Thursday, June 30

Bungie's Aerospace to take off with independent games

Sorry for the obvious headline but Bungie make it too easy sometimes! So finally after a lot of subtle hints and wonderment about what per per audacia ad astra means, Bungie Aerospace is announced as being a house to publish video games. Another small step in Bungie's quest for world domination, a giant leap forward for people who want quality video games.

Bungie's official press release begins with "Today Bungie launched the first phase of a new venture, Bungie Aerospace, created to help independent developers create brilliant mobile and social games. Bungie Aerospace will give studios the creative freedom and the resources they need, like access to the platform and an audience with the incredible Bungie community, to launch their entertainment experiences into orbit."

Into orbit? Surely that will make ipads even more expensive?

“Bungie has always been passionate about making and playing great games, regardless of platform,” said Pete Parsons, Bungie COO. “Bungie Aerospace will allow us to explore game creation in multiple formats with some amazingly talented teams. Now that we’ve returned to our roots as an independent studio, we are in a position to launch Bungie Aerospace to support, foster, and elevate like-minded, independent developers.”

Multiple formats sounds great - we know Bungie's next venture is going to be for at least both the Playstation and the Xbox so getting onto Ipads, Ipods and androids and the like is a pretty logical step - it's the way the world's going these days - I think I saw a headline that had Google androids being adopted by technology loving punters at a rate of 500,000 units per day - that's a market that's only beginning to be tapped and it's clear Bungie Aerospace wants to tap that market.

Fly me to the moon!
Bungie Aerospace’s first official partnership is with Seattle-based developer Harebrained Schemes, helmed by Jordan Weisman, the creative mind behind Halo 2’s “I Love Bees” Alternate Reality Game, FASA Interactive, Wizkids, the MechWarrior and Shadowrun universes, and dozens of other creations and companies. The studio’s first mobile gaming title, "Crimson," is set to launch this summer on iOS and Android devices.

Cant.Hardly.Wait to see how this pans out! Good luck Bungie. We heart you. And bees

Wednesday, June 29

The Secrets Within Halo 4?

Thanks to HBO, I found this cool site, The Secrets Within which ponders the Halo story / plot line - Here's the Flugemeister's latest pondering on what he thinks Halo 4 may be about.

Is he on the money or has his imagination gone rampant?

Halo: Reach title update on the way

BS Angel tells us to 'don't worry, be happy' about the Halo: Reach Update

'Before you tackle the above tasks, there is one more thing we should talk about, something we hinted at both during E3 and, more recently, in the first paragraph of this Bulletin. We’re pleased to confirm that we’re planning a Title Update (a small download which will add some interesting functionality) for Halo: Reach in preparation for the multiplayer aspect of Halo: Anniversary.

If your heart suddenly sped up, fret not, Reach fan. This is something that will not only sit side-by-side with Reach’s existing gameplay and will be accessible by both Reach and Anniversary players, but will allow us to make fairly significant changes to multiplayer gameplay within the confines of Matchmaking. We’ve talked about this as a way to better recreate the classic Halo: CE feel for the new classic maps, and it will let us do some things in gameplay that simply aren’t possible now. I don’t want to give too much away until we get through gameplay and bug-testing, but an example scenario would be allowing you to play, say, [REDACTED] with zero fall damage. Now that’s a limited and simplistic example, but it does speak to the way we’re approaching the changes philosophically. There are some bigger ticket “classic” Halo gameplay elements which people are clamoring for and which we intend to do our best to deliver on. More news about specific changes and the timing of the Title Update will be forthcoming. But I can say that, having tried a few of the more significant tweaks, certain “classic” elements are already working with beautiful and deadly efficiency.'

So start your forum bitchin soldier!

Monday, June 27

Halo 4 Gossip

Here's some of the recent Halo 4 Gossip 

Frankie says the changes to the Master Chief that we saw in the Halo 4 video were related to in game story “There are specific reasons why he looks the way he does and why some of his behaviours have changed. We’ll see in good time.” So that’s confirmation the suit amendment is not simply a cosmetic change.

Frankie also says their will be a panel on the Halo Universe at the Sandiego Comic Con on 22 July.


