Sunday, December 21

Due to the MCC screw up, 334 is saying sorry with a free Halo 3:ODST giveaway

You may have heard that the online release of the Master Chief Collection didn't go to well. 334 Industries released the multiplayer component basically 'red deathed' so much so it was almost impossible to find a decent match making game. It was a marketing  screw up and a half that came just in time for the Christmas silly season. 
334 is however crucially aware of this and the need to put things right, which they have promised to do.
Bonnie Ross said "This has been a humbling experience and highlighted how we as a studio can – and need – to do better for Xbox fans around the world.  We are so grateful to our fans who have stood by our side and we appreciate all of your patience as we worked through these issues. "
 Here's thee official word on what making it right looks like:
What content is being offered for free in connection with Halo: The Master Chief Collection?
To show our appreciation to the “Halo” community for their support and understanding as we worked through issues impacting “Halo: The Master Chief Collection”, we are offering free to all online users1 that have played “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” between Nov. 11, 2014 and Dec. 19, 2014 the following: 1-month of Xbox Live Gold, an exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar, as well as the campaign for “Halo 3: ODST” – remastered in 1080p and 60fps for Xbox One2.  Thanks to our friends at Bungie for creating the original “Halo 3: ODST” campaign.
In addition, a re-imagined version of the “Relic” multiplayer map for “Halo 2: Anniversary” will be released to all online users of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” in a future content update2.
1Content and 1 month of Xbox Live Gold will be provided to all players of the “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” game on any day from launch on November 11, 2014 through December 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm PST (all Gamertags that have logged activity in the game via Xbox Live during this period will be eligible).  Xbox Live Gold will be delivered as early as mid-January 2015. Offer is non-transferable.
2Campaign for “Halo 3: ODST” and “Relic” multiplayer map for “Halo 2: Anniversary” to be delivered in spring of 2015. Copy of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” required for play. 
Who is eligible for this free content?
All online users that have played “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” between Nov. 11, 2014 and Dec. 19, 20141 will be eligible for the 1-month of Xbox Live Gold, an exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar, as well as the campaign for “Halo 3: ODST.” 2
The “Relic” multiplayer map will be available to all online users of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” regardless of gameplay during the eligibility period. 2 
When and how will I receive this content and 1 month of Xbox Live Gold?
Beginning as early as mid-January 2015, depending on your existing Xbox Live subscription type, we will either apply the one month of Xbox Live Gold directly to your account or send a redeemable token via the Xbox One message center.  In either case, we will send a confirmation via the in-console message center, so please check it regularly.
The exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar will be available in “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” in December 2014 via an upcoming content update.  Check Halo Waypoint for further updates on release of the nameplate and avatar.
The re-mastered version of the campaign for “Halo 3: ODST” in “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and the re-imagined “Halo 2: Anniversary” version of the “Relic” multiplayer map will be available in spring 2015. Both projects were not part of our original development plans, but as a result of community feedback, and to do something special for our fans, both are now in development.  The campaign for “Halo 3: ODST” will be delivered via a free download token for eligible players1 of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” and “Relic” will be included as part of a free content update for the game.
Will the in-game nameplate and avatar ever be available to additional users in the future?
No. As a thank you to our early adopters for their patience and understanding, the in-game nameplate and avatar will be exclusive to all online users that have played “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” between Nov. 11, 2014 and Dec. 19, 20141, and will not be available through any alternate means. 
Does “Halo 3: ODST” include the full game (including Firefight)?
Our focus is re-mastering the campaign from “Halo 3: ODST,” including it within “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” and ensuring it delivers a great experience on Xbox One in 1080p and 60fps.  We do not currently have plans to include Firefight.
If I am not eligible to receive “Halo 3: ODST” for free, will I be able to purchase it from the Xbox Game Store in the future? If so, how much will it cost?
We may share more details in the future regarding the potential availability of the campaign for “Halo 3: ODST” within “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” other than as part of this offer.
If I purchased a physical copy of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” do I still need to have it in my possession in order to receive access to the free content?
For the free items that will be available in the near term (in-game nameplate, avatar and 1 month of Xbox Live Gold), we are able to identify eligible online players1 of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” who qualify, including those who purchased the content by disc or digitally. You do not need the “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” disc to confirm eligibility.
For the free content that will be available later in spring 2015, however, the re-mastered version of the campaign for “Halo 3: ODST” and the re-imagined “Relic” multiplayer map will launch through “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” So players will still need to own a copy of the game in order to access that content when it becomes available. 

