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Halo 2.


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#1
A Munkeys Uncle

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"It was apparent that Halo 2 would sell well even before its launch, and later confirmed with the extremely strong sales during launch. Today however, it seems the game has now already surpassed 5 million units worldwide for the Xbox. Revealed via press release this morning, and counting for sales from its November 9th launch onwards, the 5 million copies brings the Halo franchise as a whole to over 11 million units, with cumulative sales from Halo, Halo 2 and Halo for Windows."

“Xbox and Halo 2 are on most consumers’ must-have lists this holiday season,” said Robert McKenzie, Vice President of Merchandising at Gamestop. “Popularity for both the Xbox console and its number one title Halo 2 is an early indication that Xbox will enjoy a stellar holiday season.”

"Coming alongside word that Xbox managed to have a 50% sales increase in the U.S. this week, it was further reported that the Xbox Live community has logged 28 million hours playing Halo 2 since launch, more time than any other Xbox Live game in the service's two-year history. This was broken down to 91 minutes per session, and over 900,000 unique users."

http://www.gamegossi...index.php#11148


New Halo 2 video.

http://www.xboxyde.c...ews_951_en.html

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<font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Each week we bring you an update on the antics, shenanigans and hi-jinks that constitute seven days inside Bungie Towers. We'll look at everything from AI to animation, from marketing to multiplayer and from physics to family. We'll talk to real Bungie stars about every facet of the creation of the biggest game Bungie has ever worked on – Halo 2.
</font><hr />

<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> </font>

<font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
Weekly Update:

Intro.

We'll get to the update in a second, but I wanted to just tell you what my first week was like before I dunk you into the fiery vortex of the Bungie experience.

So, after my first real week at Bungie I can honestly say that part of my new morning routine is the application of an adult-sized diaper. Let me explain.

Before I started here, Brian Jarrard, our Community Manager and Pete Parsons, our Studio Manager, were rightly insistent on secrecy. Before I was hired, I knew practically nothing about Halo 2. Sure, I knew about the bits you may have read in OXM or EGM magazines, and I had some background on where the development process was at, but I didn't know any secrets.

I guess I was expecting to slowly absorb the development pace, learn a few tidbits here and there and figure out what I could from spying on Bungie monitors when artists and designers weren't looking. It's because I was still thinking like a sneaky, good for nothing games journalist. So imagine my surprise (delight?) when Brian and Pete deliberately tried to blow my mind during my first hour as an employee.

I was taken on a tour of the building, stopping at various stations and departments with the ostensible goal of "just bringing me up to date." Brian looked just a teensy bit amused, but Pete's face was split by a hideous rictus grin, the kind that you might see on a Frat boy holding a cricket bat, or a Manhattan plumber handing you a bill. Either way, I knew something was up.

Plot. In a way, my Halo 2 experience is being ruined. By the time the game ships, I'll know a lot more about the story than I want to. People working on The Sixth Sense or The Lord of the Rings movies must have felt the same way. But it's a fascinating process, seeing how carefully managed, how cleverly written the story is.

Seeing real character development is an eye-opener in an industry where Pac-Man is still the most charismatic leading man. When you're reared on dialog like, "Take the key for coming in" or, "I am the master of unlocking," it's very easy to be skeptical. But Halo 2 is to game scripts what a rocket launcher is to a Faberge Egg collection.

And then there are graphics. I'm not just a graphics whore, I'm a graphics burglar, murderer and molester all rolled into one. I would happily run around in a video game as long as something bright, shiny or vertexy was there to distract me. Ask anyone. During game demos I'll stop earnest developers in their tracks and ask if they wouldn't mind "walking over there so I can see the water." Seriously.

So two minutes in Bungie's art department(s) would turn a Graphics Nun into the skankiest Graphics Whore on the strip. If I'm bludgeoning you with brutal metaphors, tough, I'm simply trying to tell you how it is. I was shocked to see everything was bump-mapped. Sounds dumb given that Bungie promised to bump-map everything, but when you see it – you'll realize immediately why. As the art department is fond of explaining, everything looks the way it does for a reason, and the overriding reason in Halo is to tell a story. Nothing is done for show, or simply because "it's there." Every single applied graphics technique advances Halo's story and its characters.

