Wow. Pretty amazing. 10 years ago MS acquired Bungie and the Bungie fan community was in an uproar. Bungie is over! They're sellouts! MS doesn't care about Bungie or its fans. Bungie can't hope to win against the monolithic entity known as MS!
Fast forward several years later, mega-franchise Halo under their belts, maneuvering out of MS unscathed, promising new IP on the horizon... so what do they do?
Get into bed with Activision?
Folks are really in an uproar over this if you check out HBO's forum and I'm sure others out there. But I'm really having a hard time feeling worried about this. Mainly because I'm aware of the history here and if you have a small-time dev get sucked into the monster that is MS - who then in turn become a AAA dev, keeping their culture intact (which everyone said was nigh impossible within the MS machine), creating a whole new generation of fans, and single-handedly transform a nascent console into the mega platform it is today - I'd have to say Bungie is owed a gimme here and must know what they're getting into.
Yes, Activision has a bad rap (MS had what? Puppies and unicorns?), their troubles with IW is not a good sign, and in general they are seen as predatory greedy fucks that don't give a shit about the customer and just want to milk you of your money.
But if I was a betting man, I'd say Bungie expressly worked out a deal where all of the above is taken into consideration. They done it before, they're probably going to do it again. About the one thing I've learned over these past 10 years or so is that lawyerly-acumen matters a great deal, and whoever Bungie has working for them - if they're from the same arm that helped them draft their deal with MS - has got plenty of smarts. I'll even go a little further and say SOMEONE inside of Activision sees this as a way of righting a meandering ship. So of course they're going to be willing to adopt a new attitude going into this new partnership.
Does this mean I think this is a slam-dunk for Bungie? No, of course not. Nothing is ever a given in the world of capitalism and industry. Activision is a pure gaming company, publicly traded. MS is public as well, but their gaming division is not what most investors look at when assessing the health of the company as a whole. Activision is completely reliant on the health of their gaming endeavors to spur investor confidence. Their ongoing current issues are a bit of an albatross around their neck right now, and hopefully they can work it out and put their best face forward. But if things continue to go sour for them it can make them desperate - and that could mean a bad situation w/ Bungie.
But Activision can also, hopefully, understand exactly what I and others in our little universe understand - DON'T FUCK WITH BUNGIE. Leave them alone to do what they do best - and don't try to squeeze folks of every single $$ - at least no more than what MS has done in the past!
Do all the above and more than likely Activision can win a trifecta: a great title that wins accolades in the press and customers generating great PR, a healthy bottom-line, and a loyal fanbase that sees you backing a winner.
P.S. Take a journey with me BACK IN TIME.
The few hundred Bungie employees must be doing something to kill time up there in the Studio. What can it be?
Halo 4? Pathways 2? Perhaps Ling-Ling's jar finally broke and they're hard at work on the famed Gnop sequel?
Phoenix, resurrected? Minotaur, reconstructed? Myth or Oni, re-acquired?
Something entirely new, a pristine page in the big book of Bungie, ready to be filled with gaming goodness?
What can it be?
If you check out the latest Bungie Weekly Update (I link to the b.org copy as it loads so clean and fast) you'll find an interesting tidbit that may spell doom to future 'prizes' in the next Bungie game.
Noguchi has been "making a pony." Since he always speaks in metaphor I was annoyed, until he explained that he literally called a new tool/command, xsync-pony - which basically speeds up the "propping" of a build of the game to a clean Xbox 360 devkit, by eliminating code and objects that you do not need to run the current build. Which saves artists and designers a heck of a lot of time.
If you are a long time Bungie fan, you know that a common happening in our community occurs soon after Bungie releases a game... someone figures out how to hack the code in the game to see all the innards... and Bungie has a rep for leaving loose strands of code, graphics, models, maps, etc., that when discovered by us lowly fans reveals quite a bit about how the game came to fruition... what was tried and what wasn't tried, etc.
But now Noguchi's evil contraption may change all that. It seems that with just a flip of the switch, a game can be 'purged' of all older assets that are not used in the current build of the game. Great for them, but not fair to us!
Nothing's definitive though so we'll have to see how it all sorts out in the future.
It seems that Bungie is moving out of their Microsoft offices and into a hundred-year-old hardware store in nearby Kirkland. According to the article:
"The team is running out of space and is relocating to maintain team camaraderie that they've had since moving from Chicago."
While this will definitely have an impact on the day-to-day activities at Bungie, It'll be interesting to see what, if any, of those changes become apparent outside the company. Good luck in the new digs, hopefully there won't be a crack house next door.
As noted over at Rampancy.net by Bungie community watchdog Narcogen, Brannon Boren has indicated in his own blog that he has taken a new job at Monolith Studios, to work on the upcoming Matrix: Online. We wish him well and remind him that if he ever wants to spill the beans on anything Bungie related, he'll always have a home here at BS.
