When Bungie announced in April that it was at work on a brand new intellectual property, the big shocker, naturally, was that games based on that property would be published by Activision, effectively committing the once Microsoft-owned studio to platforms beyond the Xbox 360. But there was a smaller, subtler surprise to be found in the phrasing of the press release: the new IP is an ‘action game universe’.
To anybody halfway familiar with Bungie’s output over the past decade, the ambiguity was a little telling. Just ‘action game’, then, guys? Not ‘first-person shooter’ or even ‘shooter’ full stop?
Chatting with VGD at a Halo: Reach preview event yesterday, Campaign Designer Niles Sankey has confirmed that Bungie is now exploring beyond the bounds of the genre it helped popularise. He was unable or unwilling to say, however, if any particular kind of experience had taken the studio’s fancy.
‘I can’t talk to you about genres at all, unfortunately,’ Niles told us, ‘I can just tell you what are philosophies at Bungie are, whether you’re looking at Halo, or even before that looking at Marathon or Myth – the studio fundamentally starts out by building and crafting a universe, that we think is rich and interesting and has depth to it and then we proceed to tell stories and build games in this universe, and that’s exactly how we’re focussing on our next ten years.
‘You can look forward to us carrying forward a lot of the core pillars of our studio, and integrating them into our future projects, but we’re not quite ready to pin down a genre yet.’
Bungie hasn’t left its fans totally in the dark, however. The studio helpfully announced via a job listing earlier this year that it was looking for writers who specialise in ‘branching or non-linear narrative experiences’, together with a ‘Player Investment Designer’ who will ‘give players long term goals to invest them in the world and their character’.
According to Gamespot, all this pongs strongly of action role-playing game. For our part, we don’t think branching storylines and character/world investment are the sole province of RPGs, but there’s no denying that the two go hand in hand rather often.
Look out for our thoughts on Halo: Reach itself in a jiffy.