Chronique:BWU 16/07/2004

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Bungie Weekly Update Moved!

For various sad, lame reasons, we moved the weekly update over toHBO's friendly, fluffy, kitten-safe Forums so get over there right now.

And this weekly update features all sorts of cool stuff, but a very poor drawing.

Short and sweet this week? Why? Because by comparison with last week's update, anything will seem short, but more importantly, many Bungie team members were lost at the mouth of hell, the delightful location where we had our first company photo in ages taken. At least it wasn't Snake Village. Then nobody would have returned. But that said, there's plenty to chew on here as Bungie staffers discuss matters as diverse as water, physics and yacht club etiquette.

Tyson Green's Autobiography

Tyson started this week asking for a pair of shoes to borrow, since he'd arrived for a top-level meeting in his bare feet. "Fortunately, Michael Wu was kind enough to loan me a pair. Unfortunately, this cost me the opportunity to walk around a ritzy yacht club in my stockinged feet.

Still grinding on levels, with a bit of weapon experimentation on the side. Most of these side projects will never see the light of day, but sometimes one slips through and gets some schedule love.

Biggest thing this week has been getting a huge new vehicle up and running. I was pretty worried about some animation issues, but Eamon stepped up and made some code changes that help mitigate that. Today and over the course of the weekend, the related encounters will finally begin to take on a final form."

Chris Butcher's Collected Shorts

The game becomes steadily more fun. Jaime mocked up a fake multiplayer game with some Master Chief AI that just stands around and lets you shoot it - so I spent about half an hour exploring some new physics in-depth.

The beta is a lot of fun, we're getting the chance to do a lot of in-depth playing of a single fixed build. This is a really important part of the process - in order to understand your game in a deep way, you have to have a lot of continuous time with a build that isn't changing. We're coming out of the beta with a ton of changes that we want to make to the physics and weapon balance for the final game.

Adrian Perez's Masterful Tales

We have a big milestone this week so I spent a lot of it crushing through the last few bugs I had. One neat one is now the artists can specify random damage to get applied to objects when they spawn; they can just say "I want 3 busted warthogs in this area" and the game will determine an appropriate and different level of bustedness for each one.

The new hud has finally grown to the point that we can remove the old hud. This frees up some data and memory to the rest of the game. The shader that renders the Halo (1 and 2) shield meter (a fancy 1-texture 1-pass mux shader) will be studied by archeologists thousands of years from now as evidence of the insanity of the early 21st century; maybe they'll understand it better than I do.

We were >this< close from cutting one of our new gametypes. But I implemented it in six hours and now it's essentially finished (read: harder to cut). It's a gametype explicitly designed for those people who have friends but not live; something fun that 3-4 people can play. One other type didn't make the cut, unfortunately.

Worked with the graphics guys to generate better lightprobes out of the lightmapper. Hao has this crazexy precomputed radiance transfer system he built to help light our BSP's, and to make them mesh into the world correctly we render little lightprobes. That way if a bright red object moves past it, it'll look the part, with a nice red hue on one side of it. It's a really hard problem to solve right, but it'll really help make the spaces seem more real. It's a hell of a long way from how we lit objects in Halo 1.

Gave some more sweet love to the training system. The more people we bring into test the game, the more stuff we find that needs training. For example, if people have never learned how to zoom they can accidentally click the right thumbstick without knowing it, then not know how to get out of it.

Nathan Walpole's Dubious Diatribe

Tensions were high in the animation pit this week, but were quickly lifted in anticipation of our visitor. Christopher Walken is a really great guy. He taught us how to pause our animation gently between words this...week. He was damned...that he...would help... us out. So after Walken was tired from giving us great reference for animation we went to dinner. At the dinner table the waitress did not know who Christopher was, so we had a little bit...of fun...with that. All of these shenanigans led to a fun night on the town. We drank some Kokanee. Seattle is a crazy place with a Hollywood star and a bunch of rowdy animators on the loose.

So in short, it was just a normal week for animation.

Lorraine McLees' Largely True Tales

Just busywork this week - but lots and lots of it. I'm finding art book materials can double as images for the manual. The Brute looked pretty enough for me to take shots of though. Conceptualizing covers, marking up and approving stuff; art book, mini Warthog that comes with a Master Chief and a Marine (that looks strangely like Matt Segur)....

