On July 21, 1999, during the Macworld Conference & Expo, Steve Jobs announced that Halo would be released for Mac OS and Windows simultaneously. Before this public announcement, game industry journalists under a non-disclosure agreement had previewed the game in a private showing during E3 1999, and were reportedly amazed. Bungie Studios later stated an even earlier development build of the game centered on real-time strategy and was “basically Myth in a sci-fi universe.”
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, in which a transport starship crashlands on a mysterious ring world that orbits a star. Early versions of Covenant aliens appear in great numbers and loot what they can, and war erupts between them and the humans. Unable to match the technologically advanced alien race, the humans on the ring world resort to guerrilla warfare. This version of the game featured Halo-specific fauna, which were later dropped because of design difficulties and the creatures’ “detract[ion] from the surprise, drama and impact of the Flood.”
In accordance with rumors, Microsoft announced on June 19, 2000 that it had acquired Bungie Studios. Halo became an exclusive game for Microsoft’s Xbox video game console, and Bungie Studios rewrote the game’s engine, heavily altering its presentation and turning it into a first-person shooter. Originally a key element, the game’s online multiplayer component was dropped because Xbox Live was unfinished at the time of Halo’s release. While a playable demonstration of the game at Gamestock 2001 was well-received, critics had mixed reactions to its exhibition at E3 2001. The game was released in North America simultaneously with the Xbox, on November 15, 2001. [info from Wikipedia]
In 2007 the studio recorded a play through of the game and reveled additional quips from its development. The Silent Cartographer was once about murdering a Prophet (who do not appear in this game) in order to prevent him from acquring a map of the ring. The level went through many revisions and its codename was “B-30″. In the scene where the marines are listening to a song original music by Bungie is used, but this was not always the case. Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones was intended for that segment.
Cortana was written with a British accent in mind, hence why says words like “toady”. The trusty A.I. went rouge and attempted to take control of the Halo Array in a discarded script. The Seraph ship was an old concept for a Covenant tank, and the Scarab debutted in this game instead of the sequel.
[Thanks to Randy 355 for some of the images!]
Various Concept Arts:
U64 is an archive with articles, screens and videos for cancelled, beta & unseen videogames. Every change & cut creates a different gaming experience: we would like to save some documents about this evolution for curiosity, historic and artistic preservation.