A Brief History of Halo Livestream

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A Brief History of Halo Livestream

Playing some Reach Firefight and talking about old Halo games.

Talking about this article:

Let's Play Myth Co-op #18 A Long Awaited Party

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Myth 18 A Long Awaited Party

UPDATE: New version with fixed audio.

We're playing the next of Bungie's famous games, the Real Time Tactics fantasy wargame, Myth. Set in a mysterious land of cyclical war and destruction, Myth lets you command a ragtag army in a desperate battle against the forces of the Fallen Lords.

Balin leads a group of dwarves against Ghôl invaders into ancestral dwarven lands and destroys a big rock. Once again, Blackstar, with Ooga Booga (and Renwood) race against Narcogen and Renwood. Who will win, and who will die? Watch and find out!

In this episode we're once again using the high definition tagset, made by Ooga Booga, Renwood and Road. The Myth Myth HD Total Conversion v1.31 provides higher resolution units.

Due to the tireless work of many community members over the years, the Myth engine has been modernized to work on current operating systems, although you'll still need a copy of the game's data files to play. Check Ebay.

For the engine itself as well as texture enhancements, go to Project Magma:

There's also multiplayer metaserver available for competitive carnage:

A bunch of other Myth-related downloads are available at The Tain:

Intro and outro Music "Into the Breach" by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori from Myth The Fallen Lords.

What's Wrong With The Xbox One Dashboard NSFW

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What's Wrong With Xbox One Dashboar
Blackstar and Narcogen take a look at the latest version of the Xbox One dashboard and wonder what went wrong. Some NSFW language.

Arbitrator Partially Restores Composer O'Donnell's Bungie Shares

Award cites 'long-term, invaluable and unique contributions'

Over at VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi has written what is probably the best article to date on the resolution of the dispute between former Bungie composer and Audio Director Marty O'Donnell and the developer that fired him last year before the release of their latest game, Destiny. It goes into the background of how the dispute arose and resulted in O'Donnell being fired from his position as Audio Director, and how Bungie also took action to attempt to strip O'Donnell of his then-unvested shares in the developer, even going so far as to reissue shares at a secret board meeting.

What the article mostly leaves out, though, are the grounds on which the arbitrator made the award-- those details are available in the full award document, available at Scribd.

There is a tendency to view the result as a complete victory and vindication for O'Donnell, and there is no doubt that the sequence of events reflects poorly on Bungie management, especially studio president Harold Ryan. However, it is worth looking at the award itself to see what O'Donnell asked for, what he actually got, and why.

What has also gone largely uncommented-upon since O'Donnell's firing is that it presumably also means the end of the creative partnership between O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, who remains at Bungie and is working on Destiny, while O'Donnell is moving on to found his own game company, Highwire Games, with other ex-Bungie employees. That partnership spanned multiple decades and predated both composers involvement with Bungie, with began with Myth in the mid-90s.

O'Donnell submitted several claims to arbitration, and Bungie submitted its own counter-claims. Most of these either failed, or succeeded without significant consequence.

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What's Wrong With Destiny's Story?

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What's Wrong With Destiny's Story?
How I think Bungie's development history may have led to that empty feeling where Destiny's story should be. In the past this would have been a blog post, but since we're doing mostly videos these days... why not?

Halo MWNY Comparison

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Halo MWNY Comparison

Since Marty O'Donnell just posted a version of the Halo MWNY trailer from 1999, (view it here: ) I thought I'd splice together a side-by-side comparison of that version and the one from Bungie's own YouTube channel, which I remember as being the version actually shown to the MWNY audience and captured in multiple shakycam videos.

Bungie's version is on the left; Marty O'Donnell's version is on the right.

These appears to be slightly different performances of basically the same demo, but when you sync the two copies to the music, some of the edits aren't in the exact same place, and there are a few segments that are slightly different.

There's a graphical glitch in Marty's version when the Spartan first emerges into the outdoors-- some of the polygons that make up the tunnel walls become transparent briefly. There's also a different camera angle that shows multiple flying objects over the water. These appeared briefly in the official version and were never positively identified; perhaps they were an element removed from the game before release?

Finally, the Bungie flag at the end of Marty's version has a glowing Apple logo on top of it.

