Oct 31, 2001 (Wednesday)

HBO have posted an interesting Halo story related interview with Eric Nylund author of the Halo prequel novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach". Here's one interesting piece:

HBO:Long before anything was known about Halo by the public, the series of emails known as 'The Cortana Letters' was sent to Hamish Sinclair. They haven't been mentioned in quite a while, and more recent information seems to contradict some of the material in them-do they refer in any way to events that took place on or before the battle of Reach, in a way that impacts the book?

EN:Yes

Short but sweet. Eric sure plays his cards tight to his chest. Anyway here is another interesting piece:

HBO: How large a role does the Pillar of Autumn play in the book, and are there other crossover characters besides Cortana and the Master Chief?

EN: (Without giving too much of the story away...) The Pillar of Autumn plays a pivotal role in the Spartans' most important mission in the Halo universe.

This might suggest that the "Pillar of Autumn" is set to feature at a later stage in game and not just in the opening cutscene. In the Intro cutscene Captain Keyes explains how he will attempt to land the "Pillar of Autumn" on the Halo even though Cortana feels this is a suicide mission. We do know from screenshots in a Hands-On Preview of Halo at gamers.com that Captain Keyes does appear later in the game (see here and here) so it would seem that he was succesful in his mission. So perhaps the Pillar of Autumn does fly again (in some fashion).


You can read an excerpt from the Halo prequel novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach" over at Randomhouse's online site here.


IGN Xbox have now made their Multiplayer Halo Guide: Part 1 available to the public. You'll find details on all 13 net levels in Halo including screenshots. Here's a list of the level names:

Up the Ramps, Down the Tubes
Get on Top
Tombstones for Everybody
Dude, you really need to...
Deep-Space Anomaly #0198
Ship-to-Ship Combat
The Quick and the Dead
Round and Round and Round
Spartan Clone Training Complex
A long walk down a short hall...
Splash Splash, Bang Bang
Red Blood, White Snow
Covenant Hydro-Processing Center


Oct 30, 2001 (Tuesday)

Some more Halo tidbits. The names of the 13 Net levels in Halo and Uriel <robin.kunde@freenet.de> posted an interesting discription of the difficulty levels in Halo along with the names of some of the solo levels. You can read the full post below:

Halo level names
Posted By: Uriel <robin.kunde@freenet.de>
Date: 10/30/01 9:34 a.m.

thanks to some recent videos and screenshots i was able to collect some of the level names of halo. just add what i missed.

"I Would Have Been Your Daddy": schwartzenegger shot level
"The Silent Cartographer": beach landing, this must have something to do with the
device down in the covenant infested "base"(the shaft?). does the hologram belong to this?
"Reveille": first level on the PoA, awakening from cryo sleep
"The Maw": huge snow level
"The Pillar of Autumn": obvious

difficulty level:
easy: "Your foes cower and fail before your unstoppable onslaught, yet final victory will leave you wanting more."
normal: "Hordes of aliens vie to destroy you, but nerves of steel and a quick trigger finger give you a solid chance to prevail."
heroic: "Your enemies are as numerous as they are ferocious; their attacks are devastating. Survival is not guaranteed."
legendary: "You face opponents who have never known defeat, who laugh in alien tongues at your efforts to survive. This is suicide."


HBO have also put a page with the images associated with each difficulty level.

So there are only four difficulty levels and the names are similar to the ones used in Myth rather than Marathon. No "Total Carnage" folks. :-(


The beach level "The Silent Cartographer" sounds like the level described in the IGN Xbox review mentioned yesterday. This is the level where we make a "shocking discovery about Halo" which is somewhow connected with another Bungie game(s).


Oct 29, 2001 (Monday)

Another interesting Halo story tidbit appeared in an IGN Xbox review report from ManaByte (IGN DVD editor):

In one of the earlier missions you're landing on a beach to seek out something that will eventually lead you to a shocking discovery about Halo (if you've played other Bungie games you'll REALLY crap your pants). This mission was the E3 demo, but now it is so smooth and fluid, my jaw was on the floor.

So what exactly is this "shocking discovery" and how is it linked to other Bungie games? :-)


Thanks to all those who have written in about the the Halo prequel novel "The Fall of Reach". A 340 (3+4+0 = 7) page novel with a number of Marathon references including "Mark I Mjolnir suits" and a reference to a "Mars massacre". The latter is probably a reference to the "series of clashes on Mars" mentioned in the Official Halo Backstory.


On the Story Forum:

New forums at Bungie Sightings
Favorite Bungie game poll
Volunteers: My Own Private Thermopylae
So where is the eBook version?
Vidmaster secrets revealed!
This century is intentionaly left blank!


Oct 26, 2001 (Friday)

I'm back... sort of.


Over the last few days some interesting Halo story tidbits have emerged. Eric Trautmann <mercuryeric@hotmail.com> dropped in to the HBO forums to pass on info about the soon to be released Halo prequel novel 'The Fall of Reach'. Would there be game spoilers in the novel? Eric replied:

The short answer is no, great GREAT effort was taken to make sure that the book is laden with background details that enhance the story told by the game, but don't take away from the sense of wonder and discovery that the game provides.


In another HBO post Eric added some further details:

Re: Question for Eric
Posted By: Eric Trautmann <mercuryeric@hotmail.com>
Date: 10/22/01 8:17 p.m.
In Response To: Question for Eric (Pfhor)

: Hey Eric,

: Could you answer this question? Who is the narrator of this Halo book?

Uh, answering that is a spoiler. There are, IIRC, four separate POV characters. One of them is Cortana.

Oh : yes, what is this story bible you speak of?

