This is most of an impromptu interview we held with Lars Bakken, multiplayer designer for Bungie after play-testing the new Firefight (survival) mode on Halo 3: ODST at PAX. Lars was gracious and generous with his time; a thoroughly nice bloke.
LARS: So you’ve got six skulls that turn on progressively as the game goes further in, and then after three you get a bonus round where we just turn on all the skulls, including Iron (round restarts on death), and we pour grunts in. Pretty much the only way to survive is to go for head shots. It’s a way for you to basically get lives, because I don’t know how much you play, but as you get to the next round we refill the health, we refill the weapons, and it’s like “hey, you made it, go on to the next round”.
DC: Is there a limit to how many waves there’s going to be?
LARS: No, it never ends. It’s just as long as you can survive. I mean it does get to a point where all the skulls turn on, and it’s very hard.
DC: We had infinite lives when we played, but with only seven lives between four people, how long would a game last for the average player?
LARS: It’s hard to say, people of different skill levels will last different lengths of time. In the studio, we can go for like an hour and a half, two hours sometimes, but when the game comes out, we really don’t know how long people are going to last.
DC: How long is the single player campaign going to take?
LARS: There are so many different variables, the game is actually laid out pretty differently now, you’ve got this big city at night, you’re playing the flashback levels in a different sequence. It’s an open world map, you can go round and find these cool objects and when you do you can play the flashback level, and then you get more of the story. Because of that there’s other things going on in the city that we haven’t really talked about, so for people who are really into Bungie games, and the lore, there’s a lot of really cool stuff in there for them to look around and find, so they may spend hours and hours, but there are going to be people who want to go straight through to each thing, and just finish the game. And I would say playing the campaign is on a par with the original Halo 3, so the amount of time you put into that, it’s about the same.
DC: How does that interact with the story, because you’re meant to be a lone soldier, aren’t you?
LARS: Well you’re not in the city at night when you’re playing co-op, you have three other ODST buddies with you, and when you do a flashback, player one is always going to be the guy in the flashbacks, if it’s Dutch, or Mickey, or Buck, and then once again have the three ODSTs with him.
Halo 3: ODST is released on Tuesday and here is my comprehensive list of predictions for some things that will happen in the game.
- About halfway through, the flood will turn up.
That is all.