Ensemble Studios has revealed that the Halo MMO it was developing for Microsoft wasn't just a prototype - it had been green-lit for production.
Speaking to Shacknews, Ensemble's technology chief Dave Pottinger said, "It had actually been green-lit, and then it got cancelled after that."
It was a project close to Ensemble's hearts, he revealed. "Ensemble has been wanting to make an MMO for a long time. Microsoft… hasn't had the best track record with those," he said, perhaps referring to the cancellations of titles like Level 5's True Fantasy Live Online and Cryptic's Marvel Universe Online.
"We worked on it for a long time - we had staffed up an almost 40-person team," Pottinger said. "And then there was some reorganization at Microsoft, and the new bosses thought it wasn't the best idea any more."
Pottinger implied that the game was set earlier in the timeline than the first Halo game, Bungie's classic Halo: Combat Evolved. "The Covenant weren't quite the Covenant yet," he said.
He also revealed that the game was based heavily on World of Warcraft - "it's a popular [model]" - and was a "classic" MMORPG with a "very action feel. Definitely more actiony than WOW."
Microsoft recently announced its intention to close down Ensemble after it completes the Halo Wars RTS - a decision Pottinger said "honestly doesn't make a lot of sense". For more on Halo Wars, read today's preview.