BS Angel suggested on Waypoint "Join Frank O’Connor, Kevin Grace, and others from 343 Industries as well as special Halo guests Greg Bear and Karen Traviss for a discussion of the first 10 years of Halo and a sneak peek into what’s next for this exciting sci-fi universe." 

I would hope a discussion about the first 10 years of Halo would at least include some else from Bungie other than Frankie? (Who I think was there from about the time of the release of Halo 2)

Mission Ice Fly: Test Subjects Needed Now

Is this site part of an ARR? The site is reportedly registered to the same team who created the alternate reality game for Halo 3. A rumor also suggests that select people were given motorized ice flies at the Microsoft press conference at this year’s E3. Note the fly in the top left corner of the image below.

Sunday, June 26

Gears will give you a skinful of skins.

Team: We Live on a Boat
Cliff Bleszinski said last year that  Gears of War 3 would feature unlockables that fans can acquire by playing other Epic games, such as the first two Gears of War. 

"Rod Fergusson from Epic has given an update on what Cliffy was referring to. "If you did something in 'Gears' PC you get a chrome skin, if you did something in 'Gears 2' you get a chrome skin,"  . "The chrome set is sort of our thank-you to people who played our games in the past."

If you had some special skins from Gears 2, they will be able to be used in Game Three: "Two of the weapon skins are based on historical weapon skins, so if you want the gold lancer and the gold hammerburst in 'Gears 3,' you get them by owning the gold hammerburst and the gold lancer in 'Gears 2,' so those skins transfer over," he said.

The system of  unlock these skins is  based on  gaming achievements which makes me think I should go stock up on all those multiplayer ones I didn't get. And why did I not get them? Gears multiplayer kinda sucks for me. I just don't enjoy it. Spoilt by Halo. Don't get me wrong, I love the campaign! 

GOW's Beast Mode explained

'Much has changed in the year since Epic Games last showed Beast Mode, the play-as-the-bad-guys part of this September's Gears of War 3. Much has changed for the better, I learned, when I played the new Beast Mode yesterday.
The new, revised Beast Mode I was shown yesterday, is now a violent rush to defeat waves of humans in as little time as possible. You get to control some epic monstrosities to get this job done. It sure is fun to be the ugliest bad guys in the Gears universe. Let me explain the joys of Beast Mode to you.
Beast Mode is a standalone part of Gears of War 3 that can be played by up to five players. As the Gears developers at Epic Games first advertised it when they showed it a year ago at gaming press events, you play as the Gears games' bad guys. You play as the brutal Boomers, the irrepressible Berserkers, as the pesky Tickers and even as something that looks like a giant centipede. The biggest change is that Beast is now played for time. The game's Horde Mode, which lets a batch of players team up against waves of beasts can be a four-hour survival marathon. Beast, Gears of War 3 lead producer Rod Fergusson explained to me yesterday as we battled through it, is a game of speed. Anyone can get through Beast Mode's 12 levels, but how fast can you do it? Half an hour? Maybe just 16 minutes, if you're a ninja Epic Games tester?
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponA Beast Mode session rolls out in waves. At the start, it's just you, as one of an initial selection of five types of beasts, against some wimpy humans. You play on any of the game's multiplayer maps (we played on "Drydock" which is a rectangular map full of blind corners with an elevated walkway in the center). The humans are computer-controlled. They automatically place traps—barricades, turrets and dummies—the kind of defenses that players can deploy as humans in this new game's "Horde Mode 2.0."
The most important thing to know about playing Beast Mode is that you start with only one minute left on the play clock. In one minute, the Hammer of Dawn will strike from above and kill everyone on your team. That would be bad. Thankfully, you gain time on the clock every time you kill an enemy or destroy an emplacement.
You also earn money with each kill, healing moves and damage caused to pathetic human emplacements. That's handy, because you must pay money to become a beast. Each time you die, you have to pay to become a new one. As you earn certain large amounts of money, you'll unlock new beasts to choose from and have an increasingly enjoyable time mauling pathetic humans. But as the waves of Beast Mode progress, you'll also find yourself no longer just going up against easily-shredded ordinary male and lady soldiers. Heroes of the Gears-verse will appear, one at a time, then in groups. They are harder to kill and, worse, they have heavy guns. Anya's got a mortar. Cole's got a Boomshot. Hoffman has a Hammer of Dawn.

