Halo 4 explained by a experienced developer *A Must Read*

Okay, Some of you know me some of you don’t, I am a experienced game developer with knowledge and hands on experience in game production, The sole purpose of this post is to help educate people on these forums so they stop posting threads where they have no idea what they are talking about.

About me…
In short I am a environment artist and make games. In long I am an experienced programmer and artist and have experience producing games using and producing game engines, I have experience with Unreal, Unity, Source and the CryEngine 3.

Got a question ask me?
On a new post here I have started taking any question you have like will there be a beta and will Halo 4 look like Halo: Reach check it out.
http://halo.xbox.com/forums/general/f/14/p/15075/119684.aspx#119684

The typical under educated post…
Okay so the main reason I posted this is because of a thread titled “Do you think Halo 4 will have a new engine?”, To start off my post I am going to explain why this is a really poor question.

Game engine’s 101, So a game engine what is it and what does it do? Well its a software package made up of several core parts, The core functionality of modern game engines is to produce a 3D environment and that’s the level you play oh and create a user control system that lets you interact with it.

As the game engine is made up of parts the components can be removed, replaced or upgraded with ease. Saving money, time and resources.

I read somewhere recently that by 2015 the cost to produce a video game will rise from today’s $40 Million USD to around $75 Million. Making games is by no stretch cheap. So studio have to keep costs down to keep their company afloat. Not to mention the time it take to properly build and test a new engine that would end up setting the company back years and more money. Not anyone can create a game engine it takes very skilled programmers that a very small number of studios can afford to employ. 343 are luckily supported by MS so they would have the funding but its never ever worth creating a entire new engine.

The reason game studios rebuild and upgrade engine’s is due to bugs and testing. If you were to print out the source code behind a game engine take the Unreal engine that produced Gears of War for example on a normal printer you’d probably be printing for at least a year. There is so so much advanced code just one letter out of place in all of that could cause a single bug or security flaw.

Lets look at Halo now for a second, Halo: Reach is using the same engine as the original Combat Evolved its just been upgraded so the current Halo engine has been under test for over ten years (The engine was built two years before CE’s release). So therefore all the major bugs and security flaws have been found.

Hopefully your starting to understand what I’m getting at, Why start from scratch when you have a more than perfect base to build from. Very basically “NO GAME STUDIO EVER RESTARTS FROM SCRATCH!” Even new engines such as Frostbite 2 (Battlefield) is a upgraded version of the Frostbite 2 engine. The same with the CRYENGINE 3, Unreal 3, Unity 3D and nearly every other AAA rated game’s game engine out there. Yes there is exceptions but the general rule is to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade.

How a game is built.

Phase 1: Pre production
What happens

  • Creating a storyline
  • Creating concept art
  • Mapping out ideas
  • Collecting resources such as textures for use in the game engine.

Phase 2: Production
As there is no real set way for production of a game basically during production the game engine is upgraded, Level designers make levels, maps or scenes out of blocks and test them to ensure a great gameplay experience then environment artists come along to turn a block out map into a real engaging environment, The audio guys make pretty music. Animators make everything including your player move, Script monkeys (Programmers) come in and script out interactive parts of the game such as objectives, buttons, navigation and a tonne more. UI artists make the menu’s and HUD. Network developers make the game so you can play with your friends and try to prefect it so you can do so without interference such as LAG.

I cannot express how sorry I am to all the people I missed off but the list who contribute in game production. (SORRY)

Phase 3: Testing
Once a game is in the testing phase very little is changed all that really happens is everyone plays the game and searches for bugs and imperfections that can be changed without risk of damaging more of the the game. Bugs are listed in order of severity and crushed as soon as possible.

Phase 4: Publishing and Release.
Ahh the final stage when the developers can take a rest, We finish our job and send the game off to be compiled and printed to disk from there into the case’s and off to ESRB and rating boards. Then the marketing team start throwing up ads across the world to hype people up to go and buy the game another really expensive part. Last week EA started a $60 million dollar campaign for Battlefield 3 and it is predicted by Xmas it will have doubled. Lastly the game is release people, buy it love it or loath it but complain either way.

Phase 5: Post production
A evaluation period where the company works out what was a success, What people liked, They may make more DLC and consider a sequel. Then the cycle starts again.

Let’s talk money (Speculation using know numbers and poor estimates)
So how much money do games make?

  • 40 Million (Adverage production cost)
  • 100 Million (Advertising)

At this point the game needs to make atleast 140 million to cover cost of production yet to cut off publishing costs and publishers cut.

So lets say the game sold 10 Million copy’s for example at an price of $18 at the time a game actually hits that many sales its gone down and with the cost to print and after the publishers cut $18 USD is a fairly good bet for what the studio will earn.

The game would make $180,000,000 take off the production and advertising that leaves $40,000,000 to split between all the staff and to make the next game.