Wednesday, October 22

Here's Halo 3 at 1080p! Looking good John!

Here's Halo 3 at 1080p! Looking good John!

This version of Halo 3 comes as part of the Master Chief Collection.

Watch the full length trailer for Halo: Nightfall

Here's the full length trailer for Halo: Nightfall

It's looking pretty good!

Sunday, August 31

Halo 2’s Lockout will have some changes to mix up the game play

lock out map concept art halo 2

Pax 2014 has seen some more details on Halo 2's Anniversary Edition being released.

Game Informer reports on the new Lockout map for the Halo 2 Redux:

“After breaking down the game’s sound, the panel dove into some of the multiplayer updates focusing specifically on the recently revealed Lockout. I played the game yesterday, but the game felt so familiar that I didn’t notice some of the changes, or in other cases, I just didn’t get a chance to interact with them. The corner of the ramp leading from the area with the darkened hallway up to the sniper perch, for example, has been pushed out a little bit, creating a point of cover on the way up and a new place from small skirmishes.

Other changes include the glass in the middle of the battlefield can now be broken, though it must take a significant amount of damage first. A clip of the new Lockout showed a Spartan tossing four grenades on it before it broke. Also, a handful of stalactites now hang above a few key points in the map, and they can be shot down to kill people camping on the sniper perch, for example. Using Forge, these new additions can be removed if you so choose.”

Max Hoberman, a Halo 2 alumni and an original designer said of the map “Lockout was hands-down the most popular small arena-style map in Halo 2. We’re thrilled to be bringing this fan-favorite back, and are paying close attention to the details and subtleties that made the original great while also making a couple of very careful, very calculated enhancements.”

Other changes to the new version of Halo 2 included a completely re-recorded sound track that features the return of guitar maestro.

Thursday, August 21

Bungie might be gaming's good guys but they sure were dicks to Marty O'Donnell.

You may recall that Bungie fired one of their founding fathers, Martin O'Donnell a few months back. It's never been said publicly why this was the case but as I understand it, America sort of runs on some fire-at-will law in most states so he was sacked pretty easily from his job as music composer.

Marty may have been the author of his own misfortune, I simply don't know. Marty said publicly that it was 'without cause'.

But what we do is the manner in which the firing happened shows the the big wigs that run Bungie are have employed some dick moves on Marty. They canceled his shares in the company! That's bullshit, antagonistic and probably retaliatory behaviour - and to my mind is pretty much stealing as shares are property.

Having already been awarded 95K in a separate action from Bungie, a ruling has now said that Marty must have his shares in the company back.

Venture beat reported the result of a recent arbitration process between Bungie and O'Donnell"

"The arbitrator found that O’Donnell demonstrated substantial likelihood of proving that he was one of seven founders of Bungie (which originally had the name Arete Seven LLC) and that the company gave him 1.27 million shares of class B shares in October 2007. Those shares were converted into 336,375 shares of Bungie’s Series B-1 Preferred Stock in 2010, when Activision started making a lot of noise about Destiny. He was also issued 48,000 shares of Bungie’s common stock. And in December 2010, O’Donnell signed a contract extending his employment through 2020."

The agreement held that O’Donnell would give up his unvested founders’ shares if he left voluntarily. Given he was fired, it would appear Bungie were in breach of their contract.

