“There’s an incredible amount of innovation even in just first-person games – that’s really exciting,” Isla said in an interview with GamesIndustry. “I think we were fairly innovative with Halo 3 as well with features like the Forge and the theater mode… I think it’s proving to everyone who didn’t realize that there’s just a tremendous amount left to do in the first-person space, in the first-person action space, so many narrative ideas to explore, game mechanic ideas to explore, just things that haven’t been done before.”
Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 were two of the top games of 2007, each garnering critical acclaim and multi-million unit sales, but even though Halo 3 continues the well-established and popular story of the Master Chief and the war against the Flood, Isla said the developer has a lot to learn from techniques employed by Infinity Ward in Call of Duty 4. “I think it’s a great game and single-player is obviously fantastic as well, they did a hell of a job with their set pieces, of scripting certain moments that they were really sure the player was going to actually see and experience first hand,” he said. “The way that they use those moments to craft the player experience I think was very successful and something, again, where I think Halo has a lot to learn from.”
“While we certainly have many scenes throughout the Halo series that are scripted in-game moments, a lot of time players don’t experience it, or they don’t see the thing going on, or they maybe don’t experience it in quite the same way that we expected them to,” he continued. “It’s one of the things that we can always get better at and we pay a lot of attention to games like Call of Duty 4 and BioShock – see how they do it because they do it very, very well.”
Isla said that some of the differences in storytelling results from the “fundamentally different” ways in which games like Halo and Call of Duty are made. “Halo has always been an extremely simulation-drive game, so part of the reason why it is difficult to script sequences is because the AI never cooperates, or physics doesn’t cooperate, or we worry about the player pushing a crate into the way of this Warthog that’s going to mess up an interactive cut scene, or something like that,” he said.
“Call of Duty 4 was an example of a game where scripting was very good and, in some ways, scripting was one of the centerpieces of that approach. One of the things I know we should try to do is to really bring those sides together. We want to have the deep simulation and we want to have also the fantastic presentation,” he added.
“The story development of Call of Duty 4 was really very good,” Isla said. “I think it had a very memorable end. Very good sort of half-scripted, half-interactive sequences that, again, we have a lot to learn from.”
GamesIndustry’s full interview with Damian Isla can be read here.