Post news RSS Bungie Weekly Update: 06/19/09

Even though I stumbled around like a clumsy oaf with a gut like a hairy slab of ham last week, letting all my American friends know that Sgt. Johnson would be packed in as a Halo 3: ODST pre-order bonus, hopefully it’s now been made clear that yes, no matter where you happen to plant your own national flag, you’re probably going to be able to pick up Sgt. Johnson as a pre-order bonus for Halo 3: ODST, even if you don’t call the US of A home.

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Why am I still saying “probably?” Rounding up information on each and every participating retailer worldwide would be a daunting, monumental task. And I’m super lazy. As a result, I’m working from the list supplied straight from our publisher. It should cover a great deal of folks who are interested.

If your favorite local boutique isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean that Bungie is comprised of xenophobic jerks who don’t wish to have our wares pre-ordered early from shops in Vaduz (or anywhere else). It may just mean that you need to give the store of your choosing a ring before you invest your hard-earned Dollars/Euros/Bat/Zenny/Doubloons to make sure they plan on slapping Johnson inside the box for you. Same goes for any shipping questions you may have.

For now, here’s the current list of awesome shops we’ve cribbed from yesterday’s early morning Johnson blast that are 100% confirmed in on the bonus offer:

  • France: GAME, FNAC, JV&Co, Virgin, Amazon, Pixmania, Cdiscount, Rue du Commerce
  • Germany: Amazon and Gamestop
  • Italy: Gamestop
  • UK: Game, Gamestation, Amazon, Play

There was also a question as to when you would be getting your hands on something tangible to show for your early enlistment. The pre-order bonus will be handed out on September 22nd as you pick up your copy of Halo 3: ODST (or when it’s delivered to your mailbox). If you pre-ordered before you knew about the bonus offer, as long as the retailer you chose is participating you should be good to go. Again, if you’re concerned about the details, get in touch with the retailer. They’ll gladly fill you in with all the gory details.

We can also clear up some confusion about a reported ten day Amazon delay. The code to redeem Sgt. Johnson will be packed right in with your copy of Halo 3: ODST should you decide to preorder from them online. As far as we understand it, you won’t have to wait for a second, delayed mailing to meet up online with your friends for a four-man Johnson romp over Xbox LIVE.

At the end of the day - we just make the games (and hope you buy them). We don't sell them. So please contact your friendly neighborhood game store for all of your questions or concerns regarding your Johnson or ODST.

Got it? Good.

Q. Hey, did you sneak in a new, never-before seen cooperative Firefight mission into the Johnson blast yesterday that looks super awesome and will be tons of fun to play for hours on end with up to four players over Xbox LIVE and System Link!?

A. Yup.

And as if images of Johnson tearing it up on a new Firefight mission isn’t enough for one week, here’s a little taste of some of the brand new first person combat dialogue David Scully laid down just for Halo 3: ODST's Firefight. (Each ODST has unique first person dialog.)

Mmm, tastes like badass.

Heads Up
Staying on the Johnson tip, yesterday our forums generated a query concerning the fictional accuracy surrounding Sgt. Johnson’s lack of one particular accoutrement in Halo 3: ODST. Since I don’t know spit about squat, I managed to rope in Bungie’s keeper of the Halo Bible and guy who almost always seems to have something on his screen that will make you question your very will to live, Robt McLees. You’ve got question, he’s got answer.

Q. Wait a second! How will Johnson use VISR-mode? He doesn’t even have a helmet!

A. It’s a -blam!- video game.

Moving on.

Bungie Day Just Days Away

Eighteen days to be exact.

The seventh of July is just around the corner and you should go right ahead and mark your calendar whether you have it hanging on a nail in the kitchen or keep all your meetings on a digital device (like your fingers). Either way, take a minute to clear out any other meetings you've scheduled. If you’re working, call in sick. Got a big anniversary coming up? You don’t need to be tied down anyway. School? Well, actually, you should stay in school, kids (and adults who have returned to college after a break because sometimes life gets in the way and really, would you be learning as much as you are now had you taken these classes when you were fresh out of high school anyway?).

Where was I? Oh yeah, Bungie Day!

I’m not going to uncover all the amazing details for you today, but I will leave you with these three mind-blowing and 100% factual factoids:

  1. Shishka
  2. Ballerina Outfit
  3. Webcam

And it only gets better from there. You definitely won’t want to miss out this year. Stay Tuned for more details.

Crater (Night)

Fight in Dare's sunken crash-site.

