D1112 T1903 Y2011Sent West

Greetings. Please join me on a stroll that leads to the clearing at the end of this path. You see, the time has come to shut down this phase of a project that began over six years ago. As has been suggested on more than one occassion: TTL is not what it used to be. We would not have it any other way.

Since this project began with the simple idea that gamers could use the games they play to be excellent to each other, I have lived a lifetime of adventures in cultivating the language that flowed from this blog. It’s been a privilege to showcase the creativity of the membership that rallied to the banner I raised. It was an honor to share war stories with gamers infinitely more skilled than myself. It was a blast to form friendships I will have for the rest of my life.

But, alas, this is my last blog post as the toastmaster of the community that thrives here. Tied the Leader will remain standing. This movement is about more than one person expressing an opinion. What was created here was a product of their talents more than my own. An entire staff bristling with trusted agents is waiting in the wings to carry the mission forward.

Check out the next evolution of TTL.
[you might need to refresh, constant reader]

The storefront is being rebuilt. Some new proprietors have been appointed to keep the shelves stocked with our very specific brand of mayhem. The time has come for me to stop being a pundant on the periphery, and join the circus that has kept me so entertained throughout this campaign as a gamerblogger.

I won’t be too hard to find, depending on your preferences for playing fantastic games. If you like the games I want to play, it will be my job to keep you entertained, and to learn from your exploits. Don’t be a stranger.

As for now, please allow me the distinct pleasure of introducing you to my coworkers, some fine creators that you may have seen mentioned on these pages once in a while…

Thanks to anyone that ever gave this column the time of day.
Thanks to everyone that ever expressed their opinion.
Thanks to the gifted artists that raised the flag higher.
Thanks to the allies that played on my team.
Thanks to the opponents that completed the equation.

Good Game.

Posted by XerxdeeJ


D1006 T1024 Y2010Bungie Ties The Leader

“Death for you, Gunslingers…”

That was both the threat and the invitation to dance. In recounting the events of a Humpday Challenge against the Forum Ninjas from Bungie.net, it was Urk that held palaver with us in a place of bones and predicted our fortunes. His grim prognosis was nothing short of prophetic.

Behold the uniform of Team Onyx. They are an imposing sight. Aren’t they? If they cross your path, you will need to bring your very best game to survive their attack. As a team, these gamers passionately enforce the notion that Bungie makes games that they want to play – and play well. Last night, the TTL Gunslingers met their defeat in battle against the finest killers from the ranks of the creators of Halo Reach.

Game: Invasion Slayer
Map: Spire
Outcome: Bungie Wins 100-89

We were robbed of our humanity [and our pride] for the first bout of the night, forced to inhabit the hunched form of the Elite invaders. Our opponents controlled the vertical high-ground and rained fire down from above. Bungie taught a harsh lesson in resource management as well, controlling the territories and the reinforcements that they yield. On too many occassions, we allowed them to steal our own spoils of war and use them against us…

Game: Capture the Flag
Map: Hemorrhage
Outcome: Stalemate – Bungie wins by Kill Count

A classic standard of Halo gameplay was selected out of foolish sentimentality by this gamerblogger. The Gunslingers were unable to breach the iron-clad defenses of the Onyx base. Waves after waves of strike teams crashed upon their shields, surrendering the kills that would end up earning Bungie the bragging rights for victory in a second consecutive round…

Game: Team Slayer
Map: Boardwalk
Outcome: Tied the Leader wins [barely] 100-99

With the match decided, there was nothing left for us to defend but our dignity. Team Onyx kept their forces tightly knit into a deadly web of crossfire. They seemed to have an uncanny knack for luring us into their killzone, and then tightening the noose around the bravest [or most foolhearty] of us. After giving up a dangerous lead in the first half of the match, the Gunslingers adapted – choosing to exchange fire over longer sightlines instead of marching into the slaughter like lambs…

Previsouly, the Gunslingers emerged victorious from a Humpday Challenge against Bungie. That was in a different game – a different time. On Reach, everyone plays for keeps. Our record against The Maker is now even. One win. One loss. Last night, Bungie tied the leader.

