Today I spent the day in Seattle at the headquarters of Bungie Studios, makers of the Halo videogame series. A couple years ago I’d had dinner with Marty O’Donnell, Bungie’s audio director (and composer of the legendary Halo theme music), and after a lot of wine had got him to half-jokingly promise me a voice-acting cameo in Halo 3. Earlier this year I slightly exaggerated the absoluteness of his commitment and reminded him of that. To my delight he agreed to have me come up and record a few lines. Today was the day. It was awesome.
To answer the obvious questions, yes, I’ve seen a lot of the game. Yes, it’s amazing. No, I can’t talk about most of it (I’m NDA’d). But I can say (because this feature has been discussed) that the one thing that completely blew me away (aside from the graphics, animation, level design and new vehicles and weapons) was the ability to record a game and play it back on Xbox Live, freezing the action at any point and flying around the scene, Matrix style. It may sound just like a standard replay function, but take my word for it, it’s not. I think it’s revolutionary, and I predict that Halo 3 will take machinima to a whole new level.
Marty had me record about 30 lines, mostly playing a marine (that’s me in the recording studio, above). I got to utter timeless phrases such as "Brutes can’t smell through rock, can they?" and "Wonder if anyone knows we’re down here…" They said I warmed up nicely, but I think they were just being polite. They were trying hard not to crack up as I screamed like a girl when I was being "possessed by the Flood". My entire script is scanned here, with a few bits redacted. Click on the images for the full-sized readable versions.
When the game is released this fall, I’ll find out which of my lines made it into the final version. Then I will have awesome bragging rights: "You know that marine on level X, near the beginning, sort of off to one corner by himself? No? Well, anyway, if you do find him and you melee him, that’s my scream!
(A GeekDad aside: I’d wanted to bring up one of my kids to record the voice of a grunt, but Bungie rightly noted that the game is rated M and this could be seen as an inappropriate setting for kids. Fair enough. But just imagine the cred the kid would have had on the playground if Bungie had gone for it. They could have told their friends that they’re IN Halo 3! That would have won me GeekDad of the Year, hands down.)
Finally, here’s a video of Marty talking about the thinking behind the fanfare that opens the Halo 3 E3 trailer. And then he plays it, live: