Septultimate: The Last Update
It isn't literally the last update of course, since there's lots to do and say between now and November 9th, but I can honestly say that there's no more updating on the progress of the game, since the game is done. Finished and shipped to a nebulous region known as RTC (Release To Certification) where it will be dumped from eight digital tapes onto a DVD and go through some final testing. Usually that's just a matter of routine, but we'll be watching our email carefully through next week…
Roger handed off the tapes in LA yesterday, and as I write this, Alta, the Bungie Princess, is picking some discs up at Seatac Airport. And the office is eerily quiet – the calm broken intermittently by the rustle of a tumbleweed, or the rhythmic "barrrrrump" of a Parsons Sushi fart. Terrifying as it is to me, Parsons ordered Sushi for the celebratory lunch today.
There are still many steps between now and the game's arrival on shelves, including the not-insignificant process of actually manufacturing MILLIONS of copies of the game.
Yesterday was a total loss – everyone who was here simply sat around playing Halo 2 all day. There were some epic CTF battles, lots of Assault games and a ridiculously long fight between Artists and Programmers (thanks for booting me out of the game, Noguchi. You just made yourself a terrible enemy.) that ended with a programmer victory. Now I know why Noguchi (programmer) kicked me off the ART team. Actually he has a point. The only game style I can win regularly is Swords. As a matter of fact I have a Halo 2 profile on the Xbox called "Stabby," with sensitivity jacked up to like, a squillion.
Folks here are starting to pick clan names for use here on Bungie.net, and we imagine that good ones will be snapped up pretty quick. I myself have dibs on Deathkillaz: "We Kill Death!" and "FrankieNauts: "Make with the stabbing!" although I am a spaz, and will probably forget to register them. You guys should seriously start thinking about clans now, since when the game goes live on November 9th, you'll want to pick a name right away.
But don't just pick a clan and let it languish. If you create a clan, do it because you intend to use it, and enjoy the camaraderie that Clan membership brings. We have systems in place to deal with "dead" or unused Clans. Unpleasant, pointy systems that reek of rust and blood and horror. Think Silent Hill meets Autocomplete.
Folks are taking off on vacation. Most people will take a week or two, some up to a month, but almost everyone will be back here in time for the game launch, to witness it first hand. Keep an eye out for roving Bungie employees at midnight madness events here in Washington. We wanna see the folks that love our game, up close, personal, and maybe just a little bit stalky. You'll know us by our lack of hygiene.
Sketch and I are now fully swamped with PR and marketing stuff, as the wave of publicity and promotion enters its main phase. We'll be traveling to places good and bad, and basically being used, abused and spat out by the dainty PR ladies (yes, that includes you Shon).
We're also entering our busiest phase of site development. The sadly neglected Bungie.net is about to emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis as we work towards the full integration of Halo 2 and bungie.net. This, for example, is where you need to come to build, maintain and track your clan, although clan creation is built into the game.
The guys have been playing enough variants of the myriad gametypes that I'm starting to settle on some favorites. I LOVE Assault, but only on certain maps, and I love Fiesta King of the Hill (we'll reveal what Fiesta means later) on ANY map. And Fiesta Crazy King is totally mental. But where on Halo one, my fave event was CTF on Blood Gulch – this time it's leaning towards Swords on Lockout. I can't get enough, although Sketch has a homemade variant he calls pistols that's pretty fun.
As for single player, I am getting my ass handed to me by Legendary. I got to a spot, about ten minutes into the game normally, and have spent three hours trying to beat it. I am not kidding. I foolishly wasted some weapons early on, and now am paying the price. I may start again, take a deep breath and hit it more strategically. Or get someone to coop with me…maybe even Jen from PR or Alta, who actually learned how to play. Finally.
Next week's update will be kinda special, so keep an eye out for it, and in the meantime, we'll keep you posted with every granular detail of what to expect from Halo 2. And it wouldn't be an update without the Mister.