Anton

Microsoft Wants Halo to Last Another 30 Years – 12/15/2014

Originally posted on the 15th of December 2014, on Gamespot by Eddie Makuch.


Microsoft thinks you’ll still be enjoying Halo in 2037.

 

Microsoft’s goal for the Halo franchise is to make the long-running sci-fi FPS series last at least another 30 years, according to 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross. In a new interview with Bloomberg, Ross revealed the figure and recalled the difficult process of getting the studio up and running, calling it “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”

 

Ross went on to say that diversity was a focus in the formation of 343 Industries, and part of her goal for the studio was to ensure that Halo had “characters that people can identity [with]: heroic females and heroic males.”

 

“It’s really important for us to get young female talent, because they are the future,” Ross said, explaining that having women in key roles will help attract others to the field. “It’s important to have leadership roles across the industry that people can aspire to.”

 

At the time of 343 Industries’ formation in 2007, the Halo series–which debuted in 2001–was already six years old. Ross said, “I wanted to make sure we were able to go another three decades.”

 

Three decades on from 2007 would be 2037. We’ve since spoken with Microsoft and confirmed that Ross’ “three decades” comment relates to 343 as a studio and the Halo franchise itself.

 

Ross didn’t speak about how specifically Microsoft and 343 Industries–which handles Halo games and all other media and brand extensions–plan to support Halo for the duration of those years, though you can expect more games beyond 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One.

 

That game was originally part of the Reclaimer Trilogy, which would have spanned Halo 4-6. However, Microsoft confirmed in 2013 that it’s no longer referring to the new series as a trilogy, but rather a “saga.”

 

“While we originally said trilogy, we’ve actually expanded this to more of a saga, so we don’t want to limit the Reclaimer story within a trilogy,” Microsoft said at the time.

 

Ross has also come out to say that she hopes 343 can some day get away from numbered Halo releases, another suggestion that we may see more spinoffs of the Halo series in the future.

 

Outside of games, Microsoft recently released digital series Halo: Nightfall from producer Ridley Scott, while the company is also teaming up with Steven Spielberg for a new Halo TV series. And while Microsoft has no official plans to resuscitate the failed Halo movie, that film’s one-time director–Neill Blomkamp–says he is still interested in working in that universe.

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Hundreds of Halo Stories Still to be Told, 343 Boss Says – 03/23/2015

Originally posted on the 3rd of March 2015, on Gamespot by Eddie Makuch.


“There are just hundreds of stories to tell,” Bonnie Ross says about the larger Halo fiction.

 

Microsoft still has “hundreds of stories to tell” in the Halo universe, according to Bonnie Ross, who heads up the Halo team at developer 343 Industries. These stories could unfold across not only games, but also books, live-action, and other mediums, she says.

 

“For us, as we think about the Halo universe and how large it is, there are just hundreds of stories to tell,” Ross said during the latest Gamer Girls Gone Wild podcast. “So we use our fiction and our novels to kind of broaden the universe so that we have more locations to go in the future with whatever we want to do; whether it’s games, comics, live-action, wherever we want to go.”

 

Expanding the Halo universe beyond games is a “pretty core part” of what 343 hopes to do with the Halo franchise, Ross explained.

 

Growing the Halo franchise in this way was a necessary move, she said, because the first three Halo games “had a tendency to kill a lot of characters,” meaning the wider story was somewhat limited. Ross also pointed out that “you can only tell so much story” through the lens of a first-person shooter, so it was essential to move Halo into new storytelling areas.

 

Microsoft has experimented with a variety of non-gaming Halo stories, though these efforts haven’t always worked out. The Peter Jackson Halo movie famously fell apart years ago, with director Neil Blomkamp creating District 9 out of the ashes of that film.

 

More recently, Microsoft’s live-action Halo efforts have included Halo 4 tie-in Forward Unto Dawn and Ridley Scott’s Halo: Nightfall, which is a direct prequel to this fall’s Halo 5: Guardians. In addition to those, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg is producing a live-action Halo series, though Microsoft has kept this project under wraps since its announcement.

 

Microsoft has also commissioned a series of Halo novels, the most recent of which–Halo: New Blood, focusing on Halo 3: ODST hero Edward Buck–was announced in January.

 

As for Halo games, Microsoft has at least two new titles based on the series due out this year. Halo: Spartan Strike (early 2015) and Halo 5: Guardians (fall). Ross also teased that 343 will talk more about Halo 5: Guardians at E3 2015, offering new details about its story campaign, multiplayer mode, and more.

 

Halo 4 was supposed to the be the first of three games in The Reclaimer Trilogy that would have spanned Halo 4-6. However, Microsoft later clarified that this story was no longer a trilogy, but a “saga” that could extend beyond Halo 5 and Halo 6. Looking ahead, Ross said previously that she wants to get away from numbered Halo sequels.

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Halo: Last Light Announced

Halo: Last Light Announced

In the most recent Canon Fodder, it was revealed that 343i will be releasing yet another full novel later this year.  Halo: Last Light, written by Troy Denning and published by Simon & Schuster, will be releasing on September 26, 2015.  The cover art can be seen above, created by the talented Kory Hubbell, a concept artist at 343i.  The book’s description was revealed as well:

It is 2553, and the three-decade long Covenant War that defined a generation has suddenly drawn to a close. Yet, in the remotest parts of human space, tensions remain that threaten to overflow into another full-scale conflict. Beneath the surface of the planet Gao lies a vast cavern system renowned for its therapeutic effects and rumored miraculous cures. But now Gao natives are turning up brutally murdered down there – violent acts that happen to coincide with the recent arrival of a UNSC research battalion protected by Spartan Blue Team, led by the renowned Spartan-II Fred-104.

Maverick detective Veta Lopis of the Gao Ministry of Protection is only trying to do her job as the Special Inspector assigned to catch a serial killer – one who is possibly hiding within the Spartan ranks – but she never anticipates the situation spiraling out of control into an all-out crisis. When Gao is revealed to harbor ancient Forerunner technology that could solidify the UNSC’s military supremacy for centuries to come, Insurrection loyalists within the planetary government will do anything – even align with a vicious faction of what remains of the Covenant – to ensure that never happens….

Though some fans may be weary of a murder mystery novel set in the Halo universe, Grim assures us that there will be some pretty cool surprises awaiting us.  The novel seems to feature Team Saber, as Olivia-G291 seemingly appears on the cover art wearing SPI armor.  Given that Saber was declared KIA in 2553, this novel will likely delve into the circumstances of their deaths, which we first learned about in a post on the Waypoint forums, leaving many fans upset.  Those fans may finally get some closure, in addition to what will hopefully be a pretty interesting book.

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ONI Data Drops

ONI Data Drops

Data Drop 1

Data Drop 2

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 3
DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340021
2300 HOURS, JULY 18, 2552
CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET
COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9
>> 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL
<< 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

RE: OPERATION: BRAVADO

Margaret,
Paperwork's almost done on this end. So is the whiskey. I guess that means I’ll be headed back your way before long, especially after the number I put Levi through this time around. Boatswain says it’ll be sidelined for two months at least, so I've already filed with Fleet to transfer the crew to Coenwulf when I make my rounds in Sydney.

At any rate, this one was certainly a victory, as difficult as it is for me to call it that. I know the casualty reports are going to look ugly, but that's nothing new. We lost about half the battlegroup, as well as Cradle. Surface didn't fare much better either: Caracas, Huiren, Côte d'Azur, Silma and Enfield, all parking lots now…some because the enemy’s good at what they do and others because we refused to give them the opportunity.

It's just been so long since we’ve walked away from one of these things alive. We crushed eighteen of those bastards. I can't remember the last time that happened. And now they're gone. It'll take us a few years to clean up, probably a dozen or so to fix what was done on the ground. But they're gone… that's got to count for something.

A file's attached with some interesting data Iroquois picked up. The Covenant were transmitting something from the planet’s surface before we blew the lid off it. We’re not sure what it was, but it would not surprise me in the least if it ends up being grouped with sites like Onyx, Meridian, Arcadia or even that thing Halsey’s digging up on Reach.

Anyway, AAR is en route. Talk to you soon, maybe over tea?

-HMS

——————————————————————————————————————-

Data Drop 3

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 3
DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340021
0325 HOURS, JULY 19, 2552
CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET
COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9
>> 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA
<< 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL

RE: OPERATION: BRAVADO

Hello Harold,
Well done. I wish I could extend a more formal congratulations than that, but it'll have to wait, as will our tea. Something's come up and we need you at Reach immediately. Informants on Verge are pointing to an ultra-radical wing of the People's Occupation. Not much of a surprise there, as you've been around since well before this Covenant business started, but my water is telling me something else is brewing. We've run some numbers based on the Covenant's movement pattern over the last nine months and the results are… well, not good. Epsilon Eridani is at 87.2% probability of intersect within the next five months. Eight-seven percent. It's never been that high.

