Frankie's Bungie Updates - September 3, 2004
Originally hosted at HaloPlanet
Today is officially designated "Final Push" day, which means that there is about a month of hardcore development left, followed by success and joy, with any luck. Which means this update is short!
- Screenshots! We've been taking screens for upcoming magazines and we had to enlist some help. Brian is STILL getting married, or making a baby, or whatever it is you do, and so we're short handed. So we press ganged a lucky (kinda!) old school 7th Column member who was only too pleased to run around some multiplayer levels, blowing stuff up, sniping Lorraine and generally causing cool stuff to happen so we could take screenshots of it. We also forced him to sign an NDA so restrictive, that he has to breathe a certain way for the next six months, and is only allowed to wear elastic-waist pants.
Asked to describe the game in three words or less (and remember CENSORED has seen things nobody else has, he replied, "Oh. My. God."
- The game continues to come on in leaps and bounds. It's advanced enough that we were even able to start work on an upcoming strategy guide. Certainly the multiplayer aspect of the strategy can be written right now, since very little is going to change in terms of rules, weapon placements or map layouts. Multiplayer strategy itself is a cavernous, never-ending thing. There are so many rules, gametypes, variants, weapons and vehicles, that even a simple list of "things" takes up a few pages, never mind the strategies that accompany them.
Single player strategy is another matter entirely, but lots of stuff is pretty far along, and some levels are being described as mostly finished. Yesterday I found a Carneyhole* that let me wander the rooftops of Old Mombasa, making hairier and hairier jumps. It was kinda scary, and completely pointless. But I do love a good Carneyhole.
- Nathan's has two 6am deadlines coming up. Both Saturdays. Now think about that for a moment. 6am? Saturday? Who schedules deadlines like that? I mean, why not noon on Friday? Or 10am on Monday? Does anyone even know what 6am on Saturday looks like? For all I know (and I am colossally, impossibly lazy) 6am on Saturday could be bright green, covered in Chia and spew flaming Pez into a sky filled with barking helicopters.
Anyhoo, Nathan's two deadlines are - content complete for gameplay, this Saturday, 6am. That means, any animations or animation fixes for gameplay, will be complete, on Saturday, at 6am. The next deadline is the same thing, but for cinematics. If you look at the gameplay right now, you probably wouldn't be able to spot a single problem with animation (which is good, since his deadline is in about 12 hours) but there are still tweaks, additions and fixes to be made to the cinematics, which are coming along beautifully.
- Mat Noguchi's desk is like Satan's underwear drawer. If you want to know what the universe will look like when the Big Crunch finally sucks the entropy back to a singularity, just go over and look at his desk. Honestly, it's like a Hieronymous Bosch painting of Toys R Us. It is the messiest desk of all time, piled high with garbage, layers of paper, veins of old snack substances, and supported by an intricate network of columns...well, technically they're half full cans of Mountain Dew. Soon it will collapse, and certainly it will destroy us all.
Ironic then (you knew I was getting to a point, right?) that Noguchi spent this week cleaning up Halo 2 code of what he calls "Two years of crap that people filled up our code base with." Basically Noguchi's task is to ensure that the game fits on the disc, which won't affect the game performance (none of the extraneous messages to PookySchnookums, dead-end utilities or unused graphics actually affect code) but it may have some effect on loading speeds, since the disc sectors are bound to be more efficiently jammed with Halo goodness.
Mat promises never to clean his desk, saying that he will instead "wait 'til it becomes something new, evolves and escapes from its terrestrial prison."
- Adrian Perez has been fixing little gameplay exploits - or "features" as cheats call them. One of these is one some, but not all of you will know about from Halo one. If four players stand on the respawn point of an active camouflage power up, and they are all there at the same moment it reappears, you guessed it, all four become simultaneously invisible and take off on a rampage of destruction. Halo 2, for what it's worth, checks to see how many jerks are standing there, and awards the power up to whoever is most on it.
- The manual shipped. Completely. Now I'm getting more of those strange requests from Japan asking what "jerk-face" and "ass-clown" mean. The manual looks great. I think. Anyway, if you enjoy the manual, just remember, it's about the only aspect of your Halo 2 experience I had anything positive to do with. Congrats to the UX team for going above and beyond the call of duty. On November 9th, you'll have a better idea of the hard work and talent they put into it.
- Jay points out that they still have dozens of scenes of cinematic foley to implement, but was glad to report that they had recorded a crowd scene at last. The crowds in this case being Jackals and Grunts, played by Bungie employees, yelling at the top of their voices in an acoustically correct makeshift recording studio. Much to the annoyance of the people working in the offices connected to it.
- Marty is putting music in the game. He is 95% composed. And by that, we mean of course that he has composed 95% of the music, since he himself may or may not be composed. I have only seen him once this week, and he was gripping his coffee cup very hard, so I was scared to ask how he was. Jay says the final deadlines for audio are about a week away, but that he and the audio team will be tuning, tweaking and perfecting until Harold physically drags them away. Technically, all the raw data should be done in about a week, but there will then be lots (a relative term these days) of time to manipulate stuff that's already in the game.
- Jay brought his inflatable queen sized bed. He had to measure his office first to make sure it fit. It does.
He also recently added some effects to the Rocket launcher projectile sound. The new-improved noise includes a kind of hollow echo as the rocket tube empties. It basically sounds a lot more dangerous. The rocket itself sounds absolutely terrifying and leaves you in no doubt that it is headed straight for your face.
- Dave Dunn and the invincible environment artists are fixing bugs. Bugs of course in environment art can mean all sorts of things, including missing textures or odd lighting effects. No new content is being created, except to patch holes in things, or fix faults. But the basic upshot is that apart from some wacky lighting and two or three transparent green placeholder crates, all of the environments look finished, to my eye at least. The artists, being artists are lovingly poring over every pixel.
Carneyhole* - Imaginary hole placed in geometry that Chris Carney hides in his multiplayer maps so he can hide, popping up occasionally to snipe. The hole is full of guns and health and ammo.
So here's Mister Chief, searching, futilely on Zanzibar for Carney.
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