- Jul 6, 2014
Very much worth the read! Thanks a lot for this!
It's been said before but to get Bungies best work you need to give them a small timeframe and limited budget. When you say "Have 3 years and unlimited money" to them they churn out disappointments like Halo 2 and Destiny (halo 2 only disappointing in campaign, multiplayer was incredible).
The story of Halo 2 is everything* that is wrong with game development.
Throwing out too much working code, reinventing wheels, over-promising, under-delivering. They had a perfectly good** engine with Halo 1. Stick with that. Developers in all walks of life, games to business apps*** to who knows what else, are always seduced by the grand rewrite in the sky, the promise of doing it better next time, "yeah the old code works but it's ugly," etc., when they lose sight of the simple fact that your old product worked and people liked it. Instead, they throw it out, rebuild it, and find in doing so that it takes too long, goes over budget, and everybody comes away wondering why didn't some promise get fulfilled or what happened to some previous feature. Using the previous engine and staying within its confines would have been perfectly acceptable and the game could have been delivered sooner.
That said, Halo 2 was obviously wildly successful, so you know, cry more tears or whatever.
Regarding the actual demo, I never had a problem that the specific level or sequence was not featured in the game. (My problems were more with the quick divergence from First Strike, and fear that "the great journey" would be woefully unfulfilling, which it ultimately was.) The absence of the demo, the cliffhanger ending? Non-stories, as far as I was concerned.
*not literally everything
**not literally perfect, but it worked. If it ain't broke....
***been there, done that, dumb idea
did we as gamers get ANY inkling that shit went wrong before the french leak? to my admittedly poor memory it was literally a surprise that the game was quite a bit different and the e3 demo wasnt in the game in any sense. is this right?
What makes it worse is that they acted like they didn't know it couldn't run on Xbox when they implemented features that would render a consumer version useless.Of all the "downgrades," this one hurt the most I think. It's probably not fair, but I view any E3 presentation that looks too good to be true with a certain amount of suspicion because of it.
It did run on Xbox according to everything they've said, and they did originally intend to ship the game with that system. At some level it wasn't that crazy of an idea; unified lighting+shadowing stencil systems were a cool new thing that was also being pursued by Id, and when they used expensive cutting-edge shading that could occasionally spike and cause drops in Halo 1, it had ultimately worked out okay.What makes it worse is that they acted like they didn't know it couldn't run on Xbox when they implemented features that would render a consumer version useless.
It did run on Xbox according to everything they've said, and they did originally intend to ship the game with that system. At some level it wasn't that crazy of an idea; unified lighting+shadowing stencil systems were a cool new thing that was also being pursued by Id, and when they used expensive cutting-edge shading that could occasionally spike and cause drops in Halo 1, it had ultimately worked out okay.
The issue is that stencil systems can experience aggressive fillrate spikes when used in complex environments (depending on the extent to which silhouette extrusions are currently filling the screen), and it can be hard to mitigate it without causing major graphical problems. Which is an area that had been well explored... by absolutely nobody until Bungie put a serious effort into integrating it into representative Halo environments, in the same period of time they were putting the E3 demo together. Sure enough, shortly thereafter is when they ditched the system.
They probably should have planned better on an engineering level. They maybe could have been more honest about the rebuild. But at the time, they weren't lying about intending to use the original approach.
See, most sites have a rule that they only give awards to games that they can play or are played by someone else -- as opposed to trailers.
Very nice work. How long did it take for you to put all this together?
If I recall correctly Bungie had 3 dev kits sync'd running the demo so it could crunch it. Someone correct or confirm my old man memory...
Dev kit to consumer box memory ratio is correct. I doubt anyone actually forgot that. If my recollection is correct, at one point the game was running on four Xboxen in tandem during development. I still need to watch that one hour anniversary documentary so I am probably losing some facts to history. This game and Half-Life 2 sure seemed to change a lot in their last 18 months of development.I remember reading somewhere that Bungie forgot that consumer Xboxes only had half the amount of RAM that their dev kits had. Is that even true?
Damn you for planting these awesome ideas in my head.
We really only cut one thing...and I'm not allowed to talk about it. Let's just say if you thought the Brute boarding the Warthog was cool, this would have been, without a doubt, too cool for school. Or at least too big to fit into the classroom.
Joe Staten said:Some of the same elements, but, I mean, the one thing we didn't have in the E3 trailer, right, was the huge giant Covenant walking tank.
Amazing thread, incredible work OP!
Halo 2's development has always absolutely fascinated me. I'd love to play that demo for myself one day and see some footage of the cut levels.
I think I remember hearing in an interview once that Bungie have all the dialogue recorded for the original ending of the game... Hearing that is like my gaming holy grail.