The story bible was written by yours truly (with some help from Eric Nylund, Doug Zartman, and Brannon Boren, all Microsoft employees). It is designed as a "reference guide" for authors, comic book writers, etc., so that they can build new stories set in the "Halo" universe without contradicting the game or each other. It also clearly identifies areas that are "hands off" -- the province of Bungie for future game development.

: Will it be released for Halo?

The Halo story bible is confidential and isn't intended for distribution to the general public. Sorry. (It would sort of be like telling how the magician does his tricks or reading the last page of a mystery novel first.)


Robert "Apache" Howarth of VoodooExtreme posted a hands-on review of Halo in which he wrote:

Bungie has played its hand very close to the chest the last four years or so that Halo was in development -- and to this day the real storyline of Halo has not yet been revealed in print or online.

He wasn't about to reveal any spoilers though but did go on to say:

Well, that's about it for now. I'd go into greater detail about the story and what I've seen so far (not to mention post a million new screen shots), but since Bungie tried so hard to keep the game under wraps for all those years it was in development the least we can do is not spoil it for you. Come back on November 15th for our full review...


In a later news item Robert "Apache" Howarth did reveal:

I'm still hacking away in Halo, and thankfully it's continuing to kick major ass. I'm deep into the game at this point (chapter 7 out of 11) and well past what I can talk about without spoiling it for you, so I'll just leave it at that. So, it should take me three days to win (not sure how many hours that translates into as I lost track, but its big).

While not story related Robert went on to add:

Random Halo fact - Did you know that Halo had 27 types of multiplayer game modes and variants? You do now. Not sure WTF console players are going to do with them, but when it hits the PC - look out, baby.


Here's the current list of Marathon 2 levels revisited so far on the Story Forum:

Waterloo Waterpark
The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Charon Doesn't Make Change
What About Bob?
Come and Take your Medicine
We're Everywhere
Ex Cathedra
Nuke and Pave
Curiouser and Curiouser...
"Eat It, Vid Boi!", "The Hard Stuff Rules...", "Bob's Big Date", and "Six Thousand Feet Under"
If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay
Sorry Don't Make It So
For Carnage, Apply Within
Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry!!
The Big House


Some other interesting threads on the Story Forum:

"Best computer gaming weapon of all time" poll
D'OH!
Mac Emulators and Marathon
Get your Abuse now?
Duality MP3s
A brief history of DA/Duality
Memories of Double Aught.


Oct 21, 2001 (Sunday)

Just a heads up but I'll be gone <gasp> for few days. Next Story page upate will be on... Friday <gasp>. Where I'm going is... well secret <gasp>. Remember that the Story Forum is there to post news and general chat.


On the Story Forum today there's an interesting thread about Double Aught's "Duality". Seems there are still web pages out there that contain info on this ill-fated venture. A little digging should uncover more stuff. :-)


Halo's Cole Protocol also in Marathon? From the Lost Network Packets:

When the Marathon was attacked, Leela began to scramble and rewrite all of the historical information for mankind. Of course, she was damaged, and her efforts were cut off by the compilers and by Durandal. The result is that some but not all of the Marathon's data was muddled. Leela's effort at confusion failed to trick the Pfhor, but it has confused Durandal, and that is funny.

The message will arrive in ninety-two years... indeed.


Oct 20, 2001 (Saturday)

On the Story Forum:

Volunteers: The Citadel of Antiquity
Marine vs. W'rkncacnter
"Capture the Flag" in Marathon
All about Eve
Da big question
Jjaro underpants... have you got yours?


Oct 18, 2001 (Thursday)

Quick update #2

One smalll point from the Halo Intro Movie it would appear that the Covenant fleet did follow the Pillar of Autumn after it left Reach. As Cortana explains the Covenant ships are faster and where able to track the PoA. So the Covenant ships that are in-system when you arrive are the same ones from Reach. This isn't exactly clear from the latest version of the Halo backstory uncovered on Microsoft's Official Halo site.


Quick update #1

Matt Soell in a HBO forum post denies that Bungie had anything to do with the release of latest Halo movies that show the beginning of Halo in some detail. Matt writes:

We didn't release them.

I guess I should be glad they decided to show so much of the game's beginning rather than the middle or end.

-Matt

Matt's comment would suggest that Gamespot have the full game. If the full game has been released to certain reviewers don't be surprised to find more details of the story leaking before the US release date.


Another Marathon symbol sighting in Halo. Harry Al-Shakarchi <tomeone@bungie.org> sent in two pics from the recently released Halo Intro Movie where in one scene it is possible to see the Marathon symbol on the uniform of the captain of the Pillar of Autumn. You can see them here.

Interesting to note that in the original Halo backstory the captain of the Pillar of Autumn was portrayed as female. Why the change? Too many women in key roles?

The fact that the Marathon symbol is featuring more prominently in Halo begs the question... "Why is it there?"


Chris Bisoski <sanakiki@yahoo.com> also writes concerning the recently released Halo Intro Movie:

Heres a shot of the new Halo video.

http://halo.bungie.org/misc/gs.101701caps.html?image=statusreport

In the upper righthand corner there are 4 integers.

tru7h.

Can you spot it? ;-)


Oct 16, 2001 (Tuesday)

Quick update

Noah "Migraine Boy" Brimhall <noahb@mac.com> writes concerning Robert Chrzanowski's comments earlier today concerning the similarities between Halo and BattleZone II:

Robert Chrzanowski mentions the similarities between BattleZone II and Halo, but look at the ship over the top right shoulder of the BattleZone II Marine. It appears errily similiar to the Covenant Wraith. Just thought I would mention it.

Aye.


