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Well, after many, many years of waiting, Halo finally arrives to Canada!. Thought it would be interesting to revisit a story ehMac did with Alex Seropian, the CEO of Bungie and makers of Halo.

Story originally was published in March of 2001:


ehMax with Bungie CEO, Alex Seropian at Macworld NY 2000.

ehMax: Hi Alex! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for ehMac! In just two short months, it will have been ten years since you started Bungie with your first game release. Did you ever think back then that Bungie would be where it is today?

Alex: Well, those were different times indeed. The computer game industry was still small, undeveloped, and not nearly as mature as it is now. So my hopes and dreams only went so far. I had no idea we'd be where we are today. Heck I didn't even think about what was going to happen after year lunch!

ehMax: Did you recall the moment early on where you thought to yourself, holy cow... I've got something big hear!?

Alex: I absolutely remember the 'defining moments'. I remember being in my basement, on my bike trainer when the fax rang and we got our first big order for Pathways. It was 1,000 units. That was the first time I thought - whoa! this might actually work! And then I remember our first Macworld when we had Marathon running. We had huge lines, we couldn't even keep up with the rush of people wanting to place pre-orders. That was certainly a thrill.

ehMax: There has of course been a lot of talk about Microsoft's acquiring of Bungie mid last year. When Microsoft took ownership of Bungie you explained that one of the major things Microsoft was acquiring (besides assurance you'd be making kick butt games for Xbox) was that they wanted to acquire Bungie's culture and chemistry to influence the way they make and publish games. Has Bungie been given the space and flexibility needed to keep that chemistry alive?

Alex: Happily yes! We just completed construction of our new offices in Jan. We have the only 'open pit' office layout that I know of at Microsoft and it's working really well. We'd be totally screwed if all of our guys were in their own offices. Our process is just too dynamic and it relies on constant interaction between the programmers, the designers, and the artists. I'm really happy that Ed Fries and Stuart Moulder understood all that. They've given us a lot of freedom to do our thing the way we want. That's motivated us too, we really want to prove to them and everyone that we can do something really special with Halo. We still have bagel Fridays, soccer on Thursdays, and mom jokes all the time...

ehMax: How are things going in newly designed Washington pad? Do you miss eating real pizza? I remember talking to you at MacWorld New York 2000 that you were just in the process of building your dream house in Chicago. Did Microsoft put you in some nice digs in Washington?

Alex: mmm... pizzaaaaa... Yeah, the pizza here blows. But other than that, Seattle is pretty sweet. The weather here is way better than Chicago. It's less crowded, less noisy and smelly (unless you're in the Halo room
Everyone drives politely- that's probably the biggest culture shock. People don't speed up when you're trying to merge into their lane - weird. I think most of the guys are liking it too. There's lots to do - outdoorsy type stuff for sure.

ehMax: In your dealings at Microsoft, have you ever met or worked with Bill Gates? Do you and Jason ever get to play network games against Bill and Ed (Fries)?

Alex: Yeah sure - Bill sits right across the hall from me, we play counterstrike every-night - although trust me - you don't want to be on the other end of a sniper rifle from that guy.. yikes... yeah, that's the ticket.

ehMax: A lot of Mac users were concerned that after the Microsoft deal, we wouldn't be seeing as many cool games for the Mac from Bungie. Are you able to give us any good news in this regard or are decisions still being made? Is Mac Halo still a go?

Alex: Yeah, but we're not ready to talk about release dates or anything like that yet. (Comment ehMax 2003 - I'll say they weren't ready!!)

ehMax: I love Oni, it is such an awesome game! Thanks a lot Alex... in college when I should of been studying I was spending countless hours playing Marathon and battling Durandel. Now when I should be working I'm spending far too much time playing Oni, sneaking up behind people and giving them some free chiropractic back cracking. ;) In both of these games, it wasn't only the great game play that I liked, it was also the underlying story that was being slowly revealed that kept me wanting to find what was beyond the next level. Is "story telling" an important aspect for you in a game?

Alex: I'm glad you're having fun with Oni. Ya know - that's an interesting question. We spend a lot of time working on cool tech stuff, like really cool physics, wicked renderers, and all that. But really, all that work is just to build an amazing tool we use to create this story. And I say 'story' in a sense bigger than just the prose you may read or the voice over you hear. I mean the whole world, the environment, the characters, the action, fun and game-play. All those things have to work right in order for the story to be interesting in the way that Marathon was. That's really important to us. The bottom line is, the game has to be fun to play. But we take that to mean the whole experience. With Halo, it's not enough for you to look at any scene from any angle an see something wicked cool (like a tree swaying in the wind, with its shadows swaying with it) no - it has to be in a mysterious engaging world - and there have to be cool aliens to kill, and interesting ways to kill them.

ehMax: What do you think of the new Flower Power iMac?

Alex: Right... I think Steve got a little shrooms and acid mixed up in his weed...

ehMax: Does the recent involvement of Nvidia with Apple make it any more likely that more Xbox type games will be available on the Mac. Is OS X going to help Mac gaming at all in your opinion?

Alex: The commitment nVidia has made to the Mac will be great for Mac gaming. nVidia provides a great platform. Developers are gonna love it. That's what will help gaming on the Mac. Jobs getting the geForce3 on the Mac first is huge. I think gamers and developers will pay attention to that.

ehMax: Have you ever got a chance to visit Canada? Whose your favourite Canadian?

Alex:Yeah, I've been to Canada lots. I'm particularly fond of Bob and Doug McKenzie. Take off ya hoser!

ehMax: Thank you very much for your time Alex, it was great to have you as a guest on ehMac! I hope we can talk to you again some time in the future.

----

As a note of interest, Alex left Bungie in July of 2002 to spend more time with his wife and his then expecting child.

Not sure what Alex is up to these days.

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