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Halo 3's future aesthetic...

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#1 Anpheus

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:08 AM

Just moved this to its own topic so that the Legendary Map thread doesn't get completely sidetracked and because this conversation seems relevant but unrelated. Welcome to the forums, Anpheus. Glad you decided to check this place out. - voc

I'm gonna sound like a hater, but it looks like just another generic damaged/ruined structure in the middle of the jungle/woods. Nothing looks particularly cool or Halo or sci-fi about it. It's pretty though.

Edit:

"fragmented ruins of a small 24th century water purification complex."

Then why does it look like a building from 1980? Why does Bungie think that cars and buildings will look almost exactly the same in a few hundred years? Is this just lazy design, a lack a creativity or some kind of retro-future preference in style? Let's face it, it's a lot easier to come up with a brick, modern blown up building and pass it off as 24th century than it is to actually brainstorm as to what a water purification complex might look like in a few hundred years.

I mean, remember the trucks on Turf? Will transport trucks look anything remotely like that in hundreds of years? No. I think it's just lazy.


I have to ask at what point in the future do you think concrete will cease to be:
1) Fast
2) Cheap
3) Good

Usually with any building material you have to add "pick two" but concrete is a pretty universal building component worldwide. It's durable, the mechanics of it are well known so engineers are able to make blends of concrete with exactly the characteristics wanted, and it's been in use for thousands of years already. It can be made pretty much anywhere in the world with a variety of substances, so it doesn't require a lot of shipping. Likewise on the "shipping trucks." While the Covenant has obviously mastered gravity manipulation or levitation, Humans have not at this point, and frankly, there aren't many more efficient means of moving stuff around than shipping containers on oceangoing vessels and trucks with things that look an awful lot like shipping containers on a dozen or so wheels.

Sometimes, the old ways do work well, and for long periods of time. Why not? We're still using the wheel today, and though we've improved on it incrementally for a darn long time, I can still spot a wheel pretty easily. None of the engineers at GM, Ford or Toyota have managed to confuse me as to the mechanism moving their vehicles around yet, and I don't see it very likely changing in the foreseeable future. And just to bolster my original point, this sounds like an ad hoc project designed to improve the quality of life in Saharan Africa. It's not something that would involve costly installations or massive renovations, it would be a largely grassroots, widespread effort to do things like provide potable water, food, shelter, or other things. Putting a skyscraper in the middle of Africa isn't going to do that, so you spread your investment around. That means cheap, fast construction designed to do its job for as long as you need to do it, and then it doesn't matter what happens. Bungie is usually pretty far off with their future predictions (the AR in Halo 1 has all the accuracy of a poorly maintained musket) but it seems like this is the ideal way to do a certain thing that would greatly help African people. I don't see why this is crazy at all?

Edited by vociferous, 08 March 2008 - 10:42 AM.


#2 Va1or

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 03:05 AM

You think humanity will be driving big rigs in 500 years? I think that's a bit silly. Maybe if there was some kind of tech halting catastrophes on all colonized worlds (like nuclear holocausts) this might happen. Then perhaps humans might rebuild and use 500 year old tech. Maybe.

In a culture where you can travel faster than light in giant warships and have mastered VTOL craft like the Pelican and Hornet, then yeah, truckin' ancient style aint happening. It'd be like Wal-Mart using horse-drawn chariots to haul goods.

The Halo universe and games are fun of tons of anachronisms as you admit, "Bungie is usually pretty far off with their future predictions."

Either way, it's their style and it doesn't break the game.

Edited by Va1or, 08 March 2008 - 03:08 AM.


#3 Cocopjojo

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 03:55 AM

In a culture where you can travel faster than light in giant warships and have mastered VTOL craft like the Pelican and Hornet, then yeah, truckin' ancient style aint happening. It'd be like Wal-Mart using horse-drawn chariots to haul goods.


We've been to the moon and back, we have telescopes that let us look thousands of lightyears away, and we have computers that can calculate what happens when two black holes collide...

But every single person in America still uses one of these.

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Just because it's the future doesn't mean that old technologies won't still be in use. The reason we haven't modified the shopping cart is because it's cheap and it works. That could hold true to civilian vehicles in the future.

