They're Random, Baby!

Interview with Mike Salmon

Sometimes, it pays to be honest. When we heard that there was a new Halo spread coming out in the May issue of PC Accelerator, we fired off a note to PCXL asking if we could post scans of the article. The answer came back "no" (for some very good reasons)... but Mike Salmon, Editor in Chief of PC Accelerator Magazine, agreed to answer a few questions about what he saw during the demonstration. Here's a chance to hear the goods, right from a non-Bungie employee who saw the game in action! (And when you're done reading, hurry out to your nearest newsstand and grab the print mag... there's some pretty cool new stuff in there.)


HBO: How are demos handled at PC Accelerator? That is, do developers bring in a laptop and demo on that, or are files loaded on your local machines, or are the demos done at Bungie's offices, and you go there?

MS: It totally depends on the game, the developer, the timing, etc. We prefer to get code onto our machines so we can play it for more than a few minutes, but for early projects like Halo we generally visit their offices and check it out or they come by with their own hard-drive and use one of our monitors. As you probably know a game like Halo just wouldn't be done any justice on a laptop.

HBO: What's the lead time on stories in your magazine?

MS: About 1 and a half months until it reaches newsstand, though subscribers tend to get it about a month after we finish. It's a pain, but there just isn't a fast way to distribute hundreds of thousands of magazines across this giant country.

HBO: Was the Halo demonstration a live (playable) demo, or was it a movie?

MS: They were playing the game right in front of us, and we also saw a movie.

HBO: If it was live, what were the specs of the computer it ran on, and how well did it run?

MS: It ran amazingly well and I don't really remember the specs, but it wasn't some sort of NASA supercomputer. It was very impressive.


HBO: Was there any talk of the backstory?

MS: Very little backstory was mentioned, other than what has already been heard.

HBO: Were the names Cortana or Durandal mentioned during the demo?

MS: No but they did mention a stripper named Bambi - although I'm not sure that has anything to do with the game.

HBO: Did Bungie mention any links between Halo and Marathon, or any other previous Bungie game?

MS: They just mentioned that Marathon proves their ability to tackle the action market.

HBO: Did Bungie say how the story would be handled in-game (that is, how it would be presented to players)?

MS: Yep, it will be all in engine. And the engine (as you know) looks plenty good to handle any movies.

HBO: Bungie has said there will be no 'levels', per se... did they explain how this would be implemented, or did you see anything that would help us guess?

MS: It is going to be a continuing game without level stops. There are different areas but they are connected. That's pretty much what I got out of it.


HBO: Were any new aliens soon (outside of the main one we've all seen so far)?

MS: Other than in some odd halucination, no.

HBO: Did you see any boats, or submersibles? (Any underwater scenes at all?)

MS: Saw some underwater stuff, where they showcased the underwater physics, but the rest of it still wasn't in.

HBO: Were there any in-game sounds?

MS: There were some place holder sound effects, but that is it.

HBO: Was the demo mainly outdoors, or were there indoor scenes?

MS: Mostly outdoors. But mighty impressive.

HBO: If there were indoor scenes, can you describe what you saw?

MS: Nope.

HBO: Did you see any cutscenes? Or places where they'd fit?

MS: Nope.

HBO: Were there any in-game communication devices? (Did you get to try the hand-signals Bungie's mentioned?)

MS: Nope.

HBO: We've recently seen a large spacecraft-was this present in your demo? If so, was it useable, or just scenery?

MS: Can't say.


HBO: Was there any interaction between the player's character and other characters in the game?

MS: They were talking about how the characters would interact but the game isn't far enough along to have the AI necessarry for interaction.

HBO: Did you get a feel for the intelligence of the AI of the game? If so, how good was it (relative to current games)?

MS: They talked of AI plans that sounded mighty impressive, but again it is still too early to show off that type of thing.

Thanks for your time, Mike!