Much is afoot in the Halo universe

2014 is here and much is afoot in the Halo universe

– Josh Holmes, Executive Producer at 343 Industries

The post title and above quote are taken from a recent post on Halo Waypoint by Josh Holmes, former Creative Director and now Executive Producer at 343 Industries.

It was the first sentence of his post and set the stage for the changes he went on to talk about that have taken place at the company as well as dropping vague mentionings about the next (major) Halo game.

While I had already mentioned about Tim Longo’s hiring last month, there are some other tidings to share:

  • Kenneth Scott is stepping down from his position of Senior Art Director, and Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier is taking his place; Mr. Scott will still be involved with the studio as a Visual Design Consultant
  • While you never like to lose people, the idea that Sparth is taking over is great news. I really enjoyed the art direction of Halo 4, so the fact that someone who had a large hand in that not only makes sense but means good things are in store.
  • Mr. Bouvier’s style has always been fantastic (the covers of the “Forerunner Trilogy” come to mind), but if you need proof please head to his personal tumblr account here.
  • Kiki Wolfkill is currently “… developing exciting new stories, experiences and technologies that will transform the way that you experience Halo.”

Which means nothing at this point, since we have no clue what he’s referring to. However, new game hype is best served in small bites, and I think this qualifies. Delicious!

The last personnel change I’ll mention comes not from Waypoint but courtesy of (who else?) HBO and it has to do with Bungie alumni, “Destiny” creator and author of Contact Harvest – Joe Staten.

While he’s not a part of 343i, he is now Senior Creative Director for Microsoft Studios.

To put in another way, the guy who knows how to build fantastic worlds/tell great stories/conquer the planet in now in charge of making things cool over at Microsoft. YES!

While I didn’t doubt it before, I’m more confident than ever that good things are going on and will continue to do so in the Halo universe.

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Engineers/Huragok

[I] Random Slipspace Trajectory

[I] Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 64

Unlike other species in the Covenant, Engineers are not organic, but a composition of nanomechanical substances that look and function like organic material

I often forget that Engineers are not part of the natural world but created artificially through construction and technology. In this way they mirror the UNSC’s AI’s – artificial life forms created to serve others.

They were “…collected from M-series Forerunner facilities by the Prophets prior to the establishment of the Covenant.”

I wonder what the story is there. When did the San ‘Shyuum “collect” the Engineers, and how was this accomplished? The assumption would be that the Prophets took advantage of yet another race in their acquisition of the Huragok, but the details of how this was accomplished have not been established.

Engineers also were tasked to help the Covenant with “…the exploration of Forerunner artifacts and the secured transmission of data from one location to another.”

How odd it must have been for the Prophets (assuming they knew where the Huragok came from) to have the same servants as the gods they worshiped!

Huragok (side view)

The “Facticius indoles” in motion

Their height ranges between 5 feet 11 inches to 8 feet 2 inches (180cm to 248 cm). When I see the Engineers floating above me in the game I don’t think of them as being as big as me, let alone bigger, so it’s something to keep in mind.

Has anyone else noticed how Flood-like the air sacs are? I’m sure it was a “let’s use the same texture as the Flood growth pod to save on space” game design decision, but it still creeped me out a little when I noticed it.

“Engineers are named by their parents according to their initial buoyancy when the reproduction process is complete.” Lighter Than Some is my token Huragok from Contact Harvest, and he’s who I go to when I think of your average floating handyman.

Just once I’d like to hear of an Engineer who was a little on the heavier side though; Dead Weight, Like A Rock, or how about Sinks Like A Stone? Someday perhaps.

Their species latin designation is “Facticius indoles” which translates to “artificial character.” But if you’re looking to sport the latest in alien-themed bumper stickers, I’d go with the Latin – everything is more epic in latin.

Ego sum ​​recte?

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Falling Dominoes – from bruce to Bear

Sometimes you can follow an event in the Halo Community like falling dominions – each action leads to another, and another, and in the end you have a bunch of dominoes.

Wait, no. You have something awesome, that’s what you have! Here are the actions in this case:

Postmortem calls for fans’ renditions of the Forerunner Capital

Sword and Shield

thebruce0 answers said call

Sword and Shield

PM points out to the illustrious Mr. Bear that there is a freakin’ sweet illustration he should check out

Sword and Shield

Greg Bear agrees – freakin’ sweet indeed

(If you haven’t checked out Postmortem’s Visualizing the Halo Universe, head over there. He’s now on Round 14 and it’s great to see how other fans picture these fantastic settings and characters.)

