Bungie Studios are a US video game developer founded in May 1991 under the name Bungie Software Products Corporation (more popularly shortened to Bungie Software) by two undergraduate students at the University of Chicago Alex Seropian and Jason Jones. They primarily concentrated on Macintosh games for their first nine years. Today they're a part of Microsoft Game Studios since being acquired in 2000. Bungie is best known for developing the popular video game series Halo, Marathon, and Myth, as well as Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete, Pathways Into Darkness and Oni.
Bungie's first release was the free Pong clone Gnop! for MacOS. This was followed by the tile combat game Operation Desert Storm also for MacOS. For much of the 1990s they developed a series of increasingly technically detailed first person shooter (FPS) games for this platform. Their first big break was the FPS Pathways Into Darkness in 1993.
Bungie would then follow with the groundbreaking Marathon series, which introduced a number of new concepts into the FPS genre (a complete physics engine, dual-wielding, and a sophisticated and deep plot, to name a few). Marathon 2 was Bungie's first game that was released for Windows as well as Mac (though the Windows version was released a year later, in 1996). Many of the following titles would be dual platform as well, but Bungie was still considered a Macintosh publisher by many, producing some titles on the Macintosh platform first, or Mac only.
Bungie's success gave rise to a large third-party developer community as well as a short lived newsletter published through BBS. Following the success of Marathon, Bungie released the Myth series of games, which stressed tactical unit management as opposed to the resource gathering model of other combat strategy titles. The Myth games won several awards and spawned a large and active online community (which is still active on the fan-supported playmyth.net), receiving cult status.
Bungie was seen as a significant member of the Macintosh developer community in the 1990s. The mid-1990s, in particular, was a dire time for the Mac platform, with many rumors circulating about Apple's low sales, poor financial performance, and the impending death of the Macintosh platform in an industry dominated by Microsoft Windows. Bungie was one of the few publishers to develop primarily for the Mac platform during this time, rather than port PC-platform games, or not publish for Mac at all.
In 1997, Bungie expanded and formed Bungie West, a studio in California. Bungie West created Bungie's first multi-platform game, Oni, to be released in 1999 for the Mac, PC, and PlayStation 2. Oni was Bungie West's first and only game. The final version of Oni lacked multiplayer, significantly affecting the game's success. In 2000, Bungie West was closed, and the rights to Oni were sold to Take-Two Interactive.
In 1999, Bungie announced their next product, Halo, which featured a world-beating physics and AI system. Halo's public unveiling occurred at the Macworld Expo 1999 keynote address by Apple's then-interim-CEO Steve Jobs (after a closed-door screening at E3 in 1999). However, on June 19, 2000, (also known as Black Monday), Microsoft announced that they had acquired Bungie Software and that Bungie would become a part of the Microsoft Game Division (subsequently renamed Microsoft Game Studios) under the name Bungie Studios. As a result, the Mac and PC versions were delayed, and the game was re-purposed for Microsoft's Xbox, on which it became the console's killer app. Bungie's sale to Apple's long-time rival Microsoft was seen as a betrayal to the Mac community at the time. Mac and Windows versions of Halo were eventually released two years later.
The Xbox version of Halo received the "Game of the Year" and "Console Game of the Year" awards for 2002 from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and topped video game bestseller charts for almost two years. Halo has been one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.
Prior to the release of their next game, Bungie oversaw and 'signed off' on the I Love Bees puzzle, an alternate reality game revolving around a 'hacked' bee-keeping website, the address for which appeared in the Halo 2 theatrical trailer. Bungie provided the Haunted Apiary designers with the "Halo Bible", allowing them to develop the story according to Halo canon, but did not directly contribute to the game.
On November 9, 2004, Halo 2 was officially released. It was a huge hit, making more than $125 million on release day and setting a record in the entertainment industry.
In September 2005 Bungie moved into its new studio in Kirkland, Washington, in order to support the growing size of the staff and resources in use.
On May 9, 2006, Microsoft announced Halo 3, Bungie's next installment in the Halo franchise, which will come to the Xbox 360 in 2007. On September 27, 2006, they announced two partnerships with Ensemble Studios and Wingnut Interactive to produce two games: Halo Wars and an untitled project trilogy, respectively. This will take the total number of Halo games coming to the Xbox 360 to a speculated five (three being another trilogy). Only two games have been officially announced: Halo 3 and Halo Wars. It is currently known that they have over 100 employees working actively on current projects, and that most of them are working on Halo 3, which will be one of the key titles that Microsoft hopes will win them the "Console War" for the Xbox 360. Bungie has also announced a number of beta and alpha tests for the public and gaming writers, prior to its release, this is so that they can make sure every detail of the game, especially online multiplayer, is up to scratch as this is set to be one of the biggest game releases of all time.
Bungie.net serves as the main official portal for interaction between Bungie staff and the community surrounding Bungie's games. The 'News' area of the site typically contains information about events in the community, updates to the online aspect of Halo 2, and 'Bungie Weekly Updates'. These weekly updates, written by Frank O'Connor and Luke Smith, are generally humorous (although factual) in nature and deliver updates on day-to-day life in Bungie Studios as well as updates on the progress of Halo 3. In addition to this, the site has a large forum section where users can post on a range of topics, mainly related to Bungie's games.
Another large feature of the site is the integration with Xbox Live, specifically Halo 2 and the upcoming Halo 3. Detailed information about each game played is recorded, and can be viewed using the 'My Stats' area of the website. This information includes statistics on each player in the game, and a map of the game level showing where kills occurred.
