Frankie's Bungie Updates - April 16, 2004
Originally hosted at bungie.net
Welcome to another Bungie Weekly update, hosted right here on our brand new forums. Things are getting busy around here. The pace is quickening, the late night Indian food is flowing and our completion date looms on the horizon (whatever you want to write here). But here's a glimpse at what's going on in-studio.
A week or two ago, I went on and on about BSPs, describing these alleged "Binary Separation Planes" and their effect on the world. Turns out I was misinformed, and after programmers galore rolled their eyes at me and snorted when I passed them in the hallway, one approached me with the same embarrassed care of a co-worker explaining that I might have BO. Thanks Cuban.
So a BSP, as it turns out is actually a "Binary Space Partition," which is a whole different egg. Not only that, it's an incredibly complicated algorithm that has no simple analog to a real life situation, so after toying with descriptions of coat hangers rotating inside a glass cubes, or Imperial Star Destroyers parallel parking in Manhattan, I gave up. Suffice to say, Halo 2's got 'em and they're cool.
Although I've grown quite fond of the placeholder trees in one of the environments, I spied a "real" tree on an environment artist's monitor just a day or so ago. It was the best tree I've seen outside of RalliSport 2, so let's hope it finds its way into the game somehow. After all, the Ewoks we're introducing into the game have got to live somewhere...
Joe Staten is very pleased with a new technique he's incorporating into cinemas for the game. Thanks to some code-wizardry, he's able to render a camera-image to a texture,. In this case, it was a view of an epic conflict through a window of a human ship. Joe says the engineers claim the technique can be applied to any surface, and one programmer told him he could do it on a biped. So, like, we could display an entire cinematic on a Grunt's eyeball!
Anyway, the point is that instead of flat-looking video outside the window, or on a video screen, we'll be able to show the actual, alternate 3D scene.
What was the dramatic scene in question? Well, Parsons calls it a pant-filler, I personally would call it a diaper-bulger..
John Butkus, animator-deluxe, has been working on Elite animations, so that when they throw plasma grenades at you it looks totally convincing. Even cooler is their melee attack animations, which John is making weapon-specific rather than generic. That means that when you run into a crowd of Elites, they'll smash in your visor with total realism using a Plasma Rifle or a Needler.
The turret animations are also being honed so that a player manning a turret looks even more badass. Right up until he gets sniped, that is. If you want to see what John's up to now, there's a webcam, slung low in the animator's pit, so you can make sure they're working (without seeing what's on their screens) and luckily, none of them wears a kilt.
Jaime Griesemer, always a beacon of hope for the weekly update, didn't disappoint, and tells it best himself, "The Ghost handling is final. Eamon made it bank into turns, so it feels more like a physical vehicle and less like a magic floaty one. It's also much lower to the ground than Halo 1, which increases the feeling of speed, makes it react to the ground more and makes it easier to run people over. Shiek also added some ground effect lights which "connect" it to the ground even more."
Woot! Ghosts rule! But Jaime has more to say, "We've almost got a final list of combat dialog triggers in preparation for recording in a few weeks. I'm pretty excited because we're pushing the system a lot farther than we did in Halo 1.
And he continues, "I've also been spending time with Dave and Paul working on one of the human-themed levels. We're trying to make a real, sensible human space with a believable structure, instead of the ant-hill type environments you usually see. That means that rooms and halls fit together to fill the interior space, all the walls have reasonable thicknesses, all the hallways lead to actual places, all the rooms have purposes and are connected to the other rooms logically.
C Paul and the audio fellas have been doing some very, very, very cool stuff. Fun with real audio, if you will. C Paul and the guys have been tuning the sounds for Ghost and Warthog. Lots of crashes, smashes, explosions, scrapes and sizzles. The vehicle damage is a noisy business!
C Paul has also been thinking about soundscapes, noises to put in one of the new multiplayer levels. To illustrate, the Lockout multiplayer level you've seen has some of my favorites; wind whistling through narrow walkways, really eerie, lonely sounds. They mute of course when you enter a building, but that simply makes you feel more exposed and afraid when you're out in the open. It's a subtle but brilliant touch, and a lot more organic and natural than the sounds in the original Halo. And of course there are simply more of them.
Other than that, the sound guys have been drinking too much coffee and talking about Marty's plans to become a legendary wedding march composer - a reader sent in a brilliant movie of he and his gorgeous wife being introduced at their reception - to the stirring choir and strings of Marty's Halo intro.
- CP Use
Butcher hooked up some new multiplayer code, and as usual, has been toiling away at bug fixes to make networking for Live more stable and robust. One really tough project this week was to finalize a "budget" for how much CPU time each game system is allowed to use. As you can imagine, it's essential that little detail gets nailed down properly...
We relaunched Bungie.net, to some acclaim, a few complaints and lots and lots of visitors. We don't kid ourselves that they came to see me and Sketch, we know they came for the new screenshots and the slick new look. I have to say though that the amount of work the web and test teams put into the site is incredible. Brian and the guys put in sick hours to make the site look and feel the way it does. The designers and the art team made it look fantastic and the test team made it work! Mostly! After all, I did just about everything you can imagine to break it. Including the only ugly page on the site. The Weekly Update archive.
That's all for this week folks, but there's plenty of other junk to check out on the site, and check this nasty crap out...
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