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12 January 2012
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The Halo Bulletin: 1.12.12

12. January 2012 18:00

Halo: Reach Screenshot

The Halo Bulletin: Now with 0% more Halo 4.

Over the holidays, the people that call 343 Industries home were told to take some time off, the specific length of which was up to each individual and their current workload. Some managed to sneak away a handful of days. Others were able to take a more substantial vacation. Now, though, as we find ourselves almost two weeks into the new year, the team in its entirety is back, well-rested and ready.

Ready for what, you ask? Ready to start a new milestone. Ready to complete another deliverable. And ready to tell the next chapter of the Master Chief's tale.

I guess you could say Halo 4 is our fight to the finish. And we're ready to do just that.

Since everybody's return, I've noticed a few subtle changes around the studio. Meandering down one particularly softly lit aisle shows monitor after monitor of no-longer-just-concept art and animations. Walking by the audio booth broadcasts sounds that are unknown at first listen, yet at the same time eerily familiar. And in an area that was previously completely unadorned, there's now a brand new "Campaign Wall" that features information about every level along with its current quality rating. The neat thing about the Campaign Wall is that as the levels improve, the sheets are updated, providing the entire studio with a real-time look at our progress toward the amazing-quality campaign we will ship with Halo 4.

I can't share a picture of that wall just yet, because you would probably find the one pixel I forgot to blur, and it would undoubtedly reveal every single secret of the entire Reclaimer Trilogy. So I'm going to play it safe instead of sorry, and swap that picture with images taken at a recent event. Oh yes, it's segue time. And abrupt and awkward segue time, at that.

Halo: Primordium

The Halo: Primordium Tour: Now with 100% more Bear.

While some of the studio was still on holiday, Halo: Primordium—the second novel in acclaimed science fiction author Greg Bear's Forerunner Saga—was released. To celebrate the publication, Greg went on a book tour, talking about everything from the history of science fiction to his belief that if you write a popular novel, it must have a giant ape in it.

(I feel like now is a good time to make a joke about either Brutes or one particularly hairy coworker. While I ponder which one is less likely to get me fired, please continue reading.)

On a recent excursion to the University Bookstore in Seattle, I, along with a varied crowd of sci-fi and Halo fans alike, had the pleasure of hearing one of those talks. Wandering amongst the many leather-bound books were Frankie and Kevin, attempting to not get distracted by the smell of rich mahogany while closely patrolling the boundaries of the conversation. You see, not only is Greg Bear an award-winning author, but he is also contributing to Halo 4 in more ways than we can currently talk about.

As he relayed to his apt audience, Greg considers his Halo novels a trip back to classic science fiction. The process of writing these books is slightly different from his others, though, in the fact that the ideas are laid out for him, and then he runs—or, to put it more accurately, sprints—with them.

Halo: Primordium Halo: PrimordiumHalo: Primordium Halo: PrimordiumHalo: Primordium Halo: PrimordiumHalo: Primordium Halo: Primordium

One particular thing he finds challenging about the Halo universe is the names. As he said, "These guys have a meeting about every single name and word in every single book and game!" That may have something to do with the special inscription Frankie got in his copy of the book. Just sayin'.

Anyway, during the question-and-answer segment, someone asked about the relationship between the books and the games, to which Frankie so eloquently responded, "I think when you're building games instead of just fiction, you don't have as much control over the end picture as you think you do because you may have to delete an entire level or technology may not be ready. So the game alters way more than any of Greg's fiction does in a natural, organic way. In fact, Greg has made a lot of our stuff more rigid than it ordinarily would be in the game. So funny enough, the reverse is true. Greg is creating things in the fiction we now have to stick to rather than the other way around."

While Greg's book tour has officially concluded, many of the book stores he visited—University Bookstore included—made Greg sign Primordium books until his hand had a cramp, his pen ran out of ink, or he agreed to say Avatar was his most favorite movie ever. So, if you're looking for a signed copy, start by calling the stores that hosted the tour. You can find a complete list here.

Squad DLC

Squad DLC Super Jackpot: Now with 100% more week.

We started this Bulletin with Halo 4, and then transitioned to Primordium. But before we go back to Halo 4, let's touch on Reach, shall we?

