Wednesday, March 31

The Halo Reach Sandbox

Game Informer once again has been given a scoop interview with the Bungie Kids in a discussion about the Halo Reach sand box. By 'sand box' it is meant the weapons and other items that a Spartan or Elite can carry... bring it on then!

Here's some exceprts:

How many of the weapons, armor abilities, levels, and other features will be available to play in the upcoming public beta, in comparison with the final retail build several months later?

The public beta is going to include a huge chunk of Reach sandbox goodness. I think players will actually be surprised at how much is there, but in order to maintain the core game experience and get useful feedback, we needed to include a well-rounded offering. Suffice it to say there will still be surprises waiting in the final game this fall.
We hear there are some new weapons that will be available during the beta. Can you walk us through those?

One new weapon we’ve yet to really talk about is the focus rifle. This is the Covenant really long-range “reach out and burn your face off” sniper-slot weapon. We didn’t want to make just another sniper rifle, but we did want to fulfill that type of role so we made the focus rifle that utilizes a slightly different, “tracking” skillset. It’s not an instant kill weapon, it does significant damage, but you need to hold it on your opponent for approximately one and a half seconds to kill them. It’s more about long range suppression than instant death, but it still falls into the category of pseudo “power weapon” so it won’t be all over the map or included in load-outs.

Tuesday, March 30

My Chris Butcher Airport Interview!

1 April 2010

Wow. Just wow. 

I was at Wellington Airport this week for work when I ran into Chris Butcher. He’s New Zealand’s gift to the Halo Universe. A genius at networking code or some thing, Chris was back in NZ for a quick holiday with his family before the final Halo Reach crunch began.

I approached him in my work suit, said hello and he thought I was I some kind of airport official. Confusion resolved, I asked him for an autograph and a lil surprised, he obliged.

I asked him about how Reach was going and he told me a few things which are a bit of a news scoop to be honest!
  • If you get all the Reach Game Achievement Points, instead of a Katana sword, you get a flaming head like Bungie employees had in Halo 3 matchmaking.
  • Recon will be available from the get go if you unlocked it in Halo 3.
  • Campaign wise, there will be a level which has a Flood incident that needs containment. This really surprised me as hereto, there has been no mention of the Flood being on Reach.
I wondered if Chris was pulling my leg a bit so I asked him if Mr Chief 117 would be in the game and he said, there are actually 7 members of Team Noble….

Then he found a cabbie with his name on a placard and left me with a piece of paper signed, See Ya Round, Sucker!

Halo Art for Art's Sake

HBO alerted the world to this awesome shot. I think it's awesomeness speaks for itself:

Image Source Art by Pan_test01

Monday, March 29

How many head shots does it take to kill a fully shielded Spartan with the Designated Marksmen Rifle?

How many head shots does it take to kill a fully shielded Spartan with the Designated Marksmen Rifle (DMR) ?
According to Sage, 5. 4 to bring down shields. 1 for the head.

Also the Magnum fires the same ammuniciation as the DMR...
More details in the new Bungie Pod Cast.

Sunday, March 28

A special consideration of Halo 3:ODST has been placed on HBO - Written by 'Shake Appeal' its a telling read that pays homage to the story and context of ODST. It also made me realise I should find all the Sadie's Story elements as there was a sweet pay off in game...

Here's the final conclusion:

When evaluating Halo 3: ODST, we should remember that it's the first of Bungie's Halo titles to feature a map. It is the first game that has needed one. After all, the navigation of New Mombasa is central not only to the gameplay, but to a story in which we are searching for beacons, for our lost squad mates, for a safe route out of an occupied city.

There is a refreshingly new unity between the aspirations of Bungie's designers and the actual experience of playing their game. In this and several other crucial respects, ODST offers us storytelling that is far more successful than that of the predecessors, and even showcases Bungie's newfound ability to weave game and world.

In light of this, the disappointments are slight: the members of the squad often struggle to defy their set archetypes (and much of their dialogue is trite), while the same environmental problems of sterility and repetition are just as present in ODST as in the trilogy proper. Here, however, they serve in part to reinforce the player's singular experience of New Mombasa; and while there still exists a gulf between the purported extinction of a galactic "humanity" and the game we end up playing, it feels narrower than before: not every player will take the time to reveal all of 'Sadie's Story', but even the most casual will likely stumble upon a few logs, and hear real people recorded therein - speaking, pleading, crying.

