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The Halo 3: ODST: Terra Incognita focuses on the development of the game. The title is Latin and translates to "Unknown Land" (more literally "Earth Unknown") likely in reference to the game developers and how they entered unfamiliar territory in their development of Halo 3: ODST.[1]


Halo 3 ODST ViDoc - "Terra Incognita" HD

Halo 3 ODST ViDoc - "Terra Incognita" HD

0:12 - Curtis Creamer: There was this great idea that we could get, you know, like maybe a two/three hour sort of mini-campaign.

0:19 - Jay Weinland: Well that was the original plan. Not quite what happened, but, since we pretty much ended up making a full game.

0:27 - Michael Wu: The game gets more and more ambitious, and then next thing you know it's not like anything you've ever worked on before.

0:34 - Joseph Staten: We knew we wanted to keep what was great, that people loved about the Halo experience, that 30 seconds of fun, over and over again. We knew we had to preserve that, but at the same time give it an ODST spin.

0:46 - Paul Bertone Jr.: We wanted to try something that we'd never done before, and I think that means breaking the mold of what people expect from Halo.

0:52 - CJ Cowan: Here's an engine; here's a story; you got a year; go.

{Title displays: HALO 3:ODST ViDoc .TERRA INCOGNITA}

1:02 - Curtis Creamer: One of the great challenges that we had with ODST was, since we didn't want to be traveling all across the universe in this gigantic space opera, we wanted to really focus on one place.

1:13 - Paul Bertone Jr.: The Hub was the single most technical thing that we've ever accomplished in the Halo engine.

1:20 - Curtis Creamer: There was a lot of work done to try to come up with smart ways that we could build the city. It's definitely the biggest environment that we've, that we've made in any Halo game.

1:30 - Paul Bertone Jr.: We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how can we, how can we maximize the space without uh, freaking out all the artists. And I think we figured out how to maximize the space really well, and I don't think we ever figured out that second part too well. (laughs)

1:47 - Blake Low: We want the player to have this open, visceral sort of 'you're in the city' experience. We started experimenting, playing with elevation, playing with building shapes.

1:57 - Samuel Jones: It's a city that you actually completely walk through. Each BSP is directly alongside the other BSP. You walk through the door and go into the other BSP. The road structure is not straight, it's diagonal; it's also multi-layered. I don't think we realized how big the city would get.

2:18 - Alex Pfeiffer: We basically had to build very specific tech, that would give the AI the right type of behavior. We had the technology, we called it squad patrol. No matter where you were inside the Hub there would always be a certain amount of noise, a certain amount of enemy presence there that we ratchet up and ratchet down depending on what we needed it to do.

2:43 - Justin Hayward: We needed to have this dark, moody city, without making it unplayable.

2:50 - Martin O'Donnell: I wanted to get a feeling of rain at night in an abandoned city. I still like to score the emotions and mood that we want the player to feel when they're playing the game.

3:03 - Blake Low: We want people to explore the city. We want people to find this, you know this kind of hidden little sub-story.

3:11 - Joseph Staten: What if the phones rang?

3:15 - Martin O'Donnell: You're alone, you're in the city, you're trying to unravel a mystery, that's the feeling you have every time you're the Rookie.

3:26 - Joseph Staten: What's fun about being an ODST? How's he different from John-117? What kind of challenges does he face versus John?

3:32 - Dan Miller: If they're not the walking tank, they really have to pick up weapons that they're going to use.

3:39 - Joseph Staten: There were weapons that we added. The silenced submachine gun and the silenced pistol are absolutely the best tools for the job. Something the ODST's have that Spartans actually don't.

3:49 - Paul Bertone Jr.: Silenced weapons at night; they feel cool, they look awesome, they're really sweet to use.

3:56 - Jay Weinland: In real life silenced weapons don't have a whole lot of sound. So we had to kind of Hollywood 'em up a little bit. Kind of make it sound like they were silenced and were supposed to be silenced but yet still powerful and fun to fight with.

4:10 - C Paul Johnson: In a lot of ways it feels like Halo 1, because there's... it's back to single wielding.

