Tuesday, June 29

How's that for a custom game?

"The testers have started doing this thing where they give themselves invulnerability, unlimited weapons, bottomless clip, unlimited armor abilities, so they can give themselves jet pack and stay in the air infinitely and rain down unlimited rockets. Then they ramp up the AI to an insane degree, but since they're invulnerable, they don't die, but the AI are doing incredible things trying to kill them."

How's that for a custom game in Firefight 2.0?

An article with Bungie's Brian Jarrad explains:

The goal in this mode is simply to get the most points before the timer runs out (since you can't actually die). Bakken is quick to note that players will actually earn credits for ridiculous custom modes like this, but, he says, "Not nearly as much...We don't want it to be that players sit there, make the easiest mode, and earn a bunch of credits. They'll be able to do that, but they'll earn maybe a tenth of what they would in matchmaking."

Jarrad also featured on Halo Reach Game News this week - a brief note on why Bungie did not go for Halo 4.

Extra for Expertz:

A lengthy discussion with Jarrad again - this time on lessons learnt from the Reach Beta.

Saturday, June 26

Halo 4 considered but Reach story more appealing

Brian Jarrad has spoken how Bungie briefly considered doing a 'Halo 4' game which could have been a story set after the events of Halo 3:

"Even before the idea to build a game based around Reach came about, a lot of other concepts were explored, up to and including a proper 'Halo 4,' where Master Chief was going to wake up from cryo-sleep and we were going to tell that story."

Jarrard went on to explain that the idea never made it out of pre-production, saying, "it just wasn't as interesting to the team to just pick up where that left off and all the baggage that came with it."

I'm picking this is exactly what Microsoft is going to do however and that 343 Industries will do the Halo 4 story of what happened to him and Cortana. The Chief is too central to the Franchise to not have him in another Halo game (in that Reach supposedly doesn't have him in it, ODST did not). Three games without the Chief would be taking away too much from the core of Halo. 

Friday, June 25

Send in your links!

Hey Halo fans - if you have a Halo blog, site or envelope worth opening, feel free to send a linkto a page or whatever my way and Halo Reach Game News will be more than happy to share it - we love the good stuff! We also love guests posts ! Get to me via the Contacts page. Hoorah!

Also link swaps are always welcome, but please only good guys like Grunts R Us need apply - you scammers and non fans need not apply!

PS This is why Argentina is gonna win the World Cup!

Life size Elite Costume

Check out this to scale (i.e. lifesize) costume of an Elite. It's the like the ultimate cos play costume! Done by this guy Pete Mander and check out some pix here

This thing is huge!

ZBR Hit and Smashed

So, the Reach Development Team have reached Zero Bug Release:

Another long stretch without any updates. Since E3, we have been crushing bugs and working 24/7. It’s been brutal, but we did get to ZBR last night at midnight. Now we’re closing in on fixing only the crazy weird bugs that we feel just break the game or make us vomit. :)

This is also a time in the project when most of the team is locked out of the database and “have” to play the game all day. What poor souls.

Me, well I get to sit in a cold dark room triaging bugs for most of the day, then fixing some of them into the night.

We’re almost done and it’s playing so damn good!! I can’t wait for you all to join Noble Team on Reach in just a few months.


So the realization of Reach is nearly at hand, soon we shall have the most epic xbox game of ALL TIME in our hands, soon my precious, soon...

Who does Jorge have eyes for?

This is the Halo: Reach cover art - does it bug anyone else that the four Spartans from the right are looking one way, while Jorge is looking the other? I mean if FOUR SPARTANS need to look in one direction, what's so interesting for Jorge? Like is Cortana just over yonder or something? And who took the picture? The Lone Wolf?

Thursday, June 24

Will we see this chap in Reach?

It's doubtful we'll meet these guys in Halo: Reach as their first encounter was in Combat Evolved. Still, if you want to see more of these awesome clay caricatures - check out the Antithesis collection!

And just because he's too cute, an Engineer!

Friday, June 18

On The Home Front - Bungie Weekly Update

On The Home Front - Bungie Weekly Update

Note a lot of Halo Reach News in the update this week (as most of the E3 release was news) it was basically a run around the park - I did enjoy Urk's shout out to his Bungie Brothers:

While the majority of this update is dedicated to wrapping up all the E3 aftermath, it would be a damn shame if we didn’t give some props to the studio-at-large. Most of the Reach team stayed behind this week with bigger fish to fry, continuing to blitz through the remaining bugs as Reach proper comes into the ZBR home stretch. It’s almost there.