Maury Markowitz <maury.markowitz@lionhart.net> writes concerning the apparently garbaged history term on "Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!". See The Chicken Term section for details.


Robert Chrzanowski <zirman@mac.com> notes some striking similarities between Halo and another older game called "Battle Zone II":

I was looking at some clearance software at software outlet when I came across Battle Zone II. The cover of the box looks surprisingly similar to Halo. Another interesting tid bit is the description:
"A mysterious alien force is attacking our solar system, and it's up to you to defeat them. Lead your troops over a variety of lush 3-D landscapes, fighting off the invaders in this real-time strategy game."

http://softwareoutlet.com/shop/index.cgi?&task=item&ItemID=IT2708


Oct 15, 2001 (Monday)

On the Story Forum:

There are three Bobs in this list!
That Marathon symbol in Halo... again
Marathon fans... They're Everywhere!
Marathon chat channel
Volunteers: Nuke and Pave
marathon.org is back!
Volunteers: Ex Cathedra


Oct 13, 2001 (Saturday)

Every once in awhile a bunch of Vid films turn up which push the envelope just that little bit more. Jeffrey (Sidoh) Lindquist's <jeffquist@go.com> latest Marathon Vid pack set new standards for some levels. The highlight without a doubt is "The Rose". Originally considered impossible to Vid "successfully" (i.e. saving enough Bobs) "The Rose" is now completed by Jeffrey with no shots fired and 20 bobs saved (out of 35) which means it is successful. This has never been filmed before. Check the Marathon Vidmasters' Page for full details.


A ton of new Halo media discovered at the official Xbox Japan Press Information site... according a HBO news report. If you have a fast line you can grab the stuff (.zip files) directly yourself from:

http://xbox.jp/press/english/tgs2001_autumn/title.html

and

http://xbox.jp/press/english/premiere/title.html

Alternatively check HBO here for the new stuff.


Marathon 2: Revisited. The Volunteers' endeavor continue at a pace:

Waterloo Waterpark
The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Charon Doesn't Make Change
What About Bob?
Come and Take your Medicine
We're Everywhere


Also on the Story Forum:

The Marathon marine meets Lara Croft?
Marathon Resurrection Interview
How many Blakes?
Marathon 2 Cheat Codes?


Oct 12, 2001 (Friday)

Tom Van Sinden <TVansinden@earthtech.com> writes:

Here's a post by Eric Trautmann with a vague "the Covenant are looking for something" reference:

http://carnage.bungie.org/haloforum/halo.forum.pl?read=71079

Tom refers to this post on HBO:

Re: About the novel? (Q) "The fall of Reach"
Posted By: Eric Trautmann <mercuryeric@hotmail.com>
Date: 10/11/01 5:01 p.m.

In Response To: Re: About the novel? (Q) "The fall of Reach" (John Denton)

: I assume the reason they wouldn't just annihilate the planet would be because
: they needed to find the location of Earth first.

Let's just say they're...looking for something. :D

E

Interestingly enough the current version of the Halo backstory makes no reference to the whole Covenant fleet giving chase to the Pillar of Autumn when it escapes Reach. Now we have the Pillar of Autumn arriving at a so-called "random" location and finding the Halo and also a Covenant fleet "looking for something". Sounds like a set-up... right?


Marathon Resurrection Beta 1.1 Released. This release improves netplay with the addition of 2 new gametypes, 1 new DM map and a server tab for M:R. Many other improvements have been made, and many bugs have been squashed. Full details can be found at the Marathon Resurrection site.


Marathon 2: Revisited. The Volunteers' endeavor continues:

Waterloo Waterpark
The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Charon Doesn't Make Change
What About Bob?
Come and Take your Medicine


Oct 10, 2001 (Wednesday)

Where are they now? Picked this tidbit off the SubNova Forum. Former Bungie employee David Bowman has been made Executive Vice President of Operations at Artifact Entertainment according to this news item at Horizons Vault. Here's the text concerning David Bowman:

David Bowman has been appointed as the Executive Vice President of Operations. Mr. Bowman was formerly the VP of Production, Executive Producer and Design Director at Turbine Entertainment Software where he worked on the MMOG Asheron's Call and on other titles still in development. Prior to working at Turbine, Mr. Bowman was at Bungie Studios where he worked as a designer on Myth II and other in development projects.

Apart from being a level designer on Myth II David was part of the 2nd Cortana letter cover up back in May 1999.


Oct 9, 2001 (Tuesday)

In a HBO forum post Matt Soell confirmed that Halo has received an M (Mature) rating in the US and not a T (Teen) rating as previously indicated. Matt wrote:

The more they thought about it, the more Halo seemed like a Mature title to the folks at the ESRB. They told us we would need to make some changes to the game if we wanted to keep a Teen rating. Some of these changes were relatively trivial and did not make the game any less fun or compromise the vision of the designers. Others would require a lot of last-minute work and change the atmosphere of the game in significant ways. The team decided to keep the game as we originally submitted it to the ESRB, which meant shipping Halo with an M rating.

Matt went on to say:

This affects us significantly: M-rated games are not sold in certain national stores, not advertised in certain markets, and are often off-limits to young people. If any of these factors prevent you from getting your hands on Halo, we're sorry - we did what we felt we had to do.


Staying with Halo Matt Soell also revealed in another HBO forum post that they had been approached about the rights to a Halo movie and a deal remains a possibility.


Marathon 2: Revisited. The Volunteers' endeavor continues with the Marathon 2 levels:

Waterloo Waterpark
The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune


Also on the Story Forum:

Marathon riddles get tougher?
Hats off to the Volunteers
What is 5D Space?


