In June, Showtime officially ordered a 10-episode season of the live-action, scripted drama Halo, based on the hallowed Xbox franchise, with Kyle Killen (Awake) serving as executive producer, writer and showrunner. Now comes word, from Showtime’s Television Critics Association summer press tour panel (via IGN), that Master Chief will be a lead character in the series, which they are aiming to premiere in 2020. Master Chief is the protagonist of the Halo universe created by Bungie.

“It is a very different genre, it’s futuristic, space-based science fiction, it’s not fantasy,” Showtime President and CEO David Nevins said. “It took us a long time to get the script but we felt like we had something that was really interesting and felt like it belonged on Showtime in terms of its character depth, and it’s gonna be a big show.”

“We made a conscious decision to hire a writer not known for sci-fi and not known for big battle movies, because that’s already baked into the Halo franchise and we will service that, but we also wanted to ensure that we were getting beneath the formidable armor of the Spartans and really getting inside the team drama so it felt like it belonged on Showtime,” Showtime President of Programming Gary Levine added. “As David said, our hopes and dreams are that it will have enormous appeal to Halo fans and will also appeal to Showtime drama fans.”

Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) will direct multiple episodes and also executive produce the hour-long series. Produced by Showtime in association with Microsoft/343 Industries, along with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, Halo will begin production in early 2019.

Halo reinvented how people think about video games and has grown into a global entertainment phenomenon, having sold more than 77 million copies worldwide and grossing more than $5 billion in sales. In its adaptation for Showtime, Halo will take place in the universe that first came to be in 2001, dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. Halo will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.

“Halo is our most ambitious series ever, and we expect audiences who have been anticipating it for years to be thoroughly rewarded,” Nevins said previously. “In the history of television, there simply has never been enough great science fiction. Kyle Killen’s scripts are thrilling, expansive and provocative, Rupert Wyatt is a wonderful, world-building director, and their vision of HALO will enthrall fans of the game while also drawing the uninitiated into a world of complex characters that populate this unique universe.”

Halo will be executive produced by Killen, Wyatt and Scott Pennington, along with Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank for Amblin Television. The series will be distributed globally by CBS Studios International.

Master Chief to be a Lead Character in the Halo Series