The First Beasts

The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe cheapest beast is the Wild Ticker. For a mere virtual $75, you can be this scampering, fast little pest that excels at munching through spiked fences. It can eat grenades, but that's a useless skill unless you have a friend playing as a grenadier unit. (This would turn you into a virtual suicide bomber. See the next unit for why that's good.) You want to be this guy if you want to chomp through defenses.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe Ticker is also only $75 and very similar to his wild cousin, except he's always ready to blow up. He can detonate as soon as you pull the trigger, so make him run into a crowd and blow himself up. Try not to think about what the real-world equivalent is.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe Wretch is a basic melee unit. His best ability is a scream attack which can stun humans. As Fergusson noted, you want to think about team strategies for Beast Mode. If I'm the Wretch, I can stun guys into position. Then you can run up as a Ticker and blow them up. Good plan?
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponIf you want to wield a retro lancer, be aSavage Drone.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThis guy is a Butcher. He is very slow but can take a beating. He's a walking tank, if a tank had a machete instead of a cannon.

The Second Tier of Beasts

As you kill and destroy, you are clearing waves of human enemies. Each player is also amassing a pile of virtual money that they draw from each time they die and need to spawn (you're never locked into being the same beast, so you can pay to respawn as whichever beast you can afford). As you reach certain money goals, you unlock a new tier of more expensive, playable beasts...
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponI hate, hate, hate the Kantus when I have to fight him in Gears games. He's a shaman of sorts, and it turns out he's great to be. He has a gorgon pistol and inky poison grenades. Better is that he can heal and revive injured and downed allies. Healing earns you money, so it's worth doing.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponFergusson told me that the Bloodmount was hard to control. That sounded like a challenge. And sure enough, I made sure the Bloodmount ruled the battlefield (briefly). You control the beast here, not the rider. You've got a melee attack and the ability to spot enemies for the rider, who is constantly shooting. This is not a beginner unit, I'm told, but it is awesome.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe Mauler has a shield, as you can see. Fergusson said that one of his team's strategies in Beast Mode is to form a phalanx of Maulers and then march them ahead of a few Boomers who fire boomshots over their heads. That is a hell of a tip, from Rod to you. Use it!

Beasts: Tier Three

As noted above, you start each wave with one minute remaining on the clock. Kills and destruction of emplacements add time (so, bear in mind, if the clock is about to run out, some backfield beast can save the day by munching through an unattended enemy fence to add some time.) If you and your teammates all die and have to re-start the wave, three minutes of penalty time are added to the total time tabulated for getting through Beast Mode. You don't play those three minutes. They just make your completion time look even worse. Remember, the goal is to finish Beast Mode's 12 waves as fast as possible.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe incredibly awesome Giant Serapede is a heavily-armored, fast centipede of sorts that you control. It's weak spot is its tail. It's killing moves come from the pincers around its jaws. This thing lets you live out whatever monster-movie fantasies you've ever had, if your favorite monster movies involved giant snakes and if you wanted to be that snake. Surely, that's at least one of you out there? This unit costs $1350, by the way.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe Savage Corpser is another wonderfully evil unit. It is sort of like controlling a giant hand. It has a brutal melee attack and, even better, can burrow under the ground to heal... then pop out to murder.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponIf you like using the Gears of War shotguns, play as the Savage Grenadier. He's got a shotgun. And he can throw grenades, though Fergusson said that his ammo stock of grenades restores slowly, since grenades are so powerful in this mode. Note that this guy has grenades. So he can stick one to a wall in order for a Ticker to eat it and then run off and bomb someone. Teamwork!
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponThe Boomer needs little introduction to Gearsfans. He's got a boomshot. Those things are like cannons. Pay $1500 to be this unit and your money's been well-spent.

