While developing Halo 2 multiplayer, Bungie had to actually pitch the idea of parties to the Xbox Live team.
It’s hard to imagine this now, but the concept of an online, player-created instance that persists between games – a party – was once a novel idea that someone had to explain its use, and potential.
Max Hoberman, president of developer Certain Affinity, spent the early days of his career at Bungie. Hoberman worked on the Halo 2 development team, and in an effort to make it easy for the Xbox Live team to understand the concept of parties, created a handy FAQ.
Hoberman shared the FAQ along with a few other developer documents on Twitter. The FAQ is detailed, and you can completely see why it was used to sell Microsoft on the idea.
Explaining the idea of Parties to the Xbox Live team for Halo 2 was incredibly challenging. @drcandland helped by creating an interactive prototype, and I followed that up with a FAQ. Here's the start of that… pic.twitter.com/SRd6XOBHud
— Max Hoberman (@MaxHoberman) February 19, 2019
Before Halo 2, online multiplayer on consoles looked very different from the landscape we’re currently familiar with. In fact, most features expected of modern multiplayer games: lobbies, matchmaking etc. all originated with Halo.
David Candland, who also worked at Bungie back in those heady days, published a video of an early prototype of a party in Halo 2. It looks so archaic, but you may be surprised to see the similarities between that pitch video and online lobbies today.
The video also features, to my knowledge, the first iteration of the now infamous banter seen in so many trailers for multiplayer games today.
It’s all fascinating to look back on, and likely something many reading this didn’t even know was a thing.