Halo Director returns to his Edinburgh roots for the launch of new game

WHEN it comes to box office records linked to the streets of the Capital, talk generally turns to two names: James Bond or Harry Potter.

By David O’Leary
Wednesday, 7th November 2012, 12:00 pm

No-one mentions a super-soldier named “Master Chief”, star of computer franchise Halo which has generated billions of pounds in revenue worldwide for its creators – one of whom happens to be a lifelong Jambo.

Edinburgh’s own Frank O’Connor is franchise director for game developer and Microsoft offshoot 343 Industries and he has never forgotten his Capital roots. This week he oversaw the launch of the fourth instalment in the series – selling an incredible £124m in the first 24 hours, the game is expected to outstrip the box office takings of James Bond film Skyfall before the weekend.

O’Connor spent his childhood in Gorgie, obsessed with video games like Pong, and began his career working at video game publications including TOTAL! Nintendo magazine, and the Official Xbox Magazine before moving to Bungie Studios as content manager.

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In 2008, tech giant Microsoft bought up the rights and installed O’Connor as franchise director.

He said of the series success: “Honestly, the secret of Halo’s success is that it has something for everyone – a deep, rewarding sandbox of engaging vehicles, cool weapons and challenging AI. I’d hazard to say there are a lot of folks who haven’t tried Halo, who think they might not like it, who would actually find some really engrossing facet of what’s a very richly featured game.”

O’Connor has lived in Seattle for several years now, but it’s clear to see that he’s never forgot the city that bore him.

The dad-of-one was a co-author of Halo: Evolutions – Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, a collection of short stories and poem on the series providing the introduction and the short story “Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian”.

A long-time Hearts fan, the tale follows the story of a soldier named “Michael Baird” in-battle on board a ship named “UNSC The Heart of Midlothian”. An insider said: “Frank is a real talent and highly thought of by Microsoft. He’s been with the Halo franchise all the way through and is the public face of the series in terms of gamers and fans.”