April 2, 2013

343 talks about the in game limitations of the Prometheans of Halo 4


While everyone was talking about Joe Staten's Destiny panel at GDC, the lads from 343 Industries were also having a post mortem on Halo 4. An intruiging story has come out from Scott Warner about the challenge of designing the Promethean enemy and the success of it.

"We had a number of concerns about the Forerunners that we thought went not completely according to plan and could be improved upon"

IAn apparent "absence of high level vision" on the various Promethean creatures' gameplay mechanics caused 343 to pursue design ideas that were ultimately canned: "It would have been easier for us to understand if we'd had more definition around these characters early on, as far as who they were." Warner gave the example of a prototype build in which two Promethean Knights balled themselves up and attacked Master Chief.

On game play level , Warner mused his view that Halo 4's enemies were shipped with damage tuning and gameplay mechanics that were less than ideal. "The Watcher often encourages a one dimensional approach to those encounters," Warner said, "which we saw develop over time through using research and our own play testing. We knew it'd be a problem, [but] we didn't have a great solution for it before we shipped."

"The damage tooling for the characters," he explained, "we felt like we went a little bit too aggressive with this. When you fight the Watcher, there isn't really a good way to circumvent that interaction with him fast, you have to put a bunch of bullets in him – same way with the Knight. So that, over time, can tip the scale to where it's less fun to interact with him."

Warner explained further how the Prometheans gave they player little in the way of 'tells' as to what they were up to. "The Covenant do a good job of telling you that you've surprised them, or they've got the drop on you, or they feel proud that they've taken you out; that they're scared," he said.

"Our Prometheans don't do that very well, they're very – I hesitate to use the term 'robotic', but they tend to not show a lot of emotion or communicate their state very well in terms of what we'd like to do, what we think would be ideal for those characters. So that's one big area of improvement we're looking for as we move along with our character development in future games."

I've played Halo 4 through twice now and would have to agree with the Watcher observation - if anything should have been cut from Halo 4, it was the Watchers. They offer little of the classic Halo excitement prior games have offered!

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