If you do a Google search for “Curtis Creamer Warthog”, you’ll come across a 52-second YouTube clip of some men yahooing around a car park in a Warthog, the iconic vehicle from the Halo series.
Sitting in the driver’s seat is Curtis Creamer, a senior producer with Bungie, the makers of the Halo series and the soon-to-be released Halo: ODST. The location is Wellington, New Zealand. The Warthog was built by Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshops.
Gunning the Warhog’s Diesel engine, Creamer steers the machine alongside a row of warehouse-like buildings, glancing too close to a small wooden-framed, plastic-topped lean-to attached to one of the buildings. There is an audible scraping sound as the Warthog hits the side of the lean-to. A few metres later, the Warthog screams to a halt. Laughter is heard.
“Did you get that on video?”, someone asks. “Yeah, I got that on video,” another replies. The camera zooms into the scratched framing of the lean-to, showing the scratched wood. More laughter.
The Warthog does a slow U-turn at the top of the carpark, seemingly narrowly avoiding a parked car. It sounds like Creamer yells out: “I got that man over there. We’re all right.” More laughter is heard.
As he drives the Warthog past the camera, Creamer is grinning from ear to ear, like the cat that got the cream.
Speaking from Sydney last week, Creamer was on a promotional tour for Halo: ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) and was reunited with the Warthog, which now tours the world on promotional trips and was made by Weta during the early concept phase of the planned movie.
“It’s really great to see the Warthog again. I drove it in Wellington when I was there. I nicked a post but I think it looks worse than it is.”
He had high praise for the guys at Weta: “They are just perfectionists when it comes to the Warthog. We’ve driven it in the game and it feels like you’d expect it to drive. It’s got a big engine, the four-wheel steering, the cannon with the ammo feed. It’s a sight to see, and (driving) it felt like I imagined it would.”
Creamer says the Bungie team was visiting Weta to discuss the now-defunct Halo movie when they spied the Warthog being wheeled outside. “We all just left the meeting and went across to see the Warthog. It’s pretty cool, although I’ve learned now that there is no way a marine could man the cannon in the back while the Warthog is driving fast – they’d get thrown out the back!”
We turn to Halo ODST. Curtis is matter of fact when asked what he does at Bungie. “I’m someone who makes sure the project is staying on schedule. They way I put it is ‘I make sure that shit gets done’.” Curtis says ODST was an “interesting” challenge for Bungie in that it was the first Halo game that was completed in less than three years. “Production on ODST took just over a year. The goal was not to make major changes to the Halo engine so that allowed artists to get more familiar with the game engine and create better assets because they already understood the engine.”
In ODST, players take the role of the silent Rookie and not the titular Master Chief from the Halo trilogy. The action takes place between Halo 2 and Halo 3 and during what seems a routine drop to New Mombassa to counter the Covenant attack on Earth, things go terribly wrong for the Rookie, who is knocked unconscious and becomes separated from his squad. As the Rookie drops to New Mombassa, he catches a glimpse of the High Prophet of Regret’s flagship dropping into slipspace.
The Rookie has to find out what happened to his colleagues and piece together the mystery through a series of flashbacks triggered when he discovers items belonging to other marines.
Creamer says Bungie wanted to create an almost film noir tale with ODST. “We wanted to keep the Halo tone but in an almost film noir detective story kind of way. You’re in a city, at night, you’ve become separated from your team mates, you have to find out what happened. You have to recreate the crime scene and the flashbacks were something that we wanted to do from the get-go. If you come across a sniper rifle, unlike in a crime detective show where the detective recreates in his mind what happened, we wanted the flashback to be lived.”