The monumental amount of work involved with prepping our E3 content for show (and still being injected into what will become the retail build) is absolutely mind blowing. Though our E3 away team got to bask in a little bit of glory this week, witnessing firsthand the stunned looks on everyone’s faces as space was finally revealed and we unwrapped Firefight live for the very first time, we want to make sure that none of our stay at home heroes went unsung.

For Marcus and the team, Reach has been a massive investment of talent, resources, and time. When we say this is the most ambitious game Bungie has ever built, we’re not just blowing smoke. The proof is in the pudding. Reach is huge and it is awesome. Space combat in Campaign and Firefight 2.0 are two examples that we felt strongly demonstrate what this team is capable of. We were damn proud to show them both off on the rest of the team’s behalf.

We hoped you like what you saw. Stay Tuned.


I'm tuned. You, Dear Halo Fan?

Firefight Pictures from Bungie

Check out these awesome pictures of Halo Reach's Firefight mode, currently being promoted as Fire Fight Evolved.  Feel free to use Bungie's sweet pictures as wall paper... right click save as etc...

 Et Tu Brute!!

Ah it looks cool but not as good as the Noble Hunt!

So the Skirmishers will be in Reach, skirmishing I guess.

Here's the biggest clue yet that the Master Chief will appear in Halo: Reach

Here's the biggest clue yet that the Master Chief will appear in Halo: Reach

Check out this exchange in an interview that videogamer.com did with Joe Tung and Eric Osborne (Urk!) from Bungie as they did promo chats for Reach at E3:

Q: Does Master Chief pop up in any shape or form in Halo: Reach?

JT: Reach takes place just prior to the events of Halo 1. Beyond that I don't think we want to talk any more about what's going on in the campaign, unfortunately.

EO: It's a standalone prequel, so Master Chief's story begins after the events of Reach.

Q: So is that no, Master Chief is not in the game?

JT: That's... er... we're not talking about that right now


You would have thought that if the Master Chief was not in Halo Reach they would have just said NO. 

Instead they didn't and thus continued to build expectations that 117 will be in Reach. They will know the effects of saying stuff like this in an interview - if the Chief was not in Reach then Bungie would be crucified by the Halo community for allowing expectations to be built by not confirming the Chief was not in Reach. If that made sense!

An Epic Joe Tung interview

Videogamer.com has done an interview with Joe Tung (read his blog at Noble Actual) as part of the E3 promotional round for Halo Reach. Here's the first part of the interview which featured a discussion about the new space mission and flying round in the Sabre.

Q: Space is a new battlefield for Bungie. Did you look to other flight combat games on other consoles to see what they were doing right or wrong, or was it something you were happy to innovate off of your own backs?

JT: Sage Merrill, who's our sandbox designer for Reach, he actually worked on Crimson Skies. He absolutely looked at lots of other flight games that were out there. But you know we didn't want to make a flight simulator for Reach. We wanted to make a very accessible, easy to use and fun to play space mission. So there's a little bit of a difference in trying to make a fully-featured flight sim and the mission we made, I think. Sage did an amazing job of nailing the Saber.

Q: So is the flight mission all his work?

JT: The Saber is his work and then he works with the mission designer to put together what you see there.

Q: So space combat is only in one level in the game?

JT: It is.

Q: Can you use it in multiplayer?

JT: You can play four-player co-op and everyone will have their own Saber.

That's right, your own one of these!
Q: Can we expect to see any new gameplay mechanics?

JT: There are quite a lot of other new things in the game. There's nothing else we can talk about today. But there's some really exciting stuff in campaign and multiplayer that we've yet to announce.

Q: Is the Saber limited to campaign?

EO: The Saber is limited to campaign, so you can play campaign co-op four players, and you'll all have your own Saber like Joe says. You can go in and take the mission on. The full mission isn't Saber start to finish. As you saw you start on the beach a little bit, you work your way up, there's also some combat afterwards that we're not revealing at this time. There's plenty of stuff in the campaign that's going to be sweet. This is just a taste of what's going to be in Reach. It's one small facet of the overall campaign that we're putting together. We're super excited and unfortunately we can't talk about all of the stuff we're really excited about.

JT: I can't say enough how much this is just a tiny slice of the entire game. The game is pretty epic in scope.


No shit Joe! The only thing that would make Halo Reach more epic would be to call it Halo: Reach It's Epic!

So what's popular on Halo Reach Game News right now?

So what's popular on Halo Reach Game News right now? Why, these pages below are. The links below are chock full of cool facts about the spartans of team Noble, pictures of Cortana and various bits of artwork. Get to it soldier!

