Halo animation

Oct 1, 1999 (Friday)

Halo movie coming? Miguel Chavez (aka Freewill) posted this interesting prediction on the halo.bungie.org forums:

Prediction... Any takers?

Posted By: Freewill <freewill@bungie.net>
Date: 30 September 1999, 11:25 p.m.

Halo movie comes out on Oct 5 during Apple's "Special Event" where they unveil the NEW GAMER FRIENDLY iMacs.

Anyone else wanna second that?

- Freewill

Yes. :-)

Oct 2, 1999 (Saturday)

Miguel Chavez <JMChavez@aol.com> writes once more:

If you look at http://carnage.bungie.org/haloforum/halo.forum.pl?read=4503 you'll see that Nathan is teasing us again... his name tag reads in this message:

"-Island Four... the next big thing."

So now what! :) Is he referring that us *discovering* what I.F. refers to is the next big thing in our pathetic lives? Or that what I.F. refers to will be the next big thing to come out of Bungie? Or does it refer to Halo itself and its storyline?

My head hurts! Someone wanna make a list of what we know so far is NOT I.F. as per Nathan's comments?

In another recent halo.bungie.org forum post he also signed off as:

-Island Four ... when Island Three just isn't good enough

According to a Core forum post, again by Nathan Bitner, Marcus Lehto is Halo's Art Director. Nathan wrote:

I have been cleared to say that Marcus Lehto is our Art Director, so there's one more name to toss around. :-)

Of course this begs the question why isn't Rob McLees not Art Director? Rob is one of the more senior members of Bungie (he joined in '95) and would appear to be part of the Halo team.

Some crazy Halo forum posting has been going on during the earlier hours of Saturday. Miguel Chavez <JMChavez@aol.com> writes:

My god man, I just wrote a thesis on Bungie/Apple and all things under the sun :)

It's at the core.gamestats.com's forum Figured I'd tell someone that might be up at this crazy hour :)

Miguel's post was in response to growing criticism of the special relationship between Bungie and Apple on the Core forums. Nathan Bitner defends Bungie's special relationship with Apple.

halo.bungie.org state that Nathan Bitner has also been posting clues to his "Island Four" riddle on their forums. As yet nobody has solved the IF riddle. Nathan Bitner writes:

Posted By: Island Four <island_four@yahoo.com>
Date: 2 October 1999, 3:57 a.m.

In Response To: he may have indeed :) (LT) (Island Four)

> Still no good guesses as to the meaning of Island Four ... I'd
> give you hints but it's just no fun. Keep at it guys.

Let me rephrase that ... a lot of great guesses, but nothing even close ... well, nothing that close anyway. :-)

Even in Niven's case, the best ideas are stolen. The key is to find where they're stolen from ... from whose warped minds come the craziest ideas of REAL science-fiction to science-fact. Maybe that will guide you ..

- Island Four

The full thread of this post can be found here.

Will anybody be able to uncover the source of the "Island Four" pseudonym and its apparent connection with Cortana?

Where will you be on Tuesday, Oct 5, 1999, 10 am PT? Watching the Special Apple Event? Will the official Halo movie be unveiled on Apple's new gaming iMacs? Only one way to find out. :-)

Yesterday the Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued a Press Release claiming that there was no evidence of ancient ocean shorelines on Mars. The foundation for the Mars 'ocean hypothesis' developed on the basis of suspected shorelines would now appear to be incorrect.

Oct 3, 1999 (Sunday)

The "Island Four" speculations continue to roll in. Bradley Attfield <trsurmap@spots.ab.ca> writes:

An "island universe" as defined by the New World Dictionary of American English, (not that it's really notable or anything) is an, "old name for external galaxy". I thought, "well, the halo ring is in outer space, so why not research it further, just for the fun of it?" And this I did.

After scanning the internet for a few minutes, I had learned that certain entities are often refered to under the Messier catalog of star clusters and nebulae. The shorthand notation for refering to such an entity is M_. In this case M4 (external galaxy, or island universe 4). Intrigued that "Island Four" under such a classification system could be called M4 (as in Marathon 4) I frantically typed these two alpha numerics into my search engine of choice and hit search. What it came up with was http://seds.org/hst/M4WD.html

The same page (except with bigger pictures) is at http://prancer.physics.louisville.edu/astro/107/week_rev/week7/hst/m4_white_dwarfs.html

There is more info at http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m004.html

Very, very interesting.

As it turns out, if this lead is correct and Bungie tries to eradicate the web pages, here are some of the more interesting tidbits.

M4 is the nearest globular cluster to Earth, in the Scorpius constellation, at a distance (of no less than) 7,000 light-years from us. It's makeup is of 'ancient red giant stars', white dwarf's, 'yellow sun-like stars', and red dwarfs. There's a nifty picture in the top right that, according to the people who maintain the page, has a total of eight circled white dwarfs. Count them, please. Asides from that, there isn't much except for NASA's wanting to find out how fast white dwarf's cool.

However, upon further investigation, it seems that M4 is actually a member of the Milky Way galaxy, so it might be thought that M4 can't really be classified as an island universe. However, all theories are flawed in one way or another, this being the most evident discrepancy. Yet, until Nathan comes out and tells everybody (yes, Mr. Bitner, we do wait with baited breath) anything is possible.

In any case, could it be possible that the halo ring on the halo orbit encircles one of these 'yellow sun-like stars' in the M4 globular cluster? Methinks it could be.

John Garrard <durendal@mediaone.net> writes:

Here's what I have to offer you on this [Island Four] subject as trails to try... Olaf Stapledon whose works inspired Niven and dealt with such things as building stars.

As for science fiction to science fact authors well there's Arthur C Clarke who has a book entitled "Islands in the Sky" (Which I've not read so I don't know if it applies.) Interesting note though, all geosynchronis orbits are Clarke orbits because he came up with the concept before we had satellites.

And on a more computer oriented note out of randomness "Islands in the Net" by Bruce Sterling which I've also not read....

On the subject of book titles let us not forget "This Island Earth" (1952) by Raymond F. Jones it was later made into a film of the same name (1954) and is generally regarded as a cult classic for its era.

James Gurnee <harness@access1.net> also points out that Bungie's Soul doesn't respond to "Island Four"... yet! It simply replies with the generic answer "Aw, that's an easy one! Ask me something more challenging."

Oct 4, 1999 (Monday)

This is beginning to feel like July 21th all over again. ;-)

Anyway this is what the Core's news page looked like just before it went down (125K). Call it a posterity thing.

Some sad news. Tyson Green (aka Ferrex) writes to say that the Core is down... but not yet out. Tyson writes:

With luck, the Core should be back online by the end of the week, or sooner. In the meantime, if you find this newsworthy, I'd be in your debts if you could bring your readers up to speed, just so that anyone we share knows what is up and doesn't waste their time trying to access a dead site.

halo.bungie.org reports a ZDNet 3rd person gaming poll. Halo and Oni are listed. Go make your vote count.

halo.bungie.org report that the Computer Gaming World's Halo movie is now available from their site.

They also report about a Gamespot UK article that contains new Halo screenshots and info on the game.

Due to the popularity of the Computer Gaming World's Halo movie the Core would appear to have gone down. Overload blues. :-(

However halo.bungie.org also have the movie and will be making it available... soon. The movie is also available on the bungie.org Hotline server at

Also from the halo.bungie.org forums Rob Swenson (aka Noctavis) has posted the URLs to five scans from the Computer Gaming World Halo article. They are as follows:


Some great pics of unseen Halo shots and developmental work. The full post can be read here

Thanks to Noctavis of HaloNews and Ferrex of the Core you can now see another version of the Halo movie shown at the Macworld Expo in July of this year. While this movie is almost identical to the original movie the marines actually fire back. The picture quality is also better. The movie (.avi format) comes from the November edition of Computer Gaming World magazine CD. The movie is at:

http://download.gamestats.com/myth/core/cgw_1199.zip (48MBs)

While the movie is .avi format Quicktime 4 will play it.

Big post from Miguel Chavez <JMChavez@aol.com> regarding a possible source for Nathan Bitner's pseudonym "Island Four". Miguel writes:

Using the latest info from the Story Page (specifically John/Durendal's quick tip that the author Olaf Stapledon inspired Larry Niven) I bopped around from search query to search query until I finally stumbled upon this:


A brief excerpt, taken from the introduction:

"When one species attains a position of dominance over all the other species in the ecology of its planet, if it is both egocentrically greedy, and has a powerful set of technologies through which to amplify the expression of that greed, then unless that dominant species can find a way to limit or to transform itself and its greed-based systems into something more wholesome, it will foul its planetary nest as surely as the night follows the day ... perhaps even to its own extinction."

a statement synthesized from the writings of ecologist Gregory Bateson and visionary science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon

I urge all my fellow Story page readers to digest the information on this page. I understand most of it, but I'm horrible at summarizing such a huge amount of information. I'm sure others can do a better job.

Still, I'll give it a shot: the theory put forth on this page is that we evolve as a culture in 'waves', each wave attained in a progressively smaller amount of time. The First Wave took millenia, the Second Wave took centuries, etc. We are currently in our Third Wave (i.e. Alvin Toffler's Third Wave) Soon, in order to avoid the horrible consequences of the quote above, we will have to readjust our culture again, and reach a Fourth Wave. Such a paradigm shift would transform our vision to one of "Global Conciousness." Hence, Spaceship Earth.

Fourth Wave = Spacechip Earth = Fourth Island.

There is plenty more to digest, but I'll leave with these select snippets from the text; see if you can find the connections with the entire Bungieverse:

* "Explicate" technologies involving physical space, e.g., Nano-technology (8) (which, by working at the "ephemeralized" scale of 10-9 m -- a billionth of a meter -- may help lighten impacts on the ecosystems of the planet); and

* "Implicate" technologies involving non-physical space, e.g., Noetic-technology (which, by dealing with mind, consciousness, and transcendental ways of knowing, may provide a reliable tool set for tapping the wisdom and guidance humanity needs in order to navigate to a "safe landing" from the unsustainable growth trajectory shown in Figure One). (9)

* a new paradigm in bio-technology, e.g., Ecological Restoration Engineering (modeling nature in the designed use of microbial populations) as in the "living machines" being pioneered by biologist John Todd and others; (10) and

* a new paradigm in social values and ethics, e.g., regarding domination and control. (11)

* An emerging perception that mental space/time travel is not only possible, but may actually be present in our lives in ways that our beliefs (and derivatively, our experience of reality), do not normally allow us to recognize (e.g., in "dream travel."). (18) In some instances, however, the use of appropriate methods may overcome these limitations (as in "remote viewing" and "out of the body" travel) and ultimately prove practical for both exploration and profitable application. (19)

* The highly uncertain outcome of the (as yet neither much recognized nor much understood) set of trends and events involving purported alien and/or extra-terrestrial contact, that perhaps includes an ongoing program to genetically engineer and breed a hybrid alien/human species. (20) Being something of a "taboo topic" in our culture, here is a truly "wild card" future -- a potential tsunami of tsunamis -- that is virtually being ignored by futures researchers. Regarding physical space/time travel beyond the solar system, the recent theoretical physics "warp drive" analysis of Alcubierre, and its integrative "metric engineering" extension by Puthoff (21) not only brings an appreciation for how physical interstellar space travel by advanced alien cultures could conceivably take place, it points to a whole new vista of long-range possibilities for humans in space that are truly astronomical in scale.

