Greetings! I wanted to get this out before everything gets (rightly) swamped by Destiny news. Almost a week ago on February 10th, my birthday, I was able to sit down for a couple of co-op games with Dan Miller of Bungie. Destiny is just around the corner, so I figured let me celebrate another milestone for Bungie withHalo 3: The best campaign of their last game series.
Dotted throughout the picture story is Developer Insights into Halo 3 and ODST, from what I can remember. They’ll be clearly labelled if you want you can just skim through this and only read those. Didn’t have any time to re-size the screenshots (thanks to Over for rendering them), so I’ll just throw them into quotes. Click to biggify. Had to rush to get this out, so forgive any typos. Enjoy!
Skulls: Grunt Birthday Party (happy birthday to me!)
The onward push of "Tsavo Highway"
We both got killed very early on when two Grunts stuck both our Warthogs.
Developer Insight #1
Jason Jones likes to challenge people; he did that for the writing in Halo 2.
Had some trouble at The Bunker (of course!), specifically when we were trying to deal with the Chieftain and the Wraith at the same time, but we got through it when we nailed the Chieftain.
Developer Insight #2
The "battle" – I had a screenshot for this, but couldn’t get it rendered. You know that destroyed road leading to that wide, open area with the hill in the middle? Originally the level designer placed two Choppers there by themselves, but it looked weird. He then added an overturned Warthog in the back and the bodies of two dead Brutes to make it look like a battle had played out.
Dan got an awesome stick here; was able to use Chopper after that.
Developer Insight #3
Near the end of development of Halo 3, Jason Jones helped Dan design "Halo (3)."
The Pelican is a great piece of cover for some nice teamwork.
Developer Insight #4
Deliberate choice by Bungie to cut out an Arbiter "campaign" for Halo 3. They only wanted the Chief for a more focused campaign.
Fighting in the lake-beds of "The Storm"
Rollin’ on through…
Developer Insight #5
The lead designer (or mission designer) for "The Storm" and "The Covenant" was the same person, Mr. Niles.
Boarding the Scarab. Dan’s in the background on a Mongoose.
Developer Insight #6
Cortana moments originally had a disable function for replays and co-op, but wasn’t implemented in part because the feature couldn’t be completed in time and without any bugs.
Funny thing about this part. You know that little side door in this area? Where you can get the sniper? Dan didn’t know you could access that on this level.
Developer Insight #7
Yes, the folks at Bungie knew they were shipping a bad mission with "Cortana." One of the reasons "Cortana" turned out badly is because there wasn’t a specific level designer for it, and one of the reasons for that was because "Cortana" was originally going to be the second half of “Floodgate.” Can’t remember exactly why, but because of time constraints and other things, what became "Cortana" got separated and made into its own level.
With great strategy, no Chieftain is a match for this pair!
Developer Insight #8
The idea of an ODST campaign did not originate with Dan, but he did suggest at one point, when the idea was to get a one-year project out the door, that players experience prior Halo campaigns from the perspective of an ODST. They would take missions from prior Halo games and redesign them.
On the rolling hills of sand of "The Ark"
A bowl of death.
Developer Insight #9
Everyone here remembers the concept art for Forerunner City, right? Bungie cut that in part because, when they went through the concept art, they felt like they would have to give away too much about the Forerunners. Dan was originally assigned to this level and Guardian Forest.
Without vehicles, we approached this famous encounter on foot.
Developer Insight #10
You see that Forerunner wall in the background? That was supposed to be another way to drive vehicles into the area, but some play testers got confused. Bungie walled it off.
We were able to get a vehicle later on, and we tried to secure the Dawn’s landing zone in the Warthog. Didn’t work out to well, so after we died a couple of times we went in separate vehicles.
Developer Insight #11
Shade turrets, like the one next to the Wraith, originally had legs – like miniature version of a Scarab’s legs. The legs slowly moved the turrets so they could avoid incoming fire. This idea was tossed because the turrets looked stupid, and it didn’t make any sense for them to have legs.
Scarab fight. Dan takes this one out. I’m in the tank in the background.
Developer Insight #12
Guardian Forest. Most of us here know that Guardian was what remained of a campaign level that was cut, set in the same environment. Here’s a couple more details about it. The level was supposed to come after “The Ark” – Bungie didn’t like the idea of you taking down the Covenant in two levels – and it was going to be like New Alexandria. You had to go to three areas and activate a Forerunner device in each of them. When all three devices were primed, they’d release Forerunner sentinels (the ones that lined up like a train from Halo 2 and Halo 4) that acted as the Ark’s defense system. These sentinels were going to destroy the remainder of Truth’s fleet in space. Remember what the Elite said at the beginning of “The Ark”: “Brute ships, staggered line. Shipmaster, they outnumber us three to one.” Truth had a lot of ships.
"The Ark’s" last Chieftain fight. Dueled him before taking on his pack brothers.
A culmination, "The Covenant"
After the best "storm the beach" fight in any Halo game, Dan grabs a Mongoose and gives a Marine a fuel-rod gun. The results were impressive.
Developer Insight #13
One of Dan’s ideas that he pitched to allow players to navigate "Cortana" easier was to have footprints of Cortana on the ground pointing you where to go. As to how that would be possible, he likened that to how you saw Cortana at the end of "The Covenant."
First Brute Pack fight in the first tower. Dan almost took them all out himself (I had died early on), but then he failed too. Next time around I took out the chieftain.
Developer Insight #14
A troop-transport ‘Hog with a full complement of Marines, who each had a flak cannon, was internally called a "death blossom" – a reference to The Last Starfighter
Taking to the skies, here’s a picture of us destroying the most ineffective AA weapons of war of all time.
Never seen this happen before because I always took out the chieftain in this area first, but if you don’t kill him early enough, he’ll attack one of the Elite Phantoms and destroy it.
Developer Insight #15
There was some debate over what color the Elites’ Phantoms would be. Some originally thought they should be black, but even though they went with green, others thought it was still weird because nothing in the Covenant is green.
Us, dual-wielding our way through the Flood. Surprisingly effective.
Developer Insight #16
There’s motion blur on the elevators in "The Covenant." That was supposed to be turned off.
Here’s the first screenshot of us fighting the two Scarabs. I’m in the tank in the background, and Dan is in the sky.
Not too long after that, my tank got destroyed, so I found a Gauss Warthog that suited me just fine.
Developer Insight #17
Cortana and a Scarab. The level in which you rescued Cortana was going to be a "High Charity" level, not "Cortana" we ended up with. Here’s what was originally planned. You were supposed to, or rather the idea was that you were going to, fight the Gravemind, but not in a way you might think. You were going to retrieve Cortana, and a little after that you two were going to come across an abandoned Scarab with its hind legs ripped off. Seeing no other options, you were going to board the Scarab and insert Cortana so she could pilot it. After that, the Gravemind was going to appear, and Cortana was going to duke it out with him in the damaged Scarab while you were on board. You were going to help out by killing any Flood forms that made their way onto the Scarab, and shoot off any of Gravemind’s tentacles that tried to latch on.
And that’s it! Thanks so much to Dan for making me happy on my twenty-first birthday.