Yesterday’s a dream
Throughout my ten-year love affair with the franchise, I have attended numerous Halo-related events. On more than one occasion, I hopped on a plane—every single one of which was devoid of maternal-appreciating legless reptiles—and landed in Salt Lake City, where I soaked in the scenery, threw Frisbees off the side of a mountain, and played Halo 2 long into the night. I marked the release of Halo 3 by dyeing my hair blue, paying tribute to my favorite holographic AI while braving my way through the witching hour, just to secure a box that was so large I had to forcibly cram it into the backseat of my car. And one year, while attending PAX, I took a break from bomb-arming and flag-stealing to do the only other thing that was acceptable at the time—serenading Frankie with Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” substituting his similar enough name in place of the one heard repeatedly in the chorus. Why, you ask? Because he came and he gave without taking. But I sent him away, oh Frankie... Actually, to be quite honest, he walked away on his own. Or ran, if you want to be precise. But who wants to argue semantics? We have more important things to discuss. Like Halo Fest.
For the record, the first time I typed that, it read “Halo Fast.” Probably a Freudian slip on my part because of how quickly the festivities are approaching. What started off as months away is now mere days from happening. We just wrapped up our PAX Prime Badge Giveaway, so you’ll see pictures of the winners scattered amongst the words in this Bulletin. But whether you’ll be at Halo Fest in person or just in spirit, there will be plenty of coverage, both by Halo Waypoint (insert obligatory "Follow us on Twitter!" here) and our official media partner, IGN. So let’s get down to business, shall we?
I’m standing on the edge of time
Halo Fest, the largest and most expansive live Halo experience ever, is taking place alongside PAX Prime August 26th-28th. It will be spread out across the entire third floor of the Washington State Convention Center Annex, transforming 30,000 previously bare square feet into a huge celebration commemorating ten incredible years of Halo. The entrance will be on the street level, and a simple escalator ride will magically transport you directly into this wonderful (ring)world we call Halo.
Happy people pass my way
One of the things I’m most excited about is what you’ll probably see first: my face! Don’t worry, I’m just kidding. I would never wish that upon anybody. To assuage your fears, you should know I was actually talking about the Warthog. Built by Weta, this real-life anti-infantry vehicle is currently making its way from New Zealand to Seattle. And if you’ve looked at a map recently, you know there’s only one way it can get here: by water. That’s right another-word-for-female-dogs-that-I-can’t-use-because-I-like-my-job, that sucker’s on a boat. It’s a good thing, too, because I heard the fully functional variant is quite difficult to drive. While I, and everybody else for that matter, have been banned from getting behind the wheel, I’m holding out hope I can at least hop on the turret. People around these parts seem to think I’m too short for that job, but I’ll show them! As soon as I find a stepstool, that is.
While the non-street legal Warthog is floating its way across the world, plenty of things are already here. Take the entirety of the history wall, for instance. In this nostalgia-inducing section, every Halo title to date will have its own area, complete with box art, detailed information such as release dates and logos, relevant newspaper articles and artifacts, and even a station where you can relive your title-specific memories in all of their original glory. I plan on reenacting my most memorable Halo 2 moment, which involved stealthily crouch-walking from the back of my base all the way to the top of the center structure on Waterworks, just to assassinate an enemy sniper. Feel free to watch if you’re looking for a several-minute-long, action-packed experience!
Speaking of action-packed, there will be numerous hands-on opportunities available to you during the three-day event. Five Halo: Anniversary maps will be awaiting your presence across dozens of stations. That’s right, FIVE Halo: Anniversary maps. Count them with me: one Anniversary map, ah ah ah ah ah! Two Anniversary maps, ah ah ah ah ah! I’d continue, but I’d have to cut and paste that three more times, and I’m entirely too lazy for that. So, moving on.
The upcoming Halo: Reach Title Update will also be playable, should you want to test the altered waters. What won’t be playable, however, is the behind-closed-doors viewing of a not-yet-decided-upon Halo: Anniversary Campaign level. Only a limited number of people will be able to get their eyes on it, and we’ll have more details about what exactly you’ll need to do to be one of those people at the event itself. Hint: it involves saying very nice things about me to my superiors. Just thought you may want to start planning what you’re going to say in advance.
There will also be both skill and fun-based tournaments, should you crave something a little more organized or competitive. From straight up Slayer to recreational racing, there will definitely be something that floats your Spartan’s boat. Prizes for these particular events include everything from Halo: Reach consoles and custom-made helmets to a super old school, not to mention awesome, Duke controller retrofitted to work with the Xbox 360. IGN has the complete tournament line-up, so head over to their Halo Fest hub for the specifics.