I think we need to start seriously considering RED FLAG. Send me updates on the recommendation docs you were working on back in March, so we can evaluate them here in Sydney. Obviously, keep this between you and me and don't mind the ONI trawlers on Reach combing for that data Keyes picked up. They'll being asking everyone involved questions, but remember that I sign their checks so there’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure your folks aren't withholding critical intel when it matters most.

Also, it's interesting that you should bring up Halsey. I know she'll likely be involved in anything we do with RED FLAG, but she's been on the end of a very long leash for a while now and my patience is wearing thin. Since she stumbled onto that artifact in Visegrád, she's been rummaging around in the wrong file cabinets – mine, and more specifically: the data we collected from Onyx. At this point, I'd be shocked if she hadn't pieced together what we believe the planet actually is, but I'm keeping her in Viery with half a dozen eyes watching her every move.

I'm only telling you this because I know you're fond of her and I respect you. Her free-ride days are numbered though, so you should brace yourself for that.

Take care. I'll drop you a line when you get to Hathcock.

– P

——————————————————————————————————————-

Data Drop 4

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 3
DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340021
0250 HOURS, AUGUST 1, 2552
CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET
COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9
>> 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL
<< 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

RE: OPERATION: BRAVADO

Just got back into Epsilon Eridani. I brought half the battlegroup here with the rest staying back to make sure there's no rematch at Sigma Octanus. I'm pretty sure it's not the last time that colony will see action, but we'll be ready for them when they come back.

Your concerns about Reach bother me, especially if you're actually considering RED FLAG. That was never intended to be used for anything other than a last resort, and definitely not with Reach. The military sacrifice involved here would be… well, there's nothing of that magnitude recorded in human history. This would be a first.

Nevertheless, I've attached the original stratagem doc for RED FLAG, updated to reflect the most recent reqs. As you said, Catherine would have to be involved in some way or shape, obviously, but I ll use discretion as always.

Damn it, Margaret. I really hope it hasn't come to this.

– HMS

OPERATION: RED FLAG/ 93893

SUM/INTENT: The secured capture of a living "HIGH PROPHET" for the purposes of bartering a formal ceasefire with the Covenant.

PRELIM INQ: Evidence suggests that the capture of a Tier-1 asset would provide enough political leverage for a ceasefire [AF-23]. The problem, of course, is getting ahold of the right asset, and in this case, a “HIGH PROPHET,” one of the key members of their leadership caste. Current intel indicates that there are only three in existence and that they reside in the mobile dome-ship structure the Covenant refer to as "HIGH CHARITY" or, on occasion, a flagship carrier [CLASS-FIVE CSO/CAS], neither of which we’ve had real access to before. Not permanent access, at least [RL-54].

OBJECTIVE: Use a substantially-sized, high-impact team of S-II military personnel wearing qualified MJOLNIR gear to assault a Covenant vessel, acquire full, unmitigated control and return it, without suspicion, back to the dome-ship structure. There, the team would split up into discrete covert splinter groups, gather sufficient intel, seize an appropriately targeted Tier-1 asset and withdraw back to a ship, securing ad hoc exfiltration.

COLLATERAL: The need for a Class-Five is paramount to the success of this operation, but it would likely require the sacrifice of a colony of significant value to the Covenant, potentially one with a high accretion of alien artifacts of non-Covenant origin, such as the volumes recorded on Harvest, Meridian, Arcadia, or even Reach. We would have to lower our defenses, draw the enemy in, and then acquire transport by force.

//END OF ORIGINAL SPEC REPORT//
–PLEASE INSERT ADDITIONAL NOTES BELOW–
COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9

ADDENDUM: Margaret, my original notes did include Reach here, but this was only a hypothetical and based entirely on what we've found there. You should keep in mind that using Reach as bait for this op is not an option I'm willing to consider. It's tactical suicide. We'd be giving them the war with only Earth left to fall back to, something I will not endorse. The only exception to this, in my mind, would be if the Covenant had already located Reach and it was deemed indefensible.

PRELIM REQ: The following assets are needed for this operation:
S-II personnel (20-30) under NavSpecWeap operational command
MJOLNIR Mark V software suite capable of construct piggy-back
Gen-3+ AI construct extensively programmed with Covenant system intrusion software
Full refit on Marathon-class, or an augmented Halcyon-class (with 2510 structure param)
Veteran naval CO and crew, preferably someone with at least a decade under his or her belt

NOTE: I've submitted these reqs to Halsey, since half of this shopping list is from her store. She has an AI lined up already [CTN 0452-9], I'll ping you with details once I have them.

Still holding out that this is just a fire drill.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Data Drop 5

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 3
DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340024
1115 HOURS, AUGUST 27, 2552
CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET
COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9
>> 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL
<< 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

RE: OPERATION: RED FLAG
STATUS: GREEN

Margaret,
Some days I really get the feeling that we’re going to burn in hell for the things we do. Today is one of those days. Just finished briefing the team with Halsey and they still don’t suspect a thing. No one does on this side of the planet. We’re keeping them well away from the primary target sites where, as far as I can tell, all hell is breaking loose and has been for some time. Army says they’ve got it handled groundside, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Regardless, we can’t allow RED FLAG to be compromised by what’s going on over there. If it does, this’ll all be for naught.

I feel like we’re going to need to tell Keyes at some point, otherwise, as soon as the Covenant show up – and I mean really show up – he’ll scrub RED FLAG and jump in with guns blazing. He’s not the type to avoid a fight, hell, he ran headlong into one just last month, all on his own. Our one hope is that the Covenant bring their big ships to the front early and that the Spartans can do what they do best.

Holland’s informed me that the only [CLASS-FIVE CSO] they’ve confirmed, a vessel called “LONG NIGHT OF SOLACE,” was dropped just outside of New Alexandria a few days ago. That could have been ours if SpecWar wasn’t so damn trigger happy. Now we’ll just have to wait, pull the Covenant in deep enough to bring the damn trap down right on top of them.

ATTACHED: Cortana’s catalogued metrics for the key staff/assets (including herself), with some of my notes affixed to each. Let me know what you think within the next few hours. Otherwise, as per our talk last week, we’re green-lit for RED FLAG as of 0100 hours…and I pray to God that we’re doing the right thing.

-HMS

CORTANA

SERVICE NUMBER: CTN 0452-9
ACTIVATION DATE: November 7, 2549
BRANCH: UNSC Navy, Office of Naval Intelligence
RANK: Smart AI Construct

Not a lot on file here, so it looks like Halsey’s done a decent job of covering her tracks (and I can’t blame her, given the AI’s actual origin).

I know full well that neither of you get along and I’m definitely not claiming that she shouldn’t be held accountable for some of the stunts she’s pulled. Reality is that we need her for this op. That’s why she’s been here for the last three decades.

As indicated in the previous conversation, she’s splitting Cortana into two separate programs in order to juggle the Visegrád findings with this operation, and she’s assured me that the AI is fully functional, well within her capacity for this mission. I believe her and I’m hoping that you can believe me.

FULL NAME: JACOB KEYES

SERVICE NUMBER: 01928-19912-JK
DATE OF BIRTH: February 8, 2495
HEIGHT: 194.3cm
WEIGHT: 96.2kg

BRANCH: UNSC Navy
RANK: Captain
BIRTHWORLD: Earth
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Luna

At the end of the day, there are half a dozen CO’s we could easily slot here, but there’s only one who I’d trust with my life and that’s Keyes. Having worked with him several times over the last decade, I can attest to his innate prowess in astrogation and naval warfare, but more importantly, the man is just plain fearless. I would definitely use “reckless” to describe anyone who I’d thought fit the bill, but I’ve found no fault in his tactics. He’s handled some things that even I can’t really quantify or explain, most recently the “Loop” deal at Sigma Octanus IV.

He’d have been the first name on my list if I was the one making it.

SHIP NAME: UNSC PILLAR OF AUTUMN

REGISTRY: C-709
CLASS: Halcyon-class Light Cruiser
LAUNCH DATE: December 1, 2510
REFIT DATE: March 19, 2550
LENGTH: 1,171m
BEAM: 352m
ENGINE CONFIG:
Mark II Hanley-Messer DFR (3)
Series V CODEN/SFTE – Main (1)

ARMAMENT:
MAC (1)
Missile Delivery System (10 pods x 24 missiles, M58 “Archer”)
Point Defense System (40 guns, 50mm M910 PDN)

Not terribly surprised at this selection due the over-bulked, overmassed honeycomb interstitial framework. It’s ironic, I suppose, that the same absurd design that forced this ship into the scrap yard years ago is resurrecting it for RED FLAG.
A cruiser was an obvious choice, as noted in my prelim, but the reason she opted for a Halcyon – this particular Halcyon, in fact – is because it can take an incredible beating without suffering functional compromise far longer than any other ships we current field.
She might be slow and cumbersome, but she’s a real beast, especially now that they’ve tweaked her armament. Good choice.

