Bungie

Bungie, Inc. is an American video game developer based in Bellevue, Washington. The company was established in May 1991 by Alex Seropian, who later brought in programmer Jason Jones after publishing Jones' game Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. Originally based in Chicago, Illinois, the company concentrated on Macintosh games during its early years and created two successful video game franchises called Marathon and Myth. An offshoot studio, Bungie West, produced Oni, published in 2001 and owned by Take-Two Interactive, which held a 19.9% ownership stake at the time.[3][4]

Microsoft acquired Bungie in 2000, and its project Halo: Combat Evolved was repurposed as a launch title for Microsoft's Xbox console. Halo became the Xbox's "killer app", selling millions of copies and spawning the Halo series. On October 5, 2007, Bungie announced that it had split from Microsoft and become a privately held independent company, Bungie LLC, while Microsoft retained ownership of the Halo franchise intellectual property. It signed a ten-year publishing deal with Activision in April 2010. Their first project was the 2014 first-person shooter, Destiny,[5] which was followed by Destiny 2 in 2017. In January 2019, Bungie announced it was ending this partnership, and would take over publishing for Destiny.[6]

Among Bungie's side projects is Bungie.net, the company's website, which includes company information, forums, and statistics-tracking and integration with many of its games. Bungie.net serves as the platform from which Bungie sells company-related merchandise out of the Bungie Store and runs other projects, including Bungie Aerospace, charitable organization the Bungie Foundation, a podcast, and online publications about game topics. The company is known for its informal and dedicated workplace culture.

Bungie, Inc.
Formerly
  • Bungie Software Products Corporation (1991–2000)
  • Bungie Studios (2000–2007)
  • Bungie, LLC (2007–2011)
Private
IndustryVideo game industry
FoundedMay 1991 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Founders
Headquarters,
U.S.[1]
Key people
  • Pete Parsons (CEO)
  • Jason Jones (CCO)
ProductsList of Bungie video games
Number of employees
~750[2] (2016)
ParentMicrosoft Game Studios (2000–2007)
Websitebungie.net

History

Background and founding (1990–1993)

In the early 1990s, Alex Seropian was pursuing a mathematics degree at the University of Chicago, as the university did not offer undergraduate degrees in computer science.[7] Seropian's first video game was a Pong clone called Gnop! (Pong spelled backwards). Seropian released Gnop! free of charge, though a few players paid Seropian for the source code.[8] Living at home shortly before graduation, his father's wishes for him to get a job convinced Seropian to start his own game company instead.[7] Seropian founded Bungie in May 1991 to publish Operation: Desert Storm.[8][9] Seropian culled funding from friends and family, assembling the game boxes and writing the disks himself.[10] Operation: Desert Storm sold 2,500 copies, and Seropian looked for another game to publish.[8]

Seropian met programmer Jason Jones in an artificial intelligence course at the University of Chicago.[8] Jones was a longtime programmer who was porting a game he wrote, called Minotaur, from an Apple II to the Apple Macintosh platform.[11] Jones recalled, "I didn't really know [Alex] in the class. I think he actually thought I was a dick because I had a fancy computer".[8] Seropian and Jones partnered to release the role-playing video game as Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete in 1992; while Jones finished the coding, Seropian handled design and publicity.[11] The game relied on then-uncommon internet modems and AppleTalk connections for play and sold around 2,500 copies,[9] and developed a devoted following.[8]

The team focused on the Macintosh platform, not Windows-based personal computers, because the Mac market was more open and Jones had been raised on the platform. While Jones was responsible for many of the creative and technical aspects, Seropian was a businessman and marketer.[10] "What I liked about [Seropian] was that he never wasted any money", Jones recalled. With no money to hire other personnel, the two assembled Minotaur boxes by hand in Seropian's apartment.[8] While the pair remained low on funds—Seropian's wife was largely supporting him—the modest success of Minotaur gave the duo enough money to develop another project.[12]

Inspired by the shooter game Wolfenstein 3D, Jones wrote a 3D game engine for the Mac.[13] Bungie's next game was intended to be a 3D port of Minotaur, but Jones and Seropian found that Minotaur's top-down perspective gameplay did not translate well to the 3D perspective, and did not want to rely on modems.[11] Instead, they developed a new storyline for the first-person shooter that became Pathways into Darkness, released in 1993. Jones did the coding, with his friend Colin Brent creating the game's art.[14] The game was a critical and commercial success, winning awards including Inside Mac Games' "Adventure Game of the Year" and Macworld's "Best Role-Playing Game".[14]

Pathways beat sales expectations and became Bungie's first commercial success.[10][15] Bungie moved from a one-bedroom apartment to a studio in Chicago's South Side on South Halsted Street;[12] Seropian and Jones's first full-time employee, Doug Zartman, joined in May 1994 to provide support for Pathways, but became Bungie's public relations person, honing Bungie's often sophomoric sense of humor and irreverence.[16] Bungie composer Martin O'Donnell remembered that the studio's location, a former girls' school next to a crack house, "smelled like a frat house after a really long weekend" and reminded staff of a locale from the Silent Hill horror video games.[17]

Gnop!

Gnop! is a freeware computer game created by Alex Seropian.[18] It is a Pong clone, written and released nearly 20 years after the original. The name Gnop is Pong spelled backwards. The game was created by Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian in 1990, almost a year before Bungie's official incorporation,[19] but bore the Bungie name on itself and was referred to as "Bungie's first game" in official Bungie materials.[18] The game proved reasonably popular among Mac gamers because it was free and user-friendly. Seropian sold the source code for the game for $15.[20] Gnop! was later included in several compilations of early Bungie games, including the Marathon Trilogy Box Set and the Mac Action Sack.

Marathon, Myth and Oni (1994–1997)

Bungie's next project began as a sequel to Pathways into Darkness, but evolved into a futuristic first person shooter called Marathon. It introduced the rocket jumping mechanic to gamers (then known as "grenade hopping") and was the first control system where players could use the mouse to look up and down as well as pan side-to-side.[21] Pathways had taught Bungie the importance of story in a game,[22] and Marathon featured computer terminals where players could choose to learn more about the game's fiction.[23] The studio became what one employee termed "your stereotypical vision of a small computer-game company—eating a lot of pizza, drinking a lot of Coke" while the development team worked 14 hours every day for nearly six months.[16]

After showing the game at the Macworld Expo, Bungie was mobbed with interest and orders for the game. The game was not finished until December 14, 1994; Jones and a few other employees spent a day at a warehouse assembling boxes so that some of the orders could be filled before Christmas.[16] The game was a critical and commercial success,[22] and is regarded as a relatively unknown but important part of gaming history.[24] It served as the Mac alternative to DOS PC-only games like Doom and System Shock.[10] The game's volume of orders was unprecedented for the studio, who found that its old method of mail or phone orders could not scale to the demand and hired another company to handle the tens of thousands of orders. Marathon also brought Bungie attention from press outside the small Mac gaming market.[16]

The first game's success led to a sequel, Marathon 2: Durandal. The series introduced several elements, including cooperative mode, which made their way to later Bungie games.[22] The game was released November 24, 1995, and outsold its predecessor. When Bungie announced its intention to port the game to the Windows 95 operating system, however, many Mac players felt betrayed, and Bungie received a flood of negative mail. Seropian saw the value of moving into new markets and partnering with larger supply chains, although he lamented the difficult terms and "sucky" contracts distributors provided.[16] The game released on Windows 95 in September 1996. Marathon Infinity was released the following year.

After Marathon, Bungie moved away from first-person shooters to release a strategy game, Myth: The Fallen Lords. The game stressed tactical unit management as opposed to the resource gathering model of other combat strategy titles. The Myth games won several awards and spawned a large and active online community. Myth: The Fallen Lords was the first Bungie game to be released simultaneously for both Mac and Windows platforms.[10][25]

The success of Myth enabled Bungie to change Chicago offices and establish a San Jose, California based branch of the studio, Bungie West, in 1997.[10] Bungie West's first and only game would be Oni, an action title for the Mac, PC and PlayStation 2.[26]

Halo and buyout (1999–2007)

In 1999, Bungie announced its next product, Halo: Combat Evolved, originally intended to be a third-person shooter game for Windows and Macintosh.[27] Halo's public unveiling occurred at the Macworld Expo 1999 keynote address by Apple's then-interim-CEO Steve Jobs (after a closed-door screening at E3 in 1999).[27]

On June 19, 2000, on the ninth anniversary of Bungie's founding, Microsoft announced that it had acquired Bungie and that Bungie would become a part of the Microsoft Game Division. Halo would be developed as an exclusive first-person shooter title for the Xbox. The reasons for Bungie accepting Microsoft's offer were varied. Jones stated that "I don't remember the details exactly, it was all a blur. We'd been talking to people for years and years—before we even published Marathon, Activision made a serious offer. But the chance to work on Xbox—the chance to work with a company that took the games seriously. Before that we worried that we'd get bought by someone who just wanted Mac ports or didn't have a clue".[28] Martin O'Donnell, who had joined Bungie as an employee ten days before the merger was announced, remembers that the stability of the Xbox as a development platform was not the only benefit.[17] Shortly before Myth II's release, it was discovered versions of the game could erase a player's hard drive; the glitch led to a massive recall of the games right before they shipped,[10][22] which cost Bungie nearly one million dollars.[10] O'Donnell stated in a Bungie podcast that this recall created some financial uncertainty, although accepting the offer was not something Bungie "had to do".[17] Seropian and Jones had refused to accept Microsoft's offer until the entire studio agreed to the buyout.[10]

As a result of the buyout, the rights to Myth and Oni were transferred to Take-Two Interactive (which at the time owned 19.9% of the studio) as part of the three-way deal between Microsoft, Bungie and Take-Two Interactive; most of the original Oni developers were able to continue working on Oni until its release in 2001.[29] Halo: Combat Evolved, meanwhile, went on to become a critically acclaimed hit, selling more than 6.5 million copies,[30] and becoming the Xbox's flagship franchise.[31]

Halo's success led to Bungie creating two sequels. Halo 2 was released on November 9, 2004, making more than $125 million on release day and setting a record in the entertainment industry.[32] Halo 3 was released on September 25, 2007 and surpassed Halo 2's records, making $170 million in its first twenty-four hours of release.[33]

Independent company (2007–present)

On October 1, 2007, Microsoft and Bungie announced that Bungie was splitting off from its parent and becoming a privately held limited liability company named Bungie, LLC.[34][35] As outlined in a deal between the two, Microsoft would retain a minority stake and continue to partner with Bungie on publishing and marketing both Halo and future projects, with the Halo intellectual property belonging to Microsoft.[36]

While Bungie planned on revealing a new game at E3 2008, Bungie studio head Harold Ryan announced that the unveiling was canceled.[37] Almost three months later, Bungie announced that the new game was a prequel and expansion to Halo 3 titled Halo 3: Recon.[38] The next month, Bungie changed game's title from Halo 3: Recon to Halo 3: ODST.[39] At E3 2009, Bungie and Microsoft revealed the company was developing another Halo-related game, Halo: Reach, for release in 2010.[40] Reach was the last game in the Halo franchise to be developed by Bungie.[41]

Bungie continued expanding, though it did not commit to details about new projects and ship dates.[42] The company grew from roughly 120 employees in May 2008[43] to 165 in June 2009, outgrowing the studio Microsoft developed. Ryan helped redesign a former multiplex movie theater in Bellevue into new Bungie offices, with 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) replacing the 41,000 square feet (3,800 m2) the company occupied previously.[44] In April 2010, Bungie announced that it was entering into a 10-year publishing agreement with publisher Activision Blizzard.[45][46] Under Bungie's agreement with Activision, new intellectual property developed by Bungie will be owned by Bungie, not Activision, in a deal similar to the EA (Electronic Arts) Partners Program.[46][47]

On June 30, 2011, Bungie announced the "Bungie Aerospace" project; its slogan, "Per audacia ad astra", translates to "Boldly to the stars". The project is intended to provide independent game developers with publishing, resources, and support, including access to the Bungie.net platform.[48] In November 2011, Bungie Aerospace published its first game, Crimson: Steam Pirates, for iOS, developed by startup video game developer Harebrained Schemes.[49] In addition to publishing and distributing Crimson, Bungie Aerospace provided players with statistical support and a dedicated discussion forum on Bungie.net.[50]

On February 2013, Bungie announced Destiny,[51] which launched for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One platforms on September 9, 2014.[52][53][54] During January 2016, Ryan stepped down as president and Pete Parsons, who had been the company's chief operating officer and executive producer since 2002, became its chief executive officer.[55]

In June 2018, Bungie announced that Chinese video game conglomerate NetEase had invested $100 million into Bungie, in exchange for a minority stake in the company and a seat on the company's board of directors.[56]

On January 10, 2019, Bungie announced that it was terminating its publishing deal with Activision after eight years; as per their agreement, Bungie retained all rights to Destiny and will self-publish future installments and expansions.[57]

Bungie.net

Bungie.net serves as the main portal for interaction between company staff and the community surrounding Bungie's games. When Bungie was bought by Microsoft, the site was seen as in competition with Microsoft's own Xbox.com site, but community management eventually won out as the bigger concern.[58] The site has been redesigned several times.[59]

During Bungie's involvement with the Halo franchise, the site recorded statistics for each game played.[60] This information included statistics on each player in the game,[60] and a map of the game level showing where kills occurred, called "heatmaps".[61] On January 31, 2012, Bungie announced that, as of March 31, 2012, Bungie.net would no longer update Halo game statistics and Halo player service records, host new user-generated Halo content, or operate Halo's "Bungie Pro" service. Bungie's cessation of these services on March 31 completed the transition process of all data for Halo games being managed by 343 Industries.[62] Bungie.net records player's statistics for their game franchise Destiny. In addition to the collection of data and the management of Destiny player's accounts, the website serves as a form of communication between Bungie and the community.

While Bungie had long provided places for fans to congregate and talk about games, as well as releasing new information and screenshots over Bungie.net, it historically had made less effort and been less successful at providing access to the inside workings of Bungie and its staff. As part of a move to become more familiar with fans, Bungie recruited recognized and respected voices from the fan community, including writers Luke Smith, Eric Osborne, and others. The developer hosts a podcast where staff members are interviewed in a round-table, informal atmosphere.[63]

Bungie also has an iOS and Google Play application that allows stat-tracking for their game Destiny on the go.[64]

Culture

Bungee solo
The "Seven Steps for World Domination", an example of the work culture of Bungie

Martin O'Donnell described Bungie's workplace culture as "a slightly irreverent attitude, and not corporate, bureaucratic or business-focused";[65] artist Shi Kai Wang noted that when he walked into Bungie for an interview, "I realized that I was the one who was over-dressed, [and] I knew this was the place I wanted to work".[66] Bungie's content manager and podcast host, Frank O'Connor, comically noted that at a GameStop conference, the Bungie team was told to wear business casual, to which O'Connor replied "We [Bungie] don't do business casual".[60]

This informal, creative culture was one of the reasons Microsoft was interested in acquiring Bungie,[67] although game designer Jordan Weisman said that Microsoft came close to destroying the company's development culture, as it had with the now-defunct FASA Studio.[68] Studio head Harold Ryan emphasized that even when Bungie was bought by Microsoft, the team was still independent:

One of the first things [Microsoft] tried after acquiring Bungie, after first attempting to fully assimilate them, was to move Bungie into a standard Microsoft building with the rest of the game group. But unlike the rest of the teams they'd brought in previously, Bungie didn't move into Microsoft corporate offices – we tore all of the walls out of that section of the building and sat in a big open environment. Luckily Alex and Jason [Seropian and Jones, Bungie's founders] were pretty steadfast at the time about staying somewhat separate and isolated.[65]

In 2007, Microsoft eventually moved the studio to Kirkland, Washington, where it reincorporated as Bungie, Inc.[65] Despite the move, financial analyst Roger Ehrenberg declared the Bungie-Microsoft marriage "doomed to fail" due to these fundamental differences.[69] Bungie also pointed out that it was tired of new intellectual property being cast aside to work on the Halo franchise.[65] Edge described the typical Bungie employee as "simultaneously irreverent and passionately loyal; fiercely self-critical; full of excitement at the company's achievements, no matter how obscure; [and] recruited from its devoted fanbase".[58]

The Bungie workplace is highly informal, with new and old staff willing to challenge each other on topics, such as fundamental game elements. Staff are able to publicly criticize their own games and each other.[58][70] Fostering studio cooperation and competition, Bungie holds events such as the "Bungie Pentathlon", in which staff square off in teams playing games such as Halo, Pictionary, Dance Dance Revolution, and Rock Band.[70] Bungie also faced off against professional eSports teams and other game studios in Halo during "Humpdays", with the results of the multiplayer matches being posted on Bungie.net.[71]

Bungie's staff and fans, known as the "Seventh Column", have banded together for charity and other causes. After Hurricane Katrina, Bungie was one of several game companies to announce its intention to help those affected by the hurricane, with Bungie donating the proceeds of special T-shirts to the American Red Cross;[72][73][74] after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Bungie sold "Be a Hero" T-shirts and donated money to the Red Cross for every Halo 3 or ODST player on Xbox Live who wore a special heart-shaped emblem.[75] Other charity work Bungie has done included auctioning off a painting of "Mister Chief" by O'Connor,[76] a Halo 2 soda machine from Bungie's offices,[77] and collaborating with Child's Play auctions.[78] In 2011, Bungie formed a nonprofit organization, named Bungie Foundation.[79]

Games developed

Year Title Platform
1991 Operation: Desert Storm Classic Mac OS
1992 Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete Classic Mac OS
1993 Pathways into Darkness Classic Mac OS
1994 Marathon Apple Pippin (as Super Marathon), Classic Mac OS
1995 Marathon 2: Durandal Apple Pippin (as Super Marathon), Classic Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
1996 Marathon Infinity Classic Mac OS
1997 Myth: The Fallen Lords Classic Mac OS, Microsoft Windows
1998 Myth II: Soulblighter Classic Mac OS, Microsoft Windows
2001 Oni Classic Mac OS, macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2
2001 Halo: Combat Evolved macOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox One
2004 Halo 2 Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox One
2007 Halo 3 Xbox 360, Xbox One
2009 Halo 3: ODST Xbox 360, Xbox One
2010 Halo: Reach Xbox 360
2014 Destiny PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
2017 Destiny 2 Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
TBA Matter Microsoft Windows

Related companies

Many of Bungie's employees have left the company to form their own studios. Double Aught was a short-lived company composed of several former Bungie team members, founded by Greg Kirkpatrick. Seropian left to form Wideload Games, creator of Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse". Other companies include Giant Bite, founded by Hamilton Chu (former lead producer of Bungie) and Michal Evans (former Bungie programmer),[80] and Certain Affinity, founded by Max Hoberman (the multiplayer design lead for Halo 2 and Halo 3); Certain Affinity's team included former Bungie employees David Bowman and Chad Armstrong (who later returned to Bungie). The company collaborated with Bungie in releasing the last two downloadable maps for Halo 2[81] and the downloadable Defiant Map Pack for Halo: Reach.[82] 343 Industries, a game studio formed by Microsoft to manage the Halo series following the launch of Halo: Reach, also includes a few former Bungie employees, including former O'Connor.[83] In 2015, long time ex-Bungie employee Martin O'Donnell started a new game studio known as Highwire Games.[84]

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External links

Alex Seropian

Alexander Seropian (born 1969) is an American video game developer, one of the initial founders and later president of Bungie, the developer of the Marathon, Myth, and Halo video game series. Seropian became interested in computer programming in college and teamed up with fellow student Jason Jones to publish Jones's game Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. The two became partners, and Bungie grew to become the best-known Apple Macintosh game developer before being bought by Microsoft in 2001.

In 2004, Seropian left Bungie and created Wideload Games, with the goal of streamlining game development. Wideload's small core development team worked with outside contractors to produce Stubbs the Zombie and Hail to the Chimp. Wideload was acquired by Disney in 2009. As part of the deal Seropian became vice president of game development for Disney Interactive Studios. In 2012 he left the position to start Industrial Toys, a company focusing on mobile games.

Bungee jumping

Not to be confused with reverse bungee.

Bungee jumping (; also spelled bungy jumping, which is the usual spelling in New Zealand and several other countries)

is an activity that involves jumping from a tall structure while connected to a large elastic cord. The tall structure is usually a fixed object, such as a building, bridge or crane; but it is also possible to jump from a movable object, such as a hot-air-balloon or helicopter, that has the ability to hover above the ground. The thrill comes from the free-falling and the rebound. When the person jumps, the cord stretches and the jumper flies upwards again as the cord recoils, and continues to oscillate up and down until all the kinetic energy is dissipated.

Cortana (Halo)

Cortana is a fictional artificial intelligence character in the Halo video game series. Voiced by Jen Taylor, she appears in Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, and Halo 5: Guardians. She also briefly appears in the prequel Halo: Reach, as well as in several of the franchise's novels, comics, and merchandise. During gameplay, Cortana provides backstory and tactical information to the player, who often assumes the role of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. In the story, she is instrumental in preventing the activation of the Halo installations, which would have destroyed all sentient life in the galaxy.

Cortana's original design was based on the Egyptian queen Nefertiti; the character's holographic representation always takes the form of a woman. Game developer Bungie first introduced Cortana—and Halo—through the Cortana Letters, emails sent during Combat Evolved's production in 1999.

The relationship between Cortana and Master Chief has been highlighted by reviewers as one of the most important parts of the Halo games' story. Cortana has been recognized for her believability and character depth as well as her sex appeal. The character was the inspiration for Microsoft's intelligent personal assistant of the same name.

Destiny (video game)

Destiny is an online-only multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Activision. It was released worldwide on September 9, 2014, for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One consoles. Destiny marked Bungie's first new console franchise since the Halo series, and it was the first game in a ten-year agreement between Bungie and Activision. Set in a "mythic science fiction" world, the game features a multiplayer "shared-world" environment with elements of role-playing games. Activities in Destiny are divided among player versus environment (PvE) and player versus player (PvP) game types. In addition to normal story missions, PvE features three-player "strikes" and six-player raids. A free roam patrol mode is also available for each planet and features public events. PvP features objective-based modes, as well as traditional deathmatch game modes.

Players take on the role of a Guardian, protectors of Earth's last safe city as they wield a power called Light to protect the City from different alien races. Guardians are tasked with reviving a celestial being called the Traveler, while journeying to different planets to investigate and destroy the alien threats before humanity is completely wiped out. Bungie released four expansion packs, furthering the story, and adding new content, missions, and new PvP modes. Year One of Destiny featured two small expansions, The Dark Below in December 2014 and House of Wolves in May 2015. A third, larger expansion, The Taken King, was released in September 2015 and marked the beginning of Year Two, changing much of the core gameplay. The base game and the first three expansions were packaged into Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition. Another large expansion called Rise of Iron was released in September 2016, beginning Year Three. Rise of Iron was only released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 clients subsequently stopped receiving content updates. The base game and all four expansions were packaged into Destiny: The Collection. A direct sequel, Destiny 2, released in September 2017.

Upon its release, Destiny received mixed to positive reviews with criticism centered mostly around the game's storyline and post-campaign content. The game was praised for maintaining lineage from the Halo franchise, particularly in regards to its competitive experiences. On day one of its release, it sold over US$325 million at retail in its first five days, making it the biggest new franchise launch of all time. It was GamesRadar's 2014 Game of the Year and it received the BAFTA Award for Best Game at the 2014 British Academy Video Games Awards.

Flood (Halo)

The Flood is a fictional parasitic alien life form in the Halo multimedia franchise. It is introduced in the 2001 video game Halo: Combat Evolved, and returns in later entries in the series such as Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo Wars. The Flood infects any sentient life of sufficient size. The Flood-infected creatures, also called Flood, in turn infect other hosts. The parasite is depicted as such a threat that the ancient Forerunners killed themselves and all other sentient life in the galaxy in an effort to stop the Flood's spread.

The Flood's design and fiction was spearheaded by Bungie artist Robert McLees, who utilized unused concepts from the earlier Bungie game Marathon 2. The setting of the first game, the ringworld Halo, was stripped of many of its large creatures to make the Flood's surprise appearance more startling. Bungie environment artist Vic DeLeon spent six months of pre-production time refining the Flood's fleshy aesthetic and designing the organic interiors of Flood-infested space ships for Halo 3.

The player's discovery of the Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved is a major plot twist, and was one of the surprises reviewers noted positively upon release. The Flood's return in Halo 2 and Halo 3 was less enthusiastically praised. Reaction to the Flood has varied. While some found the Flood too derivative and a cliché element of science fiction, some others ranked it among the greatest video game villains of all time.

Halo.Bungie.Org

Halo.Bungie.Org (HBO) is a fansite created in 1999 by Claude Errera (known online by the pseudonym "Louis Wu", a reference to Ringworld) and two associates as a news site for the Bungie video game Halo: Combat Evolved. The site was started in 1999 as Blam.bungie.org based on the project's development name before it was called Halo. The site covers all Halo properties (including those associated with 343 Industries) and posts game news, rumors, and fan art and videos.

Halo.Bungie.Org grew to become the most widely read Halo fansite, receiving about 600,000 page views a day in 2007. While his cofounders ceased involvement in the site, Errera continued to update the site with the occasional assistance of others. Aside from contests, Halo.Bungie.Org also coordinates charitable endeavors and fundraisers.

Halo (franchise)

Halo is a military science fiction first-person shooter video game franchise managed and developed by 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Xbox Game Studios. Halo was originally developed by Bungie Studios. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and an alliance of aliens known as the Covenant. The Covenant, led by their religious leaders called the Prophets, worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who perished while defeating the parasitic Flood. The central focus of the franchise builds off the experiences of Master Chief John-117, one of a group of supersoldiers codenamed Spartans, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana. Other characters, such as Noble Six from Halo: Reach, are also introduced in the series. The term "Halo" refers to the Halo Array: a group of immense, habitable, ring-shaped superweapons that were created by the Forerunners to destroy the Flood, but which the Covenant mistake for religious artifacts that, if activated, would transport them on a Great Journey to meet the Forerunners. They are similar to the Orbitals in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, and to a lesser degree to author Larry Niven's Ringworld concept.The games in the series are critically acclaimed, with the original considered the Xbox's "killer app". This led to the term "Halo killer" being used to describe console games that aspire, or are considered, to be better than Halo. Fueled by the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, and by marketing campaigns from publisher Microsoft, its sequels went on to record-breaking sales. The games have sold over 65 million copies worldwide, with the games alone grossing almost $3.4 billion.Strong sales of the games led to the franchise's expansion to other media; there are multiple best-selling novels, graphic novels, and other licensed products. Halo Wars took the franchise into new video game genre territory, as a real-time strategy game, while the rest of the games in the series are first-person shooters. Beyond the original trilogy, Bungie developed the expansion Halo 3: ODST, and a prequel, Halo: Reach, their last project for the franchise. A high-definition remake of the first game, entitled Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, was released on November 15, 2011, ten years after the release of the original. A new installment in a second series of games, Halo 4, was released on November 6, 2012. Halo: The Master Chief Collection, a remastered compilation of the four primary Halo titles, was released for the Xbox One on November 11, 2014. In October 2015, Halo 5: Guardians was released. In February 2017, Halo Wars 2 was released. In June 2018, the next main installment of the Halo series was announced as Halo Infinite. In March 2019, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was announced for Windows PCs, along with a remastered version of Halo: Reach that would also be included in the Xbox One and PC versions of The Master Chief Collection.