* Increasingly wide-spread use of futures research and "partnership-oriented" change management methods, leading to "2nd Order" social innovations such as "boundary spanning public-private partnerships" and other types of "TeamNets," which, together with new "Green Business" practices and "social entrepreneurship" designs, may prove feasible to turn the above threats into realizable opportunities-- the eroding 20th Century Industrial Paradigm and the emerging 21st Century "Mega-Tsunamis" not withstanding! (22) (Please see Figure Two for a rationalized sequence through which such transformational changes can co-evolve.)

Deviating from the text, I think the theory here of a basic 'need to transform' in order to survive can apply to ANY dominant species on any planet... whether Homo Sapien, Covenant, JJaro, etc. Heck, let's not forget power-hungry AIs!

Where do we stop? Can the "Spaceship XXX" theories be applied to the Halo itself? To the Marathon?

So when Nathan wrote : "Island Four - Coming Soon" perhaps he was implying, as the site implies, that we will be reaching our Fourth Wave very soon. And "Island Four - When Island Three isn't good enough" fits neatly with the theory that the Third Wave won't be good enough for us a species and we'll have to shift to the Fourth Wave or face our extinction.

This is wild stuff, and even if not what Nathan was hinting at, another great reason for the existence of Hamish's Story page... serendipity never read so good!


Concerning Ringworlds and other large artifacts in science fiction John Garrard <durendal@mediaone.net> writes:

Heres a page listing some books about mega-scale engineering projects (planets, asteroids, rings, spheres ....) and names of some of them. I like the idea of a Topopolis myself.... mmmm spaghetti...


Oct 5, 1999 (Tuesday)

Terrence Nowicki <kablam@edmail.com> writes concerning the high quality Halo movie found on Computer Gaming World's CD:

In the newest version of the first Halo trailer, you can CLEARLY see the logo on each of the Covenant "hoverplanes."

Before it was too blurred, and seeing it this time reminded me of an episode of Red Dwarf entitled, "Ouroborous" (sp?...thanks to Mark Levin for remembering the episode title). Anyway, the episode has Lister as his own father, and the box he places himself in has a logo on it: A snake that appears to be eating it's own tail, signifying infinity.

The Covenant logo looks an AWFUL lot like the ouroborous logo...

What could this mean? One thing: The Covenant are familiar with snake-like organsims, perhaps even snakes of some kind. The other: Bungie might be fans of Red Dwarf.

If you have a screenhot of this to compare please send it in. Interesting enough halo.bungie.org have commented upon this logo on their Theories page.

Oct 6, 1999 (Wednesday)

Michael Young <hamster@dallas.net> writes:

I did something else in photoshop today that might interest you. I captured a really nice image of the covenant logo on one of the fly-cycles. From that I managed to make a 2D black and white version. Surprise surprise, it is neither the O from Halo, nor a snake biting it's tail, but what appears to be either a stylized ship or perhaps a dagger. Here are the url's:


Similarly Joshua Inglima <jinglima@thinkpos.com> writes:

Well, after spending about an hour staring at the "Covenant" logo on the crafts, I decided to try to reproduce it in Photoshop.

I didn't get the scaling quite right, but it does give an idea as to what the logo may really look like.

You can see it here.

Some interesting Marathon/Halo connections have appeared over the last few hours on halo.bungie.org.

First off Michael Young (aka Bravehamster) <hamster@dallas.net> posted a URL to an enhanced picture of the top of the flagstaff seen at the end of the Halo movie. The URL is:


You can just make out the numbers 723.

Mark Levin <mglevin@uiuc.edu> suggested that this may be a reference to the 723rd Aggressor Squadron in Marathon 2. The following is taken from the final terminal on "Feel the Noise":

A Pfhor assault ship carrying the 723rd
Aggressor Squadron was badly damaged and
forced to land on Lh'owon. The 723rd is an
air armor division from Epsilon Euobea,
with a long history of successful ground
actions against the Nar's elite CFN units.

The 723rd also appear on the final level of Marathon 2. Written on the map of "All Roads Lead To Sol..." are the words:


"All Roads Lead To Sol..." was created by Jason Jones.

Nice find guys. :-)

Lastly, Bungie's Halo page is apparently showing two different versions of the main page. Some people get to see knife_fight.jpg while others see cgw_cover.jpg. While the image seems constant for any one computer, changing the computer can change the image.

Nice one Bungie. :-)

Even though the rumored appearance of Bungie at yesterday's Special Apple Event never happened Bungie have updated their Halo site. It now sports a new look. Gone are the cryptic Halo Transmissions to be replaced with new screenshots, new banners, and a movie. Interestingly the Halo movie page is actually linked back to Apple's site:


It's unclear how one finds this page directly from Apple's site. A quick search for the names "Bungie" or "Halo" finds no links to the above movie page... as yet.

While the Halo movie begins with Steve Jobs introducing Jason Jones at the Macworld Keynote address the movie we see is not what was actually shown at Macworld even though it purports to be. The original Macworld Halo movie showed no humans firing their weapons - allegedly as part of Apple's "non-violent" demo request.

A quick note for Nathan Bitner <nathan@bungie.com> concerning the source of the "Island Four" pseudonym. Nathan writes:

... still don't have it ... but I sense maybe getting closer. Who knows. :-)

Alan Greene <alan@fontshop.com> points out that in the higher quality CGW Halo movie you can see what appears to be the same logo on the hover bikes (used by the Covenant) as on the planes (grndsprtcrft). This would suggest that both originate from the same source. Either they are of Covenant design or they originate from the ringworld itself (presumably left by the builders).

Is the logo seen on the hover bikes and planes the same as the Halo logo (the 'o' in Halo)? Initial comparison would suggest not since the characteristic open end in the 'o' is not apparent. However Alan Greene <alan@fontshop.com> writes again:

Some more thoughts on the Halo logo: I make typefaces, so I'd like to think that I have a pretty good sensibility when it comes to typographic stuff. The O in the Halo logo is too wide, and the stroke width doesn't match the rest of the letters. That's not to say it's a bad logo, I just think that there is a good chance that the O *is* a logo for something else in Halo, or at least has some significance other than a cool-looking O.

I'm still going to stick with the idea that the logo on the Covenant ships is the O, since it has a similar shape, and it would provide some justification for the slightly disproportionate O.

Oct 7, 1999 (Thursday)

Mark Levin <mglevin@uiuc.edu> kindly sent in a complete log of yesterday's World Without Borders chat with Doug Zartman (Director of Publicity Engineering). Lot's of Halo tidbits and this:

Question: A while back, Matt Soell mentioned three things Bungie was working on. We now know what 1 and 3 was, what's #2?

Answer: #2 is coming up
We have more things to announce this year

So good news here.

Flynn O'Connor <foconnor@apple.com> writes concerning a possible source for Nathan Bitner's pseudonym "Island Four":

In regards to Nathan's Yahoo name "Island Four" it's pretty obvious from the Myth 1.3 CD. :"Unexpected contact with indigenous huma populations on four "lost colony" worlds..."
I bet that's what that is referring to.

Similarly Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <matthew> writes:

I don't know about islands, but in the Cortana message in the new (1.3 version) of the Myth:TFL CD it mentions four "lost colony" worlds. Maybe right after the fourth one was discovered, the war started.

Matthew also writes concerning orbitals (mini-ringworlds) in Iain M. Banks's science fiction work:

For the record, for Banks's books, here are the relevant stats on orbitals (found so far):

Consider Phlebas, Chapter 5, Paragraph 1
Name: Vavatch Orbital
Circumference: 1.4 x 10^7 Km
Width: 3.5 x 10^4 Km

By doing the math, we get:
Surface Area: 4.9 x 10^11 Km
Diameter: 4.5 x 10^6
Radius: 2.2 x 10^6

The Player of Games, Chapter 1, Near the End of 'Section' 3:
Name: Chiark Orbital
Diameter: 3 x 10^6 Km (interior ring measurement)
Assuming the dimensions of the Chiark Orbital is proportional to the Vavatch Orbital, by doing the math we get:
Radius: 1.5 x 10^6 Km
Circumference: 9.4 x 10^6 Km
Width: 2.4 x 10^4 Km
Surface Area: 2.2 x 10^11 Km

For reference, the sun has a diameter of 1.4 x 10^6. So these rings are pretty big compared to planets but darn tiny compared to Niven's ringworld.

Alex G.H. <bobthecowmoo@hotmail.com> writes:

I was browsing through Inside Bungie, and under Job Offerings I found these requirements for the new positions:

"to rival anything that Bungie has done before."

We all knew that, but there were some other intriguing things.

"...team of artists, programmers, martial arts specialists, and demolition experts.

"Core game logic such as collision detection and handling

Development of core game elements such as static defense mechanisms

Development of POW prison camp security systems"

I like the idea of prison camps, myself.

Louis Wu <halo@bungie.org> in a halo.bungie.org forum post draws our attention to the fact that one of the Halo images from November issue of Computer Gaming World shows a hover bike concept pic with a very clear image of the 'o' in Halo logo. Nice find.

Concerning yesterday's comment about the different versions of the main image at Bungie's Halo site Kazem Edmond <kazem_e@yahoo.com> writes:

The image does not depend, at least entirely, on your computer. I've seen both on the same computer.

Oct 8, 1999 (Friday)

halo.bungie.org has further reports of Marathon-like symbols in Halo. This time on Halo body armor and on the surface of the moon.

In case you did miss this there is now a direct link on Apple's site to the Halo movie. You'll find it at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/showcase.

Oct 12, 1999 (Tuesday)

Two interesting Halo related posts by Nathan Bitner (Producer and Creative Developer - Halo), one on the halo.bungie.org forum and the other on the Core forum. Here's the text of both posts:

In Response To: Re: Confederacy? When was this? (Forensic)

> Nathan confirmed it on these forums a while back.

Now now .. be careful about what Nathan confirmed. I think some magazine wrote this, certainly not me. The Covenant is a consortium of races joined for unknown (to you ;) reasons. The third alien species? Hmm ... I wonder if I know anything about that ...



Something Got Lost in the Translation

Posted By: Nathan on Tuesday, 10.12.99, at 6:36 a.m.

Just for the record ... ;-)

We never have officially stated (unless possibly misquoted in a magazine or elsewhere) that the Covenant consist of three distinct races. Someone had it nearly right, but it has grown to be quite misinterpreted. On Halo, there will exist three distinct cultures, at least. The Covenant themselves are made up of an undetermined number of races linked by unknown (to you :) reasons. We might have said more than that, but that is at least a minimum. That should put you back on track. :-)

Bungie Software

At least three distinct cultures or alien species on the Halo. Humans, the Covenant and... hmmm... the Jjaro perhaps? The Covenant in turn consist of an undetermined number of races.

Oct 14, 1999 (Thursday)

Island Four mystery solved! Nathan Bitner <nathan@bungie.com> writes:

Enlightenment at last. The academics of Hamish Sinclair's Story Page have indeed dug up the roots of what lay behind my pseudonym "Island Four". The minds at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory turn almost as fast as ours here at Bungie. :-) While I will not comment on Mr. Smith's postulation, he indeed found the correct reference. What do our habitats hold for the future? If we don't blow ourselves off of our own planet first, perhaps we will get the chance to find out. And perhaps someday there just might be an Island Four ... if there's not already. ;-). As always, nice work everyone - it was enjoyable to listen to all the intelligent and thoughtful commentary. It always makes me proud to be working on this incredible game.


