Wednesday, July 18, 2012

David Ellis Is Looking Good

So is Halo 4.

For as long as I've been playing Halo, I've unfortunately never attended any LANs or conventions outside of San Diego. Granted, earlier this month I was able have a nice, sit down dinner with Louis Wu, Mig and other HBO older timers while in NYC, but usually I miss out on the fun stuff (used to be a parental thing, now I've just got crap timing).

With that in mind, you can understand why the San Diego Comic-Con is kinda a big deal for me. 
Aren't I a little short to be a SPARTAN?
Wu was kind enough to ask if I wanted to do some SDCC coverage for HBO and of course I said yes. I was going to be attending all the Halo-related panels anyway and I was going to get to play a bit of Halo 4 (+1).

Preview Night I met up with Laird and Dom, both whom I've known for many e-years through RvB and HBO. They're Canadian so I wanted to make sure they felt at home and took them to our local hockey bar that is knee-deep in Canucks gear and Molson

On Thursday I mostly just took pictures, attended the Machinima Panel and met someone shorter than I..
Tex & "The Napster", photobomb courtesy of my friend.
By Friday I had met the other HBO correspondents, and NeoGAF members, and , who had already been in line who-knows-how-many times to play Halo 4. Seriously, anytime I texted these guys: 'where are you?' 'in line for halo 4 lololol' (I may have taken an artistic liberty with that text message reply.). When I met them they were a good two turns in line ahead of me and were kind enough to let me jump the line to join them (sorry, line). These gentlemen and their posse were incredibly down-to-earth, generous and made me feel as though I'd been in their gang all along. They were constantly letting me know what/when/where everything was going down and always invited me along for the ride. They didn't harass me too much for playing inverted, either.
Colin and Melad, WOAH RL NAMES.

But without a doubt, Friday evening had to be the highlight of the Con. Laird was more than generous enough to get me an invite to the Halo 4 VIP Reception (major thanks to bsangel to vouching for me when my email ate my invite).
Check out those pixels.
As I said, I had never attended any big, Halo related event up until then, so this was going to be a huge deal for me. Hell, for days I was debating what I'd wear. Thankfully, Dom had a great idea and I had the perfect, Cortana-blue, sparkly dress...even though nearly everyone else showed up in jeans. Overdressing is kinda my thing.

I grin like an idiot when Halo is involved.

Myself, Dom & Laird
When I wasn't playing camera man for my friend's interviews with Frankie (who called me the Best Dressed camera-man, +1) I was schmoozing with 343, people from RoosterTeeth and staring in awe about how freaking tall Daniel Cudmore was. I could barely hear him when he spoke to me, as he was at least two atmospheres taller.

Don't let this image fool you, I'm in heels.
But what had to be one of the most exciting parts of the evening (aside from, you know, playing Halo 4) was getting that 'Are you at the party?/Where?' text message from mastrbiggy that led to being hunted down for the 343 Industries v. Community Challenge. Part I can be seen below from BravoMLG's Youtube channel (I make a cameo in the beginning!). 

Now, I'm not the best Halo player (there are documents that can support this) but I did my single-digit, negative spread best. It paid off in Game 3, where I managed a triple kill (in Part II you can hear me scream 'Yes!') and scored the game-winning kill that brought The Challenge to an end (+1). I wish I could say I did it with ease, but hearing Bravo call-out "ONE KILL, ONE KILL" and then running into him for 'all da marbles' was terrifying. Like it wasn't enough that I had my heart in my throat the whole second-half of the match. Big GGs to 343 and Bravo, as well as Nak3dHalo for commentating and being my partner in SpartanOps (also for egging me on to get that picture with Cudmore).

Everyone is calling Halo 4 the most anticipated game of the year. I had been in the dark as far as any news about Halo 4 went, save the release date and some info about SpartanOps (thanks, higher education). I don't need to go into details about the aesthetics and give my opinion on the game play (there are plenty of videos out there by now for you to form your own conclusions) but after getting to play that evening, I think they may be right.

But what really got me going was the 343 Team themselves. I know people who are skeptic about this new studio adopting the pet kitten, but after interacting with Allison, Bonnie, Jessica, Kiki, Frankie and (inhale) everyone else at 343 who made Comic-Con and Halo 4 possible, but trust me when I say the Halo franchise is in a good home. DominoTheory really hit the nail on the head when he was talking about the unbelievable amount of gratitude and warmth that came from the 343 Team. I was in awe when hanging out with him and mastrbiggy about how open they were with them as though they'd been friends forever. Anytime in the evening when they were talking shop, I pretty much just stayed back and listened. Though that changed quite a bit after The Challenge (also cause of the open bar, which may be a reason Halo 4 gets my thumbs up).
I actually just photoshopped the Corona bottle out of my hand.
There was something incredibly comforting about getting to meet the entity involved in carrying the torch for your favorite franchise and them being so damn hospitable and friendly. You couldn't ask for a better studio, or better people, who are just as excited to make and share this game with us as we are to play it. These are people that make the community feel like family and I couldn't be more thankful for it (or another Halo game). Every studio should aspire to be as charismatic and caring as 343 is with their fans.

Plus it'll pay off more than an open bar.

I can't begin (or even finish) describing the amount of gratitude and love I have for everyone at 343 who made this Comic-Con so memorable and exciting for me. I won't be able to express my appreciation again at PAX (Cousin's wedding. Like I said, crap timing) so this will have to suffice: