Bungie Weekly Update
Ha, so you saw the movie news did you? As a story in Hollywood newspaper Variety noted, Universal and Fox wanted to renegotiate the Halo movie deal at the 11th hour and Microsoft and its partners, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh refused. Well, there's lots of stuff going on behind the scenes that we simply can't talk about, but Microsoft's official statement on the matter goes something like this:
"We are disappointed that Universal and Fox wanted to significantly renegotiate the financial points of the deal. But the Halo franchise is hugely popular and our goal remains the same - to find a partner that shares our passion and will creatively collaborate with us to best represent the story and spirit of the Halo franchise. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and the rest of the creative team are dedicated to ensuring the Halo movie becomes a reality. We are already in discussions with potential partners who recognize the value of the Halo brand and its appeal to consumers worldwide."
The reality here at Bungie towers is a feeling of optimism, satisfaction and happiness for reasons we can't go into. Frankly we're interested in making the best movie, and it's possible that a partner who's more concerned with numbers, might not be the best partner for what's more vitally a creative process. Suffice it to say that Peter, Neill, Fran and Microsoft are as excited and dedicated as ever and WETA continues the pre-production process. Actually, when you do finally get to see the stuff WETA has already made, you will probably pee a little.
I wish this was Bnet's story to reveal to you, but it has lots more to do with what Microsoft biz guys and the powerful and influential Mr. Jackson are up to, than with yours truly. Hopefully however, we can share excellent news with you in the next few weeks.
EGM, Halo 3 and the first sightings!
You've probably already heard some buzz online about a little event we had here at Bungie Towers several weekends ago. We invited a few close friends in the media to come and get some hands-on time with an early "Pre-Alpha" multiplayer build of Halo 3. Naturally the game isn't done by any means, and this was very much still a work-in-progress, but the guys here have put a lot of hard work into the build and we have enough cool things implemented that we were comfortable giving the press a look behind the curtain.
Although the graphics are waaay early (lots of placeholder textures and default lighting, so bear that in mind when you do finally see the shots) the gameplay is polished enough that we were confident the players would have fun.
On Saturday, we were joined by the crew from EGM and 1up.com along with a few visitors from Famitsu Japan and Gamer Magazine in Mexico. On Sunday we hosted a variety of game journalists from all over Europe - about 15 total if I recall, ranging from Finland to France to Sweden to Portugal. We had extra security on hand in case anyone got out of line or refused to abide by our no camera policy, but much to Jerome and Laszlo's dismay, they never had to step in and "regulate." Maybe next time.
Over the course of the day we showed them all sorts of neat things, while of course keeping way more things secret. I can't really tell you what we showed them (or didn't show them) but you shouldn't have to wait too much longer. In the U.S., EGM should be arriving in the mailbox for subscribers in just about two weeks, followed by a flurry of tidbits and teases on 1up.com. Once the cat is out of the bag, you'll be hearing a lot more from us. Promise.
For now, I can tell you that we had a blast and didn't mind giving up our weekend to stay at work and pwn, I mean schmooze, the press. We played a variety of games on three different maps (NEWS FLASH - HALO 3 WILL HAVE AT LEAST 3 MP MAPS!) and some of our guests were actually really good and picked up Halo 3 in no time at all. One of the best things about working on and releasing a new Halo game is that initial period of time when nobody knows the game as well as we do. For those few days/weeks/hours (depending on the player), it's pure bliss as we use our advanced knowledge to dominate noobs. Heck, at this early stage, even Marty can unleash a can of whoop ass on outsiders (seen in the photo below along with Rob and Craig, partners from MGS).
It's always great to host a group of people from all over the world, all drawn together by an interest in Halo and Bungie. We put a lot of work into getting things prepared for that event and now we're all eagerly awaiting the stories to see how it all pans out. In the name of journalistic integrity, none of the reporters would really tell us much about their impressions of the game or the overall visit. Just like you, we'll have to wait and read it ourselves. Regardless of what EGM and 1up actually writes about us and the game, we can at least take some comfort in the fact that we totally destroyed them in a late night humpday rematch. (regular readers will recall that last year EGM spanked us handily on two occasions in Halo 2 challenges)
Lastly, we will leave you with one additional tease from this event -a word that was heard quite often over the course of our daily matches - "Brokeback." It'll all make sense soon. Trust me.
Lots of shenanigans happen in the world of Halo every week - and a strong and vibrant community is continually adding new stuff to the universe, from tournaments to Machinima. This is a whirlwind tour of stuff you may have missed this week:
- Cavegirls FFA Tournament for Charity.
The Cavegirls are one of the more stable (and attractive) Halo groups out there, and they're hosting a tournament to raise money for a very noble cause.
- KP BXRs , gets bant. [Yes, really.]
KP's hypocrisy knows no bounds.
The author of the latest Halo novel gets grilled by the grillmasters.
Go check out screenshots of Halo Unyeilding's latest CG/Machinima creation.
- Mothergoat released some cool fan music .
It's funny to think that mothergoat lives a few blocks from us now. OMG sued.
- The results of the fan-run Promotional Video contest on Bnet are in.
- Tied the Leader celebrated its one year anniversary.
- HBO's MPRRS (Movie Peer Rating review System) passed a bunch of machinima as being fit for your eyeballs:
o All Star
From time to time, we ask the angriest man in the world, Mat Noguchi, Bungie's tools programmer, serious questions to see if we can finally make that vein on his temple pop.
How many people has Noguchi killed with a chainsaw this week?
Eternal torment and ridicule is far more satiating.
How much am your desk weigh now?
If it could ever happen, who would win: Frankie, or his abomination of a creation, Mr. Chief?
In popularity, Mr. Chief; In reality, Frankie: It's really easy to erase a cartoon.
Have you done any work at all for Halo 3, or do you just yell at other, better, people to do it for you?
You are both wrong and 2/3 correct.
Dry Ice asks:
What is the coolest tool or program that you have created lately for Halo3 development?
Stuff I wrote 3 years ago. I looked into a crystal ball formed in the pit of my soul that predicted the future and out popped the code that would not compile until now.
Ross Mills asks:
1. Within the limits of NDA and things you are allowed to talk about, what has been the biggest challenge in terms of design and coding in Halo 3 compared to Halo 2? The larger areas all being active at once? The graphics engine? Or was it simply learning to write for a new console?
For me: None of those. For everyone else: All of those.
2. Are there any amusing comments hidden within Halo 2's code that we are allowed to know of, as there were in the 1st Halo?
And I quote: "Yet another tag group crash due to loading a billion tags fixed."
Is there one Bungie Employee that always sets off more flames of immeasurable hatred than any other?
Yes. Former, though.
Is there a Bungie Employee who can calm the beast? Who even the heat of your massive rage can't withstand?
No. When I spin in place, it is because the world rotates around me.
What would be your favorite program or tool you've built for Halo 3... Does it involve some way of channeling your rage into a digital format?
Haven't you watched Lawnmower Man?
THE DON WAN asks:
Mat: Why does Bob think he is more awesome than THE DON WAN?
How did Bob escape from his cage this time? Someone get me a shotgun.
Do you remember what you promised me when you were intoxicated at E3 Bungie party? You told me after you fell in the bushes on the way to the bathroom. Shishka heard it.
Shiska's attempt to blackmail me is futile. This year I drank way too much water to do anything too stupid besides put out a couple of fires. And write my name in something.
What's happened to Noguchi's semi-regular Livejournal updates? They were the epitome of "quite interesting".
There is not enough space in time for me to reveal the secrets of the universe while working on Halo 3. Maybe later.
Technical questions Noguchi will never be able to answer for us, but I'll ask anyway:
How has adding HDR lighting changed the tools and content pipeline used by Bungie for Halo 3?
More people have to think less about non-obvious technical details in order to get things looking better. At least that's what I keep seeing around the office.