While a few of our tournaments are charity-related—which makes sense considering Kari Toyama, founder of the annual Fight Like A Girl Tournament, is the matchmaking mastermind behind all of them—it’s also worth noting the Rooster Teeth Achievement community has created an exclusive Halo Fest achievement challenge. Donate a mere $3 to Child’s Play at the Halo Fest commissary, and try to beat the designated time. Everybody accomplishing that feat will receive a one-year subscription to Rooster Teeth’s premium website and, more importantly, a lifetime’s worth of bragging rights. Zach Wigal, founder and Executive Director of Gamers Outreach, will also be there, trading Gamers Outreach wristbands for game and console donations that support their “Fun for Our Troops” initiative. That’s a whole lot of doin’ good for just one weekend. I’m thinking the karma, if you decide to participate in any of them, will be well worth the meager investment.
We do recognize that you can’t play every second you’re there (primarily because I plan on hogging the majority of the stations), so I do hope you’ll check out some, if not all, of our panel offerings. Our three main panels, which you probably already know about, are Halo: Anniversary, Halo Universe, and Halo 4. But when I heard we’d be hosting other panels as well, I immediately started pitching all my—what I consider to be anyway—brilliant ideas. What I was most excited about was a proposed hour-long block of time where I was going to ditch the spoken word and instead communicate solely through screenshots. Unfortunately it got shot down quicker than my teammates (hey, it’s not my fault they constantly walk into my line of fire), so I’ll just present it now as it appears this is my only window of opportunity.
I must say, it seems like we’ve gotten really good at the whole talking through pictures thing. But alas, my chance to do it in front of an audience has been forever lost. Check out our real panel schedule, should you have an interest in something beyond my hidden-meaning imagery.
Friday, August 26th
Pegasus Theatre (Sheraton)
The team responsible for the 2011 reimagining of the classic Xbox title pull back the curtain on the process behind bringing Halo: Anniversary to gamers. Panelists include Executive Producer Dan Ayoub, Producer Dennis Ries, Franchise Development Director Frank O’Connor, Franchise Manager Kevin Grace, and more!
Halo Community: Fragging, Forge, and Flowers
Kick your PAX weekend off right by hanging out with some of Halo’s most dedicated Community leaders. Panelists include Louis Wu of halo.bungie.org, Adam Grumbo of 405th, Goose Checka of GrifballHub, HC Redemption of Halo Challenges, CMNeir of Halo: Reach Tricks, and Dust Storm of Podtacular. There is a Community meet-up immediately following in the Waypoint Lounge.
What’s Next for Waypoint
Community Manager bs angel gets the scoop on the future of Waypoint from the team behind it.
Pegasus Theatre (Sheraton)
Come be a part of the 10th anniversary celebration as we welcome some of the people who helped bring the universe to life. Panelists include Franchise Development Director Frank O’Connor, legendary composer Marty O’Donnell, Franchise Manager Kevin Grace, Pete Stacker (Captain Jacob Keyes), Tim Dadabo (343 Guilty Spark), and Steve Downes (Master Chief).
Saturday, August 27th
Bungie: Hatching the Cosmic Halo Egg
At this year's PAX, Halo Fest is enormous! But ten years ago, it only took a small core of ambitious Bungie developers to fill the Halo universe with life. In this panel, the birth mother and father of Halo–Joseph Staten and Marty O'Donnell–along with a handful of Bungie alumni discuss the origins and development of the Halo franchise, and field your questions from the Community.
Halo: Building a Universe of Toys and Collectibles
Meet some of the biggest names in the toy and collectible industry and get an exclusive first look at upcoming Halo products! Get the scoop from fan favorites McFarlane Toys, MEGA Bloks, and NKOK.
Halo Universe Fiction
Join Frank O’Connor and Kevin Grace as well as special Halo guests Greg Bear and Karen Traviss for a discussion of the first 10 years of Halo and what’s coming next!
Halo Anniversary Campaign Discussion
Can’t get enough Silent Cartographer? Does Assault on the Control Room make you weak in the knees? If so, this panel discussing the reimagining of the classic single player Campaign is a can’t-miss!
Sunday, August 28th
Main Theater (Paramount)
Here is your first chance to see and hear from the 343 Industries team that is creating the exciting next chapter in Master Chief’s heroic story. Be there as we kick off the next 10 years of Halo! Panelists include Franchise Development Director Frank O’Connor, Creative Director Josh Holmes, Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill, Senior Art Director Kenneth Scott, and Audio Director Sotaro Tojima.
