Halo 4 was one of my big surprises from 2012, as you might’ve noticed, managing to make me give a shit about the Halo universe in ways I never in a million years thought the series capable of sustaining. As such, where the idea of watching someone explain the ins and outs of a Halo game prior would’ve bored the piss out of me had this been about Halo 1 or 3, this GDC post-mortem on the making of Halo 4 is absolutely fascinating, proof that AAA game design isn’t as hopeless as it sometimes seems.
343 Industries is quite aware they took risks here, and even quite aware of their failures (oh good, they recognize the Promethean enemy design is kind of a clusterfuck too), and their philosophies on game design are pretty damned good ones. But the highlight of the whole thing is early on, explaining how the number one reason Halo 4 succeeded as narrative, Chief and Cortana’s relationship, came about from a place of very real tragedy: The decision to not ditch that relationship as the core of the narrative was bolstered by the fact that Creative Director Josh Holmes’ mother has dementia. Even against the pleading of the game’s writer that it might not work, Holmes states that the game needed “the human heart”. The industry kinda needs that idea to guide its actions way more often. Clear yourself an hour, watch the whole shebang, courtesy of Gamespot, below: