Back in the Saddle

Has it really been two months since our last update? For shame! We’ll have to get back into the swing of things and correct that. Expect a Late to the Party review of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood soon (TM), as well as the eventual return of Week in Miscellanea and the other stuff you love.

In the meantime, here’s some interesting Halo: Reach news. As we discussed a while back, Bungie won’t be making any more Halo games for the foreseeable future, moving on as they are to a new IP with their new publishing pal, Activision. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t planning to support their swan-song to the Halo series, however – and they’re turning to the community to help them.

First up, the recently-concluded Forgetacular contest, in which players were invited to create maps and submit them for inclusion in Reach‘s official playlists: 3,000 entries later, the winners have been announced and they (along with the top-tier runners-up) will soon be available in matchmaking. A couple of the top entries are below, and you can see all the winners here.

Atonement (CTF)

Abridged (BTB)

On top of that, several of the more involved and active community members have been empowered to seek out new maps and bring them to the attention of Bungie for possible inclusion in future playlist updates. Personally, I think it’s enormously clever of Bungie to leverage the the player base in this way. Forge is a very powerful tool and giving people this kind of incentive is sure to generate all sorts of exciting results.

In related news, the player viewer has finally updated. No longer is your in-game persona represented by a default Noble Six – your individual style is now reflected for all to see. Check out the in-game avatars of some of our O514 regulars:

Tanith 6227





Molotov 00


Aww yeah – we make this look good.

(If you haven’t logged in for a while, do so to update your profile.)


Forge 2.0: Forge Harder

Halo: Reach hits stores on September 14th, and in addition to a new campaign and more of the frantic multiplayer action we’ve come to expect, Bungie is also building on the Forge map editor that they introduced in Halo 3. We here at O514 haven’t done much Forging, but we might just have to give it a try now that there are improved controls and better tools.

 The new Forge isn’t just easier to use; it also includes an expanded palette of parts and pieces for map builders to play with.

 In classic Halo style, there will be a few remakes of old favourites, and Bungie knew just where to start:

 But what do they mean, “outside the canyon”? It turns out that in addition to all the multiplayer maps that will be available for editing, Bungie has also created a truly massive sandbox area for people to build and play in. The canyon represents about 20% of this ForgeWorld.

 The big reveal was at SDCC:

ForgeWorld started out as several distinct and separate areas that were eventually put together to create a single enormous world for people to build and play in. The five original maps have become marquee areas of ForgeWorld, such as the Rock (the island in the background is another marquee area, big enough for “Sidewinder” or “Avalanche”-type maps):


 It may not look like much right now, but with a bit of plywood and a fresh coat of paint, I bet we could turn it into something great.

 Look familiar?

Of course, you won’t be limited to only building in the marquee spots. You’ll be able to create maps anywhere you like. Thanks to new tools, you can fix objects in space or ‘phase’ them into each other. Want to channel Tribes and make all your structures float 500 feet in the air? No problem. Would you prefer a series of platforms jutting out of a cliff face? You can do that, too. And unlike “Foundry” and “Sandbox” (the current ‘blank slate’ maps) it’s no longer necessary to carefully box in your play area to keep people from getting to places they shouldn’t be: ForgeWorld allows you to define the boundaries of your map; players that wander out of bounds can either be given 10 seconds to get back to the play area, or be killed outright.

 One of the Bungie guys is trying his hand at ForgeWorld and is chronicling his progress. Check out the evolution of his map, “Riptide” over several days:

The glowing red dudes are spawn points and demonstrate the size of a Spartan on the map.

Maybe this is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to finally recreate some maps of ages past: “Prisoner”, “Boarding Action”, “Hang ‘Em High”?

Bungie + Activision: BFFs 4 Eva

Game developer Bungie LLC, who have made a few games you may have heard of, announced yesterday that they have signed an exclusive 10-year publishing and distribution agreement with Activision. Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 2000, but split from the hardware/software giant in 2007 to become a privately-owned company, which it remains under the new deal with Activision. Among other things, this means that the age of Xbox-exclusive Bungie games is essentially over. A new intellectual property is in the works, and Activision will be publishing it across all platforms.

Here’s the press release:

Kirkland, WA and Santa Monica, CA — April 29, 2010 — Bungie, the developer of blockbuster game franchises including Halo, Myth and Marathon, and Activision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, the #1 online games publisher (Nasdaq: ATVI), announced today that they have entered into an exclusive 10-year partnership to bring Bungie’s next big action game universe to market. Under the terms of the agreement, Activision will have exclusive, worldwide rights to publish and distribute all future Bungie games based on the new intellectual property on multiple platforms and devices. Bungie remains an independent company and will continue to own their intellectual property. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The groundbreaking alliance will provide Bungie its first such partnership since splitting off from Microsoft in 2007, significantly broadening its global reach by providing the resources and support to develop, distribute and release games worldwide on multiple platforms and devices.

Activision will broaden its portfolio with a new franchise from one of the industry’s most creative, successful and proven studios, whose games have sold more than 25 million units worldwide. To date, Bungie’s Halo games have generated approximately $1.5 billion in revenues, according to The NPD Group, Charttrack and GfK. Activision expects this agreement to be accretive to its operating margins as of the release of the first game.

“We chose to partner with Activision on our next IP because of their global reach, multi-platform experience and marketing expertise,” said Harold Ryan, President of Bungie. “From working together over the past nine months on this agreement, it is clear that Activision supports our commitment to giving our fans the best possible gaming experiences.”

“Bungie is one of the premier studios in our industry and we are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with their talented team over the next decade,” stated Thomas Tippl, Chief Operating Officer of Activision Blizzard. “Bungie has developed some of the most compelling and successful games, multiplayer experiences and thriving fan communities, and this alliance underscores our long-standing commitment to foster the industry’s best creative talent. Our unprecedented partnership with Bungie will enable us to broaden our pipeline of exciting new games as we continue to strengthen our industry position and pursue long-term growth opportunities.”

Joe Statten and Brian Jarrard sat down with fan site HBO to talk about the deal. The interview starts off pretty silly, but there may be some interesting info buried in there.