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What is Peter Jackson’s, Halo: Chronicles ? We look a little deeper

A deeper look at Peter Jackson's Halo Chronicles.

Join us while we do a little digging of our own.

by TWODOGSz: oxcgn-writers-views-opinions
©2008 Aaron Bertinetti
```The rumours have been flying over the last week about a new Halo being unveiled at E3. And since Halo Wars is already confirmed to appear; Bungie appears committed to their new "Superintendent" IP being unveiled next week; and a Halo 4 FPS just doesn't make much commercial sense when Halo 3 is still going strong, Bungie is busy and Gears 2 wants the limelight this year; our safe bet is on Peter Jackson's Halo: Chronicles. Whilst we don't know much we do know that it has had the collective resources of Bungie, Microsoft (now with former Bungie writing guru Frank O'Connor), Peter Jackson's Oscar Winning Weta and the more recently formed WingNut Interactive games studio, for more than two years and has seen a significant ramp up in production over the last six months courtesy of some very public job advertisements.

Having done as much scouring as possible and tapping all the leaks (sorry) I could find, along with some educated guesses based on my long held interest in film and games (see my bio), this is what I’ve come up with…

Halo: Chronicles will not be a traditional game, rather it will be an “interactive experience/story” where a player makes emotional, moral and action-based decisions that affect the cinematic direction of what is otherwise a film.

• It will not contain Master Chief as a playable character.

• It will be released within 12 months.

• It will be based within Halo lore but will have no immediate narrative connection to the linear plot of the Halo FPS trilogy.

• It is likely to be computer animated, utilising the unique resources of Weta.

• And it will have some form of online component, whether of an episodic DLC nature or some shared, online, interactive storytelling experience.

The closest parallel I can draw is a much more tightly directed, scripted and dramatically paced MGS4 where the cut-scenes are the game itself, with a more advanced “interactive philosophy” than that seen in the entirely dialogue focused system in Mass Effect’s cinematics. It will demand player choice that is truly interactive, has real consequences and that progresses the narrative down distinctly different paths.

Imagine being Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, except the player decides interactively within the scene not only whether to destroy the ring or not, but how, when, where and why. By handing perceived control to a player you can immerse them and create emotional investments in narrative & character progression, and yet the director/designer still retains absolute control by determining the choices and story arcs available. Poor Frank O’Connor must have a seriously prolonged case of writer’s cramp!

For some gamers it might not sound too exciting, and simply a next-gen version of old text adventures, “choose your own story” storybooks or a drawn out FMV with some superficial choices. But to me it’s moving towards what games are ultimately capable of by using their one wholly unique tool – that is interactivity.

If a game as ambitious as I suspect Halo: Chronicles to be can succeed at making players the director, actor and audience simultaneously then I’m truly excited not just for this title, but for the future of gaming.

Am I right or completely off track? You can let me know in the comments section or play it safe and wait till E3 next week… But if I’m right, you better quote me on it! :)

©2008 Aaron Bertinetti

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7 Comments on What is Peter Jackson’s, Halo: Chronicles ? We look a little deeper

  1. I care a lot about the Halo story. I own al the games, books and comics. And this concerns me. The game cannot be cannon when there are so many outcomes. I love games with different endings (KOTOR, Mass Effect….), but I don’t want it in one of my favourite stories.

  2. @Angel

    Nice to have helped with your excitement!

    The funny thing is that I’d never really realised what Halo: Chronicles intended to be.

    It was only whilst researching and gathering notes for my E3 coverage that I started to realise the potential and aims of the project. Which in turn prompted the article for the benefit of others… because quite frankly we haven’t heard a peep out of MS or PJ since the initial announcement.

    I’d be willing to bet on odds of 4:1 that PJ will be up on stage come tomorrow morning unveiling what is no doubt going to be a high cost, high concept piece of interactive art as entertainment.

    Can’t Wait! ;)

  3. AngelicLionheart // 14 July, 2008 at 7:39 am // Reply

    All I know is that I have been wanting a more specific kind of the experience that you generally described above for a long, LONG time. And that it was only in spring of ’05 that I really started trying to design it myself. Let me tell you, it’s really freaking hard. From the original Deus Ex to Breakdown to BioWare’s stuff to Valve’s approach with the HL2 Episodes, it is both challenging and rewarding to navigate the approaches to designing and writing for interactive fiction.

    This cannot get here soon enough. With what pretty much comprises the absolute dream team of people on planet earth (Bungie, PJ, Weta, and backing of one of the richest companies in human history) I find it hard not to expect to be absolutely, utterly, completely, and without exception FLOORED when I see this work come about. Even if it were rough around the edges at first because the medium is so newborn, I would be able to tell what it was capable of.

    PLEASE announce something at E3, guys. PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE.

    ~Angel

  4. Optimus Danny // 13 July, 2008 at 4:11 pm // Reply

    I cant wait for what PJ can make of this, he has great talent and with him doing Halo: Chronicles, Wow, just wow is all i can say, i reckon he is going to do a spectacular job and i seriously want to see this at E3!!!!!!

  5. Not necessarily. If it achieved truly branching story lines (more Chrono Trigger than Mass Effect) it could really work. Or even better if they did it as a episodic series where you download a 2-4hr episode and make decisions that you then have to stick with through the following episodes.

    It has a lot of interesting possibilities, it could be a revolutionary success (which is what I expect from PJ and Bungie) or it could be less successful in reaching its ambitions and simply be an enjoyable single playthrough.

    But my gut tells me MS and PJ wouldn’t waste their time and money if the latter is all they got! lol :)

  6. Shadow Wave // 9 July, 2008 at 11:36 pm // Reply

    lol it would have TERRIBLE replay value :P as awesome as the first experience would be..

  7. I’m a big fan of Peter Jackson and Weta’s work, and having read a number of interviews with the man I’m pretty confident in my understanding of where PJ is heading with Halo Chronicles.

    But then again, we’ll just have to wait and see… :)

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