What fruit will this new partnership between Bungie and Activision bear? Perhaps the answer to that question lies buried in the Halo developer's past games.
When we think of Bungie, we immediately think Halo, so it makes sense that the knee-jerk reaction to the news that the developer has teamed up with Activision is that the developer will be creating some sort of multiplatform Halo-esque first-person shooter.
But Bungie wasn't always a first-person shooter developer.
In fact, its first game was Pong.
Behold Gnop!, Bungie founder Alex Seropian's first game project, released in 1990. As you can see, the beginnings of Bungie were quite humble. I think we can probably rule out a follow-up to this one.
After Gnop!, Seropian moved on to bigger and better things, founding Bungie in order to self-publish his next game, Operation: Desert Storm, a top-down tank shooter based on the conflict in Iraq. Back in 1991, when the game was published, you could get away with making the final boss of your game a giant Saddam Hussein head.
I suppose that wouldn't fly today. Perhaps if the most recent trip to Iraq had gone as smoothly as the previous one...
...let's just move on.
In 1992, Seropian teamed up with programmer Jason Jones to create an action role playing game called Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. The game was like many other dungeon crawlers of the time, only it supported multiplayer gaming through AppleTalk protocol or Point-to-Point Protocol, prompting the tagline "Kill your enemies. Kill your friends' enemies. Kill your friends."
So, any clues so far? We've got a pong clone, a silly top-down shooter, and a multiplayer RPG. I suppose an RPG is possible, and I'd love to see Bungie steer in that direction, but I just can't seem to wrap my head around the concept.
So what's next?
Ah, now we're getting a bit closer to the Bungie we know and love today. 1993's Pathways Into Darkness took the gameplay from Minotaur, made it first-person, and gave the player guns. It was Bungie's biggest hit to date, winning various awards in the magazines read by Mac gamers back in the day.
I suppose this is technically the company's first first-person shooter, but it further established them as a creator of fantasy games, something I would again love to see them revisit.
And then the seeds of Halo were sewn...
Marathon began life as a sequel to Pathways into Darkness, but evolved into a futuristic first-person shooter that would capture the hearts and minds of countless Mac gamers. It spawned two sequels, 1995's Marathon 2: Durandal and 1996's Marathon Infinity, the former of which made a trip to PC from its native Macintosh platform, where it barely made a blip. We were so silly back then.
Marathon would eventually evolve into Bungie's biggest success, but there were still a few other games to come before Master Chief took his first steps.
More fantasy gaming! The Myth series was a fantasy-themed turn-based tactics affair, gaining acclaim for its strategic depth as well as its use of 3D environments.
Myth, Myth II: Soulblighter, and it's expansion, Myth II: Chimera were released between 1997 and 1999, before an agreement with Microsoft saw the rights to the series pass to Take Two, who released Myth III in 2001 before forgetting the series existed.
Is it Halo time yet? Not yet. It's time for my favorite Bungie game of them all...
Oni! The anime-inspired action adventure game for the PC, Mac, and PlayStation 2, was the only game developed by Bungie's short-lived offshoot, Bungie West, and the first and last Bungie game to appear on the PlayStation 2. The game featured sleek and sexy anime action-adventure in the same vein as Ghost in the Shell.
My love for this game borders on the ridiculous. I spent countless hours adjusting my PlayStation 2's laser so it would read the blue-backed disc. Ah, memories.
In 1999, Bungie announced Halo for the Mac. In 2000, Microsoft acquired Bungie and gave the new Xbox its first real blockbuster hit. The relationship lasted until 2007, when Bungie and Microsoft went their separate ways. It was a fruitful partnership, giving birth to Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo ODST, and the upcoming Halo Reach.
So, what have we learned? Bungie might be known as the Halo company, but they've also got a strong affinity for fantasy-themed games, strategy, and Pong.
Now you read the interview we posted earlier this morning, you'll have seen this from Bungie's Brian Jarrard:
"This is a brand-new action game universe that we'll be working on. It's definitely not revisiting anything from our past."
So we know it's an action game, and it isn't directly related to any past games. So while that rules out all of Bungie's previous creations, looking back at what directions they've gone in the past reminds us of the range and scope possible from the company that's become known as the Halo developer.
While I mourn the news that Oni 2 isn't coming anytime soon, use the comment section to speculate about what Bungie and Activision have up their collective sleeves.