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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HBOhio – Character Shots

It’s been a while since I posted more pics from HBOhio last April, but the recent Thanksgiving holiday has me feeling … well … thankful!

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the cast and characters that composed this play of awesome:

Thanks again to those who took the photos and made them available.

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The curse of eagerness – sorry for the old news

I wanted to apologize for my post last week about the news originally put on out PasteBin; it turns out this was already old news by the time I got to it, and most likely false news at that.

I couldn’t believe that I would be the first person to talk about this supposed “leak”, so I checked through the first couple pages of the HBO forum and when I didn’t see anything so I thought I’d go ahead and post.

But the reason I didn’t find anything was that this info was originally from earlier in the year, so everyone had already talked about it and moved on 🙂

(Many thanks to Quirel for pointing me in the direction of the original thread on HBO)

So my eagerness at getting some new possible Halo 5 news – not to mention my inability to recognize Stinkles internet meme of sacasm (“Sounds Legit“) – lead me down the dark and dangerous path of assumption and I hope this didn’t raise anyone’s spirits too high for what may or may not be included in the game.

On the positive side, the tweets by Brad Welch (lead designer at 343 Industries) were/are 100% authentic and awesome so take a gander at them if you feel so inclined.

Thanks!

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Rev’s Spike Rifle Prop. Respect.

It seems like only 3 months and 1 day since Rev brought us the latest in futuristic Halo weaponry brought to life … but now he’s done it again.

Rev's Spike Rifle

Click on the pic to see more pictures and the original HBO thread. Do it!

The Spiker happens to be one of my favorite weapons from the entire Halo universe, so saying that I love the build is an understatement.

Be sure to click the picture above to see more pics (and authentic battle damage!) on Revenant1988’s latest piece of real-world awesome.

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Rev’s AR Prop. Respect.

When Currer and I traveled down to HBOhio our host – Revenant1988 – was working on a fully functional (minus the M118 FMJ-AP rounds) UNSC Assault Rifle.

We were able to get a look at the work in progress and heard tales of how sweet it was going to turn out …

Rev Assault Rifle build

Click on the photo above to see more pics (and video) in the original HBO thread

Ladies and gentlemen, those were more than just tales – it’s done!

Click on the picture above to see the rest of the photos and video of the Assault Rifle in action, or see it featured on Waypoint.

Congrats to Rev for the feature and getting it done!

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HBOhio – Revenant’s Creations

Revenant welcomed the HBO Community into his homes, but he was prepared to defend himself should things get ugly …

Check out how the man is bringing the weaponry to the real world!

The MA5 series, collectively known as the MA5 Individual Combat Weapon System, is a series of air-cooled, gas-operated assault rifles produced by Misriah Armory. Part of the larger MA Series, the MA5 is the workhorse of the UNSC Defense Force and has been in service for more than fifty years

– Description of the  MA5 series, via Halopedia

(Looking for context? Check out the full write-up here!)

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HBOhio – small group shots

A rumba of rattlesnakes. A congress of salamanders. A gaze of raccoons.

I’m not sure what you call a group of HBOers, but here are my favorite group shots of HBOhio – enjoy!

 Once again, it is our job to finish what the flyboys started.

We are leaving this ship, platoon, and engaging the Covenant on solid ground.

When we meet the enemy, we will rip their skulls from their spines, and toss ’em away, laughin’! Am I right, Marines?

– Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson, from Halo:Combat Evolved

(Looking for context? Check out the full write-up here!)

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HBOhio – the write-up

I’ll start with thank yous, as is only right.

Rev and Jackie, for putting this on and making it incredible.

Everyone at HBOhio, Grim and Louis Wu for making it possible.

CurrerBell, for being okay with me being me … even encouraging it!

Our tale begins on a dark and stormy night, with a long kept secret that could tear a family apart …

HBOhio logo

Getting there

Actually our tale doesn’t begin there at all. It begins on a Friday afternoon (5/19/13) as myself, my better half, and our youngest all make the trip down to Columbus for HBOhio.

Considering I already live in the Buckeye State, my three-hour trip was relatively short compared to those who came from the far off lands of North Carolina and Michigan.

I had originally planned on this being a one-man trip, with Currer staying home while I was gallivanting off in our state’s capital. That changed when she expressed an interest in going, and when it was pointed out that the LAN was dangerously close to our wedding anniversary 🙂

So with both sets of parents watching the rest of our crew, the three of us headed down for good times.

They’re all going to laugh at you

After checking in at the hotel (and being told that several break-ins had occurred by guys using crowbars to steal TVs out of the rooms, followed with a “enjoy your stay!”) we drove over to HBOhio’s HQ, Rev’s place.

Driving over I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve met a completely new group of people, and a few of the old high school insecurities came back. For example – how do I act cool without desperately trying to act cool? do they know how cool I think they are? is saying “cool” even cool anymore? Questions like that.

Per usual, I was being an idiot – whatever they thought of me the group couldn’t have been nicer and I truly appreciated it. To be among a collection of colleagues who dropped more video game references than I get to hear in a year, love Halo across the board and actually knew who Trogdor is? Nice.

Hang on to you butts

We arrived around 5:00pm, about the middle of the pack with some of the group already there and more to come.

HBOhio - Jurrasic 1

After frightening away the other movie goers with deadly-accurate Raptor impressions, the entire theater was ours

Once assembled, we did what anyone in our position would do – go see a twenty-year-old movie in 3D! What film you ask? Super Mario Bros.Mrs. Doubtfire? Close but not quite – Jurassic Park, and it’s held up much better than many of the films that came out that year.