Nathan Bitner
Producer and Creative Developer - Halo
Part-time Astronomist Not Affiliated with the First Millenial Foundation :)
Bungie Software

Congratulations to Matthew, thanks to Nathan for the fun and special thanks to all those who wrote in about the "Island Four" pseudonym. Each submission whether right or wrong, lucid or off-the-wall all help in reaching the Final Solution. :-)

More "Island Four" speculation... yes it just keeps rolling in! :-) Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <matthew> writes:

In 1969, O'Neill was teaching a physics course at Princeton. America was engaged in the Apollo effort, so O'Neill was working space travel into many of the physics problems assigned.

He was concerned about the persistent talk among academics regarding overpopulation and "limits to growth". He was also dismayed by many young people's resigned acceptance of two concepts he personally found repugnant. One was future totalitarian control over the use of resources, the other was that a decline in the standard of living was inevitable. One day he asked his students the following question: Is the surface of the Earth really the best place for an expanding, technological civilization? After some calculation, the answer seemed to be "no" (see advantages above).

They turned to the design of an Earth-like space habitat. When they calculated the maximum size possible, given present strengths of steel cable, aluminum plates, and glass panels, the answer took them by surprise. Later studies funded by NASA defined several highly-detailed habitat designs.

A low-end design is Island One, also known as a Bernal Sphere. Sunlight is reflected in through two ring-shaped rows of windows at either end. Agriculture takes place in external tori. The Bernal Sphere is 1 km (0.6 mi.) in circumference, and could support a population of 10,000.

Island Two is shaped like a cold capsule, with sunlight entering through 3 windows running the length of the cylinder. 1.8 km (>1 mi.) in diameter, it would house 140,000.

A scaled-up version, Island Three, would be a cylinder 6.4 km (4 mi.) in diameter and 32 km (20 mi.) long. Four miles of atmosphere is enough to produce a blue sky overhead, and cloud banks would form at the same level they do here on Earth (approx. 900 m or 3,000 ft). Natural rainstorms would occur (Bernal Spheres would probably have a sprinkler system). Island Three would have over 400 square km (250 square mi.) of living space, and be home to 10,000,000 individuals.

There are other designs as well. NASA's Ames Research Center did a study with Stanford University which produced the Stanford Torus, a six-spoked wheel over a mile across.

Island Three was considered the limit of what was economically viable, not what was physically possible. The maximum theoretical size for a space habitat, assuming materials no stronger than those currently used, is a staggering 19 km (12 mi.) in diameter, providing hundreds of square miles of usable land.

I postulate that "Island Four" is a Culture orbital or Niven ringworld!

Miguel Chavez <JMChavez@aol.com> writes:

On Oct. 4, John Garrard's link to a text file about megastructures had this:

Author: John C McLoughlin
Title: _The Helix and the Sword_ (1983)
Type: Hollow world
Description: In the year 7758, humanity is spread across the Solar System in 74,922 "Islands", engineered life forms resembling huge versions of O'Neill-style space colonies; the Earth has been abandoned, and inorganic technology is a near-forgotten legend.

Oct 15, 1999 (Friday)

Concerning the Halo Transmission:

Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight.
Your life will only last until it reaches you.

John Garrard <durendal@mediaone.net> writes:

...if you recall Bungie's previous Halo site incarnation this quote may sound AWEFULLY familiar.

"Death is like an arrow that is already in flight, and your life lasts only until it reaches you"
-- Georg Hermes

Unfortunately I don't know who Georg Hermes is... I ran into this entirely by accident while looking through a quotations site. The site doesn't contain any other quotes by him nor any biographic information just the name.

Nice find. :-) Georg Hermes (1775-1831) was a German philosopher/theologist. The source (or possible source) for a number of the fourteen (7x2) Halo Transmission quotes have now been identified (see the Halo and Cortana sections for details). If you find the source of a Halo quote then send it in. Soon we'll have all fourteen. Good hunting. :-)

Here's another one from the Bible. The Halo quote:

You have brought nothing to this world, and we will ensure you bring
nothing out.

is possibly an allusion to the line:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

from the New Testament (1 Timothy; Chapter 6: Verse 7).

Michael Watson <mikey-sanSPAMMERS@AREbungieSPAZEROIDS.org> writes:

I saw Nathan's statements at halo.bungie.org about the Covenant consisting of many, and not one single alien race.

The first thing I thought of after seeing this, was the Dominion, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Dominion were at war with the Federation, and consisted of many worlds, including the Cardassians and the Breen. The Dominion was created by the Founders, a race of shapeshifters, and have their loyal servants, such as the Vorta (I think I spelled that correctly) and the Jem'Hadar. (The Jem'Hadar are genetically engineered, produced only to serve the Dominion, and fight until they die. They are kept in line by the Vorta with an addictive solution known at Ketracel White. Without this, they die, as well.)

Oct 16, 1999 (Saturday)

A number of people have asked me to list the Halo Transmissions already sourced. Well here are the six quotes which have been identified (or partially identified) so far:

Greg Downing <G_Downing@wesley.it.emerson.edu> wrote regarding these lines:

I have governed the unwilling.
I have walked the edge of the Abyss.

pointing out that the Bible mentions an "Abyss" several times especially in Revelations (Chapter 20: 1-3)

And I saw an angel descending from the heaven, having the key of the Abyss, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the Abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should not any more deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be loosed for a little time.

Note some versions of the Bible use the term "bottomless pit" instead of "Abyss".

William Blake also refers to the "Abyss" in his "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell":

By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance was the sun, black but shining; round it were fiery tracks on which revolv'd vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew or rather swum in the infinite deep,

Shades of the S'pht legend of the W'rkncacnter perhaps?

Timm Mason <tmason@andrew.cmu.edu> wrote pointing out that the quote:

"These are the tygers of wrath."

was probably a reference to the line:

The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

from William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell".

Timm also noted that the Halo quote:

"... He says I came not to send Peace but a Sword ..."

was similar to a line from the Bible (Matthew 10:34):

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Ben Gamboa <bgamboa@uclink4.berkeley.edu> also pointed out that this Bible quote also featured in William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell".

Bradley Attfield <trsurmap@spots.ab.ca> noted that the quote:

When no single human brick lies atop another, then will we be satisfied
with your destruction.

was similar to line from the Bible namely:

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

In fact this theme is quite common in the Bible:

And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Yesterday John Garrard <durendal@mediaone.net> noted that the quote

Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight.
Your life will only last until it reaches you.

was similar to a quote by the German philosopher/theologist Georg Hermes:

"Death is like an arrow that is already in flight, and your life lasts only until it reaches you"

And finally the quote:

You have brought nothing to this world, and we will ensure you bring
nothing out.

is possibly an allusion to the line:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

from the New Testament (1 Timothy; Chapter 6: Verse 7).

Oct 20, 1999 (Wednesday)

Thanks to all the people who wrote in about the news that Nathan Bitner is leaving Bungie. You can read his farewell address on either the halo.bungie.org forums or the Core forums.

The Story page wishes Nathan the very best in his studies. Hats Off To Fourteen Two. (1+4+2= ?) ;-)

Oct 23, 1999 (Saturday)

Good news for Halo fans (and for Marathon fans). Nathan Bitner <nathan@bungie.com> writes:

A couple of posts (exact same words) have been made at the two major Halo forums to announce Matt Soell as my replacement on the boards. Feel free to use the text as news if you like. :) I'm sure you old-timers will be pleased with the change. ;)

Yes indeed. Matt had this to say following Nathan's announcement:

Re: And You Thought I Was Twisted
Posted By: Matt Soell <matt@bungie.com>
Date: 22 October 1999, 4:45 p.m.

In Response To: And You Thought I Was Twisted (Nathan)

Hey all-

Thanks first off to Mr. Nathan Bitner for the lovely introduction. Though I'm not quite sure what he means with that "enjoy the pain" stuff. I've always endeavored to be honest and plain-spoken, and never obscure to the point of frustration. I mean, come on. What could be more obvious than "memories, wishes and dreams?" Do I have to spell it out?

Anyway, now that Nathan is "leaving Bungie" (no one ever really leaves Bungie; they just become covert external agents furthering the Bungie Agenda or unwitting cogs in our larger plan) I'll be keeping an eye on these forums and piping up when appropriate. I won't always have an answer (and sometimes I'll have the answer but won't be able to share it for one reason or another) but I'll attempt to keep up the good work begun by Nathan, reading the various posts and trying to keep you guys in the loop as much as possible. Which will be a lot of fun, I think.

So that's the deal.


What could be more obvious than "memories, wishes and dreams?" Hmmm.... ;-)

Matt Soell has been a frequent contributor to the Story page back as far as Sept 27, 1995. We look forward to his Halo input.

Oct 24, 1999 (Sunday)

halo.bungie.org have posted some interesting user stats. The full post can be see here. HBO have also put together a page which traces the history of the search to identify the Covenant Logo.

Oct 25, 1999 (Monday)

The Halo SETI team has put out a call for people to come join them in rooting out the Covenant... before they root out you! ;-) A worthy cause given the theme of the Halo story. Enlist today... tomorrow may be too late!

Oct 26, 1999 (Tuesday)

As reported on halo.bungie.org Games Domain Review have an article on both Halo and Oni. Part of the text reveals a little extra info on the Halo story:

The storyline for Halo is, as with many other similar sci-fi action games, one contrived to place you as a cyborg warrior on an alien world. An alien horde known as the Covenant is ploughing a destructive path through one planet after another, and the human homeworld lies next in its path. In an attempt to save the billions on Sol, its leader sends a decoy force off to a remote corner of the galaxy. The decoy force draws the Covenant away successfully, but in its attempt to escape crash lands on a mysterious ring world orbiting a gas giant called Threshold. The ring is 10,0000 kilometers wide, shaped like a thin bracelet, yet despite denying the known laws of physics it has a breathable atmosphere and a variety of climates (snow, tropics, tundra etc), as well as life forms of its own. The ring, or Halo as it's named, is where you'll have to salvage what you can from the crashed ships, and make a stand against the Covenant.

Note the line "The ring is 10,0000 kilometers wide, shaped like a thin bracelet...". So the ring is now 10,000 kilometres in diameter and not 10,000 miles as previously reported in an earlier MacCentral news article. This was also confirmed by Nathan Bitner in a recent HBO post. Also the description of a "thin bracelet" is very reminiscent of the line "Vavatch lay in space like a god's bracelet" from Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks.

James Gurnee <harness@access1.net> writes concerning the Marathon trilogy series of books by David Alexander Smith:

Well, well, well. It seems that I've found something interesting in David A. Smith's Rendezvous. On page 7 the rampant computer onboard the Open Palm says:

"Surely my hypothetical brothers back on Earth must [hide themselves], for they confront eight billion people, mostly illiterate, mostly superstitious. Potential assassins, blackmailers, cuckolds, delinquents, extortionists, felons. I could go through the entire alphabet, finishing with yahoos and zealots. Return to the soil, the zealots cry, tear down the cities, shred the wires. Technology is evil.I fear the zealots the most."

Although I know he's referring to environmentalists, Cortana (another rampant AI!) said this back in March 18 1999:

"I've had the strangest dreams lately - raging seas, howling beasts, a Demon folded in black clouds. I believe I know what it guards, and I will have it, to the chagrin of the faith-blinded zealots that challenge me. Don't waste your pity on them; I don't think they would like you much anyway."

