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Frankie's Bungie Updates - September 17, 2004

Originally hosted at bungie.net

Bungie Weekly Update : Special Q&A Edition

For the latest Weekly Update we decided to mix things up a bit and try something a little different. With poor Frankie stranded in LA going on his fourth day without sleep and everyone else in the studio madly crunching away on the game, a traditional update looked very unlikely. So, instead of Frankie's usual insightful and witty commentary on the latest happenings within the studio, the forums were used to take questions from Bungie.net members. The flood gates were opened around noon and within 2 hours we had over 16 pages of questions. Then, for the next hour, Frankie and myself went into New Mombasa and did our best to answer as many questions as we could.

To make things easier to digest for those who weren't here to experience it live yesterday, I'm recapping the whole thing here in this handy top story. And, as an added bonus, I'm even going back and answering a few additional questions! (though obviously there are dozens and dozens that we can't or won't be able to answer just yet...)

So, without further ado, here's the special Q&A addition of the Bungie Weekly Update!

  • Q: KPaul asks: Does Shishka still have that evil look in his eye despite the fact that he's working at his dream job?

    A: Shishka is as evil as ever.. in fact, he's got a new nickname courtesy of Frankie : Evil Lord British (look it up). Though his eyes are now mere narrow slits due to his lack of sleep and being overworked like a kid in a Cathy Lee sweatshop.

  • Q: TRfeuer asks: uhmmm...exactly how many guns will be usable in multiplayer?

    A: We're not able to give a specific quantity for this, but if you do some research with all the coverage from the recent Beta, you'll see quite a few covered. (the latest reveals are things like the Covenant Carbine, the Covenant "Beam Rifle" (aka Cov Sniper Rifle), the Brute Shot, Magnum (pistol), etc..)

  • Q: Sticky Fingaz asks: Can I block the plasma sword?

    A: No, you can dodge it, but there's no block button. Quick horizontal dodging is essential. And you need to remember that they can dart at you vertically very quickly.

  • Q: ApoX asks: Is it still possible to do wacky stunts? Is it still a mind blowing game without Live?

    A: Yes and Yes! Frankie himself has already launched Warthogs way over the sea wall in Zanzibar and we've had fun blowing ghosts through the wheel. With explosives and a little creativity, let the good times roll.
    While there are a lot of new features designed for Xbox Live, rest assured that the team has spent a lot of time ensuring that Splitscreen and System Link games are better than ever. With up to 16 players on a system link, LAN parties will now be taken to whole new levels.

  • Q: akba asks: Will the shade be featured in multiplayer for the Covenant? I've never heard or seen anything about it in a while, so I was just wondering if it's been dropped.

    A: A Covenant turret does still exist and yes, it is able to be used in multiplayer. Turret type can be configured via the variant customization settings, which now have a lot more options compared to Halo 1.

  • Q: Smoke Dog 4 Ever asks: Will there be more than the Ghost in terms of flying vehicles?

    A: Nope, just the Banshee. The other flying vehicles are humongous and would basically carpet bomb the whole map at once. Which would be fun, we admit. But a little unfair.

  • Q: doesitmatterno asks: Will there be the old version of the Assault Rifle in Halo 2?

    A: No, the assault rifle as it was known in Halo 1 will not be back in Halo 2. For high rate of fire shenanigans, the SMG is now the go-to gun. The Battle Rifle also rocks and is better suited for longer ranged opponents though the rate of fire is slower.

  • Q: Hammurder asks: How exactly does the Guass Hog work? It seems to me like it would be overpowered, at least in multiplayer. Is the Wraith's cockpit open like the Scorpion or closed like in Halo 1? Can the Banshee fire it's weapon while boosting?

    A: 1. The Guass Hog is indeed powerful, though it requires precise aiming and doesn't have much of a damage radius. The designers put a lot of testing time into making the game as balanced as possible so you won't see something like the pistol from Halo 1 this time around.
    2. The Wraith has a closed cockpit, like in Halo 1, but it can be boarded still.
    3. The Banshee, like the Ghost, can not fire weapons while boosting. It's a trade off.

  • Q: mr2t159 asks: Will the Banshee in Halo 2 have a plasma mortar like in the PC version?

    A: Yes, it will. As a matter of fact I just pulled off a nice barrel-roll and plasma mortar bomb in Campaign mode.

  • Q: BadKarma asks: what's the word with the health system?

    A: You've probably read this already in the flood of beta coverage that's come out recently but I can clarify a little bit... There is no health meter like in Halo 1. You now only have a shield meter. As you take damage your shield meter will deteriorate until it runs out, then it flashes for a few seconds and you can only take a little more damage before you die. If you retreat and take cover, your shield will fully recharge within a couple of seconds.

