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Peter Jackson - Interview u.a. zu Halo Wars

29.09.2006 / 13:06 Uhr / Marc Friedrichs

Die X06 hat in Barcelona einige Bomben platzen lassen. Zum einen war Peter Jackson, Regisseur der Herr der Ringe-Trilogie und King Kong sowie Produzent des kommenden Halo-Films, zusammen mit Peter Moore von Microsoft auf der Bühne und erklärte, mit seinem neu gegründeten Softwarestudio Wingnut Interactive u.a. an einem Spiel aus dem Halo-Universum zu arbeiten, zum anderen war da die Ankündigung von Halo Wars, einem Strategiespiel der Macher von Age of Empires.

Dank dem Xbox Community Network (XCN) wurden uns jetzt zwei exklusive Interviews zur Verfügung gestellt. In dem einen spricht Peter Jackson über seine zukünftigen Spiele-Visionen, in dem anderen sprechen Phil Spencer und Dave Luehmann (jeweile Microsoft Game Studios) über Halo Wars.

Interview mit Peter Jackson:

When did your plans for this announcement start?

The Halo movie was the catalyst that actually made this all happen. Because we’re working on that we’ve been spending a lot of time with Bungie and Microsoft, talking about the movie. But after hours we found ourselves still talking about bringing games and movies together, as a completely separate thing to Halo. We were really talking about the future of interactive entertainment.

What exactly is it you’re working on?

It’s not a game, it’s not a movie, it’s a combination of the two. It won’t be like a traditional game experience, but it also won’t be like watching a DVD where you passively sit back and let it all happen in front of you. It’s going to be an interactive experience, so it’s not just about the characters, the plot and the storyline – and Bungie are obviously helping us a lot with this in the Halo series – but it’s about the technology we use to implement it. The most interesting thing about this for me has been working closely with Microsoft Game Studios and the guys at Bungie to start thinking about the kind of technical system we’re going to create to make this happen.

How will it differ from a traditional movie?

Movies rely on certain things that are actually counter-intuitive to games. Movies rely on a build-up of momentum and a narrative pacing, a process of characterisation and a creation of tension. It’s up to the filmmaker to control those elements closely if the film is to be engaging. The interesting part of this will be continuing to do that if the experience is interactive and thus some control is taken from the director and given to the person having the experience.

Could you give us a concrete example of how this could work?

I don’t really want to do that right now! We’ve talked about it for so long and we’ve got some really interesting ideas, but I don’t want to reveal them until we’re ready to release the content. I know how to make films. There is a structure and a technique, and I’m going to continue to make films because I love doing it. What intrigues me with this is that it offers a new and totally unique way of telling a story. We have so many ideas for stories and this particular medium is possibly a much better way of telling this stories. I’m not going to make these to tie in with films. We’ll either make a film or one of these new experiences.

Will it be along the lines of letting the viewer choose an action for the characters?

That’s some of what we’ve discussed. The trick is for the director to retain a level of control. You can’t just let the player take control of that because then it loses the essence of what makes a movie an emotionally engaging experience. I will say that I think what we’ll end up doing is very different to the kind of things people are thinking of at the moment.

You’re drawing on the Halo universe for the first of your projects. Why Halo?

Because we’re taking a huge step to create this new interactive experience we thought it would be easier, and cooler, to use a universe that already existed. I’m Bungie’s biggest fan and the Halo universe is so compelling and well-designed we thought it would be a perfect place to start. What we’re talking about here is a new way of telling a story, but it’s not related to the Halo film at all.

You’ve also formed a new development studio called WingNut Interactive. Are you already working on games and which platforms are you developing for?

I think it would be a mistake to think of it as a traditional games studio. It’s more of a partnership between us – and when I say us I mean myself, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, who as a team write scripts, develop our stories and produce our films – and Microsoft Game Studios. I’m not thinking about having specific games in development or constraining them to particular platforms. It’s more about exploring how we can create an interactive movie-style story along with the technology Microsoft has with the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. I think we can take that style of storytelling – which is very different from storytelling in games – and make it more interactive. At the moment it’s just myself, Fran and Phillipa sitting down with Microsoft and working out what we need to do to make our desires reality.