And in June 30:

"There will be plenty of time for retribution; I cannot wait to get its hands on these psychotic zealots whose primary form of worship apparently takes place at the altar of orbital bombardment."

And in July 23 (Update #2) Aaron Davies said:

"since nobody else seems to have pointed it out: the "zealots" mentioned repeatedly by Cortana must be the Covenant culture, given their name, their messages, and the names of their ships."

And didn't the Covenant say:

"When no single human brick lies atop another, then will we be satisfied with your destruction."?
Remember that the zealot environmentalists wanted to "tear down the cities" according to the rampant computer in Rendezvous

Zealots are all the same... as for yahoos... we'll they're a completely different story. ;-)

Oct 27, 1999 (Wednesday)

halo.bungie.org report that IncitePC magazine have a Halo article. They quote one interesting piece of story text concerning the Halo:

"However, there's one small catch: It's slowly drifting into the planet's gravity well."

We look forward to reading it all.

Jim Mueller <jim@pharmacop.com> writes:

There were several items in the Games Domain review/preview that I hadn't encountered before-

...The Halo surface stretches off up into the sky in front of you, and Threshold hovers overhead....

the gas giant finally has a name

Yes I had forgotten to mention this. Note also that article states that the ring is called... well... Halo. :-) While Bungie have named the moon it has yet to be revealed.

Oct 28, 1999 (Thursday)

An interesting news tidbit from the Halo site DEHc-3 HALO caught my eye. The site points out that there is a new Iain M. Banks (sci fi) book available for preorder via Amazon.co.uk.

A quick search of Orbit Books in the UK confirms this. The Orbit site goes on to say the following:

Iain's new SF book, which he is writing at the moment, is going to be a Culture novel. Which means that he'll be coming up with a whole new batch of names for Culture ships. If you've ever fancied naming your own Culture ship, e-mail us with your suggestion before November 15, and Iain will pick his favourite. We'll send any three Iain Banks paperbacks (or, if you prefer, a signed first edition hardback of the new book when it's published next summer) to the winner. And you never know, Iain may even want to use the winning entry in the new book!

Name a Culture ship! Orbit's email is <orbit.uk@littlebrown.com>. Deadline is Nov 15th.

Here's a list of Culture ship names already used (list courtesy of the excellent Culture Shock site).

halo.bungie.org has posted a Halo SETI team stats page. Find out who's crunching Big Time in the search for the Covenant!

Oct 31, 1999 (Sunday)

According to Nathan Bitner in a forum post at The Core the player in this pic is holding a Kukri knife and the Covenant alien is nine feet tall. The Kukri knife is a favored weapon of the renowned Gurkhas. The Gurkha motto is "Better dead than a live coward".

Nov 1, 1999 (Monday)

Nathan Bitner <nathan@bungie.com> writes concerning his Kukri knife and alien height comments yesterday:

About the Covenant height and kukri knife.

Actually ... in a post just below that, I mentioned that blades of that type (with a little more curve, which I didn't add) are commonly referred to as kukri knives. I didn't say that I knew FOR SURE what they had armed him with.

As for the Covenant, it was the forums who had commonly been referring to the soldier as nine feet tall, so I jumped on the bandwagon. :) I'm not sure if Bungie has stated anywhere how tall that particular species or soldier is. At any rate, nine feet tall does seem rather appropriate though, so I won't scratch and claw too much. ;)

I've taken the liberty of reprinting the relevant posts from The Core web site so that you can see what was actually said:

some random idea

Posted By: Nathan on Sunday, 10.31.99, at 1:00 a.m.

Trying to be more like a true forum monkey, this idea just popped into my head and seemed somewhat cool ...

Sneak up behind a Covenant soldier (single-player) and instead of filling his body with a magazine of futuristic lead, lop of his head with your kukri knife and steal his uniform. Sneak into Covenant base ... and good grief, take things from there.

Damn, that could be a fun scenario. :)

I'll add that to the list of 30 or so others that Jaime and I used to write of before becoming a bit sidetracked ...



and in a follow-up post (note thread title changed) Nathan said:

On the Random Idea and a Myth II Netmap

Posted By: Nathan on Sunday, 10.31.99, at 2:10 a.m.
Response to: Re: some random idea (Daft Shadow =PN=)

: It would be even cooler in Net play. I mean, the enemy thinks
: your one of them! They're setting up an ambush, and your
: relaying everything back to the main base. Then you laugh as
: your men come in, surround the ambush, and blast em to hell!
: Ah, the joys ;-)
: Daft Shadow =PN=

No slip, by the way. That's what a blade like what you see in the screenshot is called - a kukri knife. At any rate, there's the minor problem of how do you pass for a nine-foot alien when you're a whatever-size cyborg. Maybe some other species that's part of the Covenant or something ... I just thought it sounded fun.

Then again, I had this awesome Myth II netmap idea called "Squirrels in the Mist", which would take place on a rainy map that had the volumetric fog (if you could implement it) ... possibly. Anyway, a tradeable unit would be squirrels. The would cost a relatively large amount, but you could send them off to go scout the enemy ... and the enemy would have to decide whether to waste the time trying to kill a squirrel (which is a REAL pain in the ass) or give his formation and army away. I thought it would be fun, but Jaime (Case) shot it down. :-) Wouldn't even give it a run. :) So now it's up to you to tell him that you think it's cool or tell me that it's just as dumb as he thought it was. ;)

heh. :)


Some more Halo news by way of HBO. A scan of a German Halo article, a call from Marty O'Donnell of Total Audio to put the Halo Trailer MP3 at the top of the MP3.com game soundtracks chart, another Macworld Expo New York '99 Halo preview movie has been found (yes another one!), and more Halo SETI team stats (yes the Story page is in there... are you?).

Nov 2, 1999 (Tuesday)

Nick Dobbs <Belnick7777@aol.com> writes:

The December issue of Macworld has something about Halo in it. In their 1999 Macworld Game Hall of Fame, in the Great Contenders section, here is what they say:

"If we get the additional space, we may have to open a room dedicated solely to Bungie Software. Bungie's Halo, a beautifully rendered third-person war game, is on track to be everyone's game of the year - regardless of platform - in 2000. This 3-D, hardware-dependent game, featuring both single-player and multiplayer modes, takes place on an artificial, ring-shaped planet and pits humans against an alien race. Both races have access to a remarkable array of weapons and vehicles. Unlike many current network games, Halo focuses on cooperative play. Bungie remains uncommited to the number of players the game will support, but the company assures us that no fewer than 32 people will be able to play at the same time."

I hope that Halo will still have plenty of multiplayer support for different modes of play besides cooperartive. Playing a 64 person game of Every Man for Himself would be super cool! I think it would be a better idea to have more than 32 people support in a network game.

Nov 4, 1999 (Thursday)

Tyson Green <tgreen@revelstoke.net> maintainer of the Core has posted an interesting Halo article called Welcome to Halo. It's designed as an introductory article for people new to Halo, Bungie, and Marathon. Apparently it was inspired by a discussion on the halo.bungie.org forum.

Nov 7, 1999 (Sunday)

It's the seventh so here's an interesting Halo tidbit. The Ring Motif in Halo.

Nov 8, 1999 (Monday)

Alan Greene <alan@fontshop.com> makes an interesting observation about the Ring Motif in Halo. Looks like the Halo level designers have been hard at work. It's all in the detail. :-)

Max Dyckhoff <mcbd100@york.ac.uk> writes concerning the Ring Motif in Halo.

Owen Borstad <Owen@borstad.com> also writes concerning the Ring Motif in Halo.

Added further speculation to the Ring Motif in Halo page.

Kendal Graves" <Cuin73@hotmail.com> writes:

...regarding the Cortana letters, and the mention of the fourth that we didn't know of. In the email detailed on June 30, Cortana mentions Mania. Just once, and with no explanation, other than the cryptic cart and plow over the dead. Mania..... possibly a FOURTH stage of Rampancy? With the tone of Cortana's messages and the tone of Durandal's as well, sarcastic, condescending, one can almost hear the insane giggling of the AI's in the background of the messages on the terminals. Cortana in particular seems to take some perverse joy in being hard to understand ( not to mention some of the Bungie folks as well, can Rampancy spread to humans too? ) Durandal as a Manic AI might help to explain his interest in us, and his attempt to explain his designs to us, even though he assures us that we won't understand. Just some food for thought there.

Mania? The fourth stage of Rampancy?

Nov 9, 1999 (Tuesday)

Nathan Bitner (former Producer of Halo) posted the following to the forums at halo.bungie.org:

Re: Jason Jones ... Nathan?

Posted By: Nathan <island_four@yahoo.com>
Date: 9 November 1999, 10:10 a.m.

In Response To: Jason Jones ... Nathan? (Arden's Web)

> I'll bet Nathan knows ... from what I understand, he lived on > the same floor of the same dorm with him for their first two > years of college (they were the same year). So you got any good > stories Nathan? ;)


Heh. Yeah, sure I could share some stories ... and then promptly be executed by Bungie people in dark suits ... or at least Seropian in a jeans and t-shirt. Oh, the stories I could tell - too bad Jason doesn't read here. ;) heh.

And actually, I lived literally five feet (across the hall) from him for two years. Although the second year, he spent a good amount of time at Castle Grayskull. That, I'm afraid, I wouldn't be allowed to explain. ;) Let Hamish try to sort it out ... he has about as much of a chance as trying to figure out why "the Greek flag" was thanked in the Minotaur manual ...

:-) :-)


This is the second time he has posted this "figure out why "the Greek flag" was thanked in the Minotaur manual" challenge. Must be a fraternity thing. I just hope the Greeks don't find out! ;-)

Nov 15, 1999 (Monday)

Concerning Nathan Bitner's puzzle about Jason Jones and Castle Grayskull (see Nov 9, 1999) Oscar Göthberg <oscargot@swipnet.se> writes:

I just read in your news page the HBO forum post by Nathan where he said something about Jason Jones spending a lot of time at Castle Grayskull...

Castle Grayskull was HeMan's castle I believe, "HeMan" was the hero of some old series of action figures, cartoons etc back in the eighties.

Jason Jones a HeMan fan or is the Castle Grayskull reference something more?

Nov 16, 1999 (Tuesday)

Lots of Halo news over the last 24 hours or so. Four new Halo screenshots from a German game site called Incite gameXpress. Links and text translation can be found at halo.bungie.org. According to a forum post on the Core there is a new Halo movie in the german edition of PC Action (issue 12/99). Shouldn't be long before that finds its way on the net. Seems there is a big publicity push by Take 2 Interactive in Europe.

The HeMan controversy continues. I blame Nathan Bitner for this! Anyway Michael O'Brien <nickelads@roava.net> writes:

I'm afraid I must disagree with your learned readers Neil Schafer and Michael Young - Castle Grayskull was in fact He-Man's castle. The entire castle was formed from the fossilized body of a titanic pre-historic beast, and the entrance was through the skull (using the 'jawbridge'... nastybadpunthing.)

Further proof: when the hero's wimpy 'Prince Adam' secret identity wished to transform to He-Man, he would hold aloft his magic sword, and chant, "By the Power of Grayskull!" He'd hardly be referring to the lair of his nemesis, would he?