It must be said that the statistical outcome of these matches is less important than the fact that they happen at all. These Humpday Challenges are a prime example of what makes Bungie so special as a development house. Their gesture of sharing a friendly match with the people who play their games is a catalyst that sparks to life the blue flame of community. They are curious about us. It makes us curious about each other. From there, Reach is what we make of it together.

As always, and even in defeat, it was our pleasure to sample the gameplay of the very people who wrought it from code. The TTL Gunslingers say thankya for the chance to be schooled by the masters of their own domain. What do we say now? There is only one thing to say…

Good Game.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 13

D0906 T0035 Y2010PAXific Northwest Weekend

Four Gunslingers from Tied the Leader would like to sound off with our heartiest “Say Thankya!” to the industrial players and title gamers that contributed to a fantastic weekend in Seattle, Washington. Over the course of Labor Day Weekend, we made the rounds to partake in social events occuring in conjunction with the Penny-Arcade Expo.

This was the first occassion on which this gamerblogger attended an official convention. [By they way, PAX-goers, what the hell was up with all the kilts?] Very little can – or should – be said to describe the experience. It’s a very subjective undertaking – motivated more by personal relationships than any tactical agenda or propoganda. The entire weekend yielded a broader perspective as to all of the various demographics that inhabit and propell the gaming universe.

When you meet The Makers of a game, you gain startling enlightenment about the machinations that drive forward your favorite pastime. The grueling hours. The unforgiving deadlines. The unrealistic expectations. The compromises that govern the decision making. While the act of creating a game may become less magical with this newfound understanding, you gain a deeper appreciation for the would-be magicians. As they become mere mortals in your estimation, it can be said that their accomplishments seem all the more impressive.

Gamer community reigns at PAX. Combatents step out from behind the avatars to wage a more social contest in person. Posses clash. Sects intermingle. We Gunslingers broke bread with allies from the Good Game Network. We raised glasses with the Spirits of Fire from the realm of Hawty McBloggy. We crashed after-parties teaming with dionysian hoardes from The WorkPLace of Bungie.net. We payed homage to our Godfather from Halo.Bungie.Org.

Speaking of Halo.Bungie.Org, we even accepted a challenge that was issued on their front-page. It’s what we Gunslingers do. It turns out that chatter from the beta for Halo Reach was right on target. The pistol is, in fact, most effective against Elites.

Good Game to all who allowed us to cross their path. Thanks for the hospitality. Thanks for the camaraderie. Thanks for making the act of playing these games more rewarding than shooting at a piece of paper that does not fight back. It was a pleasure to meet you and to know your face.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 4

D0615 T1132 Y2010The Battle of Los Angeles

On Tuesday, the 15th day of June, in the year 2010, Tied the Leader was called upon to investigate a Firefight in progress in downtown L.A.

Upon receipt of the top secret mission briefing, we dispatched our very own stabmasterarson, West Coast Gunslinger and top gun commercial actor [that’s him in the green vest, pushing the junk food]. The scene of the skirmish was The Edison nightclub. The hosts were agents of Microsoft and BUNGIE, on an away mission to E-3.

The venue, in all its historic glory, was home to a demonstration of one of the many components to be featured in Halo: Reach. Correspondents from various media outlets descended upon the darkened social spot to report on the finer details of the improved offering. Several representatives from notable gamer communities were also invited to infiltrate. TTL was humbled to be able to send the stabmaster, say thankya.

By now, it is likely that you have heard that Firefight is making a return to BUNGIE’s impending killer application. Familiar to those who played ODST, this multiplayer scenario will once again pit players against waves of Covenant invaders in an offworld setting. As always, BUNGIE is placing the power in the hands of the gamers, with some exciting new features, including more robust options for customization.