Oct 7, 2001 (Sunday)

Thanks to all those who wrote in about the Marathon symbol on the side of the "Pillar of Autumn" (see yesterday's news). If you can't see it Harry Al-Shakarchi <tomeone@bungie.org> kindly sent in this pic (66K) to show the location. Why is it there and what is it supposed to mean?

Over the years there has been alot of discussion about what the Marathon symbol represents. For example Back in Apr 5, 1998 Dave Aitken <DaveAJA@aol.com> wrote:

Concerning the Marathon symbol; I think it is put in an appropriate context on What About Bob?, where it accompanies communications from Durandal, and also on the Marathon boxes. These show the symbol suspended in space - I have always regarded it as a stylised representation of the Marathon itself.

Dave went on to point out that the Marathon being a hollowed-out moon it would be appropriate to depict it "as a circle within a circle". It is interesting to note that this very point was raised on comp.sys.mac.games way... way... back on the 16th Dec 1994. Note this was posted BEFORE the final game was released.

From: afaeaton@aol.com (AFA Eaton)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.mac.games
Subject: Re: MARATHON physics flaw?
Date: 16 Dec 1994 17:12:52 -0500
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Lines: 19
Sender: root@newsbf02.news-fddi.aol.com
Message-ID: <3ct3d4$7e9@newsbf02.news-fddi.aol.com>
References: <rmcassid-1612940922200001@dante.eng.uci.edu>
Reply-To: afaeaton@aol.com (AFA Eaton)

You hit the nail on the head.  As they said in IMG, Marathon is a small
moon of mars that was turned into a gaint hollowed out colony ship.  My
guess is that it also contains some sort of alien embryo at the core that
the alien races think we have abducted... Look at the logo for a sec and
imagin the large circle as the Marathon colony ship... What's the second
little circle inside?  ;)

Just my $.02...

--Jeff


----------------------------------------------------------------------
Jeff Eaton, afaeaton@aol.com. My views do not represent the opinions
or policies of America Online. Offer prohibited where void, some
restrictions may apply. God doesn't build cages -- just guardrails.
----------------------------------------------------------------------


Then on Apr 20, 1998 Kyjel Shaytolmae <kyjel@mailexcite.com> tracked down J. Reginald Dujour (the guy responsible for the arts and graphics in Marathon) and asked him a few questions concerning his work on Marathon. Regarding the Marathon symbol and what it represented Reg replied:

I designed the icon to represent a world within a world... Marathon the spaceship being build inside a hollowed asteroid.

So there you have it.


Marathon Revisited. The full list of links to all the levels revisited. Some good stuff in here. Note that some levels have more than one thread and that some threads cover more than one level. Thanks to all those who contributed.

Arrival
Bigger Guns Nearby
Never Burn Money
Defend THIS!
Couch Fishing
The Rose
Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!
Cool Fusion
G4 Sunbathing
Blaspheme Quarantine
Bob-B-Q, Shake Before Using..., Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
G4 Sunbathing, Blaspheme Quarantine, Bob-B-Q, Shake Before Using..., Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap
Habe Quiddam
Neither High nor Low
Pfhor Your Eyes Only...
No Artificial Colors
Unpfhorgiven
Two Times Two Equals...
Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...
Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...
Eupfhoria
Pfhoraphobia
Ain't Got Time Pfhor This...
Welcome to the Revolution......
Try again
Ingue Ferroque

Onwards to Marathon 2?


Oct 6, 2001 (Saturday)

Matt Soell (Bungie Studios) sent his Halo update to Haloplayers this week. It's a long one (the Halo Update is one year old) and contains two new screenshots. Here's what Matt has to say about the shots:

- 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.

Look closely at the Pillar of Autumn shot and you should spot something very familiar. The Pillar of Autumn itself is similar in style (gun barrel shaped) to the USCMC's starship "Sulaco" from the film Aliens.


Matts also asks in his update:

Marty tells me he'd like to know whether the public wants a Halo Soundtrack. Do you?


Oct 5, 2001 (Friday)

Jeff Nosanov <jeffnosanov@yahoo.com> asks:

Hey Hamish, I was curious about the problems with OSx and Marathon. What happens?

Good question. Since I haven't installed it (can't afford any downtime on mission critical apps... like Marathon) I'm in no position to say. However there have been a number of comments about Marathon being very slow under OS X. See this recent post from Mark Levin on the Story Forum. Please feel free to post your Marathon/OS X comments/observations on the Story Forum. Thanks.


On the Story Forum today:

Welcome to the Revolution revisited
Secret pages?
Who is scrambling the Story page links?
Marathon riddle
No Halo films!
False alarm!


"Coming to the PC/Mac System before the sun explodes" is new Halo spoof movie from a guy called Kevin at www.brainwavz.com/halo/. The hi-res version weighs in at 44MBs and the lo-res is a mere 8.4MBs. Good fun. More details can be found over at HBO.


Oct 4, 2001 (Thursday)

PlanetXbox have posted Vol. 4 of their Halo Developer's Diary feature by Jaime Griesemer (Bungie Studios). Here's one story related part:

And finally, when you are reading reviews and impressions of Halo, watch out for spoilers. We have taken some flack because Halo's story has been perceived as tired and clichéd. In truth, that's just because we have gone out of our way to keep most of it secret, so if you really want to savor the story and experience the characters and plot twists as we intended them, please watch out for spoilers.

For past Halo Developer's Diaries see below:

Halo Developer's Diary Vol. 3
Halo Developer's Diary Vol. 2
Halo Developer's Diary Vol. 1


Marathon Revisited. Back in July of this year Grasshopper started the Volunteers???? endeavor on the Story Forum. Basically the idea was to revisted the Marathon levels in order to discover new stuff or rediscover forgotten stuff. Below you'll find links to all the levels revisited so far. Interesting to note that some levels have more than one thread and that some threads cover more than one level.