 Meet Reach's Noble Team Members

 Halo Reach Goodness Round Up: Warthog of the Skies

 Why Halo: Reach will be better than Sex

 Cortana: Everyone's favourite A.I.

 Meet Spartan Emile

 I'm Noble 6. No, I'm Noble 6. NO! I'm Noble 6.

 Game Informer Cover Artwork Revealed

 But can you play as Oonsk?

 Meet Spartan JORGE

 Meet Spartan Kat

 The Space Ships of Halo: Reach

 Meet Spartan Carter

 10 Halo Reach Questions (and Answers) for people who hate the Bungie Forums

 Halo Reach Campaign Screen Shots Leaked by Tom Morello

 Reach Multiplayer Video Released

 Will the Master Chief be in Halo: Reach? Who else?

 Is the Master Chief Noble 6?

 Meet Spartan XXX

 Meet Spartan JUN

Trainspotters might note that most of these pages are not latest news posts - people find that kind of stuff from coming direct to the home page - google sorts out the rest of internet queries and sends people to the above pages!

Thursday, June 17

Firefight Round Up IGN Style

Halo Reach
IGN has a sweet round up of the improvements to Firefight mode - now that it's officially in the game!


Who didn't see this addition coming? Firefight was introduced in Halo 3: ODST, but you could only set up a game with people on your friend list. That made the mode rather useless for those out there that don't have a lot of friends as interested in Halo as they might be. In
Halo: Reach, you're free to play with anybody online also looking for a partner.

Now what does this mean for the four player co-op campaign? Perhaps we'll finally see some matchmaking added there, too.
Wave Limits and Time Limits
This is huge. In Halo 3: ODST, skilled players could go hours upon hours. There was no end and Firefight turned into a test of endurance. That's nice for some people, but it can be exhausting for others. This option is still available in Halo: Reach, but it isn't the default way to play.

If you hop into a quick Firefight game, you'll find the skull progression altered and only one set of Covenant waves. The games have a time limit and unlimited respawns turned on as well, which means a default Firefight game only lasts about 10 minutes. It feels more like a quick arcade game than a massive test of skill.

The Toys 
New toys are on the way which shouldn't be any surprise. Armor abilities, including the new Shield Drop that plops down an area-effect healing bubble shield, are in. New weapons like the Target Locator that calls in air strikes are there for your amusement. Little weapon drops come falling from the sky, offering powerful weapons to take on the new Covenant AI variants that come streaming in. Nothing special, right? 

Well, don't dismiss all of the new toys as nothing more than expected additions. Jet packs alone will completely change the way a team of Spartans should approach Firefight. The new guns and abilities are powerful, so much so that they made the default Firefight mode seem rather easy on Heroic difficulty. 

Of course, if you don't want to play a short game, Bungie isn't forcing you to. In fact, they're not forcing you to do anything in Firefight. You can edit just about any option, tweak any setting, and even set up your own skull modifiers and weapon loadouts. You can then save all of your custom options, slap them in your file share and let the world play your creation. It's like having the freedom of Forge, without the map editing tools. 

Though I wouldn't rule out Forge options in Firefight just yet. Bungie seems like they may have a few tricks up their sleeve yet. 

This is one such custom variant of Firefight that Bungie had on hand (the other was Generator Defense, a tweaked version of what many of us played in the multiplayer beta). The game is played just like the default Firefight mode, only every loadout comes with a rocket launcher and ammo is unlimited. It is awesome. 

Jet packs and rocket launchers are such a natural fit that I don't know how they didn't come together in a Halo game sooner. 

Saturday, June 5

Halo Reach heads to Zero Bugs Release

Is your tool of destruction a bug?

Halo Reach heads to Zero Bugs Release

The Bungie update was done by Sketch this week and he talks about ZBR, Zero Bugs Release:
"The studio is literally buzzing around the clock these days with people going to great lengths to push Reach from being a great game to a freaking awesome Bungie game. If you follow Marcus and Joe’s periodic updates over at Noble Actual then you already know we’ve crushed a few big milestones lately and the project is moving into the final stretch. But what does it all mean? Where exactly is Reach development RIGHT NOW? I went direct to Joe Tung for the answer:
What stage of development are we in right now?

