Published on June 16th, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey
E3: Chris Haluke of 343i Talks Spartan Ops and Beyond
Last week during E3 2012 we got a chance to meet up with 343 Industries’ Chris Haluke, the lead designer of Spartan Ops for Halo 4.
Haluke has more than 10 years experience in the games industry and has worked as a level designer for such games as Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Assassin’s Creed and as lead level designer for Killzone 3.
GAMINGtruth: Where did the idea behind Spartan Ops come from?
Chris Haluke: Spartan Ops has been a long time in the making, just in the fact that with Halo 4 we wanted to innovate with multiplayer because Halo’s always been associated with innovation in that sense. This was in the works for quite some time. The team’s been working really hard on building the fiction around it, to have a strong narrative that ties into the whole Infinity multiplayer experience. It’s something that the team really came together on. We really feel confident about it and we’re really excited to bring it to the fans.
GT: Can you give me an idea of how Spartan Ops ties into the Halo 4 story?
CH: Absolutely. So, the events of Spartan Ops take place six months after the main campaign in the Infinity itself — the UNSC Infinity is the wrapper over the whole thing. You’re going to come across characters that you met in the campaign as well as the ship itself and, like I said, it will follow six months after the campaign.
GT: Tell me, what will [Spartan Ops] be like during the first week when people pick up Halo 4?
CH: So, as of November 6, week one of Spartan Ops will begin, and from there you get five missions along with that episode, along with the ongoing CG series that basically puts the wrapper and the shell on top of the Spartan Ops. Then we have months of content ahead.
GT: How long is a typical mission?
CH: The mission length right now varies. What we’re saying is that it’s approximately 15-plus minutes depending on your skill level, the difficulty, as well as if you’re playing by yourself or with your friends.
GT: How will the weeks progress following week one of Spartan Ops?
CH: The beauty about Spartan Ops is that it’s driven by the CG series that is the wrapper around the whole experience. So right from there you’re going to be left with cliffhangers, you’re going to be left with strong narrative ties that ultimately work down into the five missions that you will get each week. Within that we’re going to have all new maps, we’re going to have new environments that you can go see [and] new places. We’re trying to create as much of an open and wide experience as we can, not only with gameplay variety, but with the actual locations that you visit.
GT: What’s it like for a player to play Spartan Ops with their own custom Spartan IV?
CH: You’ve got the opportunity to play with three of your friends online. You can customize your Spartan based on your performance progression. It’s not only on kills, it’s how you help your friends. There’s much more of a point system in rewards that’s outside of just killing. We reward players for distracting [and] helping. It makes a very compelling experience in the sense that you can start out in Spartan Ops, build that character, progress that character, and then also take that character into the competitive aspect of multiplayer if you choose.
We’re trying to create an avenue that basically opens up a few more doors for people that might not be comfortable to enter competitively. We’re slowly bringing them in through Spartan Ops and that hopefully will allow them to feel confident in their progression of their character; build their character up; get weapons; armor abilities; new armor mods — and that will open the door for them.
GT: Will these be straight objective-based missions or will players be presented with choices or paths to take in each level?
CH: We’ve done a lot of different mission types and objective types so there’s going to be huge variety within the missions themselves, and each episode will be packaged in a way that we want to offer as much variety as possible. We don’t want it to be a stale experience. We want people to really enjoy it, come back and we want to draw them in with the compelling gameplay that we’re offering.
GT: Will Spartan Ops have an impact on future Halo titles?
CH: We do want to craft an experience that you, as your Spartan, can basically start to shape the future of Halo. We want you to feel empowered; we want your character to drive the story. That’s the goal of Halo 4. It’s the incredible narrative that we’re tying across not only campaign, but in the Infinity multiplayer experience with War Games and Spartan Ops.
GT: What is the future of Spartan Ops?
CH: It’s certainly an experience that we want to keep going. We want this to continue, we want to craft the narrative so that people will be drawn in, much like a TV series that you see that people can pick up on Netflix — they’re always coming back to it, people are having water cooler talk. They will talk about that mission with in Spartan Ops that had an incredible ending, and then their friends can now also experience that.
GT: Thank you.
This interview was conducted in person on June 6, 2012 during E3 2012. GAMINGtruth thanks Chris Haluke for spending some time with us during the show.
Halo 4 is being developed by 343 Industries and will launch on Nov. 6, 2012 exclusively for the Xbox 360.