The website also contains screenshots (including QuickTime '3D' screenshots), wallpapers, storyboards, video trailers, as well as short 'ViDocs' (Video Documentaries).
Bungie.net began life in 1996 as Bungie.com, a community/business website covering Marathon and previous projects. Before Bungie was purchased by Microsoft, Bungie.net was used to host and play the Myth series of games. Even in the beginning, classic pages such as Letters to the Webmaster and Soapbox existed, if in a somewhat graphically inferior manner to the later versions. A few layout and content updates ensued throughout 1997, until at the tail end of the year, consequent of the release of Myth, Bungie.net was born, serving as a community, statistics and multiplayer metaserver. Bungie.com remained to cover the business side, while it's sibling thrived. With the release of Myth II at the close of 1998, the site was further updated and now supported the multiplayer sides of both games.
Since 2004, Bungie.net has undergone 2 major upgrades. The first of these was in April 2004, bringing a new blue colored design, in preparation for the launch of Halo 2. The second of these was in 2007, in preparation for Halo 3. This new design has a darker color theme and a more grid-like layout.
Bungie, like many production companies, makes references to their previous games within new games. Many of these references hint or imply that certain Bungie games operate in similar or identical universes, particularly the Marathon trilogy and the Halo franchise.
While most believed that Bungie would never add a direct connection between these two games (just as they did not for Marathon and Pathways Into Darkness), it is interesting to note that the I Love Bees puzzle seems to have added a substantial connection between the Marathon universe and the Halo universe. However, Bungie later stated that I Love Bees was not directly written by them, although it was written using the Halo Story Bible, and its status as canon is still in question. On Bungie's own website Bungie.net, Bungie also provides the following: "Q. Is Marathon the prequel to Halo?", "A. No, Marathon is a separate story, with wholly different characters, story and gameplay." On the other hand, Alexander Seropian has stated: "I don't think you ever find that out, but it's the same character." Fans of both games continue to speculate on this theory.
The "Halo Story Bible" is the name given to a compendium in which is stored all available material which is considered canon for Bungie's Halo universe. It exists as a hard copy that Bungie presumably holds and is often used to design merchandise and products (most notably, the novels). More properly, the Halo Story Bible refers to the characters, events, and other happenings of the Halo universe held to be canon by Bungie itself, including much content that was not included in any novel or game. Material which is not in the Halo Bible - while perhaps entertaining - is considered to have no relevance to the Halo universe.
Another interesting fact about Bungie is their use of the number seven. Many of these are more obvious than others, including 343 Guilty Spark (7³ = 343), 2401 Penitent Tangent (2+4+0+1=7 or 74 = 2401), Power of Seven (credited for the Marathon 2: Durandal and Marathon Infinity opening songs, and most of Oni's soundtrack), Pfhor Battle Group 7, and their official fan club, the 7th Column, but some of these are amusingly subtle: the Marathon colony ship was the hollowed out Deimos - first discovered in 1877 and first photographed in 1977. Also, in the Halo universe, there were originally seven Halos scattered throughout the Milky Way galaxy until the main protagonist destroyed one of them.
Bungie as a company has developed its own complex and diverse mythology in addition to that in their games. Several of these include their 7 Step Plan for World Domination, The Shaft, the snack food Tijuana Mama (containing "mechanically separated chicken, pork hearts, and protein concentrate", and "300% Hotter!"), the decapitated head of a dog named Ling-Ling (Step Five in the World Domination plan), the entity that resides in their server named Disembodied Soul, the chronically drunk and aggressive webmaster of Bungie.net (known for dressing as a gorilla with a floppy yellow cowboy hat, as well as disappearing for months on "HTML research missions" and answering the E-Mails of grammatically impaired fans), a cheap absorbent toy fish called the Soffish, and The Cup, the prize at the Bungie Winter Pentathlon (a tradition has emerged that the losing team, out of envy, steals the cup rather than let the winning team touch it. In fact, several Bungie employees doubt the actual existence of The Cup, as it has been stolen and hidden so many times they have never laid eyes on it).
- Double Aught was a short-lived company comprised of several former Bungie team members. They were best known for creating the Infinity scenario Blood Tides of Lhowon and for the unreleased title Duality.
- Wideload Games, creators of Stubbs the Zombie, is another company that came from Bungie. It is led by one of the two Bungie founders, Alex Seropian, and 7 out of the 11 employees have previously worked at Bungie.
- Giant Bite was founded by Hamilton Chu (former lead producer of Bungie Studios), and Michal Evans (former Bungie programmer), as well as Steve Theodore (former Valve employee) and Andy Glaister (former Microsoft Game Studios employee). They have not yet announced a project.
- Certain Affinity was announced December 13, 2006 as a new studio in Austin, Texas. Founded by Max Hoberman (the multiplayer design lead for Halo 2 and Halo 3, UI lead for Halo, and founder of Bungie's Community Team), the team of 9 includes former Bungie employees (David Bowman & Chad Armstrong) as well as folks from Digital Anvil, Turbine Artifact, Origin, and other developers. They have since released the last two maps for Halo 2.
- Operation Desert Storm
- Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete
- Pathways Into Darkness (sometimes considered part of the Marathon series)
- Abuse (as publisher, Macintosh port)
- Weekend Warrior (as publisher)
- Myth: The Fallen Lords
- Myth II: Soulblighter
- Phoenix (cancelled)
April Fools Joke
- Pimps at Sea