Best of all, Bungie have lovingly sketched a cast of characters whom we can remember fondly not just for their combat banter, but for their closeness, their consistency, and - briefly, in flashes - their human feeling. When you consider that ODST was a one-year project from a small team, its flaws become less glaring, and the promise of Halo: Reach, their next full-blooded game, becomes considerable. We should leave New Mombasa, as the Rookie does, looking up.

Full post: Nine Levels

Saturday, March 27

Ms Valentine's Megacon 2010 Cortana Costume

cortana costume
Who's the Boss?

Ms Valentine's Megacon 2010 Cortana Costume

There's a million reasons to love the Halo series of games. Elites, sniper rifle sprees and impossible odds are pretty popular reasons. None, however compare to the beauty of everybody's favourite AI, Cortana

People want to be her, and people want to dress like her. Ms Valentine is one of that talented group and has pulled off a pretty great Cortana costume which she debuted at the Megacon 2010.

"So why remake it? I was never really 100% satisfied with how my first version came out, I had a good idea but it didn't work out like I wanted. Sometimes the desire to make a costume nags at me until I finally just give in, and this was the case. When I found the perfect fabric for only $3 a yard at work I knew it was a sign that Cortana had to be done. This time around I wanted to make the costume the best one yet, and with some help from my friends and advice from my Dad I was soon on a roll."

Check out more pix at HBO

Friday, March 26

Jimmy Jangles vists the Weta Cave

The Weta Cave is the 'store front' if you will of Weta WorkshopWeta Workshop is a "multi-award winning conceptual design and physical manufacturing facility servicing the world's entertainment and creative industries." 

Keen Halo fans might know it as the place where the props and production was happening for the as yet unmade Halo Movie. They are more well known for making a series of movies some people call Lord of the Rings. In Wellington, we just call them 'that film Peter made' a while back....

Weta Cave is a shop for people to go and buy trinkets and sculptures and books on the various movies that Weta Work shop has contributed to - and they have some Halo product for sale. 

Visitors to the Cave get to see a 20 minute short of the goings on at Weta Workshop - there's heaps of Halo stuff in there as they did a lot of preproduction work for the canned movie. Still, there's some hope a Halo film will get made...

Here's some poor quality iphone pictures of what's on offer that I took during my visit this afternoon. 

Arby and the Chief
Various Spartan Helemets

Chief v. Flood
Brute Spiker from the Halo film production
Prop from the Blomkamp Shorts

Jimmy Jangles and new friend Lurtz

Thursday, March 25

How invested in Halo Reach will you get?

This game Better be good.

How invested in Halo Reach will you get?

Hopefuly not so invested that you can’t meet your balloon payment and renege on your obligations leading to a sub prime mortgage market collapse but more so invested that Bungie will assimilate you and take over the world....

Of course Bungie can only to this one step at a time. The latest step is what is being championed as ‘Player Investment’.

“Player Investment is more reflective of the amount of time someone's dedicated to Halo: Reach and not necessarily their skill set. Someone can have a high Player Investment ranking and be a terrible player. But since Trueskill is tracking that data in the background, away from users, it will still match players appropriately. So, don't worry: terrible Halo: Reach players will be matched with other equally-awful Halo: Reach players.”

That was from a G4TV article which released a whole deal of info on this concept.

Challenges bring rewards. Undertaking the challenge is your ‘investment’. Better the risks (degree of difficulty in the challenge) the better the reward.

“Challenges come in two forms -- daily and weekly -- and are Bungie-developed obstacles that provide short to medium-length goals to be achieved solo (Like Han but with more quotes) or with groups. As Bungie expects most gamers will tackle Challenges after spending a chunk of time with Halo: Reach, many Challenges will have a notable difficulty curve.” Challenges include killing 150 enemies in any mode in Reach, winning three games in multiplayer in a row etc.