Xbox talks 10 years of Halo
How does a new multiplayer service prepare for the Halo juggernaut? Just how wrong were the projections for concurrent players? Which panelist thought that an FPS on the console could not possibly be any fun? Join founding members of the Xbox team, Doug Hebenthal and Jerry Hook, as well as Eric Neustadter (“e”), Larry Hryb, Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, and Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse to discuss how Halo helped shape Xbox Live.
Halo Anniversary Multiplayer
Want to get all the nitty-gritty on Halo Anniversary’s Multiplayer? Do you have questions about the Reach Title Update? If so, this is the panel for you!
Red Vs. Blue Table Read
Join Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Matt Hullum, Joel Heyman, and Jason Saldana, the voices of The Galaxy's Dumbest Recruits™, as they attempt to learn their scripts to record an episode of Red vs. Blue.
In the Halo Community panel description, you may have noticed a mention of the Waypoint Community Lounge—that will be the place to get general Halo Fest information, take part in giveaways, and meet fellow fans. Basically, it’s going to be where all the cool kids hang out. And I’m not just saying that because that’s where I’ll be the bulk of the weekend. Ok, I am, but still. It’s a valid point regardless.
The night goes into morning
Another place the cool kids will be hanging out is the Halo Fest VIP Party. Taking place Friday night from 8pm-11pm, those with an invite will get to party like it’s 1999. Or 2011. Or 2552. Take your pick. Included in the festivities will be music, contests, film shorts, trivia, prizes, and other things that are awesome and fun in nature. Manning the music side of things will be someone I know as Maggie, but you may recognize as DJ Zealot. A Senior Technical Artist at 343 Industries, this lighting and shading Drop Pod Lead will spend that particular evening doubling as a disc jockey. Having had the only electronica radio show in the Boston market for almost four years, that experience, along with dj-ing live sets at Ryles, tunnel raves at MIT, and clubs in Boston and San Francisco, make her the perfect maestro for the evening.
At this point, you may find yourself wondering how exactly to secure an invite to, what will undoubtedly be, a rockin’ good time. We’ll be handing them out in a variety of ways, one of them being to people wearing Halo-themed cosplay. Here are just a few fans I have a feeling we’ll be seeing that evening!
Whether you end up with an invite in your hands or not, you have a pretty good chance of walking away from Halo Fest with some serious swag. The first 5,000 people to come through the door will get a surprise from Mega Bloks, a limited edition poster, and other such goodies. There will also be a store where you can buy as many adorable Grunt plushies you can carry, plus a selection of hats, shirts, hoodies, license plate frames, key chains, books, and more, all for your viewing and purchasing pleasure. I’d give you a complete list of everything but seriously, my fingers are starting to hurt at this point. Plus, I’m thirsty. And a little whiny. That last part isn’t related to the large chunk of time I’ve spent typing, though. That’s actually just a basic part of my personality. Should you attend Halo Fest, you’ll get to experience it in person. I know, how very not exciting.
Before I call this chaotic cluster of words complete, I’d like to answer a few of your questions. Hey, I’m not all whiny. A teeny tiny portion of me is nice, too. Teeny tiny being the key words, of course.
Do you really read most of the topics on the Waypoint forums? And do you pass on community things to the 343/dev teams? –VorteXLP
During a good week, I read 99.9% of the posts. During a busy week, that tends to drop to 99.8%. Seriously though, I’m on the forums almost all the time, and not just because I’m constantly gathering feedback and delivering it to the appropriate teams. I really just enjoy the shenanigan-filled interactions. (Shout-out to the Reclaimers! I mean the Sparks. I mean… did we ever decide?) In case you were curious, the thread I keep the closest eye on is the Official Halo Feedback Thread, but I also scan everything else, simply to keep my finger on the pulse of the community. And to post cat pictures. But mainly to post cat pictures. I mean… yeah.
Are there plans to develop Waypoint for mobile platforms? And when will the Hamburglar be brought to justice?! -don carnage1
If you’re going to be at Halo Fest, you should stop by the “What’s Next for Waypoint” panel. We’ll be discussing the future of Halo Waypoint as it pertains to all of our screens: web, console, and the one that you’re asking about. And I don’t know this Hamburglar person, but look, a screenshot of a cat!
Can we have a hint at the CEA Firefight map? Please, please with cats on top! -Eco Maiden
You had me at cats.
PS: Find me at Halo Fest. I’ll give you the inside scoop.
And with that, I’m officially out. Until next week, anyway…
PS: Here’s your Friday Caption Fun wallpaper for the week. Embiggen, save as desktop background, and keep the hilarity going here. Also, congratulations to the rest of badge winners. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!