Marty O'Donnell Interview with HiddenXperia

Interview

HiddenXperia had a really cool and lengthy interview with Marty O’Donnell the other day. I haven’t watched the whole thing but one topic stood out to me in relation to Infinite. Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad. It just got me thinking that I know there’s people worried about how it’s been so long and we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… maybe that’s actually a good sign. Maybe it’s a sign that they’re way more focused on building the actual game than some fancy mind blowing demo. That’s what I hope at least.

> 2533275031939856;1:
> InterviewHiddenXperia had a really cool and lengthy interview with Marty O’Donnell the other day. I haven’t watched the whole thing but one topic stood out to me in relation to Infinite. Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad. It just got me thinking that I know there’s people worried about how it’s been so long and we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… maybe that’s actually a good sign. Maybe it’s a sign that they’re way more focused on building the actual game than some fancy mind blowing demo. That’s what I hope at least.

Yea also bungie knew from the get go the Activision deal was terrible

> 2533274867591496;2:
> > 2533275031939856;1:
> > InterviewHiddenXperia had a really cool and lengthy interview with Marty O’Donnell the other day. I haven’t watched the whole thing but one topic stood out to me in relation to Infinite. Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad. It just got me thinking that I know there’s people worried about how it’s been so long and we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… maybe that’s actually a good sign. Maybe it’s a sign that they’re way more focused on building the actual game than some fancy mind blowing demo. That’s what I hope at least.
>
> Yea also bungie knew from the get go the Activision deal was terrible

Yeah I think they knew it was going to be bad but from the sounds of it they were the only publisher they talked to that would at least let Bungie own the rights. Guess that was most important to them. Kinda blows my mind that maybe if MS would’ve let Bungie own the rights they could’ve resigned them and they’d still probably be MS exclusive.

> 2533275031939856;3:
> > 2533274867591496;2:
> > > 2533275031939856;1:
> > > InterviewHiddenXperia had a really cool and lengthy interview with Marty O’Donnell the other day. I haven’t watched the whole thing but one topic stood out to me in relation to Infinite. Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad. It just got me thinking that I know there’s people worried about how it’s been so long and we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… maybe that’s actually a good sign. Maybe it’s a sign that they’re way more focused on building the actual game than some fancy mind blowing demo. That’s what I hope at least.
> >
> > Yea also bungie knew from the get go the Activision deal was terrible
>
> Yeah I think they knew it was going to be bad but from the sounds of it they were the only publisher they talked to that would at least let Bungie own the rights. Guess that was most important to them. Kinda blows my mind that maybe if MS would’ve let Bungie own the rights they could’ve resigned them and they’d still probably be MS exclusive.

The unfortunate bit is that Bungie knew it was a bad deal going in, but still went with it for just that one detail, and Activision still dug its claws into the game left and right. If Bungie went with Microsoft, they could have at least maybe negotiated an IP transfer later on.

Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, I guess. Would have been interesting to see where Destiny would have gone under Microsoft, though.

> 2533275031939856;1:
> InterviewHiddenXperia had a really cool and lengthy interview with Marty O’Donnell the other day. I haven’t watched the whole thing but one topic stood out to me in relation to Infinite. Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad. It just got me thinking that I know there’s people worried about how it’s been so long and we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… maybe that’s actually a good sign. Maybe it’s a sign that they’re way more focused on building the actual game than some fancy mind blowing demo. That’s what I hope at least.

I hope you’re right on the whole “busy making the actual game” thing. They really need to get Infinite right, for them and Microsoft as a whole.

Personally I thought there are alot more things to take away greater than what is being discussed here. Hes mentioned some very important things that halo 2 did wrong in his opinion. . . from our observations we see that halo 5 repeated. Like narrative. To O’donell, master cheif is you. He liked the manner in which the transition between in game and cutscenes was handled as a seamless expereince. He didnt want the game to remind us that its a game.