FULL NAME: JOHN-117

SERVICE NUMBER: S-117
DATE OF BIRTH: [CLASSIFIED]
HEIGHT: 208.3cm
WEIGHT: 130kg

MJOLNIR MARK V INTEGRATION:
HEIGHT IN ARMOR: 218cm
WEIGHT WITH UNDERARMOR: 179kg
WEIGHT WITH FULL ARMOR: 451.3kg

BRANCH: UNSC Navy, Naval Special Weapons
RANK: Master Chief Petty Officer
BIRTHWORLD: Eridanus II
CURRENT RESIDENCE: N/A

Looking at his CSV en total, my first thought is that this is fabricated. His service record reads like a career composite of three full Tier-1/L5 ODST squads, back to back for two and a half decades.

Dear God, active in 207 ground engagements and those are just the ones that we’re able to file on record. If I wasn’t on line to approve his deployment for these, again and again, I wouldn’t believe any of it.

And he’s just one of the SPARTAN-II assets we’ll have onboard, there’s 25 of them being recalled for this op, all from a multitude of theaters, some even being pulled directly from combat.

If that doesn’t scream last resort, I don’t know what does.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Data Drop 6



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Jason Jones Interviewed By You – 12/18/2001.

Originally posted on Bungie.net on the 18th of December, 2001 by Sketch.

 

news_mc_jasonAt long last, the much-anticipated Fan Interview with Jason Jones is done! Before we get to the interview, I’d like to say a few words about the question-selection process for the benefit of those who didn’t get their questions answered. We spent most of a weekend sifting through the many letters sent to the Halo Q&A address. We expected a deluge of email and we weren’t disappointed, but Jason is a busy guy and we had to narrow down the list of questions to a manageable size.

 

 

– By far the most frequently-asked question was “I heard Halo is Xbox-only. Will there be a PC version?” Jason has already answered this question, as have other Bungie representatives. The answer continues to be: Yes, there will be PC and Mac versions of Halo. We saw no reason to make Jason answer it again.

 

– The second-most-frequently-asked questions concerned the PC version of Halo. Unfortunately they were all really detail-oriented things that can’t be answered right now (“In PC Halo, what frame rate will I get on a P4 overclocked to 2.8 GHz and the recently-announced GeForce 4-Zillion?”). It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s just that the PC versions aren’t far enough along yet for us to say anything substantial about them.

 

– A coarse few asked questions that were just plain rude (i.e. “How does it feel to be a traitor $ellout whore, Mi$ter Benedict Arnold Jone$?”). Most of these were prefaced with “You probably won’t bother to answer this one, but…” Guess what? You were right.

 

– Finally, there were a few good questions that just didn’t make it in because I can’t make Jason answer questions all day. Maybe we’ll do another fan interview with him sometime.

 

We’d like to thank everyone who sent in a question for this interview, and we hope you’ll continue to help us interview the Halo team. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this collection of your questions and Jason’s answers. Be advised that it includes a couple minor spoilers and one naughty word, for those of you who are picky about that sort of thing.

 

What did you learn from working on Marathon and Myth that helped prepare you for Halo?

Right before the end of any enormous creative project, it hurts. Everyone’s tired all the time and you forget what it’s like to drive home while the sun is still up. In July.

 

But it’s always worth it. In the midst of those last days, I told a friend that Halo was like a cathedral self-assembling out of a hurricane. The speed at which new bits of art and sound and design were smacking into just the right place and being mortared into the whole was astonishing. We all sort of sat around in the after days, collectively wondering how the hell it had all come together and having a nervous laugh at the whole thing because it seemed kind of supernatural. More or less, this always happens. It helped to have this experience behind us at the end of Halo.

 

We learned a lot of hard design lessons back in the day, as well. The entire single player game of Pathways was a lesson in how not to balance the difficulty of a video game. Myth taught us the importance of showing people not just how to play the game (which our training level did competently), but how to have fun playing the game. In Marathon 2, when I said that I hoped “All Roads Lead To Sol” atoned for the sins of “Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap!” I was serious. I can’t believe anyone ever finished Marathon 1. I can’t believe Greg didn’t shoot me.

 

How much design influence did you have on Halo as compared to previous games? Which role do you enjoy more, programming or designing games?

Halo was a really different experience for me than Marathon 1 and 2, and Myth 1. In all three of these games I was personally responsible for building, scripting or populating about half the single player levels, handling all game balance, writing about half the core game code and half (in Marathon) to almost all (in Myth) of the story. Working on Halo, I didn’t get to script a single level, wrote none of the dialogue, and only did a small amount of coding. Everyone else got to do the glorious work (and my younger self has stopped talking to me because he thinks I’m turning into a manager, no matter how many times I tell him I’d rather rewrite Marathon’s quad rasterizer for the fifth time than have another scheduling meeting).

 

Yet Halo kept me as busy as all those previous projects, so what did I do? Talking, mostly. I had a lot of dumb ideas, for sure (ask Jaime), but I had some good ones too, and I like to think that was my biggest contribution to Halo. We started in Seattle with a solid story, a sturdy technical foundation and an understanding of what was going to make the game fun. There was much left unplanned and undecided, but the roots were there. After that, I spent the rest of the time talking about these ideas (and lying to Hamilton about how Joe was going to be able to finish the cutscenes for sure, no problem, really, probably tomorrow even, and isn’t that a few hours before we go into certification anyway, relax, down badger, plenty of time, look the pope!).

 

As for which I like better, designing or programming, I’ve never been able to decide. I hope people noticed I stopped trying to draw after Pathways, though.

 

I was watching the trailer again (I live in Australia, so no Halo for me yet!) and was wondering where the name “Pillar of Autumn” came from – at first it seemed like a pretty strange name, but it’s really grown me. Who thought it up, and is there any significance behind it?

That was me, and yeah, there is a story behind it, though not half as interesting as that of her twice-renamed sister ship, “Dawn Under Heaven”.

 

But forget the name, isn’t it kind of suspicious that a single human corvette had any success at all against the Covenant navy, when in every previous battle the humans mostly just got sawed in half by particle beams when they tried to stand up to the aliens? (much less disabling four of their capital ships!) Do we know anyone who can work magic in fleet engagements against odds like that?

 

Ow. Somebody just kicked me under the table.

 

At what point in the development process was it decided it was not possible to create the truly “seamless” world as originally announced? Would that have required at least some computer-generated terrain, and if so was such ever coded or used in Halo at any stage?

There should be a stage in every product where the ludicrous is thought possible, where the team blazes trails right to the edge of the abyss in a hundred directions. Only through great risks are great things achieved, and all that. We were at this stage on Halo when we stupidly did a series of magazine interviews during E3. I’m surprised they didn’t print the parts about stately pleasure domes and caverns measureless to man, too.

 

We had code running, back in Chicago, that spooled in and out geometry as you traversed an enormous world (an archipelago created during an ancient asteroid strike, back when the fortress worlds were planets and not rings), but our ideas changed. We wanted more fighting and less wandering. Action, not exploration. That giant world was sure cool, but it was more appropriate for an RPG game, which is not, in the end, what we decided to create.

 

How flexible is Halo’s engine? Did you make it just for the game that you wanted, or with other games in mind? Is Halo just scratching the surface of the engine? Do you have a name for it?

I’ve always thought Bungie’s greatest strength was that we had little distinction between design and code. The programmers all care about design here, and there is always a good understanding about why a piece of code is important to the game. This means that when a programmer is busy cutting and pasting away on some new feature he’s going to have all kinds of ideas how he could write the code just a little bit different to make it better, or what other kinds of things a designer could build if the code was just a little more flexible. This interplay between the designers and programmers (who are sometimes the same people), is incredibly valuable.

 

What it means, though, is that we end up with an engine designed to run Halo, and not much else. It’d be useful as a starting point for other things, but we built it for Halo, and we tried hard to show players everything it could do.

 

And it doesn’t have a name. Naming a video game engine is as egotistical as naming your- Ow! Who keeps kicking me?

 

If you had to pick the one thing you’re most unhappy about in the context of the development of Halo, what would it be?

Lack of time; XBox launch as an inflexible deadline.

 

Don’t misunderstand, though; after ten years of watching new consoles from 3D0 to Playstation2 launch without a Bungie title, it was quite a ride to be part of XBox launch. Figuring out how to squeeze a new piece of hardware is the kind of thing programmers live for, and it was a great challenge to try and take all the design lessons we’ve learned over the years and take a stab at the mainstream with one hand and hang on to our soul with the other.

 

I’m proud of what we accomplished, but much was left undone: so many ideas that never made it into the AI, so much artwork for weapons or characters we never got a chance to put into the game, so many ways to tell the story better. The environments in particular were hard, because they couldn’t be started until we’d finished the new XBox engine but they had to be done early enough for the designers to populate them.