Arrival
Bigger Guns Nearby
Never Burn Money
Defend THIS!
Couch Fishing
The Rose
Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!
Cool Fusion
G4 Sunbathing
Blaspheme Quarantine
Bob-B-Q, Shake Before Using..., Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
G4 Sunbathing, Blaspheme Quarantine, Bob-B-Q, Shake Before Using..., Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap
Habe Quiddam
Neither High nor Low
Pfhor Your Eyes Only...
No Artificial Colors
Unpfhorgiven
Two Times Two Equals...
Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...
Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...
Eupfhoria
Pfhoraphobia
Ain't Got Time Pfhor This...


Oct 3, 2001 (Wednesday)

Just noticed this on r.net but Louis Wu of HBO informs me that it is old news. Since I was away in early September I have an excuse for reporting on it here now. GameSpot UK have a Halo preview which contains some detailed info including some backstory details. Now it should be stressed that third party reports of the Halo plot have in the past been notoriously inaccurate which is the reason why they are not included on the Official Halo Backstory section. Nevertheless here is the interesting piece on Halo's backstory from last month's GameSpot preview:

The game starts out with a brief but fulfilling tutorial level that drops your character, Master Chief, right into the action as Covenant forces invade your ship and begin taking on your crew. It's up to you to escape with the ship's AI, which is saved, conveniently, onto a credit card-sized device. The AI will communicate with you throughout the game, filling you in on plot points as well as providing some occasional direction.

The game's plot will also be conveyed via cutscenes, all of which will use the game engine. Once you've escaped the dying ship, you'll end up landing on the ring-shaped planet called Halo. Of course, the Covenant forces want that AI pretty badly, so they're hot on your tail. Because many of the escaping human forces have also landed on Halo, you're now caught in the middle of a gigantic land-based conflict between the Earth forces, the Covenant and a mysterious native species that Microsoft officials alluded to but wouldn't show us.

So the third race in Halo is a "mysterious native species"? Originally the Halo was depicted as long abandoned. In addition the Covenent want Cortana and not you. One early theory had the Covenant after the player due to his cyborg nature. Cortana is also described as the ship's AI. In the fourth Cortana Letter there were two AIs on the Pillar of Autumn. The ship's AI and Cortana, the latter being an unwelcome guest. Perhaps this second AI complicated the plot too much?

One thing is for sure Bungie (and Microsoft) are being very careful about not revealing details about the third race in Halo.


On the subject of Halo Joseph E. Haake <joedamac@mac.com> writes:

Who knew?

http://homepage.mac.com/joedamac/whoknew.jpg

Check out that itty bitty small text too!


John Sumner <utjohns@aol.com> made an interesting post on the Story Forum concerning a possible explanation for why some of the S'pht (Compilers) on the Pfhoraphobia are reluctant to fight you. I'll repost most of it here:

After checking through each level of Marathon with Pfhorte, it seems that Pfhoraphobia is the only level where enemies are initially positioned on a teleport polygon. Of the five compilers Mark mentioned that lie at the bottom of the elevator, four of those are positioned on the teleport polygon. They don't seem to be positioned as overlapping. The remaining compiler is positioned right in front, but off the teleport poly. And as i recall from my experience with this level, one of those compilers always seems to wander down the hallway away from the teleporter. It seems like i would always end up having to fight one of those near the elevator, but never the others. I have never seen the others move down the hallway. Has anyone else? The others will shoot at you, but they never seem to get off that polygon. Additionally, in the extreme north of the map, there is another compiler positioned on another teleport polygon. I don't recall ever seeing that one leave the poly either. So i am wondering this: If you position an enemy on a teleport polygon in Marathon, does the game engine not allow that enemy to leave the polygon? Does it act like a "monster impassable" poly? Since i know next to nothing about mapmaking, i cannot answer that question.

If anyone can help out here please post your reply to this thread. Thanks.


Oct 2, 2001 (Tuesday)

On the Story Forum:

Pfhoraphobia insights
marathon.org down... again
This thread is outta control!
Strange idea
Marathon For Sale, Cheap


HBO gets an insanely large Halo screenshot... no not of Cortana.


Oct 1, 2001 (Monday)

Raul Bonilla (aka REB) <biomeca@hotmail.com> makes an interesting post on the Story Forum concerning the possiblility that the inaccessible weapons room on "Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones..." was not always planned to be inaccessible. Using information from the map file Raul suggests that a secret passage similar to one already on the level was planned to lead to the weapons room. There is an unusal break in a long corridor suggesting that a door was being planned. Indeed if you examine this area while in-game you'll notice that the section has a flickering light associated with it. While this might have been created to provide a more realistic atmosphere (lighting panels do fail) it might also have indicated an area to examine more thoroughly. No such visual clues to help you find the actual secret door on this level though.


Brian Callahan <Marathoner777@aol.com> writes:

Concerning the MI level, "Rise Robot Rise", the level name is very accurate, as robot s a Czech word meaning "slave", and the player spends most of his time working the humans, the phfor, or the A.I.s. The word first entered public consciousness after Karel Capek's play R.U.R. The 'robots' in the story, like the ones in Blade Runner, were made from synthetic flesh rather then metal.