We do have to appreciate that while video games are cool, Bungie is there to make a profit. There could be solid commercial reasons why Bungie fired the most famous composer in gaming history. Maybe he was going tone deaf? That would make some sense at least right?

One wonders now what the REAL DEAL was with Joe Staten leaving....

Monday, July 28

Comparison of Halo 2 original and new cinematic trailers - it's amazing what can happen in ten years

Here's a side by side video of the trailers of the original Halo 2 game compared with the updated graphics. What Certain Affinity and 343 have pulled off is amazing. This is even more impressive than the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary effort!

Wednesday, July 23

Is this the saddest moment that ever happened in a Halo game?

Is this the saddest moment that ever happened in a Halo game? It's the moment in Halo 4 after Cortana and 117 have dealt with the Didact and the Chief realises that despite all he went through in Halo 3 to save her from the Didact and the seven years they spent lost in space together, he is actually about to lose her.

From Halo: Escalation #8

Is this the saddest moment that ever happened in a Halo game?
It's been an honour, John.

First look at Jameson Locke from Halo: Nightfall

It's now official that Mike Colter is playing the lead in new Halo show Nightfall. The 1980s kid in me is reminded of GI Joe's Roadblock (one of the best characters from that franchise!)

halo nightfall mike colter as jameson locke

Here's some official guff from 343 Industries:

We are excited to announce that Mike Colter, best known for his role in CBS's critically acclaimed drama “The Good Wife,” will star in Halo: Nightfall as Agent Jameson Locke.

Halo: Nightfall is a live-action digital series that introduces Jameson Locke, a pivotal new character in the Halo universe, who plays a key role in Halo 5: Guardians. Taking place between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, this is an origin story that will lend insight and understanding into the character he becomes in Halo 5: Guardians.

Led by world class talent such as executive producer Ridley Scott, Scott Free TV President David Zucker, and director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Halo: Nightfall will take full advantage of Xbox One’s seamless blend of high-quality visuals and storytelling and rich interactivity, connecting the games and the series in innovative new ways.

Right click and same the image and use it as wallpaper!

Wednesday, July 16

Every single Gears of War cinematic in one You Tube video

A keen Gears of War fan has put together every single cinematic from every single piece of Gears of War content so that they can all be watched over one 6 hour hit. That's some pretty impressive content design that has been released since 2006.

Sunday, July 6

The Prophets call me Arbiter and other things.

Concept art of Coagulation, a redesigned map for Halo 2
Concept art of Coagulation, a redesigned map for Halo 2
Here's some Halo 2 Redux promo in the form of a trailer which features the Arbiter suggest all is not as it seems with regard to the Master Chief. What secrets do the Terminals of Halo 2 Anniversary hold?

Also announced is that that Mongoose that was was introduced in Halo 3 will now have a home in Halo 2 Anniversary multiplayer - affectionately known as the Gungoose, the speedster now features GUNS!

gungoose halo 2

Sunday, June 22

Halo: Broken Circle to be released that ties into Halo 2

halo broken circle book cover

Simon & Schuster is proud to announce a new Halo novel from John Shirley, releasing on November 4, 2014!

Witness an untold chapter in Halo lore as John Shirley's Halo: Broken Circle takes us to the dawn of the Covenant and the fateful first bargain between the Prophets and the Elites. Broken Circle will explore an Elite splinter group rebelling against the Covenant in its earliest days, a brave Prophet caught in the machinations of the new Covenant leadership, and the root of the betrayal that would ultimately shatter the Covenant during events seen in the blockbuster Xbox game Halo 2.

Monday, June 9

The Master Chief Collection is confirmed, Halo 2 Anniversary Edition Confirmed

master chief spartan anniversary collection

So the not so secret Master Chief Collection has been confirmed at E3 and with it Halo 2 has got a lick of paint and it looks simply awesome. Check out the video.

There's some hints at what is to come in Halo: Guardians as well. Looks like the Arbiter is back.....