Like I said to you when we talked about this a few weeks ago, looking at things like this shouldn't determine the enjoyability or believability of a universe. I've been re-reading Isaac Asimov's I, Robot series, and in his universe, set three thousand years in the future, there exists faster-than-light travel, robots that can pass as humans, and lifespans of three hundred years; and yet every piece of technology is controlled by radio waves, people still sit on toilets, and everyone still has a living room and a bedroom. And I don't know of a single person that would criticize Asimov as "lazy." It's just a design choice. Some things change and some things stay the same. A fictional future in which everyone drives flying cars (which many people thought we'd have by now), uses anti-gravity pushcarts to haul around goods, and teleports to work by flipping a switch on their belt may sound plausible to you - but those designers that don't accept those things aren't lazy or unimaginative. Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, L.E. Modesitt, and Larry Niven, just to name a few, all have universes which are set extremely far into the future, and yet still have striking similiarities with our current world. And these people are the greatest minds in science fiction. Your complaint that we still use big rigs and machine guns is, while certainly valid, not one that is generally brought up in the world of science fiction. Otherwise, you wouldn't like any science fiction, since literally every universe consists of these types of things.

#4 Va1or

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 07:43 AM

I don't see how the shopping cart example negates anything I said. First of all, modern folding shopping carts are fairly recent inventions (as late as the 40's). No doubt since then there have been a number of changes in materials, styles, etc. modernizing them further. But this all still misses my main point. I never argued that humans will stop using all forms of ancient technology. I still pierce the food I eat with a metallic instrument (albeit slightly different) as the ancients did. I still use a simple lever to pry open objects, etc. I would not be very surprised at all if in 500 years humans use some wheeled vehicles. Perhaps flying vehicles will be able to land on wheels and ferry the passangers around, for example. Perhaps people will still like skateboards or ATV's etc.

I also feel the examples you give of Asimov aren't that great. People still having bedrooms and toilets isn't very hard to believe at all, in a distant future. "Radio waves" controlling everything might be a bit silly, but if he wrote the book today he probably would change that aspect.

I'm not going to herald Halo's story as a sci-fi masterpiece like some might, but it's generally interesting and fun. I really like some of the characters and the vehicles and weapons. I love the games. And here's where the story really suffers. They try to act as if the games are canon in their fictional universe and that leaves them wide open for all sorts of absurd anachronisms.

The main assault vehicle is a nearly armorless souped up dune buggy with a rotating turret on the back that drives about 25 miles an hour? The advances of 500 years of research gave them the gift of a rocket launcher that fires two relatively small caliber rockets and then the user has to remove the entire bulky rocket assemply and slap a new one into place to fire two more? A sniper rifle that fires 5 shots and needs a reload? The list could literally go on and on. If UNSC ground forces were fighting the 1940's American military in a ground based conflict they might have a chance.

So why do they do it? It looks cool. It makes sense for gameplay. Even in a sci-fi universe, if you hope to have a believable and logical one, you have to create a world that makes some sort of sense. For example, if all the characters used muskets instead of rifles, we'd expect an explanation. To me Halo is more of a fun little cartoon of a story than anything. It's Rambo in space. Yeah I'd love to see the movie and yeah I'd want the Hog to have wheels and the shotty to look like a 20th century shotty still because that's what makes Halo...Halo.

What strikes me as lazy about the trucks/buildings is that they don't have an effect on gameplay. They are props. To Bungie's credit, because they have already established wheeled vehicles as essential to the military ground forces, they may feel they are just being consistent. After all, I guess someone could say, "hey! why do they fly their goods in sweet futuristic transports yet fight with dune buggys?" So, I guess they are stuck with that a little, which is probably fine by them. I still think they could make some effort to make human props and environments look a little more futuristic. Either way, it's the world as they decided to make it. It is what it is. I probably would have done it differently but it's still a lot of fun.

Edited by Va1or, 08 March 2008 - 07:49 AM.


#5 JCTucker

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 09:13 AM

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The next time a shopping cart is dependent on saving my life, I'll agree with you...

That should take a while.

#6 Anpheus

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 10:42 AM

Thank you Vociferous.

To reply, I would like to remind you that we are dependent on the functioning of our vehicles and that people, as a whole, are crappy mechanical maintainers. That is, the average person will drive their car until it stops working or makes horrendous noises, and then and only then take it in to be repaired. That's why flying cars will not become common, but airplanes did. An airline company will spend the money to keep their vehicles maintained and get that five-nines or six-nines reliability that makes flying safer than driving, and if all we had on the streets were professional drivers whose business relied on having an utterly impeccable track record in safety, we would see far fewer people dying in car collisions and every car would run only in top notch condition.

