Bungie Weekly Update: 08/27/2010
Posted by urk at 8/27/2010 4:41 PM PDT

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

There are only 18 days between right now and the launch of Halo: Reach. Last week we rode dirty on miniscule scooters. This week we took our swagger to the skies, went worldwide, and did it up nice and big. Review events are now underway in all corners of the globe and multimedia preview impressions from two of the game’s missions, Nightfall and Tip of the Spear, are hitting the web en masse for your reading and viewing pleasure.

Here’s a couple of shots from David Allen and Chris Opdahl’s Asia-Pacific tour, courtesy of one very timely Lars Bakken:

Let them eat cake! (And lead from our finger gunz, apparently.)

And here’s a classy black and white sent in by Derek just prior to the UK kickoff:

Bear in mind that if you don’t want to know anything about the game before going in, many of the aforementioned write ups coming out of these events are saddled with both story and mission spoilers. Plus, if you’re actively googling Halo: Reach in search of random media musings, you might very well stumble onto some stuff that you don’t want revealed prior to launch. Be careful out there, kids. You don’t need to take Chris Hansen’s word for it, the web is a very dangerous place. Make sure you’re only checking in with trusted sources for maximum safety.

Also on the dangerous tip this week: rumors of the demise of our Reach post ship support. Some people saw an interview with Sketch where he pinned our entire hopes and dreams on a mere two percent of the studio at large. Working with some fuzzy studio headcount numbers already supplied by yours truly in an earlier missive, more than a few fans crunched the numbers and landed on a meager number of Bungie personnel armed and ready to ensure that Reach remains awesome well after September 14th.

Rest easy. We’ll be giving Reach whole a lot of love, post launch. It’s a massive, feature-laden endeavor and without a doubt it’ll demand a significant amount of our time and attention. Right now, our entire online team is busting their asses to make sure Bungie.net is ready to go for launch, our test team is fully engaged to ensure launch (and beyond) goes down as smoothly as possible, and elements of our design, engineering, and our community teams are all working in concert to support Reach’s continued awesomeness at launch and into the future.

Just like the rest of our online offerings, we’ll be guiding and shaping the experience and establishing a brutal watch over our matchmaking ecosystem with the Banhammer in hand. Not only will we make sure the playlists are kept competitive, fun, and fresh, but we’ll also be managing daily and weekly challenges to make sure that all your multimodal experiences are kept feeling all shiny and new. And, of course, we have a few tricks up our sleeves, as well.

Because that’s how we do it. You new around here?

You Know Our Motto…
This week Microsoft delivered what will be the last live action trailer for Halo: Reach. Meant to capture the bravery and sacrifice of our Spartans in action, “Deliver Hope” embeds us with Kat, Spartan 320, already on a blistering run right up the bloody gut of a smoldering battlefield. Looming in the hazy sky overhead: a Covenant Cruiser.

I’ve seen some chatter on the forums lamenting the overt story spoilers contained in this spot. There are none. This piece was crafted to deftly place Noble Team in the midst of a battle set prior to the events of the game. Astute viewers have already noticed that the story told here depicts the moment Kat sacrifices her arm, and the mission where the original Noble Six sacrifices everything.

We hope you enjoyed it. We worked closely with Microsoft and their creative partners on this project to help ensure that “Deliver Hope” would be true to our game’s fiction and highlight the stars of our show – Noble Team.

We consulted on fictional elements, helped shape the narrative, delivered high resolution 3D assets from the game itself, and provided reference artwork, imagery, and animation to arm Microsoft, Noam, Agency 215, and Legacy Effects with all the the ordnance they needed to produce a great live action television spot worthy of our last venture into the Halo Universe.

They delivered.

The extended cut will be available on September 6th. Below you’ll find a collection of just a few assets we created in support of this project. We hear a proper behind-the-scenes making of is also in the works for those interested in getting an insider’s perspective into all the hard work required during the production process to make a piece of this magnitude a huge success.

We were asked what the inside of a Covenant hangar might look like, and fortunately, we were well ahead of the game. Firefight's Corvette, along with some Halo: CE era assets were more than enough to establish the look and feel inside the belly of a Covenant beast.

These three images show off the progression of the troop deployment and positioning inside the hangar for the commercial's final moments, with Lorraine supplying details covering placement, formation, and enemy variety.

For the glamor shot, we turned to Bungie artist, Frank Capezzuto.

For scale and model accuracy, we keep detail and color reference sheets for all the characters and objects in our games. As you can see, in circumstances just like this one, they come in nice and handy.

But when we needed to imagine what an MFDD might look like, we turned to concept artist, Isaac Hannaford. He whipped this up from scratch just for this spot. The crew ultimately ended up losing the framework so Kat could tuck the device snugly under her arm.

And when we need fictional accuracy for totally fake military devices, Robt McLees fits the bill quite nicely.

“Deliver Hope” features an original musical score written and produced by Human, with Brian Emerich (“The Wrestler”) as sound designer. The short was directed by Noam Murro and edited by Angus Wall (“The Social Network”), and was filmed on location in Prague. For the production of “Deliver Hope,” Microsoft and Bungie partnered with top industry talent including ad agency Agency 215, Legacy Effects (props) and Method Studios (visual effects).

The best thing about “Deliver Hope?” This isn’t where the story ends. For Noble Team, this is just the beginning.

Suite Gig
The worst thing about “Deliver Hope?” John has been humming the soundtrack’s intoxicating hook for a solid week now. I guess it’s better than the previous little ditty he had lodged in his brain (“Space…zoom…faaaaade!”). Still, “get out of my head, Charles!”

To help drown out Halcylon’s repetitive falsetto humming, Marty swooped in and delivered some of his own hope. If you haven’t heard, the Halo: Reach soundtrack will be available on September 28th, right on the heels of the Halo: Reach retail launch. And while Marty & Company have already put the finishing touches on their masterful musical compositions, this week, I got to be the guy that bestowed each suite with a fitting, final name.

This totally falls into the “It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it” category, and for me, it’s easily one of the favorite parts of my role here at Bungie. I’d love to let you sample the goods yourselves – this is definitely some of Marty’s best work yet – but the maestro is simply not having it. In lieu of an MP3, I also considered describing some of the OST for you in explicit detail, but this is definitely an area where words just can’t do it justice.

I will say this, though. This is the last time Marty and Mike will marry their original music to a Halo project. That in and of itself is a bittersweet revelation and the music is imbued with a measure of melancholy that reflects the sentiment wonderfully. It’s also filled with heroism, horror, bravery, and triumph. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Marty’s final Halo effort is indeed the fitting finale it deserves to be.

Auntie Dot Embiggened
Looks like I forgot to add in the larger desktop versions of Halcylon’s Auntie Dot wallpapers last week. Sorry, I got distracted. By all the humming.

There are three flavors available in four different sizes. Grab the one you need using the links below.

Version 1


Version 2

Version 3


Oh, and he made a bigger version of the Forkie wallpaper, too.

You’ve Got Questions…
…we’ve got, well, you know the rest. Every once in a while we comb the internet looking for information holes we’ve done a lousy job of plugging. Today is one of those whiles. The questions come by way of HBO’s forumgoers, but hopefully their inquisitive nature helps provide all of you with a little bit of light Halo: Reach learning.

Q. Will Halo: Reach be region-free?

A. According to Domenic, Halo: Reach is “world signed,” meaning you can play any regional copy in any region on any retail Xbox 360.

Q. Not including Firefight maps, are there more or less multiplayer maps compared to pre-DLC Halo 3? (Forge World only counts as one map.)

A. There are eight multiplayer maps on the disc and five Forge World map variants: Asylum, Hemorrhage, Paradiso, Pinnacle, and The Cage. (The latter most certainly do count, our designers put a lot of time and effort into them and they play like a dream. One of those dreams where you stumble onto a pile of money, only in this dream you get to wake up and keep the cash.)

Q. How does unlocking armor from Waypoint work?

A. You download and launch Waypoint, it runs a background check on your gamertag for the necessary career requirements, and then it unlocks the armor you qualify for automatically. It’s like magic, and as Luke mentioned in an earlier update (bless his heart), the additional (but still awesome) armor pieces will only be displayed in your Armory if you’ve already earned and unlocked them.

Q. Can we specify hill shapes besides cylinders and boxes, like maybe ellipses or triangles?

A. The options are Cylinder, Box, and None. You can control the radius and both the upper and lower limits of the hill, but triangles, parallelograms, and various other complex geometrical shapes are unfortunately completely impossible to create. Which means, sadly, that none of us will ever be able to experience King of the Dodecahedron.

Q. Can we customize campaign options, similar to Firefight?

A. You can modify the experience through scoring, difficulty settings, and the thirteen immediately available skulls (don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of other *things* to hunt for in each game mode). And of course, your opponents will now scale in difficulty depending on the number of players in your game.

But nope, no infinite ammo or unlimited armor abilities in Campaign.

Q. What might the exclusive Digital Content for Legendary owners be?

A. It might be developer commentary. It might also be Gwildor’s Cosmic Key. Only time will tell!

Q. Theater 2.0!

A. The theater experience remains largely unaltered from its already robust predecessor, but we did implement a few choice tweaks and bug fixes. Most notably, you can now rewind Campaign and Firefight Films, just like you can in multiplayer, and all modes will now support Film Clips.

Q. Armor effects and achievement point values.

A. There are a number of Armor Effects in the game that you can unlock if you’re willing to part ways with a whole mess of credits. The most expensive effect is 2,000,000 credits.

