rumor

Spong says its sources at Microsoft indicate that a new, non-Halo Bungie game will be announced at X06 very soon:

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Gravemind is not an easy character to figure out.

From his initial appearance on the scene, as the rumored "big plant thingy" players who downloaded the leaked French copies of Halo 2 reported seeing, to his cliffhanger-inducing interrogation of Cortana, not much was revealed about him.

Some fans can even be forgiven for questioning whether Gravemind is, in fact, related to the Flood at all. Halo 2's cutscenes only strongly suggest this, without actually stating it. The Art of Halo here rescues us, referring to Gravemind as the "Flood hive mind".

What exactly does that imply? What does Gravemind want? Given that all these events have apparently played out in the past, with the result that the Halo system was used and all life eradicated, but with the Flood preserved dormant for the cycle to start all over again thousands of years later, what other outcome can be hoped for?

Click "read more" below from the front page for the entire article.

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[image:10245 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] Bungie gave the community a gift of a seven minute documentary about the making of a two minute trailer for Halo 3, and the repayment they get? Gawkers looking over their shoulders, pointing at the screens being worked on by Bungie employees and proclaiming one or more "new species".

Keep in mind, this is the same Bungie that wouldn't even admit the game existed until a few weeks ago, even though it'd been under development for months. This is the same Bungie that kept the existence of the Flood a secret until the launch of Halo. This is the same Bungie that revealed nothing about the Flood being in Halo 2 until a French version of the game leaked, even though everybody already knew the Flood were probably in the game. The same Bungie that said everything was done but the cardboard boxes while they frantically re-tweaked Marathon levels. The same Bungie where Frankie did the majority of a studio tour of Bungie from the adjacent alley rather than have to check and make sure that the camera didn't accidentally give away the identity of the project Bungie was working on-- Halo 3-- even though the vast majority of the civilized world that even cared what Bungie was working on already thought it was Halo 3 anyway.

And people now think that not a mere glance, but a leisurely look over the screen of a Bungie employee showing characters on the screen is some kind of a magnificent revelation.

For the complete article click "read more" below.

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This image from the documentary describing the process of creating the Halo 3 Announcement Trailer sparked much speculation: are these familiar species in new costumes, or entirely new species? The former seems more likely but some fans cling to the latter.


Rampant for over se7en years.



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In the wake of rumors that the Halo movie will be pushed back from its rumored 2007 release date due to its rumored lack of a director and rumored delay of the rumored principal photography that was rumored to have taken place somewhere in New Zealand about now, but allegedly hasn't, several readers suggested I write something on how I thought the Halo movie ought to be done.

To a certain extent, to do so is a little unfair and perhaps counterproductive. Any idea for the film, if expressed in enough detail, would be indistinguishable from an unsolicited script thrown into a studio slush pile. Either it'll just be ignored (as most probably deserve to be) or it would be read. Having been read, if any ideas actually got into the movie, it could form the basis for complaints on the part of the author that the studio used them without compensation.

Or, worse still, a random coincidence between any idea in such a script and the film itself might be used as a basis for such a complaint. So, in a way, writing too much about cool things you'd like to see in the movie almost guarantees those things won't be, especially if it's something new and unique and interesting, rather than just something you've already seen in the games or read in the books.

Besides, the only fair way to do that would be to pen a complete script; and if I was capable of writing a good Halo movie script that would be a critical and commercial success I think there'd have been more of an indication of it before now.

However, what I will do is take some cues from the games, the books, the rumored script by Alex Garland, which I have previously spent time dissecting, and do something that's not allowed at the Movie Cynics Database at HBO. I'll write a simple list of things I think the Halo movie Should or Should Not do and explain why.

Click "read more" from the front page for the entire article.

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Civil War Makes Odd Bedfellows

I think it possible that, assuming such an alliance will exist at all in Halo 3, it may only be evident during a portion of it.

From the closing sequences of Halo 2, it seems that there is still some fighting going on at Earth; meaning that some of the fifteen ships that Regret brought with him remained there while he fled to Delta Halo.

Truth is now arriving aboard the Forerunner ship. His ship may or may not still have Elites and Brutes aboard, fighting amongst themselves. In either case, the Master Chief is not actually aware of the potential for this alliance. During the only contact he had with the Arbiter, the Arbiter did not seem willing to admit that Halo was a weapon. While he is aware of the fighting between the Covenant because he observed it during High Charity and Cortana informed him of fighting amongst the Covenant Fleet, this by itself does not necessarily mean that hostilities against humans would lessen.