People are lazy, and technology will be developed to accommodate that, anything that makes our lives safer, easier, or more entertaining will proliferate, and in that order of importance. Flying cars will never meet that first criteria because people are lazy. Not to mention, the fuel costs involved in personal flying craft or in the case of shipping, heavily weighted flying craft transporting goods, are not economical for short distances (which is what big rigs are typically used for, distances within a continent.)

#7 NJ Shlice

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 11:45 AM

You can call it lazy. But i'd rather consider it time well spent on working on the map mechanics and not worrying about if the elements of the map are going to be time-relevent. Turf is meant to give us an Urban feel. And it succeeds. I'm not sure trucks will look like that in 500 years. But the wheel will still be around. The Ground will still be flat. So there will be things moving on wheels on the ground in 500 years. The trucks on Turf are close enough for me.

#8 Drew

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 12:11 PM

I can't say that it bothers me all that much. If anything, it makes the point of an alien invasion hit all that much closer to home. Most of the time you spend in Halo games is on alien planets or onboard warships. I really can't call Bungie to issue with such a small portion of their universe, and I think the whole issue is blown a little out of proportion.

#9 Frost

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:03 PM

Probably not so much laziness as a design choice. Having the human tech and buildings look relatively modern-day creates more of a contrast with the Covenant. If everything was too "space" and futuristic, we wouldn't have as strong an aesthetic difference between the factions.

#10 Self Induced

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:21 PM

Keep in mind that it also depends on the economy of the region. The Middle East and Africa on the whole have not contributed to the global economy in terms of technology (not including tech involving the extraction of oil), and their economies are somewhat frozen in time.

Simply because most of the Earth locals in Halo 2 and 3 have been in various places in Africa, it really isn't too far-fetched to say that buildings will look like they do in these games. However, since the military equipment is developed and manufactured by a world-encompassing alliance, its preposterous to assume the weapons (and vehicles) will look and operate as if they were 500 years old.

The military already employs weapons and vehicles (except for the Hornet and Pelican, but we do have some kickass helicopters) that trump those seen in the games.

Edited by Self Induced, 08 March 2008 - 02:26 PM.

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#11 Jironimo

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 06:28 PM

You're focusing on all the wrong things Va1or. I think the weapons are questionable, but there are many things that are spot-on for how the future will work. The entire level Metropolis in H2 looks like a believable downtown of the future, the Orbital Defense Platform, the ships you already mentioned, Spartan armor, flash cloning, etc. I think Bungie's future is totally believable because just like real life, some things advance a lot in 100/500 years and somethings stay exactly the same. I'll get back to the root of the matter, I think that just because Ghost Town looks rundown to you and unbelievable for the future, that doesn't make it inaccurate for what might still exist 500 years from now in Africa.

#12 Va1or

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 06:36 PM

Thank you Vociferous.

To reply, I would like to remind you that we are dependent on the functioning of our vehicles and that people, as a whole, are crappy mechanical maintainers. That is, the average person will drive their car until it stops working or makes horrendous noises, and then and only then take it in to be repaired. That's why flying cars will not become common, but airplanes did. An airline company will spend the money to keep their vehicles maintained and get that five-nines or six-nines reliability that makes flying safer than driving, and if all we had on the streets were professional drivers whose business relied on having an utterly impeccable track record in safety, we would see far fewer people dying in car collisions and every car would run only in top notch condition.

People are lazy, and technology will be developed to accommodate that, anything that makes our lives safer, easier, or more entertaining will proliferate, and in that order of importance. Flying cars will never meet that first criteria because people are lazy. Not to mention, the fuel costs involved in personal flying craft or in the case of shipping, heavily weighted flying craft transporting goods, are not economical for short distances (which is what big rigs are typically used for, distances within a continent.)



First of all, what makes you think humans will be flying the sky cars?

My rampant speculation:

You will program (speak) your destination into the computer and you will be flown there. This is pretty much what pilots in the airline industry do today. They monitor systems more than they actually "fly." It's exactly what some unmanned aerial vehicles in the US military do today. A mission is programmed into it's computer, unaided the vehicle flies it's mission and finally it lands where it was told to land. All automated.

