Behind the Scenes Halo 2

The title shot.

Behind the Scenes: Making of Halo 2 is a featurette included in the Limited Collector's Edition Disc of Halo 2. It chronicles the production of the game up to its release.



(A Gregorian chant and Halo is on the camera)


(While he speaks the Legendary Ending of Halo: Combat Evolved Goes on)

Jason: Halo 2 was just an extension to all the excitement we felt on the first game.

(Guitar version of the Mjolnir Mix plays)

(MC's Ghost drives through an overturned Phantom with it still firing)

(Phantom Explodes)

"In every way, we've really increased the scale and the scope of the game."

(MC flies by the CC with Longswords flying by him)

Marcus Lehto: "Exploring huge environments ten times the size of Halo 1."

Shi Kai Wang: "It's about kicking ass in as many ways as possible, in as many different bodies as possible."

Eddie Smith: "Halo 2 is about guns and more guns. That's what it's about."

"There's a lot of story that we didn't get to tell. There are characters that we had conceived of and even in some cases modeled. And it's also the same group of people, too. And they all still want to do what they're doing."

"We want our game to look like a movie. We want it to look like something that's just unbelievable to experience."

"I guess we're sort of feeding off each other, so it's a really creative group of people that trust each other."

Jason Jones: "The really important thing to do now is to take all these different disciplines, who are all working on their own things, and take all these pieces--take the AI code and the physics and the guys working on the levels--and bring all these pieces together at the same time. Then you keep doing that, you keep colliding things together until it's a game."

Joseph Staten: "This process began with the end of Halo and realizing all the stuff that we had left out, and Jason, and I, and Jamie, and a few other people, sitting down and thinking really hard about, 'Wow, what did we really want to tell?' And then Jason locked himself in a room for a while and organized his core ideas and then came to me and said, 'Hey, these are my thoughts about a story for Halo 2. What do you think?'

Jason Jones: "Yeah, I don't know if we're crazy or stupid, or we just like good stories, or what, but we certainly worry about that a lot more than you might think we'd have to in a game that's mostly just about action and about not thinking."

Jaime Griesemer: "In Halo 1, there was maybe 30 seconds of fun that happened over and over and over again, so if you can get 30 seconds of fun, you can pretty much stretch that out to be an entire game. Encountering a bunch of guys, melee attacking one of them before they were aware, throwing a grenade into a group of other guys, and then cleaning up the stragglers before they could surround you. And so you can have all the great graphics, and all the different characters, and lots of different weapons with amazing effects, but if you don't nail that 30 seconds, you're not gonna have a great game."

Joseph Staten: (holds up script) "This is the copy of the script—the cinematic script for Halo. This document needs to talk to programmers, and artists, and animators, and everybody. This is 160 pages worth of cinematic. That's kind of crazy if you just think about it on its own. But when you look at a game which is 15 levels long, and with a couple of protagonists, and a fairly complex story arc, we need to drive the player's experience for 20 hours of game play, say. 120 minutes of cinematic doesn't really seem that out of proportion. But just to look at it prima facie, it's pretty daunting. You think, 'My God, you're making a feature film.'"

Jason Jones: "It's not about making it complex, and it's not about playing movies for 2 hours between every 5 minutes of game play, but the more you can make somebody believe that they're in this cool place, that they're on Halo fighting the Covenant, instead of... whatever, sitting in their living room at two in the morning, trying to finish some stupid video game."

Marcus Lehto: (pointing at render of Forerunner structure, while speaking to other employee) "There's a lot of complexity here up in this geometry, but look down now. There's very little of it down here. I think we should try to flip-flop some of that." Cut to interview. "We start with the story, first of all. We get a good background to the entire game. Just a foundation for things, and then we start building levels off of that." Play montage of an early version of Sacred Icon. "This particular level that I'm looking at right now, is called the Sentinel Headquarters. The Sentinel is this hovering character. They don't need floors, they can fly up and through the ceilings, they can fly through portals that are 20 feet up. But you, as the character will have the challenge of traversing this interesting terrain inside this structure. Up and across teamwork and trough these tiny portals throughout the space, so it's going to be really interesting for the player to explore."

(At a meeting. Text: April 2003, 21 months to ship)

Hamilton Chu: "All right! We made it, huh? All right, Michael's going to talk about the engineering and stuff."

Michael Evans: "It's amazing to me how good stuff looked and how much progress we have, but something I've been thinking a lot about is E3."

Cut to interviews.

Jaime Griesemer: "E3 stands for the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It's the biggest event in the video game world, where all the developers, and all the publishers, and all the gaming press all get together for... It's almost a week-long carnival practically."

Jason Jones: "Trade shows are useful because they make you get your shit together."

Michael Evans: "It's important for use to get excited about what we get done for E3 because we need to build that excitement up and go..." (makes explosion noise)

Cut back to meeting.

Michael Evans: "God damn, we have a lot of work to do between now and E3."

Cut to interviews.

Jason Jones: "I think it's really important to be ambitious. I think it's important to have more balls in the air than you can catch at the end when it all comes down to it and you have to ship a game. But certainly you can go too far."

Joseph Staten: "Of all the people on the team, Tyson and I are probably the people who are most frightening for Jason and the programmers. We are the most crazy-scripting, crack-smoking, 'This would be so cool. Damn the frame rate! Let's pound the code and make these crazy things happen!'"

Tyson Green: "Yesterday before the demo, we had all this stuff that we were just throwing in, and finally something began to catch and we started moving. But all this stuff that didn't exist two hours earlier, is all of a sudden in the demo ready to show to people. That's when it's the most rewarding, the most fun, to be doing this sort of stuff is when it clicks."


Arbiter: There was nothing I could do.

MC: We've got a problem.

Pilot: Thirty seconds out- Whoa...

Rtas Vadumee: Fighters get away!

Rtas Vadumee: Warriors prepare for combat!