Episode #318


Chances are, you know of Bungie Studios from the success of their hit Halo series, Bungie has been around since 1992, when founder Alex Seropian released his first game, Gnop, a version of Pong for the Macintosh. Upon meeting up with fellow budding game developer Jason Jones, the two formed their own game studio in a basement in Chicago, where they worked until their first successful title, Pathways in the Darkness, allowed them to expand into becoming a larger development company.  Their next game, Marathon, allowed them to expand into a larger market, but they were still limited to however many Mac users chose to play the game. 

In order to sell more copies, the studio decided to port Marathon 2 to the PC in September 1996, upsetting many Mac fans but expanding their total audience.  Their next foray into the PC market, the real-time strategy title Myth, received great commercial success and allowed them to expand their facilities into a second office in San Jose. In San Jose, Bungie Studios West developers created their first console game, Oni, which was eventually released on the PlayStation 2.  While some members of the company were working on Oni and some on Myth II, others began work on a secret project that was known as the codename 'blam' or 'monkeynuts.'  This game later on became known to gamers around the world as the defining Xbox title Halo, but at the time, it was being developed as a 3D action game for the Mac. 

Bungie announced Halo at the Tokyo Mac World in 2000, where Microsoft took notice and offered to buy the company to have them work on Halo as an Xbox title.  With consent of the entire company, Microsoft purchased Bungie in June 2000 and moved the entire office to Seattle.  Despite the challenges of changing focus halfway through development to make Halo a console game instead of a computer game and having a rough showing at E3 2001, Halo was a roaring success when it was released on November 15, 2001, selling 14 million units to date.  Critics and gamers alike often credit Halo for propelling sales of the Xbox much farther than it would have gone without the game.  However, before Bungie was to begin work on Halo 2, co-founder Alex Seropian left the company to return to Chicago and form Wideload Games.

Despite losing a key member of the original team, Bungie trudged onward with the production of Halo 2, which went on to spur a complete opposite reaction of the dismal one they received for the appearance of the first Halo at E3 2001.  In the months prior to its release, Halo 2 was one of the most highly anticipated games and generated much buzz.  That buzz became literal in a sense with their marketing campaign, which centered around a website called iLoveBees.comILoveBees.com appeared to be an ordinary beekeeper's personal website that was hacked by a malicious virus.  Though its link to the actual plot of Halo 2 is tenuous, gamers who followed along with the events of the campaign were eventually rewarded with a preview of the game before its November 9 release date.  When Halo 2 finally hit store shelves, it didn't just hit stores--it flew, to the tune of 2.4 million copies in its first day of release.  However, rather than taking a much-deserved break, Bungie Studios is heading into its next project in full force. 

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