About Isaac Hannaford
For all those of you that love watching sci-fi movies and wonder how much work goes into the creation of those films, Isaac Hannaford may be the most intriguing man that you shall read about today. Isaac, otherwise known as the Spaceship Guru, runs a company that shares the same name. The company specializes in designing spaceships for the entertainment industry. He was previously a Halo Concept Artist for Bungie. Below are stories and lessons from his career.
The Experience of Being Bungie's Lead Concept Artist
Isaac was at Bungie for nine years and spent about three or four of those years as a lead. He was brought on about a year into the development of Halo 3. Isaac was the lead concept artist for Destiny, and towards the last couple of months, he had a co-lead just before the co-lead left. On Halo Reach, he was the most senior concept artist and did a lot of the work.
Isaac Hannaford's Research Process: Designing Halo Reach Spartans
When he was designing the Spartans on Halo Reach, he initially had seven Spartans, two of which were female.
That was the first time that there would be a female in the Halo game franchise.
Though they had been in the fiction before, they would now be in the video games. Eventually, a couple of characters got cut, but what they shipped was the Spartan team. Kat was one of the Spartans that made it through.
When Isaac was designing those characters, he had heard a few people talking about Kat, and the possibility of there being some relationship between her and one of the other characters and it angered him to some extent. Though it was mostly idle gossip, it got Isaac thinking, and he figured that he didn't want Halo to do what many other game development companies had done by making their female characters generic, sexual characters or romantic interests. Around the same time, he was reading a lot of scientific material as well as material about wars for reference.
In the material he was reading was information about prosthetics and how returning soldiers who had lost their limbs in war were benefiting from them. The stories of these men and women were an indication of just how much they were willing to do for their country, and Isaac thought they were an indication of the worth of these men and women. For Isaac, having Kat as part of the Spartan team meant that, even though she could be a love interest or other generic things, she could be more than that. She would be more than that because instantly, you would read her and realize that she is dedicated, she is a badass, she has given a huge sacrifice and gets her job done without complaining. This aspect lends seriousness and respect to her as a Spartan. Instead of her appearing as a token on the team, she belongs there, and it is apparent. That was what Isaac was aiming for.
The experience of Working at Bungie
Isaac's workmates at Bungie were exceptional and were huge fans of the property. There was built-in respect for the property. Bungie is one of the few game developers that survived after being bought by Microsoft. This fact could be attributable to the success of Halo 1 or the fact that they had succeeded and made a profitable game, and were, therefore, able to build stronger buffers against Microsoft's influence.
Owing to this, when Isaac was at Bungie, the company couldn't even allow a Microsoft employee to pass the lobby, including the executives. This strictness about external influence helped to keep the culture of the company intact. Isaac feels that Bungie's obsessive focus on doing things its way was at times good but was also regularly a problem when something was tackled in an old fashioned way, but the company insisted that that was just its way of doing things. However, Isaac feels that the firm was quick to learn and adjust, even as compared to other similar companies. The company was also quick to act on feedback to the outside, even though it was hard for it to change things based on feedback from within.