or weaponize FOMO against the player. There will be limited-time events, but we don’t want to turn free time into a chore. We’re not all about that. Everyone should enjoy their time in Halo Infinite.
- Unambiguous Value. If someone invests their time or money in the game, they should understand what they’re getting and that it will be worth more than the investment. Examples of this in practice include no lootboxes, either through engagement or any premium route. And we’re not selling power or giving an unfair advantage in-game via any route.
- Always be listening, learning and experimenting. The Live team is all about growth and iteration. We build and support some fun content, but there will be times when things don’t go as planned or where something we tried didn’t land well. There will also be times when we believe in ideas and want to give them a chance in the wild, and we ask that you be understanding as we try them out. These will be moments for us to learn, and grow. It’ll require a close partnership with our players, where we can talk about what happened and what we were trying to do, and be transparent in our plans to move ahead, as much as we can.
CB: Tactically we take the above pillars and look to a few others in our day to day from how we position rewards to what items we make.
- Provide Value. Combined with our engagement pillar we want to be clear about how to earn rewards. Most of all, we want to bring the best set of cosmetic-only rewards to Halo. We want great looking assets and ways to show that Spartan off. We want players to get close to their Spartan and spend time swapping parts and pieces.
It has been said before - and it's important to restate - no loot boxes, no randomness in rewards.
- Allow Player Expression. We want everyone to build their dream Spartan. We are always looking for more ways to customize in-game personas and give the players options. My team knows that our long-term players have favorites that they love and may have for two decades. We want to make sure that Halo Infinite players will be able to get their old favorites, as well as find new favorites at launch and as we expand over the months post-launch. Much like MCC, I want to bring everything to Infinite (eventually).
RP: I want to circle back with a note on our pillars and the structure of our title. Halo Infinite Multiplayer being free to play has demanded that we examine how we want to build and release content and has also influenced everything we’ve just talked about. There are certain places where we’re going to move away from approaches seen in Halo’s legacy and try something new, but ALWAYS keeping in mind the goalposts above.
Seeing a lot of pillars that prioritize the player’s experience definitely makes me happy, both as a Community Manager and as a fan. One thing you mentioned that stood out to me though was that some things may change because Halo Infinite multiplayer is going to be free to play. We’ve touched on it lightly before and it’s a pretty big question in the community, but will that apply to customization? If so, how do you make those changes while staying true to your design pillars?
CB: This is a great question and one we think about all the time. We see and hear the current concerns of our community, specifically right now around coatings, and we look to our systems to make sure we are doing the right thing both for our players and their ability to represent themselves as well as what is right for a free-to-play service-driven title.
Yes, being free-to-play does mean that there will be some premium cosmetics, but players will still obtain tons of customization content through things like playing campaign, challenges, skill, special events, legacy rewards (such as the Halo 5 SR 152 reward), the progression system, and more.
We will always provide value for pure engagement and simply playing the game. We believe that providing value isn’t exclusive to monetary transactions, it’s also about making sure you’re properly rewarded for the time you’re investing into the game. Players that play for free will be able unlock items across a multitude of different customization types to allow them to represent themselves in-game.
Halo 5 didn’t do a great job at rewarding our most engaged players (SR 152s), so we’ve added a few tokens of appreciation in Halo Infinite to help make up for that. Below you can see two of those tokens in the form of an exclusive armor coating and weapon coating. We’ve also used our learnings there to better structure the player rewards in Halo Infinite.
Ultimately, we want to make something that all of our players respect and love. By staying true to our pillars outlined above, especially in regards to maintaining a player-first focus and listening to the community, we should be able to do just that.
You mentioned coatings specifically, which have turned some heads over the past few weeks, so let’s talk about those a bit more. Can you elaborate on what coatings are and why they’re in Halo Infinite?
CB: Yes, the coating system is something that the Live team and our 3D artists designed directly after Halo 5 and is part of the overall customization picture. In previous Halo titles, we had a series of inputs that were simple RGBs in primary and secondary channels. For Halo Infinite, we didn’t feel that flat colors in a singular pattern were good enough.
The coating system allows us to define color, wear and tear, patterns, and materials on a region-by-region basis on the Spartan or anything in the game be it armor, weapons, vehicles, or even environment elements like fuel barrels. To get to our design vision we needed to make an exceedingly difficult decision to move away from a system that was in the game from early days – primary and secondary color. This decision was not made lightly, but it has laid the foundation for greater detail and variation when it comes to color customization.
In addition to getting better variation, we can also create coatings much faster than we could create weapon skins in Halo 5, which will allow for even better variation over time. Additionally, with coatings now being their own customization option, we can also use them as rewards for player accomplishments or even create bespoke ones for certain occasions. Lastly, coatings use smaller digital footprint and let us add new ones to the game without massive patches or taking up tons of disk space, which was a learning from Halo 5.
We have looked at the system and we understand the concern. In our recent value balancing pass, which was a direct result of community feedback around coatings, we have looked hard at how many coatings are in the starting set and how many and of what quality are unlocked via engagement vs other systems.
Coatings are one part of the customization picture, but we feel all-up we will hit our goal for player representation by offering more possibilities across the entire system. While this does mean losing some player control, it increases the depth of customization that we can achieve internally and that you can ultimately show off publicly.
Thank you for providing some extra insight there, I’m excited to see how the coating system can benefit armor, weapon, and vehicle customization. Now, speaking of armor customization options, we’ve teased “Halo: Reach levels of armor customization” before – can you tell us what that actually means in regards to Halo Infinite armor?
