Bungie Weekly Update: 09/11/09
Posted by urk at 9/11/2009 2:37 PM PDT
Man, PAX sure was sweet. Three mega super ultra jam-packed days of nonstop show floor Firefightin’, a whirlwind meet and greet with all kinds of Bungie community peeps, super secret, pizza-filled after hours studio stuff that wasn’t all that secret (but was, in fact, pizza-filled), and tens of thousands of well-dressed ladies and gentleman from all around the globe descending on Seattle to get their filthy, virus-laden hands on anything and everything that had to do with gaming. Oh, and there were a few booth babes sauntering around too.

Our Firefight stations were a pretty big hit if we don’t say so ourselves. The little roped-off nook was bursting with players from start to finish with wait times rarely dipping below the one hour mark. Even as each day wound down, the lines stayed long, and since letting things dwindle down naturally would have resulted in a never ending expo, the sour-faced PAX Enforcers had to step in and shear the line off prematurely.

Packed House

Apparently they had done this dance before and they were exceedingly efficient at making sure things came to a close at a respectable hour.  Don't tell 'em, but when they weren’t looking we quietly coaxed more folks into line. We came to show off some Halo 3: ODST, not shoo people away.

Aside from playing, tons of people just wanted to hang out for a spell, snap photos of the staff and the game, shake hands, and score some signatures on all kinds of swag. Being a modest man, I made it my business to sign anything that got within five feet of me and my magic marker. Sign your copy of Halo 3? Of course!  I must have played that sucker a few thousand times myself.  I feel like I had something to do with it. Your tee shirt? No problem-o. Your free copy of Hello Kitty? Don’t mind if I do. Your bewbs? Kind Sir, now you’re speaking my language.

If you stepped into my space and I devalued your merch with my mark, I apologize. If you wanted to snap a photo with the team and I ruined your pic by making a terribly awkward, stupendously bearded face, sorry ‘bout that too. If you asked me to deliver your carefully crafted pocket full of poems to Brian, I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it happen for you. And sure, you can have Recon. You know about the Vidmasters, right?

Hope you had some good times if you dropped by the booth.

Mean and Green

Mythic Meets Astro's Booth

For those that missed out on all the fun, we still have a couple of ways for you to rewind the tape and get the recap right from the comfort of your own home. We preserved our Halo 3: ODST Panel on YouTube and officially launched our Twitter just in time for the festivities (which Brian made busy by supplying tons of sweet tweets). Other than that, it’s a you-had-to-be-there sort of thing. If you didn’t get your tickets and missed out in the ’09, remember to pick ‘em up early when PAX rolls around next year.

If you did make it out, be warned. We’ve heard that some of you were feeling ill. Headache, fever, and the chills. We can’t do much to restore your pluck, but if you think you might have scored something sinister along with what swag you could cart out of the convention center, make sure you call your doc straight away. Swine flu’s a-circulatin'.

Prepare to Celebrate

Mark your calendars. We’re going to celebrate the launch of Halo 3: ODST in style at the Experience Music Project and we’d love for you to crash the party. Every last one of you.

Details are still being inked in, but best believe something’s gonna go down on the evening of 9/21. And best believe it’s gonna be amazing.  Get here if you can.

How Big is ur Game?

It’s an oft-asked question that seems to keep on popping up.  Just how big is Halo 3: ODST? Though we’ve done our best to curtail unfounded worries that there won’t be a healthy dose of content on the disc (there will), some people continue to demand more substantial evidence.  So, how big is Halo 3: ODST?

This big:

Hands On

Told you that sucker was packed with content.

East Coast, West Coast

Brian and Alex split the Halo 3: ODST review duties right down the middle this week. Sketch handled Fog City and Alex took point in the Big Apple. Obviously the reviews aren’t in just yet, but from what we’re hearing, people are enjoying themselves. Well, by people, we mean Brian. While the writers and editors around him are hard at work, he’s been digging in and doing work in Firefight. Seems he bested his high score too!

Actually, our man Brian’s been pounding the Halo 3: ODST beat for months. Big time. And though we don’t have reviews ready for you to consume just yet, we do have some new ODST Campaign assets prepped and ready for you to check out.  Click 'em to make huge.

Explore the New Spaces

Lover and a Fighter

Comin' in hot.  Going down hard.

