Joystiq interview: Bungie's Jarrard talks Halo 3: Recon, new weapons, details

Recently, Bungie Studios community director Brian Jarrard - better known to Halo fans as "Sketch" - took some time to clear up a few lingering questions about Halo 3: Recon and Halo 3's upcoming Mythic Map Pack as well as some general Bungie topics.

From our informal chat, we learn that Halo 3: Recon will stay relatively true to Halo 3's formula, meaning that we won't be seeing any game engine improvements or added features. But Jarrard did confirm that (at minimum) one new weapon will make an appearance in Recon and a new soundtrack will debut. We also touch on the topic of Recon's Forge, learning what it is not and discuss why Bungie chose to not make it as feature-rich as a map editor like, say, what Far Cry 2 has to offer. There's Vidmaster achievement and Mythic Map Pack talk as well and the conversation somehow leads to the topic of global domination and pie.

Why did Bungie feel the urge to go back and tell a part of Halo 2's story through a the ODST's point of view?

Halo 3: Recon is really a labor of love for our fans. Halo 3 is still going strong, there is a lot of demand for more, more, more. Just doing more of the same wasn't good enough for us, so the team started working on ideas to change things up a bit. The ODSTs have always been fan favorites and the events that unfolded on Earth is something fans still clamor for after being "short changed" in Halo 2. Everything just added up and it's a win-win really.

Does the ODST and all three other co-op players (presumably ODST soldiers) have back story written into the Halo lore?

You will get familiarized with the characters in Recon, but not to the extent of someone like Master Chief, who has been the subject of exhaustive back story and spin-off material.

Seeing that Halo 3's engine will be two years old by the time Recon releases, will it be improved with new effects, new visuals and some sort of anti-aliasing?

This is very much an expansion to Halo 3, being built on top of the existing technology. This allows our team to focus on the gameplay elements first and foremost, since this is a very short cycle for us. So, that also means it will have full feature parity (4 player co-op, saved films, screenshots, stats, etc.) as Halo 3.

Sounds like Recon is staying pretty true to being an expansion in terms of features. So, would it be a fair assumption to say there won't be any new/modified weapons, new equipment or a new soundtrack?

"I believe I saw a new weapon already in the announcement trailer and I think I heard some new music as well. I can't really talk about that stuff in detail right now."

I don't think that's a fair assumption. I believe I saw a new weapon already in the recent announcement trailer and I think I heard some new music as well. I can't really talk about that stuff in detail right now.

So, you're just going to leave us with that tease?

Okay, I will confirm new music and at least one new gun.

Many fans have speculated that the blue and red Covenant outline that was seen in Recon's announcement trailer hints a it being component of the actual gameplay. Is that something we should expect in Recon or was that done for trailer purposes?

The components of the announcement trailer are very true to the spirit of the actual game. All will be revealed in due time.

What about Forge? We heard there will be "expanded Forge options." What should we expect?

Yes, I had a feeling the word "expanded" would be misinterpreted, especially in light of the recent frenzy of speculation surrounding "Forge 2.0" and "campaign Forge" rumors that came up after our recent acceptance videos.

You're referring to the video that showed off some sort of blue grid, correct?

Yes, that's the one. We've already debunked any notion of a "Forge 2.0", but all of the multiplayer maps that are included with Recon will definitely take advantage of Forge in various ways.

Did Bungie ever consider a map editing tool as powerful as a map editor like Far Cry 2?

"Attempting to do a full geometry editor like Far Cry 2 would have possibly killed us or at least severely delayed the game's release."

Forge was our first step into the realm of letting people start to manipulate and create custom content and manipulate multiplayer experiences. Considering how much we already managed to cram into Halo 3 from a tech/feature perspective, attempting to do a full blown geometry editor like Far Cry 2 would have possibly killed us or at least severely delayed the game's release. We're really happy with how Forge turned out though and, honestly, it's still coming into it's own. With the recent updates to and improving file sharing, we're seeing more custom content being created and shared than ever before. Our Forge editor was always designed as a social experience, something you goof around with and have fun with your friends, but also something powerful enough to alter the way a map is played.