I'll just add here that Michael Young did think it originally belonged to He-Man's family. The real question of course is whether or not the reference to Jason Jones and Castle Grayskull is related to He-Man? Remember Nathan divulged the following about Jason's early College days:

I lived literally five feet (across the hall) from him for two years. Although the second year, he spent a good amount of time at Castle Grayskull. That, I'm afraid, I wouldn't be allowed to explain. ;)

Sounds like another fraternity thing! ;-)

Nathan Bitner (aka Island Four) writes:

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 01:55:33 -0800 (PST)
From: Island Four <island_four@yahoo.com>
Subject: Aquarius Rising
To: hamish.sinclair@tcd.ie
Cc: cortana@bungie.com, durandal@bungie.com


This message was forwarded to me from:

[email address deleted to preserve anonymity]

I thought you might find it interesting. This person told me that he (?) wished to retain his anonymity but that he wanted for you to have this. For whatever reason, he chose me for the conduit, so I am doing him the favor and forwarding it. There's certainly some interesting information in there. The title of the email is his, as is the "Cc" information. Make of it what you will.

-Island Four



(Seriously, it was forwarded to me).

Saturday November 13 7:34 PM ET Planet Found Beyond Solar System BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - A startling image of a planet passing in front of a bright star has confirmed what scientists before only could deduce with math - there are planets beyond our solar system. ``This is the first independent confirmation of a planet,'' said Geoffrey Marcy, a professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley. ``It also gives us the first-ever measure of the size of one of these planets.'' Marcy's planet-hunting team had gathered mathematical evidence of 19 planets but could only infer their existence by measuring the wobble of nearby stars caused by the planets' gravity as they orbit. That changed last week. Marcy and his colleagues first detected a wobble in the star HD 209458, in the constellation Pegasus, on Nov. 5 from the Keck Telescope atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea. The team notified astronomer Greg Henry of Tennessee State University, who operates a cluster of remote-controlled telescopes in the Patagonia Mountains of Arizona. Henry focused one automatic telescope on the star, and observed it dimming visibly as the planet crossed in front of it - just as Marcy's scientists had predicted. The star's radiance dimmed 1.7 percent on Nov. 7. On Thursday, it happened again, seemingly verifying the scientists' calculations that the planet orbits its star every 3.523 days. Henry is predicting the same dimming next Thursday and again Nov. 22. ``We've essentially seen the shadow of the planet,'' Henry said. Marcy's team determined the planet to be a ``gas giant,'' similar to Jupiter, but its mass is just 63 percent of Jupiter's while it is 60 percent wider. A gas giant could not have formed so close to a star, Henry said, which supports the theory that ``extra-solar planets very near their star did not form where they are, but formed farther out and migrated inward.'' The star HD 209458 lies 153 light-years from Earth - almost a million billion miles. It is near the star 51 Pegasi, around which the first extra-solar planet was discovered in 1995. ``With this one, everything hangs together,'' Marcy said. ``This is what we've been waiting for.'' Follow this unfolding story and all extrasolar news at: Other Worlds, Distant Suns http://www.astronautica.com since 1996 providing science fact, not fiction to the Internet copyright 1999 Garber Astronautics portions copyright AP News =====

Some of you may remember Geoffrey Marcy. His name appeared (along with R. Paul Butler) in the third Cortana emails ("The Dissertation of R. Paul Butler" and "Honors Thesis of Geoffrey W. Marcy"). Both Marcy and Butler are scientists searching for extrasolar planets. Today's New York Times carries an article on their work entitled "Shadow Confirms Existence of Extrasolar Planets". More details can be obtained from R. Paul Butler's Home Page and Geoffrey W. Marcy's Home Page.

Neil Schafer <mreeeeez@guitarsrule.com> and Michael Young <hamster@dallas.net> all write pointing out that Castle Greyskull was actually Skeletor's castle and not HeMan's. Skeletor was He-Man's arch-nemesis. Michael adds further:

I think that Greyskull originally belonged to He-Man's family, but Skeletor took it over and made it evil, or something like that.

I must admit to being totally ignorant here... HeMan was before my time. ;-)

Nov 17, 1999 (Wednesday)

Halo reference in Chimera. Tom Bridge <bridge_t@cc.denison.edu> writes:

While playing Chimera this week, I noticed something of interest. Aside from Doug Zartman's reprise of "They're everywhere" in one of the levels, I was astounded to find a Halo quote embedded within the game. ne'Ric, the fir'Bolg hero that you eventually meet has a quote in the field which says something similar to "my conviction is like my arrow in flight, your life shall only last until it reaches you." It warrants investigation.

Chimera is a free scenario for Myth II: Soulblighter. Check out Bungie's Chimera page for details on how to download. Or buy Myth: The Total Codex which contains the Chimera scenario.

Mark Levin <mglevin@uiuc.edu> writes:

Did you notice, on the page regarding Nathan's winning character, they give his email address as "nathan@bungie.org"?

Could it be true? Has Nathan joined Bungie.org? Is this one of Nathan's many email addresses? One way to find out... try it.

Eylon Caspi <eylon@cs.berkeley.edu> unearths some interesting info about Nathan Bitner's early years:

Michael O'Brien <nickelads@roava.net> writes:

: I'm afraid I must disagree with your learned readers Bruce Morrison,
: Neil Schafer , and Michael Young - Castle Grayskull was in fact He-Man's
: castle. The entire castle was formed from the fossilized body of a
: titanic pre-historic beast, and the entrance was through the skull
: (using the 'jawbridge'... nastybadpunthing.)

To be more specific, Castle Grayskull was home to the Sorceress. Prince Adam/He-Man would frequently visit the castle to seek her advice and instruction in saving the world.

A quick web search reveals one He-Man connection. The "Scrolls of Grayskull" issue 15 http://www.he-man.org/archive/issue15.html mentions Nathan Bitner by name:

: The winning entry to the Masters of The Universe "Create A Character"
: Contest was named "Fearless PHOTOG", not Photon. He was submitted by
: Nathan Bitner, (then) age 11, of Napierville, Illinois.


: Apparantly, this Nathan Bitner received a one-of-a-kind prototype of
: his creation, Fearless Photog.

Although this pegs one Bungie employee with a healthy He Man obsession, it does not explain the mystery of Jason Jones at Castle Grayskull.

For those of you unfamiliar with He Man and the Master's of the Universe, http://www.timetravelertoys.net/heman.htm has an image of He Man riding Battle Cat, along with Castle Grayskull in the page background. Both images are from the original 1980's cartoon (this site is by no means a definitive source on He Man -- it just had images handy).

Nathan "HeMan" Bitner winner of the Masters of The Universe "Create A Character" Contest in 1985 at the age of 11. More details can be found at http://www.he-man.org/site/articles/cac85.shtml. Nice prizes... one wonder what he got up to as honorary president of Mattel? ;-)

Roger Cordes <rlcordes@unity.ncsu.edu> also writes concerning the ubiquitous HeMan:

for the record:
I was obsessed with He-Man, and I can give you whatever answers you want concerning him or any of the other Masters of the Universe.

Grayskull was where the Sorceress, He-Man's most powerful ally and mentor, lived.

Skull Mountain was Skeletor's pad. (I can see where there might be some confusion)

Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <matthew> offers this URL for those wishing to brush up on Castle Grayskull:


Story page readers leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of the tru7h. Jonathan Andrews <vidboi@bellsouth.net> writes concerning yesterday's email from Nathan Bitner and the reference to Greg Henry of Tennessee State University:

Since I just happen to live here in Nashville, TN (oddly enough, where TSU is located), I have gotten some information about Mr. Henry.

Gregory W. Henry


M.S., Astronomy and Physics, Vanderbilt University, 1979
B.S., Physics and Mathematics, The Ohio State University, 1974


Tennessee State University, Research Specialist, 1988-present
Vanderbilt University, Research Associate, Dyer Observatory, 1989-present
Henry Home School, Principal/Math & Science Instructor, 1993-present
The University of Texas McDonald Observatory, Supervisor, Scientific Support Group, 1982-88
Sacramento Peak Observatory, Site Manager, Cloudcroft Station, 1981-82
Vanderbilt University, Research Assistant, Dyer Observatory, 1979-81


International Amateur-Professional Photoelectric Photometry - Charter Member American Astronomical Society


Variable star photometry, automated astronomy with robotic telescopes, high-precision photometry, solar-type stars, planets around solar-type stars, chromospherically active stars, slowly pulsating stars

Mr. Henry has a quote on the bottom of his web page http://schwab.tsuniv.edu/henrypage.html which is:

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
(Psalm 19: 1,2)"

Here is a link on the TSU Automated Astronomy Group's web site about the new discovery - http://schwab.tsuniv.edu/t8/hd209458/transit.html

Oddly enough, searching around through their pages for interesting tidbits of info, I ran across pages of information about which telescopes are looking at what stars. The chief astronomer for the .75m APT (automatic photoelectric telescope) just happens to be Greg Henry. Then, as if the world couldn't get more perfect, I looked at the Data Sheets for the .75m APT and found that one of the stars that Henry was observing was:

HD      Name      V     B-V     Spect.    Date Range

10700  Tau Cet  3.49   0.727     G8 V    1993-present

Now, I'm not exactly sure what the V, B-V, etc are, but needless to say, this seems to be a good tie back to the Marathon...

Nov 18, 1999 (Thursday)

An interesting slant on Nathan Bitner's Jason Jones/Castle Grayskull comments: Jeremy Stone <slycrel@yahoo.com> writes:

Being a college student myself (and for some reason thinking that's when all this grayskull stuff happened) I think I have an idea about Grayskull. We refer to the CS department as the dungeon since it's in the basement of the administration building and has virtually no windows.

Sounds to me that Grayskull was the nickname of some woman's home that Jason was frequently visited. The tie to grayskull may be the appearance of the home itself, the 'sorceress' that has cast a spell upon Jason or many other possibilities. Just an idea.

Similarly Alan Greene <alan@fontshop.com> writes:

I'd like to take a stab at this whole HeMan ordeal. My far-fetched guess is that Jason Jones was dating someone whose actual given name was SheRa. (For those that don't know, SheRa was the heroine of the HeMan saga.) I'll say that Jason spent a good amount of time over at her place, dubbed "Castle Grayskull" by the boys. Or not.

Reid McDonald <crm143@mail.usask.ca> writes:

Regarding the Tau Ceti astronomical data presented with the info on G.W. Henry, where the reader wonders what V and B-V are; I believe they refer to visual magnitude comparisons while using different filters on the telescope. V magnitudes will be less than B magnitudes, B-V shows difference. I'm no astronomy major though.

Nov 21, 1999 (Sunday)

halo.bungie.org have been busy over the weekend posting scans of various Halo preview articles. The latest one from PC Gamer adds some interesting info to what we already know. There's the possibility of a "firearm that talks to you". The Covenant are described as "genocidal space locusts" swarming across the galaxy. Halo will have an "engrossing cinematic sci-fi story"... hey that's what we expect from Bungie! :-) Go read the full article at hbo.

Nov 22, 1999 (Monday)

Nicholas Head <nicholas.head@adelaide.edu.au> writes concerning the PC Gamer Halo article mentioned yesterday:

Regarding a talking weapon in Halo: Could this be inspired by the Iain Banks (non-Culture) novel "Against a Dark Background"? It's been some time since I read it but I remember that the story centred about the search for a "doomsday" weapon called "The Lazy Gun", which worked upon its victims by rendering quantum "improbables" possible. If I remember correctly it could also talk.