As far as I can figure out, once you get credits in the bank, you are able to use them to heavily customise your Spartan. Bungie notes that this customisation is carried through the cut scenes as one advances through the Reach campaign.

“Bungie wanted Halo: Reach's story to be more about the player's role in the battle, rather than simply assuming control of Master Chief and guiding his actions. Your customized Spartan is even included in the cut-scenes.”

Tuesday, March 23

Spartans wear their underwear on the inside

Spartans wear their underwear on the inside

Looking at the Jet Pack, the new armour ability for Halo Reach,  I'm wondering how 'in the real world' if it would actually work...  it looks like the physics are all wrong.. where's the stabilisers? Wouldn't the Spartan burn their legs? On take off wouldn't the body get pushed forward at an unuseable angle? How will the Jet Pack be able to carry a Spartan armed with a fully laden rocket launcher?

Oh sorry did I just go too fan boy for you?


Save your Halo Reach games to a USB drive

The USB goes in under my armpart!
Word on the street is that Halo fans will be able to use USB storage devices (my mate calls them ‘dongles’) to save games and game saves directly to them.
Here’s the word from Joystick

"USB Mass Storage Device Support on Xbox 360" will soon be a reality. The document, authored by a senior software development engineer at Microsoft, states that due to "increased market penetration of high-capacity, high throughput USB mass storage devices, a 2010 Xbox 360 system update" will allow consumers to save and load game data from USB devices. The update is purportedly coming in Spring 2010."

Apparently you will be able to use 16 gig worth of storage per USB device – even if say it has 32 gigs. So if your 20 gig XBox hard drive is full of Nine in Nails and the new Hole album, feel free to save Halo Reach to your formatted USB stick!

Extra for experts: In case you didn’t know you can save the full game to your disk drive to allow for faster load times and better audio etc.

Monday, March 22

This Bird You Cannot Change?

Angelo Guibone’s custom Master Chief Zaku crossover
Master Chief Joins the Gundam Metaverse, gets cool new armour.
And you thought the Halo: Legends Spartans were bad ass. Check out the results of one Angelo Guibone’s transmogrifcation of the Master Chief into ‘Master Chief Zaku'. Which is apparently a cross over of Gundam and Halo...

Gundam? Zuku? Yeah, I had to ask too. The MS-06 Zaku II is a mobile suit from the Mobile Suit Gundam metaverse. Gundam itself is a Japanese Anime series which features giant Robots. My guess is it inspired Transformers.....

 Check out these pictures of the new Chief Armour:

Simply Bad Ass
Imagine an Elite impaled on that right shoulder...

Saturday, March 20

Final Proof Master Chief is not in Reach

Final Proof Master Chief is not in Reach!!

As championed by Keith5Morris who appears to be more of a Kratos rather than 117 fan!

Friday, March 19

Clans to Return in Reach?

Shacknews has followed up on yesterday's news about Arena and Active Rosters in Halo Reach with an interview with some Bungie staffers. Here's a taste:

Talking about Active Roster...

Luke Timmins: If you remember from Halo 2, there was a really easy way to get to my friends list. In Halo 2, it's right there. My friends and what they're doing. When Halo 3 came out, we had this big thing about trying to integrate with the Xbox 360 Guide. We had a lot of deep-thinking after that and decided we really wanted [Halo 2's system] back. We want easy access to friends. We want to see what they're doing and who they're partied up with.

[In Halo 3], we lost something there.

The active roster really is the tip of the spear for getting people this quick access to "what are my friends doing?" Oh, they're in a game? How much time is remaining? What's the score?

Lars Bakken: Active Roster is, by definition, always on. When you log into Reach at the Main Menu, the whole right half of the screen is going to be your Active Roster. You're going to see what all your friends are doing in real-time in Reach. No going to the Guide. You click the left stick to the right and you are in the Active Roster.

It has all the information what all your friends are doing, whether they're partied up or not, who they're partied up with, what gametype they're in whether they're searching in matchmaking [or in a lobby]. That is fed to you, real-time, in the menu at all times. It's always there.

