update

Edited by Frankie on Sep 3 2004 4:03PM

Bungie Weekly Update

Today is officially designated "Final Push" day, which means that there is about a month of hardcore development left, followed by success and joy, with any luck. Which means this update is short!
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A very businesslike Weekly Update this week over in the Bungie.net forums. There's no censored in sight, but lots of information on how things are coming together: final art, animations, and dialogue. Check it out.

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Frankie is back, with a few choice words with those who were upset at last week's update, and news on how placeholder items in levels have been replaced with real items, how Marty has gone into hiding to finish scoring the game, and other non-hair-related tidbits.

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Originally hosted at HBO
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    Those complaining that the Weekly Updates have been thin will have little to whine about where the new Bungie.net is concerned. A press release from Steve Cherrier at AEG let us know that Bungie is planning on releasing two new screenshots of Halo 2 during the week of the new site's launch. And sure enough, Louis Wu at HBO has already spotted one new shot.

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    Well, Bungie.net isn't down anymore, but it does appear that something has changed. Loading the canonical names www.bungie.net or www.bungie.com now brings you to the Seventh Column site. The links for Truth and Reconciliation, the Myth Vault and the official Halo 2 site from that page seem to be down.

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    Frankie's thirteenth Bungie Update, originally at Sector 7, is now in our Halo 2 Updates Archive.

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    Bungie Depot

    Next week, we're doing something cool on the site. Tune in Tuesday for a small surprise. It should be cool – a little thing that the community team has whipped up.

    The Griespit

    Jaime has been very busy, finalizing Ghost and Warthog handling so the sound guys can work with confidence. The need to make sure that sound ties in correctly with motion is obvious, and all of the sampling, including the gravel on tires recording done with the poor Subaru Outback we abused, is ready to be applied and processed. The Ghosts in particular (in my opinion) are starting to sound brilliantly "alien" and cool.

    Jaime has also been finishing up the connections between rooms for one of the early levels with Paul and Dave. He wouldn't elaborate on which level, BUT I can reveal that you might have seen something like it already.

    Jaime is also figuring how CENSORED will work on (gasp!) a new CENSORED!

    When he wasn't doing that thing we can't talk about, he was working on new triggers for combat dialog. So that Marines and others will say cool stuff when they're supposed to, and won't just blabber away when they're not supposed to.

    But one of the coolest things Jaime was doing this week was adjusting the scale, type and shape of damage done by a new weapon. I've tried this one before Jaime's ministrations and it is BRUTAL. And no, that's not a pun on the word Brute. It's just a vicious bone hammering bastard of a weapon.

     

    The Animation Station

    John Butkus has been animating his ass, or perhaps more properly, his elbow off. Monday and Tuesday he was going through older (Halo 2) elite/marine animations and just making sure they worked with all weapons when sitting in various vehicle passenger seats. Weird stuff happens with weapons in different scenarios, and as new ones are introduced, it's important to make sure that they look cool under all circumstances. John had a busy week, though...and probably created somewhere in the region of about 80 unique moves.  His aforementioned elbow is killing me and he says, "my eyes feel like someone has thrown sand in them, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

     

    Our Princess is in another Castle

    Alta, the Bungie Princess, is working on secret goodies as well as a certain annual tradeshow, as she tells it herself, "This week has been chaos!  In addition to taking care of the boys as usual, I have been busy working with some different people on some cool things that will start showing up as we get closer to launch.  Fans will love what we have in store."

    But back to the tradeshow, as Alta continues, "E3 is right around the corner…so I have been dashing around making arrangements for that.  We have some cool stuff planned and I am wrapping up details for a mystery guest at Fanfest.  There is definitely a buzz around the studio with E3 coming up and the countdown to Halo 2 launch.  In the mean time I am just going to get as much time in the sun (yes sun in Seattle) as possible before the true chaos hits.  That’s all for me this week.  Cheers!"

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    Nice big, juicy update at Sector 7 this week. Frankie promises to talk about dialog, sound effects, animation and Xbox Live, but also mentions how Jaime "Flawless Cowboy" Griesemer is down in the Griespit working on CENSORED and how "something cool" is going to happen on Bungie.net next week; in fact, Monday April 12 is marked with a red X on Mister Chief's calendar, so maybe everybody should check on Bungie.net then.

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    Last Friday's Frankie Update, the twelfth so far, is now in our Halo 2 Updates archive.

