Jul 26 2008 5:33pm

SDCC: Ha-lo in the House

Though my most recent video game experience consisted of blowing myself up in Halo (never throw grenade when facing a wall) and watching my friend mow over pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto 4, seeing Comic Con-goers enthuse over cool new games would make anyone want to play video games all day long. No school for me today, Mom.

The Halo Wars panel with Eric Nylund (author of Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: First Strike Onyx), Tobias Buckell (author of the upcoming Halo: The Cole Protocol), game universe writers Graeme Devine (Halo Wars) and Frank O'Connor (the Halo Trilogy), and Jon Goff and Corrinne Robinson (McFarlane Toys' brand management team for Halo action figures) showed some nice camaraderie and witty repartee as they talked all things Halo to a packed crowd (who asked an awful lot of detailed questions).

GameSpy did great live coverage of the panel, so I offer a few soundbytes from the front row:

Opening remarks from the panelists:

“You guys know this isn't the Stan Lee panel, right?

“We're actually here to sell you a timeshare.”

“Frank [O'Connor], is it true that you just woke up?”

On those eagerly anticipating the next Halo novel:

Joseph: “Frank is going to write two Halo novels. Next week.”

Frank: [bending over the table] “I'm doing it right now under the table on my PDA.”

Someone else on the panel: “It's going to be a picture book.”

On the next Halo book:

Tobias: [leaning over and grinning at Frank] “I don't know, Frank—am I done with the book? Am I allowed to talk about the book? [pause] Is there a book?”

On how often they play Halo:

Tobias: “Oh, I'm a player.”

[A little later in the conversation:]

John Goff: “Yes, my wife calls it the ‘other woman.’”

Joseph: “My wife hates that I'm a player, too.”

[Note to the “playas:” Please excuse any slight misquotes.]

Gabe Carr
1. Okorikuma
How are the novels? I only played the first game after years of hype and found it fairly crushingly disappointing; if I remember, the writing was good, but the gameplay was far less enjoyable. The panelists sound like an amusing bunch, though.

Now mowing people down in GTA, that's where I've lost time recently. It's a great thing to have on in the background while you listen to BBC7. I listened to the last 5 repeats of Earthsearch II yesterday. Hundreds died.
Dot Lin
2. fangirl
The novels are surprisingly good! I mean, they've all been NYT bestsellers and gamers are hard to impress, no?

I find it hilarious that you have to alternately kill people and go on dates in GTA to get ahead. And that darn cousin keeps getting himself killed in the first half of the game ...
Gabe Carr
3. Okorikuma
I might check them out, then. I have no Xbox or plans to resume the game series, but the books sound like a more worthwhile enterprise (not to mention cheaper).

Yeah, GTA doesn't really have what you might call a consistent tone. I suppose it comes with the hyper-various open world experience. Come to think of it, they (not just IV, but others in the series as well) could probably spawn a few novels. Those might turn out nicely if the stories were at least a little more serious and a little less in love with constant, blaring, triple-underlined sexual 'innuendo' than the game-world tends to be.

I mean, I love the games, but it seems like when people credit them for their humor, they're mostly talking about the fact that any numbered object-building, car, runway etc.-is always "69." IV is even less subtle about it. Does every other shop, radio station, tv network etc. really need to have a name that's 1 letter removed from some schoolyard profanity? Not that I mind profanity itself; it's just not clever when it's really, really obvious.

I bet Halo doesn't suffer from this.
4. RavenWolfx
The games are seriously overrated, but the books are interesting and provide some much needed depth to the Halo world. I wouldn't go out and purchase an Xbox 360 just for Halo, but the 360 does have some impressive games. Halo is a renter at best.
Chris Meadows
5. Robotech_Master
I wouldn't call the games overrated, though I've only played the first one extensively. Bungie is one of the better studios out there for storytelling, and the restricted-to-two-weapons mechanic offers an interestingly different challenge than all those shooters that allow you to carry so many different weapons at once that you have a hard time figuring out how the hero can move under the weight of all that iron.

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