Bungie Weekly Update
First, Frankie writes of his travels in Barcelona:
Hay guys! What’s going on? Did I miss anything this week?
In a frothing fanboy dream scenario, we got to meet with the director of King Kong and Lord of the Rings, and even play some (lots of) Gears of War with him. The man knows his video games, and he knows his movies too. In a panel on Thursday morning, he, Peter Molyneux from Lionhead and Greg Zeschuck from Bioware discussed the future of storytelling in video games.
It was great to see a brain trust like this one engaged in a fascinating discussion and I can promise you that all three guys have some amazing stories to tell us over the next couple of years, and of course the ones we’re most attached to, will come from peter Jackson and the Halo universe in the shape of both a movie and a new game experience.
I had the pleasure of moderating the panel, and I can tell you I was awe-struck, star-struck and maybe went a little in my pants with nervousness. Who’s to say?
The RTS has been universally well-received, but has raised as many questions as it answered. One common theme in our forums, in spite of the fact that we telegraphed the answer over and over again, was that this was somehow going to impact Halo 3. It is not. Halo 3 is exactly on schedule, and the RTS is not costing us one US minute of development time. It is as simple as that.
We’re not making the RTS, we’re not programming it and we’re not designing it. Our trusted friends at Ensemble, who have more than a few super successful RTS under their belt, are handling it beautifully. We’re making sure it stays faithful and true to the Halo universe and letting them take care of the nitty gritty. We have played it and I can tell you, it’s going to be amazing.
The Peter Jackson project is shrouded in a level of secrecy that makes us seem like blabbermouths. But Mr. Jackson’s vision, imagination and passion for the project both impressed and surprised me and Sketch. The man loves his Halo and more importantly, he totally gets it. His plans for the Halo universe and Wingnut Interactive are stunning and I wish we could tell you more.
We also spent some time playing the games of our friends and partners – and jaws were dropped when we tried out some four player death match on Gears of War. Crikey, those are some startling graphics and the huge, impossibly detailed multiplayer levels had us gasping.
Alan Wake is also a graphical powerhouse, with the most realistic environments and lighting I have ever laid eyes on.
We also played a bunch of the “controversial” Shadowrun, and let me tell you (and I know Sketch agrees) there is no controversy required: Shadowrun is a blast. It has a way higher learning curve than Halo, yet we found ourselves tearing around a multiplayer CTF match in no time at all. Sketch, I should note, pwned me at Shadowrun, but I totally shot his face off in GOW.
I loves me some HDTV and HD content. Don’t get me started on how annoyed I am at having owned an HD set for five years, but that I can only buy content for it now. That’s why I’m super-excited about the Microsoft HD DVD drive I just played with.
MS announced that the thing would ship in November at a retail cost of $199 US, and will include the fancy multimedia remote, as well as a bundled copy of Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Doesn’t matter if you own it already, since you NEED the HD version if you’re buying the drive, right?
The HD DVD drive is very, very quiet, and since the 360 drive doesn't run while playing HD DVDs, the whole thing is relatively silent (lord knows the 360 can make a noise when everything is running all at once). It has a small, laptop-style external supply, but that is not final. I assume that means the final one will be smaller, if anything. And I don't know if it will even definitely be external. I assume so, but it’s tiny, and the drive connects to your 360 with a simple USB cable. Speaking of which, it also has two USB ports on the back, so that you can re-attach your wireless adapter to the drive and not have to sacrifice the space on the back of the 360.
The thing starts up, from disc insertion to movie playing, in less than 10 seconds. This will be interesting news to owners of existing HD DVD and Blu Ray players, some of which had startup times of up to a minute! Ouch. The fast built-in OS of the 360 seems to be the deciding factor here.
The interface for disc eject and play is very simple and easy to use - a small circle split in two that lets you play or eject a disc from either drive. That of course means you can have a game and a movie in at the same time, and simply pick between the two. That interface may not be final, but right now it’s a boon if you’re playing one game frequently.
Speaking of random images people send to us, we received these very cool images from a Halo fan on the Zune project in Microsoft. I'll leave you with what he or she may or may not have sent us.