And the technical side is staggering. Almost every aspect of Halo 2 is new. This is NOT based on the Halo One engine. You will not see a single repeated texture, skeleton, bitmap or particle effect. It's all new. The robust, imaginative design anchors it firmly in the universe you've grown to love of course. Massively improved or not, you'll recognize it instantly as Halo. You could walk up to a textured wall until your helmet was mere inches from the surface and recognize somehow that it's Halo. It's kept its flava.

But there's so much here that's new. It's so much bigger than I'd anticipated. So much more ambitious, that it takes a while to wrap your head around. I think it's going to redefine my expectations for a sequel. I think that after Halo 2, more tracks, more characters, different music – that's simply not going to be enough.

But really, you didn't come here to read about me (even though I'm super-awesome) you came here for the resurrection of the Halo 2 Weekly Update. Here's what's going on:


Marty O'Donnell is very excited about how the physics engine is interacting with sound effects. "I just wasn't convinced by it. I'd listen to how little details sounded, like metal rolling on stone, or rocks on sand and I wasn't convinced. But now I think we've got it down. I'm really pleased. Chucky (Gough) and Eamon (McKenzie) are just doing incredible work with the techy physics stuff."

Marty also has the dubious distinction of being the current Bungie Halo 2 champeen, thanks in part to a faulty stat measurement. Don't get us wrong, Marty is GOOD at Halo 2 multiplayer, but the fuzzy math they used to compute the winner was faulty. Since he played the most games (when he wasn't composing music) he was busy getting killed a lot more than he was killing back.. In fact, his kill to death ratio was among the worst on staff. Luckily for Marty, I'll be playing next week, so he'll be off the hook (I SUCK at Halo 2 because I don't know the maps).

Hamilton Chu cut his hair. And we don't mean a little off the sides, we mean four feet of silky man-hair. Samson had nothing on this guy. Luckily it seems that so far Hamilton's powers are intact. If anything, he's more powerful than before.

Brian, Zoe and Claire have been working hard on the new website. Fixing bugs, but mostly trying to fill in missing chunks, and organizing stuff from the present site that needs to make the jump to the new one. And the new one is something else. There are going to be some very cool new features and content, but I wish you could see how cool it looks. I mean, you will soon enough….

Lorraine has been super busy. A beautiful poster that I wish you could see*, has been created for product placement. That means that if Freddie Prinze Jr. is in a movie about teenagers or baseball, he might use that poster on his wall. We'd be disturbed but we can't control that stuff. She's also recently approved paint jobs for the new Grunt action figures. More interestingly, Lorraine is making design decisions about the new Halo 2 action figures. Not too much we can say there without revealing plot points, but they're going to be epic.

Alta, the Bungie Princess has been coordinating voice talent, as well as organizing the annual Bungie Pentathlon, voting on what games we'll play in an epic contest that happens on the day of our belated holiday party. The contest is split into teams by tenure, and last year, us noobs won. Snacks galore, a cup of beer to be shared, and roast salmon as the entrée. Plus vegetarian stuff. Yumzorz. Alta will be sporting a sleek black cocktail dress by Miguel Palacio, with perfect line and just a hint of salsa flair!
*Or you could just look at my artist's impression of it. I had to give him a lightsaber because guns are hard to draw. Lightsabers are as easy as snakes.

Posted Image

Well that's it for now. More next week. Sorry I wasted so much of your time on preamble, but next week will be straight to the point. And by then, I may be less exciteable.</font><hr />

<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Linky

Edited by A Munkeys Uncle, 24 January 2007 - 01:17 AM.


#2
A Munkeys Uncle

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What confirmations did you gather from this?

I gathered that there is a beach level!

And that our stats will be kept track of in multiplayer this time round. That's pretty much a given with Live support and all though.

#3
Joedark0

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nothing new...

I've known all this stuff for weeks...

that guys needs to calm down, btw, i know he gets to see halo 2 first, but... jeez

1 full paragraph to explain he's a graphic wh0r3? wow

#4
Shady

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Probably contrary to most, I read that entire update. And I thought I was the only one who would stop and look at the water? :)

#5
A Munkeys Uncle

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I read the entire article as well. He did hint that the next update wouldn't include as much verbage in so many words.

