Halo: Reach will raise the bar for animation, Bungie community manager Brian Jarrard tells IndustryGamers; following the release of Halo 3: ODST — which failed to make considerable visual advances in comparison to its two-year-old predecessor — Jarrard admits that the company has “taken it on the chin a little bit”. Reach‘s overhauled tech, however, is going to hold up to the competition as it’s released later in the year, he says.
“For our team, we’ve built massive, simulated living breathing worlds with open-ended sandbox-like encounters and unscripted elements, but with that, we’ve made trade offs between things like framerate or even resolution in some cases,” Jarrard said of the studio’s past offerings, “and, while I feel like every Halo game’s been a beautiful artistic endeavor, for Reach we definitely went back and overhauled all of our tech to make something that could hold up this holiday compared to other titles that we really did feel like would raise the bar on the visual side and certainly, to be more specific, for animation.”
“I think our team would agree that, from each title to the next, animation is the one area where we haven’t really continued to improve and iterate,” he added. “Not that it’s bad by any means, but for Reach we’ve got the whole system from scratch. We’ve hired a lot of great people now, we’re utilizing a mo-cap facility with some hand animation on top of it, we’re really doing a lot more technical stuff to sell this goal of a more character driven story with human characters that give believable performances.”
“Our old tech just wouldn’t allow us to do that, and it’s everything from our lip-synching to our facial tech, all those things that I would say have been one of the weaker sides of the Halo series, and that was from the beginning something that we put a lot of investment into.”