They're Random, Baby!

4players.de interviews Shane Kim and Harold Ryan
Translation by Harry Al-Shakarchi

Microsoft has confirmed the rumours of the last few days: Bungie Studio (Halo 3) will be working as an independent studio. "Why?" we asked, among other questions that we posed directly to Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Game Studios, Shane Kim as well as Bungie lead Harold Ryan.

4Players: Halo 3 has sold millions and right now there doesn't seem anything more successful than it on the market. Could you give us an insight into Bungie's decision to go independent; something that goes against the principle of "never change a winning team"?

Shane Kim: The team won't change. As part of the press release we confirmed that we'd continue to work together. This concerns both future projects that involve the Halo universe as well as new franchises that Bungie will develop. We love the fact that Bungie will continue to work on Halo projects with us. Additionally, we are working on a Halo project with Peter Jackson that is very exciting and which we will be talking about more soon.

Harold Ryan: This is absolutely correct. The relationship to Microsoft was never as strong as it is now. A big part of the decision was our desire to secure the long-term growth of our studio and the franchises that we developed for MGS.

4Players: Why don't you keep the status quo? It seems strange to suddenly desire independence when you're flying high on success...

Harold Ryan: It's all about Bungie's desire as a developer to return to the independent roots it once had. It's understandable that it gives people a strange impression, especially when it happens just after the amazing success of Halo 3. Such success is the best way for us to keep a long-standing relationship with MGS.

4Players: So what does this mean for the Halo franchise itself - and Halo as a first person adventure?

Shane Kim: Microsoft retains ownership of the Halo franchise and we will work with Bungie as well as other partners to invest into it. We believe that the Halo universe as a whole has a potential to reach unbelievable new heights in the mainstream entertainment market.

4Players: Does this mean that Bungie games could appear on other platforms?

Harold Ryan: Right now we're planning to work with MGS alone. They are the best publisher on the market and definitely the team that we want to work with - now and in the upcoming years.

So no, right now there are no plans to make games for other platforms.

4Players: The rumours of the last few days caused quite a stir in the Halo community. What can you tell the fans of Master Chief to mollify them?

Harold Ryan: Bungie and Microsoft are going to continue to stand for quality in the Halo universe and franchise, and furthermore to establish strong new franchises.

4Players: Since we're on the subject of strong franchises: is there perhaps a chance to bring back Oni?

Harold Ryan: (laughs) Oni isn't currently one of those projects we're looking at, but one should never say never. We'd be happy to work with the individuals who made Oni.

4Players: Does this self-imposed independence mean that Bungie has the freedom to explore the Halo universe away from the first person genre?

Harold Ryan: Absolutely. There are a bunch of possibilities to tell an amazing amount of untold stories, and that not only as an FPS but also in almost every other genre. There are an abundance of possibilities to convert everything that fascinates us about Halo.

4Players: We have an additional question for Shane.

Shane Kim: Sure.

4Players: Bungie is saying they desired independence; what actions of the MGS may have "pushed" Bungie to this decision, or given them the desire to be independent?

Shane Kim: As Harold already stated, it's not about the relationship of Bungie with MGS. Bungie has said they will continue to work with MGS, and I think both sides very much liked to work together, especially since we've had some big successes. It's really all about Bungie wanting to go back to their independent developer roots. As someone who has worked with many creative individuals and organizations I can understand this. We've worked things out in a way that this decision will support the interests of both parties. However it's Harold who has to confirm the fact that it's not about MGS "throwing out" Bungie, but rather Bungie's desire to return to its independent roots.

Harold Ryan: Absolutely. It's about determining our own path, but we're still focused on working with Microsoft as a partner. When talking about the success of the [Halo] franchise you can't stress the partnership with Microsoft and the Xbox division enough. This has been by far the most successful period that Bungie has ever experienced. We don't want to change anything about this successful structure, one that has enabled us to take our creativity to the world - now more than ever.

4Players: Thank you for your time!