As developers of Halo, Bungie has helped shape the future of Xbox 360 unlike any other studio to date has managed.
And now, we arrive at Halo: Reach, the final Halo project before Bungie moves onto new ground. We catch up with Bungie veteran Brian Jarrard to talk all things Halo as the release of Reach approaches...
In the context of Halo's redefinition of the console shooter, Halo 2's multiplayer and Halo 3's Forge, co-op and replay functions, what do you think Reach's enduring legacy will be?
From the beginning of development, Bungie has always approached Reach with the goal of creating the definitive Halo experience, building on ten years of work not only creating this universe but refining and enhancing the core gameplay. With Reach, the enduring legacy will be that it stands as the best Halo game of all - the culmination of everything great about each of the prior games but pushed even further. Reach's legacy will also be the sum of its parts - the sheer amount of content and unique gameplay experiences that are available and the impact the community will have on shaping and defining new Reach experiences for years to come. Reach truly is Bungie's most ambitious title ever and a gift for our fans, ten years in the making.
And following on, do you think Bungie is still setting the agenda as far as game design is concerned, like they have with previous games?
The Bungie team is always striving to innovate and evolve and is always pushing to do better than our last outing. Reach is no different - it will have the most refined gameplay of the entire series, the most visceral and impactful combat and stories, the deepest feature set and the most comprehensive social and community integration around.
Obviously it's been two years since the split from Microsoft and this is the first Halo game since then. Has it had any effect on how you've approached development?
For the most part, day to day development within Bungie hasn't changed since the studio divested from Microsoft. If anything, the return to our independent roots has reinvigorated the team and been a renewed source of inspiration as we continue pushing towards world domination.
Obviously it's tough to talk about the next project when there's nothing public to talk about, but I was wondering if you could speak in broad strokes about your ambitions for whatever you do next and what you think the studio's real strengths are?
If you look at Bungie's history there's one consistent aspect to all of our games - the team starts off by developing a rich, interesting universe that people want to spend time in and be a part of. This is true for our next project as well - our next action game universe will spawn new tales and experiences that we look forward to sharing with our fans throughout the next decade, building on Bungie's pedigree for great stories, best in breed gameplay, technical innovation and community integration.
Do you think Halo is less of a game for most players now and more of a sort of platform for all the interesting things you can do with the engine and netcode?
That's the great thing about Halo, especially with Reach - there is literally something for everyone. The series has always supported community created content and fostered the development and sharing of new experiences but with Reach the possibilities are exponentially greater. Whether you enjoy a great story, an action packed blockbuster mission, building maps, playing with your friends or playing against your friends, Reach has an experience for you. Ultimately though, it's definitely still a game and beneath all the technical improvements and bullet pointed feature - everything still has to be accessible and fun above all else.