Bungie Weekly Update: 01.22.10
Posted by urk at 1/22/2010 4:53 PM PST
Monumental news this week, our relaxation crash, which you may have seen via one of our, lo-fi studio tours, and which was formerly outfitted with a multitude of multi-colored beanbags, is now adorned with a proper couch and matching leather accent chair. It’s positively swank. I caught Richenburg exploring the space and he says it’s much better now, because he can do “this.” That being sitting in the upright position.

So while it made for a suitably nap-friendly quadrant of our workspace before – as evident by the rare sighting of grown men splayed out on their backs, eyes closed, snoring away their lunch breaks – it’s now become somewhat more useful as a proper workspace. Or maybe even a cozy little reading nook. You might imagine men ensconced in thick, velvet robes de chamber, stoking aromatic pipes while thoughtfully peruse finely wrought literature.

Say perhaps, February issues of Game Informer or Edge Magazine.

By now chances are you’ve had the opportunity to thumb through these fine publications yourself. The truth is out there. Sad to say, though, that we here at Bungie.net still find ourselves firmly wedged into an ongoing and unavoidable media embargo. A self-imposed, stupid old blackout. We promised the crew at GI, Edge, and several other as-yet-revealed outlets that we’d not make it our business to be stepping on toes. Don’t make a publication a promise…

For you, that means if we catch you dropping, asking for the whereabouts, or pointing folks in the direction of scanned images on our forums, we gotta drop the baby Banhammer and put the squash on your Bungie.net experience for a spell. Keep in mind it’s nothing personal. It’s just business.

No worries, though. The good news is that there’s much more on the way and as soon as we can, say early next week, we’ll play host to some of the freshly dropped assets in high resolution glory right here on Bungie.net. We might even be able to offer up a wee bit of perspective for some of the more curious elements you’ve been eyeballing as you turn the pages. Because you’re a certified subscriber and you clearly haven’t been gazing at crappy scans online. Right?

Right. Let’s talk a little Halo: Reach.

Builds are coming in at a blistering pace as the team continues to drive hard and fast towards the ever looming Alpha branch. The process is so break neck at times that it’s hard for us poor dudes over in the community pod to keep track and chronicle the goings on for you in any meaningful way. For example, the build that brought you the latest batch of media assets was already weeks old when we scrubbed it for screenshots. Pre-Thanksgiving, in fact. The nature of the development process is such that stability can often become a concern when the various disciplines are routinely plugging in their new pieces of technical and artistical hotness, so when it came time to show it off to our media friends, we decided to dust off one of the older, notably stable builds. Game tends to show better when it’s in rock solid working order.

And while we hope you’ve enjoyed the appetizers old faithful afforded, you should know that we’re still hard at work in the kitchen cooking up a storm. The recipe is still being tweaked on the fly and things, as always, are subject to change. If you’re mad about a world where your Sniper Rifle’s cadence is slowed to a snail’s pace, you should stand down and start taking deep breaths with at least full second intervals between.

If you want to know a little bit more about how the dynamic process of game development and sandbox creation at Bungie ultimately evolves, you should stop by sometime next week to hear Halo: Reach’s blazer-bedecked Executive Producer, Joseph Tung, and the spectacularly bearded Sage Merrill talk about where the project is and what the overall philosophy of the sandbox design entails. (And to hear Sketch, Luke, and myself make the same old jokes we made the last time we cut a podcast.)

Enjoy the Silence
While we’re on the audio front, I might as well talk a little bit out an experience I enjoyed earlier in the week. I was just minding my own business, padding around a little undisclosed multiplayer map that rocks the planet side settlement vibe, and when I wasn’t being distracted by the thick cords of cabling and computer terminals that populate part of the space’s stark futuristic interiors, or checking out the craggier sections of the deserted exterior outcroppings, I found myself enthralled not by what I was seeing or hearing, but rather what I wasn’t hearing.

We’ve made no secret that most of the sound FX featured in Halo: Reach have seen significant upgrades. Everything seems to have been beefed up. That’s not to say that the sounds effects don’t sound realistic – they absolutely do. What it means is that when you accidentally lob a grenade at your own two feet, as this MLG Pro playa has been known to do on alarmingly frequent and awkward occasions, the resulting concussion sounds like it might do permanent brain damage. There’s just much more oomph and impact in the mix.

But what really caught me by surprise, and had me peddling in and out of one of the map’s smaller interior spaces, was the difference in ambient noise when I was in or outside of a structure. It’s so subtle, that I almost missed it. In fact, I even find it a bit difficult to describe. The interior spaces seemed to not only deafen the ambient sound by a small, but perceptible degree, but it also added its own unique sound profile to the mix, sending sonic waves back from the corners of the room itself. Not quite amplification, not quite mufflification, but something far more natural, distinct, and so awesome that I found myself moving in and out of the small enclosure for a ridiculously lengthy spell just reloading, lobbing frags, and listening to my own footfalls.

C Paul tells me that the effect is one part reverb and one part fancy new technique that both bring about the audio differences I’m hearing. Reverb – the effect that blesses the interior spaces with heightened audio realism, was actually hooked up for Halo 3: ODST, but there’s some new stuff conspiring in the mix to make Reach sound even more astounding, even to my untrained ear. He actually went into it in a bit more detail, but most of it was so far over my head, it might as well have been in another language. Something about tails and quads. All that I know is that is sounds awesome.

I asked him and Jay if they could put together a reel so I can show off some of the new sounds sometime soon and they tell me they think they can hook us up. Maybe next week. No promises.