Sept 30, 2001 (Sunday)

On the Story Forum:

Analyze THIS!
Eupfhoria: Revisited
Cortana looks sexier than Konoko?
Cortana screenshot analysis
TRON influence?
cmd + QUACK... Duck Code in Marathon
Jonathan Bahamon?
Durandal's personality change
Help me out here REB


Sept 29, 2001 (Saturday)

Matt Soell (Bungie Studios) sent his Halo update to Battleground Halo this week. In addition Matt sent them a screenshot which apparently shows a visual representation of Cortana. Somewhat Oni-ish in style. Worth a look. Check out those numbers too. :-)


Sept 28, 2001 (Friday)

Last Tuesday we reported on a Story forum post from an Eric Trautmann who claimed that the Halo timeline (story bible) recently uncovered on Microsoft's Official Halo site wasn't the final version and that some inaccuracies were present. At the time of the post it wasn't clear who Eric was. Now on a subsequent Story forum post Eric writes:

It should be noted that I'm not one of the Bungie team; I work in the group at Microsoft that handles licensing. I'm also a fanboy geek who HATES it when tie-in products don't match the source material. Hence my annoyance about the timeline discrepancies between what goes into the book and what ends up on the website.

Eric went on to comment about Halo and the tie-in Halo novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach":

Well, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the source material; the Bungie team did a FANTASTIC job on the game. It is insanely beautiful and plays insanely well. breathing, logical and consistent setting.

My goal with the novel was to ensure that the book reads as well as the game plays. If we managed a novel HALF that good, then it'll still be a tremendously good read; the other major goal was to make you, the players, feel like the HALO universe is a living, breathing, logical and consistent setting.

I think we succeeded, and I hope you enjoy the book as a companion piece to a splendid game.

In an other Story forum post Eric writes:

Check for "Halo: The Fall of Reach" on Amazon for more info; Ballantine / Del Rey may have info up on their site, too.

Amazon.com have this to say about the Halo novel:

Book Description
As the bloody Human-Covenant War rages on Halo, the fate of humankind may rest with one warrior, the lone SPARTAN survivor of another legendary battle . . . the desperate, take-no-prisoners struggle that led humanity to Halo--the fall of the planet Reach. Now, brought to life for the first time, here is the full story of that glorious, doomed conflict.

While the brutal Covenant juggernaut sweeps inexorably through space, intent on wiping out humankind, only one stronghold remains--the planet Reach. Practically on Earth's doorstep, it is the last military fortress to defy the onslaught. But the personnel here have another, higher priority: to prevent the Covenant from discovering the location of Earth.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the soldiers seem to have little chance against the Covenant, but Reach holds a closely guarded secret. It is the training ground for the very first "super soldiers." Code-named SPARTANs, these highly advanced warriors, specially bioengineered and technologically augmented, are the best in the universe--quiet, professional, and deadly.

Now, as the ferocious Covenant attack begins, a handful of SPARTANs stand ready to wage ultimate war. They will kill, they will be destroyed, but they will never surrender. And at least one of them--the SPARTAN known as Master Chief--will live to fight another day on a mysterious and ancient, artificial world called Halo. . . .

Bungie, Halo, Xbox, and the Xbox Logos are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States andor other countries. Used under license. (c) 2001 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved

About the Author
Eric Nylund has a Bachelor's degree in chemistry and a Master's degree in chemical physics. He has published five novels: virtual reality thrillers A Signal Shattered and Signal To Noise; contemporary fantasy novels Pawn's Dream and Dry Water (nominated for the 1997 World Fantasy Award); and the science fantasy novel A Game of Universe. Nylund attended the 1994 Clarion West Writer's Workshop. He lives near Seattle on a rain-drenched mountain with his wife, Syne Mitchell.


You'll find the same information on Randomhouse's site here. Halo: The Fall of Reach will be available as a standard paperback novel or as an ebook. Interesting to note that the ebook version is called "Halo: Fall of Reach". Why the difference?


Michael Watson <mwatson@capitolmac.com> writes concerning this part of the recently uncovered Halo timeline:

"2291: FASTER THAN LIGHT
A secret team of researchers, physicists and mathematicians develop the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, a practical means of propelling spacecraft across vast interstellar distances."

$7 says there's a reference to Randall Shaw in there somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it . . .

Aye. As indicated on this Story forum post there is something odd about the some of the names in the Halo backstory. Can you spot them? And check out those recent Halo movies too. The names are there. :-)


Sept 27, 2001 (Thursday)

Mac OS X excludes the Pfhor. Liam Doughty <liam_doughty@hotmail.com> writes:

They're everywhere!

Thought you might get a kck out of this: http://www.apple.com/macosx/whatyoucando/universalos.html

Specifcally, the first paragraph of the page. ;)

Liam refers to this line from Apple's Mac OS X page:

Mac OS X goes out of its way to include everybody (except perhaps aliens from Tau Ceti - they're mean). Whether you're young or old, have special needs, speak different languages or need to stand out in the crowd, Mac OS X makes it easy to make your Mac your own.


Chad G. Poland <cgpoland@proedge.net> points out that one of the contestants in CBS' primetime show Survivor Africa is a Marathon fan. You can check his bio page here. As a Marketing Manager does he stand a chance? Lets hope he brought a SPNKR. ;-)


Sept 26, 2001 (Wednesday)

Justin Ancheta <jancheta@sprint.ca> writes concerning the Arthur Frain/Frane terminal mentioned on Monday:

Here's a thought on your interesting question posed concerning the message from "You're Wormfood, Dude": the ships Arthur Frane refers to may not have been necessarily UESC controlled; they may have been just controlled by the humans originally from Durandal's ship. Or, it could be an alternate timeline you stumble upon where the UESC have come to Lh'owon for the same reason Durandal did in M2, to find a way to defeat the Pfhor. (Which is sort of reminiscent of the Halo plot...where the humans try to find some sort of way on Halo to defeat the Covenant.)