Oh, that's not all the E3 news. There's the small matter of Halo 5's Multiplayer Beta test programme being announced. It looks AMAZING:

halo guardians 5 multiplayer
Jump in!
Here's the promo trailer. The Spartan armours look simply fantastic!

Tuesday, May 27

Rod Fergusson talks about how he plans to betray Gears of War fans... it's a good thing!

Chicks dig the baird tshirt
Rod Fergusson
The use of the word ‘betrayal’ in connection with Gears of War fans seems a tad dramatic but it makes sense when Rod Fergusson uses it. Rod is referring to the next iteration of GoW and how it needs to be new enough to not be a repeat of the last game. He told OXM:

“This isn't a great way of phrasing it, but I always talk about shipping a sequel to customers as 'managing betrayal'. They want something new but they don't want something so new that it doesn't feel like what they want. But if you put out something that's very familiar and is the same as the game they just had, then it's like 'I've already had this. This isn't new enough.”

Which sounds like a good thing. With hind sight the first three GoW games were very similar in their structure – they improved with each generation. GoW Judgement turned the franchise on its head with the whole kangaroo court trial allowing the story to be told differently. That’s the kind of betrayal Fergusson is talking about.

"You actually have to betray them enough to give them something new and surprising but not so much that they disconnect, and I think that is a big thing that we have to focus on," he said. "It's how we can innovate and bring something new to the franchise while at the same time really proving that we understand Gears - that this is the franchise that you know and love.

"So I've already given multiple speeches to the team like 'here are the core tenets of Gears, here are the things that won't be changing, and here are opportunities for us to innovate that we think we can knock out of the park.'"

All this sounds very promising – and you can see why Microsoft lured Rod back to the franchise that is under the watch of Black Tusk Studio. Indeed, the Father of GoW, has publicly endorsed Rod.

Sunday, May 25

So who is the dude in the Spartan Suit in Halo 5?

halo guardians
Who I am ?


When Halo 5 was announced you couldn't help but notice the Master Chief was top and tailing with a character wearing a Spartan style armour. The blue glow across their visor simply made me think that this was Cortana who was now  Guardian and was about to embark on another epic adventure with the Chief. I thought cool, and moved on.

Till I spied this article at The Secrets Within today via HBO which discusses the places that Halo 5 may take place. Sanghelios, anyone? What a curious thought! Maybe the Chief had to go pick up the Arbiter for a mission! Were it so easy!

That article lead me to this. An unequivocal statement by a key Halo developer that the character in Halo 5 is NOT Cortana.

So a whole new character. It's not Cortana. It's not Palmer. And I guess it's not Jun if it's a new character either.

So who could it be? I have no bloody idea - I hope it's not simply another human soldier, I want their to be some wonder about this guy. Like we are all wondering now....

One wonders if it will be a tie in to Mike Colter's character from the new Halo series...

Personally I would love it the story followed more of the path set in Halo 4 that any return to Earth, dealing with politics caused by Earthly men, visiting the Arbiter or some such - the Guardians sounds like some entities we need to meet!

Monday, May 19

Halo 5: Guardians concept art

I missed this the first time I read Frankie's comments on the Halo 5: Guardian announcement but on a re read I realised he slipped in a piece of concept art from the new game:

halo 5 concept art Guardians

Note the giant dude that appears to be on duty behind the red flag, the flying squiggly things and indeed the red flags - not to many flags to be found on Forerunner structures....

Keen fans may recall the first piece of Halo 5 art to be released.

Saturday, May 17

Halo 5 is Guardians

Halo 5 Guardians

Do you remember playing Halo 2 mulltiplayer and you died when you got hit by some random train or died in some weird kind of way and you were informed you were killed by the Guardians?

Well guess what Halo 5 is called? GUARDIANS.

Colour me intrigued.

343 Industries' Bonnie Ross has announced the Halo 5 title today:

I’m happy to reveal that “Halo 5: Guardians,” the next installment in the legendary saga of the Master Chief, will launch on Xbox One in fall of 2015. In the tradition of every “Halo” game since its debut in 2001, it is a massive and exciting project.