When he mentioned that i thought about the last trailer we got from halo infinite… where you are in the persective of the masterchief as his armor boots up, and then as he starts to move the seamless transition that allows you to see him from another perspective. I liked that very much. I think that moves in the direction described by Marty.

The whole drama of bungie, activitsion, and microsoft are things I absolutely loathe talking about. its the past. its over. There is absolutely no reason to discuss that. It wont benifit anyone. Crappy companies are crappy? waw wats new.

Back on topic, Another thing mentioned was his love for halo 1, and looking at the direction halo infinite is taking , im pleasantly onboard the new direction the franchise is heading with its themes, art, and potentially its story telling.

> 2533274814945686;6:
> Personally I thought there are alot more things to take away greater than what is being discussed here. Hes mentioned some very important things that halo 2 did wrong in his opinion. . . from our observations we see that halo 5 repeated. Like narrative. To O’donell, master cheif is you. He liked the manner in which the transition between in game and cutscenes was handled as a seamless expereince. He didnt want the game to remind us that its a game.
>
> When he mentioned that i thought about the last trailer we got from halo infinite… where you are in the persective of the masterchief as his armor boots up, and then as he starts to move the seamless transition that allows you to see him from another perspective. I liked that very much. I think that moves in the direction described by Marty.
>
> The whole drama of bungie, activitsion, and microsoft are things I absolutely loathe talking about. its the past. its over. There is absolutely no reason to discuss that. It wont benifit anyone. Crappy companies are crappy? waw wats new.
>
> Back on topic, Another thing mentioned was his love for halo 1, and looking at the direction halo infinite is taking , im pleasantly onboard the new direction the franchise is heading with its themes, art, and potentially its story telling.

IMO Halo 2 nailed its story, but fell back in some gameplay aspects. Admittedly, Halo CE feels more like an exploration/adventure than any other Halo game and that is probably the x factor most classic fans cling to when thinking about it. It was the first entry, it was new and it was mysterious and part of the thrill and wonder was becoming acquainted with that world for the first time. That same magic could never be captured again because, plain and simply, the magic came from it being an experiment, not a successor. That is what’s so special about CE.

I needn’t mention that recapturing that same feeling would be damn near impossible, given how many Halo games there are at this point, most people know what to expect. But, with some very careful consideration and deliberate design choices they could, in a sense, recapture the magic of the original to a degree. They said it themselves, Infinite is a “spiritual reboot”, which is to say it is an attempt to deliver what CE did, but with modern graphics and technology. Infinite will never be able to feel new, but it can sure as hell feel nostalgic and be good.

> 2535419393377481;7:
> > 2533274814945686;6:
> > Personally I thought there are alot more things to take away greater than what is being discussed here. Hes mentioned some very important things that halo 2 did wrong in his opinion. . . from our observations we see that halo 5 repeated. Like narrative. To O’donell, master cheif is you. He liked the manner in which the transition between in game and cutscenes was handled as a seamless expereince. He didnt want the game to remind us that its a game.
> >
> > When he mentioned that i thought about the last trailer we got from halo infinite… where you are in the persective of the masterchief as his armor boots up, and then as he starts to move the seamless transition that allows you to see him from another perspective. I liked that very much. I think that moves in the direction described by Marty.
> >
> > The whole drama of bungie, activitsion, and microsoft are things I absolutely loathe talking about. its the past. its over. There is absolutely no reason to discuss that. It wont benifit anyone. Crappy companies are crappy? waw wats new.
> >
> > Back on topic, Another thing mentioned was his love for halo 1, and looking at the direction halo infinite is taking , im pleasantly onboard the new direction the franchise is heading with its themes, art, and potentially its story telling.
>
> IMO Halo 2 nailed its story, but fell back in some gameplay aspects. Admittedly, Halo CE feels more like an exploration/adventure than any other Halo game and that is probably the x factor most classic fans cling to when thinking about it. It was the first entry, it was new and it was mysterious and part of the thrill and wonder was becoming acquainted with that world for the first time. That same magic could never be captured again because, plain and simply, the magic came from it being an experiment, not a successor. That is what’s so special about CE.
>
> I needn’t mention that recapturing that same feeling would be damn near impossible, given how many Halo games there are at this point, most people know what to expect. But, with some very careful consideration and deliberate design choices they could, in a sense, recapture the magic of the original to a degree. They said it themselves, Infinite is a “spiritual reboot”, which is to say it is an attempt to deliver what CE did, but with modern graphics and technology. Infinite will never be able to feel new, but it can sure as hell feel nostalgic and be good.