Likewise, any Elites on board the Covenant ships at Earth may not be aware of the infighting. So it is possible that, early in Halo 3, playing as the Chief, that the primary enemies will still be the usual mix of units, regardless of the civil strife among the Covenant as a whole.

The small force that Regret brought with him was insufficient to subdue the Earth because he was not expecting to find humanity there. As it was, he was lucky to be able to find what he needed and get to Delta Halo, assuming that he obtained the location of Delta Halo from some artifact or information on Earth. It is difficult to imagine why he would go to Earth first and then to Delta Halo if he already knew where it was. Additionally, Truth and Mercy only show the Delta Halo to the Arbiter after Regret has left Earth-- further circumstantial evidence that they were not aware of its location until then.

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Halo, Starring The Keyes Blob

It may be possible to take small items from Halo and Halo 2 and extrapolate on whether or not they might be more, or less, important than they seem. Many fans took note of the "Keyes Blob" in the first Halo to be something worthy of attention. It was the only Flood unit that did not fit into any of the known forms: carrier, combat form, infection form. I think they were right to note this. In Halo 2, we are introduced to the character Gravemind-- which also is the only known form in the published games that is not a carrier, combat, or infection form. It seems able to contain or absorb the bodies of the dead in a way that is different than other forms do; Gravemind does this to the Prophet of Regret. One might interpret the Keyes Blob's absorption of Captain Keyes as a foreshadowing of this, and thus conclude that Installation 04 does not, at the time of the game, have a Gravemind entity, and that possibly the Keyes Blob is the beginning of the formation of same.

This is, of course, speculative. If anything I am persuaded to believe it is likely there is a connection between the two because I believe that the presence of a unique item in the story such as the Keyes Blob is meant to suggest something to the audience, and the existence of some Flood unit with more significance (and perhaps intelligence) than the other forms is also suggested by 343 Guilty Spark's comments about Flood behavior. That we see this suggestion take form in Gravemind during Halo 2 seems to me no mere coincidence. I believe Bungie deliberately foreshadowed the existence of Gravemind with its presentation of the Keyes Blob.

To that end, I would argue that the entire mission of the level, Keyes, is completely symbolic. That, in fact, the entire purpose of that level is to reveal the Keyes Blob to the player, and that for the purpose of the story, nothing else is necessary. And when trying to construct other reasons for the player to go through that level, Bungie unwittingly tips the player off that the mission is symbolic.

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Doing A 360

If Bungie's new title is for the Xbox 360, then it is reasonable to assume that the development cycle will be as long or longer as for the previous two games, for a number of reasons. One is the new console's minimum 720p resolution requirement. Both previous Halo games render at 480p maximum when running in real-time on an Xbox at thirty frames per second. It is still unclear whether Halo 2 actually renders in a larger framebuffer when running in emulation on the Xbox 360 or if it is simply performing upscaling of the 480p image.

If what Bungie is working on now is indeed Halo 3, then it is a sequel, developed for on a single platform, presumably using a similar engine; although I would certainly expect that Bungie would make significant changes to the Halo 2 engine to take advantage of the Xbox 360's improved graphics capabilities.

Any release of a Bungie game prior to November 9, 2007, would represent a decrease in the time required to develop Halo 2 and, depending on when you start counting from, perhaps compared to the time required to develop Halo 1 as well.

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As the philosopher once said, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty". Those areas certainly are a bit less defined these days, as rumors about Bungie, its flagship Halo franchise, and the Xbox it rode in on are flying fast and furious.

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We're emulating one of HBO's more apropos mottos this week: beating dead horses. Really.

An offhand remark in the HBO forum about the lack of information in the Weekly Updates prompted a reasonably long thread, not just about the updates, but about the lack of information about what Bungie is working on, and branching out into the general parameters of Bungie's relationship with its fans, through those Weekly Updates and other methods.

Shishka, a former fan now working with Bungie on that project they aren't ready to talk about, had an interesting comment that I think addressed a key idea, but in a way that set me off down a completely different path, the results of which you are about to see laid before you, for good or ill.