A sentient gun in Halo? Provided it doesn't say things like "THREE FRAGS LEFT" and "EXCELLENT" it'll be cool! ;-)

Nov 23, 1999 (Tuesday)

In another forum post at halo.bungie.org Doug Zartman (PR at Bungie) explains why Bungie do not wish the German PC Action magazine Oni/Halo preview movie distributed on the net:

Re: What's happened to our beloved Bungie??
Posted By: Doug Zartman <doug@bungie.com>
Date: 22 November 1999, 6:37 p.m.

> man this place just gets weirder and weirder.

Ain't it the truth! Love this industry.

This seems like a good time to weigh in on this issue. The whole thing is a result of a miscommunication between ourselves and our friends at PC Action. A couple of our guys recently went on a European press tour, and during a visit, did grant permission for a videotaped interview, not anticipating that video footage of the game itself would be distributed. Apparently, distributing video footage of press meetings is fairly common in Europe, while it is not so common in the US - something we didn't understand.

We're very sensitive about how any imagery of the game is presented. A lot of people will form their first impressions based on these images. This is why we prefer that this particular footage not be distributed any more than it already has been. It's a video tape of an image projected onto a large screen and thus has a lower image quality than the trailers we release to the web. Considering our programmers are being such incredible sticklers for details with this game, our marketing should be too. So we've asked PC Action to keep the footage off the web and they've graciously complied.

There will be further trailers of Oni and Halo released in the future, before those titles ship. Those will be of the same quality as the original Oni and Halo trailers that are now available. We think PC Action's a cool magazine and we're psyched about their interest in Oni and Halo, so one can expect to see new movies on their CD in the future. (Please don't ask me for an ETA - I don't have one ;-) )


Nov 25, 1999 (Thursday)

Robert Zimmermann <robzim@gmx.net> writes:

I made 2 posts at the core, concerning the illegal movie (I am Austrian and have bought it legally) - just to let you know.

The transcipt:


Initial thoughts on the film:


Something that was not included in the public post:

> PS: And something else I forgot to say: The interview with Peter Tamte was conducted in a Chinese
> restaurant. (Bungie fans will get the reference).

Nov 30, 1999 (Tuesday)

Nathan Bitner <nathan.bitner@botcc.com> writes:

Boy, weird how these names (and planets) keep popping up, isn't it?


The news items reads as follows:

Monday November 29 12:44 PM ET Scientists Find Six Planets Outside Solar System

Scientists Find Six Planets Outside Solar System

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Six jumbo-sized planets have been detected orbiting stars outside our solar system, and five of the newly discovered objects are just the right distance from their suns to support life, astronomers said on Monday.

The discoveries, made with the massive Keck I Telescope in Hawaii, were a great leap for planet hunters, who have identified a total of 28 so-called extrasolar planets in the last five years.

The recently found planets orbit stars that are about as big, bright and old as the Earth's sun, and the planets range in size from slightly smaller to several times larger than Jupiter -- the largest planet in our solar system.

They are probably made of the same inhospitable stuff as Jupiter, the scientists said: hydrogen and helium gas.

But five of them are squarely in what astronomers call the habitable zone, which could allow the existence of liquid water -- a prerequisite for life. This makes them different from most of the extrasolar planets found before this.

``These (five) planets are just the right distance, with temperatures in one case around 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.22C) -- like a hot day in Sacramento,'' Steven Vogt, an astronomy professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz, said in a statement.

Besides Vogt, the discovery team also included Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California-Berkeley, Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington D.C. and Kevin Apps of the University of Sussex in England. Their findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

One of the planets, HD 192263, was also recently detected by a team in Geneva, Switzerland, the U.S. team said.

These scientists did not actually see the new planets, but detected their presence by watching for a telltale wobble in the stars they orbit; the wobble is caused by the gravitational pull the planets exert on the star.

No Earth-like planets are likely to be contained in these new planetary systems, Vogt said. Jupiter-sized planets in oval-shaped or eccentric orbits -- instead of the neatly stacked, circular orbits of our solar system -- would have such gravitational force as to quickly eject any Earth-type planet, he said.

But he said if these big Jupiter-sized planets are like the giant in our solar system, they may have numerous moons orbiting them.

``For a planet in the habitable zone of its star, such moons offer the possibility of liquid water and the eventual emergence of life,'' Vogt said.

Dec 1, 1999 (Wednesday)

According to a forum post at halo.bungie.org Nathan Bitner has announced his engagement. The Story page wishes Nathan and his fiance Misti the very best for the future.

Dec 2, 1999 (Thursday)

Cortana reference in Oni? David Leong <wateya@taiko.com> writes:

I don't know if this has been covered before, but perhaps this is of interest.

I got out my Oni notepad tonight (the freebie from the Action Sack) and the faint Kanji (Japanese characters) caught my eye. Behind the image of Konoko there are faint vertical lines of Japanese text faintly visable. Faintly is the operating word here. There are several words seperated by ones and zeros in each line. After squinting at these line for a while, I managed to translate a couple of them. Now these lines repeat, both within the "sentence" and also across the page. So while there looks like there are about 20 lines or so, there are only six unique "sentences" that I can pick out.

They are:

shinrai ni atai suru hito inai (there is no one I can trust)
kiki (this is the Oni kanji repeated twice) ... kurai shorai (dark future)
kako no aru onna (a woman with a past)
furu kontakuto akushon (full contact action)
buramu (blam) korutana (cortana)
warui keikan (bad cop)

I don't know but I suspect this is the same kanji used in the trailer.

There are a number of versions of the Oni notepaper. Here are Mike Cramer's <jupiter6@flash.net> Oni notepaper scans (Lo-res and Hi-res) and Samantha Lynn's <jeremiasd@earthlink.net> Oni notepaper scan. Got a different version? Then send it in.

Dec 3, 1999 (Friday)

Many thanks to David Leong <wateya@taiko.com> and Michael Lake <beorn@thegrid.net> for both sending in scans of a third version of the Oni notepaper. You can see it here. This is the version Harry Al-Shakarchi described back in Sept 18, 1999 but we didn't have a scan of it.

Yesterday David noted (excuse the pun) that one of the Kanji lines on the notepaper reads:

buramu (blam) korutana (cortana)

Other versions of the notepaper can be found here and here. Thanks to Mike Cramer and Samantha Lynn for these.

David writes:

The kanji on all three are exactly the same, down to the position of the individual characters. It just looks like they dropped in a different picture of Konoko on all three versions.

Dec 10, 1999 (Friday)

Matt Soell drops an interesting tidbit about Halo in a HBO forum post. The text of the post is as follows:

Re: Armor

Posted By: Matt <matt@bungie.com>
Date: 9 December 1999, 10:52 p.m.

In Response To: Armor (jayWHY)

Boy, nothing gets past you guys. :-)

Armor was the initial code name for what eventually became Halo. We worried that boring-but-palatable "Armor" might end up as the final name of the game if we couldn't come up with anything better (as had "Marathon" and "Myth"). So we switched to Blam and/or Monkey Nuts so we'd be forced to come up with a better name before we shipped. Besides, the game had changed so dramatically from when it was first envisioned that a change of name was in order.


Sounds like "Armor" was originally intended as a 3rd person perspective war game. Indeed the human vehicles and weaponary we have seen in Halo (so far) would not look out of place on today's battle field. Which begs the question how far into the future is Halo really set?

Joshua Inglima <jinglima@thinkpos.com> also writes concerning Bungie's use of the word "Armor":

Regarding the post yesterday about the "new" trademark...

If you click on the "Check Status" button on the page given in the URL, you will find that action to register that word was suspended on June 5, 1998. No further action has been taken since.

This gives me the idea that the "ARMOR" concept, or name was dropped.

It was filed on Sept. 24, 1997.

Dec 11, 1999 (Saturday)

Terrence Nowicki <kablam@edmail.com> writes concerning my comments regarding the present day look to the vehicles and weaponary used by the marines in Halo:

...on the ninth, you asked this question about Halo:

Which begs the question how far into the future is Halo really set?

I'm pretty sure you pointed this out earlier, but we've been told by Nathan that Halo takes place during Durandal's 17-year search for Lh'owon. And since Nathan was on the Halo team, I think it's pretty likely that he knew what he was talking about...

Add that to the fact that the humans obviously have space travel and cyborgs...I think this shows it's a good deal in the future.

Terrence refers to the period 2794 and 2811 AD in the Marathon timeline, some 800 years in the future. Will wars be still fought with tanks and four wheel drive vehicles? Who can say? But 800 years ago we were waging war on horseback with sword and axe. We've come along way in 800 years.

Has Nathan Bitner (or his pseudonym Island Four) ever said that Halo takes place during Durandal's 17-year search for Lh'owon? No. He has only referred to the 17 year interval as, and I quote, "An interesting piece of time indeed ...". In fact only yesterday Nathan Bitner posted the following on the halo.bungie.org forums:

Re: Cortana AI reference
Posted By: Nathan <nathan.bitner@botcc.com>
Date: 10 December 1999, 3:17 p.m.

In Response To: Re: Cortana AI reference (JŠgermeister)

> Except I believe they've already STATED that Oni and Marathon
> don't take place in the same universe.

> (: Jägermeister :)

Actually, to the best of my knowledge, Bungie has neither confirmed nor denied that Halo, Oni, Myth or Marathon - or any combination - take place in the same universe.

Now, certainly some obvious connections exist with Halo, but Bungie has never confirmed them beyond a comment and a wink. ;)

As for Oni, Bungie has again neither confirmed one way or the other as to what "universe" it may take place in. Again, at least until the end of October when I left.

Bungie (through either Matt or I) have stated in the past that there seem to be various odd connections that we've noted running throughout all ... or almost all of our games. Strange, isn't it? :) :)


Even if does turn our that Halo is set in the Marathon universe between 2794 and 2811 AD it still begs the question why the human race is still running around in ground tanks and four wheel drive vehicles. Think about it.

Dec 12, 1999 (Sunday)

Terrence Nowicki <kablam@edmail.com> writes concerning the less than futuristic looking land vehicles used by the humans in Halo:

On the story page you added that "800 years ago, people fought wars on horseback and with swords...

However, the period of fighting wars with horses and swords lasted MUCH longer than 800 years, from beginning to end.

Perhaps Bungie are assuming that when humanity takes time to develop AI, military cybernetics, space travel, (not to mention teleportation), they also take "time out" from developing standard military means and weapons of destruction.

When you think about it that way, it sort of makes sense. A centuries long "slump" in that area of technology, as it were (may not be a bad thing, really...I'd much rather have space travel and AI than people coming up with new ways to kill each other...maybe Bungie shares those feelings).

A technology slump in military development? Possible but unlikely. But let us turn to one of the Earth/Mars history terminals from Marathon:

On January 6, 2345(Earth A.D.), at the United Earth Government Misriah food distribution center, what had begun as a commonplace food riot turned into a massacre. The UEG riot troopers who arrived at the scene had been informed that the rioters were armed. As the UEG troopers approached the scene in their Randal Hovertank, plasma fire began spraying upwards. In a flash decision, the commander of the Hovertank ordered his crew to open fire upon the crowd. It took only five seconds for over five hundred starving Martians to be incinerated.

<The Rose (Terminal 2)>

So if Halo is set in the Marathon universe and post dates the launch of the Marathon in 2472 AD what happened to Randal Hovertanks and plasma weapons?