Halo 2 actually happens to be my favorite halo. I just thought Marty’s take on what could have been better is interesting and im openminded towards the criticism he provided. His criticisms werent neccesarily about the story, but rather on how the narrative goes about telling the story. In other words, putting you in the shoes of a character that you can barely share experiences with (the arbiter) while that character being a central peice to moving the story onward. He said that it would have been more fitting for you to play as a side elite with little dialogue, while playing along side the arbiter.
I think what you say about halo 1 is largely true. I wonder if they can recapture that feeling of new. I wouldnt say its impossible, but I will agree that to recapture that feeling would be rather difficult. They almost had me in that space with the slipspace tech demo we got and they certainly got me in that space when we were at the end of the second trailer we got. But I do believe to get us into that mindset throughout the entire game is as you have mentioned impossible. I just hope for enough suprises and wonder to captivate me and keep me interested and invested in the universe.

> 2535419393377481;7:
> Infinite will never be able to feel new, but it can sure as hell feel nostalgic and be good.

Nostalgia is ultimately a pretty shallow pleasure. I don’t want Infinite leaning too heavily on nostalgia, I want it to shine in its own way. I personally hope it feels more new than nostalgic.

What shocked me was that MS deliberately forbade CEA and H2A’s audio team from contacting Marty and had to reconstruct the old music by ear. Since MCC is still being worked on, I really hope one day they can properly rework the music with Marty’s help.

> 2535472130922237;10:
> What shocked me was that MS deliberately forbade CEA and H2A’s audio team from contacting Marty and had to reconstruct the old music by ear. Since MCC is still being worked on, I really hope one day they can properly rework the music with Marty’s help.

Yeah that confused me as well. I don’t see a logical reason not to especially since he was willing to consult. Maybe they thought it was just better to stay away because he was with Bungie and they broke away MS and they didn’t want to potentially get into some bull legalities, I dunno.

> 2533275031939856;11:
> > 2535472130922237;10:
> > What shocked me was that MS deliberately forbade CEA and H2A’s audio team from contacting Marty and had to reconstruct the old music by ear. Since MCC is still being worked on, I really hope one day they can properly rework the music with Marty’s help.
>
> Yeah that confused me as well. I don’t see a logical reason not to especially since he was willing to consult. Maybe they thought it was just better to stay away because he was with Bungie and they broke away MS and they didn’t want to potentially get into some bull legalities, I dunno.

That said, he was fired from Bungie in 2014 and founded his new studio in 2015, yet Infinite’s team still never approached him, despite clearly using his past works as important inspiration and Marty’s own willingness plus availability this time. So mind-boggling. I mean even EA managed to reunite the team for C&C Remastered.

It was also pretty interesting to learn that Bungie always wanted to make Halo 2 and 3. Reading somewhere a few years before, I always thought that Halo 2 was made more out of MS’s demand than their own choice (hence the headless drag and crunch), and Halo 3 was made out of necessity because they previously had to abandon the Earth and Ark levels to make the deadline (hence H2’s cliffhanger).

> 2535472130922237;13:
> It was also pretty interesting to learn that Bungie always wanted to make Halo 2 and 3. Reading somewhere a few years before, I always thought that Halo 2 was made more out of MS’s demand than their own choice (hence the headless drag and crunch), and Halo 3 was made out of necessity because they previously had to abandon the Earth and Ark levels to make the deadline (hence H2’s cliffhanger).

