Blog Archives

Ryan Payton Leaves Microsoft To Start Own Studio

Source – Kotaku

Ryan Payton was the creative director at 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Microsoft Studio, working on the next Halo game. He left the company altogether citing the lack of passion for the project and the desire to create a game that he wanted to make. In his CEDEC talk he straight out says the reason he is leaving Microsoft is that the direction of Halo 4 was not going the way he idealised (although he still thinks it turn out to be good game). Not a big deal as there are plenty of passionate people at 343 Industries but it is a blow hearing that Microsoft were not willing to make a creative gamble with this pivotal game for the Halo franchise, the first not made by original developers Bungie Studios.

Now this is a guy who started as a former writer at EGM that got a job in Japan working as an assistant producer on MGS 4 at Kojima Productions. Working directly with Kojima he was responsible for introducing western game design sensibilities to the Metal Gear series which made MGS 4 much more accessible to a global audience while keeping the stealth option. I started to follow his work when he did the the Kojima Production Report, a podcast about all things going on at the company.

After reading the article my admiration for the guy has skyrocketed, this is a guy with great integrity. I learned things I never knew about him and all the terrible things that he has gone through in his personal life. You just have to admire a guy who is creatively motivated and wants to make crazy ambitious games that advance the industry. I look forward to what he does at his new company Camouflaj.

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Completed Games – Halo 3: ODST

Developer – Bungie

Publisher – Microsoft Game Studios

Release Date – September 22 2009

Halo 3: ODST was originally conceived as an expansion to Halo 3 before being expanded to a full retail release and comes with a separate disk including Halo 3 multiplayer and a new multiplayer mode, Firefight. I was surprised by this game as it now my favourite Halo game so far in terms of a single player experience. It changes up the standard Halo formula by making you play not as Master Chief or even a Spartan, you play as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper).With this you have to play the game differently from past Halo games, you have to play more strategically and keep a closer eye on health, and in general be more stealthy because of you deficiencies when compared to the single army of Master Chief.

What I like most about the game is the desolate open city environment that you can roam around looking for weapons and encountering the occasional covenant patrol. Your drop on New Mombasa goes wrong and your team is spread out all over the city, but when you wake up most of the fight has been done and you piece back the events through flashbacks. It’s not just the same mission after mission, you are given time to explore.

The story for me was also more interesting, it isn’t a grand universe spanning tale but instead focuses on one mission from different perspectives. There is also a side story which is told through terminals which play back pieces of an audio recording of the plight of Sadie in the midst of the covenant invasion of New Mombasa. It is relatively short experience (around 5-6 hours) but I like how self contained it is. Music is also a change in pace with a more jazzy sound instead of the usual orchestral fare. It fits with the graphics which is filtered differently because the game is mostly played at night and you have to turn on a filter which makes the game look very cyber punk.

I’m playing Halo Reach now and I don’t think I’m going to change my position of ODST being my favourite Halo game. Definitely pick it up even if you don’t like Halo games, perfect for anyone who is discouraged by the standard Halo games.

Completed Games – Halo 3

Developer – Bungie

Publisher – Microsoft

Release Date – September 25 2007

This is the first Halo game I played on consoles, I didn’t own an original Xbox, but I did played through the first Halo and partway through the second on the PC. I remember really enjoying the first Halo because of the dynamic combat and enemy AI but it wasn’t enough for me to pick up an Xbox. Now even though I’ve had an XBOX 360 for years I didn’t really consider picking Halo 3 up until now. It is a testament to the quality of the game that it holds up pretty well now over 3 years later.

I had a lot of fun playing through the single player campaign twice, once co-op and one time by myself, as it so much different and unique from other FPS games that have become so popular nowadays. I have to say I prefer the futuristic weaponry and the more gamey style when compared to the more realistic setting of COD and Battlefield. I don’t know why it took so long to get back into Halo but I’m now excited to play through the two other Halo games that have come out since, ODST and Reach. I’m even more excited to hear about what Bungie are going to do with their next new IP they are developing which is being published by Activision.

The pacing and interweaving of story and gameplay is what I liked the most along with the variety of strategies you could employ in each firefight. It’s great being an ultimate super soldier instead of just being a normal soldier and I like how it justifies the use of advanced weaponry and armor in the game.

I am slightly disappointed with how you can’t have a single player campaign going on at the same time as a co-op campaign without overwriting the current in mission save. Other than that I think co-op is one the great strengths of Halo that has become so important in other games since then. I haven’t tried multiplayer and probably won’t until I pick up Halo Reach as I could imagine the type of the people who are still play Halo 3 absolutely destroying me.

Completed Games: Halo Wars

Developer – Ensemble Studios

Publisher – Microsoft Game Studios

Release Date – 3rd March 2009

The first game in the Halo series that was not a FPS or developed by series creator Bungie Studios. Halo Wars was developed by Ensemble Studios who were famous for creating the Age of Empires series, they were shut down by Microsoft shortly after the release of this game. Because of these circumstances this game may have been overlooked by many, but any Halo and/or RTS fans should really give it a try.

Bungie Studio’s original concept for Halo was not an FPS, it was in fact a RTS game for the PC. This game fulfils this idea but what this game is and what Bungie would have made is completely different. First of all it was exclusively on the Xbox 360, Ensemble had to adapt their PC mindset to create a game that could be played smoothly with a controller. Ensemble were also restricted in having a set universe and units that are not entirely suitable for an RTS game.

The game is surprisingly fun doing some creative things with an RTS on a console. It streamlines a lot of the micro management in RTS games. You have a base that has slots for buildings and turrets, there is no resource gathering instead you just build refineries or generators in your base. There is a good mix of units both air and ground which allows for some nuanced strategies. The missions are diverse with side missions and alternative objectives making each level replayable. There are other modes like skirmish and online multiplayer which makes this game as fully featured as any other RTS game.

In Halo Wars there is a lot to learn about the Halo universe that isn’t covered in the other games. The story is decent but the really cool parts are the cut scenes which are like what you would get in the main Halo games.  For example I love how Spartans are depicted in the game as they are special units which unique abilities and can take out a bunch of units by themselves.

This game is definitely one to pick up as it is heavily discounted at any game stores.