What did you involvement with Ubisoft’s King Kong teach you about the games industry?

Well I can’t claim much authorship of the game because I helped with it but I was still working on the film at the time. At the end of the day it is a videogame and it’s certainly not the same kind of thing that I’m talking about now. This is about a new way of telling stories, and the fun is going to be how we figure out that mechanism.

Hier das Interview über Halo Wars:

Could you give us an introduction to Halo Wars?

Dave Luehmann: Ensemble Studios is developing Halo Wars. They’ve made their name as one of the best RTS development teams in the world and their work with Age of Empires bears witness to that. For a while now they’ve wanted to turn their hand to bringing the RTS experience to the console. They had been working for almost a year on making the RTS and strategy genre work on a console, making it fun for the console gamer given the control method and the lack of a keyboard. Once they’d figured that out we started thinking about the kind of intellectual property we were going to add to the mix, and Halo seemed the obvious choice.

So the game engine came before Halo was involved?

Dave Luehmann: The intention was never to slam the Halo universe into this game. Rather, we realised that we had something very special and so we said let’s add to that by using something like Halo to really enhance that experience.

How does Ensemble and Bungie work together?

Dave Luehmann: There’s a lot of travel involved! The teams love to meet face-to-face to talk about the way the game looks, the way it feels, and the way it sounds. There’s also a lot of cooperation from a story standpoint, so both teams are working very closely together.

Bungie is known for being very protective of Halo. Has that caused problems in development for Ensemble?

Dave Luehmann: I think Bungie is very careful with Halo and that’s great. Ensemble is also very respectful of that and anything that happens in Halo Wars will happen under the full blessing of Bungie. There’s a real spirit of cooperation. Bungie hasn’t been in any way difficult – in fact they’ve been very forthcoming. Ensemble is also very protective of its role in the RTS development space and wouldn’t put its name on anything that didn’t live up to its past. It’s a great marriage, because both teams are very proud of their work.

Will you be able to play as the Covenant in Halo Wars?

Dave Luehmann: I don’t think we’ve made any promises on that…

Is Halo Wars a straight RTS or is it doing something different?

Phil Spencer: I think the term RTS will stick but when you play it I think you’ll see that it is very difficult. Ensemble started by working out how the strategy game could fit into the console environment, not from the point of view of working out how they could make a Halo RTS game. Halo actually started as an RTS on Mac, but this is a completely new endeavour.

What are the issues behind sorting out the joypad controls for a console RTS like Halo Wars?

Phil Spencer: You say issues, but we say opportunities. Using a mouse and keyboard might seem like a great way to play an RTS, but for many players the sheer number of keys and the poor mapability of options puts them off. The ablility to access the commands you use all the time isn’t that different to the commands you never use. With a joypad you can prioritise the main commands so that the player can reach them quickly and easily, while demoting the second tier of commands. I also think there’s an opportunity in the future to play an RTS on Windows with a joypad. There’s a lot of potential in mapping RTS controls to a joypad.

Dave Luehmann: Let’s not forget that only a few years ago people said that an FPS wouldn’t work on console because of the controls, and look where we are now! We’re always trying to change how the business works, and that’s what we’re trying to do with Halo Wars.

There are so many Halo stories being told – Halo 3, Halo Wars, the Halo movie, novels, graphic novels and so on. Will there be lots of crossover in the narrative of Halo Wars with these other sources?

Phil Spencer: The fiction will remain true to itself. Maintaining the consistency and the quality of the Halo story is all-important. You’ll see references to other things in the Halo universe because it’s all one world. If something has happened in the past, it will have happened across all the whole Halo universe. We actually have a team dedicated to guarding that continuity so we don’t need to wipe the slate clean every time we add a new chapter to the Halo story. Also, for the people who read all the novels we need to make sure that they don’t have to forget about something they experienced in the Halo universe because we haven’t checked it out properly.

Will Halo 3 or Halo Wars launch first?

Dave Luehmann: We haven’t announced a date for either. Unfortunately!

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