Halo 2

Halo 2 is a 2004 first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie. Released for the Xbox video game console on November 9, 2004, the game is the second installment in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 2001's critically acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved. A Microsoft Windows version of the game was released on May 31, 2007, developed by an internal team at Microsoft Game Studios known as Hired Gun. The game features a new game engine, as well as using the Havok physics engine; added weapons and vehicles, and new multiplayer maps. The player alternately assumes the roles of the human Master Chief and the alien Arbiter in a 26th-century conflict between the human United Nations Space Command, the genocidal Covenant, and the parasitic Flood.

After the success of Combat Evolved, a sequel was expected and highly anticipated. Bungie found inspiration in plot points and gameplay elements that had been left out of their first game, including multiplayer over the Internet through Xbox Live. Time constraints forced a series of cutbacks in the size and scope of the game, including a cliffhanger ending to the game's campaign mode that left many in the studio dissatisfied. Among Halo 2's marketing efforts was an alternate reality game called "I Love Bees" that involved players solving real-world puzzles.

On release, Halo 2 was the most popular video game on Xbox Live, holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 nearly two years later. By June 20, 2006, more than 500 million games of Halo 2 had been played and more than 710 million hours have been spent playing it on Xbox Live; by May 9, 2007, the number of unique players had risen to over five million. Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game with at least 6.3 million copies sold in the United States alone. The game received critical acclaim, with most publications lauding the strong multiplayer component. The campaign however, was the focus of criticism for its cliffhanger ending.

A high-definition remastered version of Halo 2 was released as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on November 11, 2014, for the Xbox One titled Halo 2 Anniversary. The collection itself will be released for the Windows in 2019.

Halo 3

Halo 3 is a 2007 first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie for the Xbox 360 console. The third installment in the Halo franchise, the game concludes the story arc begun in 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved and continued in 2004's Halo 2. The game was released on September 25, 2007, in Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, North America, and Singapore; September 26, 2007, in Europe; and September 27, 2007, in Japan. Halo 3's story centers on the interstellar war between twenty-sixth century humanity, a collection of alien races known as the Covenant, and the alien parasite Flood. The player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced supersoldier, as he battles the Covenant and the Flood. The game features vehicles, weapons, and gameplay elements not present in previous titles of the series, as well as the addition of saved gameplay films, file sharing, and the Forge map editor—a utility which allows the player to perform modifications to multiplayer levels.

Bungie began developing Halo 3 shortly after Halo 2 shipped. The game was officially announced at E3 2006, and its release was preceded by a multiplayer beta open to select players who purchased the Xbox 360 game Crackdown. Microsoft spent $40 million on marketing the game, in an effort to sell more game consoles and broaden the appeal of the game beyond the established Halo fanbase. Marketing included cross-promotions and an alternate reality game.

On the day before its official release, 4.2 million units of Halo 3 were in retail outlets. Halo 3 grossed US$300 million in its first week. More than one million people played Halo 3 on Xbox Live in the first twenty hours. To date, Halo 3 has sold in excess of 14.5 million copies, making it the fifth best selling Xbox 360 game of all time, the best selling Xbox 360 exclusive title and the best selling first person shooter on the console outside of the Call of Duty games. The game was also the best-selling video game of 2007 in the U.S. Overall, the game was very well received by critics, with the Forge and multiplayer offerings singled out as strong features; however, some reviewers criticized single-player aspects, especially the plot and campaign layout. Despite this, Halo 3 is frequently listed as one of the greatest video games of all time. A prequel to the game, Halo 3: ODST, was released worldwide on September 22, 2009. A sequel, Halo 4, released on November 6, 2012, was developed by 343 Industries and grossed $220 million on its launch day. Halo 3 was re-released as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One on November 11, 2014. The said collection will be released for the Microsoft Windows in 2019.

Jason Jones (programmer)

Jason Jones (born June 1, 1971) is a video game developer and programmer who co-founded the video game studio Bungie with Alex Seropian in 1991. Jones began programming on Apple computers in high school, assembling a multiplayer game called Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. While attending the University of Chicago, Jones met Seropian and the two formed a partnership to publish Minotaur.

Following the modest success of Minotaur, Jones programmed Bungie's next game, Pathways Into Darkness, and worked on code, level design and story development for Bungie's Marathon and Myth series. For Bungie's next projects, Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, Jones took on a more managerial role as project lead. He served as director on the 2014 video game Destiny.

Joseph Staten

Joseph Michael Staten is an American writer best known for his work at video game studio Bungie.