Speaking of maps, there's a bunch of confusion regarding how the Recon exclusive multiplayer maps and general matchmaking experience will work next Fall. Can you briefly explain how matchmaking between Halo 3 and Halo 3: Recon will function, if they'll share the same matchmaking space, and if the content from the Recon disc will be stored on the 360's HDD?

Think of Halo 3: Recon really as two games in one. You have the new Recon campaign that is a separate "title ID" and includes 1000 gamerscore and achievements, etc. It's campaign only. The multiplayer maps are more Halo 3 goodness, still considered "regular" Halo 3 content and the multiplayer stuff is interchangeable in that regard. If you purchase the Mythic Map pack via the Xbox Live Marketplace early next year, but your friend doesn't get those maps until the Recon disc comes out, they will work together just fine.

So, Recon will include the complete Halo 3 multiplayer experience (maps and all) and will communicate/share matchmaking space with other Recon players as well as Halo 3 players?

"If you buy the Mythic Map pack via the XBLM early next year but your friend doesn't get those maps until Recon comes out, they will work together just fine."

I don't think those specifics are completely ironed out yet beyond the guaranteed addition of new maps to the Recon package

Regarding the Mythic Map Pack, does January 6th hold any significance?

Really, there is no date set for the release right now. We want nothing more than to get them into the hands of our fans, but we're waiting to find out when that will be. The sooner the better.

Thanks to the latest Halo 3 title update and the reveal of the Mythic achievements, we know there will be six new Mythic maps. Will any of the maps be remakes of either Halo or Halo 2 maps? Like, say, a remake of Ivory Tower?

Well, the only map I'm really able to talk about right now is the one we've already revealed, Assembly, which is a completely original creation.

Come on Brian, not even a little tease? Will we see either remade OR inspired-by Halo or Halo 2 maps in the Mythic Pack?

(they are listening ...)

We'll take that.

I can confirm you will not see a remake or inspired version of Chiron TL34.

Shucks, I know a lot of fans were really rooting for that remake. Those same Mythic achievements also revealed multiplayer skulls. Traditionally, skulls were hidden in Halo 3 campaign levels, how will unlocking skulls work in a multiplayer environment?

Skulls like to hide.

A game of find the hidden skull and unlock an achievement?

That sounds like a reasonable assumption.
Continuing our achievement curiosity, what about those Vidmaster achievements? You've been quoted as saying that they'll lead to "something that should be of great interest to fans." Care to explain?

Well, I meant that the Vidmaster Achievements will ultimately result in something cool that, I assume, would be of great interest.

Like in-game content, recon armor or a piece of pie?

I do not think we can support the logistics or infrastructure required to bake and distribute desserts on a global scale. If only ...

You might want to invest in that, I believe it to be an integral part to the success of Bungie's plan for global domination. So, here's an interesting one for you. If Halo 4 were "theoretically" in development, would Bungie be interested in developing it? If not and Bungie wanted to pursue other projects, would Bungie be comfortable allowing another studio to take the Halo 4 reins?

"Whether or not we are comfortable with someone else doing [a Halo sequel] is somewhat irrelevant. "

As a studio we do still enjoy the Halo universe and there are still many people who would be interested in exploring more ideas in that space. Whether or not we are comfortable with someone else doing it is somewhat irrelevant. It isn't really our call and we already know there are multiple Halo projects underway that Bungie is not involved with.

Finally, what's up with Bungie denying Xbox 360 Fanboy's request for a Humpday Challenge? You aren't scared of our "elite" Halo 3 skills or afraid of being shown up. Are you?

Is this another attempt at redemption for the whooping you took at PAX?

Again, you bring up that painful memory.

We haven't had a Humpday Challenge in a little while, but it sounds like something you and Mr. Smith should take up directly considering he's the one who schooled you once already.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.