The Best, Baddest Beasts

Fergusson and I played with a cheat unlocked that gave us about $100,000 from the start. So by wave five we had all four tiers of beasts unlocked. That is not normal, and so our relatively easy march through human enemies was atypical. You really should be playing this mode in groups. You can randomly matchmake to assemble a crew, though once the match starts (hosted, initially on the lead player's system), other players can be added by invite only.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponYour goal for Beast Mode should be to be theBerserker. These big ladies (yes, ladies) are partially blind, so when you play them, the periphery of the screen is clouded in blackness. That's about all the disadvantages you have. For a mere $5,625 you can run through enemies like a linebacker, murdering them as you stride through them. Or you can stop and smash them. In other words, you can be the Flash and the Hulk, only evil... and female.
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponI didn't play as the Armored Kantus, but his deal is that he's like the Kantus but has spiky armor. As a result, he won't take much damage while he's busy healing his teammates. Bonus: since his armor has spikes, he can roll into humans and perforate them to death. (If the beasts were nice and gentle, they wouldn't be beasts, right?)
The New, Better Beast Mode is Gears of War 3's No-Longer-Secret WeaponI didn't play as a Savage Boomer either. They are, Fergusson explained, a great fire-and-forget unit. They are because they shoot burrowing projectiles that won't detonate until they are near a target. So aim at a scumbag human, fire your shot, and then turn away to the next victim with the confidence that the first one is probably about to be blown up from underground.

Full article here

Thursday, June 23

July 7 Bungie puts everything at steak....

Lukems has a lot to answer for.

Marathon Infinity source code to be made free by Bungie

Bungie are soooo bad ass now they are back to being an independent game developer - which works for us as they've announced today that Marathon Infinity is a) probably be going to released on the Ipad and b) the source code is going to be made free. When? Soon. 


Oh and in a timely throwback, a fan developer is creating a Marathon iPad port, which is totally sweet! In honor of his hard work and serious fan dedication, we're going to do something we should have done a long time ago (but didn't because our legal counsel "forgot"). We're going to make the final title in our Marathon franchise, Marathon Infinity, open source. Just like that. Bam!

Look for a link to grab the source code soon.

The developer has also graced us with a quick interview detailing the trials, tribulations, and tasty primates he went through in order to get Marathon up and running on the iPad. 


Here's some Q&A with with the developer:

Daniel Blezek is a pretty amazing character. You should get to know him. Not only has he devoted some of his precious personal cycles to bringing the Marathon experience to the iPad, it turns out - like most players of Bungie games - he's quite an interesting dude.

To learn more about the newly appointed Marathon Man, and to set the stage for the recently released Marathon for iPad, scan the terminal text below and conceive of the rebirth of a world.

Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. Multiple answers to that question, so in no particular order... I am what was once called a "good family man." My beautiful wife and I are coming up on 16 years, and we have five beautiful children (from 12 to 3 months), and an affectionate dog named Quin. The gaggle of us love the outdoors, especially hiking and canoeing. We're going to Yellowstone for a family vacation this summer, and the older two boys and I are canoeing in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the fall. During the day, my wife homeschools the kids and takes them on various adventures, while I put my time into developing GPU-based image analysis/processing algorithms for a large medical center. That keeps us all very busy. Nights and weekends turn me into an indie iOS game developer.

Q. Why did you decide to port Marathon to iOS?
A. I ask myself that all the time! I got started doing iOS development in my day job. I've always been intrigued with game development, and have written several different games for a variety of platforms, so naturally, I tried my hand on the iOS, porting a game with a friend. That lead to poking around with other projects. When the iPad was announced, I was between night-time projects, and had been playing through the Marathon trilogy. Playing with the iPad got me thinking about playing Marathon on the platform, and so the project was born.

Does having Skywalker Ranched involved make 343 legit?

Could I be any more blatant with my thievery from Waypoint?

Help us, Master Chief. You're our only hope.

