Frank O'Connor, the franchise development director for "Halo" at Microsoft Game Studios, is charged with shepherding the franchise into the future, making sure that Master Chief doesn't find himself on the back of diaper boxes and starring in life insurance commercials. "Halo: Legends" is his main focus right now. Created in the style of "The Animatrix," "Halo: Legends" is a series of short, animated films set in the "Halo" universe. We spoke to O'Connor to get the scoop on the brainstorming process on some of these shorts.
O'Connor said it started like most brainstorming sessions:
"We sat around and we had some story beats and ideas and basic principles. We wanted to tell some Spartan origin stories, we wanted to take a look at Elite culture, we wanted a pure action piece that was all about 26th century battle technology. We had these broader concepts and we refined those down to ideas and in some cases we refined them down into synopses and treatments and even full scripts in one or two cases."
From there it was a matter of getting the right folks for the job. Microsoft Games Studios had already created a list of dream animators, and it was simply a matter of reaching out to the appropriate parties.
"We had some people in mind for certain things. An example of that would be we wanted Production I.G to work on the Elite stuff, because some of the stuff they've done in historical and feudal Japan had some resonance with what we wanted to do with the Elites. So we presented that idea to them and they went with it and expanded on it and made something really cool in an episode that's called 'The Duel.'"
In some cases, though, they didn't even need to reach out.
"On the flipside of that we had Shinji Aramaki, who's the direct of a piece called 'The Package.' He's the director of 'Appleseed: Ex Machina.' He's a huge 'Halo' fan to begin with, and when he knew this project was happening, he approached our producer in Japan… Aramaki's completed the game on Legendary several times. I think I've only done it twice. He was so into the detail and the granularity of the universe...that a lot of story sprung out of him. That happened with the other studios too, but Aramaki was the biggest 'Halo' fan of the bunch."
"Halo: Legends" is prepped for a February, 2010 release date. It'll launch on Blu-Ray and DVD and come packed with commentary from O'Connor (alongside co-director Joseph Chou).