  • Q: MasterChief420 asks: 1) I know and understand (I think) the ranking system that Bungie is implementing, and I think its a good idea. However, will Halo2 still track indvidual stats, such as total kills/deaths, number of melee kills, or number of times I've been splattered under an enemy's 'Hog tires? Since Halo2 is using an 'experience point' kind of ranking system, tracking these kind of stats seperatly when playing with your buddies is possible, right?

    A: The post game carnage report has been beefed up from Halo 1 and will feature a lot of new tidbits of information about the game you just played. On Bungie.net, we will be tracking a variety of player and clan stats, but the final details aren't locked yet. The good news is that we can continue to roll out new goodies on Bungie.net even after the game has been released.

  • Q: Battlecruiser asks: Can you import your own emblems for use on Halo 2?

    A: No, because the first emblem imported would be either a swear or boobs, neither of which would make it past muster. He also asked if players could high-five each other. Which I will not dignifty with an answer

  • Q: mrbuchanan117 asks: why didn't u guys release a demo of Halo 2 to the public?... I could understand not releasing a single player demo, but I thought u guys should have released a multiplayer demo...

    A: There are a number of reasons why we didn't release a public demo for Halo 2. Like Halo 1, it's possible one will come out sometime after the game is released. Creating a fully self sustained polished demo takes a lot of work and is a big distraction from working on the core game itself. It would have been a big drain on our resources to split off and focus on a demo and frankly, it's not really necessary.

  • Q: EastBeast asks: Wow, thanks Bungie! I'd like to know more about the Bungie team's background. Where did everyone go to college? What did they major in? Do you guys have days where you wake up and smile because people like us love you?

    A: Well, we have a big and diverse group of people that come from all over the place... Some people have posted some info about themselves on our bio pages here on Bungie.net and you'll also get a behind the scenes glimpse at the team in the upcoming Halo 2 bonus DVD.
    I wake up and smile every day because my job kicks ass. Right now people are exhausted and not too many smiles are going around. However, in a few weeks, we'll be all smiles. =)

  • Q: Spartan287 asks: will old multiplayer maps like Blood Gulch still be in the game?

    A: We're not ready to commit to the full scope of the maps but the team has heard everyone's wishes and requests for some of the old favorites so who knows, it's definitely possible.

  • Q: LooseShooter asks: Can you use all vehicles on all levels?

    A: No, like Halo, you can only use vehicles on levels to which they are suited. You cannot for example, use a Tank in Lockout. On levels where vehicles are enabled you will be able to customize them with any vehicles that we've tested to work well on that map. Just like Halo.

  • Q: Rcop asks: How much better is the shield on Mark VI than on Mark V?

    A: The Chief's new Mark VI armor kicks ass. The biggest difference in the armor is the new faster recharge rate on the VI... plus it just looks cooler.

  • Q: Juicy Poot asks: Is there going to be a way in multiplayer to choose which weapons u can have in the game, like lets say i just wanted to take the rocket launcher out and leave the others in. Is that possible..... And is there a way to take the goodies out like the overshield and camo. If not there definetely should be a way to take those out for your own gametypes.

    A: The different settings available to be customized in multiplayer games is greatly expanded over the options in Halo 1. You will have control over various starting primary and secondary weapons and various weapon sets. And you can also choose whether or not to have power-ups in your game.

  • Q: Vmax asks: Will Bungie staff be playing on Live?

    A: Yes, as a matter of fact, Sketch and I both plan on pwning people for about a week or so while we have the advantage of knowing what the heck is going on. After that, we'll be doing some public events, secret enkillenating sessions and maybe even tournaments.

  • Q: Several people asked: Will the Boxer control scheme be available in Halo 2?

    A: Yes, Boxer is back.

  • Q: Swift asks: ok well my questions are what is the best part about working for bungie and about how much do you get paid?

    A: I'm sure everyone here would have a different answer, but for me, the best part of working here is just being a part of this awesome group of incredibly talented people making kick ass games. Playing Halo 2 every day for months and months before it gets released is a very nice perk. =) Huh? They pay people to do this?

  • Q: AtlasGod asks: How does the targeting on the Wraith plasma mortar work?

    A: Think of it like launching a grenade - you practice until you can shoot three point plasma shots accross the map. There is an arc indicator on the reticule, but you'll eventually learn to shoot instinctively.

  • Q: RCOP asks: Who does the MC voice in Halo 2 and can I see the person's picture?

    A: The same voice actor from Halo 1, Steve Downes, is back again as Master Chief. And no, you can't see him.

  • Q: Spartan 42 asks: Will there be a map editor on the bonus DVD?

    A: Nope. As a matter of fact the bonus DVD is a real-life DVD, NOT an Xbox game disc. It contains documentaries, featurettes and galleries deadling with the making of Halo 2. And it's rad. There is no planned map editor for Halo 2. We will have downloadable content in future, however.

