The sweltering and sweaty state of affairs in Sea-Town last week have been swept away by a new weather system and we're once again returned to the gray-skies and moderate temperatures us peeps in the Pacific Northwest have learned to pretend we love. There's no rain just yet, but steaming hot coffee is back on the morning menu, more lunch dates are occurring outside of a single block radius, and the local meteorologists have finally come out of their makeshift bunkers. And yup, I’ve put my clothes back on.
And while Sketch began last week’s update outing by lamenting the lack of content contained therein, I thought it was pretty stacked considering I wasn’t at the office to actually make any of those words magically appear on your monitors. Not to mention, you got a good, high resolution look at Alpha Site (screenshots that are now packed into their permanent home in the Halo 3: ODST Field Guide
This week, using a couple of those same screenshots for context, we’re going to step inside the ONI office space for a brief spell, brush past the failed security systems, and give you an even better look by way of wordplay. In fact, let's go ahead and do that now.
Alpha Site Declassified
Out of Order
The ominous onyx building ONI calls home in New Mombasa’s Alpha Site sits perched atop a space you should already be familiar with. You got a good look at the climb in our Security Zone layout some time back
. But what you didn’t see was what was just beyond the walls of Security Zone’s swank lobby load out. In fact, when you first set boots inside of Alpha Site you begin in that exact same hallway, only now a security gate blocks the way back, leaving only one place to go: dead ahead.
Moving forward, you sweep into the stark interior space, greeted by electronic kiosks that provide a scrambled overview of the layout and direct you to check all your bags and step through the security terminals before proceeding to your desired destination. You can go ahead and ignore the warning. The security systems seem to be offline, and besides, you have more pressing things to worry about than the loose change jingle jangling in your pocket.
Depending on whether you dropped in stage left or right, you’ll have instant access to either a Shotgun or a Sniper Rifle, both latched into place on the wall straight ahead. Snag 'em and press into the interior until you’ll come to a space you'll be spending quite a bit of time defending while you're Oscar Mike in Alpha Site.
This central lobby is bracketed by three out-of-order elevators and ultimately bifurcates into two slightly stepped, and very cramped corridors. These short chutes lead up to more columned lobby space, memorials dedicated to ONI personnel and UNSC soldiers who gave their lives in the war against the Covenant, and the mission’s third power weapon, found mounted on the back wall, the Rocket Launcher.
By now you should hear the whine of incoming Phantom engines as they descend upon the open air platform to drop their deadly payload. Pay attention: this is where the overwhelming majority of the Covenant forces are going to touch down. Save the rockets though; the first batch of bad guys won’t require that kind of firepower. You’ll want to whip out that SPNKR later. Right now, you’ll probably have better luck if you double back and take up a defensive position in the central lobby space. It’s a good place to lie in wait.
To help us figure out where the other good spaces to hold up are, and to also supply us the how and the why Alpha Site is set up in just the way it is, we’ve recruited the King of Fun, Dan Miller, into our squad this week. He’s not green or very, very mean, but he does enjoy a bro hug once or twice a week and he spent a fair share of design time working on tuning and tweaking Alpha Site.
Q. The ONI building’s interior provides for some up close and personal combat. What steps did you take to make sure that players won’t feel cornered and overwhelmed from Wave One on?
A. The Oni Interior game flow actually went through a couple of incredibly different iterations before we settled on the current setting. What we finally decided upon was using the center part of the interior as a cross-roads choke point and allowing the Covenant to enter into the space on one side of the map and have the player spawn on the opposite side. This gives some flexibility to players so they don’t feel completely cornered or trapped.
Q. The site lines into enemy insertion points are also somewhat more focused than they are on other missions. Was Alpha Site designed so players can hold up and let the enemy come to them? Does that lead to camping?
A. Yeah, that originally was a bit of a concern that players would be able to just camp the two known spaces, but we put some surprises in to make sure that won’t be a problem. ;)
You can be as aggressive as you want to be. I’ve found I survive longer if I let the enemies come to me.
Q. I find I survive longer if I let the enemies come to other players and then steal kills from long range. It's a sad and pathetic display. On display in Alpha Site is quite a wealth of power weapons (considering the size of the space overall). Seems like there’s a really great opportunity for players to hunker down and pile up the points. Is that something you think about when crafting the various Firefight missions?
A. For the most part, Firefight spaces have the same amount of power weapons. One thing I’ve found really cool about Firefight is that because the skulls unlock in a certain order, it stretches the value on the sandbox weapons across the spectrum. Sometimes a Rocket Launcher or a Sniper Rifle just won’t get the job done in later rounds, and even the Plasma Rifles and Plasma Pistols prove to be gold down the road. It’s pretty cool because in marathon Firefight sessions, I find myself using and valuing all of the weapons at various times – it’s really awesome to experience.
Q. There’s a trio of elevators in the lobby that seem like they could come in real handy should players find themselves overrun during marathon missions. Can players expect to make a quick escape by taking a swift ride up the shaft? Should they look up from time to time to make sure there isn’t anything coming down?
A. Heh. I guess you’ll have to find out at the end of the set, eh?
ODST On the Go
Our Visual Design team has been hard at work, but they took some time out today to whip up these one-of-a-kind, iPhone-in-mind wallpapers. If you're looking to give your portable device a fresh coat of futuristic paint, these four wallpapers should set you up real nice. If you like 'em, let us know in the discussion thread attached and maybe they'll whip more up some time in the near future.
You Can Haz
New Suit. Same Bad Ass.
Look Into My Eyes
We Want You (Just Not In That Way)
Tracking Sound, Officially
What gives the artist real prestige is his imitators.