Like I said earlier, you have something awesome – a great trail of creativity and communication that’s connected fans with those who’ve directly shaped the universe.

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Bringing the Wonder – Halo 5 E3 2013 Teaser

As if having E3 2013 in full swing wasn’t enough, we were treated to a glimpse of the (possible) next installment of the Reclaimer Trilogy yesterday with the release of a teaser trailer at the Halo Xbox One E3 Media Brief.

There’s nothing like a Halo announcement video – it cuts to the core of every fan and brings the wonder factor every time.

But besides making my eyes twinkle with wonder, what else is going on in the trailer? Let’s ask some questions and let the speculation run wild!

Halo 5 teaser_2

Who? – There are three players in this mini-drama that we can identify – the Chief, Cortana (not actually present but a big part of the scene) and a (presumably) Forerunner machine which I will call “Stan.”

Stan makes quite the entrance, with the “wings” coming open being a particularly spectacular moment.

Since I saw the trailer on the link that labeled it as Halo, I figured that was the Master Chief trekking across a very mysterious (and very windy) desert. Did anyone see the trailer without knowing it was him? I think it would have made the entire sequence even better – the shock of finding out who the solitary wanderer was.

Halo 5 teaser_3

What? – So what the heck are we actually looking at? In the past Halo reveals have told a slightly different narrative than what actually happens in the game, so I’m expecting that to continue here – meaning while a similar scene may happen in-game it probably will have some variation throughout.

This could also be something that doesn’t take place in the next game at all, or at least we don’t see it take place.

What exactly does John-117 hold out in his hand? Is that the last chip that Cortana had been present on? (As a side note, wasn’t that chip vaporized by the Didact in the last level of Halo 4, “Midnight”?) Is there a trace of her still on that piece of equipment, or it is something to remind Chief of where he’s been/what he’s still fighting for?

Is Stan really a piece of Forerunner tech? Is there another power in in the galaxy that our hero now has to contend with? (I believe it is Forerunner, but I suppose there’s no way to be absolutely sure about anything at this point.)

What has the Master Chief been doing up until now? Is this the longest debrief is UNSC history?

What are the shadows that float across the ground during the logo shot at the end – possible a hint at a ship (or ships)?

Halo 5 teaser_4

Where? – Obviously it’s in a desert, but where at? The rock formations (the tall, thick spikes) that we see in the background right before Stan rises up reminded me of the Reach firefight map of Unearthed. I don’t believe this trailer takes place on Reach, but it was a neat connection.

The planet (or moon) in the background might give us a clue – is it a natural formation? It looked vaguely like it could be Forerunner made, but I don’t think so.

Where did the Forerunner machine come from? Was it (likely) placed in this location long ago, or is the desert its place of origin?

When? – Does this scene take place during the next game? Perhaps as a flashback? I would like to see the game just drop you somewhere without any explanation, and then have cut scenes like this one bring you up to speed as the game progresses; kind of a “reaction/action” thing.

When did Chief make the decision to come to this place? Was his hand forced?

Halo 5 teaser_5

Why? – It’s the obvious first question but I’ll ask it; why is the Master Chief here?

The way the Spartan just stands there as Stan rises from the ground makes it seem as if he’s expecting him, or at least was looking for him.

Could this have anything to do with the alteration the Librarian gave to John-117’s genetic code from Halo 4? Is Chief on a journey planned by her, like Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting so long before?

Why is the Chief’s visor cracked? Is that purely symbolic of his broken state? If so, that’s the good throwback to the opening cinematic of Halo 4 where the ONI operative refers to John-117 as “broken.”

Then again, maybe he just took a hammer to the face in the latest Grifball tournament on the Infinity. Who knows?

Halo 5 teaser

ADDENDUM: [approx. 1:00am EST] After I had already made this post I finished up some games with Sal from Halofanforlife (HFFL) and he had a theory about who the Forerunner construct (Stan) might actually be – Mendicant Bias! (He goes deeper into the theory in this post.)

This idea does make sense – with Mendicant being sealed below the Ark in the extra audio of Silentium (see Sal’s post for more on that), and the location in the trailer looking very much like the surface of the Ark in Halo 3, you have two good points as to who exactly spreads their wings in the trailer.

The (Lesser) Ark was destroyed at the end of Halo 3 – but could a part of it have survived?

Would Mendicant be a friend or foe? Is that who rises to greet Master Chief?

Whatever the case, exciting times are ahead – and I’m really looking forward to having these questions answered … and asking more.

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