I think how the usual story goes is that after Halo CE, everyone really did want to make Halo 2, but that that was always meant to be the finisher. There would’ve been no Halo 3 if the development of Halo 2 had gone to plan. Halo 3 might as well be called Halo 2: part 2. This doesn’t really contradict what Marty said, because of course after Halo 2 everyone would’ve felt the need to give the story proper closure, and Halo 3 allowed them to expand what they had planned.

> 2533274825830455;14:
> > 2535472130922237;13:
> > It was also pretty interesting to learn that Bungie always wanted to make Halo 2 and 3. Reading somewhere a few years before, I always thought that Halo 2 was made more out of MS’s demand than their own choice (hence the headless drag and crunch), and Halo 3 was made out of necessity because they previously had to abandon the Earth and Ark levels to make the deadline (hence H2’s cliffhanger).
>
> I think how the usual story goes is that after Halo CE, everyone really did want to make Halo 2, but that that was always meant to be the finisher. There would’ve been no Halo 3 if the development of Halo 2 had gone to plan. Halo 3 might as well be called Halo 2: part 2. This doesn’t really contradict what Marty said, because of course after Halo 2 everyone would’ve felt the need to give the story proper closure, and Halo 3 allowed them to expand what they had planned.

It would be really nice if somebody could someday gather all the people related to pre-343i Halos(not just Bungie but also Apple, Microsoft etc.) and all the source materials (sketches/code/records etc.) possible to make a “definitive” documentary about the topic. Right now what we have are just bits and pieces here and there without one single truely comprehensive whole picture. Quite a pity.

H1’s success tremendously exceeded everybody’s expectations, so I’d like to know if Bungie had a desire to make H2 before or after H1’s release. If before, then why did H2’s early development suffered from confused direction and headless leadership as many claimed to happen, since they already planned a sequel prior to H1’s launch in this occassion? If after, then given H1’s success MS obviously desired a sequel as well, so what was the main drive behind H2, Bungie’s passion or MS’s demands? And what did Bungie had in mind for H1 since the real beginning, from the days when it was still a RTS concept? How did their visions change over time and what was behind the changes?

H1’s story was pretty complete that it could’ve just ended there. It started all of a sudden in wake of an emergency and concluded in tranquility after a bang, leaving Chief’s fate to imagination but no true clue lines (Spark flew over after credits, but that could just be a fun sign-off instead of a serious hint). Johnson was still more of a general NPC abeit slightly more unique than others, and even Cortana was not so fleshed out (and looked so different from later titles that there were clearly major design changes instead of mere technical improvements). All these suggest H1 being an one-off experiment. But prior to H1’s launch The Fall of Reach hit shelves, vastly and seriously building up the lore, which supports the theory of Bungie’s serial-approach plan, though Bungie’s attitudes toward the books are debatable as Marty said they didn’t care.

From MS’s perspective, I want to learn why they set H2 to ship on Xbox rather than give Bungie one extra year and make it debut with X360? Did MS not have 360 devkits until too late? And given H1&2’s success, why didn’t they and Bungie ever fix their backward-compatibility issues on the 360, leaving fans since then who wanted to play H2 with other choice than to find a physical disc, until MCC! They ported both games to PC and even made a Custom Edition but dropped 360!

Guess we won’t ever get detailed answers to those decisions though, sigh.

> 2533275031939856;1:
> InterviewHiddenXperia had a really cool and lengthy interview with Marty O’Donnell the other day. I haven’t watched the whole thing but one topic stood out to me in relation to Infinite. Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad. It just got me thinking that I know there’s people worried about how it’s been so long and we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… maybe that’s actually a good sign. Maybe it’s a sign that they’re way more focused on building the actual game than some fancy mind blowing demo. That’s what I hope at least.

The lack of any demo or gameplay footage looks like they are spending no time to making any fancy demos. We would have seen it by now. This show on the 23rd will most likely be footage from a near-finished game (unlike Halo 2’s demo).
I think Halo 5’s demo was also almost 1:1 with the game that we got.