Last week we walked you through the well lit zone of secureness we call Security Zone. This week we’re looking at the dark depression that goes by the name Crater (Night). While we do have a more tactical Q&A with designer Paul Bertone cooked up and ready to serve below, I figured I’d give you my own assessment first. Save the best for last and all that.

Special note: you may find that the following “analysis” will not correspond with your own experience. If you typically employ the term “skill” when describing your own Halo play, there will undoubtedly be a few discrepancies betwixt your experience and mine.

Crater (Night) is fairly compact and multilayered, but the first foreshortened view a player gets comes inside a small, well-lit room. If you’re like me, there’s no need to make much note of the initial surrounds— you’ll be spending a little bit of time here, returning often to respawn (or to steal the lion’s share of medpacks from the unsuspecting suckers on your squad).

The first casualty of war was apparently Stanley Steamer

The door will open automatically, gently leading you into a dim interior hallway – a staging area with a few weapons loaded into racks lit by emergency lights. Once you’re ready, step outside.

The first thing you’ll notice about Crater (Night) is that it lives up to the name. When you and your squad step out onto the courtyard terrace, the sun has already set on this sunken courtyard. Switch your VISR on to take advantage of its low-light enhancing optics and get a better view.

You should also note that there’s some cover you can take advantage of on this small, exterior overhang you’re standing on - a pair of industrial crates and two large columns. Just ahead, a decorative planter can provide just enough of a barrier to shield you from the enemy fire that will soon volley up from below should you decide to, I don’t know, squat in the relative safety of the foliage while your teammates attempt to keep the encroaching Covenant forces at bay.

But the planter isn’t only good for its scant spot of cover. Amidst the flora you’ll also find an emplaced turret. If for some reason you’re pretty certain that you’re going to be outscored by the rest of your squad, you can rip it free straight away and try to rack up as many kills as you can in the early goings. Yeah, leaving it intact will afford you much more ammo, but this isn’t about logistics, it’s about mowing down Grunts. Pay no attention to the fact that the rest of your crew is landing easy headshots from long range and conserving ammo for the big kills. The turret makes a lot of noise. You are helping.

Click to Zoom

Plenty of players choose to make their stand up here on this perch. It’s not quite the loftiest vantage point on the map, but it does proved a clear view of Covenant Phantoms as they deploy troops into the courtyard below and onto the upper tiers on the far side of the map. Coordinated squads will be able to scout out enemy forces as they advance, utilize the weapons cache back inside the building, and weave in and out of cover as necessary.

Uncoordinated components of said squad will be able to cower in the hallway, hunker down in the planter, and scurry around the crates and pillars should anything larger than a Jackal happen to make it up to the landing. If they’re extra lucky, maybe they’ll be able to steal a few kills by haphazardly spraying SMG fire and throwing ill-advised grenades into the fracas. (I totally didn’t see you guys!)

Mouse to Make Big

When you are forced to vacate, I find the quickest route is dead ahead. (You can take the stairs on either side, but most of the time, you gotta wade through bad guys if you take that route.) Jump down into the courtyard if you need some more breathing room, but make sure you’re not leaping into a pack of Brutes. Once you’re on the ground floor, you’ll be far more exposed to Phantom fire and any enemies that spot you are bound to tear you to shreds out in the open. I find it’s best to hit the ground running.

I also find that a nice, unintelligible, falsetto shriek lets the rest of your squad know that you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of trouble and might need them to lay down some cover fire as you scramble back to safety (or get mowed down and suck up yet another one of your team’s pooled lives).

Hyperlink to Enhugen

To help us wade through a little bit more of Crater (Night), Paul Bertone is prepared to drop in and tackle a handful of questions. See what I did with the whole catch phrase and all that? Yeah, I’m not too clever. Good thing Paul is. As Design Director for Halo 3: ODST he knows Firefight and Crater (Night) just as well as anyone. And while he’s not willing to give up all of his secrets just yet, he’s more than willing to talk a little bit about some of the design elements and give you an early, inside look at Crater (Night).

Q. Last week Lars held our hands and took us on a gentle guided tour through Security Zone. This week we’re poking around Crater (Night). What are some of the more obvious differences between these two Firefight missions?

A. Crater (Night) is one of the smaller Firefight maps. The biggest difference is the Covenant are not only inserted via Phantoms. Waves will randomly spawn from either Phantoms or the strategically placed "monster closets." This keeps the action pretty intense.

Q. It seems the perch outside the initial spawn is a pretty sweet place to hold out. Can players expect to spend set after set up there safely keeping the Covenant assault at bay? What kind of nefarious schemes did you employ to nudge them out of the roost?