The Road to FanFest
SketchFactor fills us in on some of the preparation going into making this FanFest the event of the year.
In a surprise announcement today, Matt Soell gave his last farewells to the Bungie community. For the past eight years, he fulfilled his business card to become the unmistakable voice of Bungie throughout their rocky rise to fame and glory. It's just a shame he won't be around to see them take over. Or will he?
Matt has seen the company rise from humble beginnings and kept the naysayers at bay amid cries of outselling, while throughout, the Bungie Way has been safe in his charge. We wish Matt all the best for the future as he packs away the legions of hippopotami, his change-filled pants and the trusty goatee comb known only as Herbert.
The Plan will live on.
Microsoft (MSFT - quote - chart) stock plunged over 6 tenths of a point today after Friday's late announcement that Halo 2 would not be shipping in 2003. In heavy trading late in the day Microsoft lost 2.6% of its value, no doubt due to investors fears that a delayed Halo 2 would depress the sales of Xboxen and Xbox Live services. Both Bungie and Microsoft were not reached about this article.
Disclaimer: Bungie Sightings and its affiliates do not own holdings in Microsoft and Bungie Studios. In addition, we are pretty damn clueless about what all those stock market numbers mean. However, we do know that if you pretend something is a big deal other less mentally agile people will invariably agree with you.
We received the following message from Bungie today:
The team at Bungie would like to take a moment to remember one of our biggest fans. We had the opportunity to meet Brian during the production of Halo. Each one of us has been touched by his strength and spirit. It was an honor to meet such a dedicated fan and amazing individual. A donation was made earlier today on behalf of Bungie in Alta Harmann's name. We send our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Brian Morden. He will be remembered by all of the Bungie Community.
I'm sure Brian's family is thankful for their support, most importantly the emotional support they gave Brian during his ordeal.
I had the honor of attending Brian's memorial this past Saturday, along with Have Blue and Frogblast. I am writing up my experiences and hope to have something up soon. I'm also waiting for permission from Brian's family to include some pictures that I took while there.
I can't say it enough, so I'll start saying it now: Having Mark and Robert there with me was an awesome help in getting me through that memorial. I am an emotional man and I think if I had been there by myself I would not have made it through the night. But Mark and Robert's firm resolve to properly represent the online community kept me anchored.
It is a great thing to be surrounded by good people.
I hope I'm not jinxing this, but a quick perusal of Brannon Boren's journal has turned up this very informative quote posted about a month ago:
I was told today that I will be tapped to work on development for "Halo Novel #3", which was pretty cool news.
Other journal entries and his recent post over at HBO has made it pretty clear that as of now, Bungie/Microsoft is gearing up an ongoing series of books taking place in the Halo universe. This is fabulous news!
p.s. He also mentions how cool the Halo figures and vehicles are shaping up!
As noted by Chief Tortie on the HBO forum, a web page devoted to storyboard artists has mention of a Bungie project called 'Breach.' This entry can be found in a list of work by Lee Wilson, who also did the storyboards for Halo: Combat Evolved. Chief Tortie speculated that this was the actual title of Bunge's ill-fated Phoenix project.
Further digging by the fanatical and often shunned Tortie revealed that Microsoft had trademarked the name to be used in conjunction with games, toys, and probably nose hair trimmers.
After an overnight round-robin amongst several HBO forum lifers, Matt Soell, Bungie mouthpiece and plush toy collector, admitted, "You guys had it right the first time. Breach and Phoenix were one and the same." The comment seemed to be an almost forlorn admission for the tired and overworked Bungie staffer.
But this reporter knows different and must congratulate Soell's simple and brilliant misdirection. Time after time Soell has used vague hints, obscure references, and verbal slight-of-hand to mislead prying minds. Now his skills of prevarication have reached a new apex with his new gift; pretending to tell the truth.
But, since the subjected has been breached, so to speak, I feel it is only fair to divulge the complete details of what the Breach project is. Despite the risks I run publishing this story, I am first and foremost a reporter and it is my journalistic mandate to expose Bungie's secretive operations whenever possible. Using my network of far reaching contacts throughout the gaming industry I was able to locate an old-time source of mine which I will call Deep Trow. DT and I go back to a long time ago when he helped me expose some previous Bungie shenanigans.
According to DT, who was able to sexually compromise a member of Lee Wilson's staff, the Breach project is a Halo 2 insiped short promotional film using Jason Jones, Matt Soell, Martin O'Donnell, and other Bungie irregulars.
Here is a copy of the credits from the film:
Halo: The Breach Delivery
Directed by Joseph Staten
Jason Jones ... The Master Chief
Matt Soell ... Midwife First Class Toonces
Martin O'Donnell ... Dr. Raymond Smarmy
Joseph Staten ... Grunt Baby
Chris Carney ... Nurse #1
David Dunn ... Nurse #2
Steve Abeyta ... Key Grip
Paul Clift ... Best Boy
Adam Crockett ... Gaffer
Music and Sound ... Martin O'Donnell
Unfortunately, I couldn't get a copy of the storyboards, but I have transcribed some plot notes that were surreptitiously acquired.