Under Construction

Shooting Gallery

Hands Up

Golden Opportunity

Eye of the Storm

Too Close for Comfort

We’ll get this fresh batch added into the Halo 3: ODST Project Page as soon as we can. In the meantime, a bunch of new campaign previews and coverage went live yesterday. We did our best to get them all in the blog for easy linking. If you’ve yet to bounce around the World Wide Web and discover what’s new, here’s the ODST stuff that’s made news.

Our Biggest Firefight Fan

Brian’s Firefight score was pretty good, but his game’s got nothing on Rukari. This guy was a machine at PAX. Check out his unbeatable high score:

Firefight: Owned

And he was all class.  After meeting him and being thoroughly impressed with his well-mannered demeanor and his insatiable desire to play as much Firefight as humanely possible inside of a limited 72-hour window, Brian invited Rukari back to the studio so we could keep on playing some Halo with him well into the night.

Since the guy was so awesome, we figured we should introduce you to him.

Q. First things first, who are you and what do you do?

A. My name is Rukari. I’m 23 years old and attend Bellevue College – right outside of Seattle. I play for the basketball team there, and have come to be known as quite an exciting player to watch because of my “explosive leaping ability,” as my coach puts it. (Don’t believe me? Check out YouTube non-believers!)

[Editor's Note: Bam. - urk]

I currently work at the Boys and Girls Club. And have been involved there pretty much all my life. It definitely makes for an interesting time. Growing up, we were never allowed to play any violent video games at the club. Lord forbid we tried to play GoldenEye, Doom, or Halo. Our games would have been taken for the week! (Don’t worry. Everyone brought an extra copy just in case something like that happened.)

Being such a fan of the franchise, it kills me to not allow the kids I work with to play Halo whenever they bring it in. But alas, I am rectified when I can once again return home, and play Halo away from all the pre-pubescent, potty-mouthed, racially-insensitive teenagers. Oh wait, I just described the people in matchmaking… :-O

Q. Oh, snap.  Outraged private messages, inbound!  Word is you’ve probably played more Halo 3: ODST than anyone outside the studio (and France). Where have you been getting hands-on time and how many hours do you think you’ve played?

A. Indeed I have played a lot of Halo 3: ODST. It started with the ODST truck tour in Redmond not too long ago. I lined up to make sure I was the first in line at 7 a.m. After my first play through I exited the truck, looked back at the line, and decided why not go through again. That day I played about four times total, but standing around in line so much gave me an opportunity to talk to the people from both Microsoft, and the marketing company which was taking the truck around. They convinced me to follow the truck the next day down to Portland, OR. I wasn’t going to at first, but I’m really glad I did. After standing around all day for the second time, I began to accrue some popularity amongst the workers and as a special gift they allowed me to stay back with the truck for a couple hours and play Firefight with them.

My second major hands-on time came this past weekend at PAX. I really don’t know how many times I waited around in that line to play Firefight – I sort of lost track. But believe me when I say that I played it more than anyone else there, to the point that Bungie, Microsoft, and even the PAX event staff recognized me while standing in the hour-long line.

Lastly I had a super awesome, super secret showing of Halo 3: ODST back at Bungie’s studio. More on that in a bit. Total play time? I’d have to say somewhere around the 8-10 hour mark.

Q. So, have you gotten your fill of Firefight yet?

A. Firefight is a concept that some of my buddies and I have been dreaming of since Halo: CE. To see that our dream has finally come to fruition is absolutely amazing. Don’t bank on me getting tired of it any time soon. With the mixture of different Covenant enemies, skulls, and the scoring system (whoever decided to implement multiplayer medals was an absolute genius), I can’t see a time where I will ever turn down the opportunity to play Firefight.

And for all of your naysayers, give this game a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed. It is definitely a challenging mode to try and conquer. Legendary is truly that. Even playing with the people who designed the game (who know what will spawn, where, and when) we had trouble lasting more than 15 minutes on some of the smaller maps. “Oh but I’m pro, not a n00b like Bungie employees,” drown that thought out right now. This game will keep you engaged and entertained for a long time.

Q. As you mentioned, Brian was so impressed with your attitude and your desire to play some ODST that he invited you back to the studio so you could keep on playing with us long after day one of PAX was in the can. What was that like? Tons of pizza and Xbox?