A. I would use the term "safe" very lightly when applied to Firefight. There are no safe zones or hiding spots. We built every map with at least one area where players would have an advantage, but the Covenant are given free rein to hunt you down and exterminate you. There will be plenty of opportunities to vacate the premises though. It's a pretty tight fit when there's a Hunter or Chieftain up there and buggers and jetpack Brutes don't care much for funneling themselves nicely up the stairs.

As for "nefarious schemes"... designers never share their secrets. :-)

Q. Once a player takes flight and lands in the central courtyard, they’re going to find that it’s a bit of a no man’s land. The result is this really cool ebb and flow between relative safety and the threat of imminent death. Is that something you intentionally cultivated in Crater (Night) and if so, how did you balance the two contrasting elements?

A. The center area is a great place to go at the end of a wave when you need to re-equip yourself. There are always plenty of grenades and plasma weapons out there. It is most definitely NOT the place to be at the beginning or in the middle of a wave. It's pretty much home base for the Covenant. And things really heat up in round two when Catch turns on and Brutes and Grunts start fast-balling grenades up to the "perch."

The ebb and flow between relative safety and the threat of death is a key component of Firefight. We spent a lot of time balancing the experience so players are always right on the verge of annihilation. Lives awarded for set completion, the progression of skulls, the number Covenant per wave and the make-up of that wave are just some of the knobs we turned to fine tune the experience.

Q. Any super secret stuff on the map that we can’t talk about yet that will alter the way players will approach combat? Doesn’t the parenthetical “Night” suggest that there is, in fact, a Crater somewhere that exists at some other time-of-day?

A. Yes and yes. :-)


Some of our guys also stumbled across a fan-made version of Crater (Night), whipped up using Forge on Halo 3's Sandbox. It's not an exact to-the-pixel replica, but we thought it was pretty sweet. Check it.

Crater (Sandy)

If you want to take it for a spin, hit the jump below and queue it up for download. - Crater (Night)

Render-To-Video Beta In the Crosshairs

The Wolf is on the prowl again. He dropped by the community pod earlier today to deliver some pretty good news. Come Monday, the Render-to-Video Beta is getting a bit of an upgrade, resolving some known annoyances and yeah, adding the reticle into clips rendered after the updates goes live. In fact, the reticle fix is actually live right now, but before you ask, nope, the fixes being applied are not retroactive. The content of your old films have not been changed in any way.

In fact, the gentle nudge we gave you last week to save off any rendered films you would like to preserve has now become an imperative. Come Monday, all existing rendered videos in our collection will be DELETED. Why? The Hydra Contraption demands sacrifice.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The Wolf is slowly but surely taming the wild beast. He’s been watching...waiting...learning.

While your current collection of rendered videos will become no more on Monday, The Wolf is going to help you get started straight away testing the new tweaks by dropping some new render minutes into the mix. Oh, and he’s going to open up the public beta to all Bungie Pro Subscribers. If you snagged Bungie Pro via a Map Pack tie-in, on Monday, you be added into the Render-to-Video Beta mix.

Here’s the recap for folks who don’t read good:

  • Render-to-Video beta is being tweaked on Monday
  • SAVE YOUR FILMS NOW – they’re going to be DELETED
  • The beta is now open to all Bungie Pro subscribers
  • More minutes are on the way

Oh, and of course, The Wolf may alter this deal at any time, for any reason. Landscape Recon Challenge

The art aficionados from have made their meticulous way through the many screenshots put on display for this week’s Recon screenshot challenge and picked out the winners. The top three were awarded with framed prints for their trouble and a new suit of Recon armor. Runner ups will have to make do with Recon all by its lonesome. The rest of you, scram. You didn’t win.

But thanks for playing. As always, the submissions were notable not only for their number, but also for their quality and attention to detail. From the gang over at

“We probably could have gone with 50 winners. I think a ton of effort was put into this by the community. Not sure where these guys and gals find all of their time, but they apparently have lots of it.”

Good work.

Moar Recon?

See what I did there with the misspelling and such? Yeah. Anyway, if you’re looking for news on this weekend’s Recon contest, well, there isn’t one. We’re going to give it a rest for a short while. There’s no takehome. Your assignment is simply to play some Halo and enjoy the weekend.

Blame Stosh

Guess what? Stosh continues to find some strange stuff hidden in the darker recesses of our community files collection. Look upon it and despair. Stosh.

Bubblin' Up

We Out

That’s it for us for this week. Make sure you take some time out for yourself this weekend. Things can be hard out there and we can all use a good old dose of rest and relaxation from time to time. Oh, and if you happen to catch up with your mother over the weekend, tell her we said hello.


Lovin It!

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it's a mark 5!

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