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Friday, April 16

One Final Effort....

Following Microsoft's decision to stop providing online support for original xbox games via XBL, Bungie have put together a list of the reflections and memories of the producers, programmers, artists and the like who work on the production of the Xbox juggernaut that was Halo 2. I've culled Brian Jarrard's memories of Halo 2, you can check the full list of memories here.

Brian Jarrad:

I have so many fond memories of Halo 2 it’s hard to pick just one or two and not quickly wind up with a huge wall of text. I joined Bungie in the middle of Halo 2, it was my first hoorah and as the community guy and the game’s release marked a pivotal moment for Bungie. We went from having a few hardcore folks scattered around playing Halo: CE LANs in their garage to a true worldwide totally connected community via Xbox LIVE. It was my real first taste of how awesome and passionate Bungie fans really were and throughout Halo 2’s development and release I had the privilege of meeting tons of really great people. Probably my biggest stand-out memory was E3 2003 when we had the now infamous (and still awesome) Earth City demo, a majestic theater and we threw an awesome FanFest after-hours where we got a chance to cut loose with our fans. I still have haunting memories of just how stressful that all was, being my first big show at my relatively new place of employment. But it was awesome and incredibly rewarding – we had Sgt. Johnson and Cortana there mingling, Jason Jones made an unexpected appearance, Jaime Griesemer went off script and was doing crazy demos in the theater. It was just an awesome first hand glimpse of Bungie’s fan commitment and in turn, the fan’s support of Bungie.

I also have fond memories of taking an early Halo 2 build to Louis Wu’s (founder and webmaster of house in the backwoods of Connecticut for a LAN party and to film segments for the bonus discs. We also spent many nights playing Halo 2 online, conducting the inaugural Humpday challenges and building up heated rivalries (and losing many, many games). Our EGM rivalry stands out in particular, man I still have painful flashbacks of getting destroyed on Ivory Tower. I also remember the late nights at the studio with Ninja on Fire trying to tame the massive beast that was our matchmaking playlist tool. It’s crazy thinking back on how cumbersome and painful it used to be to update a playlist… speaking of, there was also that feeling of anxiety, excitement and mistress dread as we rolled out the concept of matchmaking for the first time ever, doing away with the tried and true ‘server browser’ that everyone was used to and expecting. I remember everyone being confident that it was the right call but also fully prepared for the inevitable backlash. It obviously caught on.

I remember the early team meetings, shortly after I was hired, where Jason and crew broke the news that the game was being radically altered, missions were being scrapped, new plans were being formed. To say the atmosphere was tense would be an understatement. I remember the long hours struggling to create screenshots with Lorraine and her team. We didn’t have saved films back then so getting multiple people in a game doing cool stuff all at the same time, in the right position/composition, was pretty much impossible. So, every screenshot involved painstakingly compositing together a variety of screens, each shot with a different “actor” but with a fixed camera position. Remember that one Burial Mounds shot with the ghosted remnants of a Rocket Launcher visible in the sky? Yeah, that’s why. 

I thought I used to be pretty decent at Halo 2… but boy, the game may have aged well, but I sure haven’t. Wednesday night was a painful reminder of how soft and slow I’ve become. Still, it was a blast revisiting beloved battlegrounds, forming a clan, experiencing the “virtual couch”, dual wielding and of cross-mapping foes with the hand-of-god Battle Rifle. (ok, maybe I was the one getting cross-mapped). Thanks to our fans, thanks to the team – thanks for the memories. See you in Reach

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