Do you want to know more? Has the hype failed to reach you yet? If the past 24 hours have seen you in a cave, click any of the following links:

[Gamespot, NeoGAF, Halo.Bungie.Org, IGN]

Rather than search for something about Firefight that has not already been said, stabmaster has provided us with a boots-on-the-ground account of the gathering. Gunslingers love a good LAN Party. When Microsoft Points are used to plan the affair, the attention to detail must be recognized. His first person shoot follows below. First, please enjoy a scroll through this slideshow of the new hotness…

...Did you see the size of that Hunter? Firefight 2.0 looks like a blast. But you already knew that. For a sampling of the event that gave rise to this announcement, we must yield the floor to the distinguished gentleman from California.

because i was invited to the party, i thought that everyone wearing a bungie shirt was my friend.

the club was amazing. there was one room with all these old school generators that, for a second, i though bungie had brought in as set decoration for the party. turns out they just picked a good spot.

not only did they have an open bar, but they had a nice open bar. not just well drinks. they had ketel vodka and goose and such. i stuck to beer.

the gaming stations were set up so that you could play with the other four people who were in your party.

the first time i played i was instantly betrayed with a rocket launcher by a chick that was at this party. she looked over at me and laughed.

I didn’t get to talk to Brian [Jarrard] for very long. he seemed pretty busy. “I have talked a lot about this game today…”

all in all, it was a great time. i like how down to earth these guys were. love “stabby”

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 5

D0209 T0005 Y2009First Person Plural

“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

This famous description of Alexander the Great, attributed by many to poet John Milton, illustrates the emptiness that awaits any warrior at the end of their glorious campaign. A Gunslinger who reaches the clearing at the end of the path has walked their last steps. Should a Gunslinger reach the Tower, there is nothing left to do but begin their quest again from the beginning.

As gamers, we contemplate this question in terms of “replayability”. In essence, the more worlds a game enables us to conquer, the longer we are likely to play it. Amidst the warzones of Xbox Live, the Halo franchise has long been heralded as the best example of a replayable game. Even if a gamer is able to execute every potential achievement in a Legendary Campaign, it is impossible that they will ever claim a flag from every distinct gamertag.

That same Halo Franchise has long been the bedrock of our warring gaming community at Tied the Leader. Our very name is homage to the announcements heard in its online multiplayer applications. The TTL Gunslingers played Halo 2 tirelessly for over two years, with only minor distractions. A component of that replayability came from the notion that we were all waiting for Halo 3, and that holding our territory on Relic was keeping us prepared to finish the fight. Another component was the fact that the dominance Halo 2 was relatively unchallenged by other titles.

We live in exponential times. In the current marketplace, Halo is racing against many other dark horses. One needs only follow Major Nelson’s Activity Reports to track the entries in the running. Your Xbox is no longer a one-trick pony. The competition for your trigger time is fierce, and there are now many worlds to conquer.

So, how does a development house keep a gamer loyal? And, how does an Overlord like your friendly neighborhood gamerblogger keep a clan of gamers happy and engaged? There are times when the replayability of our favorite games lies in the culture that we create for ourselves. The concept of culture is used here to explain the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group… but more on that later.

To best understand how the questions of replayability and loyalty impact the Halo Nation, we need to step outside our own borders. We even need to journey back in time to visit a world at war. I am, of course, talking about Call of Duty. Please join me in my Way-Back Machine as I take you on a tour of how the rival puppetmasters at Activision are seducing away the expatriates on your Friends List.

Call of Duty features a numeric ranking and matchmaking system, similar to the one that brings us into violent communion in Halo. The major difference is that a gamer earns Experience Points in Call of Duty for every opponent that they down. The downside is that Personal Achievement is more a factor in “Leveling Up” than is the fate of the team. The upside is that clans can’t boost a gamer by carrying them to repeated wins.

A winning streak in COD is not worth much if a gamer is not reporting confirmed kills to the War Department. Trust me. I overcame this reality via much pain… Any idiot can march from Stalingrad to Berlin and still go home a Private.

