Thoughts on Halo 5 From a Game Designer

First a little background on myself: I’m a 3d animator and game designer, having worked on ESPN NFL 2K5 (and 6 before cancelation) and NBA 2K5-10, helping steer it away from the 2k4 low point to what it is today. I ran a successful educational app LLC for a few years before selling my ownership shares. I’m currently not in the video game industry but love Halo and want to give my thoughts on how to improve, as I would love for it to return to my pastime.

Stop Chasing Other Franchises
343, your brand is Halo. It isn’t one of a few major a FPS franchises, it is is own sub-genre. If you embrace it, you’ll restore the franchise to the top. If you ignore it, you’ll cease to be a trend-setter, and instead become the space FPS. Nintendo didn’t launch its latest iteration of Smash Brothers by trying to incorporate Street Fighter mechanics - they realized that 1997ish game play didn’t somehow become stale, it just needed polish. They’re their own sub-genre, and so too should you be.

Map Design
I don’t know who is doing your map design now, but they’re missing the key components of Halo maps. Take a look at the classic map Zanzibar: no matter where I am I can find my bearings by looking at the central wheel. It’s the “weenie” concept Disney uses at their parks to help orient guests (think a central castle, a giant golf ball, a huge tree). Beaver Creek has the earthen incline, Lockout the distinct sides, Waterworks a central pump, Blood Gulch had orienting dark and sunny sides. Now look at Empire… it’s too busy cramming in clamber spots to make it beautiful, distinct, and orienting. It feels sterile, cold. It needs personality, landmarks, and originality.

Controls
Right trigger shoots, left trigger throws grenades, right click zooms. That is Halo. Changing it is changing the “feel” of Halo. Once the feel is gone, no matter what some may think, part of your brand is gone. If you want all weapons to scope, that’s fine, but moving it to a left trigger that emulates other shooters removes something special about Halo. Halo is about firing from the hip, not consuming the screen with a gun that obscures your beautiful environment. Now the sniper rifle can’t do multiple levels of zoom and that’s a bad thing. If you want to make the AR more effective at range, make it accurate in bust shots and right click to zoom.

Sprint
I’m fine with adding sprint. Like assassinations, I think it’s an important part of better strategy. The way it becomes a problem is when you add clamber, boosts, takedowns, etc. Yes, a player should feel like a Spartan, but with all of this stuff, perhaps Spartans are more like Spiderman? Spartans should feel heavy, strong.

Miscellaneous
Kill cam isn’t necessary. How about something specific to your brand like cinematic views of the map.

Honestly your Spartans sound ridiculous and their before and after poses remind me of dodge ball teams, not hardened super solders.

Please make the game sound like Halo again. The lack of monks chanting in some way is like Star Wars opening to techno. Play to your brand!

Seek interesting ways to balance weapons. Plasma pistol feel cheap? Have it blow up in your hands when charged too long so that it hurts you. Plasma rifle too weak? Return its effect from Halo CE in which it slows whoever it hits.

I played Halo 2 on foundry yesterday. I had more fun than on any FPS in the past few years. I don’t like Foundry. Maybe the magic of Halo lied in its simplicity?

Best of luck!

They can’t stop chasing other franchises when Microsoft is breathing down their neck demanding that they create a game that can sell Xbones (good luck with that) by appealing directly to casuals.

Re: controls

Most controller styles still right right thumb click to zoom. Also the sniper does still have two levels of zoom.

Any product will include trends that are popular in the industry.

Why? Because they’re popular, and that usually implies they work in a good way.

Gears of War did Horde, then everyone (including Halo) started doing survival modes again. The current trend in FPSs is increasing the range of movement availiable to you as a player. Titanfall, CoD: AW, Destiny etc etc.

Brands have to evolve to stay relevant, but they also need to evolve in a way that allows them to be relevant and unique within the market.

Halo 5 will pretty much be the only Arena-style shooter on the market. It still has the main core gameplay, but with the expanded movement and matchmaking features most enjoy and expect from a modern FPS.

> 2535463683752056;1:
> First a little background on myself: I’m a 3d animator and game designer, having worked on ESPN NFL 2K5 (and 6 before cancelation) and NBA 2K5-10, helping steer it away from the 2k4 low point to what it is today. I ran a successful educational app LLC for a few years before selling my ownership shares. I’m currently not in the video game industry but love Halo and want to give my thoughts on how to improve, as I would love for it to return to my pastime.
>
> Stop Chasing Other Franchises
> 343, your brand is Halo. It isn’t one of a few major a FPS franchises, it is is own sub-genre. If you embrace it, you’ll restore the franchise to the top. If you ignore it, you’ll cease to be a trend-setter, and instead become the space FPS. Nintendo didn’t launch its latest iteration of Smash Brothers by trying to incorporate Street Fighter mechanics - they realized that 1997ish game play didn’t somehow become stale, it just needed polish. They’re their own sub-genre, and so too should you be.
>
> Map Design
> I don’t know who is doing your map design now, but they’re missing the key components of Halo maps. Take a look at the classic map Zanzibar: no matter where I am I can find my bearings by looking at the central wheel. It’s the “weenie” concept Disney uses at their parks to help orient guests (think a central castle, a giant golf ball, a huge tree). Beaver Creek has the earthen incline, Lockout the distinct sides, Waterworks a central pump, Blood Gulch had orienting dark and sunny sides. Now look at Empire… it’s too busy cramming in clamber spots to make it beautiful, distinct, and orienting. It feels sterile, cold. It needs personality, landmarks, and originality.
>
> Controls
> Right trigger shoots, left trigger throws grenades, right click zooms. That is Halo. Changing it is changing the “feel” of Halo. Once the feel is gone, no matter what some may think, part of your brand is gone. If you want all weapons to scope, that’s fine, but moving it to a left trigger that emulates other shooters removes something special about Halo. Halo is about firing from the hip, not consuming the screen with a gun that obscures your beautiful environment. Now the sniper rifle can’t do multiple levels of zoom and that’s a bad thing. If you want to make the AR more effective at range, make it accurate in bust shots and right click to zoom.
>
> Sprint
> I’m fine with adding sprint. Like assassinations, I think it’s an important part of better strategy. The way it becomes a problem is when you add clamber, boosts, takedowns, etc. Yes, a player should feel like a Spartan, but with all of this stuff, perhaps Spartans are more like Spiderman? Spartans should feel heavy, strong.
>
> Miscellaneous
> Kill cam isn’t necessary. How about something specific to your brand like cinematic views of the map.
>
> Honestly your Spartans sound ridiculous and their before and after poses remind me of dodge ball teams, not hardened super solders.
>
> Please make the game sound like Halo again. The lack of monks chanting in some way is like Star Wars opening to techno. Play to your brand!
>
> Seek interesting ways to balance weapons. Plasma pistol feel cheap? Have it blow up in your hands when charged too long so that it hurts you. Plasma rifle too weak? Return its effect from Halo CE in which it slows whoever it hits.
>
> I played Halo 2 on foundry yesterday. I had more fun than on any FPS in the past few years. I don’t like Foundry. Maybe the magic of Halo lied in its simplicity?
>
> Best of luck

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Not a lot of people know this since a majority of “Halo” fans don’t follow the canon but these Spartans are more human like than the others. The Spartan IVs weren’t taken as children under the cover of night and forced to go through terrible things just to break them and make then into a super soldiers. These are men a women who enlisted in the program of their own choosing. So I’d expect them to show human emotions and act like humans. Also these aren’t live combat scenarios, they are simulated so them acting like they are having fun is ok. Well it’s ok in my opinion.

That’s just my little piece. Also thanks for the insight on how someone like you views the game.

Thank god you dont work in the gaming industry. I played every game you mentioned, none were great. However, this is not about your failures, i agree with the music, armor abilities are cool, it doesnt feel like any other game.

> 2533274878065086;2:
> They can’t stop chasing other franchises when Microsoft is breathing down their neck demanding that they create a game that can sell Xbones (good luck with that) by appealing directly to casuals.

There is also such a thing as convergent evolution. The argument “Stop fixating on what the cool kids are doing” also extends to how gameplay mechanics should be received by the community. IE. Sprint, Smart Scopes, and an increase of pace should ALWAYS be vetted against their function in this franchise (and to Halo 5’s credit these mechanics function VERY well), not the incidental relationships these adaptations have with other species of shooter (its presumptuous, misses the point of game appreciation [never mind what its called or who came up with it, how does it play], and is based on the stilted argument that individuality is entirely sufficient to replace competence).

> 2533274842918190;4:
> Any product will include trends that are popular in the industry.
>
> Why? Because they’re popular, and that usually implies they work in a good way.
>
> Gears of War did Horde, then everyone (including Halo) started doing survival modes again. The current trend in FPSs is increasing the range of movement availiable to you as a player. Titanfall, CoD: AW, Destiny etc etc.
>
> Brands have to evolve to stay relevant, but they also need to evolve in a way that allows them to be relevant and unique within the market.
>
> Halo 5 will pretty much be the only Arena-style shooter on the market. It still has the main core gameplay, but with the expanded movement and matchmaking features most enjoy and expect from a modern FPS.