The idea of flying cars might be hard to embrace if we imagine everyone at the control sticks (including little old ladies) roaring past each other, manually, through the skies. In this scenario it would be very dangerous and on top of that everyone would need to get the equivalent of a pilot's license. This is why it will be automated.

Instead of being limited to narrow, dangerous highway lanes, the skyways would open up almost unlimited miles of "road." No traffic jams, no braking etc. I'd imagine that some sort of air traffic system would monitor traffic and control the flow and spacing of vehicles.

Think of all of the enormous benefits that would arise. No more drunk drivers, no more cop chases, no more traffic congestion. It would almost certainly be much safer than driving a car (which is quite dangerous, statistically speaking). Traveling 300 miles per hour to your destination as the crow flies would be fantastic. You could sleep while you travel, sit around, pwn nubs at RareWare's Halo 6: Dark License Whore Rising...you get the idea.

At first this technology will limited to the extremely wealthy but it will eventually trickle down (as it always does) to lower income brackets. It will become more and more affordable as it becomes mass produced.

Yes, you will always have criminals. Some schmuck is going to hack into one and fly it into a building etc. However the benefits can't be denied in a world where our cities are suffocating from congestion and the population expands, more goods need to be moved faster. Combine this with mankind's general desire to get to where he's going faster and faster and it's nearly inevitable.

Your Idea that maintance would be an issue is a valid one. My guess there would be government sanctioned periodic inspections as well as a number of fail safes implemented to prevent catastrophe.

The rich are already flying private planes. If they aren't flying sky cars in 50 years you can call me Rumplestiltskin.

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#13 Va1or

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 06:48 PM

You're focusing on all the wrong things Va1or. I think the weapons are questionable, but there are many things that are spot-on for how the future will work. The entire level Metropolis in H2 looks like a believable downtown of the future, the Orbital Defense Platform, the ships you already mentioned, Spartan armor, flash cloning, etc. I think Bungie's future is totally believable because just like real life, some things advance a lot in 100/500 years and somethings stay exactly the same.

I'll get back to the root of the matter, I think that just because Ghost Town looks rundown to you and unbelievable for the future, that doesn't make it inaccurate for what might still exist 500 years from now in Africa.


When a galaxy spanning human civilization is in a war for the survival of their species, they aren't using 500+ year old weapons/vehicles to combat a technologically superior alien menace. That would be suicidal insanity. If you want to believe they would, that's up to you. "Here come the plasma wielding hordes! Send out the freakin' ATVs boys! HOORAH!... we're all dead."

I just mentioned the Halo anachronism thing in passing and it was bumped into discussion again. It's not something I really want to take up as a cause or anything. Yeah, I think the Halo universe is inconsistent with itself. I'm not losing any sleep over it.

Edited by Va1or, 08 March 2008 - 06:59 PM.


#14 Nightshade

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 07:00 PM

I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

#15 vociferous

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 07:46 AM

I'll just say the two things I said last night:
  • The human aesthetic in the Halo universe is extremely dated, much of their technology is already being surpassed by our military today.
  • It's the best design choice they could make. With the Forerunners angular and uplifting vibe, coupled against the dark, brooding curves of the Covenant - the battered and dated human aesthetic is just what the doctor ordered in my opinion. I think any departure from that would cross over into one of the other two aforementioned visual queues.
I think the reality of the situation is that as a design team they need something which signifies human and if it is circa 26th century, the audience would not see a huge divergence from the aesthetics that belong to the Forerunners or the Covenant. We as a human audience in the early 21st century recognize the environments, weapons and vehicles as human and this accomplishes the purpose and reasoning behind making the environments this way.

Now, that being said, I do not believe this is the main problem with Halo 3 multiplayer maps. If anything, the human maps like High Ground and Last Resort, look the best and most interesting. I find maps like Construct, Narrows and Epitaph to be wholly boring. I think without them playing profoundly awesome, like Lockout or Hang 'Em High, maps like this need to at least look interesting and to me they don't.

#16 Frost

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 09:31 AM

Probably not so much laziness as a design choice. Having the human tech and buildings look relatively modern-day creates more of a contrast with the Covenant. If everything was too "space" and futuristic, we wouldn't have as strong an aesthetic difference between the factions.