Pale Riders

Now comes the MAW run of the weekend – an entire Saturday (4/20/13) of Halo filled with prizes, food and gameplay that reached (dare I say, started at?) a level of epicness that only happens face-to-face.

Revenant brought something to the LAN that all great commanders must – a plan. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched out of your mind for an event and then it devolves into something like this:

“This is awesome!”

“I know!”

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

But this party faux pas was avoided by the man with the clipboard. Rev had it all worked out, from the order of gaming to the prizes to be won by stupendous deeds of daring do (or marks of shame, but more on that later).

Rev's clipboard

The clipboard of destiny!

Much honor to you my friend, for keeping the awesome on track!

I wanted to note that watching the Halo 2 menu loop over and over during setup would made HBOhio a success in my book, no matter what else we did – it’s been a while since I’ve played the game and it brought back great memories.

HBOhio - During the game 5

Blue Man Group

I was fortunate to have (what I thought) the best seat in the house, right next to Bluerunner in the garage with an entire half-sheet of game space all to myself. It could be argued that team “Danger Zone” in the rooms upstairs had the sweeter spot as everyone had their own screen, but the ability to stretch and the lack of heated man-smell gives our garage-group the advantage I think.

HBOhio - During the game 2

Most pose after, others during

(While the garage wins on comfort, Danger Zone emerged victorious on the win/lose ratio. Next time Gadget … )

HBOhio - During the game 4

The back …

So with projectors humming and heads held high we played through a plethora of Halo 2 and Halo 3 maps and modes. Containment, Bomb, Territories, Avalanche, Capture the Flag, Sand Trap, Lava Lake – the list goes on.

HBOhio - During the game 3

… and the front

Without a montage there’s no way to convey the good times so I’m not even going to try, but it was fantastic to have that Halo: Combat Evolved LAN feeling where the guy that just took you out (or vice versa) was right next to you.

Stories with a side of BBQ

After the morning carnage it was time to fuel up at City Barbeque for lunch. There was a lot of local color on the walls, with the barbeque sauce labeled “Blazing Rectums” as the standout. (Kids, I wouldn’t Google that one if I were you.)

HBOhio - BBQ 1

Burning orifices aside, the food was fantastic. In addition to stuffing our faces Rev had us go around the table and give a brief history of how everyone got there, history with Halo, etc. It was great to hear everyone’s story and be reminded that while many of us enjoy the franchise for different reasons, at the end of the day that translates into getting together with friends and having a blast.

Schwag Bag

Something important was just left out of the preceding paragraph; yes, our love of Halo translates into having a blast with friends – but at HBOhio it also translates into getting awesome stuff!

Shortly after lunch Revenant handed out the goodie bags and talk about a freakin’ amazing bonus – not only do we get to hang out and play Halo all day, but we get schwag?!? I feel bad for the holidays left in the year – they just became the wannabe highlights of 2013.

HBOhio - Prizes 2

Schwag included:

  • 6 Halo decals – not for the face!
  • 3 Xbox 360 codes provided by BS Angel (a Halo 4 Campaign background, Watcher avatar prop and Halo 4 picture pack) – you can haz!
  • HBO button – pin sharpened to a diamond’s edge!
  • ONI Patch – they don’t officially exist!
  • Blamite –just like Mom used to make!
  • Mystery Megablok Halo figure – tiny and mysterious!
  • German candy – Danke!
  • Personalized Legendary Patch – read those words again, and weep you don’t have one!

Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this treasure chest of goodness – a HUGE thank you to all who made it possible!

But these items weren’t the only thing we could take home – there were prizes to be won throughout the LAN. The pictures below don’t do the amount of stuff there was justice (or the feeling I had of wanting to grab everything and make a run for it), but I can tell you there was a great haul to be had with bits and pieces sent from all over.

HBOhio Prizes 1

Warning: staring at the magical table of schwag may cause temporary blindness

I was fortunate to “win” the first prize – a set of CQC Kontrol Freaks (the mark of shame I mentioned earlier). I came in last place in a Halo 2 game of Swords ‘n’ Shotguns.

But the joke’s on you my friends – I was already using a pair when I tanked the match! Your effort to improve my game is futile! (maniacal laughter)

Covies won’t know what hit’em

Right … where was I? Maniacal laughter. No, after that. Yes! We rounded out Saturday (4/20/13) with some more unusual Halo 3 game types (Rocket Race, Dragon Slayer, etc.) and what for me was the highlight of the trip gameplay wise – an ODST Firefight throw down!

Three teams of four competed for pride, glory, and a set of MegaBlok ODST drop pods. I go into a more detail in this post, but this mini-tournament sums up all the best parts of what a LAN can be – intense team-based action where having the players in the same room really makes a difference.

Our team (SIX min WHISTLE, Kermit7, BlueRunner and myself) came in second place and the Covenant will think twice before attacking Crater again. Hoo-rah!

Walking Away

And that’s the high note HBOhio ended on for me – after wolfing down some excellent pizza and taking one last grab from the M&Ms bowl (which they kept filling from a feedbag somewhere – seriously, how can you keep it full with over fifteen people grabbing from it all day? It was nothing short of a miracle) Currer and I headed out.

HBOhio - Leaving group shots 1

Defiant to the end

I feel like this write-up didn’t capture half of the awesome that went on (not to mention Sunday and Monday), but I hope it conveys what an incredible time I had and how grateful I am to Rev and Jackie for hosting.

Until the next one!

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