Friday, February 18, 2005

about the Halo 2 battle guide

The Unauthorized Halo 2 Battle Guide: Advanced Combat Techniques


the battle guide is my latest book. it was my first project working with the StudioB agency. all of us involved have been thrilled with the response to this title. one day, I looked to see how the book was doing and I was shocked to see that it had an Amazon sales ranking of #303 in books.

I feel that the book's showing was obviously a result of the stunning success of Halo and my collaboration with crew116 and MrJukes. while it's true that I was a Halo 2 beta tester before I left Microsoft, I'm not in the same league as some of the people who helped out with the book. they have been playing together since the release of Halo 1 and they are the best at Microsoft - they truly are world class.

the book was really born of frustration. after getting owned for awhile during the beta, I tried to find good sources of halo strategy info. I was surprised to discover that there weren't any comprehensive resources that I could use to improve my game. after I left MS, I figured that a fun project would be to try and fill the gaps.

I decided to focus on the most obviously deficient topic - the multiplayer game. the battle guide quickly covers basic combat techniques/strategy and then dives head first into the stuff that most players want to read: practical advice about how to improve their performance.

after basic combat, the book covers topics such as advanced combat, single player strategy, and team strategy. the team section was particularly important so I used a number of references for that chapter. these references include the combat leader's field guide, warfighting and the art of war. rather than suggest that readers buy these books, I figured I'd save them the trouble of finding the relevant info. and simply include them in the battle guide.

at the end of the battle guide schedule, I had to put in some crazy hours. obviously the publisher wanted the book complete as soon as possible. to make the Christmas deadline, I agreed to shoot all of the hundreds of screenshots in just four days. I ended up working one stretch that was over 36 hours, but after working at Microsoft that didn't phase me at all. during the shooting time, I had people coming over to my apartment to act as the "battle guide players". I just hope that my friends didn't get too annoyed with me as I asked them to maneuver multiple Halo characters. in the end, a free book didn't seem like enough of a reward for those who helped.

although the schedule for this title was incredibly aggressive, I enjoyed the process and the project led to a number of other opportunities. I'm not sure how long I'll be writing about Halo, but I know that I'll be doing at least another couple of titles (see: new project - Halo book for oreilly and next project - Halo book for SAMS).

Note: although it's true that I was a Beta tester for Halo 2, I began work on this book after I had left Microsoft. by that time, the Beta was long over. therefore, I did not have access to an un-released version of the game while I wrote the book. in addition, while at Microsoft I did not work for the games division. when I met with Crew 116, we played Halo 1 and talked about general strategy -- if you were hoping to read an insider's view, this isn't the book for you. the battle guide is 100% publicly accessible material.

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