Beyond Halo, Marathon, Myth, Oni, What's Next For BungieS

As Bungie works to finish up what they say will be the best Halo game ever produced they're also hard at work at something else, their first non-Halo game in more than ten years.

"For all intents and purposes this will be Bungie's final Halo game," said Brian Jarrard, Bungie's community director. "I don't think we should never say never, but I can definitively say that the game that comes out after Halo from Bungie will be a brand new universe, a brand new experience. Something totally original from Bungie."

Looking at Bungie's history, there's a good chance whatever the team is working on will have legs and won't be a one-off title.

After making a few small titles, Bungie exploded onto the Apple gaming scene with first-person shooter and Halo precursor Marathon in 1994.

Riding on the successes of the Marathon trilogy, Bungie delved into real-time strategy with Myth: The Fallen Lords and Myth II: Soulblighter. The third in the series came from Take 2 Interactive, after Bungie was purchased by Microsoft.

In 1999, Bungie West started work on action third-person shooter Oni, which was finished up by Rockstar Toronto, for 2001.

I pointed out to Jarrard and Marcus Lehto, Bungie's creative director, that the studio, now free of Microsoft, still owns the rights to Marathon. Could Bungie be returning to Marathon for their next big game, I asked.

"Could it come back? Yeah sure, anything is possible, Bungie owns the IP," Jarrard said. "Would the team want to go back to Marathon as opposed to trying something brand new, coming off of a decade of one franchise, many years with Myth before that, many years with Marathon before that? I don't want to speak for the elders, but I have to imagine there is a strong desire to try something new."

While possible, it doesn't sound likely. Instead the team sound like they want to create something entirely new, a frightening proposition for a group who has often lived so long off of the byproducts of a new gaming universe.

"It is very scary," Lehto said. "There is no doubt about it, our goal is to hit our next title out of the park just like we did with Halo.

"With Halo it was a ten year investment for us. We spent a lot of time building this franchise up from what we created in 1997. We had no idea it would be as big as it turned out to be. Our greatest hope is that the next effort we put out there will be just as big."

As for Marathon's future?

It's not a game that Bungie has forgotten about, Lehto says.

"That's the reason I got into Bungie," he said.

After showing Jarrard and Lehto Gameloft's very Halo-esque N.O.V.A. on my iPhone, I ask about bringing Marathon to iTunes.

"That," Lehto says with a smile, "would be an awesome app."