Oh, and I did find myself more than a little bit mesmerized by the water that now pours out of a spillway grating into an azure manmade gully. It sort of gently rolls into the center of an interior space where it pools and ripples hypnotically before being channeled into a waterfall that drops out over the edge of the rocky canyon and into the raging canyon river below.

Folks Need Heroes
We were overwhelmed this week by the quick response and turnout offered by our community for our “Be a Hero” charity campaign. You guys and gals are mobilized, ready, and totally heroic. It’s always cool to see a lot of people playing the games we make, but there’s a whole new level of pride involved when you know that there’s some meritorious meaning behind the matchmaking.

While we didn’t quite reach the lofty goal we set for ourselves, we’re still gonna kick in the maximum amount and as of right now, between our “Be a Hero” Halo matchmaking and Bungie Store campaigns, together we’ve generated, drumroll…

…over $100,000.

If you participated, stop for a second and think about that number. You guys and girls got heart. Thanks so much for playing. If you’ve yet to pick up your Be a Hero t-shirt, we’re still committed to donating all of our share of the Bungie Store profit to Haiti relief for a spell. You still have time to help out.

If tee shirts aren’t your thing, you can always donate directly through one of many online charities of your choosing.

Make your Mark
In a decade long past, circa 2007 AD, Dave Candland, Bungie’s Ambassador of Artistic Interfacing, cracked open up his precious UI treasure chest and asked our community to deposit their own nuggets of gold inside.

About a week ago Candland returned to the foul smelling corner of the studio that we call the community pod to demand that we do it all again. Wanna get your personal artwork immortalized in Halo: Reach? Here’s your one and only shot.

The Rules of Engagement
  • Your emblem must consist of only two colors.
  • Your emblem must be able to be identified if the secondary portion is toggled off. (Examples below.)
  • Your emblem must look good when it’s tiny.
  • Your emblem must be original art. Do NOT copy anything. All entries that look remotely like other logos or corporate images will be rejected. Same goes for National flags.
  • Your emblem must be submitted between 12:01AM PST on January 22, 2010 and 11:59PM PST on February 5, 2010.
  • Nothing offensive. Nothing rude, racist, icky, or otherwise stupidly ridonkulous.

The winner will have their emblem design featured in Halo: Reach. We’ll pick the winners based on aesthetic considerations and bribes. Okay, our lawyers are informing us that bribes are out, and we don’t want to end up in front of a tribunal, so we promise that we’ll pick the one we deem best suited to appear in the game. Of course, if we don’t get any good stuff, we reserve the right to scrap the whole thing.

Make sure that your examples are 256x256 pixels and in either gif or jpeg format. If you’re not an artist –no worries, you can still enter. We’ll likely redraw the winning image to our exacting standards anyway. If it’s not pixel-perfect, it won’t be a problem. We’re willing to look past your lack of artistic skills and see the awesome idea underneath.


Candland's been getting some weird stuff.  Here's an update from the man himself:

"Please don’t send .zip, .rar, or other compressed archives. It can become a security concern opening these files and it creates an extra step for me. If you sent me a compressed file. I threw it away and didn’t look at it. A 256x256 .gif or .jpg should not require any compression to mail anyway.

Secondly, please send me the files directly, don’t send me hyperlinks. Again, there are security issues for unverified links. And again, it creates an extra step for me. If you sent your submission in the form of a link, I didn’t bother clicking it. Send your submission again with the images attached.

Lastly, there are apparently several people that completely misunderstood the contest and sent me their favorite Halo 3 emblem combination. While I am partial to my own, because it looks kind of like a Recon version of Stuntmutt’s One One Seven comic character. I applaud your pride in your personal combination, but alas, it does me this much good: none."

Ready to give it a go? Send jpegs or gifs, with file sizes NOT to exceed 128k to: septagon at bungie.com, using the subject line "Halo: Reach Emblem Contest Submission."

Unfortunately, this contest is not open to everyone (US and Canada only, for starters), because apparently we must adhere to our already well established and thoroughly regrettable xenophobia (and because our lawyers said so). Speaking of, you can read the full list of official rules and regulations HERE. Read it after you’ve finished the rest of the update. You might nod off.

Got it? Good. Now get to it.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of UI, the HUD isn’t yellow anymore. It’s blue. Because Marcus said so.

Back, Back, WAY Back
It seems like long ago that we came together as a studio and threw down in the gauntlet of winter games we’ve dubbed the Bungie Winter Pentathlon. I don’t want to bore you with details of days gone by, but I thought I’d be remiss to not sum up the experience since this is our space to talk about the daily operations inside Bungie and whatnot.

Traditionally, the games have always been graced with a liberal dose of smack talk and I did my share in the updates leading up to this year’s event. I want to make it clear that it was all done in the spirit of the games.

So, I’d like to take a moment here to note that the Grizzled Ancients were and always have been gracious champions. They secured victory because they practiced hard and played harder. It’s clear to me, and to the rest of the Newbies, that they embody everything that the word “champion” evokes in our minds. Truly they are worthy to have their names inscribed upon The Fist.

They’re also directly responsible for our performance reviews.

Newbies…well, we sucked it up. Big time. But that’s okay. Though Bungie as a whole is what you might call a stacked team, I have to imagine that all of those veterans breathed a collective sigh of relief after our green squad of infantile Newbies trounced the ever loving spit out of them in the only game that required some modicum of brains: Puzzlehunt.

So, rest easy ye ancient and dust-addled geriatric warriors, the future is in good hands.

And with that, we’re done here. Stosh, of course, prepped a parting shot for this week’s update. You’ll find that below along with an extra special treat for those prone to pareidolia.

Blame Stosh

Breath of Forge
A Painting Come to Life

See you next week.
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