Bungie Day is Coming
7/7/07 is a particularly auspicious Bungie Day. To celebrate, we’re throwing a little treat onto Marketplace tomorrow for free. Nothing stupendous, but a nifty theme and Gamerpics. It will only be available on Bungie Day, so if you care at all, then make sure to log on tomorrow (Saturday the 7th). And we insist
that you check out Bungie.net too, for a few extras for hardcore fans.
We also, not coincidentally, arranged another surprise that by early tomorrow morning, will have worked its way through the interweb and its cavernous tubes – the Blastacular Map Pack, free for everyone, and then subsequently, the new maps that comprise it will be rolled fully into matchmaking (not for a few weeks). So even the folks who already bought ‘em get to enjoy an aspect of the freebie.
Now don’t wig out. We always give those maps away for free eventually (although that may not be the case for Halo 3 maps, so don’t get used to it). Anyway, we’re also hoping that making ‘em free will also help fix the nagging problems folks are still having with the downloads. The initial issues were caused by an incompatibility between the olde Xbox Live billing system and the new-fangled 360 version. With any luck, eliminating billing period, will clear up the last remaining problems.
We released a shot from the Campaign yesterday. It’s the second actually, and both shots are ostensibly very similar. Simple poses of the Chief in environments from the single player game. They were both designed with the same purpose in mind – just a taste of Campaign and a wallpaper-worthy portrait of a Spartan with an Assault Rifle. As before, it came under a lot of scrutiny.
The shot was taken by our very own Sketch. He detached the camera on an early level, flew out a little, made sure nothing too revealing was in the background, and took a shot. There you have it. It’s not only the game engine, it’s the game. Accusations of “bullshot” were especially amusing given the utter lack of stuff in the shot. A dude, some clouds, a mountain. Not only was it not fake, it would have been the most pointless fake in the history of gaming.
However,the scrutineers went wild. What was that explosion reflecting in his visor (hint: it’s not an explosion, it’s something quite ordinary) and was the mountain in the background geometry (yes) and those clouds volumetric (no, although we do have volumetric stuff elsewhere in the game) and could you go all the way to that mountain (yes, but not without some unforeseen High Impact Halo antics)? Was the mountain Kilimanjaro (who’s to say)? And that grass in the lower left looks fake (it’s actually a treeline, in the very far distance).
Then there was the complaint that it was different than the model shown at E3. Well it was, but only in that we replaced the “concrete” hammered finish texture with a flatter metal version that the artists here preferred, and was more akin to the previous iterations of the Spartan MJOLNIR metal. Otherwise the model is identical. It’s literally the same geometry.
The reason we aren’t revealing any more about that screenshot isn’t paranoia or even typical Bungie secrets, it’s simply to do with the planned pace of our marketing and PR efforts. That shot doesn’t reveal much, but if we’d panned the camera down a little, we’d have interfered with our slow-burn unveiling of Campaign. Is it a tease? Of course, but we will try to make it worthwhile. Speaking of waiting for worthwhile stuff, Todd McFarlane’s new Halo action figures are coming along not just nicely, but beautifully. Right now we’re pleased to preview the Brute Chieftain, Warthog and Jackal figures – both based very accurately on their Halo 3 incarnations – with McFarlane working directly with our 3D assets to bring you these detailed, amazingly-well articulated figures. These are very early prototypes, subject to change, totally uncolored and so on, but they were just too cool not to share. We think these are going to be huge, even though they’re only gonna be about 6” high….
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
Six inches of furious rage.
Beep beep, who got the keys to this jeep?
We're losing a key part of the Bungie team this week with the departure of the Bungie Princess, Alta Hartmann. Being that he enjoys bad news, bringing it to people and kicking small creatures, I figured we'd let Luke chat with Alta before she goes.
Q: Alta, you’ve been The Bungie Princess in the past, but you recently said you’d relinquished the crown. Now you’re leaving us behind, all we can do is pull a Nancy Kerrigan and ask why, why WHY? Alta Hartmann:
The smell just became too unbearable. Throw 200 hundred dudes in a 23000 square foot open space, feed them take out and supply beer 24/7…you do the math. Aside from the smell, at some point even a Princess must grow up, not that I haven’t enjoyed being thrown over my boss’ shoulder and run around the studio, just so he can blow off a bit of steam, tackled by Chucky and thrown into one bean bag chair after another, subjected to so-called “creative” white boards, singing the Stinky & Smelly song with Paul Russel and just generally behaving like, well, like we are still in middle school. What am talking about?!? It has been freakin’ awesome. I have loved every minute of it, but it is time for me to brave the adult world of Corporate America and don a white collared button down shirt, black wool trousers and *cringe* heels.
Q: For those who didn’t follow the role of the Princess with feverish obsession, could you tell us what it is you USED to do here at Bungie?
AH: Generally, I am mean to the Bungie Boys. Ask any of them it’s true. I am a temperamental, hormonal pain in the ass and take it out on the poor innocent souls here at Bungie who are just trying to keep the man from beatin’ them down. Hey, no one said anything about the woman beatin’ them down, so the way I see it, I have free reign. Bungie Princess my ass, should have been Princess of All that is Evil. Okay seriously, I make sure everything outside of the development of the projects is running smoothly. I make sure the guys have the beers and the foods and the snackies. I plans the parties, with the beers and the foods and the snackies. I balance the giant Bungie checkbook, which can be a bit unruly since it is the size of my 4Runner, it’s hard to keep it open when I write in the check register cuz the cover is that cheap vinyl stuff. I help with contracts between our partners, make sure they read the fine print about Bungie owning their souls for eternity and if they ever are in breach of their contract we reserve the right to put them in the giant sling shot and send them skyrocketing into the sun, along with our other evil enemies. Oh yeah, I keep the giant sling shot well-oiled and in good working condition.