You can see one of the actual shakycam videos of the trailer as shown to the MacWorld crowd here:

Salvatori To Continue Composing For Bungie

Fans of previous Bungie franchises like Halo and Myth were surprised earlier this year by the termination of the employment of composer Martin O'Donnell as the studio's Audio Department director, and the subsequent lawsuit he brought against the studio's president, Harold Ryan, for unpaid vacation and penalties. That lawsuit was recently settled.

What remained unresolved was the musical future of Bungie's newest franchise, Destiny, the soundtrack for which was the product of O'Donnell and longtime collaborator Michael Salvatori. The two worked together at Bungie on the soundtrack for five Halo games, and before joining Bungie also did the soundtrack for Bungie's RTS series, Myth, as Total Audio.

No official statement came either from Bungie or from O'Donnell regarding Salvatori. Fans wondered whether he would remain at Bungie and continue working on Destiny, or would he also depart, perhaps to join O'Donnell on some new project.

Contacted through his official website, his representative Lisa Ramirez responded to our inquiry about Salvatori's plans:

GameInformer Answers Its Own Question

For years now I've speculated that Bungie became independent from Microsoft in 2007 because the studio wanted to make games that weren't Halo but Microsoft wanted no part of that. This conclusion seemed (to me, anyway) to be strongly supported by the spinoff deal that set Bungie free in exchange (at least in part) for Microsoft keeping the Halo franchise. Any lingering doubts I'd suggest were expunged by Jason Jones in his last interview with Game Informer:

GI: Before Destiny, your team had been working on Halo for a long time. What prompted the move?

JJ: You already answered your own question.

There you have it. Incidentally, the interview has some other good information about Destiny, the difference between story and world-building, and other stuff. I'm waiting to see if they ask him about whether Destiny will have a Body Count... I mean, Slayer mode.

Joe Staten To Leave Bungie

Well, I have to say this comes as somewhat of a shocking surprise. Of course Bungie undergoes turnover like any other organization-- the bigger it is, the more churn it has.

Fan community members I've known have gone to work for Bungie. Some have moved on, others are still there. Some Bungie employees, even founders, moved on when the studio was bought by Microsoft. Some moved on when it became independent. For the most part, Bungie maintains the "Bungie Way" even as old faces leave and new ones arrive.

Still, this one stings. Joseph Staten is leaving Bungie after fifteen years. He's been with Bungie since the Myth days. He will be Mythed.

Staten's last four years at Bungie have been spent working on Destiny, so no doubt his influence will be felt there, not only by those playing the first installment next year, but by those who play in that world over the next decade. What then?

I think it's a perfect time for Bungie to find out what Greg Kirkpatrick has been up to-- just in time to tool up for making a new Marathon game.

Bungie's Destiny Falls Into Shadow

Umbra Software, makers of Umbra 3, have put up a blog post about how their middleware is being used for world creation and rendering in Bungie's Destiny. They'll be doing a presentation on it at GDC this year as well.

Building A Bulwark Against The Bungie Backlash

Bungie logo

Over at Gamasutra, Shay Pierce wrote a piece entitled Game Designers and the Four Tribes of Artists, and then Sara Gross (also at Gamasutra) wrote a piece called Indie Elitism, partially in response. Response to what? Well, apparently Pierce had read some conversations on Twitter in response to Bungie's Destiny reveal that were a bit less than positive:

A few days ago when Bungie did their first reveal of "Destiny", my friend and former co-worker Josh (who is working on Destiny) was expressing some frustration on Twitter. Josh is a big fan of indie games, and was frustrated because many of the indie game developers he respects were seemed to be expressing immediate disdain for the game.

Josh in this case is Bungie's Josh Hamrick, of course. Pierce started in on how the indie game community has a bunch of snobs in it, but Gross apparently thought Pierce took it too far, or perhaps not far enough, or not quite in the right direction, and anyway ended up here:

I see no reason to vehemently snub the things that shaped gaming as we see them today. Why not embrace them - appreciate what they did for us? Some were pioneers once too. Before they made AAA titles, they made games in their parents’ basements, lived on pre-packaged garbage foods, and suffered obscene deadlines to help their creations see the light of day. They started somewhere too. AAA developers aren’t so different from us, indies.

... and linked to this.

