The Halo franchise was the face of Microsoft gaming for quite a while. And from mission one, the Master Chief has been the face of Halo. Even though the franchise has followed other stories such as Halo: Reach and Halo Wars, the face, well visor, of John 117 is always the first thing to come to mind when gamers think of Halo.
Nearly the entire gaming community knows who Master Chief is, but we don’t really know anything about him at all.
IndustryGamers has been on a developer tour as of late and recently sat down with Joseph Staten of Bungie to talk about the origins of Master Chief as well as all things Halo.
Staten says there is a very good reason for the lack of a back story:
“We left-out details to increase immersion; the less players knew about the Chief, we believed, the more they would feel like the Chief. When it came to the Halo novels and other products of the expanded universe, immersion wasn’t as important as deepening understanding.”
One thing that many gamers looks for in a game is the ability to play the one badass that is the only hope for the world – or universe in this case. In order to do this, Bungie made their main man nearly silent through the whole series:
“As I said before, yes, immersion was the main goal here. Also keeping the Chief a man of few words reinforced what we wanted to be a tough-as-nails soldierly persona.”
Now that Bungie had successfully made their leading half-ton world saver, they needed a way to help the player through the game. What originally was intended to be a Navigational type guide turned out to be a major player in the game – and a fan favorite for gamers, and cosplayers, everywhere:
“Cortana began as a purely functional design requirement. We needed a character who could consistently guide the player through the game…Over time, Cortana became a fully realized character–a friend and companion to the Chief, not to mention the only person to poke revealing holes in his tough-guy exterior. Through his interactions with Cortana, the Chief revealed his humanity. And it was for these reasons that we focused so much on the Chief-Cortana relationship.”
In the end, Bungie succeeded in their goal with the Chief, to make a vessel for gamers to put themselves in. Master Chief is nearly a perfect game character – enabling even the shrimpiest kid to imagine they are a seven foot, half-ton, Covenant busting badass.
What do you think about Bungie’s final product of Master Chief? Where are you hoping Microsoft will take the character from here?