#6
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It's gotten better this week.

quote:



Weekly Update, Friday Jan 23rd


Holy crap! Last week was apparently just a slow introduction to the whirling vortex of thrills that is Bungie. Now I've been flung in at the deep end, and all the allowances they make for n00bz have been thrown out like bad milk. It's a weird combination of frenetic, stressed, exciting and fun. Like being kicked in the groin by a fairy made of peanut-flavored light. Approximately.

I also just took a close look at a Prophet for the first time. I didn't realize it was a Covenant deal. I just glanced at it and I thought it was HotTubGuy*. I even invented a whole mythology around him. Like, that maybe he'd knocked an 8-Track stereo into his hot tub and traveled through time. Shows what I know.

Anyway, I've been witness to a tremendous amount of Halo 2 related activity this week, and I'll tell you what I can about it.


The whole web thing is getting crazy. We're relaunching Bungie.net soon-ish, and we're trying to assemble, create and collate all the content for it. It looks super cool. Brian is taking point on a lot of that stuff, and he's also been rounding up the n00bz for today's pentathlon. We'll let you know the results on Monday, but basically it's a contest between various layers of the Bungie hierarchy. Grizzled Ancients, Old Skool, Middle Skool and Noobz. We won the Summer Pentathlon last year but I reckon the grizzled ancients are planning to cheat this time around. The events include EyeToy and Mario Kart, but we're all pretty psyched to play Halo 2. That's right. Different multiplayer maps and different game styles, including CTF and Slayer, of course. We're trying to learn one of the more complex maps, provisionally called Burial Mounds. Favorite new Halo 2 expression? "He's goin' Ribs!"


Lorraine, our artist, has been incredibly busy. Some of what she's doing is punch-in-the-face secret, but she has also been working on the Halo 2 logo. It looks SWEET. It rocks harder than meat-flavored toothpaste at a British dental convention, but Lorraine isn't quite satisfied and has been tuning it. She reckons the next version has a 50-50 chance of being the final one, which means there's a 50-50 chance you'll see it soon. She's also been finishing a Gold Elite action figure, which will be available soon, and an amazingly detailed special edition Master Chief, which will only be available in one exclusive place (details to be released soon).


Greg Snook and the animators are doing some really cool stuff with the Chief's walking and running animation. Right now he sidesteps convincingly, has a real walk animation (instead of just a slow version of the default run set) and even cooler, he crouches and crouch-walks much more convincingly. It sounds like a small thing, but if you go back and look at Halo compared to this new stuff, the difference is astonishing.


The coolest stuff going on this week though has got to be the way the animation and AI are coming together. You watch demos of the technologies interacting with each other and you're thinking, "This LOOKS incredible." Then you take a step back and realize, "Oooh. This is GAMEPLAY." The demo we watched was running in realtime, basically a huge warehouse filled with objects, obstacles and Covenant. The AI sends a mixture of grunts, Elites and more, charging across the cluttered map to see how they deal with obstacles and each other. Grunts typically sprint around fallen beams and boxes, but Elites are frighteningly smart, making fast, natural and athletic maneuvers and Hunters will simply charge through the map. We watched this happen from a Chief's-eye perspective and it's pretty frightening.


Ryan and our multiplayer test team, , have been almost impossibly busy. Tons of post mortem meetings to discuss what went wrong and what went right with various test builds. How's the networking holding up? What problems are we encountering on DSL connections – the office is set up with a variety of broadband connections for test. They've also been busy accommodating Bungie employees with their own multiplayer builds and Xbox systems to pad out the test process. As you can imagine, it's not difficult to convince someone they have to play Halo 2 as a part of their job. The testers have also been on call for ad-hoc testing ¬ -- running around in mostly-complete levels to test specific systems and problems – a physics thing here, an AI issue there. That and like everyone else, they're training hard for the Pentathlon – and they're testers, so they've played more Halo 2 than anyone else…


* Next week, more, bigger, better stuff from the maelstrom of excellence that is Bungie. Until then, enjoy this artist's impression of Mister Chief and the HotTubGuy.

