Out of the Blue – Nameplates of Awesome

One of the hardest things to communicate to someone who doesn’t game (board, video or otherwise) is the friendships that seem to spring out of nowhere.

You can just meet someone on-line or in person, and if you have similar interests in gaming it’s easy to feel like you’ve known each other for years – such is the case with RM Bluethunder.

CurrerBell and I met him through Sal of HaloFanForLife back in the days of Reach and he’s been a regular presence in our games ever since – especially Snipers!

But he’s done more than just bring his ridiculously positive K/D ratio to our teams – he’s also given us what can only be described as the greatest use of Mega Bloks this side of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn:

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(Photography provided by CurrerBell)

Blue went to the New York Comic-Con back in 2012 and attended a Mega Bloks party where he scored some sweet sets, not to mention a few extra pieces.

It’s these pieces that he put to the good use of recreating our gamertags in tiny right-angled form.

These fantastic builds arrived (along with a few extra figures) and Currer and I were blown away – the time he put in building these, and the fact that he would ship them to us on his own dime … awesome, just awesome.

This post is woefully overdue, but CurrerBell and I are glad to finally give a big fat public

THANK YOU

to

Blue!

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The Squad is your Life – Longo joins 343

Some exciting news I found over at Sal’s site (HaloFanForLife) – 343 Industries has a new Creative Director, and his name is Tim Longo (Jr.).

That’s right – the Tim Longo.

What? Never heard of him you say? Well, neither had I. But it turns out I have enjoyed some of his work…

Delta Squad

Previously he was Creative Director of a little game called Star Wars: Republic Commando which was (in my opinion) one of the best Star Wars games ever made – not only because its story was so well done but it was a good FPS in its own right.

The game had fantastic squad mechanic, where you could order the other members of your team to make a coordinated effort to … well, the Wikipedia entry does a better job of explaining:

The game features some gameplay elements that resemble features in other first-person shooters, including Metroid Prime, and Halo. The heads-up display (HUD) in the game resembles the Metroid Prime helmet display and the player sees the world through visor. The usage of health and recharging shields, as well as the general combat gameplay, resemble styles seen in Halo.

An unusual feature is that blood from enemies (or lubricant fluid in the case of mechanical opponents) dispatched at close quarters that will splash onto the helmet visor, can slightly obstruct vision until an energy-based “windshield wiper” cleans it off at intervals of a few seconds.

The squadmate order system allows the player general tactical control over the three NPC squadmates that round out the four-man commando team. The order system resembles a simplified version of the context-based command menus seen in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.

Many objects in the game environment will highlight when the crosshair is placed over them. The player can then press the use key to issue an order automatically associated with the object; for example, a sealed door may highlight with a synchronized team breach-and-clear command, or a computer console might give have a “slice” (computer hacking) command, while a pile of cargo boxes suitable for a cover position with good vantage may provide a “take up Sniper/Anti-Armor position” command. Where possible, the squadmates will usually take their preferred roles (sniper, demolitions and technical). The player can also order the squad to move to secure any position (wherever the crosshair is pointed), or perform search-and-destroy. Also, there are orders to command the squadmates to group up or spread out according to the player’s discretion for the situation.

Now read that again, but read it thinking about how all this goodness could be brought to the next Halo.

See what I mean?

The potential is exciting – not that the exact mechanics of Republic Commando have to make there way to Halo, but that perhaps part of the great experience that Commando offered would come to the land of Forerunners and Firefights.

(I thought it worth mentioning that Tim Longo was also Creative Director/Franchise Director on the recent Tomb Raider reboot, and while I haven’t personally played the game I’ve heard good things.)

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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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