We are closing. There are 18 days 14 hours and 30 seconds left before ZBR*, after which we enter a phase of testing and stabilization where changes are minimal. Most everyone on the project is focused on one thing: crushing their bug counts to zero. A lot of the final polish - the stuff that can only get done once the vast majority of the game stable – is coming online, and it is glorious. Hallways that already looked beautiful before now have smoke and debris falling from the ceilings, missions that were already fun are getting lots of design polish, troopers who have been previously mute or overly verbose are now saying the right things at the right time.
*ZBR is old school software development vernacular that literally stands for “Zero Bug Release.” In reality it’s a bit of a misnomer as bugs are still being fixed but it’s come to represent the pivotal milestone where the game gets clamped down and the bar for making changes is significantly raised to only those that are deemed “Pri1Sev1” and have major negative impacts to the game."
I say, Bring it!!!

Thursday, June 3

Space Smack Talk

IO9 has an article on the best space battle smack talk. Halo 3 rates a mention:

'Halo 3, "The Crow's Nest" level. The Chief and Johnson reach the Command Center and start making plans to attack Truth's army, but then Truth appears on all screens and says:

"You are, all of you, vermin. Cowering in the dirt, thinking...what, I wonder? That you might escape the coming fire? No! Your world will burn until its surface is but glass! And not even your Demon will live to creep, blackened, from its hole to mar the reflection of our passage; the culmination of our Journey. For your destruction is the will of the gods! And I? I AM their instrument!" '

Last laugh was on the Arbiter though eh?

Wednesday, June 2

Bridge Building Halo 2 Style

Urban Reflex was kind enough to once give me a code to the Halo 3 beta - jeez I loved that.

Now, via HBO, I've discovered he builds bridges for the Halo Community in more ways than one:

Check out the video and read this notes:

So back in the days of Halo 2, we had no fancy smancy 'Forge'. This was back when men were men, and had to use their own damn ingenuinty to create anything from anything! Can I get a hoo-rah?

Anyway, my buddy n3wbster and I would always try and create things with boxes. Without a lot of success really. But on Headlong, there was one thing we must've done 7 or 8 times: Build a wall. We'd place it near the septagon under the bridge that lead to the sword building, mess around with it, then blast through it with the Wraith in a display of awesomeness and shower of boxes.

Two years ago (June 4th 2008 in fact, shortly after I first got my capture card) we went back on to Halo 2 with the explicit intent of recording us building the wall to show the Halo community how much time we had wasted in our lives. The raw video file itself was an hour long, which shows just how practised we had gotten at this fine art considering originally it would take us a couple of hours or so. It's taken me two years to get around to editing this down to a watchable length, mainly because things go wrong during the construction and I was a little put off with it.

0:00: This first part shows us moving the boxes down to the floor. They key is to knock any that are up high down so you can move them around to where they need to be. So boxes inside the base, the sword room, and near the offensive spawn point all need to be pushed into the dirt area for transport. As you see in the video, you can jump a gauss warthog into the sword building to help remove the boxes there, and then drive it around to the base to get the ones nearish the beam rifle spawn.

1:30: Then we moved the boxes we've dropped to the stairs near the broken highway ramp with the Wraith, then using swords and gauss warthogs to push them up those stairs. Alternatively you can use the wraith to push the boxes around under the septagon, but you have to be careful as you can lose boxes that was if they all glitch together and disappear. A problem that will become evident later...

3:15: At this point we move the green bus into position at the underneath of the bridge. This acts as the base of the wall, which we're going to pile boxes up onto. I kinda forgot how weak the bus was and shot it with the gauss cannon: not a good idea because now the surface is not flat, and the boxes don't lay 100% perfectly on it. My bad. Next step is to push all the boxes down onto the bus and along it to fill in the gap at the end. That's your first layer. Then it's rinse and repeat for the second layer, being careful not to knock any boxes off of the bus.

5:52: Now our problems start to appear. Firstly, the last box is too big for the hole that we're trying to fit it into. This could've been avoided by just using the smaller, slightly rounded boxes all along the top rather than the larger, pointy corner types. Also, the bus fail surely didn't help. Because of our efforts to fit it in, one of the crates glitched out of the game, literally disappearing. This can happen if the boxes are pushing against each other too much. I remember, we had a perfect wall once, and the bus vanished, leaving a row of boxes suspended in mid air. That was amusing. Anyway, later on a second box disappears and this is when we just think "screw this".

7:36: Awesome Wraith box smashing. It's very satisfying to do, especially when the wall gets messed up like this one did and the frustration mounts as you try and repair it but it doesn't work as well as you'd hoped. Look at those boxes scatter!

8:11: Just some random bits of gameplay from us messing around afterwards, including n3wbster driving the warthog over the suspended girder in the middle of the level. It was something he always used to be able to do, but we hadn't played for a while so I bet him he couldn't do it. I lost the bet :(