Posted Image



#7
A Munkeys Uncle

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nm. (rumors)

#8
A Munkeys Uncle

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Here's a good read though, Halo 2 has over 20,000 lines of dialog

quote:




Waiting game: 'Halo 2' among top MIA titles

By Paul Hyman


"Halo 2"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gamers may have had visions of sugarplums and three much-anticipated video games showing up in their stockings this past Christmas. But here it is late January and, for various reasons, "Halo 2," "Half-Life 2" and "James Bond 007: Everything Or Nothing" still haven't even made it onto store shelves.
Posted Image

These days, video games are more likely to slip past their scheduled release dates than ever before. Blame the complexity of the technology; blame how high great titles have raised the bar on gamers' expectations. You can even blame game publishers' willingness to accept delays if it means a better product and, therefore, heftier sales.

Case in point: "Halo 2," the sequel to the Xbox launch title and that console system's top seller. "Halo 2's" developer, Microsoft's Bungie Studios, will swear up and down that the scheduled release date is and always has been "whenever it's ready," but the first-person shooter was originally listed on the Microsoft site as a Christmas 2003 release. Then it was pushed back to March 2004. And, at this month's Consumer Electronics Show, chief Xbox wrangler Robbie Bach said, "We're going to ship it when it's ready. That might be the first half of 2004, it might not." Indeed, the Xbox product catalog on the Microsoft site has now substituted "TBA" for the former "spring release."

Pity the poor marketing director who has to take aim at this moving target and make it a roaring success. In this case, that's Beth Featherstone, senior director of marketing for Microsoft games.

"Lucky for us, "Halo 2" isn't a game that has to come out at Christmas," she said. "For many games -- for 75% of them -- coming out at Christmas is really critical. That's when consumers are in the stores and when gift-buying happens. But "Halo 2" will have big sales regardless of when it's released."

According to Featherstone, "Halo 2" just happens to be one huge game, with 20,000 lines of dialogue in it. "And that's just one illustration of its size," she said. "Bungie is a perfectionist and wants it as polished as it can be. If a game is innovative, if it pushes the technical limitations of the platform, then it puts risk into your schedule. But because we know we can ship at any time and will do really well sales-wise, we'll take our time and get it to be the game we want it to be. It's the most important title on the Xbox platform and it needs to be right."

Bungie may want to keep polishing, but surely there will come a time when enough's enough. Featherstone says that time hasn't come yet, but it will.

" 'Halo 2' impacts the other games in the Xbox portfolio," she explained. "Nobody wants to ship just before it or in its shadow; they want to give each game some breathing room."

So, at some undetermined point, Microsoft will pick a date and tell Bungie that the game needs to be good enough to ship on that date. Period.

At Electronic Arts, the team that is developing "James Bond 007: Everything Or Nothing" is also busily polishing, the reason the PlayStation 2 game will hit store shelves next month rather than back in November, as originally planned. According to Nick Earl, general manager of the publisher's Redwood Shores Studio, everyone at EA considered Bond "a potentially great product," but it was decided that three extra months of shaking but not stirring would create an even better product with live-and-let-die-for sales.

"We made the decision back in September that we needed to do three things to improve the game," Earl said.

The first improvement was to allow gamers to play online over a broadband connection as they do on EA's other top-selling franchises, "Madden" and "Need For Speed." The second improvement was perfecting the "camera angles" that are so important to a third-person shooter like Bond. And the third was to add two additional interactive levels -- an intro and a finale.

"EA had a terrific Christmas financially and Bond would have contributed to that," Earl said. "But, at the end of the day, our ultimate decision was based on investing in the Bond franchise and making the best product possible. Lifetime sales are very closely tied to reviewers' ratings and we felt that, if we improved the game, we'd add another 10 points to the ratings."

Microsoft and EA both chose to miss their initial deadlines in order to improve their products. Vivendi Universal Games wasn't so fortunate; when its "Half-Life 2" missed its December release date, that decision was made for them.

According to a Vivendi spokesperson, a hacker got into the computers at "Half-Life 2" developer Valve Software and stole a third of the sequel's source code. Reportedly, the culprit broke into the e-mail of Valve founder Gabe Newell and planted a keystroke logger, a spying program that records employee passwords and confidential information.