The outcome of this ranking system is that any gamer can shoot their way through to the mountain top; including a gear-headed Warthog Pilot like me. Even a Tube-Catcher [that’s COD-speak for n00b] who scores only one kill per game can reach the end of the numeric scale, given enough time and effort. Along the way, milestones are celebrated with enough fanfare to send a chill of pride up even the most jaded spine. Challenges are completed. Weapons are acquired. Perks are assigned. Promotions are awarded.

There is the sense that every step in the adventure makes that adventure more complex, and more dangerous. And when a gamer reaches the Mountaintop? When they have fired everything from the M-1 to the Fallschirmjagergewehr-42? When they have played with perks that make them run faster or shoot more accurately? What then?

Commander’s are given the chance to “Prestige!” In so doing, they are required to throw all of their wonderful toys onto the rubbish heap and start anew as a Private First Class – issued nothing but a Tommy Gun, a Pistol, and draft papers still wet with ink. All they are given for their trouble is a tiny little icon next to their gamertag that says “I reached the top of the mountain and I descended to climb it again.”

You can “Prestige” ten times in Call of Duty. That amounts to ten worlds to conquer.

When a gamer reaches the mountaintop in Halo 3, they weep. Either that or they seek out new life and new civilizations to conquer. Among the Gunslingers, there is a cadre of vanguards that sweep through games like locusts. First to fight. First to reach 100% of all available gamer points. They play everything that hits the shelves of the game store – well almost everything. If they last more than a few weeks in a game, we set them up with a discussion board. If that board fills up with war stories that seem worth living, we all go out and buy the game. A game like Call of Duty is clever in its ability to hold their attention for longer than the average Skateboarding simulator, since it has ten big speedbumps between them and the “completion” for which they endeavor.

By stark contrast, there are Halo Loyalists in the Gunslinger Army. Their Mjolnir is fused to their very backs. The UNSC standard issue Battle Rifle is an extension of their hearts. They hail from the dried creek beds of Blood Gulch, and ever thrive in the rolling currents of Valhalla. For these faithful SPARTANS, their only hope for Prestige is a second gamertag.

Unwittingly, some of the most prestigious citizens of our fare Halo Nation end up being some of the most vilified figures in the pre-game lobby. Have we not heard the scorn hurled at the feet of Second Taggers? Have we not added to the vitriol that dogpiles on a forum when this subject is brought to trial?

“Go pick on someone at your own level!”

“Enjoy your time ranking up again, you #%&%$%&%$!”

“I could win too, if I played on another tag!”

In essence, the desire of many to immigrate away from the Halo Nation may be a product as our own culture. What we have failed to realize in our limited exposure to the other warfronts on Xbox Live is that a Second-Tagger is a gamer who has engineered a way to remain in the game, by playing through it again and again under multiple identities. Their Prestige costs them an extra membership fee, making it more than just a sacrifice of time and effort.

Case Study: Los Jacklos is the first name in competitive gaming at Tied the Leader. He led expeditions through teenage wastelands like MLG and Gamebattles. When challengers come to MidWorld in search of our hides, Los is almost certainly behind the answer. Currently, he is on maneuvers against affiliated clans in the Good Game Network, via a private league. Here is his answer on the theory of Second-Tagging as a gesture of prestige…

TTL: How many distinct gamertags do you have, and what are their ranks?

LOS: I have three tags, TTL Los Jacklos, xxxLos, It’s the Jackle, all have 50’s.

TTL: What motivated you to pay for numerous identities?

LOS: Not everyone I play Halo with wants to get matched against 50’s in ranked games. So I created other tags to play with my lower ranked friends. You could say ‘why not just play social’, but let’s face it: social playlist players don’t often play with the same breakneck endeavor that ranked playlist challengers do. Often they quit, or just stop taking the game seriously. Lets not forget the guest factor or getting split! So I created other tags to play around with and sooner or later they get to 50.

TTL: What is your primary goal as a gamer?

