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Bungie Weekly Update

Halo: Reach

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#81 Vanwadilion



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Posted 07 January 2006 - 07:41 AM

sweet, that's what I really wanted anyway in the first soundtrack. Although, I didn't mind the Breaking Benjamin song too much, and the Steve Vai Halo theme was pretty sweet.

#82 Gamble

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 06:36 AM

Bungie Weekly Update: FRIDAY THE 13TH EDITION!

Man, this is a sweet gig. Working at Bungie is probably up there in dream job territory. You?re surrounded by enormous talent, have access to secrets to awe-inspiring that every day feel like a trip to Willy Wonka?s Chocolate Factory, only, instead of rivers of chocolate, we have rivers of fun! And instead of Oompa Loompas, we have Noguchis. They do caper and lark so!

Obviously I?ve seen the secret sauce. The next project. I?ve been exposed to it. If you want to know what it?s like, watch Pulp Fiction and pay careful attention to the contents of Marsellus Wallace?s suitcase. Yeah, it?s like that.

Would be nice to work here and be exposed to Marsellus Wallace?s briefcase, huh? Well, I?m glad you brought that up. Because we?re hiring. Actually, we?re always hiring, but specifically, we?re hiring a new contract writer for Bungie.net. So that means we?re looking for an excellent writer with Halo and web experience. It?s going to be a contract position, but the successful candidate will be based here, in Bungie?s custom designed Fun-Bunker.

That also means that we?re going to have more and better content on Bnet in future, with more frequent updates and lots more variety. So quit yer whining.

You can read more about the position on Monday but before you start sending resumes, this is a real job for an adult with experience and education, and as such, it may require relocation and all that jazz. So if you?re in high school, keep studying and check again several years hence. We?ll tell prospective candidates where to send resumes next week.

I asked Jay Weinland from our audio department what their schedule was like. He then rattled off some very cool information. Jay, I can?t report that, says I. If they knew you were already making sounds effects for those things, then they?d have a pretty good idea what kind of game our next project is.

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Jay's studio. Pictured earlier today.

Jay did note that the studio itself is complete. They have state of the art equipment ? from Genelec monitors to rack mounted super servers, and they are now mixing, recording and testing new audio and sound effects. Marty, as ever, is keeping the music close to his chest.

Often, folks will go into Marty?s office and activate the ?Vegas? mode on his umpteen-thousand dollar mixer ? which ostensibly is to test all the lights and switch motors on the mixer, but is really just for looking awesome. Every switch slides up and down, every light flashes and cycles through a cavalcade of color. It?s probably not even attached to anything.

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Marty's mixer. In Vegas mode.

Sound tools are a big deal this time around, since there?s no dedicated audio processor in the Xbox 360, so there?s a lot more ?book keeping? for our audio wizards. This time around they have to keep better track of what goes where and when ? on Xbox they could rely on the hard drive for sloppy stuff, but this time around everything has got to be buttoned up real tight.

Jay is however very excited about some of the new stuff available to him, including the ability to use multiple levels of compression. ?The audio range on Xbox 360 is going to be a lot better. Greater fidelity. Higher highs, lower lows. With Xbox we only had one level of compression ? with 360 we can customize levels to suit the purpose at hand.?

Jay?s made audio on consoles and PCs since the Genesis. Things have come a long way since that three channel FM Yamaha chip.

You can hear Jay?s recent interview with NPR?s local Seattle affiliate here: www.kouw.org and it?s fascinating stuff, yo.

IP (intellectual property) stuff is heating up again. We?re working on a bunch of cool new items for the Bungie store, some of which may or may not make it to final production. My favorite is a sweet messenger bag that doubles as a backpack ? ours will come emblazoned with Halo logos and whatnot. The one pictured below is roughly the same model.

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Chad is putting the finishing touches to the Soundtrack Vol. 2 CD cover, more evidence that it?s not just the Bigfoot of Bungie release dates. That said, there is no actual release date yet.

Kuniklo, Damian and I just got out of a fascinating discussion. About fiction. If the thing we talked about happens, Bungie fans will be in for a real treat. Things change and nothing might come of it, but Damian did posit some fascinating ideas.

I was recently accused of keeping a conversion of Marathon for Xbox Live Arcade a secret. I can tell you that we are not in fact working on that. Although it would be supersweet. If you?ve never played Marathon, you should. Stosh has an EXCELLENT sticky in our forums telling Mac and PC owners what it is, where to get it and how to get it running. Get Marathon working on your PC! Do yourself a favor, it may be old school, but thanks to fans, there are some updated graphics and features that make it very approachable and fun. And hey, it runs waaaaaaaay better now than it did when it was released.

If you?re a fan of Halo and Halo 2 campaign modes, you?ll love Marathon. Try it. And finally someone asked what Mister Chief would look like with no helmet on...

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#83 Blaze

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 09:58 AM

Jay, I can?t report that, says I. If they knew you were already making sounds effects for those things, then they?d have a pretty good idea what kind of game our next project is.


#84 JCTucker


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Posted 17 January 2006 - 03:19 AM


The description that is Jeremy's for the taking is now up.

Seriously, I wonder how many applicant's will pass Jeremy's work off as their own...

#85 Gamble

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 03:43 PM

Bungie Weekly Update, January 27th: User In Yer Face

A unique Weekly Update this week, where we talk to David Candland, our User Interface guru, about the work he's doing on <gasp!> our next project. Lots of insight and info on how our next UI might look and feel!

David Candland, our UI designer, now works in concert with Colm Nelson. Dave handles the visual look and feel of our new UI, while Colm handles how the UI actually works. Of course the two things actually work in perfect harmony when it's done correctly.

Dave is doing some of his prototyping using Macromedia Director ? which is basically a quick and easy tool to get user interface "screens" up and running. Dave isn't wasting any effort here. Although his final art and design will be attached to custom code being written elsewhere at Bungie, the assets, art and animation used in the prototyping phase (or at least the ones Dave likes) will all be used in the final version of the next game.

At the moment the process works something like this: Colm submits a UI "tree" to Dave, a plan of the suggested navigation. Then Dave interprets that and creates the visual elements and transitions using the aforementioned Director, as well as other tools, like Adobe Photoshop.

The ability to rapidly prototype gives Dave the flexibility he needs to test, hone and tweak the UI right up until the last second. It may sound a little detail obsessed, but we're very concerned with making the entire experience of our games a pleasant and intuitive one.

Think about it: How many times have you struggled to find an option in an interface? We were actually guilty of this ourselves, in a more primitive past (and of course, we'll make mistakes in the future) so I'll use a Bungie example rather than picking on somebody else's UI. Go play Halo: Combat Evolved on Xbox at a LAN. Now, pop into the interface mid-game and invert your controller. Oh you can't? Let's all reset our Xboxes, stop the LAN and wait for you, you upside-down control freak.

Small things sometimes have large, unintended consequences in user interfaces and stuff that seems trivial at first, can become very annoying over years of use. And we want you to play our next game for years. For instance, there's a "sweet spot" for the ideal amount of time it takes to move from one settings screen to another. Dave thinks it's less than a half second.

He explains that saying, "That less-than-half a second isn't actually anything to do with performance ? it's to do with how it feels to the user. Too rapid a pause between interface screens, say, control settings and game saves, and the user won't feel like they actually ?went' anywhere."

So sometimes, you artificially introduce a pause ? and marry that to a visual blend ? say a slight fade out and then in again. Personally I'm a big fan of the caustically colored "star wipe" found in 1990s video cameras. That's why they don't let me over in that area. Ever.

Color, animation and sound all play a part in that feeling too. Picking hues that embody the spirit of the game, yet identify different sections of the interface is an ongoing aesthetic challenge.