Adding a game mode is not the same thing as adding elements to the game that change the basic gameplay. I’m okay with games adding in Horde modes, cuz horde modes are usually a blast to play with friends or whatever. These new armor abilities make the game play like some sort of Crysis rather than Halo2 (probably the high point of the series).

The success of CoD had Bungie add in Sprint to try to stay relevant. TitanFall and Crysis/Destiny pushed 343 to add in clamor and ground pound (respectively). But putting things like that in your game doesn’t make it more relevant, it just adds to the blandness and sameness of it, and causes people to eventually abandon it for the newer blandness and sameness on the market.

Does Coke stay relevant by changing their formula? No, they know what works and they stick with it. That’s the type of simplicity 343 needs to go back to if they want to make an engaging game with deep gameplay.

ESPN NFL 2K5 is still widely considered the greatest football games of its generation. 2K6 was going to be incredible. And NBA 2K knocked NBA live off the market.

> 2535463683752056;10:
> ESPN NFL 2K5 is still widely considered the greatest football games of its generation. 2K6 was going to be incredible. And NBA 2K knocked NBA live off the market.

I used to play NFL 2K5 at my neighbor’s house and it was WAY better than any Madden game.

As for the OP’s actual post, I agree with most things, except I actually like the new mobility options like thrust and clamber. To each his own I guess.

> 2533274878065086;9:
> > 2533274842918190;4:
> > Any product will include trends that are popular in the industry.
> >
> > Why? Because they’re popular, and that usually implies they work in a good way.
> >
> > Gears of War did Horde, then everyone (including Halo) started doing survival modes again. The current trend in FPSs is increasing the range of movement availiable to you as a player. Titanfall, CoD: AW, Destiny etc etc.
> >
> > Brands have to evolve to stay relevant, but they also need to evolve in a way that allows them to be relevant and unique within the market.
> >
> > Halo 5 will pretty much be the only Arena-style shooter on the market. It still has the main core gameplay, but with the expanded movement and matchmaking features most enjoy and expect from a modern FPS.
>
>
>
> Adding a game mode is not the same thing as adding elements to the game that change the basic gameplay. I’m okay with games adding in Horde modes, cuz horde modes are usually a blast to play with friends or whatever. These new armor abilities make the game play like some sort of Crysis rather than Halo2 (probably the high point of the series).
>
> The success of CoD had Bungie add in Sprint to try to stay relevant. TitanFall and Crysis/Destiny pushed 343 to add in clamor and ground pound (respectively). But putting things like that in your game doesn’t make it more relevant, it just adds to the blandness and sameness of it, and causes people to eventually abandon it for the newer blandness and sameness on the market.
>
> Does Coke stay relevant by changing their formula? No, they know what works and they stick with it. That’s the type of simplicity 343 needs to go back to if they want to make an engaging game with deep gameplay.

Coke is a bad example. You’re not releasing a new Coke product every few years with the intent of replacing the previous.

For features vs game modes, look at say…music services.

You’ve got a library. This can be the basic game, and you listen to music in your local copy of the library, one song or album or whatever at a time.

If you want an equivalent to Spartan abilities, that would be the ability to create playlists, or a queue. Its a new feature being added with the intent of enhancing the core experience.

If you want an equivalent to Horde mode, look at cloud streaming. Instead of downloading a local copy, everything is streamed to you over the internet. Its a different way to access the core experience. (gameplay).

Both are now pretty commonplace since inception, and many of the products in the market support one or both, but can implement them in similar or different fashions. Its all about the experience they, as creators, want to create. And part of that is learning and using what others around you are doing. Straight up ripping off is usually bad, but taking a popular concept and finding a way to adapt it to add something to your product can be beneficial.

Now, could you make a product without those features? Abosolutely. The question is simply of what the developers want to create, and what the people they want to buy it want out of thier product.

> 2533274797771187;8:
> > 2533274878065086;2:
> > They can’t stop chasing other franchises when Microsoft is breathing down their neck demanding that they create a game that can sell Xbones (good luck with that) by appealing directly to casuals.
>
>
> There is also such a thing as convergent evolution. The argument “Stop fixating on what the cool kids are doing” also extends to how gameplay mechanics should be received by the community. IE. Sprint, Smart Scopes, and an increase of pace should ALWAYS be vetted against their function in this franchise (and to Halo 5’s credit these mechanics function VERY well), not the incidental relationships these adaptations have with other species of shooter (its presumptuous, misses the point of game appreciation [never mind what its called or who came up with it, how does it play], and is based on the stilted argument that individuality is entirely sufficient to replace competence).