"Breach" Treatment 5/12/2002
MC [Master Chief] (Jason [Jones]) is captured by the Cov[enant] after escaping Halo. He is torturrd [sic] and some unknown medical expriments [sic] are performed on him. Do this all ala cutscene... artsy... no closeups... blurry... Add Jason voiceover as he recounts what happened and escape.
Pan out from MC/Jason's eye and he finsihes [sic] story. Doctor (Marty [O'Donnell]) examines X-Rays of MC. Says something has been implanted in MC. Cannot be removed without killing him. MC shakes head sadly.
Cross fade and montage to indicate time passing aboard ship bound to Earth. MC's belly keeps getting bigger. Doctor patting MC on back. Crewman giving MC strange looks. MC fitted for marernity [sic] version of Mojinor armor.
Cross fade to pregant MC fighting some Cov. Kills all Cov, takes off helmet, looks bad, puffing. Returns to ship says he wants pickles and ice cream.
Delivery date arrives. MC in ship's medical bay, his legs up in the sturrips. [Sic] Midwife (Matt [Soell]) complains bitterly because MC cannot have 'natural' childbirth. Doctor dismisses him. Doctor tells MC he must have a C-section to deliver the baby. Nurses hold down MC as Doctor performs emergency surgery. MC belly is opened and Joseph [Staten] pops out in Grunt Baby costume. Grunt Baby yells 'Mom!' And hugs MC.
Leave space for tie-in ala Courtship of Grunty's Father.
While releasing this information may damage my otherwise sterling reputation with Bungie, I believe letting the public know about their plans will actually help them. After all, look what the leaked betas of Mortal Kombat: Roe v. Wade did for Capcom!
Spotted by the very sharp-eyed brandontyler over at the HBO forums, looks like we'll finally be getting those Halo figurines. Here's the press release. The company, Racing Champions ERTL, has a subsidiary, Joyride Studios that will actually create the models. I thought their current Mechwarrior lineup might be a good example of what to expect from them. It's nice stuff, and I'll judge the quality of the finished product when it finally ships, but I noticed that a different subsidiary, William Britain specializes in military scenarios. Check out their 2002 archives for some pretty cool scenes that could, with a few tweaks, fit right into the Halo Universe.
That's pretty funny, because when I wrote my rant a few weeks ago, I did some quick research to see if such products were feasible, and I'm pretty sure I stumbled unto the William Britain website.
A possible reality check: I know a teeny bit about the process in creating these models, so if in fact they are *just* starting to work on getting these figures out, usually the turnaround time is, in the best situation, 6 months. However, it could very well be that they've been working on them for a while now and we might see them sooner. I might make myself less anxious if I just resign myself to not seeing these until Halo 2 is released. An official ETA would help, of course. We know where Bungie stands on giving release dates, but I wonder if Joyride has a different take on that. :)
Regardless, I'm psyched, aren't you? Let's hope the sales for these figures and the licensing fees MS is charging are in the proper range to keep them coming.
As posted on BungieNet, once again, the Grizzled Ancients were able to keep their gnarled, arthritic hands on the championship title in the Bungie Pentathlon. Although the field arrayed against them was formidable, they managed to limp to victory past the incontinent Old Schoolers, the confused Middle Schoolers, and the diapered Bungie Newbies.
In other words, no one lost their job.
This reporter personally finds this news almost unbelievable and would like to see proof. Unfortunately, our paparazzi, Michelino, recently suffered a fractured wrist from lifting an Xbox controller and could not attend the event. Any brave souls who are willing to step forward and produce photographs will be paid our going rate.
For those that are interested, here is the line-up of the different teams:
For the longest time (since the physical move to Redmond, maybe even a little before) the old Bungie.com screenshot gallery perl script has been non-functional. Folks who like to dream up conspiracy theories thought it had to do with some sort of Microsoft draconian measure. "YOU SHOW OLD PRODUCT, YOU DIE!" or some such nonsense. Others, who just got into Bungie via Halo, never got a chance to bask in the coolness of the official Bungie screenshot gallery.
Well looks like the Bungie Online team finally got around to figuring out what the problem was with the script, tweaked a *single* character, and now it's all back. Of course, they announced that they fixed it, but do they give you any direct links to the gallerys? Guess they're busy enough that they couldn't do that. :)
Well, that's where we step in. Below are all 9 screenshot galleries by product. I doubt there are others, but you never know. :)
If you're wondering why the Halo screenshots aren't listed, it's because those are running over at Bungie.net, and they've never been down. Halo Screens are here.
Okay, I guess you're wondering about Pimps at Sea. Yes, it's a 'sekrit' page, but what the hell, here's the gallery, but there are only 3 screens. I wonder if we'll ever get to see some new ones?