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The Evolution of Halo

By John Byrne

July 21, 1999, during the Macworld Conference & Expo, Steve Jobs announced that Halo would be released for Mac OS and Windows simultaneously.
Bungie Studios later stated an even earlier development build of the game centered on real-time strategy.

At E3 2000, the first trailer of Halo was well-received. The version shown there differed greatly from the one exhibited previously, marking the first major overhaul in the game's development. At this point, Halo was a third-person action game.



One of the first Halo screenshots



Xbox Original

On the 19th of June, 2000, Microsoft announced they had acquired Bungie Studios. At that point, production of the game focused exclusively on Microsoft's new console, the Microsoft X Box.

X Box Original Logo

To fit the new platform, Halo became a First Person Shooter. And was molded into the game released for the original Xbox. Originally, online multi-player was a key element, but it was dropped because Xbox Live would be unfinished at the time of Halo's release. OXM was quoted as saying "The Xbox did not create Halo, Halo made the Xbox".



Halo 2 + XBL

Three years later, on November 9, Halo 2 launched. And soon afterwards hit a sales record that would be unbeaten until Halo 3. Halo 2 allowed players to utilize Microsoft's 'Xbox Live' service to play and compete with other players from around the world. While still keeping split-screen and system-link functions.

In the past, a single player would set his or her computer or console up as a the host, choosing the game type and map and configuring other settings. In Halo 2, there are set playlists and game-types for players to choose from. And the Xbox Live servers matched up players depending on the settings. This process is now used in most online games and is known as 'Matchmaking'.


Matchmaking Battle

The games multiplayer was held to be one of the best of all time, staying consistently at the top of the most played Xbox Live title from November 2004 up until November 2006, when Gears of War released.
  
On April 15, 2010, the Halo 2 multiplayer services, along with all other original Xbox LIVE services, were discontinued. However, some of Halo 2's fans left their Xbox's running after April 15. These players continued playing online amongst one another but no new players could sign on. On April 30, 2010 only 12 fans remained, nicknamed the "Noble 12", they continued to play games among themselves. Stephen Toulouse, director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, tweeted "To those noble folk keeping Halo 2 alive: we see you, and we salute you,". 

These hardcore fans were awarded Halo: Reach Beta keys because of their attempts to keep Halo 2 alive. On May 10, 2010, "Agent Windex" was quoted as saying "I just got kicked off guys. Good Job Apache, you're the last one". Later that day, "Apache N4SIR", the very last person on Halo 2, was booted from Xbox LIVE. This marked the end of Halo 2 on Xbox LIVE and the end of the original Xbox LIVE.



Halo 3 + Reception

Halo 3 was released on September 25th, 2007 after a year long marketing campaign and 'hype buildup'.



Part of the Halo 3 promo

The game brought the return of 'The Master Chief' and an end to the trilogy. An improved matchmaking system was implemented. Along with features new to the game, theater and forge. The Theater mode allows players to save films from the campaign, multi-player, and forge, and also get film clips and take screenshots. This feature of Halo 3 has been used famously, for making Machinima videos and montages.

Forge is a game mode designed to allow players to customize and share maps for custom games. Players can edit objects, spawn points, weapons, vehicles and properties of objects on the map. 



In between games

Halo Wars cover art

Halo Wars is a real-time strategy, and the last game by Ensemble Studios. (Age of Empires)
In Halo Wars, players command armies of both the UNSC and the Covenant in Skirmish Player vs Player modes online and locally. Or jump into the story mode and play Campaign.

All the cut-scenes were pre-rendered C.G.I. sequences created by Blur StudioThis does not include the "vignettes" (introductory and conclusion sequences) which were rendered in-game using the game engine.


Previously Halo 3: Recon

Halo 3: ODST was an expansion to Halo 3 that added to the story and included new multi-player maps for the online mode of Halo 3. The game type known as 'Firefight' is what O.D.S.T. is most notable for. Firefight has no limit to the waves of enemies, and continues until the squad has completely run out of lives, the squad shares a pool of lives. There are five Waves in a Round and three Rounds in a Set. Due to technical difficulties, Firefight wasn't available for the matchmaking service, but player could still host and invite others to their games. 



Move to 343

Halo 4 box art

In October 2007, shortly after the release of Halo 3Halo developer Bungie split off from Microsoft. Bungie proceeded to work on a new projects of their own and as the rights to Halo remained with Microsoft, they created a new division, 343 Industries, to manage the franchise. 343 Industries then went on to began a new series of Halo games, the Reclaimer Saga.



The Reclaimer Saga

Halo: Xbox One release

The next game in the series, Halo 4, was announced at E3 2011 as the first entry in a new series of Halo games, at the time dubbed "The Reclaimer Trilogy", this was changed later to reflect the plans Microsoft and 343 Industries had for the series. The series is aimed at bringing more human-like character to the Master Chief.

Future Developments

"Halo Xbox One", announced simply with the title Halo, is the tentative title for the upcoming ninth installment in the new Halo sagaIt is set to be released on the Xbox One in late 2014 and I for one am very much looking forward to finding out how this franchise has re-invented itself once again.