Sunday, March 06, 2005

cool article: Halo's Pillar of Autumn

Stephen Loftus [SoundEffect] has posted an interesting article on that examines the scale of the Halo 1 ship, the Pillar of Autumn.

the article details the structure of the ship and then examines how well the first and last level actually fit into the virtual constraints. the author's conclusion is that Bungie was true to scale but didn't limit themselves to creating the levels within the specifications of the ship.

for example, when it comes to the final Halo level, Loftus notes that, "the Warthog 'Maw' drive at the game's end is fully three times the Autumn's entire length, yet it was supposedly a drive through the ship".

I found this article intriguing because of another consideration - that is, the pressure that Bungie is under to produce games that can withstand the investigation of the community microscope. this, it seems, is part of the price of the success of Halo.

for example, the Halo virtual universe isn't supposed to just allow for Halo game play, it is expected to obey the laws of physics. I recall reading a post where a Halo 2 fan pointed out that he could hit a container into the air and then melee it to keep it aloft. he wasn't happy because he discovered that the container's spin did not match the movement of his arm. think of how this must have made the Bungie developers feel. I can easily imagine the war cry coming from the Redmond Millennium buildings, "He did what?! A container! WTF! Does he know long we worked on the physics! What's his gamertag? Let's settle this!".

personally, I think it's great that the community is expecting quality work from game developers. Halo clearly set a new bar when it comes to the quality of the engine. speaking as a fan, I am not offended that the level designers deviated from the technical specs of the Autumn; just like fiction writers, I believe that they should have the artistic liberty to mold their virtual world to suit their needs. I certainly didn't know that anything was awry when I played Halo, so I'm fine with their choices. after all, they are the experts.

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