Olle Strandman <ekstra@mac.com> writes to say that Matt Soell has indicated in a HBO forum post that there will be no acronym on the Halo box (HBO actually posted a news article about this last Monday). Matt writes:

Re: Speculation about the box (Halo box)
Posted By: Matt <matt@bungie.com>
Date: 9/24/01 3:07 p.m.

In Response To: Speculation about the box (Halo box) (Tursas)

: Will the box have a crazy acronym on the bottom to solve?

Unfortunately, not this time. We forgot all about it until a couple weeks after the box was done.

However, you might find some other odd messages elsewhere in the package.

-Matt

It has become something of a Bungie tradition to have an acronym on many of their products. See the Box Acronyms section for the history behind this. While there is no Halo box acronym Bungie still haven't forgotten to add the obligatory hidden messages.


Sept 25, 2001 (Tuesday)

Interesting post on the Story Forum today from an Eric Trautmann <mercuryeric@hotmail.com>. I've reprinted it below:

Re: Complete 'Early Conflicts' Text

Posted By: Eric Trautmann <mercuryeric@hotmail.com>
Date: 9/25/001 3:33 a.m.

In Response To: Re: Complete 'Early Conflicts' Text (Dispatcher)

: Will the author of "Halo: The Fall of Reach" use this as an outline
: for the book?

I can answer that; Eric Nylund used the story bible quite extensively in the novel.

There are some discrepancies in dates in this timeline (Eric adjusted some dates in fairly logical places) which were *intended* to be addressed in the end-of-the-month story bible rev, which -- clearly -- I need to send to the top of my priority pile.

Sigh.

Eric T

A quick search of the web reveals that the name "Eric Trautmann" is associated with Microsoft and also with some Star Wars media. Not sure if these are the same people but the forum post is certainly interesting. It would suggest that the Halo timeline (story bible) recently uncovered on Microsoft's Official Halo site is still not the final version and some of the dates will be changed. It remains to be seen what these changes will be.

See the Official Halo Backstory section for a full history of Halo's backstory development since July '99 and keep an eye on Microsoft's Official Halo site for the next installment of Halo's timeline. Let's see what dates do change.


Sept 24, 2001 (Monday)

Damien Sorresso <durandal@bungie.org> writes:

Did you notice that the Covenant War takes place in the 26th century, which is the century "intentionally left blank" in the Official Marathon Timeline?

Odd indeed.


On the subject of odd timelines... and food... we have this rather odd terminal on "You're Wormfood, Dude":

I am Arther Frain, Chief Petty Officer, USEC Marathon.
Arther Frane calling all USEC personnel
Calling Cmdr. Robert Blake...
Calling Security Chief Jones...
Arther Frain calling any USEC controlled ship in vicinity...

Station hull breached, we are losing pressurization.  More than half the men are without vacuum suits.  Patrols reporting intruder, last location unknown.

Any USEC controlled ship surviving nova event, transport when ready.

Arther Frain calling.
That is all...


So just how many USEC controlled ships were at Lh'owon in 2811?


Sept 23, 2001 (Sunday)

The Official Halo Backstory section has been updated with the recently uncovered Halo backstory. Now you can trace the development of the story from its initial unveiling in July '99 to the present day.


Check out the Story Forum for some discussion about Halo's timeline and the Marathon timeline. See here and here.


Sept 22, 2001 (Saturday)

Full Halo backstory revealed! Thanks to some major sleuthing by Chlazza the full text of Halo's backstory has been uncovered on Microsoft's Official Halo site. Chlazza writes on the Story forum:

I found something interesting. Most the information on the official Halo website stored in an XML file called 'arrayxml.xml'. I was poked around in my cache and dug up the file by accident. I now present to you the history section of the file in it entirety:

You can read the full history on the Story forum here. Given that this is backstory it's unlikely to be a major spoiler for the actual game itself. Enjoy. Many thanks to Chlazza.


One to thing to note from the new backstory is that the Covenant are already present at the Halo rather than originally following the Pillar of Autumn to the Halo. Here's the relevant piece:

In accordance with the Cole Protocol, the Pillar of Autumn's captain plots a random, long-distance jump, hoping to lure the Covenant fleet-dangerously near Earth-away from the human homeworld.
After deactivating the drive, the Pillar of Autumn drops into a distant, uncharted system. There is a Covenant fleet in the system as well, near a planet-sized ring-shaped construct, Halo.


Matt Soell (Bungie Studios) sent his Halo update to HBO this week. Here's one interesting piece:

- There are many elements of Halo we haven't discussed in public - and we don't intend to start until long after everyone has played the game, lest we spoil a cool surprise for someone. So it's understandable that I haven't said anything about the many easter eggs in Halo. I'm not about to start either - but I will say that it pays to look around. And you haven't really won Halo until you've won it on the highest difficulty level.


More on the Story Forum:

The difference between a Mark IV and a Mark V
To spoil or not to spoil
Things we shouldn't ask
"Master Cheif" ???
THUTMOSE I'S LAW
Goofy looking?!!!


Sept 20, 2001 (Thursday)

Master Chief, Saucier, and other tasty morsels.

While I was away a number of interesting Halo story details surfaced. Microsoft's revamped Official Halo site released some additional backstory details. It's worth repeating the main parts here:

ABOUT YOU

You are the Master Chief, the last human "super-soldier" remaining from an experimental military program - the SPARTAN II protocols.

Selected at birth and raised in a "boot camp" setting for your entire childhood, you were an excellent soldier by your early teens.

With bionically and chemically enhanced bones and musculature, genetically rewritten neural links, and a specialized "hotwired" cybernetics package complete with heads-up display - you are the ultimate commando.