 

The hard launch date was valuable, though, because it forced everyone to focus on actually finishing the game in a way we hadn’t been in Chicago.

 

Did all of the Covenant fleet from Reach follow you to Halo? If so, the Covenant is probably no longer a major threat to Earth, right?

Believing they were being led to an undiscovered human world, yes, the vast majority of the Covenant fleet which destroyed Reach followed the Pillar of Autumn to Halo (a minority of the navy’s AIs actually disagree with this, believing instead that the Covenant followed the Pillar of Autumn because they had already found the Alpha Halo and wanted to prevent the humans from finding it as well). The Covenant is so much larger than the Earth Empire, however, that the divergence of a fleet of this size has no impact whatever on their search for Earth.

 

Naval Intelligence knows of a least four Covenant battle groups, centered around assault carriers like the Truth and Reconciliation, prowling near the human sphere. Thus far, our best weapon in the Covenant war has been the incomprehensible vastness of space: habitable planets are few, and the distances between them enormous. But it can only be a matter of months before the Covenant find another human world, and there are few left. Even worse, after Reach the Navy became convinced that the location of Earth had been compromised (how, really, could you keep a secret like that for long?), and a long-planned exodus of military industry from Earth and Mars began.

 

So we really aren’t any better off, even after the events of Halo. Sure, we stopped the Covenant from making off with any good bits of the ring, cut short the Flood’s galactic joyride in the Truth and Reconciliation and knocked the gun pointed at the head of the universe out of the Monitor’s hands, but the people of Earth still watch the sky every night, waiting for the hammer to fall.

 

Back in the early days of Bungie, the team put a huge amount of thought into the background of the games, such as Pathways and particularly the Marathon series. The plot points were often hidden, so that they were only visible to people who looked for them. Where do you (and the team) draw your influences from, and how do you weight the importance of plot to action?

I didn’t even bring my TV with me from Chicago, so I’ll talk about books. Influences are many, but history and mythology on one hand, and science fiction on the other are the most powerful. I’m really only speaking for myself, but I’ll give some examples.

 

Just so everyone knows (remembers?) I’m a freak, I’ll do history first. In the darkest hours of Halo, coming home at two or three in the morning and having to get up before eight the next day, I read all seven volumes of Oman’s Peninsular War (the journals of infantry soldiers in this war, especially John Kinkaid, are also entertaining). Only Churchill, in his own memoirs of World War II, better glorifies the righteous struggle of a reluctant but determined underdog. Butcher calls this war porn. They’re also great stories.

 

I’ve shunned classical mythology for years now, but there’s no shortage of great stories from other cultures. David Ferry’s “interpolation” (as opposed to translation; I still can’t believe I even picked up this book) of Gilgamesh is an interesting read.

 

The new generation of science fiction from Banks (Feersum Endjinn), Vinge (Deepness in the Sky), Hamilton (Reality Dysfunction), Reynolds (Revelation Space), and that lot is well read here, but one of the best bits of space opera of all time is Starhammer, by Christopher Rowley. Good luck finding a copy these days, though.

 

That said though, it’s the action that matters. We could have talked for years about the Nar’s coal powered starships and it wouldn’t have made Marathon any more fun to play. The game has got to come first, but it’s made stronger by a good story.

 

Do you see Bungie’s work as a whole (from Minotaur and PID onwards) to be a continuous progression reflecting the same ideals and themes? Are there any primary influences that have been drawn upon for the bulk of Bungie’s creative output; something profound that has somehow manifested itself in all of Bungie’s incarnations?

Wasn’t it obvious after Gheritt White, even if you missed it in Pathways?

 

How do you react to people who review your game poorly, especially when they point out something completely ridiculous and untrue about the game?

I personally find it impossible to read public reviews of projects I’ve worked on. When bad, they’re always a downer, no matter how much you try to shrug it off (you’ve just let off slashing your wrists every day for two or three years to put this thing together, right?, what does this guy know?). But a thousand times worse are the good reviews. When somebody pisses on you, hopefully you think about what you could do different next time to avoid getting wet. When it’s all sweetness and light and you can’t walk without stepping on rose petals it makes you lazy.

 

What is your opinion on the development of the “Xbox Gateway” and “Gamespy Arcade’s Tunnel” software that will let you play Halo online right now! Are you against this or are you happy to see the community taking such an interest in playing this game online right now. But most importantly, do you plan on having these two software programs stopped?

I love this kind of hacking, and would never let anyone try and stop it. My only regret of course is that Halo’s network code assumes it’s running on a LAN and so you feel every last millisecond of latency (for “feel” read “are messily stabbed over and over again in the eye by”). Knowing how little time we had to make launch and that the XBox internet service would not go live until 2002, we drastically simplified the networking code. This let us spend much needed programmer time elsewhere.

 

You’re on the cutting edge of a hot industry. Describe for us, if you will, a gameplay sequence or experience that is not quite possible now but will be possible in the next three years.

I hope this doesn’t sound short-sighted, but I don’t think about this very often. Video games are about doing everything you can with what you’ve got, so thinking about what’s not possible isn’t really that interesting. You’ve got a story to tell, a game to build, a piece of hardware to run it on and two years to get it done. Go.

 

You’ve got to think crazy, of course, because you only get innovation by refining insanity, but thinking about anything beyond the next two years is just masturbation.

 

Easy question: What was the best work related experience that happened to you last week?

It’s been hard to get anything done in the last few weeks, what with Tyson busting out “O Canada” at the least provocation, Chucky suddenly telling jokes again and Butcher raging about us all being savages. But let me think. It’s nice to actually play other people’s games again, but that’s probably not what you mean, either, you probably think we’ve been working. Ask me again in a month.

 

Where do you see Video Games heading? If only we could get theory and criticism behind it, video games could become a new established art form, and surpass existing popular forms of entertainment (ie bad movie blockbusters, and television)… Have you put any thought into this, and how to advance your art into a higher critical realm?

I’m not sure I like being taken seriously. A month ago a reporter from one of the big west coast papers asked me a leading question about video games being used by the marines to train real life soldiers, and hey, would I be interested in talking to them about Halo, because that sounds interesting, right? Hell yes, I say, as soon as the fucking space marines are interested in a real time training tool to desensitize themselves to killing aliens, I’ll give you a quote for that story about video game violence you’re working on.

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Eric Nylund – 10/31/2001.

Originally posted on halo.bungie.org on the 31st of October, 2001 by HBO.

 

Eric Nylund is the author of Halo: The Fall of Reach, a novel set in the Halo universe, and acting as sort of a prequel to the game. We had a chance to send him some questions recently, and here we bring you his answers. Thanks to Eric Trautmann and the rest of Microsoft’s Franchise Development Group for their help in facilitating this.

 
HBO: When did you start work on the novel?

EN: Eric Trautmann (from Microsoft’s Franchise Development Group) and I tossed around a few ideas for this project a long, long time ago. The actual work, however, was delayed for various technical and legal reasons. On the positive side, this gave me a chance to see the game in almost every stage of development before I started writing.

 
HBO: As the Halo storyline has evolved, have you made changes to Halo: The Fall of Reach, or have you kept it going in the direction you started?

EN: By the time writing began, the storyline of the Halo game was more or less finalized. An outline for the novel was approved by Bungie before I began writing-only very minor changes were made to the novel.

 
HBO: Have there been changes to the GAME (that you know of) due to the book, or due to research instigated by its writing?

EN: Not that I’m aware of, no. I relied on the Story Bible quite extensively. The whole idea behind a Story Bible is that if you create a document that accurately describes the universe in which a game takes place, you can use it as a guide for writing a novel (for example) without needing to constantly check the developing novel against a developing game.

 
HBO: The inclusion of Doug Zartman on the advisory team opens tantalizing implications for many long-time Bungie fans. Can you elaborate on how close (or distant) the Halo and Marathon universes are?

EN: We’ve tried to make the novel consistent with the tone and style of the game as established by Jason Jones, whose statements about the thematic links between Marathon and Halo are on record. I leave it to Jason and Bungie to reveal how closely the two universes are linked.

 

HBO: Long before anything was known about Halo by the public, the series of emails known as ‘The Cortana Letters’ was sent to Hamish Sinclair. They haven’t been mentioned in quite a while, and more recent information seems to contradict some of the material in them-do they refer in any way to events that took place on or before the battle of Reach, in a way that impacts the book?

EN: Yes.

 
HBO: Was it easier or more difficult working in an existing universe for this novel (as compared to your other work, in which the universe was yours from the start)? Why?

EN: It’s easier and more difficult working in an existing fictional universe. Much of the arduous world building-the rules and history of the Halo universe-had already been worked out with an exacting precision. Those details, however, also limit the story. Certain technologies were not allowed and certain events had to occur for the novel and game to dovetail properly. On the balance, I would have to say that working in the Halo universe was easier-especially given the broad support from the Franchise Development Group and Bungie staff.

