Josh Holmes (video game designer)

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This article is about the video game designer. For the singer/songwriter, see Josh Holmes.
Josh Holmes
Born (1973-12-25) December 25, 1973 (age 41)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation Video game designer
Employer 343 Industries
Notable work Halo 4

Josh Holmes is a Canadian game producer and video game designer originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. Holmes is currently an Executive Producer for 343 Industries blockbuster franchises based in Kirkland, Washington, the Microsoft Studios unit formed to coordinate the Halo franchise.


Early career[edit]

Holmes was born and grew up in British Columbia and attended Kitsilano Secondary School in Vancouver.[1] Josh turned to game design after several years pursuing a career as a film actor in Los Angeles, including filming a television pilot.[1][2]

EA Canada[edit]

Holmes got his start in the video-game business in 1995 at Electronic Arts’ campus in Burnaby, Canada as a game tester, and a year later he was hired to make games.[1] While there, he created the Def Jam series of fighting games, as well as the NBA Street series.[3] His passion for storytelling was demonstrated when he worked on NBA Street as the lead designer, ensuring that even a sports game had a plot.[1] After finishing Def Jam Vendetta, many ideas remained for another game, and in the development process early on that the gameplay would move away from the wrestling found in the original and be shaped by combat from other fighting games and genres.[4]

Propaganda Games[edit]

In 2005, he co-founded Propaganda Games.[5] While there he worked on the reboot of the Turok first person shooter game series.[6] Propaganda Games was acquired by Disney Interactive shortly after it opened.[5] In 2008, Holmes left Propaganda Games and Disney Interactive, citing creative differences.

343 Industries[edit]

He joined 343 Industries in 2009 and was an executive producer on Halo Waypoint and Halo: Reach.[7] Holmes stated he was drawn to the challenge of working at 343 Industries because it was founded specifically to become the caretaker of the Halo series, with only approximately 25 people working there when he joined.[8] The Halo Waypoint website was a labor of love, Holmes has stated, and he and his team were "blown away" by the number of people accessing the site.[6] As part of the development of Halo: Reach, Holmes worked with Bungie who had made the previous Halo installments.[9] One of Holmes' favorite aspects of Reach was the "melancholy feel you had that you were understanding the stakes of the challenge and things weren't necessarily going to end up all rosy".[10]

Halo 4[edit]

He was the creative director for Halo 4, and stated that early in the design process the design team was "on the road to play it too safe", and the team gained confidence over time to make changes from the original trilogy.[11] Part of the redesign of Halo that Holmes initiated was the make the game faster paced, making both Master Chief and his enemies move more quickly, and include much larger game spaces for characters to explore.[12] Visual changes included rebuilding all the characters "from scratch" to optimize their performances.[12] An aspect of Halo 4 '​s design that was preserved was the presenting of challenges to players, but not forcing it upon them and making the game linear.[13] Holmes worked on introducing enemy cues and unique behaviors gradually and individually so that players had to fight creatively and effectively.[13] Single player mode was imagined to be a training ground for multiplayer, and for success there to lead to continued membership in the Halo fan community.[14] Holmes described his development strategy as "one game at a time", mentioning that even though Halo 4 is the first part of a trilogy, all focus was on the story and gameplay experience of the individual title.[15] The game also was built to have a deeper resonance the more you know about the story, such as if a player had played the previous games, or had read the extended universe novels.[16] After four years of designing Halo 4 and playing the game for thousands of hours, Holmes stated he still loves the game, particularly due to the work on the story and the freedom players have to "play with the world and explore".[1]

Design philosophy and influences[edit]

Part of Holmes design is that the gameplay should be accessible to as many people as possible, including those who are new to established games such as Halo. This is thought to level the playing field in terms of multiplayer skill and increase the players satisfaction.[14]



  1. ^ a b c d e Blaine Kyllo (April 13, 2012). "The Halo Universe". Nuvo Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ Tracy Fullerton (January 1, 2008). Game Design Workshop (2008); Designer Perspective: Josh Holmes. Taylor & Francis. p. 172. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ Ben Hanson (April 13, 2012). "The Creative Director's Vision For Halo 4". Game Informer. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ Brent Soboleski (August 23, 2004). "Def Jam Fight for NY: Josh Holmes Interview". Team Xbox & IGN. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Disney Gets Into the Game With Two New Industry Deals. Wall Street Journal. April 19, 2005. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Mike Fahey (November 6, 2009). "Halo Waypoint Will Be What You Make Of It". Kotaku. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ Xav de Matos (September 10, 2010). "Halo Reach interview". Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ Matt Peckham (November 2, 2012). "Halo 4 Director: Halo Could Continue Without Master Chief". Time Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ Steve Wright (October 9, 2012). "343′s Franchise Creative Director Josh Holmes on Halo 4". Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ Sophie PRELL (September 7, 2012). "Halo evolved: How 343 Industries took the flag and ran with it to create Halo 4". Penny Arcade. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ David Lynch. "Halo 4 Dev: "Nothing’s ever easy when you’re creating a game"". XBox 360 Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Dean Takahashi (November 1, 2012). "343 Industries’ Josh Holmes on Halo 4′s love story, weaponry, and new enemies (interview)". Venturebeat. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Ludwig Kietzmann (September 21, 2012). "Halo's new house: 343 discusses its approach to Halo 4". joystiq. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b David Lynch (September 11, 2012). "Halo Vs Black Ops: "Room for two great experiences" – Halo Dev". XBox 360 Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Interview with Josh Holmes, Creative Director for Halo 4 at 343 Industries". Save Game Online. October 29, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  16. ^ Tracey Lien (November 2, 2012). "The layers of Halo 4 of players old and new". Polygon. Retrieved October 5, 2012. 

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