A lot of institutions of interface are legacy. Folks expect UI to behave a certain way ? a small stack of text that leads to subsequent stacks of text. Sometimes legacy exists for a reason ? it's the best way to do things. But sometimes there are constraints ? think about say, changing the options on a digital watch ? you have like, two tiny metal studs. What combinations of button presses make the most sense to change complex features? Others are just bad, like VCR programming. That interface (and variants of it) was created in hell by the demon in charge of stupidity. But folks got used to it, and until TiVo, it wasn't really challenged. And there isn't a microwave oven in creation that isn't somehow, frustratingly different from your own at home.

Video game UI is the way it is because of the way it started. A joystick or paddle and a single button. In fact, the very earliest UI on consoles actually took place on the hardware. Remember those springy switches on the Atari 2600? That was a big deal in a world where 1k was a big chunk of the memory on a cartridge. UI would often eat up half your development memory.

A console generally has a joystick and at least one button. And that's usually the baseline for how the UI works. More buttons means faster options ? "B" has become the default for reversing direction in Xbox UI ? going back one stage, or undoing something. There are even (some) conventions for inputting text on virtual keyboards ? "X" seems to be the default delete button now.

And that's something else we'll be paying careful attention to ? how to input text quickly and easily. The Xbox 360 Live interface has its own conventions, so we'll bear those in mind when implementing text within our next game. It's possible for example, to input text into the Live virtual keyboard using a USB keyboard ? although personally I seldom bother ? it's a pain for me to grab a keyboard and bring it into my game-hole.

To demonstrate our new UI, Dave let me pull up the latest executable version of the interface. I tooled around with it for a few minutes and was pleasantly surprised. It certainly "felt" pleasant. It looks very different from anything we've done in the past. Part of that has to do with the 16:9 aspect ratio Dave demoed at. And that's yet another issue ? how will an interface scale from 16:9 (Widescreen) to 4:3 (regular TV) ratios? How will text look at low resolution versus high definition? What if we implement split screen in our next project? How would each quadrant of a four player split-screen game look? All of these questions are ones being asked and answered, not only at Bungie, but anywhere next-gen software is developed.

In Halo 2, we learned a lot of lessons, both technical and aesthetic, about widescreen implementation. Our HUD for example, was a compromise in widescreen for performance reasons. Issues like that can be predicted better now, and that should lead to fewer problems of that ilk, in our next game.

In a way, it's two completely different versions of the interface, in both resolution and shape ? but they have to look and feel identical to the untrained eye. You should be able to go play our next game at your rich cousin's house, and feel totally familiar with the interface on his 50 inch plasma, then go back to your crappy 14 inch TV and still get the same look and feel. The upside is that on the 50 inch TV, it should feel more awesome.

There is one perfect example of this working already ? the 360 interface. The use of "blades" (like tabs in a filing cabinet) actually tricks the eye into thinking the aspect ratio falls somewhere between 16:9 and 4:3, no matter which aspect ratio you're looking at. The 360 interface also uses a left/right scheme "for big ticket" selections (Xbox Live, System, Games etc) and an up/down scheme for the more detailed sections within.

Colm's role is less visible to the user than Dave's. When you see a clean, well lit place to change options in the next game, you can thank Dave. But when you find it breathtakingly simple to select a different controller config, or adjust some hitherto unrevealed option, you can thank Colm. Of course, the process is more collaborative than the split I've been inferring. Dave and Colm's roles are distinct, but they intersect often, and always to the benefit of the UI.

Dave and Colm are both using elements from the game to frame and inspire their thinking. The UI needs to blend in with the themes and atmosphere created in the gameplay. Sometimes those will be literal ? a backdrop for UI could literally be from a part of the game (think of the New Mombasa cityscape that gets a background flyby in the title screen of Halo 2) and sometimes they'll be thematic ? a color, a shape, and of course a typeface.

A typeface can tell you at a glance, what the game is all about. And typefaces cause endless arguing and headaches. Halo, for example, would have looked completely crazy if we'd used a cowboy-style typeface, or even some classy olde worlde serif (that basically means a typeface with little "tails" on the end points of the letters - Star Wars logo is sans-serif and The Da Vinci Code logo has a serif) like Times Roman.

For the Halo games, we used futuristic looking typefaces because those were obvious choices that fit comfortably in the new game. We won't tell you what typeface we're using in the next project, but it is a very elegant solution (that might of course change) and ties in well with some interesting stuff Dave has been doing with illustration and renders. And best of all, I can play with all of this at any time. It's an executable PC file that's spewed out by Director.

I already did the best test of all ? how long does it take, and how many button presses to change my controller settings. Answer? Not long and very few. And yep, there are some words in that interface, options, if you will, that would make your hair stand on end.

Mat Noguchi Update:

Mat says he's a crap magnet. He's at a stage of tools development, where everyone is using his existing tools, demanding that he fix ?em and asking for new ones. As usual he waved his fist in the air and invented new swears, like, "Ass-weevil." I say he's more like a crap Katamari. He does roll around in it so.

Pete Parsons Last Day Today:

Goodbye Mango. We will all miss you. To quote the unknown Scottish poet, "Wha's Like Us? Damn Few, And They're A' Died."

And finally, two bonus Mister Chiefs. Mister Chief's self image, and last, but not least, the first Animated Mister Chief.

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#86 Gamble

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:30 PM

Bungie Weekly Update: Video Tour Special!!!

This week's update is special. In fact, it's soooo special that it has to wear a helmet and ride a short bus to school. It's the long-awaited, phantasmagorical, scrum-diddly-umptious video tour of the new Bungie Studios.

Thanks to the elite video and directing skills of our very own auteur, Brian "Sketch" Jarrard (although he points out that he's a noob at this, and the quality may not reach the standards of other Bungie efforts), and the sweet new video suite we got for Bungie.net, we're finally able to bring you the ultimate tour de force, in the form of a tour de farce.

The new office is a really fun space. It's full of toys, practical features and an environment conducive to making excellent games. There's a lot of office area that we can't show you ? including really cool things like storyboards, level designs, logos, graphics and audio stuff. TVs and monitors in this place are often blaring evocative sounds as well as images.

We spent the better part of a day scrubbing the video of anything too revelatory. If you see something on a screen that you think looks like a clue, we've seen it too, and for whatever reason, decided it wasn't letting any cats out of bags. When you DO decide you've spotted something, as you invariably will, remember we are the home of Halo 1, Halo 2, Halo 2 for Windows Vista, and that Guitar Hero setup is for fun, not for research. Or is it!!!?

Anyhoo, every word, thought, image and object has been vetted enough so that even if you come to a conclusion, it's probably wrong. That's not to say the video is boring. You might not like it, but boring it ain't. SO! INSTRUCTIONS TIME KIDS! This is a QuickTime movie, so make sure you got yourself some recent version of QuickTime. Now right click the image below and choose "SAVE TARGET AS" because this file is large, and it will smash your machine if you try to stream it.

or right click THIS LINK and choose, "SAVE TARGET AS"

For those without access to the magic of QuickTime, here's a snippet we just couldn't fit into a video tour. We just got done spending about $30k on color calibration. That means artist monitor calibration, a 15k reference monitor and lots of software and stick-on screen dongles. Why? Because there are at least four or five TV technologies to think about, not to mention competing TV broadcast standards (LCD, CRT, Plasma, VGA CRT, Pal, Secam, NTSC, Pal-B and more.) so although we realize that everyone's TV setup is going to be different, we want to make sure that our default(s) are as close to the "middle" as possible.

NOTE: the video's true purpose is to simply show you our new space, let you see the office and meet a few of its denizens. What this is NOT is a preview of our next game, so if you post a bitchy comment about that, I will punt you from the forums. STAY ON TOPIC.

#87 Gamble

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 03:17 PM


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Frankie skipped out on work today to go hurt himself pulling extreme tricks on the slopes of Tahoe. While it was relatively quiet here this past week, he did manage to send over a short update before abandoning us. Enjoy!

This week was awesome. I don't know why, but I had a fun week. Today, to celebrate, I am taking off to Tahoe to badly injure myself on a snowboard.

