Bungie Weekly Update: March 10th, 2006
The Video Games Live concert in October last year was a big hit but there's another, rival game concert series starting later this year and you guessed it, featuring Halo music.
It's called simply Play! A Video Game Symphony and it's coming soon. Ish.
One of the main differences this time around, quite apart from the range of pieces being played, is the venues. There are two US dates and a Canadian one, as well as one in Sweden and another in Austria.
Our own Marty O'Donnell and Mike Salvatore will be on hand at the Chicago venue to sign autographs and swan around like they own the place. In exchange for whoring out Marty's music, he has promised to bring me back a genuine Chicago beef. I pray that it's a sandwich.
The program looks something like this:
Now all of those are fine tunes, but the fanboys will be frothing about the inclusion of Final Fantasy - a notable omission from the Video games Live concert series last year.
Huge congratulations to gamer MysticWarrior75, who was the 77,777,777th clan-player game session id we logged earlier this week. A clan-player game stat basically counts the number of individual clan games, so each player in say an 8-player clan game, counts as a game session according to our accounting. And as soon as he PMs me his details, we'll be sending him a luvverly (read: lame) prize for randomly achieving an arbitrary number, unknowingly.
Just to give you some context on that, our player-game count is scheduled to hit 3 billion some time next week. 3 billion noobs pwned, and counting.
Our next project is going swimmingly. Lots of stuff is up and running, in fact, Sketch just got our debug 360 set up so that we can actually download the latest "build" of the game whenever we feel like it. Our main reason for needing builds right now is to start the documentation of a "making-of" process. Now that might end up simply being an internal record of the game's development stages, or it might be a book, or a DVD extra, we have no clue and no plan for that material at this stage, but we learned a lesson from Halo 1 & 2, which is that we should document everything, from a render to a napkin-scrawl.
We already have a metric ton of concept art, designer sketches, character drawings and so on. Cataloging them and archiving them is tough to do right now, since a lot of them are being used or actually being altered. It's a constantly shifting process.
In fact, Shishka's been stuck in there for a while, trying to separate stuff from ancient compressed archives so that he could come up with, among other things, art for some Bungie boxers…
What is amazing, is to see a scene from a concept painting, say a huge, mysterious landscape (for example) be fully fleshed or "massed" out as a 3D environment you can fly around in using the debug camera to examine every rock, plant, tree or speck of dirt. And speaking of specks of dirt, one landscape had a very impressive lit-particle smoke effect that may or may not make it to the final game.
We also saw the near-final version of a character from the next game. It had one thrilling aspect related to lighting conditions that made us all go "ooooh!"
Lars, the new multiplayer guy has been "playing with user customization things," "tweaking some environments to make them more fun" and "playing GRAW for fun."
Actually, so has everyone (well that and some Burnout guys). I ruled last night's team elimination, forcing Shishka to eat it. "It," being the dry, bitter feces of his own defeat.
Alta has been training Melba, a rival Bungie Princess if you will, although to be fair to Melba, she makes no such lofty claims. She's here to help Alta deal with the time-consuming business of recruiting. However, she's exactly the same height and build as Alta and she has no idea how close she's come to being smacked playfully in the head by a near-stranger. Admittedly, I shouldn't be smacking Alta's head either, but it's just so melon-y. And she kicks and punches me a lot.
Noguchi has been "making a pony." Since he always speaks in metaphor I was annoyed, until he explained that he literally called a new tool/command, xsync-pony - which basically speeds up the "propping" of a build of the game to a clean Xbox 360 devkit, by eliminating code and objects that you do not need to run the current build. Which saves artists and designers a heck of a lot of time.
The downside of all this time saving is that they can't fit in a game of Street Fighter between builds. Stupid pony.
Noguchi and the guys also met up with the part of the Xbox team in charge of how PCs interface with the devkits to show them how we make games. Noguchi seemed pleased that we "blew their minds in a wholly positive way." This is the first non-sarcastic smile Noguchi has produced in 2006, so it's cause for celebration.
NinjaOnFire is coming back in two weeks, which means regular, finely tuned matchmaking playlist updates won't be far behind. Ninja has been relaxing in Hawaii (seriously) and when he's not catching rays, munching poi, or getting sand in his crevices, he's been researching player behavior, complaints and praise about the current set of playlists. And he's looking forward to returning.
Next week we're going to do a thing called Bungie Cribs, where we take a look at the video game and movie rigs of various staff members. If you feel like you have an AV setup to be proud of, then go ahead and send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org and if we find one we like, we might compare it to the Bungie ones for kicks. And send you something lame.
Finally, a reader from Edinburgh, Scotland wondered what Mister Chief would look like skating on Duddingston Loch. Obscure, but eminently doable.