My love for the Halo game franchise reaches beyond just that of general gamers. I love the gameplay, the intricate story, the graphical and artistic detail and also something which people often forget…the company behind the creation, Bungie.
It all began with two people. First Alex Seropian in May 1991 where Bungie was founded and later Jason Jones. The two worked side by side to produce amazing games such as “Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete” a sharply detailed role-playing adventure game based on exploration developed in 1992 for yep the Mac OS (Woohoo *chokes*). I really like the tagline for the game being,
“Kill your enemies. Kill your friends’ enemies. Kill your friends.”
The next in line was “Pathways into Darkness” a unique first person adventure shooter created in 1993 for yeppers Mac OS. This was their first commercial breakthrough.
After this, came the first game of theirs that i have actually played. For those who play games deeper than the average playing will notice hundreds of so called “Easter Eggs” or hidden secrets in the Halo games based on this. The game is “Marathon”. This trilogy of games is a sci-fi first person shooter developed in 1994, about a Security Officer who must defend his ship against countless attacks from an alien race known as the Pfhors. Hmmmm Master Chief, Covenant…. Anyways the ship he must protect also has AIs known as Leela, Durandal and Tycho in which one of these begins to act weird and cause trouble. Hmmm…..Halo…Pillar of Autumn…Cortana…Serina. So many similarities. Even untrusted AIs going rampant which in this case for Halo is the 343 Guilty Spark. Even the Mjolnir armour can be seen in both. You may or may not know all these names that i am throwing at you -besides that apple pie- but they are indeed characters in the ever extending story that is Halo. Many, including me, think of Marathon as the building blocks and possible spiritual predecessor to the Halo Saga. This is where you begin to realise that everything Bungie make in some way tie in together. Their passion succeeds continuously game after game.
After this and before Halo, two more games were made. The first being the Myth Series developed in 1997; a real-time strategy game with once again great graphics and a great story following through. I love this incident. One of the biggest mistakes Bungie has ever made (i think it’s the biggest) was that the sequel to this game “Myth II – Soulblighter” had a serious bug in it, in which the uninstaller would erase the folder that the game was installed in. If then however a user installed the game to the root of their hard drive, the uninstaller would in fact erase all the contents of the users hard drive. Now that is both scary and hilarious but it cost more than a million dollars to fix…Ouch. Luckily it is said that the bug was replaced before the game was actually ever sold to any consumer, except for the marketing lady who found the bug, yep a clean wiped drive, all her dirty videos collection on mud, dirt and soil erased…she didn’t really have dirty videos on mud…or did she?
The second game and their last before halo, was Oni, a 3rd person shooter/beat ‘em up about a dystopian Earth where pollution has dwindled Earth’s population. To make things worse although all the nations of the world have joined together into one collective group, the police force in which the protagonist works in is not all what it seems. This plus the main enemy, a criminal organization known as the Syndicate, make the protagonist’s quest for self discovery and of course saving the human race indeed more difficult than eating a Tiramisu cake, well for me that is. The game is obviously influenced by Ghost in the Shell as the protagonist is a woman code-named Konoko who does in fact look similar to Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko. Hahah Konoko…Motoko…talk about influence, but i would also call it inspiration. Music from Myth, and to me it seems some sound effects and armour permutations from Oni were also Easter Egged into Halo, or included through inspiration…or inspiracluded. If you ever work out where in fact Bungie have secretly put the Myth music track “Siege of Madrigal” in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach then you are in fact awesome. If you haven’t then you are still awesome but just a tiny winy bit less hahaha, just kiddin’ i love you all, even you little monkey. But really if you do find them then you will be amazed at where Bungie have hidden them and how to activate them. I indeed tried all of them and darn are they really funny.
Bungie didn’t start out as a professional straight up organization with all A stars. They began as a few people having fun and doing what they love most, making games on the Mac OS platform for people like us to enjoy. Inevitably they grew and grew. And it is this that lead to their current ultimate baby…Halo.
Released in 2001 Halo is a super detailed, story focused game which began life as a Real-time Strategy game, then 3rd person shooter and then ultimately became a 1st person shooter. The game was originally codenamed “Monkey Nuts” and later “Blam!”. It is based on an all out war between humanity and an unprovoked enemy known as the Covenant. This however is too brief as there is also a greater threat, threatening the galaxy and possibly the universe. This threat is the Flood, an infectious parasite that consumes all life-forms in order to live and spread. A super intelligent pre-human race known as the Forerunners found a way to contain them, until the Covenant naively released them once again, threatening all that lives. The game story features far greater detail than just this but to know the most you can means to play all the games a few times over, finding all secrets and hidden story information, read the books, read all the Wiki, Wikia, Bungie and Halo Waypoint website page on Halo inside out, read the comics/graphic novels and there are probably more that i just can’t remember right now, including the still to be released Reclaimer Trilogy, beginning with Halo 4. Wow sounds like Star Wars now. Halo is too big a universe and so many new posts will be done on this.
Possibly Bungie’s biggest mistake and best decision was to sell the game to Microsoft, the PC company. I believe is was the best decision dominantly because the Microsoft had the power, the knowledge of the gaming market, hands on the world next largest console the Xbox and of course the money to build. The game in my opinion would have been just as amazing without Microsoft, however i believe it is Microsoft’s input that got the game out into the world. The reason why it was the worst decision, but inevitable was that as soon as Bungie would feel it is time to end it at a perfect story ending, Microsoft would know that more money is to be made from Halo, and also the fans would be wanting more, and so the way the business world works, you lose partners and you gain partners. On March 31st this year all Halo server data will be transferred to 343 Industries Waypoint website and Bungie will not be continuing anything based on the Halo franchise…sad face indeed. Many fans of Halo seem to be annoyed at Bungie for this, but it is not their fault and is simply the business way of life, the rest of us know that Bungie are the true geniuses that began it all and without them there would be nothing. Already with 343 Industries newly released remake of Halo: Combat Evolved, know as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, i have noticed that it just doesn’t feel like a Bungie game anymore and not feeling like a Bungie game means not feeling like a Halo game. In all the Halo games the main protagonist the Master Chief was this hard, rough and powerful Spartan soldier with limited speech and movement. 343 Industries are doing a great job so far but the Chief all of a sudden began to move and animate a little bit too much and soon i was beginning to feel the hard, rough soldier feel slightly fade away, not completely but enough to irritate beneath the skin. Also Bungie knew how to polish a game because even the little fades in visual and audio content that 343 Industries seem to miss out immediately irritate me. But we knew this would happen and we knew the game would change without Bungie, but the key is to be open minded and hope Halo 4 does a good job. Follow Bungie at Bungie.net.
If you have an hour spare then have a watch of this video about Bungie’s 20th Anniversary. I found it very amusing and interesting. Or if you want you can skim through it.
I’ll end this transmission with my words to Bungie. Thank you for filling our gaming hearts with awesome games and giving me hope that the world hasn’t yet lost its imagination. Can’t wait for your next awesome game series which we are aware is in development. May you continue your goal for world domination and succeed. Thanks for reading folks.
P.S. Watch out Bungie you’ll be seeing a job resume one day, in fact I’ll be sending one all the time, after all, what’s more important is working with a team of super talented people that not just know how to make awesome games, but know how to have fun with it.