This week we played our Humpday Challenge against the gentlemen of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A fine group of Halo players and a group of gents to boot. We made fun of them as is our tradition) but we had a blast with those guys. Even Joe Tung, our surliest player enjoyed himself.

We got a lot of inquiries about www.ilovebees2.com and I would like to say for the record that it's a fake. Or at least that it has nothing to do with us. I mean for one thing, you have to figure that if we were doing a secret vial campaign, we wouldn't call it ilovebees, because you know, that wouldn't be terribly secret.

We also got a lot of mail about various Halo related stuff ? like a homebrew PSP game and the Halo horizontal scroller called Halo Zero. Now, not to be jerks, but that type of thing is unusually problematic for Microsoft, since the company has to protect its trademarks ?vigorously? so while lots of this stuff looks cool, and is testament to the hard work of fans, it's not up to us to just let it go, so be warned, if you are working on some time-sucking difficult Halo project that it may cross some line and activate our legal squad. For the most part, fan art, fan fiction, all that kind of stuff is fine, but actually making a Halo game or producing Halo content for commercial use is generally not cool.

Anyway, that's enough downer. More rumorbusting! A long-legged, long-lived rumor is that we're hard at work on an Xbox Live title. We're so not. Lord knows we play too much Live Arcade, but our entire team (with the exception of a couple of Vista guys) is cranking away on our next project. That doesn't mean we'll never do a Live Arcade title, or that somebody else might not convert one of our old titles (Myth and Oni belong to Take 2) but we personally are not making a Live arcade title at this time.

Although I'd like to. Here's my napkin design. Warthog Moon Patrol. Isometric 3D with the Moon Patrol mechanic ? jump craters, lava rivers and chasms, shoot stuff above and in front of you, try to avoid quicksand and dustbowls. Co-op mode lets the gunner fire in any direction instead of just straight up and straight ahead. Multiplayer includes races where you try to force opponents into a ditch or rock face. The Hog would handle like a hog. It would be sweet. ADMIT IT.

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We had a Bungie get together last Saturday at new-ish UI guy, Colm's house.He had a sweet setup with everything in place except 360s when he arrived. We spent all night playing COD2, Perfect Dark Zero (Infection mode ROCKS) and a quick burst of Quake IV. No Halo 2, since we were saving ourselves up for our Humpday challenge. I did get to play something else this week, during one of our own internal playtests for the next project. Can't tell you what it is, but I would like to mention to Lars, one of our new designers, that it rocked.

Special Sketch Bonus Content

As Frankie is on his way to enjoy a fun filled weekend of snowboarding, hot tubbing and all around cold-weather merriment, I'm here at the office making sure the show goes on, posting this update on his behalf. While I'm at it, I figured I'd add a little extra spice since we can all tell that Frankie has other priorities today. *ahem*

Hopefully everyone enjoyed our recent video tour of the Studio, we had a lot of fun making it. Though, admittedly, it was rough around the edges, some of you had some really vicious commentary (really, if you think Frank is "fat", you must subscribe to the Lohan School of Warped Weight Perception). We're going to be doing more fun stuff like that in the future. We figure if the rest of the world can manage to offer things such as podcasts and rich content, we should be able to pull it off ourselves. Sadly we haven't had much luck securing our on-demand HD Mister Chief channel but we're not giving up. We do, however, have awesome footage of Noguchi dressed up in vintage dirt-rock attire wailing on Guitar Heros.

Speaking of Noguchi, I thought we could use some extra flavor in this update so I asked him to share some deep thoughts with our readers. Here's what he had to say:

"Yes. I would like a pony as well, ignoring upkeep and food and transportation and the fact that I hate ponies."

Thanks for that Mat.

In other news, I was recently pointed to a certain hip-hop flavored music video based on Halo that I found highly entertaining. Unfortunately, the content is pretty explicit so it's not really the type of thing I can formally promote or link to on our site, but it's pretty funny and I wanted to give a shout out to the guys who put that together. (you shouldn't have too much trouble finding this on the web if you're interested)

There's another little project that's been brewing here for quite a while now that's really getting me excited. I think Frank may have hinted at it before and I can tell you it's NOT a game. But really that's all I can tell you. For now. I suspect there will be an official announcement coming from our partner within the next month or two. Stay tuned.

Also, the next Halo novel is still moving forward and we have a final title. I can't share it quite yet, but I can tell you it's NOT called "Backdoor to Infinity." And the Halo 2 soundtrack volume 2 is still coming... Shishka has finished all the final artwork for Marty so it should be available soon. If you're a Halo merchandise collector, you might also be interested in knowing that the next series of action figures from JoyRide is scheduled to ship this month. This latest series includes a very cool Prophet of Truth figure and a Heretic Elite in addition to a Heretic Banshee and another Spartan.

In community news, we just wrapped up another contest with our friends at Halo.Bungie.Org. The latest installment of the "7 on the 7th" (referring to 7 prizes given away on the 7th of every month) focused on jokes. To enter, all you had to do was write a joke that was somehow based on Halo - and it needed to be fairly clean (no Dice Clay material, thank you). After many laughs (and groans), the winners have been announced. Thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to the winners, who will each receive a special mystery prize pack. The winners are: Vid Boi, HavokBlue, Mankitten, Kelly Main, Ename Nep, Sporkfoot, Adam Chapman and Stuntmutt. You can read the winning jokes over at HBO. We'll be kicking off another contest real soon, stay tuned to HBO and Bnet for info!

That's all for this week. Should we place any wagers on whether or not Frankie makes it back from his boarding adventure without injury?

*special thanks to Shishka for today's inspiring top story graphic. I take no responsibility for this.

#88 Gamble

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 12:33 AM

Bungie Weekly Update: March 10th, 2006

The Video Games Live concert in October last year was a big hit but there's another, rival game concert series starting later this year and you guessed it, featuring Halo music.

It's called simply Play! A Video Game Symphony and it's coming soon. Ish.

One of the main differences this time around, quite apart from the range of pieces being played, is the venues. There are two US dates and a Canadian one, as well as one in Sweden and another in Austria.

Our own Marty O'Donnell and Mike Salvatore will be on hand at the Chicago venue to sign autographs and swan around like they own the place. In exchange for whoring out Marty's music, he has promised to bring me back a genuine Chicago beef. I pray that it's a sandwich.

The program looks something like this:

Now all of those are fine tunes, but the fanboys will be frothing about the inclusion of Final Fantasy – a notable omission from the Video games Live concert series last year.
Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu wrote the official opening fanfare for PLAY! And Sonic composer Yuzo Koshiro has arranged some special Sonic the Hedgehog themes especially for the occasion. Marty of course thinks his music is perfect as is, and so is simply going to witness the performance and then bask in the glory.
Another cool thing to note is that this concert series is brought to you by roughly the same folks who handled the wildly successful "Dear Friends" concerts of Final Fantasy music. And is if that wasn't enough Halo music, the Video Games Live series will be returning this year too, and we'll bring you more news on that later.
Here's the dates and the venue if that kind of thing floats your boat.

Huge congratulations to gamer MysticWarrior75, who was the 77,777,777th clan-player game session id we logged earlier this week. A clan-player game stat basically counts the number of individual clan games, so each player in say an 8-player clan game, counts as a game session according to our accounting. And as soon as he PMs me his details, we'll be sending him a luvverly (read: lame) prize for randomly achieving an arbitrary number, unknowingly.

Just to give you some context on that, our player-game count is scheduled to hit 3 billion some time next week. 3 billion noobs pwned, and counting.

Our next project is going swimmingly. Lots of stuff is up and running, in fact, Sketch just got our debug 360 set up so that we can actually download the latest "build" of the game whenever we feel like it. Our main reason for needing builds right now is to start the documentation of a "making-of" process. Now that might end up simply being an internal record of the game's development stages, or it might be a book, or a DVD extra, we have no clue and no plan for that material at this stage, but we learned a lesson from Halo 1 & 2, which is that we should document everything, from a render to a napkin-scrawl.