There are 49 achievements for a total of 1,000 gamerscore. They break down like this:

  • 5 Doctor, Doctor
  • 10 That's a Knife
  • 10 I See You Favor a .45
  • 10 An Elegant Weapon…
  • 10 Swap Meet
  • 10 A Spoonful of Blamite
  • 50 Folks Need Heroes…
  • 125 Gods Must Be Strong
  • 25 The Soldier We Needed You To Be
  • 150 A Monument to All Your Sins
  • 10 We're Just Getting Started
  • 10 Protocol Dictates Action
  • 10 I Need a Weapon
  • 10 To War
  • 10 You Flew Pretty Good
  • 10 Into the Howling Dark
  • 10 Dust and Echoes
  • 10 This is Not Your Grave…
  • 10 Send Me Out…with a Bang
  • 25 They've Always Been Faster
  • 25 Two Corpses in One Grave
  • 25 Banshees, Fast and Low
  • 25 Your Heresy Will Stay Your Feet
  • 25 If They Came to Hear Me Beg
  • 25 Wake Up, Buttercup
  • 25 Tank Beats Everything
  • 25 Lucky Me
  • 10 I Didn't Train to Be a Pilot
  • 5 Be My Wingman, Anytime
  • 10 Yes, Sensei
  • 10 Skunked!
  • 5 What's a Killing Spree?
  • 10 Crowd Control
  • 5 Knife to a Gunfight
  • 10 Score Attack
  • 10 Firestarter
  • 25 Blaze of Glory
  • 75 Heat in the Pipe
  • 25 Game, Set, Match
  • 10 Make It Rain
  • 15 The Start of Something
  • 25 An Honor Serving
  • 5 A Storage Solution
  • 10 A New Challenger
  • 10 Make it Drizzle
  • 5 Cool File, Bro
  • 10 Lemme Upgrade Ya
  • 10 One Down, 51 to Go

Q. Will the Fuel Rod Gun ever make an appearance in matchmaking?

A. You can add the Fuel Rod Gun to Custom Maps, but no, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see the FRG in Matchmaking. According to hater of fun and hot dog eating champion, Dave Gasca, slow moving projectiles can play havoc with multiplayer networking in a disturbingly wide variety of ways, making the experience less than fun for everybody involved. Even though it would likely be fine 95% of the time, the 5% of the time that it acted a fool would result in you peppering us with insults on the Internet. We’re just acting proactively to avoid your stinging verbal barbs.

Since Campaign and Firefight run on a different networking model altogether, the Fuel Rod Gun is all systems go for both of those modes.

Q. Have they fixed saving films in the post game lobby, ala one single button click in the Halo 3 Beta?

A. The Halo 3 Beta single click was an elegant solution and its ultimate omission is still a sore subject for some of the team. Thanks for opening up the wound, Professor. The reality is that once you start adding in the layers of complexity from multiple modes, lobbies, and player configurations (i.e. splitscreen), the UI and engineering work involved in making single button press a permanent fixture across the board became too unwieldy.

The good news is that while you still don’t have a single button press post game, you can pull up your File Browser by pressing Start in any lobby, allowing you to save and upload your most recent games from the menu without having to drop out of the party.

Blame 1up
1up’s Matt Leone has been traipsing all over the countryside like a certified vagabond, with only the body heat of his cameraman to keep him warm at night. When he came knocking on our door Monday morning, we took pity on him, let him soak up a hot shower, and showed him around our public space.

Okay, so it’s not really a tour of our inner sanctum (and Matt really isn’t a homeless wretch), but we hope you enjoyed the super quick walkabout. Sketch has been itching to do the full, Bungie-produced studio tour for a while now, so sooner or later we’ll get you inside the inner inner sanctum and show off the rest of our new digs in style. Emphasis on the later.

For now, here’s a grainy shot of our main floor men’s room facility:

The back splash is crafted out of shards of Painite, the rarest gemstone on the planet. So rare, in fact, that you’re looking at every known stone in existence. Opulence unlocked! (Also, apparently unlocked, my new obsession with toilet oddities.)

All the News
Some people are playing in the news feed again.

Posted by at 8/26/2010 8:46 AM (-7)



I have a funny story on the hovercraft front, but Marcus already told it during a recent interview and I’m not going to steal his postmortem hydro-thunder. Oh, and your keyboard appears to be broken.

Blame Stosh
Some of you missed the subtle links I peppered into the update last week leading to IGN’s Bungie.net exposé (hint: if you see blue text, click it). Scroll down for a more overt look at a sampling of the new Bungie.net look and feel.

And even though he’s still hard at work this week, Stosh found the time to deliver a pretty epic Blame Stosh.

Bam! Another week down the drain. I’d write more, but I’m feeling drained.

Okay, I’m done. See you next week.
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Seis de Mayo!

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