SDCC '08 - The Halo Panel

The vast stretches of space that make up the Halo Universe outside of the franchise’s founding three Halo games drew a roomful of fans into a packed room at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

On the panel, which covered the Halo book and toy series as well as the new Real Time Strategy Game, Halo Wars were:

Graeme Devine, the writer of Halo Wars as well as other gaming classics such as The 7th Guest.

Frank O'Connor, Bungie Studios, Halo Creative Director

Joseph Staten, formally the Bungie Studios Director of Cinematics, but now has a new undisclosed position as well as being the author of the new book, Halo: Contact Harvest

Eric Nyland, Author, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx

Tobias Buckell Author, Halo: The Cole Protocol (Due Fall '08)

Jon Goff & Corrinne Robinson from McFarlane Toys, Brand Management

The crowd, all fans of the nuanced details of the Halo Universe thought the books (almost all on the top of the New York Times best seller list upon their releases) was very engaged, some dressed in costume, all laughing at in-jokes that are impermeable to non-fans.

The panel hushed as the panel ran one-half of the opening cinematic, called “Five Long Years,” to the upcoming RTS game, Halo Wars. In it, the human military forces undergo a pitched land battle against the overwhelming Covenant army, a coalition of alien races with a holy mission to wipe out humankind. Devine then described that the game will follow the story of the “Sprit of Fire” a Navy spacecraft involved in a long running battle for control of a planet called Harvest, early in the Halo timeline, before the core games take place. The game will also allow players to play as the Humans or as the Covenant in multiplayer on Xbox Live.

Frank O’Connor then described his work with Tor Books and other companies on the development of the Halo Franchise.

Joe Staten announced that along with his not announcing his new job announcement, he has no other announcements, which drew a disappointed laugh.

Tobias Buckell urged people to read his new Halo book, The Cole Protocol, the story behind the pact to protect Earth’s location from the Covenant by any means necessary, and is named for its creator, one of Humanity’s first great heroes of the war. However, more details were held back by O’Connor, other then the fact that “the big thing we wanted to blow up will be blown up.”

Jon Goff and Corrinne Robinson showed pictures of the Halo Series 3 and 4 toys in work as well as the Halo Legendary Collection; large scale poseable statues of the Arbiter, the Master Chief fending off some Flood, and a gravity hammer wielding Brute warrior.

The panel then broke right out into questions and answers, with some fans winning prizes of action figures and book bags for answering Halo Universe trivia questions.

One fan asked about the special ending to Halo 3 if it is completed on Legendary Difficulty, Staten joked back “we come up with a lot of stuff late at night, like that ending, but we don’t always know what we are doing.”

Some one asked how long it takes a Shield World, like Onyx to reopen, but Nylund couldn’t expand on that.

A fan of Admiral Cole asked about what happened after he took his fleet to Harvest, and Devine replied that in the year 2531 something cool would happen, but he can’t get into it now.

Tobias Bucknell was asked for more details about his new book, and he replied that it covers “Alliances and betrayals in the cervices of the Halo Universe involving the Gray Team.”

One fan of Halo 3 asked about new armor sets, but O’Connor said it’s really hard to add that kind of content after release, but they might someday, which segued into another question, if the next map pack will be named “Mythic” after the difficulty level beyond Legendary, which was the name of the last new map pack. Staten replied that since Halo 2 was still of the top of the original Xbox’s Live usage rankings, and Halo 3 is near the top for the Xbox 360’s, new content is all but guaranteed.

One call for the reveal of the Master Chief face was booed by the crowed, but O’Connor mentions a description in an existing book, but Staten says, “You can see his face every time you look in a mirror”

Two quick questions about Halo Wars revealed there will be a population cap in multiplayer to discourage Zerging, and that Spartan 2s will be involved in some way in the game, but there will be a limit to them in the story mode.

Finally one fan asked about the Master Chief and his relationship with the Linda character from the books, the panel laughed and Nylund replied “he shouldn’t make Cortana [the female AI sidekick from the original games] jealous because he needs her to tell him where to go. I’ll leave relationships up to the fan fic writers.”

On the way out Halo Wars bottle openers were distributed.

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