We already have a metric ton of concept art, designer sketches, character drawings and so on. Cataloging them and archiving them is tough to do right now, since a lot of them are being used or actually being altered. It's a constantly shifting process.

In fact, Shishka's been stuck in there for a while, trying to separate stuff from ancient compressed archives so that he could come up with, among other things, art for some Bungie boxers…

What is amazing, is to see a scene from a concept painting, say a huge, mysterious landscape (for example) be fully fleshed or "massed" out as a 3D environment you can fly around in using the debug camera to examine every rock, plant, tree or speck of dirt. And speaking of specks of dirt, one landscape had a very impressive lit-particle smoke effect that may or may not make it to the final game.

We also saw the near-final version of a character from the next game. It had one thrilling aspect related to lighting conditions that made us all go "ooooh!"

Lars, the new multiplayer guy has been "playing with user customization things," "tweaking some environments to make them more fun" and "playing GRAW for fun."

Actually, so has everyone (well that and some Burnout guys). I ruled last night's team elimination, forcing Shishka to eat it. "It," being the dry, bitter feces of his own defeat.

Alta has been training Melba, a rival Bungie Princess if you will, although to be fair to Melba, she makes no such lofty claims. She's here to help Alta deal with the time-consuming business of recruiting. However, she's exactly the same height and build as Alta and she has no idea how close she's come to being smacked playfully in the head by a near-stranger. Admittedly, I shouldn't be smacking Alta's head either, but it's just so melon-y. And she kicks and punches me a lot.

Noguchi has been "making a pony." Since he always speaks in metaphor I was annoyed, until he explained that he literally called a new tool/command, xsync-pony – which basically speeds up the "propping" of a build of the game to a clean Xbox 360 devkit, by eliminating code and objects that you do not need to run the current build. Which saves artists and designers a heck of a lot of time.

The downside of all this time saving is that they can't fit in a game of Street Fighter between builds. Stupid pony.

Noguchi and the guys also met up with the part of the Xbox team in charge of how PCs interface with the devkits to show them how we make games. Noguchi seemed pleased that we "blew their minds in a wholly positive way." This is the first non-sarcastic smile Noguchi has produced in 2006, so it's cause for celebration.

NinjaOnFire is coming back in two weeks, which means regular, finely tuned matchmaking playlist updates won't be far behind. Ninja has been relaxing in Hawaii (seriously) and when he's not catching rays, munching poi, or getting sand in his crevices, he's been researching player behavior, complaints and praise about the current set of playlists. And he's looking forward to returning.

Next week we're going to do a thing called Bungie Cribs, where we take a look at the video game and movie rigs of various staff members. If you feel like you have an AV setup to be proud of, then go ahead and send your entries to webmaster@bungie.com and if we find one we like, we might compare it to the Bungie ones for kicks. And send you something lame.

Finally, a reader from Edinburgh, Scotland wondered what Mister Chief would look like skating on Duddingston Loch. Obscure, but eminently doable.

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    Shook Amon Tobin's Hand

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 09:36 PM

Bungie Weekly Update: Special Quit Yer Bitchin' Edition
March 17th, 2006

OK, so we often literally don't have any news to update you with. That's just the harsh reality of working on a game, and to the same extent, a "secret project." But today, we actually have something sort of useful.

Presenting the Halo Graphic Novel, which from now on shall be known as the HGN. If you're a Halo fiction fan AND a comic book fan, then this might just be the mother lode. Before we get into the how and the why, let's give you a breakdown of the what.

The HGN is a 128 page, full color, high quality hardcover graphic novel, featuring an anthology of original stories, including one big story, and three shorter tales. Side stories, if you will. It should be available in July, 2006.

Now this thing was a Bungie-produced, conceived and nurtured book, but we don't make comic books, we make games. So it only made sense that we went after our favorite comic book artists and writers. And we're not kidding when we tell you that we basically secured, exactly, our first choice picks to paint, draw, letter and write this incredible book. These are our story artists and writers, in no particular order.

Andrew Robinson
Ed Lee
Jay Faerber
Lee Hammock
Jean "Boebius Giraud
Phil Hale
Simon Bisley
Tsutomo Nihei

And those are just the folks who worked on the stories. We also have another treat in the HGN. A collection of original gallery pieces created by more of our comic book and art heroes, as well as some of Bungie's own artists. Picture if you will, some of your favorite Halo creatures, moments, vehicles ad characters, re-imagined by some of the most talented people on Earth (and also by me, one of the least talented people on Earth).

Those artists include:

Doug Alexander
Rick Berry
Geoff Darrow
Scott Fischer
Sterling Hundley
Craig Mullins
Tsutomu Nihei
George Pratt
Juan Ramirez
George Staples
Justin Sweet
John Van Fleet
Kent Williams

And from Bungie...

Christopher Barrett
Frank Capezutto
Tom Doyle
Isaac Hannaford
Lorraine McLees
Robert McLees
Frank O'Connor
Paul Russel
Eddie Smith

The project actually started about a year and a half ago. Bungie artist Lorraine McLees' passion for the graphic novel medium, and her contacts from the industry led to us getting a budget together, sourcing the writers and artists and creating the initial premises for the stories. Once we'd done that, we set off an inexorable chain reaction of talent, and the treatments, samples and eventually, the finished panels started rolling in.

Oddly enough, we got more than three quarters of the way through the project before we secured the coolest publisher in the business. Marvel. (?Nuff said.) This isn't the normal mode of production, but the folks at Marvel shared our excitement for both the Halo universe, and the brilliant team of creative types we'd already assembled. A deal was signed and we're basically handing off the completed book as a faits accomplis, but using Marvel's guidance and expertise to take it from the (literal) drawing board to the bookstore shelves.

This would also be a fine moment to give special thanks to Alicia in our IP department for getting the deal done with the home of Stan Lee. In the end, my theory that Namor: The Sub-Mariner could take Aquaman in a fight had nothing to do with anything. You'd be amazed how many of my awesome ideas get ignored.

Only a few pages remain to be completed at this time, and there are lots of little odds and ends that take time ? final lettering, color corrections, occasional visual edits, but sitting in front of us right now is a 95% complete version of the book. And it's a doozie. Titles of the stories may change, but pretty much everything is in place.

Just about every staff member has a favorite artist who shows up in this HGN. My own personal hero in here, is Simon Bisley, whose Slaine artwork from 2000ad comic pretty much inspired my whole life. It's the main reason I wear a loincloth and a hero-harness, so to have this legendary artist working on our stories, our universe, was a rare honor. And as I mentioned before, each artist in the collection inspired that kind of fanboyism, from Moebius to Darrow, from Hale to Fischer. Each artist, somebody's childhood (or contemporary) hero.

And uh, not to toot my own horn, but there's a Mister Chief hidden in this book somewhere too. Some say, the greatest Mister Chief ever conceived. Others say, every bit as crap as every other Mister Chief. Oh, and I also tricked some of our community members into "sending" letters to the HGN before it was even announced.

Robt McLees, who did much of the planning, editing and structuring of the stories, pointed out that Nihei is possibly his favorite, a) Because he signed Robt's Nihei artbook AND bought some stuff he was auctioning for charity for $1000!

Lorraine, recovering on maternity leave, probably wants to point out that I'm her favorite artist because my brushstrokes so eloquently capture the morass of modern existence and delicately phrase the anguished wails of a gentle soul, trapped in the maelstrom of trite consumerism. Probably that's what she's thinking. Unless she's thinking about legendary comic book pioneer Moebius. I guess that's possible...

So here, without further ado, is a sneak peek at what to expect from the Halo Graphic Novel.

Halo Graphic Novel Cover

The cover is by mega-crayon-meister Phil Hale. This is a preliminary treatment and the final cover may vary. Phil Hale's elegant, dramatic pose of the Master Chief shows him leaping backwards through the air, while taking out an unseen opponent. An understated mixture of tension and movement.

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The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor
Art by Simon Bisley
Story by Lee Hammock

When communications from a Covenant agricultural support ship are mysteriously terminated, an Elite Commander and his squad of Special Forces are sent to investigate. What they find is a peril more deadly and terrifying than any Human threat.