Luke Timmins: We actually made a substantial investment in engineering tech in our user-interface architecture. We basically rebuit huge swaths of the UI [and players] will be really impressed by the quality of the UI. It's sexy as hell and our UI guys have done an amazing job. The most important button - if there's one button that matters - in the Active Roster, it's the "join" button.

This brings us to the next-big thing that we have wanted this since Halo 2. We couldn't get it in to Halo 2 or Halo 3, but Reach will have: Queued Join. We built this sytem where you can queue a join to a friend that's not in an immediately joinable state (in the middle of matchmaking or watching a film). When he becomes available, it will automatically put you guys together in a lobby.

Here's the full article. I am so looking forward to Queue Join!

Thursday, March 18

The Planes are Circling?

So much focus on the Beta has been amazing and we’ve made some major improvements to the engine and many across multiplayer. So, now we’re beginning the shift toward focus on the campaign again. I’m super excited about giving some love to the huge number of new campaign features that have been waiting patiently for the Beta dust to settle.

Even in the absence of getting 100% engineering support, our next full campaign playtest is nearly ready to be hammered on at the labs. It is already in a state of major improvement over our last playtest, which was just a few weeks ago. This is the most fun part of a project – when all the planes circling around in development space begin landing.

News on Multiplayer: Active Roster and Arena

News on Multiplayer: Active Roster and Arena 

Shack News has got the inside running on some new features of Halo Reach's multiplayer. It sounds like Bungie have raised the bar once more. Shack news reports on the following new features.

New Features:

Active Roster - This is a throwback to Halo 2. When you boot up Reach, right at the main menu or lobby, you'll see a list of what your Xbox Live friends are doing within Reach. You'll get detailed information about any friends playing Reach including who they are partied with, what game they are in (plus score and remaining time), and more.

Basically, Bungie wants to make it so that you do not have to utilize the Xbox Live Guide to find out what your buddies are doing in Reach.

Sweet, good common sense approach to finding your mates.


In Halo 3, it was difficult to join friends that were already playing in a match. You had to wait until they were finished. If you started a game while you waited, they would then have to wait for you. Instead of going back and forth, Reach will support queue-joining. Simply put, Reach will automatically join up as soon as your friends are joinable.


Wednesday, March 17

Top Ten Things I don’t Want to See or Hear in Reach

To celebrate the 201st post on Halo Reach Game News, here's what I don't want to hear or see in Reach.

Top Ten Things I don’t Want to See or Hear in Reach

• A Brute peeing in a corridor - I’m 32, not 12 Bungie.

• Soldiers with Australian accents – why not some Kiwi?!

• Poorly drawn faces on major characters.

• Complaints about the Sniper rifle being slowed down - it’s called balance people!

• An ambiguous ending – Halo 2 cliff-hanger ending any one?

• A legendary ending cut scene that is also ambiguous - none of this, is that a Forerunner planet? Why is the Marathon logo there? Crap. To paraphrase Tom Cruise, I want answers!

• Unrealistic Gamer Achievement Points. I’m fearing a GOW2 'Seriously?' quest to kill a 7 gabillion corny keg grunts. Or at least achievements that require 4 people with Iron skull on. Fuck that Bungie, fuck that.

• References to other games, culture nods or whatever. Keep it in the Universe! (Easter eggs allowed of course!)

• “We fell in love playing Reach multiplayer and he proposed during a game!” style stories. Dammit Dude, focus on the game, not the player!

• Last but not least, I don’t ever want to hear a 13 year whine “You stole my kill!”

Whaddaya reckon cobber? Wann-another shrimp off the barbie? Did ya see the League last night? Flip!

Extra for Experts: Here's the 200th post about something Joe Staten was seen wearing....

Tuesday, March 16

So what does Joe know about Aerospace?

Regular Halo Reach Game News readers may remember last week's post about Bungie's Aerospace Trademark application which sought to register a new logo. We wondered what it represented. Behold the logo:

The plot thickens! A keen eyed Halo fan has spied Bungie Big Wig, Joe Staten wearing a top with the Aerospace logo blatantly postioned on his breast (he he I said breast!):

On it's own, this logo display this doesn't mean much - but look for more bread crumbs from Bungie in the future as to what this actually refers to. I'd pick, however, nothing official will be announced about Bungie's future plans until the best-game-ever-to-be-made-but-not-yet-released is actually released.