Q: Considering your constant interaction with the team, tell us a few stories about some of your favorite moments from Bungie and some of its staff. Most of the guys won’t read this anyway, so feel free to be 100% honest.
AH: Team Photo for Halo 2…Dunn and I are sitting together…you might notice that Dave is trying to do a little reach around…dirty, dirty Dave.
First Holiday Party…calling Bertone out for stealing the trophy…this is about 4 martinis in…actually I think the whole team has a few memories of me from this party.
Third Holiday Party…Scooter, Ketel One After Party in our suite, CJ playing bumper cars, Jaime telling stories in the bar after I demanded they open it for us.
Halo 2 Ship Party…Harold getting schnockered and screaming like an injured Grunt every time I got on the bus during the Midnight Madness Tour
Halo 2 MP Ladder Tourney…Stefan inviting me to play H2 Ladder Tourney my first month at Bungie and by some ridiculous stroke of luck getting the winning kill in the final game
Lego pr0n…Touring unnamed MS VP and his 12 year old son around Bungie and almost walking in on Environment Pod Lego pr0n Video Taping Session…awesome
Q: Will you have to wear khaki’s and pinstripe pants like a real adult at your new job? How does your wardrobe feel about the changes?
AH: My sweats be very sads. My flip flops even sadders. I think I have to wear like pants and shoes with toe coverings and stuff like that. I may even have to wear…ugh…the panty hose. I don’t even own adult clothes, this is gonna suxorz. I will take pictures and send them so you guys can mock me. Please do so I can remember what it is like to be an adolescent.
Q: You’re getting set to run in a marathon, soon? What’s harder, training for your marathon or dealing with Bungie dudes?
AH: Physically? Dealing with the Bungie dudes. Mentally? Dealing with the Bungie dudes. Emotionally? Dealing with the Bungie dudes. Wow, you guys are a lot of work, running 26.2 is easier than working with you freaks. Maybe you guys should work on being less HI-MAI. Luke lead the way buddy, it only takes one man with a dream.
Q: Is there a successor to your throne?
AH: Little D! Better known as Davina Chan, Davina Devine. She kicks ass! She has been working with me for about 6 months now and totally pwns. Love her and all the guys love her. She scares the -blam!- out of people which is perfect, I think she will wear the crown well, fill the throne appropriately, although her ass is a bit smaller than mine. She is freakin’ hilarious too. Just be sure to guard your cheese puffs, get your dinner orders in on time and always check out her totally adorable outfits, they will be way cuter than mine as she will not be expected to dress like an adult.
On a side note I just want to say that this has been the most incredible four and half years of my life. It has been an amazing ride, watching these guys make kick ass games and grow up. It has been an honor that they have invited me into their lives, allowed me to take part in some of the most important events they have experienced; falling in love, getting engaged and married and having children. I have had the privilege of watching all of these guys grow up. It is such an absolute bitter sweet that I am moving on, but I know that I will never stray too far from Bungie, because they truly are a part of my family. I cannot wait to celebrate the success of Halo 3 with these guys and our fans. Thank you to all of the fans who have shown me just how important gaming is, the impact is has and how fun it can be. The fans are the reason the team is so passionate and the reason I have kept coming to work every day is because everyone here is so insanely passionate about what they do. It has been a great few years!
When they called each other this morning to coordinate their outfits, the only thing they said they were both wearing that matched was the "neckerchief," the rest of it was all coincidence. So long and best of luck, Alta (right), welcome aboard Davina (left)! Note: Our art director did NOT appvove this shot. He came over and griped about the basket of reality in the frame. What's with the marker, anyway? And note these two things or risk death: It is a neckerchief, not a scarf. And Davina loves Cheesy Puffs more than anything else.
Clean your ears
It's lone appearance was called "Emmy-Award Winning" by one of the co-hosts Frank O'Connor. It was promised that it would be regular, but alas, there's but a single episode of the Bungie Podcast that has seen the light of day. Brian Jarrard maintains that more work was done on shows, heck, when I was up here with EGM they recorded audiogasms of journalists playing Halo 3 for use on that very podcast. Yet, it never surfaced.
If this were a movie trailer, instead of this text you'd be reading "UNTIL NOW" where the "UNTIL NOW" text is a hyperlink and that hyperlink is a download to an mp3 that contains vibrations that will burst your eardrums and pants alike, the brute force of the Brown Note -- the natural resonant frequency for Frank's dulcet tones. Unfortunately, this is real life the best laid plans are often caramel-coated and dipped in fail.
However, last week, things began to change. Jay Weinland delivered a huge box of audio stuff which Sketch, Frankie and I messed around with. Did we record anything? No. Are we recording something as you read this right now? Yes. Will you hear it tomorrow? No. Will you hear it next week? Unless there is a fail of apocalyptic proportions (which is entirely possible in the black hole of arbeiten that is Bungie Studios), yes.
The Podcast is coming. And right soon.