Dec 13, 1999 (Monday)

Envisioning the future is not easy.

As expected alot of mail regarding the Story page's observation that the vehicles and weapons used by the humans in Halo look very "low tech" for a story based 800 years into the future. Of course this assumes that Halo is based in the 29th century. It may not be.

Here are just a few of many comments received.

Andrew Simpkins <axjs@wocket.freeserve.co.uk> writes:

Regarding the use of 'out of date' technology, eg. swords, horses, in a future environment: Check out any of Frank Herbert's Dune novels. IIRC the use of hand-to-hand fighting, swordplay and plain old treachery and deceit come to the fore in a space-faring society. More modern wepons, such as atomic weapons, are banned by galactic governmental decree. Another situation which is illustrated occurs on the planet Arrakis, central to the story. In the Dune universe great use is made of personal (electronic) shields. On Arrakis the planets dust storms and indigenous species remove the effectiveness of this method of defence.

I think where I'm going with this is that current, and future technology can be rendered useless by events even further in the future, in which case we, as a species, can fall back on any methods we have used in the past to overcome obstacles.

Hmmm... I don't think we've seen horses in Halo yet. But the point about Dune is a good one.

Doug Hanke <dough@imagebuilder.com> writes:

The Marathon's Story page talks about why the vehicles in Halo look "less than futuristic." There may be a couple of reasons why the jeep looks like it does. The laws of physics aren't going to change much from now to 2472--a wheel will still roll pretty well now or 800 years from now. Wheels work pretty well on somewhat level ground, particularly when the jeep in the Halo movie looks as versatile as it does.

If you're on a long supply line (like the vessel that will land on Halo), you'd want to carry stuff that you could fix yourself or didn't need a ton of parts. 4-legged vehicles are kinda complicated and may need a ton of specialized equipment to repair. Hovercraft are really noisy, and wouldn't work in a vacuum environment. Wheels have been around a long time and will probably continue to be around for quite some time. They even work in a vacuum--witness the lunar rovers... :)

The Randal Hovertank was on Mars, which might be a lot closer to a major repair base than a Big Dumb Object.

Just a thought.

Agreed about the versatility of wheels. A case in point is the six-wheeled APC used in the film "Aliens". Lets hope the Halo marines have access to similar smart-guns with gyro-stablized support arms. :-)

Jesse McInturff <jesse@insidemacgames.com> writes:

...did you ever think to consider how incredibly expensive a hovertank or plasma weapons are? Then also you may need to think that, even though it's a bit cheezy maybe the Halo warship was launched not all that far into the future and it was just a generations space ship (you know, my kids go on to have BOB's and so on) and in all the fighting and stuff maybe records of this ship were lost. I dont think bungie would do something like this but we can just sit and see.

Interesting point. Do the humans in Halo have access to FTL travel? If as Jesse suggests they don't and must rely on sub-light speed travel as the Marathon colony ship did then perhaps we would expect to see old style equipment in Halo.

Michael Ash <mikeash@csd.uwm.edu> writes:

I just wanted to point out that while the major weapons of warfare have changed enormously over the course of history, the basic unit of an army has barely changed at all. Your standard grunt, whether clad in armor and carrying a spear or wearing camouflage and toting an M-16, is still pretty much the same. He may have neater toys these days, but despite all their rapid-fire killing machines they still carry knives. It does make sense that they would have fantastic weaponry, but they wouldn't necessarily have it everywhere. They are supposedly short on resources, and if you're going to send a couple of guys out on a dangerous mission, it would be a lot less annoying to lose a jeep than lose a fancy hover-whatchamacallit.

Good point about the knife. A case in point is the film Starship Troopers. Even with FTL technology the marines always seemed to end up fighting with the most basic of equipment. Kinda dumb... but then so was the film. ;-)

Michael O'Brien <nickelads@roava.net> writes:

There has been some discussion of why the Halo demo shows 4WD vehicles, and such, when we currently believe Halo to be set in a Marathon time period which includes hovertanks, personal fliers, et al.

It seems to me that the most likely explanation is simplicity and reliablility.

Generally, the simpler a mechanism is, the more reliable and difficult to disable it's going to be. It seems that by basic laws of physics, something like a hovertank is going to be extremely complex, and therefore very prone to damage and breakdown. This is why the American military fell in love with the Jeep in the last half of the 20th century; use it, abuse it, insult it, it still ran.

If you're a Halo marine, and you are going to be trapped on a ringworld for an indeterminate time with little support or backup, would you choose a 4WD vehicle which has been so perfected over 800 years that it doesn't even break when you open up the crankcase and throw sand in, one that can be drop-kicked off a cliff by a Pfhor hunter and still be drivable once it's set upright; or would you be using the futuristic, hover-capable equivalent of the "Sergeant York": some hovertank that spends 9 hours on the repair racks for evey one hour of combat?

Just my thoughts on the matter.

So will the Halo jeep be unbreakable? I guess that'll be one of the first things that people will try to find out! =)

Similarly Chris Hebner <chebner@erinet.com> writes:

I can think of a good reason why the equipment of the human in Halo seems so low tech. If you were out in the field, and your vehicle broke down, which would you rather do: replace a broken tread in about 2 hours, or jack up a hover tank, remove the air skirt, patch it, replace it and test it before you go back into combat?

Just because you have really advanced weapons, doesn't mean that you always use them. You want something that is durable, inexpensive and easily repaired by the soldiers on the field with as little training as possible. Keeping this in mind, the humans in Halo are lacking in a steady supplies. The more durable and low maintenance, the better.

As for the period of Horseback fighting... I seem to recall that the Polish used cavalry to combat tanks in the second world war.

And look what happened to the Polish cavalry. ;-)

Alan Greene <alan@fontshop.com> writes:

I have some input for this "lagging technology" discussion. I think it may be more of an issue of availability than current developments. Maybe the marines on the ring have a severely limited supply of weapons in general, or that state-of-the-art artillery was destroyed on impact.

I would anticipate that any out-of-place machinery will be explained by the game itself.

Let us hope so. :-)

Terrence Nowicki <kablam@edmail.com> writes:

As for the (lack of) Randal Hovertanks, the only explanations I can come up with are:

A) They are hard/expensive to produce, and since our current knowledge of the mission to the Halo shows that it may be partly a suicide mission, the UESC/UESG didn't want to risk losing any really high tech weaponry like hovertanks, they didn't put any on the trip.

B) The Covenant has destroyed them all.

C) They haven't been put in the game yet/ Bungie hasn't released any material containing them yet.

And many... many more comments. Sorry if yours didn't get added. Thanks to everyone who wrote in. Remember the Story page exists to question... don't be afraid to ask the question!

Dec 14, 1999 (Tuesday)

Liam mac Lynne <liammacl@eden.rutgers.edu> draws some interesting parallels between the Robotech series and Marathon. Liam writes:

...has anyone noticed the similarity of appearance between the inhabitants of Haydon IV and the S'pht? Haydonites are from the Robotech: The Sentinels series, which is the third part of the American release of three unrelated anime titles through Harmony Gold USA in the late '80s. The Haydonites are a mixture of computer/robot and cyborg so advanced human technology is completely unable to separate them. Lots of mystery surrounds them, including the question of how they float in the air, and what is under their robes (Unlike S'pht, the Haydnites don't flash anyone to fire weapons). It's possible (and I'd be surprised if someone hasn't mentioned this before) that the appearance of the S'pht was influenced by the Haydonites.

More striking is Liam's final observation:

It's an interesting parallel that the planet Haydon IV was created eons ago by a race of progenitors of the modern races presented in the Sentinels series (this is out of the Jack McKinney book, _End of the Circle_, which finished (and cycled) the timeline of the Robotech story), including the Haydonites themselves.

A quick search of the web reveals a large number of pages devoted to the Robotech series. Here are just two well maintained pages:



Here is an interesting quote from the Robotech novels timeline:

c. -100,000 B.C Haydon, a race of people that have attained non-coporeal state of being, visits seven planets - Optera, Peryton, Karbarra, Praxis, Garuda, Spheris, and Earth - to engineer an evolution attempt in order to escape this universe and achieve god status and a reason for living. The Flowers of Life, originally found on Earth, are completely and utterly transplanted to Optera, Peryton recieves its mental generator, Karbarra is given a peat similar to the Flowers of Life, Praxis' population is gengineered to be females, Garuda's atmosphere is made into a Gaian one, and Haydon IV with its robot population is built as a storehouse/resting place for Haydon until an Event happens. Only Optera, with its Regis, remembers what Haydon actually looked like.

Sounds vaguely familiar.

Also from another Robotech timeline we have this quote:

Jul, 1999: A colossal meteorite impacts with Earth, coming to rest on South Atalia Island. Investigation reveals that it is an alien spacecraft. It is code-named ASS-1 (Alien Star Ship-1). Public announcements are that an asteroid 3 km in diameter, composed of great quantities of metal, impacted with Earth. The matter is treated as top secret until the chaos and confusion are brought under control.

and also:

Jun, 2000: Aliens' existence formally announced (excepting the fact of their size, which is kept top secret). Following this, framing plan for United Earth Government officially proclaimed.

Shades of Pathways Into Darkness perhaps? And the old United Earth Government pop up too!

As Liam points out the Robotech series dates from the 1980s.

Mail continues to pour in about the apparently "low tech" look of the vehicles (and weapons) used by the humans in Halo. If the Halo story is based 100s of years in the future where interstellar travel, AI technology, and military cybernetics are all a reality why do the marines run around in ground based tanks and four wheel drive jeeps? See yesterday for a large and varied response. See also the halo.bungie.org and Core forums for additional discussion.

Here are just a few more submissions to the Story page:

David Solorzano <almondblightman@yahoo.com> writes:

Alot of people have been righting in saying that Jeeps, tanks, grenades, etc. would still be used 800 years from now because they would be easier to fix than a Hovertank. Thats like saying that the military now should use bows and arrows because it would be easier to restring than fixing a jammed gun. Look at how far artillary and guns have progressed in this century alone. I doubt that if we could build Hovertanks 350 years from now that we would still keep around old technology because it can get repaired easier. 450 years after the creation of the hovertank they too would probably be easy to repair. Which means that

1. Our dates could be off
2. The ship sent to Halo could have been a museum ship
3. Bungie could have built near future Technology for Armor and then tried to fit that into Halo.

My guess is a mix of 1 and 3.

Interesting point #3.

SoSD (full name pending) <sosd@home.com> writes:

In reply to 'Chris Hebner <chebner@erinet.com>', who stated:

"If you were out in the field, and your vehicle broke down, which would you rather do: replace a broken tread in about 2 hours, or jack up a hover tank, remove the air skirt, patch it, replace it and test it before you go back into combat?"

There are considerations beyond reliability, however.. If you were using a large expensive hovertank, as shown in David Drake's Hammer's Slammers series of novels for instance, a mine, or shell that might disable a conventional tank via blasting a few treads off might only disable a single lift fan, which would merely reduce your maneuverability, speed, etc..

Other advantages being the gains in mobility, especially over mud, which has historically crippled tank formations, and gains in how large and heavy the tank can be.. (You can only put so much weight on the treads, before they become inconveniently wide, and unmanageable.. [As in the experimental German Mauss, of WWII]) ..Spreading the mass out with the ground effect allows a much heavier tank..

