“[Halo is] a synthesis of a myriad of sci-fi stories, as well as many other fantasy and militaristic franchises… And what Halo does best is…it still cuts a straight path forward with its own style and tone.
It’s an ode, and something new, at the same time.”
In the beginning…
Halo entered the sci-fi scene as a video game in 2001 with the release of Halo: Combat Evolved on the original Xbox. Being strictly a video game, no one expected it to spawn the dynamic, evolving universe that exists today. Bungie’s franchise that began with this launch game for Microsoft’s Xbox has since become a series of games, including (at the time of this article) Halo 1, 2 and 3, Halo: 3 ODST, and Halo: Reach. Microsoft has additionally produced Halo: Wars, with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary set for November 15th 2011 release, and Halo 4 on the horizon.
But video games, arguably, aren’t the core to the success of the Halo franchise – at least not as it stands today. Technically speaking, Halo itself wasn’t a groundbreakingly innovative video game. One of the biggest factors of what made the game and eventually the series popular was how the stories were told, and the significance of these tales within the grander universe. Microsoft saw this, and since purchasing (and now having complete creative control over) the Halo franchise, which manifested in the form of 343 Industries- an in-house organization created in 2007 to oversee the franchise- they have taken Halo to all new levels, so to speak.
The expanding ring…
Back in 1999, Bungie – who themselves hold their community in high regards – provided additional fiction outside the video games for fans of the franchise.
They first teased their fans with the Cortana Letters – communications from the AI construct Cortana – hinting at details about the story of the upcoming game Halo: Combat Evolved. But while the Master Chief led the charge into the primary Halo confrontation, in his wake were left hints of other untold places and characters, times and conflicts. In 2004, the promotional campaign “I Love Bees” broke new ground in the Alternate Reality Gaming genre to promote Halo 2 – bringing Halo fiction back in time into our 20th century while exploring in parallel a civilization with which we could sympathize in 2552. In 2007 this community-centered story expansion trend continued with “Iris” to promote Halo 3 – introducing fans more intimately to the much older, mysterious legacy of the ancient Forerunner race.
With such development of the Halo fiction universe, expectations were high that a feature film would be in the works. But when hopes were dashed with the news of unresolved disagreements between Microsoft and interested film studios, it seemed to bolster the community passion for more Halo fiction.
343 Industries continues to explore the Halo world through a myriad of novels, live actions shorts, and short story collections comprised of anime and literature — but they’ve also recognized the creative power of the Halo community, and their desire to be a part of, and to help shape the universe. Halo Waypoint is a key element in 343 Industries’ efforts to connect with and work with the community. Among its strengths is its existence as a hub highlighting fan-made content; whether in the form of in-game videos, or machinima video series, or other community creations.
The articles to follow in this series are not about the primary Halo creators and their stories that compose official canon.
Rather, with the many creative fans that have been inspired by what they’ve seen, watched, and experienced over the years, itching to explore the universe even further themselves, putting their own time and money into the creation of stories that enhance all that they’ve already come to adore — this series is meant to focus on them.
Write more good!
[Fan-fiction authors] are without a doubt some of the most passionate writers in existence
Fan-fiction is often promoted as an important element of a franchise’s transmedia strategy – affording the flexibility for a storyworld to expand and explore unique content, telling stories that may have only ever been hinted at, and enhancing the greater mythology conceived by the original creators. Quite often a fan-fiction community can run amok with enthusiastic writers taking characters in directions never initially considered (or desired), or otherwise making extra effort to adhere strictly to established canon. Many writings may only ever even reach the eyes of their fellow writers – but these creators are without a doubt some of the most passionate writers in existence. The Halo universe curators have taken this into account, actively embracing and promoting the creativity of its community – who produce content ranging from machinima, to fanfic, to fine arts, and many other forms of expression.
Fast forward to today… This November marks the 10th anniversary of the Halo franchise. And so, as part of my tribute to Halo, the articles to follow in this series are interviews in which I touch base with a few talented community individuals and Halo fans who have overseen the creation and execution of various storytelling projects. I present each of them a number of similar questions to get their own unique takes and perspectives on the Halo universe, to hear about their inspirations, to find out what spawned this desire to explore the storyworld, to learn about the successes and struggles they faced in creating each of their projects — and ultimately find out what it is that Halo means to them.
First up: Peter Cooper, director of Operation Chastity
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article!
Has it really been 10 years?
Here’s a little bit of a look back at the Halo franchise, from some other Halo and gaming community leaders…
Gametrailers.com has been covering the history of Halo’s 10 years in these retrospective videos:
Index 1 – The Hushed Casket
Index 2 – Once More Unto the Breach
Index 3 – Tip of the Spear
Index 4 – The Way The World Ends
Age of Gratitude
The Halo community has written a veritable love letter to the franchise in the form of a collection of memories and tributes to Bungie and Halo. Go browse the exhibition at AgeOfGratitude.com
More fan productions
Halo: The Fallen – VFX Teaser
This fan film is currently in production, and looking for community support (see links below the video for more!)
Other links to check out
- Fan fic sites: HBO/fanfic — Halofanon Wikia — Fanfiction.net/game/halo
- Article: Beyond the Ring: Bungie’s Renegade Development of Halo’s Fiction (IGN.com)
- Video: The Past, Present, And Future of Halo’s 343 Industries (GameInformer’s in-depth interview with Frank O’Connor and Bonnie Ross)
- Article: A payphone rings in New Mombasa… do you answer it? Do you? (4DFiction)
Other articles in the Halo Tales series: