Bungie History
The Juggernougat


In 1997, Bungie released the Marathon Action Pack – a complete collection of all three Marathon titles, bundled with user-created mods and levels, and the definitive Marathon experience. But 97 also saw the need for expansion, in the shape of Bungie West – based near San Jose , California . Ostensibly set up to allow the creation of simultaneous in-house projects, Bungie Studios West started work on a top-secret, multi-format action game called Oni.

In 1999, back in California , work was continuing on Oni – now announced as a multiplatform third-person action title for Mac, PC and (gasp!) PlayStation2. This was to be Bungie's first console* project and easily its most mainstream title to date.

Featuring a fast-paced blend of action, combat and stealth, it set the scene for many modern console action titles – from Metal Gear Solid 2 to BloodRayne. Comparisons with Tomb Raider were pointless, since heroine Konoko's antics made Lara Croft seem like she was moving in slow motion. Oni was fast. Konoko also had the unique distinction of a female protagonist who was fully clothed. Even Ms. Pac-Man can't say that.

Lorraine McLees, Bungie artist, remembers the slight tug of war between the Chicago and Bungie West, "Their vision of her was more overtly -blam!- than ours. We specifically didn't want her to be just another Lara Croft, so we'd go back and forth with the California office. They'd send [Konoko] designs back with a bare midriff and the bottom of her breasts exposed, and we'd go back and re-clothe her. The funny thing is that the more we tried to de--blam!-ize her, the more sexy she became."

Bungie also found itself in a new partnership: In 1999, Take 2 Interactive bought a 19.9% share in Bungie, a strategic partnership that gave the company a large influx of cash, as well as the vast distribution muscle of Take 2 (they released a little game we like to call Grand Theft Auto). That meant that Bungie was now exposed, overnight, as a leading console developer. But this was small potatoes compared to the unveiling of the Bungie project scheduled to follow Oni.

*Technically, Bungie's real first console project was a Bandai/Apple Pippin port of Marathon, although the Pippin was so doomed it wasn't even funny.