Activision, Bungie Reveal Destiny

Activision/Blizzard has posted their official press release. I've archived it here. Near the bottom they put a tidbit for Bungie fans with a penchant for rampant speculation:

Activision reiterated that although Bungie's amazing new world was revealed today, Activision has not included the launch in its 2013 outlook and there should be no speculation or expectation of a different result.

So there you have it. You're not even allowed to think it's not true that Destiny won't come out this year.

Thanks to MDQuackers in the DBO forum for the heads-up.


This image was the first piece of concept art revealed after the first leak in November 2012.

It shows the enemy known as the Fallen. A spider tank trudges through the snow in the distance, and one of the figures appears to be shadowed by what might be a companion drone of some sort.

"Fallen" could also be seen as a reference to Bungie's RTS series, Myth. Myth's first title was Myth: The Fallen Lords.

It cannot be clearly seen in this image, but apparently one enemy variant, seen here riding the back of the spider tank, is called the spider pirate, and has four arms.

Destiny Perhaps Not Coming In 2013

Destiny Bungie

Most Bungiefen have been eagerly awaiting official news for the company's next game, referred to internally as Tiger and externally as Destiny, have so far been treated only to long-winded legal contracts and some leaked treatments and concept art. Bungie has started up their Community Theatre series of short videos on YouTube featuring Deej and Raspy (a stuffed tiger, get it?) and promising a reveal of the company's new game within a few weeks.

Now, however, Eurogamer is reporting that the transcript of Activision's yearly "money meeting" posted at investment site Seeking Alpha casts doubt on what the leaked contract revealed-- which was a target for the franchise's first release in Fall 2013.

"It will also be a year of significant continued investment in several new properties with long-term potential that are not factored into our 2013 financial outlook, including Activision Publishing's new Bungie universe, Call of Duty Online for China and the new Blizzard MMO."

--Activision's chief financial officer Dennis Durkin

Eurogamer speculates that had Destiny still been on the release slate for 2013, it would certainly have been mentioned.

This is what Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg did have to say about Destiny:

"Development also continues on our new ground-breaking project with Bungie. Bungie defined the action-shooter category with Halo, and we feel this project will once again deliver genre-defining innovation.

"While we don't have a launch date to announce today, we expect to deliver incredible games with unprecedented marketing support for new IP. We look forward to sharing more information on this title in the near future."

So there it is. Activision is not talking publicly about making money on Bungie this year-- only spending it.

Some more specifics:

And also, as I mentioned, our outlook does not include the release of the Bungie game or Call of Duty Online in China, although, we still incur costs throughout the year on these projects. In total, we expect the year-over-year impact of all these items will be more than $0.10.

Of course it's always better to beat estimates than meet them; so what Activision is saying here is that they aren't expecting to make money on Destiny this year, but they will be spending it. It's worth noting here that they are excepting the launch of the CoD franchise in China from the revenue projections as well, even though Kotaku reported last month that CoD was in Alpha testing in China and I really think it doesn't take a whole year to alpha test a version of a game you've already made for a new market.

Of course, those optimistic for a release this year-- some even hoping for an announcement this month, ahead of next months' GDC-- may wish to interpret this as a respect for Bungie's silence, not wishing to steal the company's thunder, confident that a few weeks lag between their money meeting and a release schedule won't harm them with investors too much, especially where earning less money than expected is punished even when you've made a lot, and making more than is expected is punished never.

Perhaps even the knowledge that this transcript was going to be made widely available kept Activision from talking too much about Bungie. Call of Duty is referred to in the transcript 27 times; Bungie 10 times, World of Warcraft 8 times, and StarCraft 6 times. The word "Destiny" appears... nowhere. Perhaps Activision just felt that nothing not already made public should be revealed.

Or maybe Bungie's Destiny doesn't come until next year. Don't call it a delay, though-- you can't delay something you've never announced, even if everyone knows what it is, what it's called, and what platforms you're making it for.

Destiny Concept Art Leaks

A flash drive lost by a third party contractor reveals art and information pertaining to Bungie's new project, Destiny.

More Early Reveals For Bungie's Destiny

Leaks seem to be de rigeur for Bungie's new game, codenamed and possibly titled Destiny. First, court documents relating to legal disputes involving new publisher Activision revealed some of the general parameters of the game and the intended products, platforms and publishing schedules.

