Halo: Combat Evolved Forum
This topic has moved here: Subject: Pre-Xbox Halo: The Definitive Thread
  • Subject: Pre-Xbox Halo: The Definitive Thread
Subject: Pre-Xbox Halo: The Definitive Thread


Many thanks to Duardo for pinning this topic!


Ahoy, dudes!

Don't let my two-week-old Bnet profile fool you. I've been a fan of Bungie since the Dark Times (AKA Chicago). At the tender age of six, Gnop! was the first video game I ever played. Raised on the likes of Marathon while my friends were still bugging out over Doom, I grew up with an insatiable appetite for enigmatic story puzzles, obnoxiously clever AI supervillains and frog blasting vent cores.

So you can imagine my excitement when Jason Jones revealed Halo during Steve Jobs's keynote at the 1999 Macworld Expo New York. This was the game I'd been waiting for; the team-based shooter to dethrone Tribes (another addiction of mine) and finally give Mac owners a game to equal the PC.

Of course, the Halo that sold a million Xboxen (yes, that's the plural and I'm sticking to it) is a very different beast. Thus, I decided to put together an informative superthread collecting all the screens and videos worth seeing of Halo's early stages, before Microsoft, before the Xbox and, most importantly, before the recovery of Ling Ling's head.


PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The servers containing most of the files linked in this post are a bit wobbly, so don't be too shocked if they lock up on you. I have compiled all the material into one massive zip file, which you can grab here:

Zip Archive on File Dropper (301 MB)



The First Official Screenshots
Bungie released these images between July 21 and October 5, 1999. They represent Halo already in its second incarnation, having been scrapped internally as a sci-fi RTS to follow Myth II. This version of Halo was planned to be primarily non-linear, consisting of missions scattered across the seamless ring construct and boasting some of the largest team-based multiplayer maps ever witnessed. It was among the first Mac games to push the limits of OpenGL on the platform, and remained visually impressive well after other games had caught up. The Covenant Elites in these images are based on an early design that was eventually scrapped, while some elements of the older MJOLNIR armor were later worked into the ODST Marines first seen in Halo 2.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12


Screenshots From Other Sources

Once the word was out, the gaming press swarmed all over Halo. Magazines and websites scrambled for exclusive coverage, and soon new images began to find their way out of Bungie's offices (still in Chicago at the time) and into gamers' imaginations.

Next Generation Magazine: December 1999 (best available scans)
1 2 3 4 5 6
IGN.com: January 6, 2000
1 2
Incite.com (now defunct): January 7, 2000
1 2 3 4
GameStar.de: January 24, 2000
1 2
Haloplayers.com (now defunct): March 10, 2000
GameStar.de: April 1, 2000
1 2 3 4
GameCenter.com (now owned by GameSpot): April 28, 2000
PC Accelerator Magazine: May 2000 (best available scans)
1 2


The Big Redesign

E3 2000 saw Halo undergo a major graphical overhaul, bringing the game remarkably close in appearance to the version that eventually landed on Microsoft's fledgling console. The Elites have been redesigned, and the Master Chief's MJOLNIR Mark V armor is nearly finalized; the only apparent difference from the release version is a more saturated color palette. At this stage, the game was still believed to be a third-person, team-based multiplayer affair, if not quite so ambitious as the original concept. Shortly after E3, however, Microsoft announced its imminent purchase of Bungie Studios, and Halo soon transformed into a linear first-person shooter and multimillion-selling Xbox launch title.

GameCenter.com (now owned by GameSpot): April 28, 2000
1 2 3 4
Blue's News: June 19, 2000
Computer Games Online (now defunct): July 13-15, 2000
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
PC Gamer Magazine: August 2000 (best available scans)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


[Edited on 04.24.2012 2:50 PM PDT]

  • 10.14.2008 11:45 AM PDT




The Macworld Announcement Trailer: July 21, 1999
This video was the first footage of Halo released to the public. During his keynote speech at the Macworld Expo New York, Steve Jobs invited Bungie lead Jason Jones onto the stage to introduce the game. The video, while still heavily scripted, depicted a likely gameplay scenario using the in-game graphics engine. This is where all the excitement began:
Macworld NY, QuickTime 480x360 @ files.mythica.org (26.6 MB)

bTV at Macworld San Francisco: January 11-14, 2000
Bungie's bTV service broadcast a series of videos from Macworld San Francisco, detailing Halo's backstory and revealing new footage, all at roughly the size of a postage stamp (I kid, I kid).
Macworld SF Day 2 Backstory, QuickTime Audio Only @ halo.bungie.org (1.0 MB)
Macworld SF Day 3 Footage, QuickTime 160x120 @ grindylow.bungie.org (15.3 MB)
Macworld SF Day 4 Footage, QuickTime 160x120 @ grindylow.bungie.org (6.9 MB)

Incite Games Halo Movie: February 12, 2000
This video, shot at Bungie's Chicago office, features Halo footage not seen anywhere else, as well as interviews with Doug Zartman and Charles "Chucky" Gough.
Incite Video, MPEG 320x240 @ files.mythica.org (46.2 MB)

E3 2000 Trailer: July 1, 2000
The trailer shown at the 2000 Electronic Entertainment Expo clearly demonstrates Halo's new look, from the redesigned Elites to the Master Chief himself. Several elements shown in the video, such as the ambient wildlife, were later scrapped.
Halo E3 Trailer, QuickTime 480x360 @ files.mythica.org (83.3 MB)

True: July 24, 2000
A parody of Budweiser's "True" commercial, also known as the "WHAZZUP?!" video.
True, QuickTime 320x240 @ grindylow.bungie.org (15.4 MB)

nVidia Promo Movie: September 26, 2000
As evidence of their increasing graphical horsepower, Bungie used the Halo engine to create an infomercial for nVidia's revolutionary GeForce2 GTS video card.
nVidia Promo, MPEG 320x240 @ mythicafiles.bungie.org (24.7 MB)

The Evolution of Halo: March 11, 2004
First shown during the Bungie Fanfest at E3 2002, this video features a rough overview of Halo's development, from initial conception to the build seen in the E3 2000 trailer. Narrated by Martin O'Donnell, Robert McLees, Shi Kai Wang and Paul Russell, with cameos by other Bungie staffers. A big file, but definitely worth the download.
Evolution of Halo, QuickTime 640x480 @ mythicafiles.bungie.org (94.8 MB)



First of all, my thanks to halo.bungie.org, mythica.org and their affiliates for hosting this material. All I've done is put it in an organized list. If you know of any significant material that I've missed, please post here so I can keep this list current.

I remain an avid Bungie fan to this day, and I anxiously await what's in store for Halo 3: Recon. In no small way, the atmosphere and attention to detail of the Marathon and Halo series inspired me to pursue level design professionally, and you can bet that when Bungie posts a vacancy for a level design position, my resume will be first in line.

Sometimes, though, I wonder what Halo might've become, had this earlier version come to fruition. It's an idea that I feel is worth revisiting with current technology, and indeed the day may come when I gather a team of like-minded developers and pitch the concept as a spinoff. Great team-based shooters are few and far between, especially those as vast as Halo's original design.

Hey Bungie! What are the odds you could let one of those old builds sneak out the back door? I know I've got an old G4 running OS 9 around here somewhere...


[Edited on 10.12.2009 8:50 AM PDT]

  • 10.14.2008 11:47 AM PDT
  • gamertag:
  • user homepage:
  • last post: 01.01.0001 12:00 AM PDT

Great write up! :)

  • 10.14.2008 12:41 PM PDT

Just message me on live.

Thanks, this should be pinned. Except the only mod who has visited here in the past 6 months is Skibur...

  • 10.14.2008 12:50 PM PDT


Posted by: Constince Donkey
Thanks, this should be pinned. Except the only mod who has visited here in the past 6 months is Skibur...

Yeah, I'm gonna see about posting it in the Bungie General Forum. Thanks!

  • 10.14.2008 12:54 PM PDT

Member of the Spirits of Fire. UNSCspiritsoffire.com

this is so excellent. Well done!

  • 10.14.2008 3:06 PM PDT

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. And it is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves the flag, whose coffin is draped in the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag.Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

An awesome and informative thread.

  • 10.14.2008 4:36 PM PDT
  • gamertag: [none]
  • user homepage:

Talk to the Soul | ~B.B. | Know Your Duardo |  | Hero | ISFJ | 77135 | 94371

"It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me."

Wow, this is great stuff!

Posted by: Constince Donkey
Thanks, this should be pinned. Except the only mod who has visited here in the past 6 months is Skibur...

  • 10.14.2008 8:19 PM PDT


Posted by: Duardo
Wow, this is great stuff!
Thank you, Duardo! Much obliged.

  • 10.14.2008 9:33 PM PDT
  •  | 
  • Fabled Mythic Member
  • gamertag: [none]
  • user homepage:

Excellent job getting all this together!

  • 10.15.2008 12:11 AM PDT

Just message me on live.

A pinned thread does look nice here. Evidence to the slowly gaining activity. You do stop in Duardo, it's just not often.

  • 10.15.2008 5:46 PM PDT

Fac Fortia Et Patere

Wow, I love at looking at all of the things that Halo was going to be. It seems like if Bungie would've made Halo like this, instead of the series it is now, it would be even bigger, and probably have a even bigger story than it does now.

Still wished Bungie would've put in the Pre-Xbox Master Chief/Spartan, and Elite models as skins in Halo 3. Would probably be using that instead of Security.

I don't know if you have every screenshot of Pre-Xbox Halo, but Rampancy has a lot of them.

  • 10.19.2008 12:08 PM PDT


Thanks for the feedback, Zayne! I have checked out Rampancy (and what a wonderful site it is!), but I'm pretty sure HBO has the majority of the imagery covered. I intentionally omitted the screens that I felt were less impressive, wanting to do Maximum Justice(TM) to the original concept.

Actually, when I first learned that Bungie employees were getting special armor in Halo 3, I had hoped that it would be based on that earlier MJOLNIR design. Talk about old-school street cred! But I suppose the Security armor has that covered.

I'm still holding onto the hope that someday I'll get my hands on one of those old builds. Chucky's love - wherever it is - abides.

  • 10.21.2008 7:16 AM PDT

Glory to Jesus Christ

Thank you, I found it very interesting to see how a more Marathon-oriented Halo would look.

By the way, this picture is awesome.

  • 10.24.2008 4:59 PM PDT

Posted by: WB Wolves
Thank you, I found it very interesting to see how a more Marathon-oriented Halo would look.

By the way, this picture is awesome.
Whoa, that is awesome!

  • 10.26.2008 11:54 AM PDT

~*~Namaste~*~Bungie's Blessed~*~

~*~Haloic Saint and Empress of The Holy Marathonic Empire~*~

~*~His Blossom of Marathon~*~


Ahhh, back in the days of Blam!

Sweet times...Innocent times...

  • 11.14.2008 9:43 PM PDT

Does anyone even read these?

Absolutely fantastic!

  • 11.14.2008 9:51 PM PDT

- Follow me on twitter: @ReinExInc
- Reprogrammable multifunctional manipulator that can -blam!- up your world through variable programmed motions. The goal is in sight!
Knowledge is Power, become enlightened - H3ITWP
<3Screenshots? Join Point & Shoot, Founded by 343 Industries' Community Manager, bs angel!

This is saawweetttt, it's like opening up a time capsule!

7hanks OP

  • 11.14.2008 9:55 PM PDT
  •  | 
  • Exalted Heroic Member

Awesome thread OP! I've seen the 'Evolution of Halo' video before, but I didn't know so much other media was available. Thanks!

  • 11.16.2008 2:14 PM PDT

Fac Fortia Et Patere

Here's a few more things I've found on Halo.Bungie.Net, though, I still can't find those stamp sized videos from the Bungie TV broadcasts.

Old Bungie.net gallery of Pre-Xbox Halo Screens
Scroll Down somewhat until you see the Pre-Xbox videos, and speculation links
How naive we were..

Hope this helps.

  • 11.16.2008 4:31 PM PDT


Dayumn, Zayne! There's actually a lot of stuff in there that I missed. Great find.

Also, I seem to remember a reference (possibly from the May 2000 issue of PC Accelerator) to in-game communication using hand signals. I think the plan was to have always-on voice chat spatialized in the engine - meaning that all other players could hear your voice depending on your actual location - and if you wanted to sneak up on the enemy team, you'd actually have to use hand signals to communicate with your teammates so no one would hear you.

Does anyone else remember something like that, or am I making it up?

[Edited on 11.24.2008 12:52 AM PST]

  • 11.20.2008 9:05 AM PDT
  • gamertag: [none]
  • user homepage:

This is the greatest thread i have seen on b.net. I love you.

  • 11.22.2008 1:04 AM PDT


Posted by: Nohtaram
This is the greatest thread i have seen on b.net. I love you.
Please forward all proclamations of undying love to Bungie's HR department to increase my chances of getting hired and giving you cool members-only stuff.

Heh heh. Thanks!

  • 11.24.2008 12:51 AM PDT

Member of the most storied groups on Bungie.net; Last Refuge and KOTOR

Wooo, that's an awesome post, thanks for an awesome read.

[Edited on 11.27.2008 2:02 PM PST]

  • 11.27.2008 2:02 PM PDT
  • gamertag: [none]
  • user homepage:

And the Shadow fell upon the Land, and the World was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon.


  • 12.18.2008 10:56 PM PDT