It’s highly unusual for a video documentary about a game company to elicit a genuine emotional response, but for Bungie fans, the company’s new ViDoc, “O Brave New World” has a little bit of everything: drama, humor, action, explosions, melancholy and even a little bit of sexual tension between a holographic AI and a genetically-enhanced superman.
The video, which clocks in at just under an hour, serves as a soup-to-nuts chronicle of the 20-year Bungie story, including the highlights that everyone knows and some low points that fanboys would probably like to forget. The fusion of art and technological craft is what Bungie is known for, and watching them at work is nothing short of engrossing.
The footage of some of Bungie’s very early games, including the seminal Mac shooter Marathon and the groundbreaking RTS Myth will probably make younger gamers what all the fuss was about, but for those of us who were there, the nostalgia will knock you back. If you remember a time, though, when shooters didn’t let you look above the horizontal plane, it’s great to look back on a time when the conventions we take for granted today were being created, chiseled out of raw pixels by determined artists.
For longtime fans of the Halo series, it’s fascinating to revisit key moments in the franchise’s history, including the legendary Steve Jobs introduction when the game was to be a Mac-only RTS, as well as the frank admission from the team that no one at Bungie was satisfied with the ship state of Halo 2. Few of us who played that campaign feverishly over a couple of days on launch week in 2004 have forgotten the profound sense of disappointment that the game ended so abruptly, and it’s heartening to see that the developers felt the same way and redoubled their efforts to make it up in subsequent sequels.
The video ends with some teasers for their new game, referred to by its code name of “Tiger” and shrouded in secrecy. We see some motion capture, what may be a logo and a promise from the team that it’s going to be as great as they can make it. They’ve left themselves some gigantic shoes to fill.
Bungie’s split from Microsoft may give gamers the best of all worlds: the Halo franchise appears to be in good hands and moving forward and Bungie is free to move on and invent their next big universe. The video ends with a quote from Vergil, “per audacia ad astra,” which, translated, says “to boldly reach the stars.” Whatever the next big thing is from Bungie, chances are I’ll be there on launch day.