A Halo TV show is on the way with Orange is the New Black actor Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief, and Microsoft has bold ambitions for it. 343 Industries transmedia boss Kiki Wolfkill said recently that the Halo show is aiming to be similar to Game of Thrones in some ways.
"It's hard to find an analog. We talk about Game of Thrones a lot in terms of scope and scale and complexity of relationships," she said in the latest episode of The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook podcast with Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price.
Wolfkill pointed out that, like Game of Thrones, the Halo series is steeped in politics.
"A lot of the background of Halo is this sort of political drama. It's something that [is touched on] really lightly in the games and you see more of in some of the other mediums," she said. "Some of that [Game of Thrones-style] complexity is interesting."
Unlike Game of Thrones, however, the Halo TV show will not feature incest. "No incest planned at all for this show, I'll say that. If you're looking for that, you won't find it here," Wolfkill said.
Wolfkill went on to say that she was personally impressed with the first seasons of Game of Thrones that followed the narrative of the books closely. When there was a shift from the writing in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, this change felt deserved and you can understand why changes were made, Wolfkill said.
This is something 343 aspires to with the Halo show.
Wolfkill also spoke about how she gets bothered when people say it's impossible to make a video game translate to a good TV show or movie. Just because it hasn't been done before, or rarely, that doesn't mean it cannot be done, she said.
"It's not because you can't, it's because it's a really hard challenge, and everyone is still trying to figure it out," she said. "There isn't something inherent in the format of video games that makes it impossible to adapt; it's just a hard challenge. Literally day to day we are making decisions on what can change, what shouldn't change, what we can we bend."
Another hugely important part of making the Halo TV show shine is 343 humbling itself and recognizing that the team at Showtime knows more about TV than 343 does.
"We are putting a lot of our trust in our TV partners. You have to be humble and recognize the expertise you're bringing is different from the expertise that they have," she said. "And you have to be able to take that leap of faith and trust that the things they want and are lobbying for and need are the right things. That's probably the hardest part; that leap of faith."
343 has been working with Showtime for 5 years already. It hasn't been all fun. The experience has "really been a struggle at times," Wolfkill said, referring to 343 and Showtime coming to terms on contracts, as well as key talent dropping out.
When the Halo TV show is finally released, no matter how it's received, Wolfkill said she and her team will be proud about going about it in the right way. She also believes no matter what the Halo TV show will have moved the medium forward in some way.
For his part, Price chimed in to say part of the reason many video game movies and TV shows have been mediocre or worse is because people from gaming assume they know how to make a good TV show or movie.
The entire podcast is incredibly fascinating, and you should listen to it here.
The Halo TV show is now being directed by Otto Bathurst, who directed the shocking Black Mirror series premiere.
The show is scheduled to begin production later in 2019, and Showtime has ordered 10 hour-long episodes of Halo for its first season.
As for the Halo series, Halo Infinite is reportedly set for a big showing at E3 2019 this month. Additionally, Halo: Reach and the entire Master Chief Collection is coming to PC.
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