The January Matchmaking playlist update went live in the wee hours of yesterday's morning, and while it was a fairly smooth deployment, there was one minor hiccup: Double Team showed up as DLC required. That was fixed as of yesterday afternoon, so everybody who enjoys sharing their Halo experience with one other person, and one other person only, can now frequent that particular hopper, regardless of their DLC status.

We also decided to throw a Super Jackpot in there as well. It's already live and will continue through the weekend. I'm not supposed to tell you the potential payout, so please ignore the following statement: you have a chance of randomly being awarded an extra 15,343 cR when playing the Squad DLC playlist. Now, go get yourself some already!

Halo: Primordium

Office of Halo Intelligence: Now with 100% more existence.

As we know many of you are anxiously awaiting any and all Halo 4-related pieces of information, we decided to start a new recurring feature called Office of Halo Intelligence, or OHI for short. It will be a semi-regular diary-type entry brought to you by various members of the Halo 4 development team, and it will provide insight into the making of our next title. Josh Holmes, Creative Director of Halo 4, kindly agreed to kick the festivities off.

Jessica has asked me to contribute to a Halo 4 developer diary as a recurring part of our weekly Bulletin. While we won't be able to share secrets that would spoil any of the Carefully Planned Reveals™ that we have coming down the pipe, we will give you our impressions of some of the work that is going on behind the scenes here at 343. We'll also provide our thoughts on anything that we do make public as part of the lead-up to the game's launch. I realize that isn't a lot at this stage, and trust me, this is hard for us, too. We are working on so many things that we can't wait to share with you, but patience is in order. Good things come to those who wait. All will be revealed in due time. And assorted other clichés...

Right now the team across 343 is shaking off the last remnants of our turkey-induced stupor and whipping ourselves into fighting shape for the year ahead. It's going to be a huge one. This will be the culmination of a multi-year journey that has already filled several cylindrical space-canisters with delicious blood, sweat and tears. Now we're entering the crucial final stretch in which we will ready our baby for release into the wild. It's an exciting time but stressful, too, as we place pressure on ourselves to live up to your expectations. The good news is that the game is already looking great and fun to play. So, as we ready ourselves to give you your first real look at Halo 4 in the months ahead, we can only hope that you, too, will like what you see.


While our goal is to bring you as many of these OHI entries as we possibly can, it's a given that some weeks will go by without one. So, please consider this an as-schedules-allow sort of a thing.

Speaking of as-schedules-allow sorts of things...

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Why hasn't there been questionz for a long time!? -ProximateXbox

The above screenshot is untimely yet relevant. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from there.

Halo: Reach Screenshot

I have noticed that the Custom Challenges have not been working properly for the last 48 hours or so, and that has affected my cR income drastically. Please fix this if possible. Thanks. - Phyv

The pipe got a little backed up toward the end of last week (I had a similar experience in real life, but we'll save that story for another day). So the system spent yesterday getting caught up and doling out credits to everybody who completed Custom Challenges during that downtime. To make a short story even shorter, you should be all sorted now. Apologies for the negative impact on your cR income!

Halo: Reach Screenshot

So, have you, bs angel, been helping or testing in any way with Halo 4? -ButteryPie

As of right now, I've played Halo 4, provided feedback about those experiences, and attended numerous meetings regarding its general status. I'm looking forward to when we start releasing information, though, because then I will get to sit down with the people behind the scenes and get insight into the nitty-gritty details of the process. That was one of my favorite things about the months leading up to Anniversary—being able to go directly to the source, whether that was a map designer, an audio director, or the person who drove the creative vision behind the game. That's an incredible thing, especially considering that I used to be on the fan side of the fence. And, while we're on the subject, every time I see something new from Halo 4, I'm reminded of why I fell in love with this franchise in the first place....

Until next week.

bs angel

P.S. This week's Friday Caption Fun wallpaper-type image is holiday-related, but don't let that stop you from slapping it on your desktop. Embiggen, snag, and then hit the latest installment to show everybody just how witty you actually are. Off you go!

Friday Caption Fun

P.P.S. Discuss.