Halo @ E3 2014 – general reactions

The stars aligned this afternoon and I was able to sit down and watch the entire Microsoft E3 2014 Media Briefing live from the comfort of my own home.

The kids were told to play outside, so that meant the room was mine alone. Currerbell1847 was close by, as I had the directive to tell her “when something Halo” came on.

Ladies and gentlemen something Halo did come on, and with Continue reading →

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Halo 5 / Halo Xbox One – 1st concept art

I’m sure many of you have already seen it, but why not take another look – here is the first official piece of concept art for Halo 5/Halo Xbox One as done by their newly promoted Senior Art Director, Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier:

Click for larger size

Click for larger size

The original posting of this piece was on Waypoint, and Josh Holmes described it as, “an early exploration of a new location that features prominently in a little game project we’re tinkering with….”

Where is it? Have we been there before? A rebuilt world after the war?

The setting looks very Skyline to me; I’m not saying that’s where it’s at, just that it looks similar to that map located on the colony world of Cascade.

And what’s the curved structure towards the bottom-right that looks a little Covenant-ish? A jointly governed world perhaps, or at least a station where both sides have a presence?

Crazy to think about what’s to come … !

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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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War Games – upcoming playlists

You may (or may not) have missed the War Games calendar posted in last week’s bulletin, so for your benefit – and the fact that I don’t want to hunt for it again either – here’s what’s upcoming (click on the calendar for a larger size):

Click for a bigger shot

Click for a bigger shot

“Race” is the current featured playlist, with “Rocket Race” next week.

My magic day is January 20th of the new year – that’s when the lists start to go my way:

  • Team DLC – I always love playing the newer maps
  • Heavies – Loved it in Reach (in spurts, mind you), so I’m interested to see how it plays out in Halo 4
  • Big Rumble – I’m assuming this is a sixteen player free-for-all, and the sheer craziness sounds good to me
  • Extraction – I’m a big fan of this game type so seeing more of it is welcome
  • Squad DLC – Did I mention I love playing on the newer maps? I think I did

Since Big Team Battle has been the most popular playlist on Halo 4, it makes sense that BTB playlists would be – wait for it – a big deal.

Big Team Battle is still my favorite game type in Halo multiplayer, so it’s great to see them expanding what it means to play with a large group in the space.

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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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Composing the Dawn

Earlier this month Waypoint released an interview with the composer of the original score for Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Nathan Lanier.

If I enjoy the content, I’m always happy to get more context on how it came together – and this interview does just that.

So let’s take a closer look at some of the words I particularly enjoyed that came out of Mr. Lanier’s face, shall we?

The most important element of my preparation is getting inspired – reading the script, discussions about the characters, the drama of the story, and seeing the early visual sketches and edits

This has to be one of the best part of any project, before the real work starts. You take it all in, get pumped, and attempt to plan out how you’re going to be a part of making something that’s going to entertain people.

Nathan also mentioned how he’s “… spent many hours playing the Halo games over the years”, so as a fellow fan it’s great to see someone who’s spent time in the universe get a chance to put their own stamp on it.

… but what really got me excited was the emotional honesty and gritty reality of what is basically a coming of age drama. The core of a great sci-fi story has to be rooted in the profundity of the human condition and the universal struggles therein

One of the strengths of Forward Unto Dawn is how real it feels – you get a sense of it being lived in, that the environments in the live-action web series have been around for a while. I think that is part of the “emotional honesty and gritty reality” of the series Lanier spoke of.

It was interesting that while he was thrilled about the project being Halo, it was the human condition that “really got him excited.”

In most sci-fi franchises the futuristic setting is fantastic – but the relatable struggles the characters go through are what really keep us invested, and that seems to be the case for the composer as well.

After reading the script, one of the first challenges was to come up with a theme for the main character, UNSC Cadet Lasky … The first thing that came to mind was Tchaikovsky’s “Fantasy Overture” from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. There is something so foreboding and haunting about the opening woodwind chord progression in this piece that really spoke to me

This was one of several specific musical influences Nathan mentioned, another being Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”.

I love hearing the influence and inspiration of where music comes from, and the classical roots made it all the more powerful for me (click on the song titles to listen).

Much like the rich universe that supported the storytelling of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, melodies and movements emerge from the past to enhance the score and bring the viewer that much more into the fictional world.

Pretty wild to think about two 19th century composers having an influence on how I experience Halo.

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I’d say everything worked out perfectly for everyone

Episode 8 – “Moment of Truth” – of Playtime Season 4 is here, and the adventures of Warren and Cobra find their end.

There are a couple of places you can go (Waypoint for one) to find the eighth and final episode, but the link to the official Playtime website is here.

playtime-s4-poster_text1

This was a great finale and a good send off for a characters – I laughed out loud when Warren had his final “confrontation” with Andrew 😀

Definitely click on the link or poster and watch!

Modcast Bulletin (Ep. 4)

This Modcast was originally broadcast on 11.10.11

The Modcasts keep humming right along and this one has to be my favorite yet – great discussion, good points/quotes, and all with the anticipation of Halo Anniversary mixed right in!

Thankfully we now have our hands on said title, but travel back in time with me as I hit the highs (and lows? 🙂 ) of Modcast Delta!

Appreciated Points:

Level “343 Guilty Spark”– The Jenkins recording was eerie, and “nailed the sense of Continue reading →

Modcast Bulletin (Ep. 2)

Originally posted this in the Halo Waypoint forums, but put it below for my own record as well.

If you haven’t heard the Modcast yet – what’s wrong with you? Don’t worry – all will be well when you head over here.

This was the second Halo Waypoint Community Modcast, broadcast on 10.22.11.

Thank you to all those who put the second Modcast together; it was great to hear everyone (seven total … coincidence?) and put some faces … er … voices to the names we get to see around here.

I said it for the last Modcast and it’s worth saying again here – love the vibe.

Here’s what I thought, broken down Continue reading →

Modcast Bulletin (Ep. 1)

I originally posted this in the Halo Waypoint forums (see it here), but put it below for my own record as well.

If you haven’t heard the Modcast yet – what’s wrong with you? Don’t worry – all will be well when you head over here.

This was the first Halo Waypoint Community Modcast, broadcast on 10.8.11.

First things first – thank you to CruelLEGACEY, GrimBrother One and SirPwn4g3 for putting the Modcast together. Appreciate the time put into it. Continue reading →