The argument isn’t that individuality is entirely sufficient to replace competence, the argument is that a lack of individuality is a sign of laziness and lack of creative thinking. Those two things will negate any competency you have (which 343 doesn’t have to begin with).
Every major change that has been made to Halo(excluding the bullet mechanics of H3) has been a reaction to what’s going on with the more financially successful games around them. But instead of finding a way to maintain Halo’s simplicity and competitiveness, Bungie and 343 have just been blatantly piggy-backing off of the ideas of others. Which is why the last two Halo games (three if H5 winds up like H4) have been widely disliked by the community. It’s a consequence not wholly related to a lack of individuality, but at least partially.

100% agree with this assesment

> Right trigger shoots, left trigger throws grenades, right click zooms. That is Halo. Changing it is changing the “feel” of Halo.

ESPECIALLY THIS!!!

> Please make the game sound like Halo again. The lack of monks chanting in some way is like Star Wars opening to techno. Play to your brand!

THIS!!!

Maybe you’re a bad designer? seems like you’re aiming for a borefest of reused ideas from past Halo’s.

I have always played boxer on all halos even back in the day. There is no control settings for making it feel like halo lol. Other than that I mostly agree especially with the map design and music.

> 2533274875211743;14:
> 100% agree with this assesment
>
>
>
> > Right trigger shoots, left trigger throws grenades, right click zooms. That is Halo. Changing it is changing the “feel” of Halo.
>
>
> ESPECIALLY THIS!!!

Change settings. Easy.

This seems to me like the funest halo game,

I guess the question I would have for you is how do they update Halo to justify spending another 60 bucks on it? The movement changes they made feel like a natural evolution of the franchise, and have done nothing to alienate the original feel of the game. Look at the Battlefield franchise. If they stuck to what made the game popular when BF42 came out it would be a dead franchise. Nobody would buy a game perpetually stuck in the past. CoD had it’s run of releasing the EXACT same game year after year with a different coat of paint, and finally had to do something to inject new life in the series. Hell even the guys who originated CoD wanted to make a similar game that did something different because they felt the stagnation their franchise had. Thus they ran off and made Titanfall.
Both developers of Halo tried to do something different with Reach (Bungie) and Halo 4 (343) and everyone complained. Yet had they just slapped a new coat of paint on Halo 3 and released it with some new maps and weapons those same people would complain that it’s too same-y. It’s a lose/lose situation. They can either modernize their game and keep it fresh, but get -Yoinked!- at for changing the gameplay. Or they can release the same thing and get -Yoinked!- at for releasing the same game.

> 2533274842918190;12:
> > 2533274878065086;9:
> > > 2533274842918190;4:
> > > Any product will include trends that are popular in the industry.
> > >
> > > Why? Because they’re popular, and that usually implies they work in a good way.
> > >
> > > Gears of War did Horde, then everyone (including Halo) started doing survival modes again. The current trend in FPSs is increasing the range of movement availiable to you as a player. Titanfall, CoD: AW, Destiny etc etc.
> > >
> > > Brands have to evolve to stay relevant, but they also need to evolve in a way that allows them to be relevant and unique within the market.
> > >
> > > Halo 5 will pretty much be the only Arena-style shooter on the market. It still has the main core gameplay, but with the expanded movement and matchmaking features most enjoy and expect from a modern FPS.
> >
> >
> >
> > Adding a game mode is not the same thing as adding elements to the game that change the basic gameplay. I’m okay with games adding in Horde modes, cuz horde modes are usually a blast to play with friends or whatever. These new armor abilities make the game play like some sort of Crysis rather than Halo2 (probably the high point of the series).
> >
> > The success of CoD had Bungie add in Sprint to try to stay relevant. TitanFall and Crysis/Destiny pushed 343 to add in clamor and ground pound (respectively). But putting things like that in your game doesn’t make it more relevant, it just adds to the blandness and sameness of it, and causes people to eventually abandon it for the newer blandness and sameness on the market.
> >
> > Does Coke stay relevant by changing their formula? No, they know what works and they stick with it. That’s the type of simplicity 343 needs to go back to if they want to make an engaging game with deep gameplay.
>
>
> Coke is a bad example. You’re not releasing a new Coke product every few years with the intent of replacing the previous.

Coke is an excellent example. The idea that you HAVE to replace a release to stay current and popular is pretty much exclusive to console games.
How long will it be until we see a sequel to replace any of the following titles? TF2, DoTA2, LoL, WoW, CS:GO (which is basically CS:S), HearthStone? Street Fighter IV has been out for almost 7 years, and the development of the sequel was just announced two weeks ago.

You really do not have to release a new game every year or two. The problem is that developers are feeling pressured to do so, which is why every console FPS in the past five or six years hasn’t been that good, or engaging.