Marty noticed that there are some Youtube imposters out there trying to grab hold of his coattails and steer their own little nefarious soundtrack train down the tracks to Fame Town. Just like the Twitter tweeters we unofficialized last week, the peeps coming out of these channels are of the same ilk—decidedly not
In fact, early this week I sat at my desk with a glistening slick of drool curling down my chin and a grin so wide it probably looked like it was going to split my head in half. If not for the headphones, it might have. For a few hours, Marty and Mike’s real deal ODST soundtrack elegantly lapped at my ear drums, nearly sexing me into a sonically induced pleasure coma. The new stuff, my friends, it is goooooooooood
And before you ask: why yes, I do
love my job.
You’ll know the film noir inspired symphonic waves that make up Halo 3: ODST's soundtrack when you get your own ears on the tracks in September. Won’t be long now. Just a short month and a half to go.
I think you’re gonna be good and surprised to hear what’s been cooked up in the Ivory Tower kitchen. The good kind of surprised. Just like that time your parents told you it was hard times and that you shouldn’t expect anything elaborate for your birthday and then you unwrapped your lone gift to find an honest-to-God Shetland pony and a month’s supply of hay.
Man, what a great month that was.
And to supply an answer for the oft-asked question, yes, there’s an Official Soundtrack for Halo 3: ODST in the works. Nope, it won’t be released officially on some random dude’s YouTube channel. Sure, we’ll make sure and supply you with all the details as soon as we get ‘em.
What’s Up, ViDoc?
“Wait a second,” you exclaimed confusedly after watching our latest ViDoc Desperate Measures, “that’s not really a video documentary!!!” And you were right to be confused and exclamatory. You were right
. But I should tell you that ViDoc doesn’t really stand for video documentary. Confused, confusedly once again? Yeah, words are hard.
ViDoc is actually an amalgamation of three terms: visual, informational, and documentation. It’s definitely not an industry term that we would expect you to be familiar with. In fact, we kinda made it up.
What we will expect you to be familiar with is the superstar providing the voiceover for our next ViDoc, which is slated for release sometime in the not-so-distant, but not-quite-so-soon-so-don’t-get-too-worked-up-right-now future. On Monday I was treated to a rough cut that was so rough it was almost nothing but a bunch of black screen bracketed by animatics. And it was still
all kinds of awesome. Over the coming weeks, our Visual Design, Cinematics, and Animation teams will make room in their already busy schedules to put in the time and effort it takes to turn those blank panels I saw into the finished product you’ve come to expect.
When it goes live, I’ll wake up at some unnatural hour and deploy the goods. No man knows the hour or the day and whatnot.
A crew from Gametrailers dropped in this week and Sketch kept busy by playing chaperone, coordinating some on camera face time with Joe, Paul, and Marty and showing off some exclusive Halo 3: ODST content. You’ll be able to see the fruits of that labor soon. Keep an eye on Spike TV and Gametrailers.com for dates and times.
If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve also begun to see the results of our Euro-tour Extravaganza, but the bulk of the press visits we spoke briefly about last week have yet to bear fruit. You’ll get to bite into those bits soon enough as well. Stay Tuned.
Grammar and Context
Hundreds of private messages poured in immediately on the heels of my mention of extra credit in last week’s update. Plenty of you thought extra credit surely meant Recon, others seemed to simply enjoy taking a poorly constructed fragment and turning it into a luxuriously correct sentence. Regardless of your intent, or whether or not the revisions you supplied were ultimately correct, the real issue at hand was one of context.
My charge and subsequent challenge was aimed at those who had succumbed to debauchery and debased themselves by uploading modified shots into their File Shares. Still, I feel like your efforts should not go unrewarded. I promised extra credit and extra credit is what you’re going to get. In my heart. You just earned extra credit in my heart
Yeah, I know. What a load of -blam!-.
7 on the 7th
As of yesterday Halo 3’s matchmaking has been graced with a return of the “Bungie vs. the World” style playlist. While there’s no Recon on offer, and no scheduled squads of Bungie employees on the prowl, there is a whole heaping pile of custom maps crafted by the Bungie community. If you’re looking for something to keep you busy over the weekend, this playlist should be a good place to spend some of your time.
Stosh has been hounding me all week. "Have you seen the new Blame Stosh?" "Did you check out the new Blame Stosh yet?" He's pretty sure this is his best find yet.
Bungie Day 
If you're not impressed, you know who's responsible.
Posted by Anonymous User (Deleted) at 8/5/2009 4:51 PM PDT
: Bungie day isnt areal holiday. Its a day where the most -blam!- retards group up and make a -blam!- game. It doesnt even deserve to be celebrated so s crew all of u
bungie sucks -blam!- 
Posted by Anonymous User (Deleted) at 8/5/2009 4:02 PM PDT
: Bungie sucks -blam!- everyone banning people from match making for t baging an employe how much of a -blam!- can they all be. so stop playing there games there are all -blam!- -blam!-
This fine fellow was so spitting mad that one news submission didn't serve to sate the anger that welled up from deep within his dark and tormented soul. Armed only with what little Internet savvy he could muster and the latest l1nk1n PaRk album, he took out his aggression in typical style: by composing a barely comprehensible, mind melting concoction of uninspired vitriol and -blam!-.
Well, Mr. Poopy Mouth, Bungie Day is
a real holiday and it should
be celebrated. And if you don't believe it, go ahead and reread that last sentence. See? It's right there. You read it on the Internet. That makes it a fact. So s crew u 2.
That’s right. I put “We Out” in the update again. Suck it. You’re not the boss of me. See you next week.