The bottom line is that the release of the sequel to the winner of 50 game-of-the-year nods back in 1998 will be delayed at least until April.

Vivendi chose not to participate in this story. And Valve's marketing director responded with, "I really don't think we have anything to offer."

Regardless of why their games were delayed past December, if game publishers experience substantial sales this spring, they may reconsider whether the Christmas crunch is really necessary. Indeed, Microsoft is already giving some thought to spreading the wealth throughout the year.

"I think it's a good idea, but you have to choose wisely," said Microsoft's Featherstone. "Our 'Rise of Nations' shipped in April because we decided it was too similar in genre (historical real-time strategy) to our 'Age of Empires,' which came out with an expansion pack at Christmas. We had to spend more money marketing it but, in the end, we did fine and got great reviews. So, yes, moving some games away from Christmas is a good idea."

Game publishers, in general, recognize that the Christmas rush -- in which an avalanche of games comes out at the same time -- is a huge marketing problem. This past Christmas, they say, there were too many good games coming out at the same time and quite a few didn't sell well.

"My prediction is we'll be spreading out the releases and shipping some in early September and others in January and February of 2005," Featherstone said. "But we can only do that with really great games that can stand on their own. It's too dangerous to try and sell weaker, second-tier titles when there are few consumers around. Hardcore gamers may be in the stores in March or April, but the casual gamers aren't."

Paul "The Game Master" Hyman was the editor-in-chief of CMP Media's GamePower. He's covered the games industry for over a dozen years. This is the first of his columns exclusive to The Hollywood Reporter's Web site.

http://www.hollywood...tent_id=2079130

#9
soapofdurden

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That's a lot of f***in dialog, even if you count the perhipheralary lines into it.

#10
A Munkeys Uncle

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Damn right it's a lot of dialog. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic has far more than I've ever seen and it has 13,000. 20,000 is incredible! And it's a freaking FPS, lol.

#11
soapofdurden

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you'll be able to play the game over and aver and it'l never be the same!

#12
Positively Kanyon

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Any ideas what the controls will be like? I played Halo on my cousins Xbox and I hated the controls, absolutely ruined it for me.

I think I've been spoilt by Metroid Prime

#13
A Munkeys Uncle

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soapofdurden:
you'll be able to play the game over and aver and it'l never be the same!

Well that doesn't have anything to do with dialog, but errr...yeah.

What I mean is that the dialog in Halo 2 will be scripted, as it was in Halo and a LOT of it will take place during actual gameplay as it did in Halo, but there will still be a linear story (just like KOTOR), but it'll be more like...


Halo. Only it'll be made for the Xbox (rather than being started on another platform, the PC in Halo's case) and they, Bungie, won't have to worry about rushing it as Halo was to meet launch (and what a LAUNCH TITLE it was)!

It's Halo 2, it's a masterpiece. No worries. BTW there are 20,000 freaking dialog lines! Did I mention that yet? Have you seen the graphics? Have you felt the way the first one plays? Have you tried out Xbox Live? Have you read the stories. Ok I'm ***** (starts with a "d", ends with a k) I'm gonna stop now, and no it isn't short for "Richard." Oh wait that'd only be four stars, duh!

#14
A Munkeys Uncle

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Positively Kanyon:
Any ideas what the controls will be like? I played Halo on my cousins Xbox and I hated the controls, absolutely ruined it for me.

I think I've been spoilt by Metroid Prime

Then you'll hate Halo 2. Have fun.

What didn't you like about Halo's controls? What did MP accomplish that Halo didn't as far as a control scheme goes? lol. Halo's controls weren't smooth enough for ya?

Was it the multiplayer in MP (online, LAN, split screen, or co-op) Is that what was better? Oh wait...Must have been that seamless vehichular combat :rolleyes:

The two games play nothing alike, MP seems much more complicated, and Halo was much more intuitive, meaning they stuck with what works and didn't try to get all fancy.

This really isn't an MP 2 (if there is such a thing?) thread so if you want to go there I'd rather just have it out through a pm, rather than ruining this thread. Thanks.

