Halo 4 may seem like a swan song for the Xbox 360, but Frank O’Connor believes the console and the rest of its generation still has a lot of life and power left to tap into. GamesIndustry International spoke with O’Connor, Halo franchise development director at developer 343 Industries.
“I would actually strongly contest the fact that the Xbox 360 is at the end of its life cycle, this has already been one of the longest generations and there’s a really good reason for it, which is that current consoles are incredibly flexible and still really powerful,” O’Connor said when asked why the game wasn’t saved for the next generation. Halo 4 looks good because “that machine has an awful lot of untapped power still.”
O’Connor said current generation consoles are already widely distributed everywhere and are used for much more than just games. That means people are going to keep their systems for Netflix and other media content, and as long as the consoles are still there, people will want gaming experiences for them.
O’Connor also spoke about the design decision behind Halo 4’s Spartan Ops downloadable co-op missions. He said many Halo players just tackle the single-player campaign or dive straight into the multiplayer; but by rewarding gamers for playing smaller-scale co-op missions with multiplayer unlocks, more might decide to cross over.
Spartan Ops’ serialized format also presents a great opportunity for narrative control which is not feasible in 10-hour long campaigns, O’Connor said.
“In a movie I know it’s going to last an hour and 40 minutes, as a director I can make you sad at the start, hopeful in the middle and joyously happy in the end, and you control that whole experience with music and timing … Spartan Ops gives us an opportunity to tell stories and control the pace and cadence of the narrative experience by making these little discrete chunks of story that are episodic, so just like a TV show.”