Monday, March 15

Mistress Chief, Madi at SXSW Cosplay Costume

mistress chief halo
Mistress Chief, Madi at SXSW Screenburn.
Hawtymcbloggy found this most glorious Spartan cosplay costume at the SXWS. Why I've posted it, you decide.  Perhap's it's a shot of Noble Team member Kat after a hard day slugging it out with the Covenant?


Revisiting Halo: Combat Evolved

Revisiting Halo: Combat Evolved 

So after not playing it for at least 2 years, I've been chomping through the game that started it all, Halo: Combat Evolved. All the talk from Bungie about how they looked back at this game to take all its magical elements and put them into the Halo: Reach game, piqued my interest  to tear me away from Mass Effect long enough to play the entire campaign through on Heroic mode. 

Halo: Combat Evolved was released in late 2010, so that's nearly 10 years ago. It's platform was the original Xbox and it became the flagship game of what quickly became the Xbox Empire. Does it stack up still?

You start the game as a recently thawed Spartan facing an attack from the Covenant. In terms of space time context, the Planet Reach has fallen and your ship is fleeing the Covenant forces. Fighting through the Elite and Grunt invaders, you escape the doomed Pillar of Autumn and land on the Halo ring you suddenly found in space. Woot! Woot!

The escape is still a brilliant start to the game. It offers some pretty awesome action and also sets the game up quite neatly. As a player you feel you are in a space ship being attacked by aliens. The Captain Keyes and your AI companion urge you along, giving you a strong sense of urgency. Cortana (and the game's most excellent music) will keep this urgency up the entire game. It's an early sign of how great a game Halo was. 

If one was to compare the Graphics of Halo 3 to CE, you'd root for Halo 3, you'd be impressed at how far the Halo series has come. Check out Cortana for example. She has gone from purple cartoon to a purple Hologram. Cortana herself, was as cool in the first game as she was when she asked the Chief to wake her if he needed her in Halo 3. 

Aside from the fun game play, great music and bad ass elites, the true hero of Halo is the story. When I first played it, it was familiar in a sci fi kind of way but it was original. It was a chapter in a giant space opera that had spanned 1000s of years. It could simply have been called Halo: Epic.

In the second and third levels of the game, the Master Chief and Cortana gather human survivors and rescue Captain Keyes, who is imprisoned on the Covenant ship Truth and Reconciliation. The insertion to rescue the Captain is a favourite level of mine. It's the first time you get to use a sniper rifle and it;s one of the best. It's also a muthucka ucking up your shiittee on Lengendary mode. 

Once rescued, Keyes orders the Master Chief to beat the Covenant to Halo's control center and to discover its purpose.The Master Chief and Cortana travel to a map room called the Silent Cartographer, which leads them to the control room.There, Cortana enters the systems and, discovering something urgent, suddenly sends the Master Chief to find Captain Keyes, while she stays behind. While searching for his commander, the Master Chief learns that the Covenant have accidentally released the Flood, a parasitic alien race capable of spreading itself by overwhelming and infesting other sentient life-forms. Flood should actually be spelt D-O-O-M!

And thus we get to the point of the Halo installation itself. Halo was a weapon to destroy the flood. Every thing about the game changed from that point on. Human kind was now at war with two separate groups - the Covenant and the Flood. In their ignorance about the Forerunner technologies (albeit a chosen ignorance as was revealed in the novel Contact Harvest) the Covenant had let loose hell itself. Luckily the Chief was Hell's Janitor himself and took the Flood on with many a brutal shotgun blast to the head. 

While fighting the Flood, the Covenant, and Guilty Spark's Sentinels, the Master Chief and Cortana attempt to destroy Halo before 343 Guilty Spark activates it. Cortana discovers that the best way to destroy Halo is to cause the crashed Pillar of Autumn to self-destruct. 

The game play comes full circle as the Chief and Cortana return to the ship where we started the game. This time instead of Elites we battle a hoard of the Flood who by now are completely desperate to prevent the destruction of Halo so they may live and restart their take over of the galaxy. 