  • Q: Durandal217 asks: Now that you guys are so close to the wire, what are the things you guys are tweaking? Are damage values for weapons and all that basically set in stone? Are there any features in danger of being cut?

    A: The end is in sight, but fine tuning and balancing will continue up until the last possible minute. The guys here are total perfectionists and will literally use every last second to make the game as good as it can be. Right now a lot of bug fixing and testing is commencing - people are playing the game with a magnifying glass looking for the occasional weird texture or unproperly lit corner of a room.

  • Q: Mjo1nir Hammer asks: What is the first thing ya'll are (Bungie people) going to do when the game is relesed?

    A: I'm sure it's different for everyone and we're all on different schedules... some people will be taking time off in just a few weeks but Frankie and I will be gearing up for the various marketing and PR stuff surrounding launch as well as finishing work on all the new Bungie.net stuff that will debut in November.
    When the game is out, I'll be playing it online, taking advantage of my 1 year head start and pwning noobs as much as I can before everyone catches on and eventually eclipses me. =)

  • Q: Halodude12344 asks: Ok...Will there be downloadable content? If so, how much?

    A: YES. Halo 2 will take advantage of Xbox Live's downloadable content functionality. Exactly when and how much hasn't been finalized yet. There will be enough there on day one to keep everyone happy for a while. I'm sure we'll have more to say about this in the months ahead, stay tuned.

  • Q: TriGun TTR asks: How many guests can I have on my machine on Xbox Live?

    A: You may have three other players, using split screen on Xbox Live at this time. The game is of course still under development, but yep. Three guests, plus you.

  • Q: The Twist asks: When is Bungie going to do a sequel to ONI or Marathon?

    A: Actually, ONI belongs to Take 2 Interactive now, Marathon we can't rule out completely, but there are no plans at this time.

  • Q: pckl300 asks: Why does the Halo 2 earpiece/headset cost about $50?!?

    A: I have no idea. The Halo 2 cutom earpiece/headset is made by Plantronics. We don't have anything to do with it. I can say that it's a super high quality headset like what you would find at a high volume call center. I can only assume that such a high quality comes at a higher price. For what it's worth, it is comfy and has better pick up and sound than the generic Live headset.

  • Q: Clefton Twain asks: Since vehicles are able to be destroyed, will they respawn in multiplayer or are they gone forever?

    A: Well, it depends. When you create a game, you can specify some vehicle respawn times and options in the game variant settings (similar to Halo PC).

  • Q: RCOP asks: Will the grunts still be cowardly and scream hysterical lines?

    A: Yep, those lovable Grunts are as funny and cowardly as ever, though some have learned a few new tricks since the last encounter.

  • Q: Halo2UMan asks: Can I just tool around in multiplayer maps on my own?

    A: Sure, you can do it two ways: Start a System Link game and never fear any intrusion (unless a burglar is upstairs and plugged into your LAN) or start a Live game on your own.

  • Q: Ringer asks: Nades - Capacity, still 4 conventional and 4 Covenant?

    A: Yup.

  • Q: empy asks: Are there enemies, guns and Vehicles that haven't been shown in any demos, magazines and websites interviews etc. Basicly are there more secrets :)?

    A: Yes.

  • Q: Metaphyber asks: Can you dual-wield a wepaon and a flag?

    A: Nope. You can't. Then it would play more like Team Slayer than CTF. There has to be a balance. Plus, that flag is heavy.

  • Q: Warbow asks: 1. Having seen Frankie's luck with women have you considered shaving your head? 2. Did the prizes for the Avatar contest ever get sent out?

    A: 1. Luck? You apparently don't know Frankie that well....
    2. And regarding the avatar contest... My apologies to everyone who worked so hard to do a great job making killer avatars. I'm not gonna lie - between being slammed at work and then being out for 2 weeks to get married and then being slammed again, I have not mailed out the promised prizes yet. Rest assured that those of you who did get back to me with your mailing info WILL GET A PRIZE. This year. You have my word. I hope to get those prizes out by the end of this month.

  • Now here's a few bonus questions we didn't have time to get to on Friday:

  • Q: slothboy asks:To what degree will we be able to edit gametypes in Multiplayer? For example, will be be able to specify different combinations of vehicles, i.e. Chaingun 'Hogs and Ghosts only, or Scorpions and Banshees only, and etc.? Or will it be more akin to Halo: Combat Evolved?
    Also: Should we wear boxers, briefs, or "go commando" whilst playing Halo 2 Multiplayer?


    A: I talked a little bit about some of the variant options above, but yes, you will have a greater ability to control the vehicles that appear in your multiplayer games. Right now you can pick a primary and secondary light vehicle in addition to choosing which heavy vehicle you want (i.e. Scorpion, Wraith, Random, None, etc..) The player definitely has more control than in Halo 1.
    I'm not sure I'd recommend going commando while playing Halo 2 MP, in fact, I might recommend a good pair of depends, because you just might soil yourself when things get crazy (as Frankie has been known to do).

