Hello everyone, and welcome to Halo Spotlight. The place where we shine a spotlight on Halo community creations. This piece is yet another first for our Q&A section. Not only is it the first Halo Creation Q&A, but it’s also the first Q&A that has multiple guests.
In this Halo Creation Q&A, The Writing Spartan sat down with two amazing Halo fans that are creating a mod for Halo Combat Evolved. The two guests, Connor Dawn and Rosy Muscovy, both came on to answer some questions about their mod, Halo Combat Revolved.
This Q&A was done via Discord, so if you’d like to hear the full audio version of this Q&A, you can do so on our YouTube channel or at the end of the piece.
This written Q&A will be a straight to the point version of the full Q&A, so once the video is available, we encourage you to check it out for the full unedited goodness. Until then, please enjoy the shortened version below, which is formatted slightly different than usual.
Question: Could you give us a little bit of background on what experience you both have making mods, or what mods you’ve worked on in the past, if any?
Rosy Muscovy: “I’ve made a few tiny mods for games that have not been Halo, such as Darkest Dungeon and Crypt of the NecroDancer, for my own personal pleasure. That’s really about it. This is my first venture into tackling Halo modding.”
Connor Dawn: “I’ve made some Halo mods. Back in 2019 I made Rain World. I didn’t really plan on doing much more, I was just kinda like “I’ll kinda dip”. Then it got featured on the mod blog thing. It’s not there anymore though. I don’t know what happened to it.
Question: What was the inspiration or reasoning behind wanting to create Halo Combat Revolved?
Rosy Muscovy: “My inspiration I would say was playing through all the games once again on The Master Chief Collection for PC, and just marvelling at how different each game really is from each other in terms of mechanics and presentation.
Another big inspiration was watching the channel EBR, who does these videos on the evolution of various Covenant species throughout the Halo games. He documents a lot of how they behave differently behave games and look so different.
Something I thought was “What if I made my own mod to try and bring each of the games as close to one another as possible?” That’s really kinda where it started. At first it started as a personal project, but as Connor came along because he liked what I was doing, it became more of a Official Mod to try and please everyone.“
Connor Dawn: “If you’re gonna try and make something like this I feel like it’s always good to have two minds on board to kinda keep you right.
If you’re doing a mod on your own, you can always ask other people for opinions, but they can say “Oh I don’t like this” and you can kinda go “Well I’m gonna do it anyway.” But when you’re working with someone who’s also doing a mod with you, both of your opinions have the same weight and importance.
Me and Rosy have never fought over anything but we have sometimes have conflicts on what should happen, and I feel like it’s good to have a balance and weight to both things, at least gameplay wise.“
Question: What are going to be some of the most noticeable changes that the mod brings to Halo Combat Evolved?
Rosy Muscovy: “I feel like we’ve practically changed everything at least a little bit at this point. If I had to just pick 3 that were changed the most or will be most noticeable, I would say, 1st, the visuals. Connor did a beautiful job of touching up every single level to make the level really feel like it has its own identify.
For instance, he took the 2nd mission and really made it feel like it’s sunrise. Guilty Spark, he really made it dark. He made the interior a bit more of that flood fog that you see on Sacred Icon, and so an and so forth.
2nd change I’d say would be enemy behaviour and variety. For those who are well acquainted with Combat Evolved vs the other games, there’s just Elite Minor, Elite Major, basically just minor and major rank for every one of the Covenant. What I’ve done is a lot more enemy types.
Now we have Elite Ultras, we have Grunt Ultras, Grunt Heavies, Jackals with Needlers, Jackals with Plasma Rifles, and so on and so forth. Just trying to really bring in and incorporate those ranks from Halo 2 and other Halo games and make them feel like they have a naturally place in Combat Evolved. I think it turned out really well.
The final and probably the most noticeable change for everyone who’s memorized Combat Evolved inch by inch would be the encounters. I’ve personally gone through and evaluated every single encounter on every single mission and changed it in some capacity.
Whether it’s removing enemies, adding more enemies, changing what enemies you’ll find there. It’s safe to say that people who are tired of playing Combat Evolved because they know everything that awaits them will have something to look forward to.
It’ll be a completely different layout of the enemies, but still trying to keep that experience of the game close to what it was in the original. It’s not like I’ve changed an entire corridor to be nothing but Hunters or something.“
Connor Dawn: “That’s one of those things that me and Rosy both agree on whilst working on these mods. For instance, if you like Halo 3 or you like Halo Reach, there’s reasons why you like those games.
When you make a mod to try and enhance these games, I think it’s very important that you try and retain or enhance the things that make you love the game initially, rather than change them, because if you change them then you’re risking yourself not liking it or going too far.