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    • Working on the lightmap farm. Zach just told us he's been working on the lightmap farm. Maybe it's because I've had a brutal head-cold, but I suddenly imagined him, sleeves rolled up, ruddy-cheeked and up to his elbows in the dirt, reek, and good honest work of a lightmap farmer. Of course, what Zach actually does is build a utility to make some computers share a tedious workload. It allows numerous machines (mostly Compaq rack servers) working diligently, to do some boring, time-consuming, but ultimately vital lightmap rendering, so that all that geometry is properly lit when it gets spat out at the other end. Some of the better lightmaps are starting to trickle onto current Halo builds and the results are very pleasing. The biggest difference I see, apart from an overall improvement, is really convincing bright sunshine, and therefore better transition into shade. You almost want to cover your eyes when you step into the light. So I peek into the lightmap farm, just because I'm curious and Harold, who's the cigar-chewing Teamster-type who runs all of test said that I should get the hell out of the lightmap farm; "Toasted buttercake like you wants to be careful around these here computers. Wouldn't want to get your face elctrificuted, wouldja?" He's working on porting over old Marathon web content to the new Bungie.net. We're kind of doing that in reverse order — moving Halo 2 stuff, then Halo, then Halo PC stuff, working our way back through gigabytes of ancient materials. There's some really cool old pre-Xbox Halo stuff hidden in there, that even people here hadn't seen. We'll let you look at it one of these days...
    • Mat's Secret Sound Stuff Mat Noguchi says he's been having some fun with the chaingun. I gotta go find out what he's been doing... ...back. He HAS been having fun with the chaingun. Along with Jay and the other sound guys. Basically they've been tuning surround sound effects so that when debris kicks up around your feet and scatters, the sound effects are parsed correctly into 5.1. The effects will apply to any surface for ricochets and debris — dirt, snow and so on, but even cooler is the sound of flybys. In Halo, when a bullet whizzed by your head, it was actually a stereo effect, so you couldn't use the noise to tell exactly which direction it had come from — that's fully fixed for single and multiplayer this time.
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    Tomfoolery


    Yesterday's April fool's shenanigans were met with a mixture of delight, mild amusement and abject fury. One reader, posting, perhaps ironically, on the fake website he was mad about, was incensed that we were cavorting and gamboling through the fields of whimsy, when we should have been taking screenshots and movies of Halo 2. Even though he went on to say that all of our screens so far are faked. He also described me as the "unfunniest person on Earth" so while he's wrong about screenshot fakery, he's clearly no idiot. That said, screenshots have been a big deal for us this week.


    And I know this week's update is teeny. So don't hassle me, man. I'll make it up to you next week.


    Screenshottery


    Brian, Zoe, Stephen and Lorraine have been fiddling around with some cool new tools that make taking screens a bit easier. That and the fact that the recent builds of the game look better and better, means that future screenshots are going to look even more glorious than they did before. The combination of our new lightmapping and dynamic lighting gives stills an unearthly, painted-looking quality, yet still weirdly photorealistic. I love that aspect of the game's look — reminds me of how video games used to carry their own distinctive "look," like Capcom SNES titles, or the PC version of Doom.


    The new Jackal model looks fantastic. His plume is actually composed of individual strands of vaguely insectoid barbs. Zoom in close enough (use your sniper rifle) and you can see that the plumes even have "joints." You'll also get to see how ugly and bump-mapped he is. They really do look manic and ferocious.


    And not to dwell too much on Mr. Jackal, but since they invariably carry shields, you might be pleased to know that the shields are more detailed and transparent, so you should be able to hit that little shield notch more easily to take out the ugly cretins.

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    This week's update skullduggery is in the forums at Battleground: Halo . Our local copy will be up on Monday or so.

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    We missed this earlier, but it was posted to Bungie.net the same time as Frankie's Update, which is now added to our archive.

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    March 26, 2004

    Welcome mah friends, to another weekly look inside the machinery of Bungie Towers. Enjoy. Or be mildly distracted. Whichever.

    Mon Frere!

    Michel (who's a handsome French Canadian and a huge hit with the ladeez thanks to his combination of Gallic charm, sexy accent and excellent nationalized health care system AND the angriest 23-year old in the world) talked to me about moving BSPs today. A BSP is a Binary Separation Plane, or in other words, a great big chunk of level. The thing about a BSP is that it's all one giant piece (they can be small too) that's interconnected and joined at every seam. That means it's all rendered in one go, and can be manipulated at will – if there's enough processor power. And that's been one of the things the team has been optimizing – big moving BSPs.

    The BSPs in question contain some future surprises, but a good example would be say, a drawbridge (nope, the bridge we talked about a couple of updates ago is NOT a drawbridge) with like, a tollbooth, some gun emplacements and a bouncy castle. It's one thing to draw those objects as a Static BSP – quite another to move them around. Optimizing things like that frees up more processor power for AI and other tasks, so it's important to get it done before the gameplay is tuned on those levels.

    It's also a weird mix of programming and design – since in a way, a moving BSP acts more like a character or a vehicle than a building or a level. Often the various departments can just get along with polishing their bits, but in an instance like this, close-knit cooperation is a must.

    Michel has also been working out the nuances of the weather system with the environment guys. Mmhmm. Weather system. It won't be a big surprise to say that there's going to be rain and snow (it is Earth after all) but weather isn't always wet and cold. One level is set in a dry climate where dust, wind and sand all play a part. Filling out the levels with weather makes a tremendous difference to how "alive" the spaces feel. The snow and swamp levels in the original game are still some of my favorite levels. Rumors of a lava and minecart level are to be ignored.

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