Hopefully this has been educational, Please comment and support. Thanks

This is quite interesting.

well posted

Thanks man. I’m not as ignorant as most people and I realize that just because it isn’t a brand new engine doesn’t mean it isn’t better than before. Now i’m sure you know more about this stuff than me. But even engines with a different name isn’t necessarily a new engine. Like the Cry Engine 3 is just an upgrade from Cry 2. Not something completely different.

There is a pretty evident difference in the CE gfx and the gfx in Reach.

And in all honesty, I don’t really care how good the graphics are. As long as the gameplay is good. I wan’t it to look good, but I’m not a graphic -Yoink!- like some people.

Holy smokes. Someone that actually understands stuff!!! I was just asking around on twitter if the “I can code a game so you better listen to me” threads arrived. This is not one of them, but I had to comment because this is the kind of thread that should be written sometimes to stop the “I can code better than a professional” spam threads.

I would like to someday see a new engine that will make Halo’s competitors whimper in the corner. Thanks for posting this thread. I hope it gets the attention it deserves - because you actually come across as someone that knows “what’s up”.

-I am not a 343i employee.

wow thats basically what my microsoft friend explained to me

but not in that much detail. nice post :slight_smile:

Very nice post, a most informative read, I concede. This explains a lot of things that people don’t realize.

Can we get this thread pinned?

By the way. If you are intrested in creating a game of your own(since you mentioned Unity 3d) You can download Unity 3d for free. At: http://unity3d.com/ Just download the indie version(it is free and you can use it forever and ever).
Project made with Unity 3D.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rx7xeqadFQ

And this is cool:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gONbzzG2fik

I dont know why I posted this. But I myself got drawn to game development myself thanks to the Halo franchise.

A resounding thank you for this post OP. I really appreciated your succinct definition of game engines. I had been educating myself on what a game engine is, but it is nice to see a well thought out post here.

<4

Thank you, OP.

SO we can expect Halo 4 to look somewhat similar to Reach, due to limitations.

This makes perfect sense.

> Very nice post, a most informative read, I concede. This explains a lot of things that people don’t realize.
>
> Can we get this thread pinned?

Great read, thanks OP.

<4 <343

Excellent post. Thanks for putting in so much time!

Great Post.

Nice post, definitely cleared some things up that I wasn’t sure of.

FAQ’s
In this section I will be answering any question’s you have about Game development, game engines, Halo’s technical limitations really anything you may want to know.

Q: Will Halo 4 look similar to Halo: Reach because of technical limitations?
A: To be honest yes and no, As I have no experience with the Halo engine I cannot really comment on the complexity of the engine however after following Bungie’s podcasts and updates I get the impression that it a well written engine that should be easy to upgrade.

Therefore 343 should be able to update any component to the engine so really there is no limitation to the changes they can implement so long as it is compatible with the other components. So you can expect engine upgrades and therefore parts like the renderer (The graphics bit for anyone out of the know) will probably be brought upto date. So there is all the possibility that the games will look different.

That is only on a engine based level the game will probably look “better” (I use the word with caution) as the game is set different to reach, Level designers and artists have a different canvas to work with, Basically its not the planet reach so its going to have different environments with different textures and surfaces!

Q: Will there be a public beta version release.
A: Well all game’s go under testing and a beta is a form of testing that which makes it different to a demo. It’s a really simple answer if 343 decide they have made a lot of changes to the game from a older version of Halo then it is likely they may release a beta version to allow users to express their opinions on the matter and to find problems or bugs with the changes.

My developer and Halo fan advice to 343 do not make the mistake Bungie made of releasing the beta too late. You need as much time between beta release and final release to take the community’s suggestions and to act upon them!

Got a question? Message me or post it below!

What games did you work on?

Thanks

> What games did you work on?
>
> Thanks

I work freelance on several projects.

I have contributed to development on games using UDK & The Unreal Engine by creating code and scripts that are used in may games, I have created bolt on applications for linking game data to MYSQL Databases. I have created 3D models and textures used in the game Killzone. I have used the software Mudbox by autodesk and Max & Maya to create models used in 3D building display models for the construction industry.

I am currently still in education but have been working on games for the last seven years starting off with using mod tools such as Hammer world editor, Crymod and the like. I then started producing games in UDK as part of sixth form I have been learning to use Unity. I got a version Cryengine 3 and have been studying advanced User interfacing. I used Source SDK for a month or two to create a 3D environment for my Sixth form application.

I have learnt over the years to programme in C++, The in’s and outs of game design and production.

I may still be in education starting my first year of sixth form this summer but I have a hell of a lot of experience and I know what I am talking about.

just wondering do you know how difficult it is to code bots for multiplayer and if it would be possible that we would see bots in halo 4?

i know its unlikely but i will always hope for halo to have bots