I'll just say the two things I said last night:

  • The human aesthetic in the Halo universe is extremely dated, much of their technology is already being surpassed by our military today.
  • It's the best design choice they could make. With the Forerunners angular and uplifting vibe, coupled against the dark, brooding curves of the Covenant - the battered and dated human aesthetic is just what the doctor ordered in my opinion. I think any departure from that would cross over into one of the other two aforementioned visual queues.
I think the reality of the situation is that as a design team they need something which signifies human and if it is circa 26th century, the audience would not see a huge divergence from the aesthetics that belong to the Forerunners or the Covenant. We as a human audience in the early 21st century recognize the environments, weapons and vehicles as human and this accomplishes the purpose and reasoning behind making the environments this way.


This.

#17 Va1or

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 09:45 AM

I'll just say the two things I said last night:

  • The human aesthetic in the Halo universe is extremely dated, much of their technology is already being surpassed by our military today.
  • It's the best design choice they could make. With the Forerunners angular and uplifting vibe, coupled against the dark, brooding curves of the Covenant - the battered and dated human aesthetic is just what the doctor ordered in my opinion. I think any departure from that would cross over into one of the other two aforementioned visual queues.
I think the reality of the situation is that as a design team they need something which signifies human and if it is circa 26th century, the audience would not see a huge divergence from the aesthetics that belong to the Forerunners or the Covenant. We as a human audience in the early 21st century recognize the environments, weapons and vehicles as human and this accomplishes the purpose and reasoning behind making the environments this way.

Now, that being said, I do not believe this is the main problem with Halo 3 multiplayer maps. If anything, the human maps like High Ground and Last Resort, look the best and most interesting. I find maps like Construct, Narrows and Epitaph to be wholly boring. I think without them playing profoundly awesome, like Lockout or Hang 'Em High, maps like this need to at least look interesting and to me they don't.


I definitely see your point and I do enjoy the "retro-future" vibe Halo has in some areas as well as the future-future vibe it has in others. My point is that it's just inconsistent with itself. In the Halo universe there are many things that are clearly distant future tech that also have a distinct human vibe such as the MAC orbital defense stations, the Pillar of Autumn and other spacecraft, the Spartans/Mjolnir armor, AI holographic constructs (Cortana), the Spartan laser, the Gauss canon, the space elevator, some of the buildings etc.

I just feel like they got lazy with some of their props and designs and just put in modern day things without giving it much thought (like big rig trucks). That's all.

Edited by Va1or, 09 March 2008 - 09:47 AM.


#18 Anpheus

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 10:08 AM

What will replace trucks as a shipping method, Va1or?

#19 Va1or

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 10:08 AM

What will replace trucks as a shipping method, Va1or?


Elephants with baskets on top.

Edit:

In all seriousness...

I speculate that in the near future the shipping method of choice will be huge flying transports. We already have huge cargo planes like the An-225 that "transport[...] objects once thought impossible to move by air, such as locomotives and 150-ton generators, and has become a valuable asset to international relief organizations for its ability to quickly transport huge quantities of emergency supplies during disaster relief operations" (Wikipedia). I imagine fleets of huge flying cargo vessels that can fly and land fully automated, appearing in the skies in my lifetime. Traditional trucks won't disappear overnight and may linger for some time but the bulk of all goods shipped by major corporations will be flown.

Who knows what will appear in the far future. Mega-warehouse size transports that travel at the speed of light? Seriously, who knows. If technology advances at it's current rate, who knows. I have major doubts that this world, as we know it, will last another 500 years. In fact, I don't think it will.

Edited by Va1or, 09 March 2008 - 10:45 AM.


#20 Anpheus

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 12:52 PM

Economy. Huge transports only work for transcontinental distances, smaller shipping vehicles like used by Fed Ex today work for cross-country trips (a thousand or so miles) and less than that? Much easier to use a big rig. Shipping containers transported on enormous barges, big rigs, and large transport planes all have their place. And given that in the Bungie universe, using an FTL drive inside the atmosphere is just about the equivalent of a nuke (which makes sense, read up on the physics of near-lightspeed travel some day) I don't imagine people will be using mega-warehouse size transports in the atmosphere in Bungie's universe. It would be very destructive to everything else.



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