With Rosy he always has some kind of reasoning behind encounters. Like you said it’s not just “Oh I’m gonna put Hunters here.” One of my favourite things about the mod is that, of course it takes place on Installation 04, and there are a lot more Covenant on Installation 04 than there are Humans.
So, a vast majority of the Flood you’ll encounter throughout the game is composed of more Elite Flood than Human Flood, because naturally there are more Covenant, in the lore, on Installation 04.
There’s lot of stuff in the mod that’s just logic and things that have clicked into place to be responsible for the way things are.“
Rosy Muscovy: “That was another minor thing for me going through a lot of these encounters. What I tried to do a lot of was give either some instance of environmental storytelling, or pay attention to something else that’s brought in the game.
As Connor said, the Covenant are mentioned as outnumbering Humans 12 to 1, so in The Flood, the elite forms outnumber human forms at a ratio of more or less 12 to 1. Similarly, many instances of environmental storytelling can be found throughout the levels, such as on The Silent Cartographer.
Not to spoil one of these, but the Pelican that comes in and brings you that Rocket Launcher crashes in on the beach. What I did was went ahead and put a Banshee right next to that Pelican, and it’s pilot can be found just chilling on the beach looking at the ocean.
Now you have a Banshee on a level that previously didn’t had one, but I also gave it a sensible excuse to be there, by having that Banshee be the one that shot down that Pelican.“
Question: What has been the biggest challenge each of you have faced whilst making the mod?
Connor Dawn: “Limitations.”
Rosy Muscovy: “I would say up till this point all we’ve been working with has been Assembly. For those who might know, all two of you out there, the Combat Evolved Anniversary branch of Assembly has no ability to import tags, to duplicate tags, or even add new blocks to existing tags.
What that means is we are stuck with exactly what the developers have on the map already. What we’ve had to do is a lot of clever workarounds. For instance, there’s two variants of Hunter in Combat Evolved. One’s a Hunter and one’s a Hunter Major, they’re identical but one has more health.
What I did was I just took the Hunter Major and said “Okay you’re not a Hunter Major anymore you’re an Elite Ultra.” That’s what I’d have to do. I couldn’t just create my own Elite Ultra from existing tags. I basically had to repurpose what tags I had.
Going forward now, now that Halo: The Master Chief Collection was updated to support Combat Evolved maps, I can do everything that I wanted to do before. I can make several different Elite ranks and have them all exist all on the same map without any sort of issue or limitation, so I’m excited going forward.
I’m sure people who play this first build that we’re releasing, it’s a lot more limited. For instance, Elites really only use plasma rifles, unless they like a special story related Elite, such as the Shipmaster who uses a Needler or a Spec Ops Commanders who’ll use a Plasma Pistol or Energy Sword.”
Question: How long, from start to finish, do you think Halo: Combat Revolved will take to complete?
Connor Dawn: “If you stand up and look under your seat right now, there’s a link that’ll take you to the Nexus. The joke I’m trying to make is that by the time this is out, it should be out.” (It is, you can find it right here.)
Rosy Muscovy: “It took us like 6 months to make our mod. It is done now, the first version, made purely with Assembly. It’s a lot more limited, but we’ll be releasing that, because it is done. (It’s out now on the link above).
Then we’ll continue working around the clock on our 2.0 version. I don’t know how long Connor needs but maybe a month or two.“
Connor Dawn: “Yeah, with the tools that we have, not only do we have more freedom, but for example, I made the Needler pink in first person. It glows in the dark.
Before, on the Assembly version, the one that’s out now, I had to go through each map painfully and edit the tag on each map, but, with the tools we’re using to make the 2.0 version, all I have to do is change it once and every map pulls from that when we build it.“
Rosy Muscovy: “Basically any time we changed a single number in our mod, we had to do it 10 different times for every single map, but now we only have to do it once, and we just press the button that makes the maps again. It’s so much more time efficient and less of a headache.“
Question: Where would people go to see updates on Halo: Combat Revolved ,or get access to it once it’s completed?
Connor Dawn: “We have a Nexus page. It’s very stylish too if I may say. It’s lovely.” Regarding updates, we don’t use Twitter much. I do, but not for updates. We’re in a server that we post stuff too and we discuss development there. (Connor’s Twitter: @TheConnorDawn)”
Rosy Muscovy: “Yeah basically we have a private version of Halo Mods Discord, there’s a variety of projects there with very lovely people. That’s where we mainly do our stuff. I can’t promise that everyone that’s interested would be able to get in there.
If you wanted to put my Discord ID on there, people can DM me and ask me stuff and I can give them teasers if they’re interested.” (Rosy’s Discord ID: Rosy#6864)
A huge thank you to Connor Dawn and Rosy Muscovy for talking with The Writing Spartan. A reminder that this written Q&A is only a bite sized version of the full interview. We really recommend checking out the full Q&A below.
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