- The brilliant, almost gaudy palette of Simon Bisley makes the perfect setting for an Elite incursion into a Flood infested agricultural ship.

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Armor Testing
Pencils by Andrew Robinson
Colors by Ed Lee
Story by Jay Faerber

The only way to test Spartan armor, is to send a Spartan. The question is what's really being tested? The power of the Mjolnir Mark VI battle armor, or the mettle of the ODSTs trying to find its weaknesses?

- Ed Lee's dynamic, anime-inspired iteration of the Spartan armor makes for a refreshing take on the hardcases and hardware of the Halo universe.

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Breaking Quarantine
Art and story by Tsutomu Nihei

One of the untold tales from Halo is Sergeant Johnson's escape from the clutches of the Flood menace. Now's the time to reveal how the UNSC's toughest marine got out of an inescapable trap.

- Tstutomo Nihei's vision of Sgt Johnson is visceral, rich with tone and color and perfectly captures the brooding menace of the Flood.

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Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa
Art by Jean "Moebius" Giraud
Story by Brett Lewis

Fighting a war isn't just shipping men and machines to distant worlds. There are subtler, more dangerous fights taking place on the streets of New Mombasa, and in the hearts and minds of men.

- Legendary artist Moebius takes an intriguing look at the bright lights and big city of a pre-invasion New Mombasa and does so with typical Moebius flair and imagination.

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So that's all we can tell you about the HGN right now. Make sure you click on the sample shots to see them in better detail, and we're sure we'll reveal a couple more pages before the HGN ships.

You will all be pleased to know that our new AI engineer Max, who we interviewed last week, was accosted by the Visual Studio team and shown how to make his development environment even better. Some ingenious developer has managed to integrate vim with Visual Studio, giving Max the best of both worlds! Basically, it's all a series of bleeps and whistles to me, but Max is psyched.

You will also be pleased to hear that we will (finally) have a release date for the Halo 2 Soundtrack, Vol. 2, next week. That's when we announce the release date. And I'm told it's not too far away. And remember, like anything bad in the world, famine, poverty, Katherine Harris' smile etc., it's all Marty's fault.

And finally a guest Mister Chief from our very own agdTinMan, who was inspired by today's comic book theme.

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I got your back, Dual.
Slowly becoming your entertainment dictator.

I hates me some sports games.

#90 Vanwadilion



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Posted 20 March 2006 - 05:50 PM

The Halo 2 Volume 2 soundtrack is being officially released on April 25th. Only a year and a half after the game came out. I know this is going to be in the official Bungie update this week, so I figured this info was best posted here.

#91 Gamble

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 03:27 AM

LOTS more movie rumors and speculation this week. Best of all, some news, and even images from ONP (our next project).

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First off, the links to Flood on a Plane you sent us are obviously an April Fool's gag since it's already April 1st somewhere in the world, but it is a cute one. Hey, I'd pay to see that film. You know that Flood Combat Form behind Kenan is totally going to kick the back of his seat for the entire flight.

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On a more serious note, about 200 of you sent me scans early this week of an allegedly leaked Universal movie script asking us to comment. Well, we can't pretend not to have seen the script in question since it's been all over the internet for a week or two, but regular Bungie.net followers will know that it is our official policy to never comment on rumors and speculation. Until you hear an announcement from Bungie, any script leaks you see should be treated as rumor.

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We won't comment on this one at all I'm afraid, especially since we're sensitive to the needs of our partners, including Universal and Peter Jackson.

In other news, Mat Noguchi has been promoted from tools manager to Bungie PR Ambassador. He took some time out to answer questions about this sensitive new role.

What's your main set of responsibilities?
It's like a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, smothered in secret sauce.
Shut up.

What makes you so ideally suited to be the Bungie PR Ambassador?

I do not know where the body of the old PR Ambassador is.
Shut up.

How will you deal with cheaters and modders?
I cannot confirm nor deny the existence of a bowling ball to stab cheaters and modders with..
Shut up.

What do you say to readers who want to know more about our next project?
I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of anything.
Shut up.

How would you describe Bungie's corporate philosophy?
Malevolent dictatorship.
Git to werk!

Thanks Mat, that made a ton of sense.

Soundtrack Stuff...

The Halo 2 soundtrack is on iTunes! That's Vol. 1, not Vol. 2, which doesn't come out until April 25th in CD form. But it does mean you can go get yerself some iTunes action right now if you didn't already pick up the soundtrack on an olde fashioned optical compact disc. I would give you a link, but you sort of can't do that with iTunes, which is weird, but whatevs. You guys can figure out how to get to it.

Marty, because he's a sweetheart, has agreed to let you all hear a little sample of what to expect in the H2 Vol. 2 soundtrack and this is one piece that nobody has ever heard before. 10 seconds of hot Marty action. Click HERE to listen to a teeny snatch of never-heard music.

OK, now for the big thing you were all waiting for, news about our next project. Well, we've told you a few things about this project in the past. That we've been working on it for years, that it is action packed and more recently, that it's for Xbox 360. Well, some of you have guessed what it is and while we can't officially announce it, we can show off a couple of images from it.

Pimps at Sea: Avast Me Bitches...

Pimps at Sea has been a long time coming. Bungie fans will be well aware that the game's magnificent scope and ambitious scale have led to countless delays. The good news is that none of the constant iterations and additions have gone to waste. We're utterly convinced that when this game ships (excuse the pun) it will revolutionize the very notion of what an RPG can be.

This will undoubtedly be compared to Oblivion - and there are some parallels - a deep combat system, resource and weapon management, a robust in-game economy and of course, vast worlds.

The screenshot you see here represents just a quarter of the entire game world. And even zoomed out to street-scale, you can see that it is densely populated with AI driven pimps and hos.

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The AI is probably our most ambitious creation. The code that drives their behavior and interaction with the game world is called, "Cognitive Pimponance," and aside from simple pathfinding, it enables the in game denizens to behave independently - turning tricks, retrieving trick-funds, even buying rims and upgrading ships independently of your control.

Our Servicing-Based Economy works like this:

You start the game as a low grade Pimp-Privateer. You can choose your race, physical appearance and build, customize your character in a number of ways. You start of broke without even a single Ho to your name and only a scrawny Cabin Boy named Timmy Timmins in your stable. Job one is to either earn enough money using Timmy to get a real Ho, or ramp up your powers of persuasion, charisma and "gab," to convince ladies to take employment with your organization.

Remember, at the start of the game, you don't even have a canoe to your name. There is only so much business in the fishing hamlet of TurnTown, so you'll need a ride to start expanding your empire. And rides cost money.

These can of course be customized, with velvet sails, gold rigging and even spinning rims. This isn't just for fun - the more pimped-out your ride, the more ladies and posse will want to associate with your organization. Invest enough time in the game and you can end up with quite an army.

The graphics as you can see from the screenshot, are heavily stylized, rather than photorealistic - we looked at classics like Jet Set Radio, Zelda: Wind Waker and Ogre Battle for inspiration. We call the technique, Ho-toscoping. Seeing the world in Isometric 3D really makes it come alive, as do our detailed textures and shaders. The World of Pimps at Sea practically pops off the screen.

Look carefully and you'll even spot a guest character or two from one of our other games.

Now before we sign off for today and leave you to enjoy and digest this amazing announcement, there's one more treat. Since it's a 360 title, that means Achievements. For those unfamiliar with "Achievements" on Xbox Live, they're basically points and medals awarded for achieving certain goals. These goals can include anything from playing the game once, to finishing it on the hardest difficulty level possible, without losing a single life.

As you can imagine, picking what goals in the game are worthy of Xbox Live achievements is more than just arbitrarily applying points - it's a matter of picking challenges that you know players will want to see. So without further ado, here's a snapshot of our in-game Xbox Live achievements from our next project. Enjoy.

