After the close of Microsoft’s E3 keynote this week I was asked how strange it felt to watch from the sidelines as the latest Halo title was revealed to the masses. Now, I don’t need to read my name forever emblazoned onto The Fist
as part of last year’s winning Pentathlon team to remind myself that I’m still a fairly recent addition to the roster here at Bungie. I have fewer substantive reasons to feel territorial about Halo than nearly all of the people in this building. Yet even for a Newbie like me, it was somewhat surreal to witness all the pomp and circumstance associated with a Halo announcement kick off without any of our involvement.
You might think that the same sensation would be amplified a thousand fold for our veterans – the grizzled ancients who birthed this universe kicking and screaming back in 2001, imparted their uphill-both-ways Windy City wisdom into it for better than a decade, and now watch as their baby leaves the nest with a head full of who-knows-what, ready and willing to do things its own damn way for a change. But then again, for Jason and Robt and Marty and Marcus and Joe and all the rest of the crew who have been mentally, spiritually, and physically preparing themselves to focus on our new universe for months and even years now, there’s already been ample time allotted for cognitive realignment. The neurons they’ve yet to deaden with tequila and Tijuana Mamas now fire in concert to power us toward our future, not the past.
Far be it from me to make sweeping suppositions, but perhaps it’s merely another exercise in liberation for them to watch other men and women bear the familiar weight of millions of fans crying out to celebrate the return of a hero or to lament the minutiae of every assumed inaccuracy, just as they would have had we continued onward with Halo. Past criticisms over pivotal fictional elements such as the Chief’s poly-infused MJOLNIR armor or inexplicably altered gauntlets appear to have seamlessly migrated into gnashing of teeth over Cortana’s reacquisition of a more conservative hairdo and the Chief’s new-found zero-g propulsion system – all of which, along with the equally terrifying enthusiasm and absurdly high expectations are now someone else’s concern...and cause for celebration.
With time, good fortune, and a daunting amount of hard work, hopefully we’ll reclaim more than our fair share of both fame and infamy. Though I love to boast about the wealth of veterans we have here on the floor (it’s comforting to know that the majority of the people who originally launched Halo: CE still call Bungie their home), we’ve also acquired a wealth of new talent to prop our embarrassing fixtures. So many, in fact, that a quick stroll from one side of the office to the other these days is often punctuated by a new face or two. Just who is that guy eating the last of the string cheese and why is he giving me the finger? Someday we will all find out.
As our ambition grows, so must the team (and the mess they leave in the men’s room). I can't wait to introduce you to each and every one of the new faces – talented people like Ryan Ellis and Eric Raab and John Hopson and so many more – and to finally show you the new universe they've been building alongside our veterans. Every time they showcase their work internally it’s as if a cosmic big bang is set in motion inside the cramped confines of my tiny, primitive brain, and what I once considered to be the world of possibility is swept away, replaced by some new and wondrous reality. And no, they do not pay me to say that. (Well okay, they kind of do, but it’s true. Every word. I swear it!)
You don’t have to believe me. You merely have to wait. One day you’ll see it all for yourself. Which makes me not only feel strange about all of the big E3 reveals this year, but shamefully jealous as well. So many other studios found substantive reasons to engage with you this week. They dangled their shiny baubles in front of your eager eyes, aiming to seduce you away from the well-lit online and in-game spaces we’ve built for you. There will be so many incredible gaming experiences for you to indulge yourselves in between now and then, and meanwhile my lips remained sealed on our next big thing.
They’ll remain closed for quite some time, too. The wait will be agonizing for us. Every single moment spent plotting and scheming and lying in wait. Every second another dark and maddening eternity.
For you, it will end in a single, breathless moment. The promise of this universe will unfold in front of your eyes unspoiled by the incremental machinations of its development process, and now, for the second time as I collect my thoughts about our past, present, and future, I am jealous.
After Bungie Day we’ll be going as dark as we’ve ever been. No Halo news and no Weekly Updates. Not a peep about our next project (though Aerospace, whatever it is, is now all systems go and counting down to launch) for a good, long while. Trust me though, one year or one thousand, the time will fly right by just like it always has – a collection of insignificant sleeps, and then, a grand awakening. Someday you’ll once again witness what this team is capable of and you’ll see why they were willing to sacrifice a cherished and sacred and beautiful thing – a creation they shaped and guided for so long – for a shot at something that just ten years ago seemed so impossible.
For the time being, as we prepare to become fans of Halo ourselves we’re going to focus our last official moments as stewards squarely on the people who made all of the last twenty years so worthwhile. As much heart as this team poured into our ten year Halo legacy, you imbued it with its multifaceted soul. You shaped this studio so much more than you will ever know. We hope every last one of you will be here to help us shape our future.
Preparations for Bungie Day are now in full swing. Full disclosure next week. It’s only fitting that we get to show you how we really feel during this year’s celebration. We promise to keep our pants on.*
I should have known that asking for screenshots themed “Grunts Gone Wild” would turn my inbox into the stuff of nightmares. This week’s submissions were indeed stuffed with crudely explicit takes on Grunt's Anatomy. Come on. Two Grunts, One Cup? Seriously
? I spent all of last night curled up in a ball, unsuccessfully attempting to purge these foul visions from my mind.
I’ll save you the night terrors. The images in the embedded slideshow below are all raw and unedited screenshots snagged straight from the game. No funny business. If you see your shot featured, you’ve earned yourself a star.
The rest are hybrids, nearly all focused on catching Grunts on candid camera. I’ll link the PG-13 images below. The mature audiences only stuff has already been deleted from my inbox. Alas, shift+delete does not work the same wonders on my brain.
I want to thank everybody who submitted for this week, and over the last nineteen. It’s been amazing to see your enthusiasm and your skills and to be able to showcase your work week in and week out. It's been an honor to give you a stage. Unfortunately this is the final week of Bungie All Stars. Hopefully, you satisfied your own Grunty Thirst. If you didn’t earn a Star Nameplate over the course of our competitions, don’t worry, next week will usher in a new way to fill your night time sky with more stars. Hang tight.
Stosh has been setting his IM status to “away” more frequently in recent days. I think he might be trying to send me some kind of signal. Like, “please keep pestering me for Blame Stosh videos” or something. I found this one myself. I think it fits nicely into this week's theme.
That’s it for today, suckers. More next week. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, Jeremiah suggests that you check out the Flagstravaganza playlist for a chance to snag a 21,000 Super Jackpot. Get paid!
See you soon.