Thursday, August 25, 2005

I've Spent Lots of Money on Halo

I've got some more substantive posts brewing, but in the meantime, here's a link to an interesting story over at GameDaily breaking down the money-making powerhouse that is the Halo franchise. Reading this, I realize that I've spent a crapload of money on Halo products. I have both Halo and Halo 2, all the map packs, the Official Halo 2 Guide, and a Halo Live headset. That's a lot considering that I'm only a casual player.

My big question is this: Can a game designer do anything to try to design this sort of fanatic product loyalty into the game itself (beyond just making a great product)? Is there anything about the game design of Halo 2 that lead to this or is it all due to good marketing for a solid product?


At 1:35 PM, Blogger OrangeDeca said...

And now a movie is on the way. The fan boy in me is really happy. To me, Halo has a great combination. Its story is interesting but not too different. People can jump onto it. The game mechanics are solid and fun. And the presentation is solid and tight. There is nothing compromised about.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Clubberjack said...

Ha. I just read that story. I have to say, I'm pretty excited. I think that from a design perspective, all the work they put into defining the universe (ie backstory) paid off and will continue to pay off during the production of the movie. Halo has always felt like a cohesive whole, and I think that's one of the defining strengths of the franchise. Even the multiplayer maps have stories that fit into the larger whole. That kind of attention to detail is what made the Arbiter such a fun part of Halo 2.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger OrangeDeca said...

I do keep to my theory from Grad School that you cant create a transmedia powerhouse on purpose. You have to create something that resonates in one medium first. It can be shallow and obvious to try to do too much at once. Pokemon may not have been great if it tried to be all things it is now all at once. So i'd stick to making a great game first, then start spreading out.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Clubberjack said...

I think you may be right. Look at the guys who are trying consciously to create transmedia properties, Lorne Lanning, American McGee, etc. While they've had hits within one medium, videogames, their attempts at generating crossover successes from the get-go haven't yet come to fruition. I would love to see an Oddworld movie/tv show/action figure/CCG/whatever, but it hasn't happened yet.

That said, I think that there is a certain kind of design work that makes for a better game and pays off later when/if a transmedia opportunity comes along. Halo is a good example (game, books, movie). Death Jr. is a good example (comic books and the game). This is where having a good writer onboard helps a lot. Although Alex Garland is doing the Halo movie script, he's building on a huge foundation built by Joseph Staten and the rest of Bungie. They had a really clear idea of what the world of Halo was about, which made the writing of the movie easier and more cohesive with the game.

Anyway... it's hard to build a transmedia world from the ground up (has anyone done it?), but I think you can be prepared for it. And, yes, making a great game is pretty helpful too.


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