Halo Wars was a shitty game developed by Ensemble Studios which was closed down. Probably because Halo Wars was a shitting game. Tony Goodman was a big wig at Ensemble who lost his job when Ensemble was shut down probably for making a shitty Halo game. He was interviewed by Game Industry International on the subject Tony described as ‘The publisher as we know it may become extinct, but the publisher won’t become extinct.’ which sounds absolutely fascinating. Either way he blames publishers for making him make a shitty Halo game.
Here’s what Mr Goodman said about his shitty Halo game, Halo Wars.
Q: Halo Wars from what I understand was forced upon you guys. You were working on a game and had the Halo IP forced onto it after the fact. That’s one of the downsides of working for a company that is beholden to huge franchises and, of course, to shareholders…
Tony Goodman: That’s exactly correct. We wanted to reinvent the RTS in the console space, or kind of invent it in the first place because there hadn’t been any good ones. And we made a lot of progress on that project. At the time, the lead designer was Graeme Devine, and I think it was Peter Moore who was the head of Microsoft [Xbox] before Don Mattrick. But Microsoft was pretty risk averse and they said, “I don’t know if we want to take the risk of creating strategy games on a console. We’d feel better if Halo were attached to it.” The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development, and I think it never quite turned out the same. They just said, “Why don’t you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?” But things aren’t quite that simple.
And another problem was that Bungie was never up for it. So we started with Halo Wars, which I think turned out to be a really fantastic, under-recognized product. But Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was “the whoring out of our franchise” or something. Yeah, that didn’t create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]. So those are some of the dangers of working with a publisher. It’s certainly easy to understand the publisher’s point of view. “Looks like you’re doing a great game, but wouldn’t it be greater if it had Master Chief attached?”
Well at least we haven’t Halo Kart. Yet.