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Designing the Prometheans
Date: 5/6/13 8:15 pm

Hello all.

So a few of you may remember that I attended GDC this year. Well, I took some videos, pictures, and notes from the various talks I attended, and now that it's been a while and "The Design of New Enemies for Halo 4" panel hasn't been released anywhere except the GDCVault, I figured I'd throw some of the interesting stuff I saw/heard your way. I know there's a few other summaries floating around, and you guys can probably dig some interesting tidbits out of those, but for now this is everything that I found to be noteworthy during the talk. You can find the other summaries by doing a quick google search for the name of the presentation.

But overall, I thought this was an amazing insight into the development of these enemies, and I was very happy with how up front and honest Scott Warner was about what they felt they did right, and what could have been done much better.

Hopefully you guys will find this as interesting as I did.

Warner stated that the Prometheans were initially heavily inspired by Voltron from Voltron: Defender of the Universe, the T-1000 from Terminator 2, the titular creature from The Thing, and Cranium Rats from Planescape. What the team was particularly attracted to was the modular behavior of all of these examples, how together they create one dynamic, while when separated they form an entirely different one. From an early point, they had 6 characters, based on a chess analogy of a King, Queen, Rook, Knight, Bishop, and Pawn. For the sake of scheduling and focus, they ultimately stripped this down to just the three that made it into the game, but Warner said that the other three may come back at some point. The Pawns became the Crawlers, and the Bishop eventually became the Watcher.

They started experimenting with this idea in a gameplay sandbox, testing out elements of that dynamic such as the Watcher, which at this early stage was referred to as the "Bicycle Helmet" because of its more smoothed out, sentinel-based shape. Here, you can see it shielding a Halo 3 Brute with an early hardlight shield. At this point, the Watcher was a much more formidable enemy, having alternate attacks such as the "Junk Attack", in which it would use objects in the environment as makeshift projectile weapons. Ultimately, many of these abilities were cut for comprehensibility during gameplay.

After the presentation, I asked a few questions I had written down:

"Why does the Watcher have a face?"
"Why is the Watcher the only Promethean unit that speaks?"

He responded by saying that the Watcher was designed to also carry the impression of an imprisoned soul, as it is a part of the same Knight unit. In essence, the Watcher and the Knight represent one imprisoned soul, with portions of it split off as the Watcher separates from the Knight's carapace. So the face was incorporated to provoke some sympathy in the overall Promethean embodiment of the digitized individuals.

The Watcher talks specifically when it is flying high above the battlefield, and this is supposed to indicate when the Knight has a tactical advantage over the player, as the Watcher is relaying enemy locations and battlefield observations to the Knight on the fly.

The Prometheans' gameplay systems were more or less entirely implemented as a prototype before any story elements had been determined. At this early stage, the Knights could collapse into a ball to move about quickly between cover points in the environment. Additionally, a dismemberment system was implemented to provide player feedback on the extent of damage being done to the Knights (similar to damage dealt to Halo vehicles, but with limbs falling off and effecting gameplay).

As the story expanded, the writers and designers determined that they wanted the Knights to be very similar to the Forerunner equivalent of the Army of the Dead or Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings, embodying this feeling of an imprisoned and tormented soul.

After this backstory was determined, only a few minor changes were made to the design of the Knight to reflect this, but for the most part the visual design was left the same. When I asked Warner about the Knight's glowing skulls and whether or not this was intended to be Forerunner or human, he responded by saying it represented both, and was generally intended to convey the image of these trapped and tortured souls, as well as serving the gameplay to highlight head shots.

As for the Pawns, early on it was determined that nobody wanted to implement bipedal Pawn units, and so various other alternatives were explored.

Eventually, it was narrowed down to a smaller set of designs, which then became the dog/insect inspired Crawlers that we see in the game now.