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#92 Gamble

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 04:13 PM

Bungie Weekly Update

April 14th 2006

Snoozeworthy update this week, so avoid it if you're waiting for big news, mmkay?

Jeremiah was a bullfrog. No wait! That's just dead wrong. Now that I think about it, Jeremiah, AKA Black Mamba, AKA Ninja on Fire, was a mash-up playlist mixmasta. In plain English, he designs, tests and implements the various matchmaking playlists you hate or enjoy. Mostly you enjoy them and remain silent. But when you hate them, you sure do let us know. Ninja is the only person on staff who absorbs anything like as much teenage rage as I do.

Since arriving back a couple of weeks ago, he's been implementing his long-thought-out changes to the existing playlists. This is just a small selection of the changes he has in mind.

Backwash is being removed from playlists where appropriate. Rumble Armory is being removed. It was cool, but it was temporary. RIP Rumble Armory - we hardly knew ye.

Rumble Hardcore is being added - think Rumble Pit with Battle Rifles, Carbines, and the occasional sniper rifle. Motion sensors will be ON for most, but not all game types in this list. Remember, these aren't team games, so nobody can watch your back except you. In team games, we usually turn it off. In free for all, that prevents the game from turning into a sneaky melee-festival.

In Rumble Pit, all objective games are being removed per your many, many requests. Personally I enjoyed the occasional change in pace, but this makes the list more "pure" if you like. Rumble Rockets is being removed from the Rumble Pit which I am dead set against, but whatever, nobody ever listens to me. Rumble Duals is being changed to Rumble Slayer on Midship and Beaver Creek

In Rumble Training, objective games are being given an increased weight - which means they basically show up more. Rumble Duals is being changed to Rumble Slayer on Midship and Beaver Creek. There are a ton of changes coming, and Ninja is talking about them in way more detail in the Optimatch forums which you can read about HERE.

Timing on all of this is yet to be decided. Basically we've entered the test phase and with any luck, you should see this update in a few weeks.

Joe heard some news about the movie this week, but he's contractually obligated to not discuss it. What a tease. He and studio manager Harold Ryan are heading down to New Zealand in a week or two though, so hopefully they'll return with some news we can use. Or better yet, a full-sized, drivable Warthog for me to cruise around in.

Speaking of Halo-related licensing, one of our staffers came over and said, "I got two words for you - "Halo. Pinball." Well dur. Of COURSE Halo Pinball. The game practically designs itself! Plasma charge for the ball launch, multiplayer voice over for half the achievements, "Flag Captured!" Halo sound effects everywhere, and LED minigames on the marquis board. Sniping? And if you lock a ball somewhere, it's a "Betcha can't stick it!" Roll a ball over the New Mombasa bridge! The list goes on and on.

Anyway, just to be clear, there's no pinball game actually planned. It would just rule if there were. The only company still making pinball games is the mighty Stern. Unless you count Pa-blam!-o, which you shouldn't, because it's not the same thing at all.

We installed a Heavy Bag in the office, over by the kitchen, so that we can enact our rage on it when the stress of a narrow Street Fighter III: Third Strike loss (Hugo's throw is soooo cheap) gets to be too much. It was funny watching people walk past it today. Folks cannot walk by a heavy bag without pummeling it.

We had a company meeting today where we showed the team a couple of things on the big projection screen. There were lots of oohs and aahs. Hopefully we can share those oohs and aahs in the next few months. It's amazing to see some of the progress on the next project. And these little snippets will be a lot less vague and pointless after we announce it. At that point, I'll get back into giving you specific updates on the progress.

Oh and some OXM readers spotted a Mister Chief they'd never seen before, so I included it here. It's one I did especially for them and it took like, 12 days to paint.

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#93 Syracuse022


    Build My Gallows High, Baby

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 04:53 PM

Well, I have to hand it to Bungie... they do eventually get things right. They're just really, really fucking slow. Like, really slow. Please, guys, take your time with Halo 3.

As always, everything is subject to change as we are still in the test phases for this playlist update. Below is a complete changelist. Please feel free to discuss these changes, but they are locked down - so any requests you have to change them should be directed at the following playlist update.

We have not yet set a date for this playlist update, but if all goes well in test we should see it on Xbox Live within a few weeks.

Global Changes
# Backwash is being removed from playlists where appropriate
# Rumble Armory is being removed
# Rumble Hardcore is being added

Rumble Pit
# All objective games are being removed from the Rumble Pit
# Rumble Rockets is being removed from the Rumble Pit
# Rumble Duals is being changed to Rumble Slayer on Midship and Beaver Creek

Rumble Training
# Objective games are being given an increased weight
# Rumble Duals is being changed to Rumble Slayer on Midship and Beaver Creek
# Rumble Fiesta on Backwash is now Rumble Fiesta on Lockout
# Rumble Showers on Backwash is now Rumble Showers on Lockout
# Rumble Swords on Backwash is now Rumble Swords on Midship

Double Team
# 2v2 Duals Only is now 2v2 Slayer on Midship and Beaver Creek
# Foundation is being removed from Double Team
# 2v2 Rockets is being removed from Double Team

Team Slayer
# Team Duals is being changed to Team Slayer on Beaver Creek and Gemini
# Foundation is being removed from Team Slayer
# Team Rockets is being removed from Team Slayer
# Team Snipers is being removed from Team Slayer

Team Training
# Team Duals is being changed to Team Slayer on Beaver Creek, Foundation and Gemini
# Team Snipers is being removed from Team Training
# Team Plasma Wars on Backwash is now Team Plasma Wars on Lockout
# Team Showers on Backwash is now Team Showers on Gemini

Team Snipers
# Containment, Waterworks and Elongation are being removed from Team Snipers

Team Hardcore
# Elongation is being removed from Team Hardcore
# Team Snipers are being removed from Team Hardcore
# Team Slayer Covenant on Warlock is now regular Team Slayer
# Team Slayer (No Sniping) is being added
# Team Ball on Ivory Tower is being removed
# Team Crazy King on Gemini, Sanctuary, Beaver Creek and Ivory Tower are being removed
# Multi Flag on Sanctuary will now have Flag At Home To Score OFF
# The No Duals weapon set will now be used on Team Slayer, Team Ball, Team Crazy King, CTF Classic and Neutral Bomb gametypes

6v6 Team Battle
# Team Slayer and Team Slayer BR will now be 100 kills to win

# Team Plasma Wars on Backwash is now Team Plasma Wars on Lockout
# Multi Team Ball on Backwash is now Multi Team Ball on Turf

# Team Duals on is being changed to Team Slayer on Beaver Creek and Gemini
# Team Duals on Foundation is being removed
# Team Snipers is being removed from Clanmatch

Team ActionSack
# Shotgun based gametypes have had their weight reduced
# Pit of Joy is now 5 minutes to win and has a weight increase
# Brutality will no longer have damage resistance turned on
# Dodgeball on Backwash is now Dodgeball on Midship
# Brutality on Backwash is now Brutality on Gemini
# Laser Blasters on Backwash is now Laser Blasters on Lockout

#94 Gamble

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 04:54 PM

Bungie Weekly Update

"Much bigger update next week"

Hi everyone. Today's update is almost non-existent because I am swamped getting ready for a big project next week, so apologies about that.

I was helping Marty set up an AV system to test out some new surround effects. Marty is finally comfortable with the new audio features of the 360, after months of playing around with it. He actually seemed giddy when he explained that he was able to run "more than five" simultaneous 5.1 streams.

"Whuh?" I asked.

"Well," explained Marty, very patiently, "I could have the surround for sound effects, a 5.1 music soundtrack and surround for an overlaid video feed, for example," he said, with a sigh. "I don't know what we could use other 5.1 streams for really, but we will think of something."

Marty then played me a long piece of music from our next project., which actually brought a lump to my throat. And no, it wasn't vomit. And that wasn't a tear. Something flew into my eye. A mote of dust, or a tiny bug perhaps. Lump, yes. Tear? No! NEVER!