4:15 - Paul Bertone Jr.: Dual wielding. Paul doesn't like dual wielding. So we cut it. (laughs)

4:23 - Michael Wu: VISR mode is really cool and it evolved a lot. There were versions that looked really great for the art, but yeah, maybe they didn't do such great things for the design.

4:33 - Blake Low: It affected how we lit something. We made this building and it looked great, we thought it was fine. You turn on the VISR mode you realize: that's really just a square.

4:41 - Michael Wu: But it also had the advantage of really showcasing depth of our scenes. Put on VISR mode and then the whole environment reveals its secrets to you.

4:55 - Joseph Staten: You know what sucks about big cities? You can get lost really quick. And that's where we came up with ideas for the VISR database, where you have a great map of the city that not only shows you where you are, but allows you to choose where you want to go. 

5:09 - Paul Bertone Jr.: If you don't have that tool to help you navigate the city, you're never gonna find the high-action flashback scenes which we were banking on to be the core fun of the game. It's a very simple idea. It was an amazing struggle to get there.

5:26 - Joseph Staten: When you combine those things we took away with things we added, such as the VISR, even though you might feel a bit more vulnerable, you have the right tools for the job.

5:37 - Lars Bakken: The hardest part about moving from Halo 3 to ODST was just the difference in the play styles of the characters.

5:47 - Joseph Staten: If you look at John-117 in the course of the Halo games, he became ridiculously powerful over time.

5:53 - Lars Bakken: And ODST feels very different because when you start taking fire you can't just continually keep kicking ass. You have to actually look for cover because you don't have a motion tracker like John.

6:11 - Paul Bertone Jr.: Bringing back the health was something that was born out of a discussion about how can we add a long-term level of tension to the game.

6:22 - Joseph Staten: For us health is important in the ODST's world, because it reminds you that you're vulnerable.

6:30 - Paul Bertone Jr.: We want to experience the story through the eyes of many different characters.

6:33 - Martin O'Donnell: We wanted to bring back the guys from Firefly again: Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk. Trying to find the perfect film-noir blonde we thought about Tricia Helfer.

6:44 - Tricia Helfer: (as Dare) Orders are orders.

6:46 - Nathan Fillion: (as Buck) Come on, Veronica. What could be more important than that carrier?

6:50 - Tricia Helfer: (as Dare) My orders. And Buck? Call me Captain. I'll pass on that dance, but you can show me where to sit.

6:59 - Joseph Staten: These little scenes we wanted to have their own mystery. It was the story of one guy, one object, one high-action moment. And for us the clue objects were the key.

7:12 - Buck: Dutch? We need to get above this crap, link up with the B-net. One of our drones must have seen where they hit.

7:17 - Lars Bakken: When you find a clue you're actually going back in time and playing in the boots from another ODST's perspective.

7:24 - Dutch: (to drones flying by) Good hunting, boys. I'm keeping my boots on the ground.

7:29 - CJ Cowan: We've got five main characters.

7:32 - Joseph Staten: Each of the characters have things to say from first person. Not only ground you in the character, but also give you some really useful tactical information about the battlefield.

7:41 - Dutch: There's a Covenant dropship behind us, they must know this is our rally point.

7:43 - Dutch: Where the heck did these buggers come from?

7:46 - Mickey: Underground tunnels are filled with the damn things!

7:48 - Dutch: We got ammo and weapons on the high ground. Move it, move it!

7:50 - CJ Cowan: Without spending a lot of effort personalizing each of those characters then it wouldn't mean as much when you step into their boots.

7:56 - Buck: We need some help in here!

7:58 - Mickey: 'Bam!' said the lady!

8:00 - Michael Wu: So I hope it's the right balance of new and old. I hope it doesn't come off like we're, like we've screwed the pooch on this one. But I do think they will probably walk away from this honestly wanting more.

8:16 - Buck: Whoa!

8:17 - Joseph Staten: Honestly, if we had more time to do ODST I really don't know what we would do differently. So if I got another two weeks? I don't know. I guess I'd play more ODST.


{PREPARE TO DROP 09.22.09}


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