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The Idiots Get to See Halo Behind Closed Doors
August 10th

Randy: Well, we finally made it back from Macworld Expo. It sure is good to see the cave again.

Gary: Expo was over more than two weeks ago. Where have you been?

Randy: Uh, travel time took me a while. I got some cheap airline tickets over the Internet.

Gary: Dude, we live in Manhattan. It's a ten minute cab ride from the cave to the Javits Center.

Randy: Well, I got a bad cabby. Yes, that will do. It must have been his first day or something, because we went through all three airports.

Gary: Are you trying to tell me that you have been driving in a cab for almost three weeks? First of all, that would have cost like forty thousand dollars, and we both know that you just became a thousandaire a couple of months ago.

Randy: Yeah, the party I threw was awesome.

Gary: Uh huh, you, me, two cans of Miller Lite, and a tin of irregular Vienna sausages. That was a blast.

Randy: Hey, I got tallboys, man! That's sixteen ounces of pure aluminum wrapped fun!

Gary: Are you ever going to tell me where you have been for the last eighteen days?

Randy: Alright! Alright! I locked myself in a pay toilet at the Javits Center. I never would have made it if I hadn't slipped all of those beer nuts into my backpack at the bar the night before.

Gary: Always thinking, aren't you?

Randy: I will get you for this if it the last thing I do. As God is my witness, I will-

Gary: So, let's talk about the game that is the buzz of the Mac gaming community. Even though it is about nine months away, gamers are eagerly awaiting this baby. Get it? Nine months - baby?

Randy: Oh, jeez. I'm going back to my pay toilet.

The game that Gary so lamely referenced is Bungie's groundbreaking adventure game, Halo. Halo was first unveiled to the world at Macworld Expo. Steve Jobs pulled another one out of his bags of tricks, and besides the iBook, Halo was the biggest news of the show.

Gary: We got a chance to have a behind closed doors preview of Halo arranged by Bungie's Doug Zartman. We met with Joseph and Chuck, two of the team members who are creating the greatest game of all time.

Randy: And we learned a lot from them. When Steve Jobs showed the trailer of Halo at his keynote speech, he pointed out that this was not a QuickTime movie, but actual real-time 3D rendering. And when we talked to Joseph and Chuck, they explained that what we saw was actual gameplay, just run from a script as opposed from a real player. There were some who thought that what we saw was an intro or a cut scene, but this is the real thing.

Gary: We got a chance to see some of what you will be able to do when you get your grubby little mitts on a shrinkwrapped copy of Halo. For example, there is a scene in the Halo trailer that shows the player stopping and flagging down other characters who then follow him as he runs outside. This really works. The number keys on the keyboard control various actions that your character can perform. Besides flagging other characters, you can shush people, you can point in any direction, you can do victory dance, you can even pull a move like Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry MacGuire.

Randy: And everything you do can be seen in detail by other players! Imagine what this will do for network gaming. Suddenly first-person shooters start to merge with real-time strategy games, and role-playing games. You can have a party of players, you can approach the enemy, and you can direct individual members of your team simply through your character's actions.

Gary: Stunning! Another wonderful feature of Halo is the beginnings of gaming Fusion, where different styles of gameplay are melded seamlessly into one game experience. From what tiny portion we saw of Halo, our character ran on foot, drove an all-terrain vehicle, stole and cruised in an alien's hovercraft, and flew up into the sky in a spaceship.

Randy: And all of these feats were performed using the same controls. There was no learning different keystrokes for different actions. But each mode of transportation had its own physics. The hovercraft couldn't handle long falls, for example, unless you are an experienced pilot, and learn the intricacies of the thing.

Gary: One interesting glimpse into the Bungie development process came when Joseph ran our character off of a huge cliff and kept running on the plain below. We wanted to know whether you took damage from a long fall. We found out that Joseph and Chuck are not quite decided on that aspect of gameplay. I personally think that it was fun to jump off of the cliffs and you ought to be able to have that kind of fun while running around.

Randy: And I think that it should be realistic enough that you would take some damage, but maybe you can get an armor suit that protects you so you still get to jump off high things for fun.

Gary: Yeah, you would think that. What do you, the reader, think about this subject? Send us e-mail and give us your opinion on the topic. We would love to post the results of our online poll in an upcoming article.

Randy: And last, but not least, the graphics in Halo are unbelievable. But you already know that because you have seen the movie we have posted, right? If not, check it out here.

Gary: Finally, I think we have worn out the Expo as column material. It's been over for a while now, and at least I didn't do anything embarrassing like Randy.

Randy: Oh, yeah? I was not the one who had lunch at the beer stand and then spent the afternoon making out with the life-sized Lara Croft mannequin.

Gary: Hey! You said you would never mention that!

Randy: Dude, it's not like thousands of people didn't see it already. Hell, you were on the Channel 2 news.

Gary: Shut up! Shut up! I had an empty stomach when I drank those beers. It's not my fault!

Randy: But did you have to enjoy it so much? I mean it was a plastic doll.

Gary: She was hot, man. That doll was the best kiss I ever had.

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .

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