#15
Dom

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A Munkeys Uncle:

Was it the multiplayer in MP (online, LAN, split screen, or co-op)  Is that what was better?  Oh wait...Must have been that seamless vehichular combat      :rolleyes:      

Or maybe he just preferred Metroid Prime. You may have heard about that whole opinion thing....

#16
A Munkeys Uncle

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Errr...probably so but my point to bring up those features was to signify the two games are nothing alike.

If you'd read everything I wrote you'd see this. I also suggested that we please not turn this into an MP thread.

Let's just say that Halo 2 will be a much more fair comparison to MP due to the conditions Halo withstood, although it is still considered a master piece by most gamers and the first of its series.

#17
Final DarkHour

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Dom:
Or maybe he just preferred Metroid Prime. You may have heard about that whole opinion thing....

No, its not an opinion thing.
I think it falls in to the ignorant opinion based on a very lackster base.

I can say this freely because if you check the controls section of HALO. The sheer amount of customization Halo 1 offered in terms of setting up the buttoms, X and Y axis and left, right handed, etc..etc...It rivals any Console FPS... And yes, you can make the controls work like Metroid Prime, but on xbox controller.

Results: His opinion is wrong, what is commonly known as failure due to fanboyism/ignorance/stupidity/etc. thumbs_d

#18
A Munkeys Uncle

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I was curious as to what he found disturbing about Halo's controls, you can make them very close to that of MP's or any other FPS on either of the next gen systems. The schemes are all pretty similar with the right analog stick, the left stick, and the face buttons, and the GC/Xbox both utilize triggers, the GC's triggers are clickable and the Xbox's analog sticks are clickable.

But yes, Halo's controls are extraordinarily
customizable, but I feel default is pretty close to perfection.

#19
Dom

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A Munkeys Uncle:
Errr...probably so but my point to bring up those features was to signify the two games are nothing alike.

They're both FPSs'. That makes them quite alike.

quote:


Originally posted by Final DarkHour:
Results: His opinion is wrong

Possibly one of the dumbest statements I've read lately.

#20
Final DarkHour

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Dom:
 

quote:


Originally posted by Final DarkHour:
Results: His opinion is wrong

Possibly one of the dumbest statements I've read lately.

Well thats cause you're an idiot.

THe fact that something is said based on wrong facts, to say that
"I like this park, more than the other park, because I walk faster in the other one"...

Its an opinion, right? Cause the statement, "I like" is there, yet does that make my opinion valid since its competely obsurd for me to base a preference of something upon my own abilities that don't directly affect the subject at matter in any way and can't possibly explain my opinion in a reasonable way, other than making me look like a dumbass.

Results, he is wrong, hence his opinion is wrong. Class dismissed...

#21
Dom

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One's opinion can't be wrong. If a person likes one thing more than another, there's nothing wrong with that. It means they have a preference. It's a pretty simple concept.

#22
Brock Sampson Kills

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Halo has the most simple control system ever fabricated, console or PC, on a first person shooter. They're elementary and finite to such a degree that it may well be the first FPS game that children/novice players can play without complaining about directional issues and peripheral vision.

Even Goldeneye and Turok, FPS console precursors, have a more complex and fundamentally disjointed control scheme then Halo. Halo 2 has more potential for failure here because of the advancements in gameplay, but I'm doubtful Bungie will have too many problems delivering.

#23
A Munkeys Uncle

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Ok GUYS this is the biggest news YET! Release date and the FIRST EVER Halo 2 multiplayer Screenshot! The screenshot is linked in the new update below, please don't post the screenshot in this thread, it's HUGE!

Look at the freaking motion blur on the tires, the freaking tires. BTW this is multiplayer, the single player looked FAR better in the first Halo as the multiplayer did! Only this time it supports LAN (again), split screen (again), and Xbox Live with more players than before, I'm guessing 24 since the first supported 16!

Now I mentioned the motion blur of the tires of the Warthog but look at the muzzle flash of the guns, MC's ARMOR, and the new freaking SHIELD EFFECTS! All that said and that BULLET case in the air is a 3D POLYGONAL FIGURE it is not a 2D bit map as seen in any other shooter before it, including Halo! And you can see a freaking TRACER of the bullet!