Sometimes, when following a treacherous road toward the unknown, you find yourself lost in a seemingly endless series of deserted hills. If it’s a bad day, they have eyes that belong to blood-thirsty, misshapen creatures. If it’s a good day, they’re moonlit mountains, embraced by lush foliage and serene shadows that can only be born of seclusion. The latter was the experience of Dan Chosich, 343 Industries Videographer; Kristofor Mellroth, Senior Audio Director at Microsoft Studios; and Dennis Ries, 343 Industries Producer, on a recent excursion to Skywalker Ranch.

The workplace of film director and producer George Lucas, Skywalker Ranch is a fascinating example of a self-sustaining ecosystem, housing everything from vineyards and organic gardens to uniquely designed lodging (inspired by legends like George Gershwin and John Houston) and a 300-seat theater. The creative atmosphere breeds intense focus and drive, which is why we chose Skywalker Sound—the music recording division of Lucas Digital motion picture group—as the place to propel the Halo: Anniversary score to a world-class level of quality.

Tech Building to the left

These are the musicians you're looking for.

We are recording the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra performing Pyramind’s new orchestrations of the original music composed by Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. We are also recreating all the rock and synth music with updated productions by Pyramind. Striving to be as respectful and authentic as possible to the original, while utilizing the absolute highest production techniques available, the ultimate goal is to create an experience as good as you remember it being, but still new-sounding. At the helm of the recreation of this audio are:

Kristofor Mellroth – Senior Audio Director

Paul Lipson - COO/Audio Director (Orchestration, Transcription, Virtualization, Guitars)

Leslie Ann Jones - Director of Music and Scoring at Skywalker Sound

Gregory J. Gordon - CEO/Founder (Mix and Mastering)

Michael Roache - Project Manager

Lennie Moore - Transcription, Part Prep, Orchestra Session Librarian

Brian Trifon - Synthesis specialist for Anniversary

Tom Salta - Drums and Percussion specialist for Anniversary

Wataru Hokoyama – Conductor

AFM Union musicians from the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra

Gravity Hammer Halo Tattoo

I wonder what percentage of the Halo fan base has a Halo tattoo? We seen some great Halo tattoos before and some fans like to run riot and here's a new one to add to the pile, The Gravity Hammer!

Found on XBL

Joe Staten talks up the Halo Movie - in 2005

Remember that Halo movie that was SOOOO close to being made? HBO higlighted a six year old article by one of Bungie's Hard Hitters (or is that Grizzled Ancient?) Joe Staten about how Bungie hooked up with Alex Garland to write the first Halo movie script...

"A few months back word got out that Alex Garland had written a Halo movie script, and that Universal and 20th Century Fox were interested in double-teaming it into a film. We didn't say anything at the time because the deal still needed massaging. But today I'm happy to announce that Microsoft and the studios have worked-out all the kinks, and we're ready to get cracking on the fun, creative part of the process.

You've undoubtedly got questions: "What's the plot? Is it the same as Halo1? Halo2?" "Who's gonna play the Chief? Scratch that – who's gonna play Cortana?" "I read somewhere that the script had ‘bad buzz'. Does that mean the movie's gonna suck?"

I can't respond to any "who, what, where" queries without ruining a bunch of cool surprises, (there will be Grunts - that I guarantee), but as far as the quality of the finished film goes…well, the only thing I can say is: so far so good.

Let me tell you a story…

About six months after Halo1 shipped we started getting calls from Hollywood. This was the summer of 2002 and we were just starting to crank on Halo 2, but Pete Parsons (Bungie's studio-manager) decided it was worth me spending a few days in LA to suss out our options.

While I knew that Halo1 had sold well, I didn't know just how far outside the hard-core the so-called "Halo Phenomenon" had spread. So it was pretty shocking to meet a bunch of film producers, writers, etc. who not only claimed to be "big, big fans" of the game, but were able to back-up their assertions with detailed descriptions of their favorite legendary co-op moments, vivid war-stories from recent LAN parties, etc.

Though, to be honest, when I say "shocking" I really mean alluring".


The full article is on Bungie here.

As everyone reading this probably knows, the movie when into production with New Zealand's favourite son Peter Jackson producing and wunderkind Neill Blomkamp directing but then the movie died and the two focused on District 9 which was a pretty bloody good Sci Fi movie. Like everyone, I've chipped in with my views on who should direct Halo before too....