Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Halo Bulletin 9.12.12 All About the Prometheans

This is a great Bulletin it talks about the Forerunners (The Prometheans) and how 343i made them. In this great Bulletin we get another Making Halo 4 Vid-doc this time its about The Return of The Forerunners! Dont forget to read the full Halo Bulletin over on Waypoint

The Return of the Forerunners

Halo 4 Screenshot

As soon as we started concept work on Halo 4, we started looking at potential big pillar features. One of the things that came up early on was a good way to refresh the overall campaign experience, so we decided to create a new enemy race, applying the fundamentals of what makes Halo work to them. While we understand the importance of the Covenant’s role in the game for continuity purposes, we didn’t want to focus solely on those particular species. Thus, the idea for the Prometheans was born.

There were a bunch of initial ideas the team had come up with, but the real spark of where they’re at today came around discussions we had about if the sandbox is ultimately what differentiates Halo from every other FPS, then what does it mean to the way the legacy AI works and how can we make that better? That very quickly evolved into a theme of adaptive AI.

Our goal was to design a type of enemy that is highly adaptive from a tactical standpoint, basically transforming the player’s idea of how the world and combat works in order to try and gain the upper hand. If these are advanced beings, it seems like they would be intimately connected with the world they made, so the Prometheans can manipulate their environment and themselves in a way that makes them part of it. That is where you get to the final end result of Forerunners being able to spawn in and out of the world, spawn other creatures, phase back and forth, and environments moving around. They are able to manipulate things in a way we haven’t seen before, and they complement existing mechanics and change the way the player engages in the combat encounter.

According to Scott Warner, Lead Designer on Halo 4, creating an entire new enemy class was a daunting task. We started with, for all intents and purposes, a blank canvas where anything could happen. There was a super-brief glimpse of Forerunners in Halo Legends, but we wanted to do something different from that so we took as much as we could from already established Forerunner language and put it on the Prometheans. For instance, when you see a Knight idle, there are small and large bits attached at the elbows that are not physically connected but linked in a different way. They have a mystique, a gravity-defying look, similar to Forerunner structures.

We had several goals in regard to the appearance of the Prometheans, but the most important ones were to make them relatable and resonate with the player. To achieve that, we went through weeks of brainstorming and iteration. That process went a little like this: Senior Concept Artist Gabriel Garza would sketch a sheet of character models (which often included up to 20 different variations), and, upon completion, would send it around the studio. Designers, animators, and every other relevant group in the studio would then chime in with feedback. Often times people would react strongly to the same models, so from that initial 20, Gabo (as we call him around these parts) would then grab five and make another 20 out of that five. It was a long and tedious process, but one that is necessary when designing new alien characters.

There was a lot of design and creative and artistic flux there, where people just didn’t see eye-to-eye on things. Subjectively, it took us a long time to get everybody to a place where they were truly happy with what’s on-screen. Even going up to E3, we weren’t sure how people were going to perceive them. Getting the forms to be something that met the design requirements of what was important and getting people to appreciate their aesthetics was a challenging process.

After the concept phase was over, we then had to determine what works in-game. One of the very early takes on the Knight included long, folded arms with tentacle-like fingers. It looked awesome, and incredibly menacing, but if it was holding a weapon, its range was extraordinarily (and freakishly!) long. So while it looked great in concept, it wasn’t functional in-game. Every character has to move around, aim, and communicate things to the player, and because it couldn’t do those things effectively, that take of the Knight was taken back to the virtual drawing board and iterated upon again, until we perfected what you see today.

Halo 4 has a very rich ecosystem of enemies, but ultimately we wanted to give you something you haven’t seen before that is fun to shoot and kill. And hopefully that is exactly how you’ll feel come November 6.

Now, without further ado, here is what you’ve been waiting for: the Return of the Forerunners BTS. Enjoy. :)

Thanks to bsangel for giving us this great Bulletin.

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