And finally, those Slammers tanks were far cooler then anything that went on treads ..:P

Anyway, based on the arguments I've seen on your page so far, I believe that the Halo story is set considerably earlier than 2800..

James Gurnee <harness@access1.net> writes:

About the usage of Jeeps and projectile weapons (bullet guns) in Halo: This same thing happened on a Doctor Who episode. It was Genesis Of The Daleks, originally aired March 8-April 12, 1975. Anyway the story goes that the people on Skaro were fighting for so long that they were running low on supplies. So, even with advanced energy weapons, they had to fall back to the less advanced, projectile weapons. They also ended up using animal skins as armor. So probably, at least the Halo Recon Unit our marine is in is using low technology equipment not because they choose, but because they have no choice. Also, remember the Human empire is described as 'fledgling' in Halo.

R. Miguel Linius <madmacs@eaznet.com> writes:

Marathoners expect to use (mostly) gunpowder-style projectiles and the weapons to project them. The rocket launcher seems to use what to us is current technology. The Marine (and Bobs in Marathon 2) are using .45 Calibur handguns and yet I am not aware of any shock and disdain in their use even though the Marathon universe is set at nearly 1,000 years in our future.

The precedent has been set for the use of such weapons in Halo. Let us expand the principle to include the use of near-future (to us) vehicles.

Let's look at it from a game development angle. Much of the appeal of Halo is that it looks realistic. The realism is heightened when we are able to see (and use) things that are familiar to us. Loud weapons spewing out tons of smoke make it exciting. Same thing with , say, tanks. These very things contrast the futuristic weapons and vehicles of the Covenant. Also, the use of nearly conventional devices reminds me of such wars as World War II, where there was a clear victory of the Allied powers over the menacing Axis powers. This invokes another level of appeal.

How might Bungie justify/explain this approach to Halo players? Perhaps our fleeing group of humans had no access to state-of-the-art technology, yet they managed to salvage ancient (by their standards) vehicles and weapons from obscurity and make use of them. Maybe the Covenant had destroyed modern human weapons and vehicles manufacturing plants and stockpiles, forcing the humans to restore and rely on relics of the past. These might have been relegated to deserted places, much like the war planes occupying a tract of desert near Tucson, Arizona.

Interesting point about the Marathon weapons. It should be remembered that while Marathon takes place in 2794 AD the weapons would probably date from the pre-launch of the colony ship in 2472 AD. All weapons (and cyborgs) being stored onboard for safe keeping. Also we did have a Fusion Pistol in Marathon. :-)

Dec 16, 1999 (Thursday)

halo.bungie.org post an interesting observation about the similarity of the Covenant aliens and the Drej in the upcoming animated movie Titan A.E. The basic stance and shape of the Drej as seen in the screenshots posted is remarkably similar to that of the Covenant. The Titan A.E. web page has a trailer movie. Matrix fans will no doubt recognise the use of the Lunatic Calm track "Leave You Far Behind" in part of the Titan soundtrack.

Theories on why Halo has "low tech" vehicles (20th century looking tanks & jeeps) and weapons continue to come in. Many are quite detailed but reiterate the main points already discussed. Thanks to everyone who has written. Another example of science fiction mixing low and high tech comes from Nathaniel Olsen <orange666@hotmail.com>. Nathaniel writes:

There is an example of a futuristic setting using more mundane vehicles. It is Warhammer 40k. It takes place in the 41st century. Humans use mostly treaded vehicles and bikes. They have very few hovervehicles dispite having the ability to make and use of bionics and connect man to machine so they can fight after death and maintain power armor and use starships. In this case there was a dark age, refered to as the Dark Age of Technology, where most tech. knowlege was lost. Now any mechanics are often refered to as priests or belong to the priesthood of Mars. Most technological devices have been maintained for ages through an equal combination of technical knowlege and prayer (written and spoken) to the god of mars and inscriptions on devices. I'm not saying that this is what happened, but it is possible that the resources may not have been there to create machines to send on this mission due to a decline back on earth or whatever planet they launched from.

Dec 17, 1999 (Friday)

Z. Miller <Mrodar@aol.com> makes an interesting discovery about the title "Armor" - the original name for Halo:

Just thought I'd mention a novel by John Steakley (Who also wrote Vampire$) called Armor. Basically, Armor is about human soldiers in the future who fight bugs, like in Starship Troopers. (Another good book, but not so good movie.) But what reminded me of Marathon was Armor's protagonist, Felix. Felix has some sort of mental disorder like spilt personality or something, which takes effect in combat. He goes into a mode he calls "The Engine", where he becomes an invincible killing machine. Despite all odds, he survives mission after mission, while his companions die all around him. Just like how the Marine makes his way through the entire Marathon series, despite the fact that it would be nearly impossible to fight so much and live.

You can can find out more details about John Steakley's Armor at Amazon.com. Here's a short synposis of the book:

A best-selling novel of military science fiction follows the battle of a one-man, atomic-powered, armored fighting machine on the alien planet of Banshee, home to a horde of berserk enemies of humanity.

Looks like another book to add to the Marathon/Halo reading list! A number of people have written in about the invisible Myth beta on the Myth_TFL CD (v1.2) which has been reported on myth.bungie.org and picked up by myther.com and Myth Townhall. To avoid further mail on the subject I'd just like to point out that this was mentioned on the Story page back in Sept 13, 1999 by Joshua Jansen <jejansen@yahoo.com>. Joshua wrote at the time:

I was tromping through the Invisible files of the Myth_TFL CD, and I found the Myth Beta [a beta which I, an iMac user, am finding some difficulty running.] hidden in:

Myth_TFL:tags:Local:myth.beta 11.27.96

Old habit: I checked the fork of the App in ResEdit, and lo and behold... I found another 'open letter.' The last lines should hold a pantsload of meaning to all of us.

From myth.beta.ppc: This is a window on the days before double-clicking or formations or waypoint markers, before the Trow or Fetch or the death of the Skr¾l, before we had a real user interface and we threw away a bunch of cool reflection code to make the rasterizer faster. Back when we all thought we'd be able to spend some time outside during the coming summer of 1997. But we've got physics and blood, and Ghôls can still pick up little bits of their enemies and throw them around. The dwarf hasnÕt changed much, but he moves a lot faster and has these cool things called satchel charges now. Networking works as well, and it wasn't too long before this build that Ryan and I detonated the first dwarven grenades in anger, during an early Myth netgame. Unfortunately the grenades were all his because the starting locations were unbalanced and I lost. Since then IÕve buried a thousand dwarves on bungie.net, and my hatred of the little men has waned. Somewhat. So look around and have fun, but don't dwell too much on what you see. Now ... where did we leave Durandal? Jason December 19, 1997

Dec 18, 1999 (Saturday)

Continuing on the theme of mixing lo-tech and hi-tech in science fiction Stuart Willis <hbiki@dumphuck.com> provides further details on why the humans were of a low-tech status in Warhammer 40k.

Basically the Humans were fighting a big war against Chaos for a long long long time (a millenia or two). Damage and Casualties were extensive and built up over time. It was impossible to repair all the equipment that was damaged. Some stuff that was complex was just left to rust as it was too difficult and time consuming to repair. Because you weren't going to repair the equipment, there was no need to teach new engineers anything about it - time was of the essence. Slowly knowledge was lost.

Now, considering in Halo that Humans have been fighting a war against the Covenant. We don't know how long it's been going on for, or if it's before/after the Pfhor war (if they have any role). But its easy to hypothesize that they are in a similar situation to the Humans in W40k. They are using low-tech gear because it's: a) all they have left in working order;
b) easy to repair and maintain; or
c) all they know how to build.

I'm betting it's something in between a/b.

Robert Boggs <Robert.Boggs@msdw.com> also writes on the lo-tech theme in Halo :

People have been skirting around what I believe is the principle reason low tech weapons are being used. Simplicity is definitely a factor. The fossil fuels (or even water if you're using something like a hydrogen cracking fusion plant) to power your vehicles are probably plentiful, as are the raw materials needed to make good old slugthrowers, metal armor, etc...

The backstory as it goes so far, states that mankind has been pushed to the brink of extinction by the covenant. The mission to the Halo is a last ditch effort to find something to stop the covenant. Maybe, after a long protracted battle across countless, worlds, all we've got left to throw at them is this "low-tech" hardware.

Paul Eiche <tincanman_98@yahoo.com> also writes:

consider the movie star trek: first contact. the borg adapted to all the energy weapons the enterprise's crew had, but when jean-luc busted out the tommy gun, they didn't stand a chance. too bad it was just in the holo-deck :)

Dec 21, 1999 (Tuesday)

Justin Kitt <mushroom.man@ukf.net> passes on additional info about the back story to Warhammer 40k. This is part of a discussion on the mixing lo-tech and hi-tech in science fiction. Justin writes:

Right, from what I can find (and what I think I can remember), basically the humans had a period of huge galaxy wide expansion and technological advance, but they used a new propulsion system for their spaceships called a warp drive that took shortcuts through 'warp space' (think Event Horizon here, in a way). Unfortunately, by doing this they drew the attention of the forces of Chaos who inhadited this dimension, who then started attacking the humans, and corrupting their leaders with promises of huge power (both physical and psychic). They also cut off the solar system with warp storms which prevented any warp travel, and thus any FTL travel.

During this time, the colonies outside Sol had very few supplies to make new technology, whereas Earth and Mars erupted into civil war. In the 40K Universe, technological specs were kept in special STDs (I think that's what they were called), and were mostly kept on Mars. During the civil war, a lot of the storehouses of STDs were destroyed, and with no other records of how to make or repair the machines, the technology was lost.

Dec 22, 1999 (Wednesday)

While searching the Story page's Dec 1994 archives for Usenet posts yesterday I came across one old post that echoed the recent "lo-tech/hi-tech in Halo" discussion. Part of the post reads as follows:

I'd agreed with some of the posters regarding new weapons on Marathon that a shotgun was not "futuristic" enough. But lo and behold, after they confiscate the 10mm explosive shells in the movie, Hicks reaches into his backpack and pulls out....a shotgun. Guess there's some intangible appeal to cocking the thing.....

You can read the whole post here. Remember this post dates from Dec '94.

Dec 23, 1999 (Thursday)

Benjamin Riley <Benhotep@aol.com> writes concerning the backstory to Warhammer 40k. This is part of a discussion on the mixing lo-tech and hi-tech in science fiction.

It is also worth noting that, in Warhammer 40k, the humans of the Imperium distrust technology somewhat. For example, here's a quote from the roolz book:

"...Before the Age of Strife, humanity's physical power waxed, but at the cost if man's spiritual strength. During this period, the even more distant Dark Age of Technology, the human race sold its souls to the glory of technology, forgetting their own magnificence in favour of the accomplishments of so-called science. Through the mechanical, biological, and alchemical madness of the Dark Age of Technology, which brought about the decline during the Age of Strife, mankind has come to its present age, a glorious age of conquest, where men's hearts will rule the stars, not their machines. What secrets the Tech Priests of Mars uncover from the distant past will no longer rule our lives. We will harness the technology we find, and not become slaves to it as we once were. Through human endeavour, and honest blood, sweat, and toil, mankind will rule the galaxy with the grace of the Emperor and finally attain our rightful plase as Lords of the Stars. ..."

-Introduction from Liber Doctrina Historicus

Halo submissions for Jan - Mar 2000

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Last updated Mar 22, 2000

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