Bungie Weekly Update/10-05-00

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This is the Bungie Weekly Update of October 5, 2000, written by Matt Soell.

Bungie Update[edit]

It's Halo Update Birthday Party time here at Bungie HQ. Bungie-blue balloons stamped with Halo logos carpet the ceiling. Strategically-placed strobes and disco balls spackle the room with light. In the portion of the office formerly known as the Oni room, a band is playing. Liquor and laughter flow in equal measure. And here I sit at my desk, trying to think up what may very well be the last Halo Update.

Suddenly the music stops, as though someone has pulled the plug on the band - and indeed, someone has. A chillingly familiar voice, hoarse from years of whiskey, shouts Play it, damn you! PLAY IT Someone says, Okay, okay, we'll play it. Power is restored, the band begins to play, and the gravelly voice begins to sing:

Roll out the barrel...We'll have a barrel of fun...

Marty walks briskly into the room shared by the Sin-O-MatiXXX and Online Teams, heading straight for the soundproof safety of his studio. You might want to write that from home, he shouts to me. The Webmaster's back. The studio door closes. Three deadbolts slam home.

I ponder this new development. We had often joked that the Webmaster could smell an open bottle or spiked punch bowl anywhere in whichever hemisphere he happened to occupy at the time, but this is one of those jokes that is only funny because it's true. Whenever the Bungie Webmaster departs on one of his extended HTML research missions, inevitably stories and lawsuits make their way back to us through third parties. Last thing we heard, the Webmaster was trekking across Nepal, trying to track down the Abominable Snowman and strongarm him into signing the rights to the name Yeti to Bungie in perpetuity. There was also a rumor that he was locked up in Kansas, where a group of scientists thought he might fill a few gaps in the fossil record and get evolution back in the textbooks. There are a million Webmaster stories and it's always tough to know which ones actually happened. In any case, he has somehow learned of the enormous volume of free booze in the office and has returned in rare form.

Amidst the din, I think back to this time last year. I started writing weekly Halo Updates because everyone wanted to know what was happening with the game and nothing had been said in a long while. Cynical folks were inventing and dispensing rumors: Halo was done but Bill Gates was making us sit on it, Halo was cancelled, Halo was just nothing but pre-rendered CGI Bungie made to yank people's chains and attract well-heeled buyers. It struck me that I could say That's all bogus but I say that all the time and nobody believes me. The only chance I had to prevent the cynics and bullies from poisoning the minds of Bungie Fans was to strike back with as much factual data as I could. Tell people what we were doing; not just that we were working but what we were working on and why it was cool. Of course 99% of it was stuff that was too secret to talk about, but in the worst case I could at least allude to it. I became a Master of Allusion.

A thundering sound and a black-and-brown blur to my left. The Webmaster has discovered the pony ride in the parking lot and gotten the pony inside the building. Up to the second floor, no less. I didn't think the elevators here could handle that sort of weight. The Webmaster gallops down the hall, his giant yellow foam hat flapping in the breeze. The staccato clop of galloping hooves. Breaking glass. Terrified Microsoft employees running for their lives. GIDDYUP LIL DOGGIES! the Webmaster screams. The band keeps playing Beer Barrel Polka, perhaps fearing what will happen if the Webmaster returns and doesn't hear it. The party rages on as if nothing unusual is happening. I think at this point everyone is too drunk to fear the Webmaster, or perhaps too drunk to even realize he's here.

Like many experiments, the Halo Update didn't always have positive or intended results. Certain magazines and websites complained that lowly fansites were getting more new Halo info than they were. Marketing thought Halo Updates gave away too much about the game (something I never could understand, especially in the early days when I couldn't say ANYTHING). There were days when few of the guys on the team were happy to see my smiling face or tell me what they'd been up to that week. And occasionally someone on a website or forum somewhere would take the Halo Developer Diary to task for not being more explicit. Those guys had it all wrong; it was never supposed to be a developer diary, just a weekly outburst from a guy who was lucky enough to see Halo every day and wanted to tell others how cool it was without breaking his NDA or spoiling any cool surprises. It wasn't a PR move to suck up to the media; it was a tiny porthole through which our fans could catch a glimpse of what we were up to and know that it was good.

I sip my drink and take a quick walk around the office. Out in the hall, the owner of the pony is trying to argue with The Man, who confounds him at every turn by laughing continuously. The Webmaster is at the other end of the hall, whispering sweet nothings into the pony's ear as they walk towards the men's room. The pony is wearing the Webmaster's hat. Tom stalks from room to room with a broken rum bottle, threatening to cut anyone who calls him Tommy Two-Gs. Obviously he's been playing too much of the new Pimps at Sea alpha. Paul Bertone stops pantsing the members of the band long enough to shout, Hey Matt, when are you going to tell people I farted in the Halo Update?

This week, Paul.

WHOOO! he shouts, and tackles the bass player.

Diamond Dave Candland comes up the stairs with a piñata shaped like a dog's head. What's in the dog's head? someone asks. Dog brains, replies Dave. The Man stops laughing long enough to say Hey, if that's true, take it over by Chucky's desk.

In the hall I hear Peter say, Hey, Tommy Two-Gs! and then yelp. I head into the Halo room and ask Hambone to call another ambulance. Everyone sits quietly at their desks, playing Halo in twos and fours. They take their work too seriously to join in the party now; they'll wait until the game is done, at which point the rest of the world can sit enraptured in front of their TVs, and Bungie HQ will get REALLY crazy.

I head back to my desk and stare at the empty email message in front of me. What can I possibly write about this week?

  • Everyone's playing Halo, and in fact there is a contest to see who can get through the game the fastest on Legendary difficulty.
  • Some of the AI debugging tools no longer work with our new builds, so Butcher is fixing them in the hope that we will be able to iron out the last few issues.
  • Chucky added an easter egg and got his toenails painted.
  • Marty, finished with his contributions to the game, decided he had shipped and ended his No Shave Till Ship policy. His scrubbed and shorn face is barely familiar; if they don't stop carding him at the door he may be forced to grow his hair out a little in the back so he looks more like the Marty of Old. Sorry for the redundancy. Marty tells me he'd like to know whether the public wants a Halo Soundtrack. Do you?
  • Joseph Staten, having nothing better to do, took a couple of new screenshots for you guys. The best way to thank him is to pay close attention to the shots. When you know what you're looking for, you'll usually find it hidden in plain sight.