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Wednesday, December 19, 2001

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Jason Jones Finally Answers
1:15 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Three weeks ago, Bungie's official Halo community web site, Truth and Reconciliation, offered you the chance to interrogate Jason Jones, Halo's project lead. Only two weeks later than promised, Jones has answered the questions put to him.

Here's a sample:

Q:  Back in the early days of Bungie, the team put a huge amount of thought into the background of the games, such as Pathways and particularly the Marathon series. The plot points were often hidden, so that they were only visible to people who looked for them. Where do you (and the team) draw your influences from, and how do you weight the importance of plot to action?

A: I didn't even bring my TV with me from Chicago, so I'll talk about books. Influences are many, but history and mythology on one hand, and science fiction on the other are the most powerful. I'm really only speaking for myself, but I'll give some examples.

Just so everyone knows (remembers?) I'm a freak, I'll do history first. In the darkest hours of Halo, coming home at two or three in the morning and having to get up before eight the next day, I read all seven volumes of Oman's Peninsular War (the journals of infantry soldiers in this war, especially John Kinkaid, are also entertaining). Only Churchill, in his own memoirs of World War II, better glorifies the righteous struggle of a reluctant but determined underdog. Butcher calls this war porn. They're also great stories.

I've shunned classical mythology for years now, but there's no shortage of great stories from other cultures. David Ferry's “interpolation” (as opposed to translation; I still can't believe I even picked up this book) of Gilgamesh is an interesting read.

The new generation of science fiction from Banks (Feersum Endjinn), Vinge (Deepness in the Sky), Hamilton (Reality Dysfunction), Reynolds (Revelation Space), and that lot is well read here, but one of the best bits of space opera of all time is Starhammer by Christopher Rowley. Good luck finding a copy these days, though.

That said though, it's the action that matters. We could have talked for years about the Nar's coal powered starships and it wouldn't have made Marathon any more fun to play. The game has got to come first, but it's made stronger by a good story.

For the complete reader interview, head on over to Truth & Reconciliation.

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