The Master Chief manually causes the Pillar of Autumn's fusion reactors to begin to melt down thus setting up a thrilling finale of 'The Maw'. In a race against the clock the Chief has to get off the Halo. Running a gauntlet of Flood in a Warthog to catch up to a pick up point - For me, this is one of the most memorable parts of Combat Evolved (another being the music on the Silent Cartographer level). There's a neat little trick which EVERYONE fell for the first time they did the level which makes it even more classic and more fun. A replay of the game ending still holds up in this current era of 'massive game finishes'. So much so Halo 3, mimicked this ending, bring a nice conclusion to the Halo series. 

So while the game's graphics may look a little tired to modern day games such as Call of Duty and Mass Effect or even the new Final Fantasy, the game play still holds up. It's well paced, and has many neat combat scenarios to keep the player well entertained. At times the game can be infuriating - Floods with rocket launchers and annoying fire from Banshee ships can impede your progress, but getting through them proves the game's worth. I'm almost tempted to suggest that Bungie should have remade Halo: Combat Evolved instead of Reach but as the story has already been told, I'll sit and patiently play through the rest of the Halo series until Reach is safely in my Xbox 360's disk drive. 

Bioshiock 2 DLC already on disk - what about Reach?

There’s been a few grizzle grumps about the first load of Down Loadable Content for Bioshock 2 via the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Networks as accordingly to rumours circulating the web - the DLC is already on the game disc and is unlocked by downloading a small file.

People appear to be grumpy they are playing unlock content that is already on the disk.

The ‘Sinclair Solutions’ DLC increases the multiplayer ranking to level 50, brings two new playable characters, Louie McGraff and Oscar Calraca, 20 new trials, a third upgrade for each weapon and five new masks. It has been reported that buyers have noticed that the DLC file download is only 24K for PC versions of the game and 108K for the Xbox 360 version.

So, dear reader what do you think about it? Do you think this is a case of the publisher 2K trying to get gamers to pay for something that they have already paid for or do you think it's entirely valid for developers to do this sort of thing? I’m in the later camp – it’s simply an efficient way of providing a mechanism to allow the game to be developed as effectively as possible. The game was sold as Bioshock to the buyer on as ‘as is’ basis with no expectations given other than you would get the game. NE thing else is an optional extra. The means you get it is irrelevant.

Indeed Bioshock's producers 2K have actually responded publically:

"The way our engine and game structure works is that people need to have the exact same content for people to play together. One of the challenges with post launch content for MP is that it can split the player base, and we want to avoid that whenever possible. For this content, creating the DLC package the way we did allowed for us to not split the player base - so whether you purchase the new content or not, you can still play with your friends," said 2K community manager Elizabet Tobey.
Responding to the grizzle grumps upset at paying to unlock content already on the disk, Ms Tobey said "I know some of you have strong beliefs about DLC, and I'm not here to sway your opinion or convince you to buy our stuff – if you like what we're offering, I hope you get it and enjoy it. If it's not your speed, enjoy BioShock 2 as we released it"

Why am I talking about this on a Reach blog? Well, do you think Bungie might be up to using ideas of a similar ilk? Extra ‘perks’ like the Sprint and Jet Packs for example. The coding for say an extension to a sniper rifle’s siting or extra armour permutations could already be included on the Reach disk.

I some how doubt Bungie could pull that off for the Multiplayer maps, but who knows?

What do you think about havign to play to unlock content you already have?

Sunday, March 14

Emerald City Comic Convention 2010 Pictures / Cosplay

Emerald City Comic Convention 2010 Pictures / Cosplay

Where? March 13th & 14th, 2010  Washington State Convention Center :: Seattle, WA

These days it's almost mandatory to dress up when you go to a convention. Check out some of the costumes from the Emerald City Comic Convention where the Halo Universe was in full swing.

Want some Candy?
Beam me up, Soldier!

Image Sauce: I am ODST

Willow Wickedness

Cheif and ODST

Blood, sweat and tears going into Campaign...

Noble Actual was updated by Joe Tung with an update on the progress of the Multiplayer Beta which is internally known as the Delta and the 'home stretch' (!) of the Reach campaign testing known as the Alpha... confused?