Shishka wrote:

I think when a lot of people came into the community after discovering Halo, they learned of Bungie's connection with the community, but misinterpreted it. People have become so used to media extravaganzas, information blowouts, and gigantic hype engines that Bungie's relative silence at the beginning of development on a new title is a completely foreign concept to them. It's really not new, though.

That got me to thinking. Has Halo really spoiled the Bunige fanbase? Are we now so used to media blitzes that we aren't satisfied just to know Bungie is diligently working on what will doubtless be a fantastic game? Even before that, did the Halo and Halo 2 Updates make us so used to getting relatively substantive information so constantly that the sound of a few months of silence is deafening?

While Bungie fans are perhaps understandably curious and impatient, however, I do not think they have grown unreasonable. Nor do I think they've been spoiled, or become less patient. In fact, since Halo was announced, lengthening release cycles have required Bungie fans to be even more patient.

To substantiate that, I dug around for some dates and other information and created the Bungie Timeline; a list of important events in Bungie's history from 1993 to present. It is by no means complete; but major milestones in releases and developments, including Minotaur, Pathways Into Darkness, the Marathon trilogy, the Myth series, and Halo and Halo 2 are included, along with the acquisition of Bungie by Microsoft. I'm still collecting more information, but if you know about a date I've overlooked but should include, or if you've caught me making a mistake, drop me a line at narcogen@rampancy.net.

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Recently a poster in the HBO forum retorted that he wasn't even bothering to read the latest Bungie Weekly Update because it only contained generalizations and secrets; nothing concrete.

Whether one is itching for Bungie to say something about what it's working on or not, I felt that going to the effort to say that one wasn't going to the effort of reading the Update oneself to determine if there was new information in it or not was a bit silly.

This sparked debate about a number of related issues, into which the idea was injected that Bungie isn't saying anything because they have nothing they want to say.

I won't summarize the entire exchange in any more detail; the thread in the HBO forum is still there, so those who have not yet taken a look may do so.

I think it's assumed that Bungie has nothing they want to say right now. The question for months now has been why there isn't anything Bungie wants to talk about. Especially when Frankie is writing that things are going so well and there are so many cool things and that he wants to talk about them but he can't.

That creates the impression that not only does Microsoft want to talk about some new project that may or may not be "Halo 3" but can't (or rather does, but then recants) because Bungie hasn't announced it, but that individual employees also want to talk about this new project, while others say that there isn't anything they want to talk about.

There either is, or is not, a pink elephant in the room. I think many of us would just like it acknowledged whether or not it's really there, even if we don't get any details whatsoever on what kind of pink elephant it is or when it is going to be released in stores. If it's there, we can reassure ourselves that we're not seeing things. If it's not, we can all go back to our twelve-step programs and try to put our lives back together.

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PALGN, an Australia-based gaming site that humorously advertises itself as being both slow and late, has finally got around to recycling several busted rumors about Bungie and Halo into the bold prediction that Halo 3 is being done by a developer other than Bungie.

Now, to start off, this idea is not half as ridiculous as it sounds; I pondered it myself not a few weeks ago (although for the life of me I cannot find where-- it's possible it was done only in IRC).

What is ridiculous are the five points they cite as evidence of this:

  • Bungie has repeatedly refused to confirm the name of their next title. Why? If it was Halo 3, why would they bother not telling us?

There is a little something here. Bungie itself gave mixed messages right after the release of Halo 2, with some quotes indicating that the studio was going to do something different. Maybe they are. However, Microsoft's only other high-profile in-house development studio that would seem to be a match is Rare, and they have their own franchises, Perfect Dark and Conker, to worry about, not to mention the Xbox 360 showcase, Kameo. It's difficult to see what would be gained by shuffling work around like that.

If it was an external developer, no doubt they'd want to publicize their involvement with the Halo franchise to make maximum value of it. Nothing's been said at all. I'd guess that whether the logic is flawed or not, Bungie's reasons for keeping quiet about what they are working on are separate from the question of who, if anyone, is working on Halo 3.

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Two major categories of news in this roundup: Stubbs and Xbox 360.

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On the eve of Halo 2's first anniversary, most of the hype isn't about what Bungie is doing, but what Microsoft is doing to get ready the vehicle for whatever Bungie does next: the Xbox 360. We've got:

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We're inclined to ignore reports from GamePro about supposed Halo 3 preorder dates at GameStop, for obvious reasons. Oops...

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