A. Man, I’m still in awe about this part. It was so crazy to drive over to the studios, which really is in plain sight and I know I have driven by it hundreds of times and not realized it was there. So after PAX Friday night, I drive up, Brian comes down to let me into the building and away we went. Like any other visitor I marveled at the statue of Master Chief which stands close to 7 ft. tall. We headed through a set of glass doors – to the left, 16 different stations set up ready to play ODST. To the right, a room full of people whom I only had read about, never having a chance to meet them. The room was filled to the brim with pizza, soda, and general good times.

I was introduced to the group as the guy with the insatiable appetite for Firefight. Traveling around from stop to stop just to get my hands on a piece of what this game would have to offer. Scariest part about that – some of the people in the room had heard about me and my feats. I never thought that the people who I respect for making such an awesome franchise would be just as excited to meet me, the average Joe.

After a few minutes we sat down and I finally had the chance to do work! We played a few games on some new levels that haven’t been officially announced – being briefed on details such as non-disclosure is awesome – and also the few available at PAX and on the ODST tour. Every map that was available I took a chance to get my hands on, and they are awesome!

I also got a chance to see some of the campaign. I watched the initial drop, which is absolutely beautiful and I’m sure it will be replayed over and over. But after watching about 15 minutes of it, I had to turn myself away for fear of both spoilers (don’t worry I’m not saying anything) and the need to finish a story once it’s started. So I ended the night as I began, staring into a tv, playing Firefight until I no longer could.

Q. And you still came back for more on Saturday and Sunday! Please tell me you did pause for at least a few seconds to check out all of the other stuff on the show floor. What other games did you see that you were interested in?

A. Oh yeah, definitely. Friday and Saturday I had the chance to play the other games I really wanted to see. Things like Mass Effect 2, Left for Dead 2, Super Mario Brothers Wii, Assassin’s Creed 2, Splinter Cell Conviction (holy crap, this game will be awesome). I also saw some of Realtime World’s APB, Uncharted 2, God of War 3, Starcraft 2, Gran Turismo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash Up.

The list goes on. I even had some time with both Heretic and Citadel at the Astro's booth. But come on let’s face it, the real reason I was there was to get my hands on ODST, and that I did with vicious effectiveness. I dedicated my whole Sunday to just that game. I did not venture to any other area, just played my 10 minutes and immediately lined back up for more! Opened it up and shut it down! First and last to play was my goal!

Q. Alright, you’ve played a metric ton of Firefight. You were far and away the best player on the floor. Give us some tips and tricks for Firefight. What works and what doesn’t? What are the best weapons? What are your favorite strats?

A. Weapon and ammo management are huge. Knowing what weapon take down what enemies is a huge advantage. For all of you at PAX that spam SMG round on Grunts and Jackals, please stop. Headshots with the Pistol work best. The Pistol and Carbine are your friends when it comes to rackin’ up a huge multiplier. SMG is most effectively used on Brutes and Drones. Drain a Brutes shield with the SMG, and then finish him off with a shot to the head! Drones go down pretty easy with a small burst from the SMG.

For those of you who are “rocket whores,” please feel free to grab them, but don’t waste them on anything but Brute Chieftains or Hunters. There is nothing more irritating than having someone waste three rockets to kill three Grunts and two Jackals (And on the same note jerks that rip off the turret for no good reason. Attached: unlimited ammo. Detached: 250 shots.) Also if you see a Chieftain wielding a Hammer, run. Plain and simple. Regroup and work together to take him out.

Stay back, stay safe. Every enemy in this game feels like it has been upgraded. Grunts don’t crumble at your presence, nor do they fall after one smack to the face. Sometimes not even after two. Jackals are a lot tougher than before. And Brutes, their name stands as evidence of their nature. Work together with your team to take down the tougher opponents, and don’t be so gung-ho when it comes to chargin’ into battles. If you want to make it far into this game you will need to learn some restraint and patience.

See.  Told you he took it seriously.

Big thanks to Rukari for stopping out and making our booth and the studio an awesome place to play some Firefight.  We hope you enjoy the -blam!- out of this game when you finally get your hands on it for a proper play through.