At the end of the presentation, Mr. Warner highlighted what he felt was not properly executed in the design of the Prometheans (I did not get a picture of the slide showcasing what the team felt was done right). I think for the most part, this covers nearly all of the complaints that fans have had as well. Here's hoping that the Prometheans will be that much better in future installments because of this awareness! :)

And finally, here's a video of an early gameplay prototype:

Messages In This Thread

Designing the PrometheansPostmortem5/6/13 8:15 pm
     Re: Designing the Prometheansserpx5/6/13 8:24 pm
     Re: Designing the PrometheansTDSpiral5/6/13 9:19 pm
           Re: Designing the Prometheansdavidfuchs5/6/13 10:28 pm
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansPostmortem5/6/13 10:46 pm
                       Re: Designing the PrometheansQuirel5/6/13 11:52 pm
     Re: Designing the PrometheansHyokin5/7/13 12:16 am
           Re: Designing the PrometheansGeneral Vagueness5/13/13 6:36 pm
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansDevil Mingy5/14/13 1:44 am
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansPostmortem5/14/13 11:32 am
                       Re: Designing the PrometheansGeneral Vagueness5/15/13 2:59 am
     Re: Designing the PrometheansQuirel5/7/13 12:41 am
           Re: Designing the PrometheansGeneral Vagueness5/13/13 6:57 pm
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansQuirel5/13/13 11:44 pm
                       Re: Designing the PrometheansNikGntre5/14/13 12:47 am
                             The energy sword I mean *NM*NikGntre5/14/13 12:48 am
                             Re: Designing the PrometheansQuirel5/14/13 1:07 am
                                   Re: Designing the PrometheansNikGntre5/14/13 1:50 am
                       Re: Designing the PrometheansGeneral Vagueness5/14/13 12:55 am
                             Re: Designing the PrometheansQuirel5/14/13 1:12 am
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansRC Master5/14/13 1:03 pm
                       Re: Designing the PrometheansPostmortem5/14/13 1:37 pm
                       Re: Designing the PrometheansGeneral Vagueness5/15/13 3:00 am
                             Re: Designing the PrometheansZackDark5/15/13 11:43 am
     Re: Designing the PrometheansSliding Ghost5/7/13 6:51 am
     'imprisoned and tormented soul'RC Master5/7/13 10:34 am
           Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul'Jaydee5/7/13 6:46 pm
                 Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul'Quirel5/7/13 9:55 pm
                       Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Jaydee5/8/13 1:27 am
                             Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*serpx5/8/13 2:24 pm
                             Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Quirel5/8/13 9:10 pm
                                   Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*TDSpiral5/8/13 9:55 pm
                                   Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*scarab5/8/13 11:25 pm
                                         Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Archilen5/9/13 1:17 am
                                               Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*scarab5/9/13 2:12 pm
                                                     Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*MacGyver105/9/13 3:24 pm
                                                           Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Postmortem5/9/13 6:56 pm
                                                                 Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*scarab5/9/13 7:55 pm
                                                                       Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Postmortem5/10/13 2:14 am
                                                                             Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*MacGyver105/10/13 5:26 pm
                                                                                   Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Postmortem5/10/13 10:24 pm
                                                                 Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*General Vagueness5/13/13 7:12 pm
                                                                       Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Nikko B2015/18/13 10:07 pm
                                                     Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul' *Silentium SP*Postmortem5/9/13 6:54 pm
                       Re: 'imprisoned and tormented soul'General Vagueness5/13/13 7:00 pm
     Re: Designing the PrometheansSliding Ghost5/8/13 12:15 am
           Re: Designing the PrometheansPostmortem5/8/13 12:33 am
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansSliding Ghost5/8/13 3:22 am
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansSliding Ghost5/8/13 3:26 am
                 Re: Designing the PrometheansGeneral Vagueness5/13/13 7:01 pm
     Re: Designing the PrometheansDayandKnightly5/18/13 8:48 pm
           Re: Designing the PrometheansGrimBrother One5/18/13 10:52 pm
           Re: Designing the PrometheansRevenant19885/19/13 1:06 pm

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