 
HBO: How large a role does the Pillar of Autumn play in the book, and are there other crossover characters besides Cortana and the Master Chief?

EN: (Without giving too much of the story away…) The Pillar of Autumn plays a pivotal role in the Spartans’ most important mission in the Halo universe.

As far as crossover characters, there is Cortana and the Master Chief, as well as Captain Keyes, and handful of Marines. Several important characters in the novel never appear in the game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll never be seen again …

 
Thanks, Eric!

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John Howard/Matt Soell – 12/20/2000.

Originally posted on IGN #xboc chat on the 20th of December, 2000.

 

Transcript from #xbox chat on IRC, December 20, 2000

Session moderated by: Vincent-IGN, Jeremy-IGN, Vosx.

Bungie employees in attendance: Halo_John (John Howard, Halo Lead), BungieMatt (Matt Soell, Community Guy)

 

Questions were messaged directly to Vincent-IGN, then handled by Matt and John in a separate IRC channel. Responses were posted back to #xbox by Vincent-IGN. For consistency’s sake, chat is formatted as the #bungie chat we posted last June was formatted.

 
Vincent-IGN: Hey y’all… We’ve got John and Matt from Bungie here, and… it looks like you already know to private me with questions to them 😉 Let’s start with what John and Matt do over at Bungie

BungieMatt: I’m the “Community Lead” which basically means I work with the community around Bungie’s games, trying to keep them happy and figure out ways of increasing their numbers. 🙂

Halo_John: Lead game designer. Basically I’m in charge of fun. We take all the ideas from the entire team and make sure everything fits together.

 
Ilium_Rise: Bungie Question – Why did the engine need to be rewritten after E3, and could you explain what features have been most improved?

Halo_John: We wanted to take advantage of all the cool stuff the XBox hardware lets us do…

 
JCal: I have a question….will there be a Microsoft Gamestock in 2001 and will Halo be shown there in playable form?

BungieMatt: There will be a Gamestock but we’re not quite sure yet what role we’ll play in it, or if we’ll play a role at all.

 
Junkie1312: Will Halo be ported to other systems besides Xbox?

BungieMatt: Well, MacOS and Windows, obviously. We’ve already confirmed that. Anything else…who knows?

 
[BGH]Protector: Is Voice Communication still under consideration?

Halo_John: We’d still like to do it, but on the XBox it’s more of a technical consideration (among other things it’s harder to be sure people will have microphones)

 
GreyDeath: How will the issue of control in Halo be handled on the xbox, and is it true that there won’t be a keyboard/mouse for xbox?

Halo_John: This is our #1 design issue: Make FPS control RULE on the XBox. Without getting into details we’re devoting a lot of time to this right now…

 
Vincent-IGN: So just to confirm, Halo won’t be Xbox exclusive then?

BungieMatt: The Xbox version will certainly precede the others to market. But it won’t be an Xbox-only title.

 
PilatesDog: Are we going to see Halo at CES, Gamestock, and/or E3?

BungieMatt: Maybe.

Halo_John: … the same goes for GDC, the time I heard I was presenting was when I read it on the GDC web site.

 
Wassabe: Will Xbox HALO look the best compared to the PC and MAC?

Halo_John: Unknown, but developing for a dedicated platform has its advantages: We can use ALL of the cool graphics hardware like custom shaders, real time lighting, bump mapping, etc…

Halo_John: We also know exactly how fast the game will run so we can tune content to work best on that platform. Of course, this is compared to today’s PCs…

 
VP: Will the game be using the hardrive for any features other then saving your game state? Will the game be a Partial install so it will play off the DVD-ROM and harddrive cooperatively?

Halo_John: Unknown. We have a few ideas of how we’d use the HD to enhance the game but a lot of these are still up in the air. <cough> online <cough>

 
Vincent-IGN: I’ve got a question, actually. You’ve said that Halo could end up on other platforms — does that mean Microsoft could publish the game for, say, PS2 or Gamecube, then?

BungieMatt: While anything is possible, it’s not likely at all that we’ll develop for competing consoles. The Xbox is where we want to be.

 
jeremykickedme: If Halos’ coming to Xbox, does that mean that the next Myth game is coming too? I think it’s called Fantasy Siege.

BungieMatt: Multi-part answer:
BungieMatt: A. It’s not called Fantasy Siege.
BungieMatt: B. It’s not a Myth game.
BungieMatt: C. Xbox is a very strong possibility. 🙂

 
Hayate: Is Halo possible to be a Xbox launch title?

BungieMatt: Sure, it’s possible. It’s not certain, though. We don’t have a release date but that’s the timeframe we’re shooting for.

 
Ixnay: We’ve heard you say that Halo will use Per-Pixel Lighting on practically everything. Could you elaborate on that a bit?

Halo_John: Actually, we’re working on that right now and it’s really, really cool.

BungieMatt: If we could elaborate on it, I probably would have done so in a Halo Update by now. 🙂

Halo_John: Regarding the rendering, the phrase I keep hearing is: Halo is what nature would be, if nature were cooler.

 
Xciter: New Screenshots….. when?

Halo_John: We probably won’t release any new screen shots until the first public showing, but the earliest would probably be Gamestock, probably.

 
brady56765: Bungie Question: What feature of the Xbox do you like the most (hard drive, fast processor, nvidia NV2A chipset?

Halo_John: my personal favorite: built in network connection

 
kosmo: Will all the Xbox, Mac and pc users be able to play together?

BungieMatt: It’s really hard to say at this point one way or another, but if I had to bet I’d say no. PC/Mac netplay is a more likely proposition, if you catch my drift.

 
Gamejunky: Do you think it’s better to be multiplatform or a one system developer?

Halo_John: Hard question. You hope the design of a game translates to many different platforms, but from a programming and production standpoint it easier to do one thing at a time

 
troyw: people are saying the xbox is essentially a pc to program for, what do you say to this?

Halo_John: I say talk to Jason and the other programmers. The Xbox is definately it’s own man.

BungieMatt: If you choose to look only at the hardware specs you might get that impression, but it’s really not that simple.

Halo_John: It’s definately a gaming machine and the Xbox team are committed to making a hardcore game machine

 
Kaviar: Can you provide any details on the mission structure?

Halo_John: Not right now.

 
smitty: The Xbox is said to have concentrated more on audio compared to other consoles what kind of features have you implemented?

BungieMatt: We’ve been concentrating on getting the visual end of things straight, so we don’t really have any incredible audio features to tout just yet. But we did learn a lot about what we could do and what we want to do from Oni, and I think you’ll see us using that experience to go beyond the audio stuff we’ve done in the past.

 
DoomSpel: Will the X-Box have a simultaneous release date on X-Box and the PC?

BungieMatt: I already answered that, but for anyone who missed it: no. The Xbox version will ship before the Mac/PC versions. I don’t know how much later they’ll follow, but they’re a separate development effort.

 
Acinonyx: Will Halo have the same level of editability as many PC games do today (levels/mods/skins/etc)? It seems doubtful on a console system, and if not, will the same limitation be on the later PC release?

Halo_John: There are a lot of issues with allowing user-created content on a console, mostly related to content verification. I doubt we’ll see any of that on the Xbox version. When it comes to the PC/Mac versions that’s really up to you guys, isn’t it? 🙂

 
tonyst85: In your opinion, whats the Xbox’s main biggest weak-point as of now? And is it causing a problem with the developement of your game?

Halo_John: The fact that it’s still a work in progress. The dev kits are still be revised (the same that happens with all new consoles) so there are things we still don’t have.

 
Vosx: How has the Move to Microsoft affected Bungie? At first many on your team were nervous about the implications of teh deal – now everyone seems to be happy. What has been the positive points of being on teh Microsoft team?

BungieMatt: There’s a support structure now where one didn’t really exist before. Hiring a texture artist or 3D modeler no longer depends on whether all the distributors give us the money they owe us that month, etc. And there’s a very supportive atmosphere in the games group, and especially the Xbox group.

 
snokay: When will XBox developers get real development kits, as opposed to PC and video card “XDKs”?

Halo_John: Unknown. The XDKs are “real” development kits.  : ) Until we get the final pre-release XBoxes these will be the dev kits

 
FatFingers: Has anything been taken out of the XBox version that you were going to include on the PC/Mac version?

BungieMatt: There have definitely been a lot of changes, but nothing’s been taken out that wouldn’t have been taken out anyway. There comes a point in the development of any Bungie game where we say “I guess we can’t do that one. Oh well.” But the game hasn’t been dumbed down for the hardware. If anything it’s beefier now than ever.

 
Vincent-IGN: What do you guys personally feel about the new console war about to start next fall?

Halo_John: I’m all for the enhanced competition, it forces everyone to work extra hard. In the end it benefits us game players most because we get a ton of cool new product.