LOS: My primary goal as a gamer is to play games. I think I have been doing that successfully since a young age. However, they have not entirely been electronic games. Joking aside, I assume you mean as a Halo player. My goal as a Halo player has been to recreate the magical moments of my first few games of Halo played with friends. I am thankfully able to do that almost every night!

TTL: Has the process of “leveling up” these tags stoked the replayability of Halo 3?

LOS: Yes, I suppose. If I was confined to one tag I wouldn’t play less Halo, but I would probably play with fewer players outside of my skill range.

TTL: Do you encounter scorn in Matchmaking from people who suspect that you are playing below your natural level?

LOS: I play on ‘Team and Party’ voice chat 100% of the time, so I don’t know for sure. I would assume I do, being that some XBL players are scornful people. I can tell you that people who are 50’s playing on second tags aren’t complaining about it (too busy complaining about LAG and BR spread to sweat the small stuff!!!).

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 7

D0206 T1444 Y2008Humpday Challenge Recap

When you say “good game” to someone from Bungie Studios, the eponymous phrase carries with it a double-edged meaning:
1. You played well, and we enjoyed playing you.
2. Thank you for this fantastic platform for interaction.

On the Wednesday that fell on February 6th, at long last, a delegation from the Official Halo Clan of Tied the Leader had the chance to partake in this privilege. When posed with the question of who [among 118 TTL Gunslingers] would challenge the creators of our favorite virtual warzone, we selected some of the members that had a hand in founding our [perhaps not so] humble band of gamers.

On the other side of the match-up, adorned with crowns wrought from flame, were some gamers whose careers we had followed with great interest. We knew all all the news [that was fit to print] about their trials and tribulations in keeping us occupied and entertained. Until the evening of our challenge, we had been waiting for an opportunity to show them how much fun we have playing their game.

As the dance card suggests, our team was not engineered to bring home a resounding win. Such was not at all our concern. This was not our wrecking crew, any more than this was a grudge match. We fielded a welcoming committee. This was our entourage of ambassadors. If you crave the results from the scoreboard, you are welcome to peruse them at Bungie.net – along with the most colorful of commentary, provided by Lukems.

For the Gunslingers, this was our chance to rub elbows [and swap lead] with the people who enable us to enjoy the experience that is provided to us by playing Halo 3 via Xbox Live. Being a clan in the Halo Nation has added friendships to our lives. It has enriched the time we have logged ridding the couch. It has given us an outlet for our creativity.

It’s hard to shoot at someone that you appreciate for those reasons. It is with mixed emotions that you read words like “You killed Thug Larz”. You almost don’t want to extinguish those flames.


Bungie, we say thankya.
Thanks for the games.
Thanks for the game itself.

Further to the point of creativity, check out the panoramics from TTL’s resident auteur El Burritoh. If you want a truly unique keepsake from a challenge, always field an artist.








Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 25

D0101 T2247 Y2008Team Community of the Year?

Tied the Leader would like to take a moment and humbly thank anyone who voted for us as their choice to represent the Xbox Live Community as their favorite [nominated] team.

Of course, the accolade was only made possible by the curious podcasters at Gamertag Radio. We thank you – and them – not for the victory, but for the vote of confidence.

The Gunslingers don’t play games in an effort win an award. We game because we enjoy doing it. We are glad that is apparent. If our love for the game rubs off on some other people we cross on the paths of the grid? Well, that’s an unexpected bonus.

Any award given to us has to be shared with the entire Halo Nation. Without so many passionalely interactive people with whom we can swap ordnance, there would be no Clan of Gunslingers. There would be no need to explore the politics of multiplayer.

This blog exists for not many other reasons than to lure people into our midst to play the game with us. We like the people who engage us through titles like Halo 2, Halo 3, and Call of Duty. If it weren’t for them, we would be fragging AI in endless combinations of isolation.

The Game is the thing. We just want to play it the way it was meant to be played. If that means we get an award, we will just keep doing that.

