Ahead of the long-awaited launch of Halo Infinite's campaign, 343 Head of Creative Joseph Staten has revealed that his favorite Halo game is Halo 3: ODST.
Staten, who was instrumental in the success of Bungie's Halo games and joined Halo Infinite's development shortly after its delay in 2020, spoke to IGN for our Unfiltered interview series and shared why Halo 3: ODST meant so much to him.
"Halo 3: ODST is my favorite," Staten said. "And not just because I was helping to lead that project, but for me it was… any game developers that are watching will understand this. It was the game that we made in the most stable technology base that we'd ever had. You know, it was Halo 3 ODST. It was built in the Halo 3 engine, very few feature changes, so as almost entirely a content exercise.
"And we just had the flexibility to go in and create an experience, a story that didn't have to wait for the engineers to do all their hard work, rebuild tools and pipelines, implement big features. All of those things are wonderful part of game development, but it just makes things challenging. It extends your timeline."
He also discussed a bit more about its development and talked about how Bungie's studio head Harold Ryan and project lead Paul Bertone came to him and said they need this game to be finished in just six months, which is an incredibly short amount of time for a AAA game.
"So I believe the original charter for ODST was we needed it in six months," Staten continued. "Harold Ryan, our studio head at the time famously came to me, and Paul Bertone, the other project lead and said, 'We need it in six months. Something like Halo 3, but backwards at night.' And we're like, no, we're not gonna do a Halo 3 backwards at night, but we get what you're saying. It needs to be efficient, it needs to reuse assets. We need to be smart about the new things that we put in."
Luckily, that timeline was extended after Staten and the team proved how special this game could be. As it turned out, Halo 3: ODST was delivered in just about 18 months for its September 22, 2009, release date for Xbox 360.
"So we set up a prototype and people saw what we were going for and believed in it enough that they said, okay, well now you've got 12 months total," Staten said. "And it turns out at 12 months for a variety of reasons, we ended up actually getting closer to 18, and we were able to spend those last months just layering on as much polish as we possibly could.
"So for me, in terms of stable technology, just a really tight, cohesive, happy team, everybody marching forward with the same clear vision, it just a really wonderful game to work on. Very different than the vast majority of other games that I've worked on."
It was even more of a dream project for Staten as he got the chance to take risks again in a franchise that was so beloved and established. Furthermore, he got the chance to tell a noir detective story, something he had always wanted to do.
"It was an experimental game too in many ways," Staten says. "When you're working on a franchise like, it's challenging to innovate. It's very risky to try new things. We certainly are in Infinite, which is very exciting. But ODST was a noir detective story, the kind of that I had always wanted to write, and the fact that I was able to do it in Halo was pretty cool. I didn't think that was gonna happen in my career."
While we still have to wait until December 8 to see how truly innovative Halo Infinite's campaign ends up being, fans can jump into its free-to-play multiplayer right now.
If that wait is too tough and you need to learn more Halo Infinite's campaign, be sure to check out our four-hour hands-on preview of the story, the first Craig meme Easter Egg that's been found already, and how hidden audio logs will help tell the larger story of Zeta Halo.
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