BungieMatt: Personally I love consoles, so the more consoles – and titles for them – available, the happier I personally will be. 🙂 The games will matter more than the hardware.

 
BungieMatt: Thanks to everyone for coming. Obviously we didn’t get to answer everyone’s questions, but hopefully we’ll have more of these chats in the future. And maybe we’ll be able to give you more details next time. 🙂

Halo_John: Thanks for coming out and thanks to IGN for having us.

Vincent-IGN: Thank y’all for coming…

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Q&A with Doug Zartman – 06/20/2000.

Originally posted on Inside Mac Games on the 20th of June, 2000 by IMGs staff.

 

When it comes to discovering exactly what is going on with Bungie Software, Doug Zartman has been the person to talk to since the very beginning. As the Mouth of Bungie he has been both a spin artist and a solid source of concrete fact, bridging the yawning gap between what he was allowed tell the ardent fans of Bungie and the huge amount of information said fans demanded. Bungie has pulled deeper and deeper within their shell as the years wore on – the infamous phrase “two weeks” became the even more infamous “when it is done.” Yet Zartman has always been ready with an eager grin and a friendly handshake to lead us on with one more tidbit of information.

 

Now that we know that the Microsoft purchase of Bungie Software is indeed a fact, he seemed the natural person to consult on this issue. What follows is the limited number of questions we were allowed to ask in a quick phone interview conducted last Friday afternoon.

 

IMG: The obvious question: What will happen to the Mac version of Halo? Will a Mac version still be published and by whom?

Doug Zartman: To paraphrase the FAQ on our site:

It’s important to understand two things: The decision about what platforms Halo and future Bungie games will be developed for remains in the hands of Bungie Studios, in the hands of the teams developing them. In Halo’s case the decision has not been made yet. The development team has a ton of options to consider, and that’s what they’re doing right now. They may choose to concentrate on one platform, to bring the game to every platform under the sun, or something in between. As of this writing we simply don’t know what the answer will be. We cannot promise that a Windows or Mac version of Halo will ship, but we can’t rule it out either.

 

IMG: Will the Mac and PC Halo be delayed to match the date of the X-box release?

Zartman: As above, it’s impossible to answer that meaningfully at this point.

 

IMG: Can you tell us if Oni for the Mac is still on track? Will Take 2 be publishing it?

Zartman: Oni will become the property of Take 2 Interactive and will be published for Mac and PC by Gathering of Developers, and by Rockstar Games for PS2. Oni is still on track for a simultaneous, cross-platform release this October, around the time of the PS2 launch.

 

IMG: If there will be a Mac, PC, and X-box Halo, will they be able to netplay together?

Zartman: I can tell you that Halo will be supported by a future iteration of bungie.net, which will be maintained by us, in the same way that Myth is supported by the current bungie.net.

 

IMG: Will future Bungie products make it to the Mac OS?

Zartman: We know that Oni will. Beyond that, it’s up to the development teams.

 

There you have it. Please feel free to comment on Doug’s answers on the IMG Forums.

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Question and Answer Session with Max Hoberman (Yeroen) – 06/19/2000.

Originally posted on Rampancy.net on 06/19/2000.

 

The first hour is missing; most of that time, the server was crashed, but the actual question session started a bit before this log began.

 

CyberBob: Durandal (M:R) asks – Will Microsoft have the same policy against people trying to make Marathon ports to other engines that Bungie has had?

yeroen: That wouldn’t be MS policy, that would be Bungie policy. However, we’ve been lax in that lately, allowing Marathon ports to other engines. I know there’s an Unreal port that Doug keeps passing around, for example.

 
CyberBob: Do these people have anything to fear from the deal?

yeroen: I don’t see why they should. Community generated content is a huge part of what keeps the community strong, so I’d like to do everything possible to continue to support these people, as well as others.

 
Manus Celer D: (Some of us would like to know where we can get this port)

yeroen: I’m not sure Manus, but I’ll check with Doug for ya.

 
Manus Celer D: From Spamboy – Will Bungie be at Macworld NY?

yeroen: Tamte is looking into getting funding for MW. However, it’s still an unknown. However…

 
Manus Celer D: Several people have inquired as to the circumstances and motivation for Doug’s departure from bungie, if you are able to comment on it.

CyberBob: From mnemesis (Tom Van Sinden) – Were there Bungie employees who contributed to the “rumor” frag-fest here and on HBO as a way of helping to break the news to the fan community?

yeroen: No, definitely not. Everyone here kept complete silence to avoid legal problems. In fact, we felt horrible about having to ignore you all for so long. There were some very good legal reasons, however, that necessitated it.

 
CyberBob: From JoeDaMac (Joseph E. Haake) – What are some major differences that we’ll see in Bungie change now that Microsoft is “in charge”?

yeroen: The first thing that jumps to mind is publishing since we’ll have a say, but no longer be in charge of things like the manuals, packaging, etc. Matt and I will do our best, however, to watch over these things. Actually, I’m also predicting you’ll see much better product web sites. This is something I’m personally looking forward to. As far as development, I hope there won’t be any negative changes. One huge plus is the development of the online team.

 
Manus Celer D: An inquiring mind would like to know – “How much did M$ pay to aquire Bungie?”

yeroen: I’m not at liberty to discuss finances, sorry.

 
iFreewill: “What will happen to all the items/in at the Bungie store after they are out of stock? Will production of them continue, etc?”

yeroen: I’d like to continue to produce Bungie-specific items as long as there’s demand for them. As for existing inventory, what’s not going to Take2 is going into the online team’s closet to be used to support fan gatherings. This should be cool.

 
Noctavis: From Forensic – “There’s been mention of Bungie helping to ‘shape’ the X-box. What exactly does that mean? Can you be more specific?”

yeroen: I suppose that’s pretty vague for good reason. Basically, being near and close to the Xbox team will allow us to influence their design. For example, we’ve already discussed a number of decisions they’re making about online issues, and we’ve seen some problem areas.

 
CyberBob: Massa asks – Is Bungie involved only in the software development for Xbox or are you also influencing the hardware specs. For example could you say: “That stupid machine needs a keyboard”, and they produce one?

yeroen: We’re in the process of figuring out what we think would work and giving them feedback. Fortunately it’s still early enough for this to matter. I believe many of the hardware specs are already decided. I’d say we have more influence on OS type issues.

 
iFreewill: From Stryder – Because of Microsoft’s shady business practices I boycott all Microsoft Software. Unfortunately, this will mean Bungie@MS too. What are your feelings toward this?

yeroen: We were aware that many of you would feel that way about Microsoft. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can say except that we plan to continue to make the games we like to play. If that’s not enough for you I feel bad… we enjoyed having every one of you in our community.

 
Manus Celer D: Several people have asked why the sudden change from the former Mac/PC target of Halo under the privately owned Bungie to the undetermined targets of Halo under the new Bungie$Soft. They would also like to know when the solidified target information will be available.

yeroen: First off, our new situation dictates new goals. We obviously can’t ignore Xbox, nor do we have any reason to, as it’s one of the things that drew us to Microsoft… On the flip side, we have no desire to alienate our existing fans or force them to buy new hardware… I suppose the reason we’re unable to commit is that we’re facing a ton of new issues that haven’t been resolved yet. Hopefully when they are resolved we’ll be able to give a definite answer.

 
Noctavis: “What is it about the X-Box that makes it an excellent platform? Many people take the specs and tend to think it’s just a PC.”

yeroen: Chucky, one of Halo’s programmers, can answer that one… he’s standing over my shoulder…

Chucky: Howdy folks. The XBox is cool mostly because it leverages the existing technology that PCs created. Nvidia’s graphics cards are currently the best in the business (in my opinion obviously), the PIII is way more powerful than chips in the other consoles… Also from a developer’s point of view, it’s easy to write code for because the hardware is familiar.

 
CyberBob: Are you saying that the PIII is faster than the ppc chips in the dolphin?

Chucky: Well, I can’t say yet because I don’t know.

 
Tsao: From Meg – “How are you going to interact with your community now? Will you still maintain the personal relations that you have had and community involvement such as tournaments?”

Chucky: We plan on interacting much more with our community. We now have the time and resources to really help it become something great… I have some interesting plans for this, but I’m going to keep them a surprise for now. One thing, however, that I plan on doing is getting a ton more fan feedback on community issues.

 
Manus Celer D: (Many people also wonder about the fire hazard issues involved in slipping a PIII into something the size of a console.)

Chucky: Hadn’t heard anything about that but they put PIIIs in notebooks so I don’t think that should be a problem.

 
CyberBob: Several people have been asking if you are still allowed to use Open GL.

yeroen: We’re allowed to do whatever makes the most sense for the Bungie Studio. On the XBox that’s DirectX + hardware, on the Mac that’s OpenGL (says Chucky).

 
Merkinjata (n: Many people want to know if their Bungie store coupons will still be honored. They will, won’t they?

yeroen: I haven’t given much thought to the store coupons. However, we have tentative plans to keep Bungie Points.