The Man, The Myth

While we were really pumped to play host to Rukari, some of our staff were reduced to quivering puddles of glop when Inafune-san dropped in to the studio for a brief visit. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you need to do a bit of research into video gaming’s roots.  To help get you up to speed right now, we’ll just throw out one of the beloved gaming characters Inafune-san is responsible for: Mega Man.

Lobby Loadout

He’s still with Capcom, but today his role encompasses far more than illustration and graphic design. His title is one of those big old mouthful things that instantly lets you know that he’s way more important than you are. “Head of Research & Development and Online Business.” See, the guy is super smart and if you looked at him the wrong way twice, he could probably make you disappear.

Good thing he seemed to be pleased during his visit to Seattle and our studio. Each and every one of us is still present and accounted for. And of course, the reality is that he was gracious, inquisitive, and welcoming, even though he was our guest.

I passed some questions his way. He was kind enough to provide answers. Live vicariously through us!

Q. So what brings you by the studio today and what do you think of our setup?

A. Bungie is an amazing studio that has made incredible games. So I was always curious about how they made their games in hopes of being up to add some of the flavor into Capcom games. Also, I wanted to come down to Bungie in order to see just how well our philosophies on game design matched up. If things clicked, I know it would be interesting to collaborate together on a title in the future.

Q. You came into the gaming industry back when the console space was first becoming popular, bringing iconic franchises like Mega Man and Street Fighter out of the arcades and into living rooms. What are some of the biggest industry changes you’ve witnessed over that twenty year span?

A. In the 80s, when games were just becoming established, it was pretty easy to create a game based on a flash idea that occurred to you. Of course, production costs and dev cycles made it very easy to take chances on risky concepts. On the other hand, because of these short production cycles and small teams, you knew you had to drill down on a single “big” concept and that helped you to maintain your focus.
As the years have gone by, games have become more and more complex so that a single “big” concept isn’t enough. You need to tie in different moves, characters, online, etc for a game to really catch fire. It’s due to this shear planning complexity that makes me think that the number of true “creators” out there, capable of designing and executing an original IP have decreased significantly. From a personal level, I’d like to think that I am one of those people who still have enough creativity to continue to design original games. So it’s great to get a chance to discuss basic game design and trends with other creators because each time I do it helps me to expand my own personal creative ability.

Q. What are some lessons modern day developers could learn from those older titles to help expand their creativity?

A. To be honest, the games of yesteryear may be smaller than their current gen counterparts, but usually the creative core of a game is something that stands the test of time. Whether a game is big or small, new or old, if there is an interesting base concept there, then you can be sure that concept can still be used in today’s games because usually what made it fun before will still hold true today. Of course trends change and you need to swap in some features and swap out older controls but in general that base can still be used as the key component of a new game.

Q. So you still see influences from that era persisting and shaping the games of today?

A. Yes, I think that people are always influenced by the games they played in the past. But it’s not just games. For example, creators around my age that have been in the gaming industry for twenty or so years often base their ideas on the Anime and Manga they knew and loved as kids. By the same rationale, young designers nowadays often look at the old games they played as children for hints on what would make a good game. Mostly this comes from the respect they have for those games.

To answer the question in an even broader manner, recently we have seen a lot of “Super-hero based themes” in games, books, movies, and TV. Whether it’s the X-men, Hancock, Heroes, or the like, all of them are borrowing off of the concept of “Superman”. So most of the games created today are influenced in some way shape or form by different kinds of entertainment that left an impression on the creators. Sometimes these base concepts are remixed and fit into current trends so that they are relevant but whether it’s a TV show, movie, or game, usually that original idea (or a Superhero) is the starting point.

Q. You’ve watched gaming grow over the last two decades, what do you think it’ll be like twenty years in the future?

A. The last twenty years have been incredible. When you think of NES games as compared to PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 games, the difference in scale is incredible. Team sizes, money, creative skill… all have increased exponentially. However, I think whereas the last twenty years have been a period of rapid growth for the game industry the next 20 years won’t have as much “vertical growth” but instead will feature “horizontal growth.”

That is to say, the same basic things you see now probably won’t change as much but they will begin to hit more people and saturate a larger audience. At some point I think the lines between games, TV, and movies will blur and we will all be using some kind of device that is capable of providing “interactive experiences” or “games” if you will.

