Jamie Griesemer, the former Bungie designer who is arguably most famous for patenting the '30 Seconds of Fun' ideal, has spoken out over what he feels makes Halo so very special to its millions of fans. Having left Bungie in 2010 to join inFamous' developers Sucker Punch, Griesemer leaves behind an underrated legacy - he was responsible for the Warthog's pitch-perfect handling - and claims it's the finely tuned difficulty that makes Halo "fundamentally different" from its competitors.
"I think the reason Halo feels different is because of how it is tuned," Griesemer told Joystiq in an interview. "Most games have a single difficulty, or you know, maybe they have multiple difficulty levels, but at any one time you are only playing on one difficulty. And the AI does a set amount of damage and each encounter has a certain challenge, and you either are good enough to beat it or not, and if not maybe you learn or get lucky the next time and get through it."
Considering Halo, too, has set difficulty levels - Easy, Normal, Heroic and the reverentially feared Legendary - is Griesemer being a tad bias? "Halo is fundamentally different in that it lets the player set the pace," he explains. "It doesn’t do any magical dynamic difficulty; it doesn’t make itself easier if you suck. But just naturally, how it is tuned, it waits to see what you will do, how hard you will push, and then it pushes back at just the right resistance. If you play carefully and pick guys off, you can work your way through a big encounter without too much risk, but if you charge in, guns blazing, it will push back really hard and probably kill you."
I'd argue that, while Heroic is by far the fairest - but by no means the easiest - difficulty, Legendary isn't as fine tuned a difficulty and stacks the odds against the player in order to simulate a challenge. Griesemer also mentions Master Chief's recharging shield - a now ubiquitous FPS mechanic - that gives Halo its "flavor", allowing players to retreat to cover and get a breather before returning to the fray.
Griesemer, and Bungie, have now departed Halo, leaving it in the hands of series' custodians 343 Industries, who've slowly amassed a team of much talent now hard at work on Halo 4, the beginning of an all new trilogy for fans. What can we expect, I wonder? [Joystiq]