"Meanwhile the internal Alpha continues apace. A few thousand folks from all over the world are playing games and generating loads of great bugs and feedback on everything from Assassinations to the Arena. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on at the studio. And that’s just the multiplayer side of the house! There’s a proportionate amount of blood, sweat and tears going into Campaign as we enter the home stretch. More on that next time."

Grunts R Us has new digs!

Check out the Grunts R Us website, they've flashed themselves up a bit. Must have a new to get ready for the Reach beta eh?

You may have noticed Halo Reach Game News got new digs too...

Saturday, March 13

Halo Reach sounds off...

I've already done 4 posts today and a couple more in draft so I'm simply gonna steal this one about the effort that goes into making the sound for Halo Reach. Hat tip to Grunts R Us and IGN!


Bungie takes their sound design very seriously. Today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco Jay Weinland the Senior Audio Lead at Bungie talked about their sound tool and the difficulty of managing hundreds of sound events in their games. The talk was quick and to the point with a brief insight into one of the ways Bungie has approached game design on Xbox 360. To set the stage Weinland threw out a few statistics about the number of audio events currently in the latest Halo project.

At any given time in a game there can be 195 different surface types, 22 audio events, 1789 crates (movable objects), about 24 bipeds (characters), and 165 projectiles. These elements combine for what Weinland admitted is an unknown number of audio events. And that's why their tool is so important.

The tool works on an Actor vs. Actee principal, which mean that both an object and the environment can create a sound when they interact. Then, the tool can tag which sounds play when two objects touch. For example, when a Warthog crushes a large, heavily armored Covenant soldier you can tag the sound of crunching metal. Weinland mentioned that new to the design process for Halo Reach, animators can tag objects for specific sounds during the design phase, and that information is pulled into the audio tool. He also referenced the sound of a "sprinting" biped, which he said we might be experiencing soon.

Weinland also showed a screenshot of an audio level, a bare bones environment in Halo that contains different colored areas indicating separate surface types. That way, it's possible to quickly test audio interactions in the environment.

During the question and answer section Weinland was asked if they've ever run into memory problems. He answered by saying that Bungie had early on made the "acceptable decision" to make heavy use of the hard drive. They figured that most people playing Halo would own a hard drive and thus the "Non-hard drive case of Halo audio is not as good as Halo audio with the hard drive."


That's a nifty feature to be able to utilise the assets of the Xbox 360 in that fashion. I've heard laptops and PCs can do that trick, so it seems a natural application of the theory. 

Friday, March 12

Frag this!

What's blue and sticky? 

The Weekly Bungie update is up and it has this great tid bit of information about frag grenades in Reach:

Urk writes to the Faithful:

"And since we’re talking about lobbing grenades, I should note that the team has added a pretty slick new mechanism to the fragmentation fold. Now when you lob a pineapple towards some unsuspecting schmuck camping around the corner, you’ll notice the Bouchon assembly has a small, orange tracer attached to it. Not only can you pick up incoming frags much easier with a quick glance, if you look carefully, you’ll also notice that the tracer is actually emitting light that has an effect upon the surrounding environment. So, even if you happen to have your audio system muted, you’ll still be able to pick up on grenades that prime near your position.

Pretty nifty, eh? There’s more. Should you happen to have your surround sound kicking at full capacity, you’ll be privy to the second layer of changes made to the fragmentation grenade. Just before the nade gets ready to blow, you’ll hear a brief metallic clink that lets you know you need to get clear. Of course, if it’s a loud clink, you’re probably about to take the full brunt of the blast, but hey, at least you’ll know what killed you when you take the finishing shot from some fool’s Magnum. No more, “What!? He only shot me once!” It’ll be nice and clear what did the majority of the dirty deed."

Cool, it reminds me kind of like Call of Duty 3....

Here's some Reach Water

The Weekly update gave us a snippet about frag grenades and sneak peak of Reach footage... of water! See how the wild river flows! You could have set Moses himself down that water! Aquaman could live there...

What's a grognok? and other questions

Some Halo questions for you, with possible answers linked...
I bet grognoks are cuddly (if a grognok is actually a thing!)