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Feature: Halo Reach's Firefight Menu As A 'Microcosm Of Game Design'

Hide&Seek development director and former Edge magazine editor Margaret Robertson describes five minutes of playing Halo Reach, but she found one of the mos
For Hide&Seek development director and former Edge magazine editor Margaret Robertson, some of the most interesting time she spent in Bungie's hit sci-fi FPS Halo Reach had little to do with shooting. It was the menu system for the game's cooperative Firefight mode where she felt like a chef experimenting with new ingredients, she explained in a new Gamasutra feature. In that Firefight menu system, a user is able to mix and match a wide a wide variety of play options before launching into a game map where players can fight off alien hordes alone or with three other players. "In the menu, every option I look at sends a ripple through everything else," writes Robertson. "Fuel Rod Cannon plus Plasma Rifle? A quick dimension slip and my brain reports back that as a combination it's fun but silly. Useless as close range, a bit too splashy, unwise to hit the ground with two Covenant weapons I can easily harvest later if I want." She continues, "But as I think that, the massive train departure board in my head starts to clack as other options slot in to place around the idea. Silly but splashy? OK, so let's switch on Cowbell and Catch to triple the physics and double the grenades, let's have lots of grunts and lots of hunters. Let's make some mess." Robertson said Firefight's options allow players to experience fundamentally what it's like to be a game designer, although within the confines of a polished product. "Firefight's menus offer a ... perfect, frictionless microcosm of game design, where each new idea is a button press away, the test loop is fifteen minutes of shooty brilliance, and your audience is three of your favorite people. I may never play anything else," she said. Robertson's latest "Five Minutes With..." feature is available now on Gamasutra, and goes further into her experiences with Halo Reach's streamlined game design offerings.

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