 
Cannibal Harr: How does Bungie feel about MacOS X? Any comment on the Mac’s future OS? Support? Etc.

yeroen: I can’t speak for Bungie on this one, and I’m sort of out of the loop myself. Whatever Mac versions we do, we’ll support the latest OS.

 
iFreewill: From A-Bomb ~TMBM~ – I have pre-ordered Halo from www.gamestop.com and now it is jeopardy of being published for the PC. Why would I be able to pre-order it without confirmation of what systems Halo will be produced for?

yeroen: That’s really out of our control. We don’t give out info until we have an idea at a release date, but some of the stores like to jump the gun.

 
Ferrex ( bus: A question from Stryker – “You keep saying that you’ll make the games you always have. How do you know that? How will you be able to prevent MS from invading your dept? Do you have any guarantees?”

yeroen: Bungie is people. Without the employees Microsoft wastes its money. If they don’t keep their side of the bargain I don’t know many of us that will stick around.

 
Ferrex ( bus: So Bungie employees are not bound by any contracts to remain at MS if MS fails to keep their side of the deal?

yeroen: Yes, that’s correct.

 
Regdren =PN=: Will Bungie still be able to toy with its fans? We all know about Letters to the Webmaster. Will Microsoft allow that sort of thing? And will Bungie play games with us like those Covenant quotes when Halo was announced?

yeroen: Yep, we’ve retained the Webmaster for that very purpose. Actually, isn’t that the fans toying with the Webmaster? What Covenant quotes? 😉

 
Regdren =PN=: I’d say that Bungie likes to keep the fans on edge with cryptic stuff. A lot of fans seem to like that.

yeroen: We just like to make it as clear as possible for you all. We shall continue to do just that.

 
Merkinjata (n: How long is the Bungie store going to stay open? And are we still going to be able to buy all the cool memorabilia we can get now?

yeroen: I don’t know the long term plans for the store. I don’t think it’s been decided yet. I’d say stock up now, while the goods are good. Buy now!

Chucky: Yeroen gets a percentage of store profits you know…

 
Cannibal Harr: There is no question that what is commonly referred to as the mod community can help make or break a game. Without question, Unreal Tournament, Myth 2, the Quake series, Halflife, etc are very much fuelled by map and mod makers. A great deal of cool and innovative stuff is done in this community. It is generally regarded to be a great thing for a game to get such a following like this. Do you feel not having a simultaneous release for MacOS, Windows, and the X-Box could jeopardize this community? I’ve always felt much more willing to support a product that supports me. Case in point: Windows and Mac users are going to be much more willing to pay for a copy of Halo if the release date is on par with the X-Box, which frankly, is geared at a different market. Agree/Disagree?

yeroen: Not having a simultaneous release can’t help. However, there are a number of games with successful communities that weren’t released simultaneously. It’s probably more important that MacOS/Win release simultaneously. As for willingness to pay based on release date: I think, if a game is good enough, people will buy it even if it’s released separately.

 
Noctavis: “Has Bungie spoken with Apple (or specifically – Steve Jobs) on the issue of the Bungie Studios acquisition, and if so what did they/he say?”

yeroen: I know Tamte spoke with a number of people from Apple. I don’t know what they said.

 
iFreewill: Your new policy of reaching out the the fan-base… in that new ‘Bungie-spirit’ of open-communications, will we be seeing more communiques from you? When can we expect to see these results. The fear is that, like the ‘Letter to the fans’, it will come too late in the day, so to speak, and without enough ‘meat’.

yeroen: Our “new” policy isn’t really new, it’s an extension of a policy we’ve always had, but haven’t been able to fully implement. If you want an idea of the kind of things we’re thinking about check out the www.bungie.net portal web site.

Chucky is mumbling something about the XBox’s unified memory. We’ll ignore him.

 
Manus Celer D: Distant asks – In past games produced by Bungie, version updates have played a large role. How will the Xbox handle this? How will this be handled on the Xbox?

yeroen: I don’t really know the specifics. I’d take a guess, however, that Xbox software should be extremely stable.

 
Merkinjata (n: Dawang asks – “Are Microsoft lawyers sitting there with you watching what you say?”

yeroen: They won’t shock us if I answer correctly.

Ow!

 
Merkinjata (n: “Will the way Bungie packs their software, logos, etc, be changed? Would it say Microsoft instead of Bungie?”

yeroen: All Bungie products will be Bungie branded. However, we’re no longer directly responsible for the packaging, though we intend to keep a hand in the pot.

 
Cannibal Harr: From Noah – Doesn’t it seem that people will NOT buy a $300 or $400 console just to play one game, and if it comes out for Xbox only, people just won’t play it?

yeroen: From what I’ve heard on the forums people are buying new $2K machines and $300 video cards in anticipation of Halo. Think of this as a discount 😉

 
Noctavis: “What is the atmosphere like in Bungie’s offices today? How are you all reacting to the fans’ reactions?”

yeroen: It’s cool, a little breezy. I think it’s the AC. 🙂 Honestly though, it’s hard on us to hear so many people upset. At the same time there’s been a lot of positive response, which we’re happy about. Almost everyone has been following the forums and talking about it. Believe it or not, we really do care about all of you.

 
Cannibal Harr: From Darth Maul ~TMBM~ – Will you guys be working with Valve Software at all?

yeroen: Not that I know of.

Who are they again? 😉

 
Merkinjata (n: Panamon wants to know if you guys will still have semi-public beta tests or (and I added this part) if MS will take over /all/ of your QA.

yeroen: We don’t have a whole lot of QA. Mostly QA is beta and internal testing. This will obviously change, though I don’t know all the specifics, nor do I know the plans for external beta testing.

 
iFreewill: From Chia – Now that Microsoft has given you guys a load-a-dough, will you be able to buy more pizza at the fan gatherings?

yeroen: Absolutely. A pizza at every desk.

 
Merkinjata (n: A lot of people want to know how the Microsoft anti-trust trial will affect Bungie. Any comments?

yeroen: I don’t really have an opinion on this. If the company gets divided we’ll be in the non-os half.

 
Manus Celer D: What does Bungie plan for their humour now? In the past mind control lasers, world domination, and “The Man” were amusing, now in the context of Microsoft they are frightening. Does Bungie plan to develop new, humorous jokes since the old ones don’t work anymore?

yeroen: They were supposed to be frightening before. Damn.

 
CH full queue: Does Bungie realize that by moving to the Redmond MS campus they are making things very hard for us who were making plans to blow it up. Now we have to find out which building you’re in and make sure not to demolish that one. and you say you love your fans…=)

yeroen: We show our love by giving you new challenges. You’ll have to adapt.

 
CH full queue: From Dozer – Will the games be released simultaneously?

yeroen: Read our FAQ.

 
Merkinjata (n: Nik “Frost” Manak wants to know (question paraphrased) if it’s going to be harder to use copyrighted material from your games for websites, publications, etc. because MS tends to not look upon such things so favourably. For example, will we just be able to ask you guys before using something?

yeroen: I don’t anticipate any changes here. We’re completely responsible for our interaction with our community.

Chucky: Irresponsible, even.

 
Merkinjata (n: Yes, but doesn’t MS own the material in question?

yeroen: I don’t think I can deny that one, Merk. All I can say is that the whole reason my job exists is because they believe we’re the best people to interact with the community.

 
Manus Celer D: From Woden – Bungie didn’t deny the MS buyout, now that they aren’t denying that Halo is XBox only, what are we supposed to think?

yeroen: We’ve always remained tight lipped about internal issues. However, in the MS case we were unable to respond for legal reasons. We’ve responded to the Xbox issue, it’s just not the answer everyone wants to hear: it’s still undecided.

 
CH full queue: Does Bungie feel the console market is similar to the PC and Mac gamer market? Is Microsoft/Bungie’s goal to convert PC and Mac gamers to an X-Box console, or is the seemingly more obvious the case (different target markets)?

CH full queue: Big questions guys: Future of gaming over the next 5 years, console or PC?

yeroen: I think that Bungie’s current position has given an indication of its view on the console vs. PC issue. Console will be big, regardless of how successful PCs are.

 
Merkinjata (n: From Entrail – How will The Soul adjust to being moved to an even eviler place, ruled by the devil?

yeroen: We don’t really care what the Soul thinks. It’s being punished. 🙂

 
iFreewill – H: From Mythifier – Anything the fans can do to help you feel at home in Redmond? Small gifts from Chicago? Good ol’ Chicago style Pizza?

yeroen: Sweet, thanks Freewill! Jalapeno, or stuffed Spinach.

 
Ferrex ( bus : From Distant – “Hypotheticaly, what would have to happen to prevent Bungie from developing games for the Macintosh platform. Specifically, Halo, and generally, anything.”

yeroen: We’ll make our decisions about what platform to develop for like we always have. If there’s a strong business case for a particular platform, and the team wants to, we’ll develop for that platform.