It’s business as usual at Tied the Leader. We deal in lead. All we need are some worhty volunteers to come and collect.

Again. Say Thankya!

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 4

D1206 T1519 Y2007Clan System - REBORN!

It is our profoundest pleasure at Tied the Leader to report that the Clan System is once again alive and well – and thriving on Xbox Live. Prior to the most recent Xbox Live Dashboard Update, there were rumors spreading throughout the gaming community about what enhancements were slated for automatic installation.

When the news became official, as was expected, a Clan List to augment one’s Friends List was not included.

Then, a whisper campaign started… Something about the ability to see Friends of Friends on Xbox Live. It was puzzling, but it held promise. Would we be able to send Game Invites? Or just Friend Requests?

As is with all things, the TTL Gunslingers count on nothing until it is installed and working on our machines.

Since the update, we are using new tools for networking among gamers to better unite what was our Halo 2 Clan. Actually, the potential for uniting gamers into cohesive teams, groups, or communities under this system has far more reach than the extra friends list was “cheated” into the code for Halo 2.

Allow us to provide a case study for how we are using this new pearl of functionality. We have even drafted some network diagrams to tell the story in pictures…

That is a TTL Gunslinger. Isn’t he adorable? He’s a good gamer, but he needs friends. That is why he joined a clan, after all…

In Halo 2, our hero [The Gunslinger] could sort his Allies and his Clanmates on two lists… One for his Friends, and One for his Fellow Gunslingers. It worked well for him. He could rely on his Fellow Gunslingers for solid covering fire and planned strategy, but still had Friends among the gaming community at large. In a hostile zone like Xbox Live, after all, one cannot have too many friends.

When Halo 3 launched, the clan list that had always been home to his Fellow Gunslingers vanished like a spent bullet casing. The gamer who wrote the blog for Tied the Leader was being really obnoxious about making sure that The Gunslingers had each other on their Friends Lists now. The Gunslinger had to say goodbye to some of his more casual friends. His clan had grown beyond the reach of his Friends List, so he even had to lose some of his Fellow Gunslingers as well. This made The Gunslinger sad.

After the most recent Xbox Live update, however, the Staff at Tied the Leader announced the implementation of something called “Peering Points”. Apparently, they were silver gamertag accounts that existed for no other purpose than to allow The Gunslingers to find one another in a specific game.

Using the newly arrived “Friends of Friends” feature, The Gunslinger was able to access lists that served as active rosters for all of his favorite games. To join his Fellow Gunslingers in a game, all he had to do was look at the people on the Friends List for the Silver Account that was named after said game. This cleared a lot of space on The Gunslinger’s Friends Lists for some of the Friends that he had been missing. This made The Gunslinger happy.

Not only that, but the gamer who wrote the blog for Tied the Leader could organize The Gunslingers into clusters for all of the titles that they were playing. This made the gamer who writes the blog for Tied the Leader happy.

Say thankya!!!

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 13

D1022 T0208 Y2007The Good Game Network

As the lights came on in Halo 3, the community surrounding Tied the Leader faced a quandary that confronted many established gaming communities: “What do we do with our Clan?” Rather than complaining about the lack of an extra friends list built into our new favorite game, we set our sights on solving the problem for ourselves.

The result is an Xbox Live Status Report that allows us to view the 100+ gamers that we recognize as Gunslingers. With the development of Halo 2 and all of its various networking tools, Bungie Studios taught us all how to form up into gaming clans. As we migrate our respective fighting forces to Halo 3, it falls to us to maintain that sense of teamwork and oneness that we learned in the halls of Colossus.

For over two years, the TTL Gunslingers used Halo 2 as a foundation to grow slowly and carefully into a unit that spilled over the confines of our Clan List. On Launch Day for Halo 3, there were 117 gamers who wore the gunbelts of the official clan of Tied the Leader. That’s right. 117. Weird coincidence. Rather than downsize to the 100 gamers that could more easily be tracked on one Friends List, we created a means of tracking them when they are online.