Now, apparently a third party employee forgot a flash drive at a restaurant, and supplied the gaming press with a few more documents and a few pieces of what appears to be concept art. In response, Bungie appeared to acknowledge the leak as legitimate, and replied with a bit of concept art of their own.

Since the leaked images have all been watermarked from hell to breakfast so that sites like IGN can stop other sites from stealing their "found footage" so to speak, I'm only going to take a close look at the shot Bungie actually wanted us to see, as well as the text quoted by some of the leak stories, and only describe the other images to try and back up some interpretation of the text or the official image. If you really need to see those other images, I'm sure the Internet will find a way to accede to your wishes.

Between the official image and the quoted portions of the text, it's possible to build up a few tentative ideas about what to expect from Destiny, and the kinds of ideas and themes the new game might share with past Bungie works.

Let It Snow

Snow levels seem to hold a special place with Bungie. Sure, other games, like Lost Planet, might have more of it by volume (at least the first game) but some of the most iconic Bungie levels have taken place against a backdrop of snow, with the footprints of each enemy and ally alike betrayed as they besmirch the ground's frosty white blanket. The Bagrada level from the first Myth game, which was included in the free demo. Assault on the Control Room from Halo 1, where you drive your first Scorpion tank. Marathon didn't have snow, but it did have water, slime and lava, so we'll forgive it.

So it's not that shocking that this official image is a snowscape. Some other elements in the image are a bit surprising, though.

Thing What Kicks

Staff MeetingThe large object in the background appears to be some sort of armored beast. At first glance it might seem to be mechanical, as the top and rear two thirds appear to be metal plated, but the front left of the object is a rather organic-appearing leg, so it's possible this is a large alien animal, perhaps something like a Brumak in Gears of War. The object's nose, apparantly adorned with what might be some sort of sensory stalks, also features what looks like two eyes on the same side of the head. It shares this trait with the humanoid in the foreground, who appears human except for having more than the usual number of eyes-- four visible in this case. The foreground figure resembles somewhat a dressed Pfhor fighter from Marathon, except for the number of eyes. Despite their name, Pfhor have three major eyes on the front of the face. The background object sort of resembles, to my eyes, a fusion of Marathon's large, lumbering Hulks and it's looming, zeppelin-like Juggernauts. Halo's own Hunters themselves appeared to be a limb-shortened version of Marathon's own armored Hunters, while Grunts were limb-shortened versions of Pfhor fighters, even down to the bright color-coding.

Don't Shake The Light Bulb

While the Monitors may be left behind in the Halo franchise, continued by 343 Industries, it would appear as if the Destiny universe also has some floaty things in it. Whether they're suitable for kicking asses or just talking to is difficult to say, but it does appear as if in the background of this shot, there's a floating grey sphere hovering nearby a humanoid trudging through the snow. One can only speculate as to whether he (or she) is as dangerous or as helpful as 343 Guilty Spark.

Knights Defending The Remains Of Humanity

The most often quoted bit of text from the leak contains the following:

Our story begins seven hundred years from now in the Last City on Earth, in a Solar System littered with the ruins of man's Golden Age. A massive, mysterious alien ship hangs overhead like a second Moon. No one knows where it came from or what it's here for, but only that it's our protector. Meanwhile, strange, alien monsters creep in from the edge of the universe, determined to take Earth and the Last City. We are young 'knights' tasked with defending the remains of humanity, discovering the source of these monsters and - eventually - overcoming it.

The use of the pronoun "we" here, and the plural term "knights" certainly does distinguish Destiny from Bungie's last two first-person offerings, Marathon and Halo. Marathon featured the player as the enigmatic Marathon security officer, later revealed to be the supposedly last surviving battleroid, a kind of military cyborg made from the bodies of dead soldiers. Halo's Master Chief, like nearly all Spartan IIs, was abducted as a child, but he is introduced to us as the last surviving Spartan, although in later offerings the Spartan program expands to include Spartan IIIs and Spartan IVs, and the novels and the Reach game shows us other Spartans in action.

Whether Destiny turns out to be an MMO or something MMO-like, however, it does appear to have both a social focus and the built-in assumption that whatever the player's role in this new universe is, we are not alone. Somewhere in the heavens... they are waiting.

Third Time's The Charm
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