Temperate Greetings and Artifacts of Expression

64 cloudless degrees Fahrenheit make for a beautiful setting to spend speaking with you all this morning. Since our last update, the gaming community has been at a pretty standard buzz level (other than the SOPA/PIPA rage moments), as catch-up is attempted on titles unattended while attempting to simultaneously quell the painful longing for upcoming ones.

During that time, I also received a suspicious package in the mail. Upon opening it, I realized that my gift from the epic HBO Secret Santa event of 2011 had finally arrived. What I found inside was a Polyvinyl Chloridic device I would later learn was the “Grim Scepter of Editorial Authority”. This information was found inked upon the tattered parchment included within the package. The page told of a perilous journey to distant lands to obtain the device… the scepter I learned “grants the wielder the confidence to speak as they see fit, whenever it so pleases them…” What an amazing gift! Forerunner Schmorerunner… here was an artifact for the ages! Many thanks to my mystery adventurous gift-giver, and another round of thanks to HBO member JD Quackers, who so selflessly and smoothly put together and carried out the whole event with near-flawless execution and integrity.

The Gratitude Continues

As many of you know, I started the Age of Gratitude Project midway through last year to celebrate the lead-up to Halo’s 10th Anniversary. The site now contains just over 60 submissions from fans across our blue space orb, with 9 new entries being added just this past week. The new entries include submissions from Ecuador to the Netherlands and various locations in between. It’s a great feeling to know that there are individuals out there who share an intense passion for some of the same things as you. The sense of community I always walk away with after reading everyone’s entries is both humbling and inspiring. Definitely check it out if you get the chance, and add your own story to the fold if you feel so inclined!

It’s a Terminal Illness

Recently, the lovely Jillybean brought up an idea to the Halo.Bungie.Org forums about putting together a fan-produced/performed radio play based on the Halo 3 Terminals, done in the similar style as the Halo: ODST “terminals” (also known as “Sadie’s Story”). The response was fantastic, and I know that submissions for auditions from everything from VO talent to artistic ability have poured in from incredibly talented members of the Halo community. The venerable Louis Wu himself has stated time and time again that the passion and drive of the Halo Community’s creativity is almost impossible to turn your back on. It truly is incredible to see individuals come together at a moment’s notice to work toward a common goal, and I absolutely cannot wait to see the end result.

On a slightly related note, it further brought up something that I have been wanting to see on Halo Waypoint for some time now: All of the various terminals from the different games as well as any canonical ARG’s (such as I Love Bees or Iris if 343 Industries so sees fit). I absolutely loved the integration that was made with the Halo: Anniversary terminals on the various Halo Waypoint portals (console, web, mobile). I loved the fact that you could enter in codes on a Forerunner-styled interface and unlock the Anniversary terminal cutscenes for viewing and perusal right there within Waypoint. So how about doing it for the others? I would love to see the chase be on for the way to unlock the content from the full Halo 3 terminals (both versions), the I Love Bees & Iris content, Sadie’s Story from Halo: ODST, and the Data Pads from Halo: Reach. Each of these holds what is to me an incredibly precious and important part of the greater fiction in the Halo Universe, and it would be great to not only make it more accessible to fans in a literal sense, but also introduce newcomers to some of the deepest recesses of the Halo story. So how about it, 343?

Drop Podtacular

Speaking of Halo: Anniversary, fellow Halo Waypoint Monitor Rukizzel and myself joined our good friend Duststorm over at Podtacular to record Episode 269, where we discussed our thoughts on the game. Podtacular is always a fun listen no matter who the guests are, so go and check it out and tell us your own thoughts.

Setting a New Trend

I want to take a moment to congratulate one of HBO’s own, Hitmonchan107, for becoming the new Community Manager at Trendy Entertainment! If you don’t know much about them, you should definitely check out their title Dungeon Defenders, which can be found on various digital-distribution channels including XBLA, PSN, and PC, as well as on Android and iOS platforms. Best of luck from all of us at HBO and in the greater Halo community, Hitmonchan! We know that the Trendy community is only going to become stronger with your presence there.

Cry Me a River

Recently HBO member and good friend The Lionheart announced an awesome and ambitious project to create Halo campaign based in the CryEngine 3 infrastructure.  A bit more information can be found in that link, with more info due on February 14th on how you can be involved with making this Sigma Octanus IV – based campaign become a reality. Definitely keep an eye out for that one.

Insert “Cry”-related pun/segue here: __________

Speaking of which, I was fortunate enough to be able to pick up the original Crysis on XBOX Live’s Games on Demand service. Wow… until a couple of years ago, while I loved my PC and playing games on it when I could, I hadn’t owned one that had the capability to number crunch the Human Genome Project, put a satellite into orbit, or run Crysis on full settings. All of which are related. I also liked just being able to experience the game from my couch, which won’t fit so comfortably in the room where my now-much-beefier PC currently resides. And um, Achievements, hello?

Anyway, I really enjoyed the game. Beautiful environments, and some really awesome gameplay mechanics that made for a very rich experience overall. I loved being able to switch back and forth between cloak and maximum armor, and approach most of the encounters however I so felt. The game felt very balanced and was a lot of fun to play. I will definitely look at picking up the second game soon to continue on with the story which, while not overly ground-breaking, was very satisfying in its own right.

Liquid Snakes & Lifeguarding

In addition to Crysis, I also was able to pick up the Limited Edition of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. I recently played through MGS3 (as it came first in the timeline of the fiction… that’s how I roll) and grabbed the Achievement for not killing anyone the whole game. Well, with one ill-fated gamesave-reload that is. Funny story incoming… I was nearing the end of the game, and snuck up on two enemies near a river. I tranquilized one successfully, and then proceeded to do the same to his unsuspecting polygonal partner. Unfortunately, the bastard fell into the stream, instead of away from it, and began to drown in the 4 inches of Russian water (see what I did there?). I instantly turned from “Snake-the-tactical-espionage-expert” to “Snake-the-Bay Watch-triage-expert”, repeatedly pressing X to try and pull my water-logged victim to safety. To my dismay, despite there being button commands for everything from “stab a frog with a fork and eat it” to “dress like a scientist and read the latest issue of EGM”, there was no “resuscitate the drowning enemy” command. Are you kidding me?! You’ve got 12 things in your backpack marked  “CQC”, but nothing for “CPR”? Awesome… So I figured I would just reload the checkpoint. Except that there are no checkpoints. And in this day and age of autosaves and hand-holding, I hadn’t manually saved in about 2 hours. Granted, for a MGS game, that usually only equates to about 20 minutes of actual playing, but still. I was so mad I turned it off and went to bed, but was too mad to sleep so I got back up, and played until like 2 or 3am until I had gotten back to where I started. You can be absolutely sure I lured that guard the hell away from the water before I made him start counting Овца.

Such Sweet Sorrow…

So that will be all for now. This coming weekend your Grim Uno will be found working in one of his other passions, international motorsport. I will be working (in a PR/Community Management role) with a number of teams and drivers contesting the 50th running of the Rolex 24 Hours in Daytona. Trust me though… if my plan works out, you might see a little piece of Halo running around the track as well. We’ll see ;-)  So until next time…


Oh, and uh… Roll Tide.

<3 Grim