Using our XBL Status Report, we can employ an online resource to identify the gamers that should be on our friend lists at any given moment. We can send them Friend Requests and Private Messages from our desktops, to be received while they are at the controls of Xbox Live. In essence, we turned our Friends Lists into vehicles that could carry a never-ending assortment of gamers – rather than a permanent record of who would back us up in combat operations via Halo 3.

Why are we telling you this? To brag about something that we have, that you do not? Nay, friends and worthy adversaries. The doors to this functionality have swung wide to you as well!

A version of this application has been made available to the allies who comprise our community. In Halo 3, it is the goal of Tied the Leader to be more than a blog – more than a clan. We seek to be a network of gamers who share our social ideals for recreational gaming. We are creating a hub on our forum to enable any worthy gamer to find valuable allies that will lay down covering fire for them. Tied the Leader is a potential source for opponents who will respect you, and teammates who will stand by you. That is our offering – same as it ever was – only slightly more inclusive.

This is your call to action to join the Tied the Leader community on the MidWorld Forum. Petition us for status as a TTL Ally. Enter your gamertag into the information that we compile in your Profile.

Have a clan? Send us your emissary.

Need a clan? Get acquainted with affiliated communities.

Crave a challenge that is worth your time? We still answer those, as do many of the gamers who represent their own virtual army on our boards.

At Tied the Leader, we believe in the quality of a good game, and the strength of community. With our network, we are sharing that with as many gamers as we can bring along for the ride. The table is set, and the menu is packed with fresh souls that travel the path with like minds and willing guns.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Allies 8

D1001 T0644 Y2007Halo 3 Launch in Seattle

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a Halo 3 Launch event in Seattle. I was flown in to Sea-Tac and met up with other community people in the airport. We checked into our rooms, then migrated to a local sports bar for some football and wings. After our stomachs were full, and our bills were paid, we made our way to the local Best Buy, where in about 16 hours from then, mobs of Halo fans would grace the sidewalks and streets awaiting their copy of Halo 3. We scoped out the place, and saw the first 3 people in line. Photo op!

It was almost eerie to see the inside in such a state of calm. We all knew what was happening the next night; you could almost see the employees’ hands shaking.

We made our way back to the hotel, and were greeted by Tony and Chris from the Gamerscore Blog. We told tales of our own sites/communities as we sipped our drinks and relaxed. As things started to come to a close, Nelson Rodriguez, the newest addition to the Gamerscore Blog crew, showed up and went out to eat with a few of us to bar and grill called Joey’s. The massive burger and refills of Sprite were a nice end to that day; we found our way back to the hotel and no one had any trouble sleeping that night.

The next morning everyone met down in the lobby and were carted off to the Microsoft campus for a ‘Halo 3 Lock-In’. The anticipation was building. Everyone was eager to see what changes had been made since the Beta build, and we all wanted to sink our teeth into some Forge and Campaign.

The Front of Building B, Our Destination. If You Look Close, You Can See A Dood That Rocks.

This Was On the Secretary’s Desk. Who Needs Paperweights When You Have Spartan 117?

We were ushered into one of two rooms and greeted by LCD screens that were displaying the Halo 3 menu. We found our stations, and began chugging along in Campaign; some opting for co-op, while others going ‘lone wolf’.

As we met for lunch and relaxed, we decided to try our hands at Forge. Sandtrap was the map of choice for my room, since everyone wanted to play around with the Elephants while still have plenty of room to fly around and blow stuff up.

George (Aeropause) and I Talk to Tony About Plans For Multiplayer That Afternoon

Kiki kat (The Blue Skittle) and Myles (Grunts R Us) Dive Into Campaign Together

Everyone Has Their Eyes Locked On the TV

As we finished up our sandwiches and soup, both rooms prepared for some multiplayer glory. Each room had a theme; it was the UNSC room versus the covenant room. For eight and a half hours we played various custom games pitting each room against the other. We would play a few games, then swap some players in the rooms, then play a few more, and swap some more. By 8:30 that night everyone had played with and against everyone else there. As the multiplayer came to a close, we loaded up on swag to hand out, hopped on the bus and headed over to the big launch event at Best Buy. As we got there, we were greeted with “Bungie! We love you! OMG, its Bungie!!!” The Halo mob then realized we were not Bungie, so there was a moment of disappointment. That didn’t last for long when they realized we had a ton of free stuff to give away.

