Think of a great game, when did you realize that it was great. The first time you played it. The ensuing minutes after you put the game down, already planning your next opportunity to play it. Or was it the skipped meals, hour-less voids meshing into a collective haze, the blaring sound, and burning retinas, glaring down on these pixels on-screen, and yet your like “Give me more!!!”
Halo is the most celebrated franchise on the Xbox. It has been around for more than a decade and has spawned RTS, anime, novels, graphic novels, epic cosplay, and legions of master chiefs. But many people find it difficult to describe why Halo is the massive hit that it is. Why does it command midnight crowds and full priced expansions (ODST*cough*). Ask someone sometime and the truest answer you’ll find is, “It’s fun.” To a developer that is the highest achievement. Perfect scores, sales figures, sequels, television spots, wiki pages are not the measure of a game developers success.
Halo: Combat Evolved mastered multiplayer fps on a console without online! The success began with the multiplayer maps. These were schematically designed to fit certain game types. Hang ’em High is the benchmark for FFA slayer maps. Bloodgulch and Battle Creek, played capture the flag perfect and team slayer near to it. These maps had a tactical pragmatism that sublimely fit. The benefits from that natural flow, swept players into the commotion and it hasn’t stopped.
Halo is known as the greatest multiplayer experience on a console. Balance is the intangible that makes the game fun. Halo struck the perfect combination of weapon damage, fire rates/ranges, walk/run speed, power ups, vehicles, and weapon varieties. Many games have been on par graphically, had more weapons and customization, but they lacked that inertia that pulled the characters together in a fun and inviting, yet competitive way. These characteristics were carried over to Halo 2, with amazing success over Xbox Live, but something was lost in that transition.
The game remained fun but not for the same reasons. Considering the mechanics went nearly untouched, graphics were updated, and additional content was added why did it feel like something was missing…
Combat Evolved was the Game. Multiplayer then was an experience. It must be hard for young gamers to understand the concept of congregation to play a game with friends. I don’t mean a friend and I played through twelve Borderlands missions cooperatively. I mean old-fashioned LANing. 16 People, 4 Xbox’s and tv’s, and one room. That ritual was merry and we looked forward to it every time we played.
With Halo 2, we stopped the LANs, we began playing at different times of the day, and disconcertion grew among us. The game became monotonous word vomiting with strangers to see who could be the biggest (insert expletive of your choice). Soon I realized I didn’t play with friends, I didn’t play to have fun, I played to belittle others, with my controller, my mic, and with my “superiority” in every way.
Halo 2 revolutionzed the way you found parties online. No longer did you have to sit on top of parties to beat another player to the spot. This automatic matchmaking is what added to the culture that Halo cultivates. Now with Halo Reach, Beta opened recently, the developers have addressed this concern. They have a new social settings option to help customize your gameplay to match your competitors. No longer should you have to play with screamo, over-serious, or mute players. If the settings work as they are represented then a shift in that online community could happen.
“Essentially, you’ll be able to play with like-minded people without manually cultivating lists of online friends.” -Jared Newman
The setting is the most revolutionary attempt at bettering the game in a console generation. ‘If it’s not broke don’t fix it,’ right? It is a catch twenty-two. Halo is one of the greatest franchises in video games. Their is no denying that. They had a great game that was immensley entertaining for the first few years. I want something new and fresh. I have killed or been killed as many was as possible in Halo. It became clear to me a while ago that the success affect had taken hold. I stopped playing Halo shorty after the third released. I think Reach will address some of the issues that turned me off from the game. However, it is still the same game digitally remastered for the 4th time. Which is fine for those who’ve never played it. I need a fresh take on the FPS genre in general. Where is the next Halo 1? The heart of the game is intact but the body lives on like a spiritless cadaver that feeds of the original success. It will continue to as long as money is to be made off of a name. Even if long after those people forgot why they liked games in the first place. Kinda like airwalks, green day, and politicans.
Profits have drown out fun, and all the analytic models, and meta data can’t seem to figure out that the more fun a game is the more successful it will be. The same old isn’t why we buy games. Listen to your fans. We are the voice of your game. Listen to your fun
“..always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning “That path leads ever down into stagnation.”- Muad Dib, “Arrakis Awakening” by the Princess Irulan – Dune
Had to get in a Dune quote
Social Settings Are Halo: Reach’s Coolest New Feature [Technologizer]
Dune Quotes [Nightsolo]