If you don’t know who Rejected Shotgun is then you really should go look him up. The experiences he’s created and the fandom that’s been built is nothing short of remarkable. His Discord and social media feature the classic Halo Shotgun. That should immediately tell you how much of a fan he is for the nostalgic old school experience. From Minecraft modding to creating his custom Scarab within Halo 3 PC, Shotgun’s projects have every make of professional. I had the pleasure and unique opportunity to interview the man behind some of Halo’s most beloved mod projects. Let’s dive in.
Nick: Well, first and foremost I want to say thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I know you’re super busy working on some phenomenal Halo experiences. Before we look into some of your incredible work I want to start off with the most basic question. How did you get involved in video games? Was it an experience, or a game? Tell me what opened that doorway for you.
Rejected Shotgun: Growing up, I had two older brothers and they started me out young playing games like Super Mario 64, Mech Assault, and of course, Halo on the original Xbox. Playing with my brothers, watching them doing tricks, and out of bounds glitches on the original Halo is what really sparked my interest in finding and eventually making content that was not normally available in games.
N: What was your first mod for Halo? What was the fan reception to it? That must’ve been such a tremendous experience getting to build something for a game you’re passionate about.
R: My very first mod for Halo was this really simple and messy campaign mod on Metropolis for Halo 2 Vista. This was all the way back in 2009 when I was 11 years old. I still have the video on my channel funnily enough. It didn’t get many views, but I remember being really proud of it. My first mod that got proper reception was a snowy re-skin of Valhalla for Eldewrito, the DMCA’d Halo 3 PC game from 2016-ish. I posted it up on the /r/haloonline subreddit and got a positive reception which motivated me, even more, to keep going.
I ended up making a second YouTube channel to protect myself against Microsoft’s copyright takedowns called HaloOnlineMods and formed a small Halo Eldewrito Modding community there. The positive comments I received combined with Halo being such a huge part of my childhood motivated me to pick up modding again and I’m so glad that I did.
N: Your YouTube channel has over 300k subscribers, you’ve built one awesome community. What’s that experience like knowing that thousands of people tune in almost daily to your projects? Do you love having so many adoring fans on your projects?
R: It’s honestly a dream come true. As a kid, I always looked up to Halo modders and revered them so much. The fact that other people now look at me and might feel the same way is still hard to wrap my head around, but I feel really proud too. I know my younger self would be so excited and happy if he could see me now. I really love the fans as well and I read almost all of the comments. I get great suggestions from them and they’ve influenced some of the content I’ve made.
I’m also really glad that a lot of the community has joined my Discord server and many of them have begun making mods of their own. I always try to help and give solutions when they ping me with problems they’re having. Beyond making my own mods that I think are cool, I want the modding community for Halo to grow and I hope that I can help make that happen with my own community.
N: Why Halo modding? With there being so many passionate gaming communities out there to be a part of, what draws you to Halo?
R: Halo was the game that I grew up with. I would play hours of multiplayer split-screen on Halo CE with my brothers. Going into Halo 2 and 3 I made my first online friends and would spend lots of time with them in Custom Games, Forge, and of course modded map variants. Halo was a key part of my childhood and I hold it in very high esteem not only because it makes me nostalgic, but also because the games themselves are really just that good. In my heart, nothing could ever replace Halo and the amazing world and games, and community experiences that Bungie created.
I actually do make content for other games though, such as avatars and worlds for VRChat, and custom modeled items and such for Minecraft. However, it never takes up more than a small amount of my time because I’m always focusing on Halo and the next exciting project I want to make.
N: What or who is your biggest inspiration for the mods you produce? I loved Extinction due to the premise of recreating the canceled Global Battles from Bungie but where do you draw your sources from? Is it creative brainstorming and pushing boundaries? Is it building experiences from scrapped concepts? Or is it someone you admire who you’d like to build off?
R: Some people like to make funny mods or turn the mongoose into a motorcycle. My biggest goal in modding Halo is to make something exciting. Something that will make jaws drop or fill them with joy as their inner child has all their dreams come true. For me, that is what my Extinction mod did. It gave players everything they could ask for, and then I gave them the tools to make whatever massive structures and battles they could think up. Bungie made an amazing decision when they added Forge to Halo, but I always felt that taking it to the next level and removing all limits was the most fun and exciting thing I could do.
The way I see it, Halo is as a sandbox game. Bungie uses that sandbox as a storytelling tool, and as a modder I want to use that sandbox as a playground so people can do things, they never thought were possible. Giant ship battles, nuclear bombs, massive AI firefights. Things that push the limits, that’s what I’m inspired to make.
N: This question is hopefully an easy one for you. What has been your favorite project to date that you’ve worked on?
R: I’ve made a lot of projects that I ended up liking and feeling proud of, but I have to say Extinction takes the cake. I know it’s the easy answer, but the sheer amount of playtime that has come out of it, watching other Youtubers cover it, players making exciting videos, and listening to their initial reactions. I just love all of it.
Of course, I spent a lot of time working on it and even burned out for a week at one point. All off that work paid off though. Nobody had ever made a mod to the scale I was trying to achieve, and it felt like nobody else was even trying. I had a lot of help from other people too. While I did most of the work on the mod, the AI was from my friend Seraphicy who worked hard and my friend SirenSorrento spruced up some of the vehicles to look a lot nicer visually. Even Gamecheat13 stepped in to help me squash some bugs.
Extinction feels like a mod that’s really hard to top because of the sheer amount of time and work put into it, so it stands out as my all-time favorite for many, many reasons.
N: With Halo: Infinite hopefully releasing (fingers crossed this year) what are some aspects that get you excited about the game? What would you like to see supported being one of the top influencers for the franchise?
R: The biggest thing for me would be Forge shipping with the game at launch. I’m very excited for this game’s sandbox in both campaign and multiplayer. If the rumors are true about being able to explore an entire Halo ring, the sandbox will be the most open and powerful yet. I want to see what the community can do and try myself to push the limits and make awesome creations. Oh, and 343 better give us that damned flyable Pelican already. Not the off-brand Halo 4 one, the real deal.
N: How can people support you and all the incredible work that you do? Do you have a Patreon? What are some of the best ways for the community to get involved with you and your work?
R: I do have a Patreon where I post progress updates and occasional links to download some of my work-in-progress mods, but mostly my Discord server is where the community really shines. Everyone over there is posting mods, asking questions, figuring out cool stuff, and talking all things Halo. I try to make each one of my videos something worth watching, so a subscription to my YouTube channel is always appreciated and I try to make it worthwhile.
Thank you Rejected Shotgun for your time, and make sure to stay tuned to Generation Xbox for coverage of all things Xbox. And check out the newly shown gameplay for Halo: Infinite here.