I'm assuming (from watching various videos put out by Bungie over the years) that you use 3ds Max for geometry asset creation and a separate world building tool for placing objects and bringing it all together. Does the world building tool running on a PC use the same engine as the game itself?
Obviously. How else would we do what we do as well as we do without making the game in the game itself?
Has anything ever crawled out from under the pile of crap on your desk?
Nothing can defeat the desk of Noguchi. I tried once, and all I got was a stalemate.
How come when you knock Johnson off into space from Cairo in the beginning of Halo 2 he doesn't die even though he's not wearing a space suit?
The same reason Johnson could survive a sordid night of passion with an Elite *and* Alpha Halo exploding.
A of T asks:
What sort of skills/qualifications/demo work would you recommend for someone wanting to become a games tools programmer (aside from anger managment, and I don't mean their own)?
Prove that you are the smartest and most important person evar.
Eisen Feuer asks:
Have there ever been plans to harness your rage and the gravitational pull of your desk to help power the building and lower electricity bills?
Electricity cannot escape the inexorable pull of the vituperative stream of rage that courses through my veins. I refer you to Maxwell's fifth equation.
Have you ever dreamt about coding?
I dream in legible color.
How does one go about making love to a glass window? Is it a practiced art or does it come naturally?
The Bungie Waaahmbulance
With the arrival of some new, more horrifying ban tools on the horizon, we thought now would be a good time to remind modders, cheats and miscreants that they really should stop now. If they think a ban from matchmaking was bad, they've got another thing coming. I am deadly serious too.
Anyhoo, here's a selection of amusing communiqués from assorted idiots and one smart person.
This one was submitted through our automated help system for reporting problems. We ask the questions in bold. Sometimes the answers don't necessarily contain the information we need to solve the problem:
(Please complete the following sentences.)
What I was doing was: not much
What I expected to happen was: go into a forum fall of losers and nerds( which i myself am not...)
What happened was: ur F*** thort i was violating sum nerd code
The date is: go f*** urself
The time and time zone is: ya mum
Additional information that may help is: You guys are such cheese dicks
I don't think we ban individuals for dodging. I am pretty sure we don't ban office buildings for dodging. In fact, I don't even really know what dodging in this context means. But it's nice to see the Banhammer keeping corporate America in line. But here we go:
my entire office was banned from xbox.com forums for the actions of one person, who no longer is with us. so we are wondering what we can do about this, or if there is anything. we are still able to log in at home except for the guy who he sharred an office with he got a ban for 140 some years for dodging, which was not his fault. further more the guy who got our office banned is not even a member of xbox live or even a gammer. he just liked to get in on what we were doing and see what he could stir up. please reply to this and tell us what we can do to fix this.
Sometimes brevity is the soul of conscience:
You guys suck.. i dont care we pay you, you shut up and turn on my xbox live.. thank you.. no appoligies black list me some more i dont care!
And sometimes we get letters to the Banhammer alias that aren't stupid, or even guilty. We agree with this guy, but I'm using this as an opportunity to remind folks that Bungie bans for cheating and modding only - not for social behavior. That responsibility is on Live's shoulders.
It is a common understanding that the community of Halo 2 players on X-Box Live is....difficult to get along with, to say the least. I'm confused as to how this has been allowed to perpetuate. I go on the Bungie web site and check out the updates, but it seems as though the major concern is the excess of cheaters and modders. True; they are a big problem, but I don't see why the fact that members members of Halo 2 Live are extreme ***holes seems to be completely ignored. I'd like to be able to play on X-Box live without someone saying that they had skull-****ed my deceased mother the night prior. I admit that I am very vulgar, but these guys have no souls. I'm wondering if it would be possible for a couple of Bungie members that play Halo 2 on X-Box Live to give out warnings and temporary bannings for people that act like complete ****** bags. I understand that I could simply not wear the headset, but I enjoy joking around after a match. I find it useful to tell my teammates the locales of enemies and listen for any info they can give me. I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd E-mail me back concerning your stance on this issue. Thanks for hearing (err....reading) me out.