“Halo 5: Guardians” is a bigger effort than “Halo 4.” That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what’s now a brand new and more powerful engine. Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.

It’s a game that will hopefully demonstrate the talent, learnings and abilities of the 343 Industries team. A game that will incorporate the things we learned from “Halo 4” about technology, aesthetics, performance and scale – and perhaps more importantly, understanding and embracing a community of gamers who love what lies at the heart of this game, and the limitless potential of the “Halo” universe.

Here's the full announcement by Bonnie.

And here's the official Halo 5 Logo:

halo 5 guardians logo

Wednesday, April 16

Marty O'Donnell has been fired from Bungie

If you ever played any of the Halo games  right up to Reach you will have listened to the wonderful music of Marty O'Donnell. He's one of the pillars (among many) who built Halo into a massive game franchise and in doing so helped put Bungie on the map.

And now just prior to the release of Destiny, Bungie's board fired him. Here's the tweet of his announcement:

We don't know the full details but scuttlebutt across the net suggests a dispute with the board over pay.

Bungie has posted on their site:

"For more than a decade, Marty O'Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future.

We wish him luck in all his future endeavors."

Which is a mere kiss off. 

One can imagine Bungie's legion of fans will be pretty unimpressed with this decision.

One can also guess that Micheal Salvatori will pick up the reins as he has been O'Donnell's counterpart for many years now. 

Monday, February 24

Cliff speaks about Gears being sold.

It's a month after he first posted it, so for those late to the party, Cliff's thoughts on the sale of Gears of War. 



Waking up today I was drowning in a deluge of emails, tweets, direct messages and smoke signals.

My former employer has sold the Gears of War IP/franchise to Microsoft and my friend Rod Fergusson is going to be working on it.

To be honest, I don’t think the franchise could be in better hands. Heck, Rod’s Twitter handle, to this day, is “Gears Viking.” Gears is just as much Rod’s baby as it was mine. He’ll take good care of her. (Rod, I owe you a girly drink at GDC.)

Phil Spencer went out of his way to give me a phone call to inform me of the transaction last week. Phil, you didn’t have to do that, you’re a gentleman. I appreciate it; that goes a long way. 343 knocked it out of the park with Halo and I think Black Tusk will do a fantastic job with Gears.

I suppose this puts the nail in the coffin of the question “Will Gears ever come to Playstation?”

Safe to say that’s not likely to happen. (Besides, it gives me something to look forward to on Xbox One besides Titanfall and Project Spark…oh and more Halo, of course.)

Now that that’s out of the way…

I’m not going to move to Vancouver and work on it.

I’m not going to consult on it.

My headspace is in the future now, not the past. I have come to realize that until you give people something new to focus on they will obsess about the past. (good problem to have!)

To those of you who love Gears, I love you as well, and I appreciate your support through the years. The fandom, the cosplay, the tattoos, it all means more than any amount of money could ever mean.

These recent events have steeled my resolve to make something entirely new.

Time for new cosplay, new tattoos, new fandom.

Fingers crossed there will be news soon.

Stay tuned.



Thursday, January 9

Halo 5 concept artwork released by 343 Industries.

Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier Halo 5

It’s been fair while since the new Halo game teaser was released to eager fans and now Josh Holmes has finally given us a bone, here is some concept artwork of “ an early exploration of a new location that features prominently in a little game project we’re tinkering with…. “. Which obviously means Halo 5. Not that Halo 5 is actually called Halo 5 yet.

Halo 5 concept art

The artwork is by “Sparth” who has done a fair bit of design work for Halo as Lead Concept Artist. Josh announced that Sparth is now Art Director for 343 Industries which means Sparth's Halo vision will be an even more strong influence on the franchise.

I’m guessing but this appears to be some kind of ‘ship yard' or a hangar port. What do you think?