I just got this email from one of our favorite FragDolls, BrookeLyn, asking ladies of all stripes to assemble at E3 for a group photo op. There's free T-Shirts for women and girls who show up to demonstrate their female solidarity and prove once and for all, that video games are not a male prerogative. I said I would promote their estrogen-related antics. Here's the happs:

"So the Fragdolls were trying to think of some cool, fun, and exciting things to do at the biggest annual gaming expo this year, and Rhoulette came up with a great idea! She thought, why not get all the women together for a group photo to demonstrate our unity and presence? Of course we all loved that idea, because as a minority in the industry, it is important for us to keep pushing the curve and showing our presence until there is equal representation which would make the gaming world a better place. So below is an official announcement of this event, and we would love to have any female attending E3 to come join us and show your support of females in the gaming industry!

It is with great excitement that the Frag Dolls invite all females in the gaming industry to the first annual group photo of women at the Electronics Entertainment Expo this year. Females in the gaming industry have long been a minority, but this is less and less true as our community is growing, This year during E3 we will be gathering together as many industry and gamer females as possible for this event to demonstrate the significant presence of women in gaming.

When: Thursday, May 11th at 12pm
Where: at the end of the tent on the WEST PLAZA
Special Note: FREE T-SHIRTS! (Limited supply! first come, first served)

Despite the growing market of female gamers, the gaming industry as a whole has yet to fully recognize their needs and interests. When it comes to game content, marketing, publications, and websites, all are created largely by and for males.

It is important to say we are here and that we will continue to make an impact on the gaming industry itself, and we hope you will want to say this, too. If you would like to unite with your fellow girl gamers and women of the game industry, please show up at 12pm on Thursday, May 11th, at the end of the tent on the WEST PLAZA and don?t forget to spread the word! Please tell all the industry females you know!

Good luck with that Fraggies, and don't be surprised if you get an audience of hot (as in sweaty) dudes with bigger (man) boobs than you guys. You can read exactly the same information HERE.

We've been swamped this week, and since some of the Bungie guys are going down to E3 to check out everyone else's stuff, there's palpable sense of pre-E3 excitement. Everyone is making their guesses about what Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are gonna show. So if you're at E3, and you look closely at the crowd, you might see some familiar Bungie faces. They'll probably be playing other people's games!

I will be here at Bungie on Wednesday, checking out the E3 news on the Interweb, like everybody else. Personally speaking, I would like to see a new Otogi, or a sequel to Psychonauts. Fingers crossed like mad. Hopefully MS will show more on Gears of War and Blue Dragon too.

As for our next project, it continues apace. Lots of progress in every department, from UI to Animation to Engineering and of course, all the way back to audio. There are things to see in every department, some rough and ready and some astonishingly smooth, polished and even playable.

It's really making progress in an exciting and fascinating way. And I can't wait to share that with you properly. The level of secrecy is every bit as oppressive and confining for us as it is for you. Much, much bigger update next week. See you then!

Oh, and just because I can't stand to see a grown Wu cry, here's a last second Angsty Mister Chief.

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#95 Vanwadilion



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Posted 06 May 2006 - 09:05 AM

That update is pretty much a guarantee that Halo 3 will be shown in some form at E3. Hopefully the frag dolls free t-shirt giveaway will evolve into a wet t-shirt contest, as it should. That ought to gain the girl gamers more respect ;)

#96 Gamble

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 04:35 PM

Bungie Weekly Update

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Hey guys, a Q&A about the trailer which answers a lot of the questions we can freely address.

First up - Bad news for about 200 of the most serious bridgers, standbyers and boosters yesterday - we banned them. Better, newer tools allow us to spot network throttlers and other CRETINS more easily. There will be plenty more bannings before we're through. It's not hard to detect, but we like to be careful about who we ban. So if you're boosting with a modder, or a bridger, stop. Stop because it's stupid to cheat at a video game, and stop because you will get banned and yes, we can tell. I don't understand people who will cheat to get a rank number they know they didn't deserve. Clowns. Anyway, enjoy being banned.

Secondly, you should go download this beautiful new wallpaper right now. Remember, if you have a 360, stick this on a USB drive or an iPod and you can make it the wallpaper on your 360 too.

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Drakan asks,

Why does Marty's music make me want to cry and smile at the same time?

Because he has Ninja Music Skillz.

Meeper asks,

Why is the Assault Rifle in there?

Who says it's the standard Assault Rifle? Doesn't look identical to me?

Aust Grunt asks,

Hey Frankie, Loved the Trailer... Can Marty release the MP3?...

I have asked Marty to look into it. There's some complications surrounding that which mean it isn't as straightforward as it sounds, but Marty hasn't ruled it out either.

UberHaxor asks,

What is your personal favorite feature (graphics or otherwise) in Halo 3 so far?

And for Mister Chief this week: can we see mister chief with HDR lighting? :)

Personally I am fond of the draw distance and the detail PRT lighting on the Chief. But then I'm party to some graphical features that you haven't seen yet, that sort of blow that stuff away.

xTr1GGeR HaPPYx asks,

I'm guessing those ruins in the back are Old New Mombasa, so, whereabouts is the Chief and this Forerunner structure?

That is indeed the ruins of New Mombasa. The artifact and the Chief are where they appear to be, on the desert outskirts of New Mombasa, and many miles inland. The mountain behind him is Kilimanjaro.

ThreeShot asks,

Seriously though, how long have the covenant had control of Earth before the cutscene started? Days? Weeks?

The Covenant have basically been in control of Earth since the final events of Halo 2. What was left of the human forces was either distracted by Delta Halo, or already overwhelmed by the sheer force of the Covenant onslaught.

MarkoM asks,

Does the canyon / hole in the trailer have something to do with New Mombasa and that spacejump the Covenant Capital Ship made at Halo 2?

That's an excellent question. A Slipspace jump in-atmosphere would have a devastating effect on an environment, don't you think?

llDwells55Xll asks,

What's the polygon count on the characters and environments in comparison to Halo 2?

Not as high as it looks. A lot of detail is achieved using a combination of lighting, textures, normals and bump-maps. We're saving our polygon budget for other things?

Choas Knight X asks,

Why does the sign post in the trailer have a grunt on it?

The final answer in our Halo 3 FAQ may answer that question

Jmac_21 asks,

Is the plan to release the game at the same time as the movie? Or does the movie release have no effect on when the game is released?

The two will not affect each other in terms of release dates.

Just Another Fan asks,

In the trailer I'm only seeing capital ships, what happened to the old covenant cruisers, will they make an appearance in the final product?

What you're seeing is an excavation force. Its makeup is purely practical.

Twin Jedi asks,

The Trailer seems to have a different "feel" to it. Darker, more desperate. The music seems to play an important role as it always has, but this trailer really showcases it well. Is this a good example of what the soundtracks theme will be like?

According to Marty, very much so. As the game has a darker feel, so will the soundtrack.

Sin308 asks,

Are you considering using this in conjunction with Live Anywhere as Bill Gates was talking about at E3. If so can you give us details?

Halo 3 will utilize features and technologies that Bungie thinks are cool and appropriate to our game. No more, no less.

MC Montrose asks,


I was wondering if you could elaborate on what you did for the select press members after the showing...

I hear you flew them around the environment of the trailer...

how was the framerate? how did the press react?

We flew them around the environment, flew out over the Forerunner structure, did a close-up of the Chief to show the realtime reflection of the visor (you could see the ammo counter running down in his faceplate) and showed off the unified lighting model we're using - particularly how other surfaces, such as sand, reflect light back up onto his armor. Frame rate was silky smooth, but to be fair, that was basically an empty environment with the Chief in it. However, we're obviously trying to make our finished game silky smooth too. I don't know how they reacted, but one journalist asked me if I had gotten any death threats.

StupidNinja asks,

Should we expect to see blowing sand and other particle effects during gameplay, or only during cut scenes?

For the "level" shown in the trailer, is the massive size of the surrounding area something that is tangible? Does it really seem like you are on a huge, wide open plain?

