Bungie is a history by itself. They have been in the front row when it concerns development of games for Macintosh-computers and they have made series like Myth and Marathon. Now they are mostly concerned about Xbox and from what it looks, they seem to be pretty far ahead there too. Mostly because they are behind one of the most succsesful and praised games, Halo, so we took a chance and asked Jaime Griesemer(designer at Bungie) a couple of questions.
GR: When Bungie left the PC and Mac-players (especially the Mac-players) and started to work with Xbox it came alot of criticism towards the company. How does it feel, did you ever regret that decision?
Jaime: We dont regret anything. Bungie has never been dedicated to a certain type of platform, we just want to be the leaders on that platform we are developing for. When we saw the opportunity too enter the Xbox-market with full support by Microsoft, and too some part be there and define the first generation of Xbox-titles, we didnt hesitate once. The Xbox-community was young and unformed almost like the Mac-gamers community was when we enterd it, and that was the thing that pulled us into it.
GR: Is Halo in anyway ment like a tribute too Marathon, considering the Marathon-symbol in the Halo-logo?
Jaime: I would really like to see Halo as the "spritual succsesor" to Marathon. It's not a direct continuance of the same story, but the theme and the gameplay is definitly connecting the two games.
GR: When Halo still was under development too the PC and Mac, it was said that the gameplay would mean that the humans would lead a guerilla-war against the Covenant. This was underlined by amongst other things the E3-movie from 2000. How come these elements were toned down and the game took on more of an RPG-style?
Jaime: The feeling that was set with the first movies was defenitly more desperate and the humans was clearly outnumberd. But we wanted that Master Chief would change that and fight the Covenant directly. So the earlier missions have more of a guerilla-warfare in them and the longer the game goes on the more corageous and effective the humans become in fighting back.
GR: How long into the development-fase was Halo when Microsoft came in and wanted it for their Xbox?
Jaime: We were far enough into the development to show them the potential of Halo, but we were far from a retail-version. We had a stable Engine but no AI and the story was still under development, we had no playable missions yet either.
GR: It was said that some of the things in Halo had to be remade for the Xbox-players. Is this why certain elements we had seen before never was in the final release? What did you have to remake?
Jaime: Most things we had to redo was in the artistic part. We remade the models with higher polygon-numbers, improved the textures and redesigned some of the characters. Normaly we just took out things that wasnt entertaining or didnt have the same standard as the rest of the game.
GR: Now after the release, is it anything you wish that Bungie had made different with Halo?
Jaime: It's hard to tell. Everything we did was well thought through. It looked good at the moment, and it still does. I guess if i had to chose something to change, i would like to make some of the maps shorter. We could have made them more unique and it wouldnt have hurt the gameplay at all.
GR: Did you ever think that Halo would make such an impression at the release?
Jaime: We were very happy with the results, so we anticipated a certain effect, from critics, from our fans and some new gamers that hasnt played any of our other games before. We didnt anticipate that we would get such an effect at the Xbox-release. Halo was made with hardcore-gamers in mind, but many that play the game have never played any other FPS-games before, and they really lived their way into the game. It is a top-score to have achived this.
GR: Halo's release is nothing but a succses, but what form of criticism have you got, and do you lissen to it?
Jaime:We do acctually lissen more to criticism then cheers. It is sometimes tempting to calm down and rest on old merits, but when i feel like that i usually read some of the more harsh reviews. Much of the criticism was justified and belive me, noone knows the games flaws better then the developers.
GR: Gamers out there are screaming for a new Halo- game, and according to Official Xbox Magazine UK has Jay Allard(one of the creators behind the Xbox) told them that there is a sequal in production at the moment, and that the game is due for cristhmas 2003. Can you comment this?
Jaime: Bungie doesnt advertise new games to some random reporter. We do it with fireworks and fanfares, to make an impression and to make sure what is going on. We dont discuss future projects yet, but belive me, when Bungie admits something, you will certainly know.
GR: Alot of people want an Xbox Live-version of Halo with more Multiplayer-things. Do we have any chance of seeing an update or expansion for the present Halo?
Jaime: Unfortunatly Halo wasnt made with the possibilty to add things, so it wont be any updates or expansions. We are interested by Xbox Live and we are eger to make online games, but it wont be a scratchup expansion.
GR: Ofcourse alot of Mac and PC-gamers want a version of Halo to play. But it hasnt been any official statements about this. In an attempt to stop circling like a cat around the hot oatmeal, will Halo be released for PC and Mac, and are these two versions in production now?
Jaime: I think this is coverd by our "no comments to some random reporter"-rule which Bungie has when it concerns admitting something. We do know that people are tired of waiting.
GR: With Sony in a comforting lead, and nintendo with its fans, how do you think that the Xbox can compete with the others in this marathon-war?
Jaime: It is really important too underline that this is a marathon, not a sprint-race. The more u look at the longterm, the better it looks for the Xbox. It has the most powerful hardware, something that will be very important when the consol ages through the generations. It has built-in network-capabilities and an online-part which is the future in gaming. It has equipment like a built-in harddrive and Dolby 5.1 which gives the developers alot of space to grow in. Im pretty sure about the longterm views on the Xbox.
GR: And finally, is it anything you wish to say to all your scandinavian fans out there?
Jaime: I wish i could express how cool it even is to have scandinavian fans. Too imagine that somewhere on the other side of the planet there is people sitting in their sofas and talking trash about each other in a language i dont even understand, and having fun when they are killing each other in a game that i have created. Its a wonderful feeling.