Marcus Lehto co-created Halo, and his latest game is all at once surprisingly close to and a million miles away from Master Chief’s adventures. The biggest marketing feather in Distintegration’s cap is the identity of its creator – but in a sense that fact also misleads. When you hear a game is...
Disintegration began life as a much more traditional RTS – as we learned in our chat with Marcus Lehto…
VG247: I’ve got to say, I was really surprised when I first sat down to play the game and realized what it was. But it’s refreshing! There’s enough pure shooters in the world, right?
Marcus Lehto: That’s what we thought too!
VG247: So, I know everybody is going to ask you about Halo, but… do you feel like there’s a direct lineage here from when Halo began life as a real-time strategy game, then gradually morphed into a shooter throughout development?
Marcus Lehto: Well, you know… it was completely unintentional, but it’s eeriely similar to how Halo started, yeah. We did actually start this game as a real-time tactics game. It was like a spiritual successor to Myth: The Fallen Lords, one of the first games that I actually started working on with Bungie way back in 1996. That’s how Halo started – it was a reskinning of Myth.
But when we started this game, we actually did have a functional real-time tactics game up and running. We built a prototype with units on the ground similar to some of the forms of some of the units we have in the game now. The units were running around on the map and you were this god camera in the sky and you could select and move units around… it was fun. It was okay, and we actually thought it was pretty cool, but we thought – there’s a million of them out there like that. Why chase the tail of all these other real-time tactics game. But also why make, on the other side of things, a first person shooter that’s like all the other first-person shooters?
But we love shooters. I love action games and in particular I love action games that give the player a lot of agency and investment in what they’re doing. That’s when we had this idea. I woke up at like three in the morning and I was like ‘Ah! I think we’re gonna try this!’ And that was… we’re gonna take the camera that’s in the sky and turn it into an actual vehicle, this grav-cycle. We’ll put the player into the seat of that vehicle and give them offensive and defensive weapons and allow them, through some new mechanic that we have to invent, to command those units on the ground in a really fluid kind of way.
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