This Was Just the Start of the Line. It Stretched Around the Corner, Down the Side of the Building, and Through the Parking Lot on the Side

At one point, we got a chance to go inside early (essentially reserved for press or celebrities) to take some pictures and see what was going on. We found out the store was more than prepared for that night. Game discs were pilled up in huge stacks. Controllers and faceplates and anything else Halo were in mass number as well. Oh, and they had a couple Halo 3 Xbox 360s, just a couple…

All In All, There Are a Bunch of Bricks 360s In That Wall

Hundreds and Hundreds of Game Discs Ready To Spin in Your Tray

Also while inside, we got introduced to various sports stars. Pro athletes had been showing up hourly to play against people in line. Mariners’ and Seahawks’ players were hanging around with controllers in hand.

This Was the Gaming Station Set Up For Fans to Match Up Against Celebrities

We got introduced to retired NFL star Warren Moon and Microsoft Vice President of Global Marketing, Jeff Bell. It was all so exciting to hear the rumble from fans outside, and see the motionless stacks of games awaiting them on the inside. The store was empty essentially. It was the extreme calm before the most extreme storm that was headed our way.

As we went outside, we heard news of a surprise guest. It was still not confirmed to us, and many didn’t even know about it, so it is safe to say that everyone else in line had NO IDEA who was showing up. We waited at the front doors, cameras ready, and saw fans go pale in the face as Bill Gates came out of Best Buy and went around shaking everyone’s hands. He stuck around and signed the game for the first person in line, and really seemed like he was as thrilled about it all as everyone else.

Bill Gates and Warren Moon Standing Inside best Buy

As fans were rolling in to get their games, you could see all sorts of Bungie people roaming the crowds. They had arrived by buses to the event and were signing all sorts of Halo merchandise that people brought up to them. I got to meet and listen to Marty O’Donnell as he talked with Foo Mo Jive and JVB from Podtacular. It was amazing getting to see him first hand since I have a lot of admiration for him and the music he has done that makes the Halo series what it is.

Marty and JVB Posing In Front of Best Buy

As things began to settle down, we all made our way back to our bus, and eventually back to our hotel rooms. I think “tired” would be an understatement as we all found our way to our beds rather quickly. My roommate, DoodiRock from 2old2play, and I chatted about our sites and bit, then knocked out for the night. (Editor’s Note: Anyone else see the irony in a Timmy, since I am under 25, rooming with a guy from 2old2play?)

Those few days were one of the most fun and exciting experiences I have ever had. It was so amazing to be able to attend the launch event that night and see that many Halo fans first hand. JVB and I were talking about how much it meant to us to see ‘our people’ from the Halo community turn out in force like that. Beyond the launch, playing the game all day with great people that I admire so much was a blast. I have been doing various interviews here at Tied the Leader for some time now and being able to put a face to so many names, and shake hands with those I have talked and exchanged emails with before is the MOST exciting thing from that whole event for me.

Thanks so much Chris, Tony, John, and Nelson from the Gamerscore Blog for inviting me and letting me experience it all. Also, thank you reader, for showing up to your local store and grabbing Halo 3. Gamers brought so much attention to ourselves for the Halo 3 launch. Media and news really took notice. We broke many records with sales, and with that, many stereotypes as well.

For more information and accounts from others who were there, check out these sites:
Gamerscore Blog, Halo.Bungie.Org, On10, XBL 10k Club, Uncle Gamer Radio, Evil Avatar, Podtacular, Aeropause, Ace Attorney’s Pictures, and Grunts R Us

Posted by Dweezle

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