February 4, 2003

Is Hacking Halo Wrong?

Hacking HaloRecently, all-out war has erupted on the HBO forum over hacking Halo on the Xbox.

For the uninitiated, Halo hacking involves voiding the warranty of your Xbox by adding a mod chip and then patching a ripped image of the Halo disk. Playing the hacked Halo affords a number of god-like powers: playing as other characters, invulnerability, unlimited ammo, super jumps, and other goodies.

If you are still unclear about what all the fuss is about I suggest you watch HackinHaloFun by Dozi.

Reactions to Halo hacking have been extreme, to say the least. While some view game hacking to be the last refuge of cheats and scoundrels, others believe it to be a legitimate use of the software and hardware they own. Sandwiched somewhere in between the two are the tricksters who worry that their painstakingly performed tricks will be debased by the hackers.

Of course, through this fog of raging hormones, Bungie must toe the Microsoft line, pointing out as reservedly as possible that adding a mod chip will void your Xbox warranty and likely keep you off Xbox Live.

Barring Bungie's attitude, there really isn't anything new here at all. This scenario has been played out before this reporter's eyes at least five times with different Bungie games. (Furthermore, there was once a time when Bungie laughed with delight at users' attempts to reverse engineer their games. I'm afraid those days are gone.) Allow me to rummage in the Nostalgic Bungie Closet...

One feature of Pathways Into Darkness was the ability to talk to dead people to get valuable clues and hints. Bungie encrypted the things dead people would say. Many an hour was spent trying to crack the problem. So many hours, in fact, that over seven years passed before any progress was made. What was found? Only some neat stuff the hard-core fans cared about.

Marathon was hacked left and right. People loved the game and wanted to create their own maps. It took Steve Israelson only four months to reverse engineer the Marathon map format and release the first version of Pfhorte. If the Bungie community had waited until Marathon Infinity was released to get their hands on a map editor, well, there just wouldn't have been a Bungie community by then.

When Marathon Infinity was released the community finally had Bungie approved tools to hack Marathon to its hearts' content. One oft overlooked tool was Anvil, the physics editor. You could make people fly, you could jack up the lethality of missiles by one thousand percent, and many other idiotic things. (How many Marathon fans remember being mutilated by a physics mod gone awry that not only killed you, but caused your dead body to vibrate against the wall for two minutes?)

Myth's highly complex map and model formats stymied hackers for a while. But within a year 3rd parties were creating their own Myth maps. While we were waiting we occupied ourselves by creating Light vs. Dark games by exploiting a bug in the net map setup dialog. Bungie was faster on the uptake and released their editing tools with Myth II.

Neglected Oni went through a hack and explore phase that continues with some die-hard fans to this day.

And now, today, people have found a way to hack Halo.

I don't see this causing the downfall of Bungie civilization as we know it. In fact, I welcome it. There are many questions about the inner workings of Halo that will now have additional information to ponder. There are screenshots galore that will be viewed that otherwise would have never seen the light of day. There are even new tricks to be documented that will require a hacked setup to achieve. None of this in any way diminished the tireless efforts of previous explorers and tricksters.

Hacks are tools which allow players to do all sorts of things. But we, intelligent Bungie fans, know the difference between a true trick and a hack just like we are intimately aware of the difference between Easy and Legendary. You see, when it comes down to it, it's really a question of style; style in ingenuity, style in performance, and style in delivery. Allow me to take a page from the Marathon Vidmaster's manual:

Only the best players become Vidmasters, but only the best Vidmasters do it with style.

Posted by poenadare at 5:07 PM | Comments (64)

December 24, 2002

A Xmas Rant

What better way to celebrate xmas pending than by being a grinch. :-)

I was alerted by the most honorable Louis Wu and fellow BORG member Ghôlsbane over at sister site, HBO that Bungie is soliciting opinions on what kind of swag to offer at the Bungie online store.

Can you blame me for letting them know how I feel? :) Don't get me wrong, I love the mugs, but dammit I want something of more substance!

Read on for the full text of my post to their thread over at the underground.

This is ep. 25 of Miguel's Tough Love.

I'll cut to the chase: I've had it **up to here** with the mugs! They were cute when you guys were low-brow Chicago, but come on, honestly, HOW MANY OF US ACTUALLY USE MUGS? I have a wife that's pissed that I've filled a kitchen cabinet with a bunch of Bungie mugs! OK, maybe a few of them are being used as pencil holders, but honestly, please stop with what I consider a wasted effort in bringing us more mugs. I was really disappointed when I saw that grunt mug on the webcam. It feels so 'yesterday.'

As soon as CafePress made it cheap and easy to make a mug, it's become frivolous, in my opinion, to continue to offer mugs as some sort of cool item for sale. I mean, if you feel the need to continue to offer them, that's fine, but they should not be a 'top tier' item. Even the shirts should fall under the "Well, if you're on a budget, you can at least buy a shirt or a mug" category.

My feeling is that the Bungie fan is the kind of person that understands that Bungie is on a mission... a mission to take over the world. A mug is not exactly a proper 'in-yer-face' exclamation of such a plan. Bungie gear should move forward, and be something that lends itself to visibility among the un-initiated.

Like others have posted here, I'm hoping for an evolution in Bungie gear. Let's open up the coffers and REALLLLLLY offer some serious Bungie swag.

Here's a ranked list I came up with:

12 - Bumper Stickers
11 - Keychains
10 - Calendars
09 - Diorama Kits (perforated paper)
08 - Refrigerator Magnets
06 - Cloisonne pins
05 - Pewter Figures
04 - Lithograph posters, (signed/unsigned, limited/open editions)
03 - Plushies (talking, etc.)
02 - Poseable/articulated Action Figures
01 - Action Figures/models (characters from your games, gun models, spaceships, etc.)
00 - Diorama Kits (real miniatures)

They are ranked in both 'cool factor' and (by my estimation) price. Traditional items, like wall posters, shirts, and yes, even the mugs, are in addition to the above list.

Yes, some of the items are a cheesy, but that's an opportunity for Bungie to turn it into 'Bungie Cheese!' How neat would it be to own a talking Grunt plushie where Joe throws out a "Your Mom" line? Or a fridge magnet of an Elite cupping the Sarge's ass?

If Bungie can't figure out how to make some of the above work, then at the very least give me a mug that sez the following:

"I'm a Bungie fan and all I got was this lousy mug!"

This has been an episode of Tough Love, sponsored by Don't Shoot The Messenger, LLC, and I'm Not Yelling At You Corp.

Posted by bs at 1:07 PM | Comments (4)