Tuesday, November 22, 2005

xbox 360 launch fake comic

to celebrate the release of the xbox 360, I have a fake comic for you. I found the comic generating script while working on my latest book. kudos to xzzy for this fun distraction.

click for full size image

Note: from xzzy.org "This image is stolen without regret from chick.com."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

halo 2 hacks on bungie.org

halo 2 hacks is featured on bungie.org. the page includes video samples of some of the hacks found in the book. e.g. the soccer ball easter egg and the sneaky way to get the beaver creek rocket launcher.

louis wu (the admin for bungie.org) helped write the foreword for the book.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

halo on Xbox 360... nice

today is the anniversary of the Halo 2 release.

bungie has announced that Halo and Halo 2 will not only run on the Xbox 360, but they will look better too.

I'm especially pleased about the split-screen benefits for widescreen TVs.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

halo 2 hacks - errata

these are the errors that have been reported for Halo 2 Hacks. if you find something that is not listed in this post, please notify me.

1. on page 19 there is a repeated sentence. (reported by XIU)

"The capture card was connected to the Xbox using the original style High Definition adapter for the Xbox. The capture card was connected to the Xbox using the original style High Definition adapter for the Xbox."

2. the ADI "Raw Data Editor" has always been operational, you just have to have a sbsp, mode, bitm, or snd! tag selected. on page 109, there is an incorrect note that reads "As of this writing, this feature had not been implemented yet." (reported by The Swamp Fox)

3. "Xboxes" should be "Xbox systems." this error occurs in the preface (page XX) and chapter 6 (page 105). it may appear in other places as well.

4. in the credits, "The Swamp Fox" should be "Robert Spychalski (The Swamp Fox)."

5. on page 156 (chapter 8) "Warption" should be "Warpion".

6. on page 103 (chapter 5, hack #49), "continue at its set pace hit the vehicle" should be "continue at its set pace and hit the vehicle." (reported by SkaNCellFonePong)

7. on page 206 (chapter 11, hack #89) the URL to download the Hex Tutorial is out of date. Hex tutorials are available on HaloMods.

8. on page 30 (chapter 2, hack #13) the Envy skull is described; it has been suggested that the Getting Above Delta Halo hack (hack #33) should not be used to get the Envy skull because the skull will not spawn unless you follow the proper map path. although this comment implies that the book wasn't clear enough, this isn't a factual error. the text reads "In addition, if you use the Grunt Birthday Party skull or the Getting Above Delta Halo hack, you will find the first section much easier to complete."

this is accurate because one can skip the first section of the map and still get the Envy skull. if you try to skip everything before the temple, you will not trigger the spawn point for the skull. but you can go around the first building and thereby skip the entire first fight - allowing you to bypass numerous elites and snipers. just make sure that you go down the cliff before the bridge (where you get the scorpion). (reported by aRampagingDuck on the o'reilly network)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

modding Halo considered harmful?

note: this article was cross-posted to the o'reilly blog and has been stirring up some fierce emotions.

my latest book, Halo 2 Hacks, hit the shelves recently. in this book, Halo 2 players can learn all about gameplay tricks, Halo 2 Easter eggs, glitches, and more. but what's caught the attention of some is a commonly misunderstood aspect of gaming: modding.

modding is the act of altering a game so it behaves differently from the way its developers intended. it can be as simple as altering the sprites in an Atari 2600 game or it can be as complicated as creating a whole new level for Halo 2.

with the help of game makers such as id Software and Valve, mods have been created for numerous PC games. for example, Counterstrike began its life as a mod of Half-Life. Half-Life is an easy game to mod because all of the modding tools you need are provided for you. some games, such as Halo 2, don't make it as easy. a big part of this is the fact that Halo 2 runs on the Xbox. for a variety of reasons, Microsoft does not condone modifications to the console or the games that run on it. however, their primary reason for this stance is that mod chips have been used for game piracy.

unfortunately, altering the Xbox to enable mods was used to open the door to a huge problem: online cheating. I share the animosity people feel toward cheaters on Xbox Live. just like every other Halo 2 fan, I was annoyed when my online rank was wiped out by people who cheated with standby, spoofing, and mods.

however, modding is not the same as cheating. many folks from the modding community contributed to this book and the modding community certainly does not support cheaters. for example, anyone who posts a question about cheating to HaloMods.com is instantly banned.

in addition to misunderstandings about the difference between a modder and a cheater, some of the negative comments about Halo 2 Hacks stem from confusion regarding the title of the book. o'reilly is aware that the term hacking has a bad reputation. the press use it to refer to someone who breaks into systems or wreaks havoc with computers as their weapon. among people who write code, the term "hack" refers to a "quick-and-dirty" solution to a problem, or a clever way to get something done. the term "hacker" is taken as a compliment, referring to someone as being creative, having the technical chops to get things done. the Hacks series is an attempt to reclaim the word, document the good ways people are hacking, and pass the hacker ethic of creative participation on to the uninitiated.

look inside Halo 2 Hacks, and you'll see plenty of cool things you can do with Halo 2 that don't involve mods: Easter eggs, vehicle stunts, glitches and much more. we also spent a lot of the book discussing the impressive user-created maps such as Zentation and All H#ll Breaks Loose. these maps can only be experienced with a modded Xbox. what you won't find are ways to cheat on Xbox Live!

the long and positive history of modding is based on the fact that many game developers openly support the practice of developing creative adaptations of their games. while Bungie may not publicly support Halo mods, they did support mods for their Marathon games. the reason for this is that many people understand that modding is a creative outlet for hardcore fans and future game developers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

black art of Halo mods status

a few people have asked about the status of The Black Art of Halo Mods. I guess the fact that I haven't been writing in my blog is a good indication of the current workload. most of the content has been written and the editing phase is in full swing.

if you're wondering why this book isn't under my name on Amazon, it because it's currently listed under 'Steve Cawood.' the publisher is working on correcting this error.