Frankie's Bungie Updates - April 30, 2004
Originally hosted at bungie.net
Short and largely pointless this week, as the team crunches, the marketing guys are swept into the maelstrom of E3, and just about everyone this week, not coincidentally, is working on a secret part of the game that they can't even really hint at.
- Nathan's Animation Station
Nathan's on a roll this week, saying, "I think I saw John's knuckles bleeding this week. He was talking to his knuckles too...it was either to give them congratulations from really hard work on the Elite, or gently spoken murmurs of encouragement before John pops me one. I am unsure which is true, but I do know that the Elites' animations are very tight.
Buddman has been working on another top-secret character while taking some time out to calm the Jackal...quiet and collected, Mike Budd trudges through the toughest characters to make them awesome. I wish we could say more about his secret character, since it will rock harder than a quarry when you see it in-game.
The Billmation studio is still going strong. While working on Grunt animations we occasionally get blessed by poorly done Christopher Walken impressions coupled with a nice rendition of "Can You feel the Love Tonight" as sung by Nathan Lane. The scariest part is the Nathan Lane as Christopher Walken impression. I wanted to run away but couldn't since I had just soiled myself from laughter and slipped on my own feces.
I have been tightening the multiplayer Spartan animations, addressing bug after bug. I am thinking of changing my name from "bentllama" to "Orkin Man", though I don't think I will need the hardhat. I also have blisters on my palms from those damn S controllers. They have this plastic seam of razor along side them that really dig into your hands while clutching the controller in anger. When the multiplayer maps get to a stage where everyone is getting angry, then you know they are fun. Mark my words Jaime, I will get you back...you and you pony named 'One trick'!"
- David's Bells and Whistles
David Candland, User Interface master and all around superhuman, says, "This past week or so was devoted to experimenting with new elements into the Heads-Up Display. Right now in the HUD, there are new bits mixed alongside old bits. We're trying something different with the look of the health and shield system people knew in Halo 1, so eventually that is the biggest difference people will notice. We're also toying with an icon system instead of text to warn you about low ammo, reloads and no grenades. Cuban has been huge in getting these working slick. We're also bringing back a favorite feature that has been missing in Bungie games since the Myth series.
In UI land, we've been getting all the half-built, work in progress menus to look un-broken. And- as Frank knows, I've been going back and forth with Parsons (I'm winning) about what we should reveal about our secret Xbox Live plans that will change the way people play online forever. Not only have we got a system that fixes the bad things about playing on Live, but one that makes the experience even more fun. We're shooting to make playing on Live as close to the amount of fun as playing at a friend's LAN party. This plan will put an end to war and poverty. It will align the planets and bring them into universal harmony, allowing meaningful contact with all forms of life." From extra terrestrials to common household pets... OK maybe not. But it will be cool. You saw it first here, kids."
No update from engineering this week, except to say that they've been fixing bugs and tuning something you'll see in a week or two.
- Butcher's Block
Chris Butcher has been working on performance fixes. Framerates are pretty smooth right now, but Chris has been finding and eradicating "stupid little things" taking up valuable CPU time that shouldn't be.
Chris and the guys have been arguing a ton over the balance of vehicles versus infantry, but points out that it's really fun now. Other big arguments going on right now on exactly how a level should be lit. The way it is now is fantastic (says me) and it captures the blazing yellow of a mid sunrise, complete with the bloom and glare you get when the sun is still low in the sky. Better yet, you look straight up, and there's the pale moon, still visible before full daylight. Very atmospheric.
That level (on Earth) also has tons of cool structures that obscure and reveal the glare of the sun as you run around. Looks coooool. Don't know what they could possibly be arguing about, to be honest.
The bump-maps in Halo 2 are really very clever. The stuff in the original Halo was pretty cool - you know, the big metal bulkheads with their ridges and extrusions, but the art and the tech for that stuff has come on a long way since then.
For example, I was just taking a close look at a yellow/black warning decal on a barrier, and it was very slightly bumpy, just like painted cast-iron, with a gorgeous specular highlight. I can stare at that crap for hours. I also find myself "skimming" close to wall surfaces, pock-marked, cratered pavements, trying to "beat" the optical illusion a bump map creates.
Even the Chief is nicely bump-mapped, with the not coincidental side-effect that this frees up more polys and memory for enhanced animation. As a matter of fact, the new Chief actually uses fewer polys than the old one. Which to me, is kind of a mind-BLAM! Because he looks about seven console generations better. To me.
Another funny thing about our bump, texture and light maps is that every time I load up a build, something I thought was finished and gorgeous has been replaced by something better, and I invariably find that an old texture I thought was finished, was a placeholder. The upshot of that is that the environments are a lot more varied and organic than I expected.
Until next week, which if anything, will be even more mental than this, enjoy Mister's pop art debut.
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