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Educational Feature: ‘How  Halo 3  Changed Game Development’

Educational Feature: ‘How Halo 3 Changed Game Development’

January 10, 2008 | By Jill Duffy

Does the Halo series measure up to other epic trilogies, like The Lord of the Rings, or is it nothing more than a set of really great games? A new feature article from sister educational web site explores the question.

Game artist and freelance writer Tom Carroll sees the mark of a good trilogy in its ending. And for games, Halo is now the new mark against which both players and developers alike will measure other games. In this excerpt, Carroll compares Halo to The Lord of the Rings, and asks why the latter is a stronger epic trilogy:

"The test for any franchise is how it wraps things up at the end. The master, of course, was J. R. R. Tolkien, who managed to bring all the disparate threads of his The Lord of the Rings plots together in the third volume, The Return of the King. But not all authors (or developers) have been so lucky. Philip Jose Farmer, for instance, had so much going on that he had to wrap up his Riverworld trilogy in a fourth volume, and in my humble opinion, it wasn't up to the standard of the first three books.

In video games, epic trilogies are rare, and developers are loath to wrap things up anyway. For example,
Final Fantasy is now up to XII (with the next element in the pipe for PlayStation 3), and the franchise shows no sign of slowing down.

Let's check out
Return of the King in short form to see how it holds up: Return of the King depicts Frodo and Sam's perilous journey to Mt. Doom, and the rest of the fellowship's quest in aiding Frodo and Sam in any way possible and restoring Aragorn to his rightful ascension as the King of Gondor.

Then, compare it with
Halo 3: Master Chief is on his way to Earth to stop the Prophet of Truth and his army of Brutes from taking down the universe. Cortana has been captured by Gravemind, and The Arbiter and his Elites have forged an uneasy truce with Humankind to battle against the greater evil that had arisen.

Boiled down to a single paragraph, this
Halo 3 doesn't quite pack the punch of Return of the King. It is all there, of course. Hero bent on completing his quest, but where Tolkien's story hits the ground running, Halo 3 seems to descend into Seinfeldian yada-yada-yada speak. Where Halo 3 succeeds is in getting Master Chief back to center stage; that's where he belongs and where people expect him to be. Where it fails (though "fails" is an awfully strong term when referring to a game that has generated mega-millions in income, merchandises out the wazoo, and even a feature film in pre-production) is that it isn't able to satisfactorily resolve all the elements that popped into the narrative during the middle chapter."

To read the complete article, visit

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