CB: One way to look at inventory systems is to look at their breadth and depth. How many things can I customize and how many choices within it do I have? Reach allowed the player a lot of individual customization types on a single armor suit with each type having many options. We knew we had to return to that level, but also do more.
To me “Reach Customization” is both the options, helmet, helmet attachment, left shoulder pad, right shoulder pad, as well as the number of individual assets.
To dial it in a little, the geo that could be changed or added to in Reach was: Helmet, Helmet Attachment, Chest Gear, Shoulder Pads (left and right), Knee Guards, Wrist Gear, and Utility as well as Visor Color. These will all be back, and we will go further. Personally, I have always loved visors and we have a surprise to show soon.
I understand that there is a level of being vague that is unconscionable, and I am riding that line hard, but we do want to save some surprises for later.
I love it! I knew the team was cooking up some awesome stuff, but I was still really impressed when I saw all these options for the first time. The best part is that we were only talking about armor customization there – you’ve been working to add deeper personalization elsewhere as well, right? Are you able to elaborate on those right now too?
RP: As Chris mentioned, we’re going to be vague for a bit longer. Just know, there’s still tons to talk about between now and our launch next Fall! We’re showing some cool Spartan customizations and armors in this update – but we’re not done showing players what they can do there. Likewise, players have seen coatings for weapons and vehicles – they know about that. But that’s not all they’ll be able to customize there either.
And then there’s things that don’t fall into those three areas that players will be able to get via engagement and premium paths too. We have a lot left to talk about!
When it’s time for the hype train to leave the station, we’ll be sure we’re on it with… a briefcase… full of information and screenshots. I think I lost the metaphor.
All right then, keep your secrets… for now. I know we’ll get to chatting about everything the Live Team has been working on in due time, and in even greater depth. Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us. Are there any closing words that you’d wish to impart to our community before we wrap up?
RP: First off, I want to thank the community and you guys for allowing us this platform. It’s super important to everyone at 343 that we begin the open and honest conversation with our community, and start talking about who we are, what we do, and how we’re going to make Halo Infinite great. We want to begin forming the relationship with players, and start the two-way discussions that’ll continue well past release.
You mentioned it: there’s been some heat recently in some areas where we’ve decided to make changes. And there will be more discussion with every bit of content the studio releases. We see what the community is saying – I lurk Reddit and the Waypoint forums like a madman – we talk about it almost every day, and we work to improve. We’re going to learn, iterate, and evolve as time goes on. But I can promise that we, and everyone here at 343, will make this the best Halo game that we can.
CB: We are out there listening, and we take it all to heart. We cannot act on every suggestion or idea, but we do make sure that we are plotting the course forward for the best experience.
I look forward to talking more about specifics and getting more of our team up here to show off what they are working on. There is great stuff coming and launch is only the beginning. The Live team is already plotting course for post launch beats and we all look forward to partnering with the community on our mutual journey that will evolve and grow Halo Infinite.
To round up a little. No loot boxes. No randomness or items that influence the sandbox and gameplay.
Ryan and I, and the whole Live team, are dedicated to delivering a wonderful experience. We are going to supply great content and what we have seen so far, with our partner promotions, is just a small amount, and there is great and cooler stuff still to be revealed and talked about.
Well, now I’m just excited and I can’t wait to talk with your team again at some point in the future. Thank you both so much once again!
To close out our first “Inside Infinite” update, I’ll toss the reins back over to our Creative Director, Joseph Staten.
THE ROAD AHEAD
I’m fortunate to have worked with incredibly talented teams my whole career. The Infinite team is no exception. Folks here don’t just understand Halo, they love the core gameplay and characters and community—everything that makes Halo, Halo—just as much as I do. And, like me, they also feel a deep responsibility to serve.
We aren’t making this game for us. We’re making it for you. Starting with this update, we’re going to be sharing more about what we’re doing and, most importantly, why we’re doing it. So here are a few things I’d like to share:
My first week on the job, I played the entire Infinite campaign. Twice. I was, in a word, stunned—in the best possible way—by what the team had done. Infinite is, by far, the most expansive and vertical Halo world, ever. Why did the team do this? Because they understand that wonder and freedom are key to the Halo experience.
I could feel the classic Halo “30 seconds of fun” beating at the heart of Infinite’s world. But I had never felt more powerful, more mobile, more in command of a rich set of tactical choices. This was the Halo we imagined back in 2000, finally come to life, after 20 years of technical and creative innovation.
Sure, there were bugs in the build and clearly more work to do. But this concept art by Martin Deschambault (one of the many incredible pieces he’s made for the game):
It encapsulates all the excitement and curiosity and joy I felt on my first journey through Zeta Halo, the most mysterious, dangerous, and possibility-rich place in the entire Halo universe. Everywhere I looked, I saw choices:
Do I explore off the golden path? Assault that Banished war base guarding the valley pass? Follow a flight of Forerunner Sentinels into that unexpected cavern? Rescue a squad of marines dug-in and desperate halfway up that mountain? Or do I keep pulling the mainline story thread that feels epic and intimate at the exact same time?
Truly, Halo Infinite is a world in which I love spending time and that I’m thrilled to return to, both as a designer and a player. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your patience and your passion. We can’t wait for you to join us on the Halo Infinite adventure, first with Insider flighting later next year, and then when we ship in Fall 2021.
In the meantime, I hope all of you have a restful Holiday season. We’ll catch you in the new year!