The detail, the sky looks amazing, the textures of the dirt, this is gonna rock!


quote:



Frankie's Bungie Update, 30 January 2004
Well, as you'll see all over the INTERNET this morning, this has been a very big, very busy week for Bungie, and the building excitement in the office is almost tangible. There's so much momentum at every level in the building - in the graphics department, in the sound studio, everywhere you look, people are working on solid, playable, great-looking bits of Halo 2. So here's a quick glimpse at what folks were up to this week.

Brian, me, Lorraine , and a bunch of other lucky staffers have been impossibly busy this week, basically taking a kickass SCREENSHOT of Halo 2.
It's really important to point out that this screen is straight from the current game engine. The resolution is a little sharper thanks to the way screens are dumped from the frame buffer, but this is entirely representative of the lighting, polygon counts, bump-mapping and particle effects. There's no trickery or BS here. And of course, this is early stuff, so things will change and improve between now and launch. We basically played the game and took a ton of shots until we finally picked the one that rocked the hardest, and best represented what playing that level was like.

Of course this is a multiplayer level, and no doubt you'll be scanning the shot for details, clues and hints about what to expect from the game. We did deliberately try not to give too much away, but sharp-eyed Halo fans will see plenty. Working with the multiplayer build opened us up to a lot of the cool technology that it's built around, and just about every step revealed some amazing new facet of the game - everything from the animation on the Warthog wheels to the bump-mapping on Master Chief's gloves. We barely even begin to comprehend the labyrinthine depths of this software and its associated tools. And special thanks to Chris, Ben, Mat and the guys for helping show us what's possible and how best to use it.

Over at the environment department, where tree-love is all the rage, Paul "Evil Paul" Russel and crew are working hard polishing up two specific levels. One is a "Really incredible, massive space" and Paul is busy fixing and polishing elements that have already been tested for gameplay. That means, for example that a big cube that once said "rock" is now a sand-textured monolithic boulder that's being properly tweaked and textured and lit so that it looks perfect.
In testing, artists and designers will often place approximations of the required geometry in an environment, so instead of a broken-down car, you'll see a box at the same position and angle, with the legend, "Broken down car" written on the side. These pre-textured levels are actually pretty surreal.

Because of the timing for the pieces they're working on, the environment guys have been pulling pretty long hours, often here until midnight, where they amuse each other by arguing the pros and cons of Marmite versus Vegemite, without the decency to include Bovril on the list. It should be noted that Chris Butcher has suggested that Vegemite is more manly and coarse than the effete syrupy consistency of Marmite.

And we must also note that Mike has gone from "pupil" to "protégé" under Paul's mentoring/tutelage.

As you know if you've been following this stuff - we're redesigning the Bungie.net website. Doug and the web guys are getting ready to make sure that the new Bungie.net can deal with all the extra traffic, get the new news section working and make sure the forums are integrated. The new look for the site is also being polished and buffed to a shiny gloss. You'll be pretty surprised at the difference between the current site and the new one.
I personally just saw something Halo 2-related that literally made my jaw drop. Like in a cartoon.
Marcus Lehto spent the week fretting, worrying and then relaxing about cool new ways to improve the cinematic cutscenes. He relaxed in the end because some of the solutions are perfect.
Michel Bastien has been meaner than usual, but this week he's been working on localization of Halo 2 for non English speaking countries That way French Canadians won't get their knickers in a twist, and Korean players won't have to wait two years to find out what all the fuss is about. Michel only handles the planning, as opposed to more technical stuff like making sure it runs properly on PAL or SECAM Xbox systems.
Well that's it for this week - next week I will ask for some movies of new levels and see how long it takes before someone actually punches me in the face. I can't promise any movies (ever) but I can promise you next week's Update will be the best yet. Probably.

This week, we got a lot of speculation on what "Goin' Ribs!" means. It does not mean this:

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#24
A Munkeys Uncle

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Anyone else notice the blue Master Chief in the background holding the Needler? Now that is freaking detail!

#25
Dom

Dom

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I know you said not to post it, but here's a resized version.

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