At Bungie, Staten served as director of cinematics for the studio's games, including the Halo series; he would write mission scripts and movie dialogue for the titles. He has also been involved in managing the expansion of the Halo franchise to other game studios and producers, including Peter Jackson's Wingnut Interactive. Though not a published author previously, Tor Books approached Staten to write the fifth Halo novelization, Halo: Contact Harvest. Released in 2007, the novel reached #3 on The New York Times bestseller list in the first week of its release and received positive reviews. Staten rejoined Microsoft Studios as a senior creative director on January 9, 2014.

Luke Smith (writer)

Luke Michael Smith is an American writer. He is a staff member at Bungie, a video game development company, and is a former video games journalist. Smith wrote for a college newspaper and weekly papers in Michigan before being hired as one of the first new freelance writers for Kotaku. At Kotaku, Smith developed his writing style but soon left the site for a staff position as 1UP.com's news editor. Smith made a name for himself at 1UP, particularly through an article he wrote focusing on problems with the game Halo 2.

Smith was known for his direct approach to game journalism and scathing criticism of the video game industry. During his time at 1UP the site developed a greater profile and stepped out of its sister publication's shadow, but Smith grew frustrated with the contemporary state of gaming news and what he considered manipulation of journalists and readers into accepting promotional material as news. In April 2007 he left 1UP to become a Bungie writer and co-host of the developer's podcast.

Marketing of Halo 3

The first-person shooter video game Halo 3 was the focus of an extensive marketing campaign which began with the game's developer, Bungie, announcing the game via a trailer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in May 2006. Microsoft, the game's publisher, planned a five-pronged marketing strategy to maximize sales and to appeal to casual and hard-core gamers. Bungie produced trailers and video documentaries to promote the game, partnering with firms such as Digital Domain and Weta Workshop. Licensed products including action figures, toys, and Halo 3-branded soda were released in anticipation of the game; the franchise utilized more than forty licensees to promote the game, and the advertising campaign ultimately cost more than $40 million.

While Halo 2's release had set industry records, the mainstream press was not fully involved in covering the game; part of Microsoft's strategy was to fully involve casual readers and the press in the story. The saturation of advertising and promotions led Wired to state: "The release of Halo 3 this week was an event that stretched far beyond our little gaming world. Everyone from The New York Times to Mother Jones wanted to cover it."Released on September 25, 2007, Halo 3 became the biggest entertainment debut in history, earning more than $170 million in a few days and selling a record 3,300,000 copies in its first week of sales alone. Halo 3's marketing won several awards, and was cited as evidence of the increasing mainstream popularity of games.

Martin O'Donnell

Martin O'Donnell (born May 1, 1955) is an American composer known for his work on video game developer Bungie's series, such as Myth, Oni, Halo, and Destiny. O'Donnell collaborated with his musical colleague Michael Salvatori for many of the scores; he has also directed voice talent and sound design for the Halo trilogy. O'Donnell was Bungie's audio lead until April 11, 2014.

O'Donnell began his career in music writing television and radio jingles such as the FlintStones vitamins song and scoring for radio stations and films. O'Donnell moved to composing video game music when his company, TotalAudio, did the sound design for the 1997 title Riven. After producing the music for Myth II, Bungie contracted O'Donnell to work on their other projects, including Oni and the project that would become Halo: Combat Evolved. O'Donnell ended up joining the Bungie staff only ten days before the studio was bought by Microsoft, and would be the audio director for all Bungie projects until he was fired.

O'Donnell's score to the Halo trilogy has been called iconic, earning him several awards, and the commercial soundtrack release of the music to Halo 2 was the best-selling video game soundtrack of all time in the United States. He then went on to compose the scores to Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach, released on September 25, 2007, and September 14, 2010, respectively. His final work for Bungie was composing music for the 2014 video game Destiny. He is currently working on the soundtrack to Golem, a virtual reality videogame in development.

Pathways into Darkness

Pathways into Darkness is a first-person shooter adventure video game developed and published by Bungie in 1993, for Apple Macintosh personal computers. Players assume the role of a Special Forces soldier who must stop a powerful, godlike being from awakening and destroying the world. Players solve puzzles and defeat enemies to unlock parts of a pyramid where the god sleeps; the game's ending changes depending on player actions.

Pathways began as a sequel to Bungie's Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete, before the developers created an original story. Jason Jones programmed the game, while his friend Colin Brent developed the environments and creatures. The game features three-dimensional texture mapped graphics and stereo sound on supported Macintosh models. Pathways was critically acclaimed and won a host of awards; it was also Bungie's first major commercial success and enabled the two-man team of Jason Jones and Alex Seropian to move into a Chicago office and begin paying staff.

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