For example, a concept like the internet and online games may expand more and more to the point that thousands of people are playing socially together and how you interact with these “games” may not even be via a console. I think you will see less and less gaming purists and more people “gaming” on a wide variety of devices in a wide variety of ways. This is the horizontal growth that I envision.

Creators that are able to make not only games but rather interactive experiences on a wide variety of devices will be the ones that stay around. So only people who aren’t locked into “consoles = games” and who are flexible enough to branch out will be the new creative blood pushing the envelope.

Q. What do you hope it will be?

A. In twenty years I’ll be 64. I hope that even at that age, I’ll have the flexibility to create games that people interact in a wide variety of ways.

Q. Did you get a chance to drop by our lobby arcade and throw down with some Street Fighter? Some of our guys claim to be pretty proficient players.

A. Actually I didn’t realize you guys had Street Fighter Although, I’m sure even if I did play I wouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Bungie staffers. As you know I’m a big fan of Halo and I think playing against the staff would be a lot of fun but at my currently skill level, they’d probably wipe the floor with me in Halo as well.

Final Message to Bungie-net fans:

Visiting Bungie was a great experience because I got to see just how passionate everyone even the Marketing staff and high level execs were toward designing high-quality games. I’m not just blowing smoke, I really got that vibe from almost every creator I met when I visited. It’s was a great visit because it helped motivate me to push Capcom to that same quality bar so that we make games that can compete with Bungie. It’s a good thing to see the friendly competition because it helps you set high goals and that is exactly what I have for Capcom. Of course, as I mentioned before a Bungie-Capcom collaboration would certainly create something amazing as well... but I guess we’ll have to see if the next twenty years holds something that special or not.

Halcylon Daze

This sweet Halcylon-made, ODST-inspired poster did the rounds inside the studio this week. We think it’s pretty badass. It’s got that iconic Drew Struzan vibe going.

All the News…

Posted by at 9/5/2009 9:24 PM (-7)
xXBOBERTSXx writes: please i need recon please 1 figth me vs bungie i ganied recon hehehehe ok bye bye .... oh thaknyou for exit halo 3 this is my life bye bye

You need a lot of things. Recon might be one of them, but in terms of priority, we recommend replacing your keyboard. It's totally busted.

retarded banhammer

Posted by at 9/5/2009 5:50 PM (-7)
im4rk writes: i was paalying griff ball ith my freind and i kept beating him and they thought we were boosting and we werentand we got banned and that jsu goes to show that bungie isnt suitable to run a video game with respect are virtue and to bungie i am never playing your -blam!- games again all yall do is abude your power as admins and it pisses me right off. let me kno wen yall grow up and its no suprise microsoft left yall. yall need to grow up and start being fair. i tell my freinds that im going to stop playing halo becasue only kids play it and theres so many bugs that it isnt funny but thies tears it god by bk bungie nd good ridence call of duty is better by far anyway.....

Yeah, you’re right. Respect and virtue aren’t really our strongest suits. Call of Duty is pretty nice though. We’ve enjoyed more than a few games ourselves. You should definitely give it a spin. (The Microsoft dig really hurt, by the way. Too soon.)

-blam!- BUNGIE

Posted by at 9/3/2009 3:24 PM (-7)
BoogerSauce HotDog writes: u guys r ghey

ok so a bungie employee told me i was cool and that he would give me recon. he said he needed to log in to my account to give me recon. so i gave him my account and he kept it! i hate bungie! why would bungie take my account? the employees gamertag was [redacted]

Hate to say it, but you’ve been duped, had, bamboozled, and made a fool. Not to say that a Bungie employee couldn’t possibly think that you’re cool - we’re sure you’re a really great person - but we’ll never ask you for your security credentials or for your personal information. We’ve said as much before (and we actually added some text to the tips and daily messages inside Halo 3 to make sure everyone gets the message).

Still, looks like it's worth repeating:


Got it?

Blame Stosh

Stosh didn’t produce last week. This week either. This is unacceptable. We’ve terminated his contract. (Actually, we're pretty sure he has the Swine.  If you see him out in public, run away as fast as you can.  Well, faster than you normally would.)

We Out

Ten days left until the launch party. One more update between then and now. The wait is almost over.

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Seis de Mayo!

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A Garden of Earthly Delights!

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