  • Q: videogamespaz asks: Will there be unranked games on XBL just for nice games of multiplayer you wanna play uncompetitively with friends?

    A: Absolutely. If you don't want to play in a ranked/matchmade game, you can easily just create your own game, set your own rules and invite your friends in for some fraggin' fun.

  • Q: Logical Mayhem asks: How many whiteboards do you have in the studios and how many of them are used primarily to write mike is a tool (or other tom-foolery.)?
    Does everyone at bungie have naturally colored hair or do some of you have purple/green hair (Or scalps in Frankie's case ;) )?


    A: Let's see...including the whiteboards in our conference rooms, we currently have 7 primary whiteboards (no, really, we do). Most of the ones in the conference rooms are used for real work-type stuff like meeting notes, level designs, etc.. but the public ones tend to gravitate more towards the tom-foolery of which you speak. The two boards across from Dave's desk are generally the funniest/most offensive.
    We don't have anyone with purple or green hair at the moment, but hair changes pretty frequently around here (not just Alta). Yours truly has even dabbled in some colors outside of my normal dull brown. There are also a couple more folks sporting the clean shaven head look in addition to Frankie.

  • Q: Shiach writes: I was wondering what software you guys use to create the graphics for the game? Maya, 3dsmax, other?

    A: Quite a bit of different software is used depending on what's being done. 3d Studio Max, Maya, and Photoshop are all used liberally in addition to some custom tools and programs.

  • Q: dali the llama asks: How will the aiming reticule work when dual wielding?

    A: It works just like it does when you are holding one weapon. You will always have one reticule and you can only shoot at one target at a time.

  • Q: Dinaden asks: Will there be 2 different Human Pistols in the game? Redone M6D, and a "Magnum". Or will they be one in the same?

    A: There is only one Human pistol. The Magnum is the new pistol. It's fun to use, but as has been said already, it is not the overpowered death machine it was in Halo 1 and it can non longer zoom. However, with good aiming (i.e. at the head), the Magnum can still dish out some pain, especially when wiedling two at once.

  • Q: Frenck asks: Will the HUD change much until release? Is the MP HUD different from the SP HUD? Can the tank be destroyed?

    A: 1. The HUD is done. However, the HUD that was shown in the Beta has changed.
    2. Yes, the MP HUD is slightly different - if you saw the Beta HUD, you probably noticed that a score indicator appears in the lower right corner.
    3. With enough punishment, the tank will eventually get destroyed.

  • Q: GhaeleonEB asks: It has been stated that to begin dual wielding, you need to "walk over to a weapon that can be dual wielding, and hit Y." My question is, can you be carrying two one-handed weapons (say, two pistols) and toggle from single to dual-wielding without picking up a new weapon?

    A: If you are carrying two pistols, you can drop one by doing a melee attack. If you press Y to switch to your secondary weapon, you will also drop the pistol you were dual wielding and be left with one.

  • Q: OmegaProtoman asks: Of the weapons revealed so far, what is your favorite?

    A: Personally, I'd have to say the Sword. There's just something extremely satisfying about dashing into battle and killing your opponent in one deadly slice. My next favorite is probably the good ole' Battle Rifle - I just love the way it feels and sounds.

  • Q: zechs12 asks: Are the remote control plasma grenades still in that we heard about from a magazine?

    A: I'm not sure which magazine said this, but there have never been any remote controlled plasma grenades in Halo 2. Sorry.

  • Q: Drox asks:When your on Xbox live to talk to ONLY your teammates do you have to hold down the white button or can you toggle between team speak and the other type?

    A: You don't have to hold down the white button to team speak. When you press it once, it opens a "channel" to your team and you can then begin talking. Once you finish talking, the channel will automatically close. You can't toggle between teamspeak and proximity voice.

  • Q: impurity asks: Will we be able to use our Bungie logins as our screennames for multiplayer? Or do we have to stick to our gamertags?

    A: While playing on Xbox Live, you will always be known by your Gamertag. Obviously when playing a system link or split screen game, you can go by whatever name you like. =)

Whew...There are now 26 pages of posts in the original question thread. Unfortunately we can't answer all the questions right now. If we didn't get to yours, it doesn't mean we don't love you, it just means it was either covered in another question already, we can't comment at this time or we simply ran out of time. A big THANK YOU to everyone who got involved and submitted some great questions for this experimental Q&A. I have to say that this worked out very well and we'll definitely have to do this again in the near future.

And the Weekly Update wouldn't be complete without Mister Chief, so here he is! Note: Frankie had to create this masterpiece using the touchpad on his new laptop, which explains why it's his best one yet. =)



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