Bungie History
Primordial Soup

Bungie began as a company one crisp morning in May of 1991, but that wasn't exactly the beginning. Before it emerged, fully formed as the multinational corporate behemoth that published Operation: Desert Storm (on which they later based a war), "Bungie" released a Pong clone (nearly 20 years after the original, mind you) called Gnop!

That's Pong spelled backwards, and it was that type of brilliant marketing strategy that would catapult Bungie into the gaming stratosphere. Surprisingly, there was a long way to go between Gnop! and Halo 2.

To be fair to Gnop! – its price was right. The game was free, although a couple of users did send its creator $15 for the source code.

But Chicago in 1991, when Alexander Seropian set up the company to publish his self-penned Operation: Desert Storm, was a very different world. The country was seeing epic deficits, unemployment was at record levels, Janet Jackson was topping headlines and we had just been involved in a short but messy war in Iraq. Unrepeatable events, for sure.

alex showersBack then, the PC was clearly the dominant computing platform, but that didn't stop Seropian and his Artificial Intelligence class compadre Jason Jones from embracing the Macintosh, for reasons of familiarity and ease of use rather than any fundamental business thinking. That and the fact that Jason Jones had a mostly complete build of Minotaur ready when Seropian convinced him to join forces.

"Yeah, I grew up on the Apple II and then the Mac," says Jason, "I wrote all this C code for PCs though, before I even went to school. This was the heyday of PCs, with Wing Commander and stuff. The PC market was really cutthroat, but the Mac market was all friendly and lame. So it was easier to compete."

Jason remembers things weren't all sweetness and light, "I didn't really know [Alex] in the class. I think he actually thought I was a dick because I had a fancy computer. He was looking for another thing to publish after Operation: Desert Storm, so we published Minotaur – and it was after that we set up a partnership. What I liked about him was that he never wasted any money."

There was no money to waste in the early days, when the whole operation (if you can call two guys in a basement an operation) was something like a garage band – and early players of Minotaur (Bungie's second or third release, depending on how you count 'em) might have been shocked to see Jason and Alex sitting cross-legged in Alex's apartment, hand-assembling the Minotaur boxes. And although Operation: Desert Storm had been a minor hit (2500 copies sold!), it was Minotaur that would raise profiles, eyebrows and expectations.

Bungie’s Darkest Secret

Although the only ever official explanation reaches new heights of unbelievable lameness, the secret of the actual Bungie name has become so closely guarded, that even a few Grizzled Ancients either don't know or aren't sure if it's true. There truly is a very strange reason for the company being called “Bungie,” and we daren't reveal it here. There are…penalties leveled at those who reveal the deepest secrets.


Released in 1992, Jones' Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete was a sharply detailed, playable dungeon-crawler, and similar in some ways to many a PC RPG and adventure game. But where it veered wildly from the rest of the pack was in its required use of networking – in this case, using AppleTalk or (gasp!) a Modem! Naturally this limited the audience somewhat (it too sold almost exactly 2500 copies), but Minotaur quickly developed a very hardcore following, and a demographic with an epically disproportionate amount of facial hair.


Dog's head in a jar. Has mystical significance. But it's too nasty to think about. Especially if you think about opening the jar, and drinking the head-water down in one mighty draft. DANGER! Do not juxtapose Tijuana Mama with Ling Ling! When the jar containing Ling Ling finally breaks, as it must, Bungie will make a sequel to Gnop!

The Webmaster

Who is the Webmaster? A good question, and one best answered by breathing the acrid fumes of history. Take a good sniff. One common misconception about the Webmaster is that he is a Gorilla. Even Mr. Magoo could tell, at some distance, he's no gorilla. Merely a man in a gorilla suit. With a cowboy hat. Why is a question for a different time, but the Webmaster wears his hairy mantle with pride and simian satisfaction, and naturally, takes no offense to being called a "chimp."

The Webmaster's primary purpose has been, and will be again, to answer reader letters at an admittedly glacial pace, and the Webmaster came into being in Nineteen Oatcake. He simply popped into existence, squirted from the ether like soap from a prison shower.

But the Webmaster has another, more nefarious purpose. One that will not be revealed until it is too late. For you all.