"Oh, Lord it's hard to be humble, but I'm doing the best I can." - Mac Davis
It's hard to be humble, if you're Bungie. In just over 10 years, the company has produced over a dozen games, sold an estimated 14 million units, created one of the best-selling game franchises on any platform and single-handedly saved Microsoft's fledgling Xbox console from an early grave.
This week Bungie releases the much-anticipated capstone to the Halo trilogy, a game that's sold more copies before it has even hit the shelves than most titles will sell all year. Speaking to Bungie, it's clear the voodoo they do isn't exactly magic, per se, but a strenuous application of talent and skill to the art of making games, and not even the current kings of console gaming get it right every time.
But that's not what plagues Bungie. Releasing a successful game would appear to be second nature to the one-time Macintosh game developer turned Microsoft in-house ace. No, what keeps the minds behind Halo up at night is the difficulty of remaining humble - and focused.
"We don't want to get too arrogant," Bungie Community Lead Brian Jarrard told The Escapist. "We occasionally worry that we don't want [Halo 3] to get over-hyped. That's not something we do. We don't go out and say, 'This game is the Second Coming; it will be the biggest thing ever.' I think it very likely can and might be, but we're just happy that this is a great piece of work that we've put a lot of time and effort into, and this represents the best Halo game we've made, and [it's] a fitting conclusion to this trilogy."
And "fitting conclusion" is exactly what Halo fans will be looking for when the game ships this week. The first Halo stood fairly well on its own. In fact, it could have survived quite well as the only installment of Halo, except for the niggling fact it sold millions of copies (more than all of Bungie's previous games combined). The second game, however, did not fare so well.
"A Real, Proper Ending"
The forum at halo2boards.com tells the story:
"Everyone....How disapointing was that ending..OMG!!! I think Bungie is trying to lead us on unto false hopes to a Halo 3..i swear why..they had three years and a half to make a great campaign..and then we get this a letdown ending...please...i hope bungie burns in hell" - elite13
Are you completely insane?!? the ending was a complete waste of my time! and sequal?!? this one was disapointing enough!!
Bungie has one more chance to redeem themselves if they make another sequal it better be good or i aint buyin anything else - big chief
"Looking back on Halo 2," Jarrard says, "the most glaring omission was a real, proper ending to the game. When that game began, it was never intended to just stop. We definitely didn't intend to just yank the carpet out."