> 2533275031939856;1:
> Marty talks about how during Halo 2’s development they focused too much on giving fans a good show in the form of an E3 demo and not enough focus on the game itself. It got to the point where the entire demo wasn’t even in the game. Because of this, so much was scrapped and the crunch was infamously bad.

Not to mention the original Xbox couldn’t handle what the E3 demo could do, which is the main reason they scraped it. But man, I remember when they unveiled that E3 demo and it was like seeing the face of God.

The Act Man also had an interview with Marty and it was good as well (each interview references the other).

> 2535472130922237;15:
> It would be really nice if somebody could someday gather all the people related to pre-343i Halos(not just Bungie but also Apple, Microsoft etc.) and all the source materials (sketches/code/records etc.) possible to make a “definitive” documentary about the topic. Right now what we have are just bits and pieces here and there without one single truely comprehensive whole picture. Quite a pity.
>
> H1’s success tremendously exceeded everybody’s expectations, so I’d like to know if Bungie had a desire to make H2 before or after H1’s release. If before, then why did H2’s early development suffered from confused direction and headless leadership as many claimed to happen, since they already planned a sequel prior to H1’s launch in this occassion? If after, then given H1’s success MS obviously desired a sequel as well, so what was the main drive behind H2, Bungie’s passion or MS’s demands? And what did Bungie had in mind for H1 since the real beginning, from the days when it was still a RTS concept? How did their visions change over time and what was behind the changes?
>
> H1’s story was pretty complete that it could’ve just ended there. It started all of a sudden in wake of an emergency and concluded in tranquility after a bang, leaving Chief’s fate to imagination but no true clue lines (Spark flew over after credits, but that could just be a fun sign-off instead of a serious hint). Johnson was still more of a general NPC abeit slightly more unique than others, and even Cortana was not so fleshed out (and looked so different from later titles that there were clearly major design changes instead of mere technical improvements). All these suggest H1 being an one-off experiment. But prior to H1’s launch The Fall of Reach hit shelves, vastly and seriously building up the lore, which supports the theory of Bungie’s serial-approach plan, though Bungie’s attitudes toward the books are debatable as Marty said they didn’t care.
>
> From MS’s perspective, I want to learn why they set H2 to ship on Xbox rather than give Bungie one extra year and make it debut with X360? Did MS not have 360 devkits until too late? And given H1&2’s success, why didn’t they and Bungie ever fix their backward-compatibility issues on the 360, leaving fans since then who wanted to play H2 with other choice than to find a physical disc, until MCC! They ported both games to PC and even made a Custom Edition but dropped 360!
>
> Guess we won’t ever get detailed answers to those decisions though, sigh.

What you’re asking for is basically this article: The Complete, Untold History of Halo (archived). In particular, it makes it pretty clear that the idea for Halo 2 came from Bungie. Here are the relevant quotes:

Marty O’Donnell:

> At some point in early 2002, Jason [Jones] came to me and said, “Marty, you know, I think we should really work on Halo 2. I’ve got a bunch of ideas I want to do.”

Jaime Griesemer:

> Everybody wanted to do a sequel, because there was so much cut out of Halo that we basically had enough ideas and concepts to make another game.

They didn’t plan for it prior to Halo CE. And I think here it’s relevant to understand that Bungie at the time wasn’t like the well-organized, corporate triple-A studios of today. They didn’t have a grand plan for the next N years. They were used to acting more spontaneously. If they had been entirely satisfied with CE, there probably wouldn’t have been a sequel.

What stays with me from that video is how Marty said he never complained more about anything than Halo CE being garbage in it’s newer versions. Only the original release works properly.

Based on Act Man’s interview and Xperia’s I feel like Marty wouldn’t mind returning to Halo. I really hope some day during an interview with 343/Microsoft they explain why they don’t seem to want Marty back. With so many changes to Halo since the Bungie days, I really do miss his music. Although the sound track for 4 and 5 aren’t bad, I don’t feel there are even remotely close to the art Marty has left behind. Fingers crossed that he will return to Halo someday.