The sand, dust, smoke and other effects are all from the game engine. They will be used in the game. The landscape you saw is real geometry - the mountains and city in the distance are not a skybox - they are actual geometry that you can go to. Our cut scenes and our gameplay will be very comparable. Also, CJ Cowan, our director of cinematics, says that the texture "pop" seen in Halo 2's cinematics has already gone bye-bye for Halo 3.

Chown asks,

Is there any point in posting in the now rampant "Halo 3 wishlist" threads? and if so will anything we say make any impact on the game?

You will be shocked to learn that Bungie does not in fact design its games based on the "specs" found in the forums. That said, we're not blind to the concerns, criticisms and desires of our fans either.

Fimiki asks,

Why do the clouds do the swirly thing?

Fictionally: Tremendous, never-before-encountered, seething subatomic energies.

Factually: Parallax mapping and other techniques.

Placebo182 asks,

Is that actually Earth?


Nf Snapzilla asks,

-sometimes trumpets are blaring to celebrate success and jubilation, sometimes they are blaring in a defeated mourning manner, any thoughts?

-if you can answer this, could you also answer whether the Chief 's mindset in the trailer is in accordance of, or in defiance of these trumpets.

Trumpets have also been used to signal a charge to war or a call to arms. It could mean many things. You'll know in 2007.

Sycomunkee asks,

Can we get a 3D screen shot of the chief in quicktime? That would be awesome and would show the haters that it is indeed realtime.

We'll think about it, but that wouldn't prove anything. In fact, 3D screenshots are basically movies. So in fact, that would be way more fake than our realtime trailer.

SlimJim0045 asks,

Please have Cortana's lines pronounced so that I don't see 36 threads about it.

"I have defied gods and demons."

"I am your shield, I am your SWORD."

"I know you, your past, your future."

"This is the way the world ends."

But there's obviously something terribly wrong?

Ap4che asks,

Are most people reading too deep into this short trailer? I've seen some crazy theories, frame by frame analyzations and people crying.

They are teh emo. But that's cool. Also, they're probably not reading too much into it - there are some wrong theories, but none are too deep. There's a universe of drama in that trailer if you know what to look for.

Scheddonardus asks,

Also, are those rings sticking up in the background remnants of the space elevator?

When did work on Halo 3 actually begin.

Yes, that is the wreckage of a fallen "tether."

Work on Halo 3 began immediately after Halo 2.

Eva Ribs asks,

Is the geometry you can draw at 13 miles just big triangles or other basic geometry? Or is it like recognizable things like buildings, mountains, or secret Forerunner monuments?

The geometry is basically the real geometry you're flying, walking or running to, although LOD (Level Of Detail) saves the programmers (in this case us) RAM and processing horsepower by simplifying what's actually being drawn at distance. The trick is to simplify things enough so you get that saving, but without turning a once-recognizable object into a dumb triangle

Jonrap asks,

My wife didn't recognize Cortana when she watched the announcement. I thought Cortana looked exactly the same. But my wife is smarter than me. So, I better ask.

Is Cortana any different? She seems somehow different. My wife didn't recognize Cortana when she watched the announcement. I thought Cortana looked exactly the same. But my wife is smarter than me. So, I better ask.

Is Cortana any different? She seems somehow different..

Women know things John. I don't know how they do, they just do.

The Analizer asks,

Is the Spartan in the teaser trailer, John 117?


117 Masterchief asks,

Will there be a trailer for the HALO movie on the last day of E3?


Barbaric Rage asks,

This has already been asked, but what's up with the dope new hand-armor for Chief?

You'll find out in due course. Maybe.

One last thing - somebody asked me to do a Mister Chief with HDR lighting and I thought, hey, why not.

Posted Image

#97 vociferous

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:22 PM

Read this a few hours ago and I was psyched. One thing I learned from Frankie the year before last was that he likes to spill the beans in a veiled and secretive sort of way. 99% of Bungie's fan base probably doesn't have a clue where some of the things he says are heading, but if you pay close attention, he gives away a lot. Here are some things I noticed:

Who says it's the standard Assault Rifle? Doesn't look identical to me?

Okay, so it's not the BR55 or the MA5B. Heh. What could it be? Right now, my guess is a combination of both of them. The main problem with MA5B was range and the main problem with the BR55 was close-quarters punch. A closer examination of the new rifle reveals a basic design like the MA5B, but a slightly longer snout and some minor modifications. I think combining the three-round burst range of the BR55 with the close-quarters full-auto that the MA5B had would work.

That is indeed the ruins of New Mombasa. The artifact and the Chief are where they appear to be, on the desert outskirts of New Mombasa, and many miles inland. The mountain behind him is Kilimanjaro.

I love Kenya. Saffari tours, tribal people, real wildlife, state-of-the-art Forerunner sanctuaries...etc.

The Covenant have basically been in control of Earth since the final events of Halo 2. What was left of the human forces was either distracted by Delta Halo, or already overwhelmed by the sheer force of the Covenant onslaught.

I'm actually more interested in the real answer to the question which was asked...'How long has it been in terms of time?' My initial guess was hours or days, but the more I think of it, it could be weeks, months or even years. When Frankie says the statement below, it makes even more sense that it was longer than just a handful of days from the end of H2...

That's an excellent question. A Slipspace jump in-atmosphere would have a devastating effect on an environment, don't you think?


What you're seeing is an excavation force. Its makeup is purely practical.

This says a fucking lot. All of a sudden, Regret's SlipSpace jump wasn't accidental or an action of last resort. He was culling the Forerunner artifact, possibly the Ark. He was trying to pry it open...maybe he needed something from Delta Halo first and the SlipSpace jump in the middle of Mombasa was two-fold: first to remove the top soil and second to get the keys to the palace.

The returning Covenant force isn't really even interested in humanity at this point. They're interested in the power of the Halo network and weapons. Watching the trailer, it's kind of interesting that when the artifact begins to open, the Covenant ships start manuevering away at a rapid pace...even the massive ships. That Covenant were there for a long time is further confirmed by the answer to the Easter Egg on the broken sign at the side of the road, as well.

Trumpets have also been used to signal a charge to war or a call to arms. It could mean many things. You'll know in 2007.

Fuck. Yes.


Work on Halo 3 began immediately after Halo 2.

I love being right. About 98% of TXB's Halo forum was just owned by me.


#98 mattacus


    I get the sneaking sense that Gamble is NOT a douche.

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 10:58 AM

what was txb's halo forum saying? and what happened to your ring360 blog?

#99 vociferous

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 03:04 PM

what was txb's halo forum saying?

and what happened to your ring360 blog?

1) They consistently stated that (A) Halo 3 wasn't in development and (B) if it was, it wasn't being developed immediately after Halo 2. I've always stated, per an EGM at the end of 2004, that Bungie had their alpha kits for the Xbox 360 before Halo 2 shipped. Why would they have them that early if they weren't already working on the game?

I've also stated that Halo 2 has always only been part of a larger story that has completely been written from start to finish. The end of Halo 2 was the half-way point and created because of time constraints, which is clear by the Limited Edition DVD and later confirmed by Staten.

2) The blog was getting some serious hits from users that frequent the Xbox.com, TXB, Nightly, IGN and a few other forums that I had advertised on. Apparently there's a limit to the amount of bandwidth they allow for specific periods of time and I happened to exceed only one night. I had never heard of it before, to be perfectly honest. I received an email with two packages being offered, basically stating that I would have to pay for in order to keep the forum open in the same way it was. I immediately deleted the blog out of frustration, and because I'm buying a house and changing jobs, I haven't had time to really consider finding another place to post Halo 3 information.

#100 DualX

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 06:58 PM

I was actually thinking the same thing about the Assault Rifle. Full-automatic normal, and 3-round burst (scoped/semi-zoom?). That sucks about your blog, I was also wondering what happened to it myself. I actually enjoyed reading the very in-dept detail that you go into when you analize the Weekly What's Update posts.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Halo: Reach

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