 
Merkinjata (n: People seem to be concerned about how you’re going to create an online community around a console. Could you possibly give us some insight into how that’s going to work?

yeroen: That’s still a big question, but I consider it one of the biggest challenges for the online team… The goal is to give the community a central gathering place, a place where they can communicate, and give them ways to contribute to the community. This applies to every platform.

 
CH full queue: I’d like to ask what Bungie’s stance on copyrighted material is as of the acquisition. While Bungie has been been lenient with fans and such about using copyrighted stuff on websites, newsletters, etc. as long as it’s not for profit, Microsoft has been a troll about this issue on numerous occasions, which scares me since I’m still planning to do the non-profit Halothon Magazine at a later date and don’t want to pay for a lawyer to screen every issue.

yeroen: For the copyright issue, I’ll have to look into it. I fully intend to do everything in my power to avoid any sort of problem.

 
Noctavis: “How do you look at Bungie’s future, once the Xbox has become a year or more old?”

yeroen: I’m not sure how to answer that, Noct. If we’ve achieved our goals we’ll be in a position to develop multiple great titles simultaneously, and have a lot of fun doing it.

 
CH full queue: If someone wanted to come work for Bungie on their next game hit after Halo, would they be employed by Bungie or MS?

yeroen: Microsoft, within the Bungie Studio.

 
Noctavis: Aye Max… I’m glad to see that Bungie appears to (for now) be keeping its options open.

yeroen: That’s our goal, Noct. We were as scared as many of you about Microsoft’s influence. However, we have a lot of faith in Alex and Jason… they’ve been good to us, and they share the same goals. Their confidence gives us confidence.

 
Merkinjata (n: From Unknow – “What’s going to happen to Jim Ruiz?”

yeroen: I believe Jim is staying here in Chicago for personal reasons.

 
CH full queue: There are a lot of people (including myself) that wouldn’t buy anything coming from MS only because we don’t want to help fund a company that would have everyone use “Windows.” Halo piracy could be a bigger problem now that Bungie’s been assimilated. Will there be a bungie.net for Halo, with only one l/p per serial #? -Erik

yeroen: We haven’t yet decided the specifics of multiplayer Halo. There are a lot of new issues to factor in. Obviously, we don’t want anyone stealing something we’ve put a lot of blood and sweat into, so whatever happens we’ll do our best to give you reasons not to. Also, Chucky hopes that the whole court case will settle the whole Windows issue.

 
Noctavis: From Anonymous – “Do former Bungie employees now have the option to quit, and if they do, why don’t they?”

yeroen: I think you’re asking about employment contracts here. Everyone has the option to quit if they don’t like the way things are going.

 
Ferrex ( bus: We’d like to thank Max and Chucky for suffering through our server problems to answer these questions, as well as everyone who joined us for it.

yeroen: Thanks for coming everyone, we appreciate your interest in our continued success. And we appreciate all of the hard work you’ve put in to building this community.

 

Noctavis: Thanks for being here guys (To Max and Chucky).

yeroen: Hasta la vista, baby.

      • END OF LOG***
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Q&A with Bungie’s Doug Zartman – 06/18/2000.

Originally posted on Blue’sNews on the 18th of June, 2000 by Jason Bergman.

Q&A with Bungie’s Doug Zartman
June 18, 2000
by jason “loonyboi” bergman

 

With this morning’s announcement that Microsoft would be acquiring Bungie (developers of Halo, Oni, and the Myth and Marathon games) we tracked down PR manager Doug Zartman and had him answer a few questions about what this means for their games and the company’s future.

 

Blue’s News: Okay, the first thing everyone wants to know…what does this mean for Halo? Will it affect the schedule of the project and will the game still be released on the Mac?

Doug Zartman: It’s important to understand two things: The decision about what platforms Halo and future Bungie games will be developed for remains in the hands of Bungie Studios, in the hands of the teams developing them. In Halo’s case the decision has not been made yet. The development team has a ton of options to consider, and that’s what they’re doing right now. They may choose to concentrate on one platform, to bring the game to every platform under the sun, or something in between. As of this writing we simply don’t know what the answer will be. We cannot promise that a Windows or Mac version of Halo will ship, but we can’t rule it out either.

 

Blue’s News: What about Bungie’s post-Oni/Halo projects? Will Bungie remain committed to cross-platform development?

Doug Zartman: The development team for each title will make the decision of which platforms to develop for. That may mean one platform, or several.

 

Blue’s News: Who retains the rights to the Oni, Myth and Marathon series? Is Bungie keeping them, or will Take Two own them?

Doug Zartman: Take 2 will get Oni and the Myth franchise, Bungie keeps everything else.

 

Blue’s News: Microsoft’s press release says, “Bungie’s development staff will be integrated into the Microsoft Game Division as an independent development studio…” What does this mean? Will Bungie be closing one (or both) of its studios to integrate with Microsoft in Seattle?

Doug Zartman: Yes, the two Chicago teams are going out to Redmond now to form Bungie Studios, and the Oni team will be joining them once Oni is complete.

 

Blue’s News: It says specifically that Bungie will remain an, “independent development studio.” Will Microsoft have any influence on game development and direction at Bungie?

Doug Zartman: No. The plan is that they’ll leave us more or less alone to do what we do, and trust that the results will be worth it. They will be involved on some level at every step of the process, including conceptualization, but they will not shape the development of the games or censor content. Their interactions with us will mostly be on a business level.

 

Blue’s News: Are there any personnel changes as a result of the acquisition? Will there be any layoffs?

Doug Zartman: Many of Bungie’s publishing staff are interviewing with Microsoft for positions within their publishing departments. Others are unable to make the move out to Redmond, and will be moving on to some other company. They are our friends, and we wish them well. Nearly all of the developers at this point are going out there.

 

Blue’s News: Will Halo and Oni definitely be released for the Xbox?

Doug Zartman: Oni will definitely be released for the PS2 but it’s not up to us to make Xbox announcements.

 

Blue’s News: Will Halo ever be released for the Playstation 2? A port was rumored to be in the works, but has never been confirmed. Does the Microsoft acquisition destroy any chances of this happening?

Doug Zartman: That has never been anything other than a rumor – no PS2 version of Halo was never in development, and now it is not likely that one would be.

 

Blue’s News: What is the current status of Oni? Who will be publishing it, and is there a planned release date? Has Oni’s development been affected by this?

Doug Zartman: Oni’s development is unaffected by this. Oni will be finished by the Bungie West team in their San Jose office and tested by Bungie’s QA manager and his team. The game will then be published, distributed and supported by Gathering of Developers for Mac and Windows, and by Rockstar Games for the PlayStation2. It will ship for PC, Mac and the PlayStation2. After the game ships, the Oni team will relocate to Seattle to join the rest of the Bungie staff and start work on their next project.

 

Blue’s News: Another line reads, “Microsoft expects the Bungie development studio to play a key role in the development of future first-party content for the Xbox platform.” Does this mean Bungie will be creating Xbox exclusive titles?

Doug Zartman: As above, it’s up to the teams.

 

Blue’s News: Does Microsoft have plans to utilize the Halo technology in other projects?

Doug Zartman: Nothing to announce.

 

Blue’s News: One question many people have regarding this announcement is simply…why? Bungie has always been a fiercely independent company, having self-published both Myth games, and last August, Take Two Interactive purchased a 20% stake in Bungie, so why, almost a year later, this decision to align with Microsoft?

Doug Zartman: For two reasons:

 

A. Microsoft is offering us the opportunity to lead the way on a next-generation console system. We will not only be one of the premier developers for the platform, but we’ll be working directly with the Xbox team, helping to optimize the hardware and software for each other. We’ll influence the design of the system; we’ll help to ensure that the Xbox is the best platform to code for, and the most impressive console on the block. Such an opportunity does not come often. Bungie has always tried to keep abreast of the industry, if not ahead of it, and next-gen consoles seem like the place to be if you develop games. This deal allows us to get into that market in a big way.

 

B. The business of publishing entertainment software independently has changed enormously since Bungie started. Bungie was not in immediate danger of going under or anything like that, but we realized that within a few years we’d need a strong partner if we wanted to keep making games the way we always have. We opted to make what we saw as an inevitable move while we were still in a position of strength, rather than wait for circumstances to force our hand. The ultimate goal is to ensure Bungie continues to exist and continues to produce the high-caliber games for which it is known.

 

Blue’s News: Lastly, the announcement that Halo might be switching to a first person perspective received audible cheers from our readers. Can you give us any more information on this? Has a definite decision on whether or not to change the perspective been made? What factors are involved?

Doug Zartman: Halo will not be either 100% first person or 100% third, but instead will use the best mode for whatever activity the player is engaging in. You gotta have first person for sniping; you gotta have third for driving… an artful mix is the best solution.

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