When Pete returned, he started the tour. He took me through the main work area -- a large, dark space with desks and cubicles arranged as if they were meant to stop an oncoming invasion. Most of the desks were empty on November 3rd -- Pete explained that many Bungie folks were still on vacation. The low light, modular office furniture, mounds of gear, clutter and general lack of human beings gave the whole space a vibe that blended "Office Space" with the Gaza Strip.
Pete led me to the multiplayer test area. The room was being re-purposed during my visit but in the back part of the room sat sixteen TVs that were hooked up to sixteen Xboxes in two back-to-back rows of eight. The whole thing was networked. I pinched myself.
Pete explained that this room was also where they brought in outside test subjects to play the game and record every aspect of their experience. Test players reactions -- to the sound, visuals, weapons, gameplay, interface, and difficulty -- were all monitored and taken into consideration.
Next, Pete took me through the art and engineering departments. As we walked, Pete talked about each aspect of the job and the people doing those jobs. If Halo were a religion, then Pete would be its profit. Unshaven and clad in a flannel shirt, Pete bounded around the studio with giddy excitement of a proud father, the swagger of a pro athlete and the charisma of a campaigning politician. He is definitely the Mayor of Halotown.
Along the way, Pete pointed out highlights like the desk where the Warthog was created and the area where weapons are developed. He showed me his desk in the middle of it all. No big office for this studio manager. In fact, he had one of the smaller desks in the place. Later, we stopped by the station and recording suites where Marty O' Donnell creates the music and sound for "Halo." Though Marty was out, Pete detailed some of the new aspects of the sound in "Halo 2." (You can check that out later this week in the Stuffo article on the sound of "Halo 2.")