Ryan Hylland's Penny Dreadful

Beta, beta, beta, beta, beta update

We've been testing the update and honing our test cases for the code complete

We are now up to 22 CS testers and 4 FT testers, getting 7 more next week I think. That will be a total of 34 testers I think, and that is not including Harold or the SDET team. The army is filing into their ranks, anticipating the death march.

Michael Wu's Meandering Fable

Water and weather - we're messing with Hao's new systems for getting environmental effects in. You'd be surprised how much more complex these systems are compared to Halo 1. Earth City uses 3 types of water so far. Fortunately some of the improvements in our tools makes it easier to propagate our settings from one scenario to another. So generally one of us has to figure out the settings for a given type and then the rest of us can copy it and then tweak it until we're content.

If the lightmap farm ever crashed, we'd be sunk for a day, because that means we wouldn't have an accurate representation of our previous day's work. Unfortunately it happened this week so that set us back a bit. Zach figured out what caused the crash and put it down, so hopefully we won't crash again. At this point every hour counts.

Xbox development and our engine changes so often that if you don't keep up you'll have no choice but to wipe your dev kit and resync - a process that can take almost 2 hours. Yesterday it took 4 people to identify and fix one such dev kit in our art pit.

Somebody documented Paul Russel's Halo 1 "Michael Wu don't like it" Easter egg on the web and now you hear it in the environment art pit whenever somebody doesn't like something.

Max Hoberman's Dusty Tome

We just got CENSORED working and it's da bomb! No wait, that's a different game. But this game is going to be damn damn fun, especially for people with just a single box and no Xbox Live, but a bus load of controllers and lots of willing, friendly, yet competitive friends. And to think, we almost cut it! We also got CENSORED working earlier this week thanks to Adrian's magic coding fingers, although that game takes a larger group and larger maps to test, and everyone has been so busy with this Beta and with other looming milestones that we haven't really had time. Yes, it's possible to have too much cool stuff to do at once.

This week and last we started playing on our final two multiplayer maps. One is in some ways the wacky love child of Battle Creek and Hang 'Em High, but so much prettier than either. The other has no comparison from Halo. It's asymmetrical like Zanzibar, but big like Waterworks, and it's going to knock your socks off! Anyway, we're going to take a break on these maps and playtest them for a bit, and in the meantime Carney and Cotton are sneaking a little work in on CENSORED AND CENSORED. It's amazing what one can do with a shovel, a bottle of sun tan lotion, and perhaps a little too much time spent in the sun.

Ooh yeah, this one's good. Stefan got clan support working in the UI this week. Clangina? Or was that Clan Mangina? Whatever floats your boat, Stefan. We simplified the system a while back, but let me be the first to say that sometimes simplification is a good thing. A few quirks here and there, but overall the UI for this thing is very user friendly and very much at your fingertips. Speaking of UI, we can't forget about Dave. <looks over at Dave> Looks like he's working on what is absolutely the most boring part of our whole UI. But hey, it looks damn good, way to go Dave!

Cam's Bucolic Recollections

It's been a hectic week. Spent 3 days in London (+ 2 days traveling) meeting with the product managers for all the European subsidiaries to talk about how the global marketing plan translates into their markets. Lots of great ideas for those markets, and the global launch of Halo 2 is going to be very cool. Now that I'm back, I'm way behind on everything, which sucks since Sketch and I are headed to NYC for 3 days next week, which will put me further in the hole. However, it's exciting right now because a lot of stuff is all happening, with regards to marketing. The cinema teaser trailer starts today in 1500 Loews cinemas. The final packaging for both the metal box and the standard SKU are all nearly done. The next set of print ads is nearly complete. Most of the pre-launch POP is locked and loaded for retailers. Our global PR event calendar is looking good. A cool hardware licensing deal is moving along. There's still TONS of work to be done, but we've gotten a lot done. The hard part is carving out enough time to play the beta. "Enough" would be all day long, every day, but right now it's just a couple hours at night if my wife and kids fall asleep early. Plus being out for 5 days hurt my stats.

Until then, here's Mister Chief, expressing this week's mood in graphic form.

BWU Goatrodeo.jpg