You are efficient, skilled, and dangerous, and, are the only human the Covenant truly fears...


BACKSTORY

For centuries, mankind has colonized the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Though each world held dangers, the military-accompanying bands of intrepid colonists-carved out dominion over hundreds of planets. Human ingenuity, resourcefulness and bravery have literally tamed the heavens.

Now, in the 24th Century, a mysterious alien enemy-the Covenant-appears, striking without warning. Driven by a fanatical need to rid the universe of the "infection" of Humankind, Covenant forces mercilessly advance, crushing all in their path.

Soon, the once proud Colonial dominion of Earth is reduced to a handful of worlds.


There was also a one small piece of additional information... but more is promised:


EARLY CONFLICTS

This period in human history is characterized by a series of wars between various governments and factions in our Solar System. Conflicts of particular historical importance include the Jovian Moon Campaign, The Rain Forest Wars, and a series of clashes on Mars.


The new information and its relationship with the Marathon timeline has been discussed in this Story forum thread.


In a HB0 post Matt Soell confirmed that the title "Master Chief" was the player's rank. It might throw up a whole set of different imagery for some people though. ;-)


Another interesting piece came from a recent IGN Xbox preview of Halo in which one of the the authors (Aaron Boulding ) related:

There's something impressive about Halo that subtly tells you that we've reached the next generation in console shooters and that there's just no turning back after this. It's not the dazzling graphics or outstanding sound elements.

It's the transitions.

Two in particular stand out. First, when you move the main character, your Mark V cyborg/badass, in or out of a vehicle you have to make the switch from third person to first person and these are done seamlessly.


The "Mark V" reference was quickly picked up and discussed in this Story forum thread. Worth a read.


In the same preview Jeremy Conrad described the opening level in the game with some detail. It's worth repeating part of it:

What I really wanted to see what the first level where your character is onboard the human ship, The Pillar of Autumn, right as the vessel arrives at Halo and the Covenant forces begin to attack and tear into the ship.

The level begins as you are waking up from cryo-stasis and you see a technician in front of you informing you of your status. As you lie in the cryotube, you are able to look down and see your body until you are finally told to exit the tube and begin to seamlessly learn the controls.

This is a really cool part of Halo. As you begin to move around the lab the game teaches you the basic controls. Eventually they have you move over to a red square where the technicians ask you to look at a cross of white lights on the wall. When you do this they give you the option to invert your aiming controls, all of which is fit in with the story of you being a cyborg. If you decide to invert the controls, the techs will just say that they have modified your aiming mechanism. From there you move over to the other side of the lab where your shields are filled up and the techs explain to you how that system works (once your shields are depleted, you have to wait a few seconds while they re-fill).

Immediately after that an explosion in the control booth above blows out the right wall and a Covenant Elite jumps in and kills the technician manning the controls. Knowing that the ship is under attack, the tech that is with you asks you to follow him into the hall where he is then killed and you are on your own.

You then head up to the bridge to meet the captain who transfers the ship's AI program into your suit. Now you have a small voice that gives you hints and tips as you progress so you won't be completely lost while you explore all of the massive levels in the game.


Sept 19, 2001 (Wednesday)

Now We Are Six   (apologies to A. A. Milne)

One more year to go?


The Story Forum was certainly active over the last few weeks notching up 400+ posts. Good to see the activity.


Harry Al-Shakarchi <tomeone@bungie.org> writes:

Halo's motion sensor range is a 15 metre radius. Sound familiar? :)

And not to mention... that the rocket launcher in Halo reminds one of Marathon's SPNKR. Heck, Halo's rocket launcher also has two rockets to fire. :)


S. Adam Richard <arichard2401@mac.com> writes:

Take a look at this, note the part at the bottom about the crates and cranes:

http://www.planethalflife.com/blueshift/walkthrough/walkthru3a.shtm

I guess it proves there's nothing new under the sun. Or maybe its a nice tribute :)

Adam refers to the Crane Puzzle which has shades of the pillar room in "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap".


And now for something completely different. Butch Massoni <bmassoni@sco.ca.gov> writes:

being a long time marathon guy, and an avid wine collector, there are a couple of instances where the wine industry are bungie fans, or ???

one of the hottest zinfandel wince produced comes from a winery in napa valley called "outpost"...cool label...i can scan it and send it but the simularity is they use the same font (bank gothic).

second instance is a new wine out from another napa valley winery called stag's leap winery. the name of the wine is "no cede malis"!!!!


Sept 1, 2001 (Saturday)

Story page closes... for a summer vacation until the 19th.

Aye it's that time of year again folks. Off to visit that spring in France. Although the page is closed the Story Forum is always open.


Matt Soell (Bungie Studios) sent his Halo update to Battleground Halo this week. Here's one interesting piece:

- We're balancing difficulty levels, trying to find that equilibrium between "a little too easy" and "a little too hard" which is sometimes a hard call to make. Jason Jones has been spotted in five to ten-minute battles with individual Elites while using the tougher difficulty settings.

Matt also went on to say:

I am rapidly running out of Halo Update material. Not because nothing is happening in fact too much is happening but everything we're working on is either a fix for existing content or new stuff (mostly cinematics) that I can't discuss without ruining a couple key surprises.

mmm... surprises. :-)


The Marathon Vidmasters' page gets updated with a 65 minute Vidmaster movie. Dr. John Sumner <UTJohnS@aol.com> completes Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry! the hard way! No ammo used and little or no use of the Alien weapons. This level is tough under normal solo play with full weapons. Watch how a true Vidmaster completes the level 'au natural'. The film is 1:04:42 long.



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