I was being selfish and unrealistic with my first comment, so instead of editing and revising it, I'll just propose a new idea that benefits everyone instead of just me:
We have an insane amount of talented, skilled craftsmanship on this site. These Halo fans pour a lot of time, money, energy and resources into our projects in order to bring our favorite video game franchise to life. I and many others like me found time to build a full suit of armor while working 40-60 hours a week. Between 2004 and 2007, Bungie spent $40 million on a kick-ass marketing campaign for Halo 3 which gave us chills that we all fondly remember. Our completed props and cosplay projects benefit 343i by providing tons of (mostly great) PR and advertising - FOR FREE. Some were even featured as part of Halo Outpost Discovery's Hall of History! Today, 343i doesn't need to spend another dime on marketing because they're building on an already successful
. We're doing that work for them without asking for anything in return, because we want to.
We love building these props because it makes us feel like we're part of the story, and most if not all of us feel like Halo is a large part of ours. We are grateful to have outstanding Community Managers like Unyshek
who seek the input from their fans. Most other game franchises, even the largely successful ones, should take note of this. I've never worked a day on a video game in my short-but-sweet life, but if I had a special thanks to give at the end of the credits, it would go to you. Don't tell my wife I said that.
Someone may have to correct me on this anecdote, but I remember back in 2007 or 2008, one of our members made a set of black Recon armor out of fiberglass using the pepakura files provided here in the forums. In case some of you didn't already know, Recon was a Bungie employee exclusive back then. If you wanted Recon, you would have to really
impress the right people at Bungie, and people were scrambling to do just that. He was the first one to do it successfully, as I recall. Because they loved his armor so much, they gave him the permissions to use the Recon armor permutation in Halo 3 multiplayer. Bungie saw the opportunity to use his passion as a beacon to inspire more Halo fans and they capitalized on it. I know I would volunteer my spare time if it meant improving one of my favorite games by even a marginal amount.
My proposal is kind of similar: put a team together to find those hardcore fans who inspire their
work they way you all have inspired ours. This team should be made up of writers, 3D modelers, concept artists, animators, art directors, sound designers, music producers, etc. Choose a large, diverse team of people who work on every aspect of the game's development at the ground floor. Their objective is to find their favorite or most influential fan-made content and contact those fans to have a one-on-one conversation about certain aspects of the game that pertain to their specific role at 343i. By doing this, they can swap ideas with each other, artistically inspire one another, build a stronger relationship with the community, save money on research and development (13 months away from release may be a little late for that, but some R&D processes take longer than others), get an idea of what the fans want, and give the fans a true
sense of the "pride and accomplishment" EA wishes they could give players, because those fans helped support the staff intellectually rather than monetarily. Meanwhile, you can make a safe bet that your game meets fan expectations because you continued to seek our input. Remember, you're adding to an already established universe, not creating a new one. We as fans know how this universe should look and feel. We also realize that you're the ultimate authority on which direction you take with this universe, so we have to earn and maintain each other's trust. Thank you for realizing that your fanbase is an invaluable resource rather than bipedal wallets waiting to be emptied into some company's already overflowing Scrooge McDuckian vault.
Now, that paragraph might be convoluted and a little hard to understand. I get that. I try really hard to make sure to use proper grammar to get my point across clearly, but sometimes I get a little too excited and everything turns into a run-on sentence full of tangents, rants, and general ramblings. I'm also exploring this idea as I go along, so bear with me. Allow me to clear things up by giving you an example:
My dream is to be a character in a video game. I think we've established that already. It's not one I've actively pursued because it's not exactly a realistic
one, but I think it would be my greatest achievement to show my kids (one day, when I have kids), "Look, there's daddy kicking ass in outer space! I'm glad you're here!" The thing is, I don't have the means to do that, so I built
my character instead. One day, someone messages me from 343i. They love the work I did, and they want my permission to create a character based off my build! We chat back and forth, hashing out this dude's backstory, demeanor, role, appearance, and any other additional characteristics. Maybe they even invite me to come into the studio for facial capture and voice recording! They make it clear to me that any intellectual property regarding this character belongs to 343i, and they are the final decision makers guided by my input, which means the character will probably have a very minor role (akin to SGT Stacker) or might not even make it into the final game. Some or all of the work I do may be unpaid but credited, and they award my help with a cool multiplayer armor permutation or something. The story of some prior-service Halo nerd who built a set of ODST armor in his basement being put into the game inspires more fans to flood the cosplay community in hopes that their projects might also catch the devs' attention. The Halo cosplay community grows. This new talent pool shares their projects, learning new techniques from their cosplay experiments along the way and passing that knowledge on to the rest of us. Soon, making armor and weapons from the Halo games becomes so widespread that we pool our resources together to create an army of real
Spartans who take over the world and eventually colonize new planets. I've been a member here since 2007, and I can tell you that from the changes I've seen in the 405th over the past 12 years, that's the direction we're headed. We just need to get Elon Musk on board...
Bungie talked about their goal for world domination quite a bit. Talk is cheap, and I don't think they ever really had a real plan. With fan contributions to game development, you can not only help the Halo cosplay community grow, but you'd have a recipe for dominating the universe.
How about another example: Some aspiring writer creates a fan fiction novel that becomes popular enough to inspire the Narrative Director on this special task force. They get to talking about creating scenes inspired from some of the stories in the fanfic and how they can adopt them into the game currently in development. Maybe there's a new game in the works, and 343i wants to make a game adaptation of this narrative. Maybe they just want to publish his novel. This fanfic writer's success story blows up, inspiring more Halo fans to put their storytelling talents to good use. Maybe they get their names attached to a couple of characters in return as a token of gratitude.
Basically, as a huge fan of the work that you do, I think it would be cool - and a lot of fun - to work alongside the game developers, even on a volunteer basis. I'm not encouraging anyone to do 343i employees' jobs for them, but to encourage and inspire each other and to build a strong, mutually-beneficial relationship between 343i and their talented fans. After all, helping, encouraging, and inspiring each other is exactly what the 405th is all about.
I know you were asking about how you can help the cosplay community specifically, but there's a much broader picture here than just us. Most people want to work for a paycheck or notoriety, doing the bare minimum, watching the clock until the workday is over. Some of us are so passionate about the Halo universe that we obsess over every little minuscule detail, sacrificing our hard-earned money and free time to strive for perfection... sometimes even to the point where it becomes unhealthy. This is an infinite pool of untapped resources which you could use to your advantage. I'm inviting you to use whatever limited resources I have at your disposal. I want to help too.