Posted on April 3, 2008,

Bungie Talks About the Development Process of Halo 2, 3, and Beyond


We all know by now that Halo 2′s development cycle was far from ideal; Bungie has suggested as much previously, but that didn’t stop cinematics director CJ Cowan from talking about the hellacious period it was.

“On Halo 2 we had no idea what our schedule was like or if we were on schedule or how far behind schedule we were. It wasn’t a very efficiently developed game and we wasted a lot of time up front,” he told Next Gen.

“Up until Halo 3′s pre-production we were still in the mindset of guys in a basement trying to make games even though we’d ballooned to like 60 or 70 dudes. We still had that idea that ,hey we can make this work’, but it just wasn’t realistic anymore.

“Halo 3 had a really defined pre-production stage so the whole team had a confident, shared vision of what the game was going to be before the real work even started. It sounds like common sense but Bungie didn’t used to work that way. We used to be ,seat of your pants just make it happen’.

“Halo 3 was a much easier game to make in terms of the stress level and crunch. The team still worked their ass off but it wasn’t that eighteen months of dread and ,oh my god, are we ever going to get this game done’. I just don’t think we ever hit that stage.”

The difference? Producers.

“Our production staff is something that we’ve really grown tremendously even within the Halo 3 pipeline. On Halo 2 we literally had one real producer and then one executive producer who was also running the entire business. Now I think we have 14 full time producers.

“I cannot say enough good things about having a great producer on your team. It makes a world of difference. If I ever had anything on my computer monitor that was not creative and directing cinematics, my producer would tap me on the shoulder and say, ,you shouldn’t be working on that, give it to me’. And I would. I would say, ,yeah you’re right’. I would hand it off, I would not think about it again, and so I was really free to concentrate on the creative. That happened across the board in all disciplines.”

He explained situations like that to be tremendously helpful, and I can certainly understand his position. That rebellious feeling inside might be screaming, “I’ll do whatever I want!” but ultimately, the payoff of having focused and getting to see your work and along with the work of everyone else and coming together would more than make up for it.

Assuming, y’know, the game you designed isn’t crappy.

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