Bungie Weekly Update: 09/03/2010
Posted by urk at 9/3/2010 2:28 PM PDT
It’s almost time to crack the case and come out of cryosleep. 11 days and counting. We’re almost there.

This week, a significant contingent of men we’d previously sent out into the field returned to us, with one in particular – our fearless Halo: Reach leader, Marcus Lehto – shedding his old, battle tested mantle in favor of a vibrant new and far more aerodynamic look.

He’s not the only one around here opting for a little bit of coiffure couture, either. For the last few weeks, producer extraordinaire, Matt Richenburg, has been making everyone feel completely uncomfortable under the oppressive, but lustrous weight of his hideously styled Burt Reynolds-esque mustache.

On The Trustworthiness of Facial Hair scale, this look is nestled comfortably within the neutral spectrum, settling somewhere between The Brimley and The Abe Lincoln, but good and evil notwithstanding, Matt’s mustache is all sorts of creeptacular in a John Wayne Gacy kind of way. In fact, the first time I laid eyes on that sub nasal monstrosity, a shiver ran down my spine. Even though we all know Matt’s in it for the irony, the vision of that thing is still something I’d rather not have etched into my brain for all eternity. Alas.

While we’re on the subject of new studio hairdos, it should be noted that while Sage made the Internet a promise to shave his own facial hair upon shipping Reach, to date the beard has not been nerfed. Sage’s sandbox power remains safely stowed away inside his thickly twisted Viking braid. Whether or not it ultimately comes off is, of course, totally up to the man himself, but should he decide to stick to his word and tear the living braid from its facial moorings, I’ll make sure we capture the bloody aftermath and preserve it for posterity. (And maybe auction it off on the Bungie Store; assuming that sort of thing is legal in Washington State.)
A Penny for Our Thoughts

If you want to experience some of this manly magic for yourself – and you know you do – you should stop by for this year’s Penny Arcade Expo. The festivities kicked off earlier this morning with a robust selection of Halo: Reach game modes on full public display. All in all, we have twelve stations setup for some furious Firefight missions, eight for some traditional multiplayer action. If you’re in the Seattle area and you can get your hands on a PAX pass, stop on out and say what’s up. We’ll be here all weekend.

Tomorrow morning, an All Star panel of Bungie veterans will be on hand to discuss the blood, sweat, and carnage it took to bring Halo: Reach to fruition. Joining our moderator Brian will be Marcus, Marty, Tung, Wilson, Sage, Carney, and Lars – all on hand to dish out juicy development details and tackle a round of open forum questions and answers.

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, ask them questions about something other than the Battle Rifle. The entire Internet thanks you in advance.

Here are the details:

Welcome to Reach

Saturday - 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM, Pegasus Theatre

Join members of the Bungie team for a behind-the-scenes look at the studio's final Halo game and most ambitious project yet. Various Reach team leads will share early concepts and insights that became the foundation for the story, characters, environments and technology of Reach while also reflecting on a decade of creating Halo. The final portion of the hour will offer attendees the opportunity to ask questions of the Bungie panelists.

If you miss out, a little birdie tells me that the Waypoint crew will be on hand with cameras in tow to capture it all on film. I’m sure it’ll ultimately make its way to the World Wide Web in one way or another so you can view it from the safety of your nerd free living quarters.

As PAX rolls on, we’ll be making some noise via Bungie Tweets to keep you up to speed, and for those who simply can’t make it out in person, here’s some preliminary gameplay footage we put together so you can play along with us in the comfort of your own home. Because we love you.

Four Guys, One Play-through

And since we’re already on the subject of sweet Halo: Reach content, we might as well drop details covering the Bonus Content destined to grace the eyes and ears of those lucky enough to wield a Legendary Edition of Halo: Reach.

Go inside Bungie and get direct access to the team that created the franchise as they play through their last and most ambitious entry in series, Halo: Reach. To celebrate the event – and to commemorate those fans who picked up the Legendary Edition of Halo: Reach – Creative Director, Marcus Lehto, Audio Director and Composer, Marty O’Donnell, Cinematics and Story Lead, Lee Wilson, and Effects Lead, Steve Scott sit down together to deliver two full hours of exclusive, behind-the-scenes campaign commentary covering unrevealed aspects of Halo: Reach’s production. From concept to cutting room floor, this last look back is the final word on Halo: Reach’s development, straight from the team that built the game.

The bonus content covers a full campaign play-through, from start to finish, judiciously edited to excise the downtime and deliver only the most impactful moments. The end result is a potent combination of intense campaign gameplay fused with insightful, and dare I say whimsical, commentary from some of our studio’s brightest minds (and Marty, too!).

It should go without saying that there are massive spoilers included in the Legendary Edition Bonus Content, so you’ll want to steer clear until you’ve experienced the story for yourself firsthand. But once you’ve finished up your inaugural run, this is a definitely a piece you won’t want to miss. As mentioned in the description, it’s likely the final word on the Halo series from the team that created the franchise (that’s us).
Steel Yourself

Some of you are playing Halo: Reach a little bit early. It happens. With millions of copies out of manufacturing quickly making their way into the massive global retail chain, it’s not terribly uncommon for a few discs to “accidentally” slip into a few lucky customers’ hands. Que sera.

If you count yourself among that lucky few, there are a handful of things you need to be aware of that will likely impact your pre-launch Halo: Reach experience. First, you’re playing in what we consider a test environment. Several key services are disabled, or in various states of fluctuating functionality, and core elements of the game, including big ticket items like matchmaking, credit acquisition, and the daily challenge system are all running at less than optimal levels.

In addition, any Credits you earn during this slim pre-Launch window are going to be summarily and systematically reset prior to launch. Don’t get too attached to any fancy new gear you might have already acquired. Consider any expenditures or investments you’ve made in the Armory the cost of doing business early. It’s nothing personal; we just want to make sure the playing field is kept nice and level upon launch. It's only fair.

On a similar note, I’ve been seeing some chatter about the prospect of mass quantity credit dumps that can be earned through offline play in various game modes. Some of the laziest among us are no doubt already plotting out their path of least resistance, thinking of ingenious new ways to rubber band a controller to achieve a Zen like state of ridiculous effortlessness.

Not so fast. When you escort your offline profile into the wonderful world of Xbox LIVE, our servers will identify your newly connected status and instantly notify you that our online credit scale operates on a completely different level. (That fizzle sound you’re hearing is probably your boosters running out of fuel in an oxygen starved environment. Don’t look down, RocketMan.)

If you choose to remain offline with your decked out profile, you get to keep your ducats and your duds with no questions asked. But should you opt to take this party online, your credits will be reduced significantly and any Armory items that you had previously earned (for which you no longer meet the minimum online credit or rank requirements) will be righteously revoked.

Of course, the credit reduction that occurs when you make the move into cyberspace is completely by design. For players without a connection to the outside world, the system is simply accelerating the credits being awarded to allow them to experience the Armory at a realistically achievable (but decidedly lonely) offline pace. For those who opt for a more social experience, the grind is a little more protracted, but still profoundly fun.
Prepare to Launch

But enough about jerks who get the game before you do. You’ve all been waiting so very patiently and we’ve got big plans for launch. If you happen to find yourself in the Seattle area on the 13th of September, our Halo: Reach publishing partner, Microsoft, will be throwing a birthday bash to ring in day one in style. Details are still under wraps, but rest assured, there will be a local launch party and we will be making an appearance. The streets will run with the sweat of a thousand nerds and our names, dear friends, will be emblazoned upon their chests to light our path (free t-shirts!).

Afterward, we’ll be celebrating the launch on a more intimate note with our friends and family in an undisclosed location. Stomachs filled with a dangerous mix of finger food and the finest of spirits, we'll hit local midnight madness events en masse, tossing out limited edition custom t-shirts and signing all the sweaty man-bosoms that fans desperately heave in our direction. We’ve already set two major Eastside retail locations in our sights. Stay tuned to Bungie.net in the coming days for more details concerning the exact time and locations.

If you’re not able to make it out, you should stay tuned to Xbox LIVE Marketplace in the days ahead. The launch festivities won’t be confined to the world of the real. Expect an absolute avalanche of celebratory launch week content and kick ass digital goodies to wash over your dashboard like a tidal wave fueled by frothing Mountain Dew.
Return of the Hump

Sketch sends word that he served our first official Halo: Reach Humpday victims with official notice late last night. Our primary target is an old friend you may remember fondly.

While even we must admit that it’s a bit premature to begin the celebration, you can expect word of our imminent victory sometime next week. (And if we lose, expect word of lag switching and hax the likes of which we could not believe.) Frankie even indicated he might dust off the old e-quill and write up the postgame carnage report personally for old time's sake. Stay tuned.
Blame Milota

Mike Milota has some serious celebrity connections. While at a recent Seattle Mariner’s game, he and his wife leaned over the railing and shouted some choice obscenities at the guys warming up in the bullpen. Surprisingly, the technique yielded results and David Aardsma, Luke French, Garrett Olson, and Chris Seddon dropped by this week to take a tour of our new studio and play some Halo: Reach.

Even Milota is totally amazed by how awesome Halo: Reach is!

Gettin' ready to rumble.

Operation: Spitball


Imagination Land!


Technical Support

Sniper Surprise!

Grown Ass Men

Bad Ass: Unlocked

Thanks for dropping out, guys! And thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Milota for making the Mariners magic happen. As the four pitchmen walked out of our office, I overheard one of them note that he wished he could work “at a place like this.” Stop. We’re blushing.
Blame Stosh

Bungie.net is mere days from being born anew and Stosh is already gearing up to move on. According to the man himself, this is the end of an era and the last Halo 3 Blame Stosh that will ever grace our website. What will we do on the eve of launch next week?

“…maybe we will have reach by then and i can take some stupid photo of something.”

Aim for the stars, Stosh.

That’s it for this week. See you at PAX.
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