Archives: microsoft

Bonnie Ross – A Woman who inspires


Credit to Bloomberg Businessweek


Right on time with the launch of Halo 5: Guardians on October 27th, the Business magazine ‚Bloomberg Businessweek‘ features a big piece on Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries. The article follows Ross and several others like Frank O’Connor over the course of this past summer. I highly recommend reading this article, seeing that it provides insight behind the curtains of 343 and presents Bonnie Ross in her role as a female executive in a still male dominated workspace. It also highlights Microsofts need to have a huge hit with Halo 5 in order to survive next to the Playstation. I took some quotes from the article that I found noteworthy, funny or surprising.

When asked about her ambitions for Halo, Ross always comes back to Star Wars, which she adored as a kid. “For those of us that are a little bit older, we saw Star Wars and stood in line the first time around,” she says. “We are seeing the same thing with Halo, where a lot of dads and parents that started playing when they were 20 or 30 now have kids that are coming in through our, you know, Mega Bloks line.” 

Obviously I can relate to this very much. I am this parent who was 20 years old when I first played Halo. What I find really cool about Ross is, that she’s an actual gamer. Of course she won’t play as much as she would like to or as a 18 year old with lots of time on his/her hands would, but she played every Halo game and has read every Halo book. Being a female in a management position is rare enough but being one in the gaming industry is even more surprising. In my opinion the gaming industry needs more women. And I’m not saying this as a feminist, although I would have every right to. I just think that every company needs the balance of men and women working together. Women bring certain qualities with them, as do men. Let’s have both.

As a rare female executive in an industry dominated by men, Ross worked to remind her colleagues that girls play video games, too. She’s insisted that fully realized female characters play prominent roles in Halo 5 and made sure that dorky Halo T-shirts come in cuts for women, too. This may seem unobjectionable, but in the world of video games, trying to broaden the audience is daring.

Bonnie Ross is also a very clever business woman and she wants to make money. Before taking over 343 in 2007 she said: „If I take it over, I want to be George Lucas. I want to own everything, and I want to do things differently.”

She says that when she inherited the game, the philosophy was to say yes to any company willing to pay royalties. The worst? Some tacky pajama pants. “The pajamas actually were really comfortable,” Ross says. “But they weren’t super high-quality.” When she took over, she cut the line.

I want to take the time here to mourn those pajamas. I wished I had one. Who cares about good quality? Well actually I do but I’m sure I would’ve overlooked it once.

Bonnie Ross is a parent herself. She is 48 years old now and has a 10 year old son. In the article she talks about him and her playing Halo together. To do that with my daughter in the future is a dream of mine.

Ross has been tutoring one new Halo player: her 10-year-old son. Until recently, she’d considered the game a bit too violent for her children, but she’s begun letting her son play with her. “I firmly believe that your kids are going to play games, and you should play with them,” she says. “I want to share that first experience with him.” Mother and son have worked through two levels of Halo 5 together and occasionally play in multiplayer modes. She’s better than he is—for now.

To read the whole article click here: Bloomberg Businesweek


Credit to Bloomberg Businessweek


Best gift ever

As I mentioned before I recently became a mom. Our daughter was born on May 27th….yes, exactly 5 months before the release of Halo 5. She’s already a Spartan at heart. It has been the most amazing thing that has happened to me. She makes us so incredibly happy it’s beyond comprehension.

You can imagine how touched I was when we received a package from Microsoft/343 with the following content:


Dwight Schrute from The Office had to function as a weight. Pardon me Mr. Schrute. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. Haha, I get carried away when thinking about The Office. One of the most hilarious shows on earth. R.I.P.

Anyway back to the topic. The poster with the inscription is so wonderful. It’s one of the best quotes in Halo and I promise I won’t make a promise I can’t keep. To own something so personal and rare is just amazing. Now I can show this to my baby girl when she’s older and maybe, just maybe she’s into Halo as much as me by then.

I also got this beauty:


A signed copy of the Master Chief Collection. Whaaat! I feel so blessed. I really appreciate the gifts. As a collector this is the jackpot. Thanks 343!


The voices of Halo – Part 1

„Wake me, when you need me“

A quote, we all are familiar with. A voice, that gives us the chills. A voice, heard so many times we could repeat the lines in our sleep.

The voices of the Halo characters are a big part of the amazing experience we have while playing Halo. In over 14 years we’ve heard so many talented voice actors giving different characters of the Halo universe life and making their voice irreversibly connected to those characters. Here’s an appreciation I think they deserve.

Master Chief:

He has such a distinct, supercool voice. I would recognize it everywhere. And his voice is really all we get. We never see his face (Ok, his eyes in the epilogue of Halo 4…yes, but…), we don’t want to see his face. At least I don’t want to. It would ruin something. So since we don’t have facial impressions, the voice is very important and gives life and character to this massive, green armored „machine“. And of course the Chief doesn’t talk very much. That’s part of his character. I think in Halo 4 we hear the most of him. I just recently played it again and I really like the cut scenes of Chief and Cortana. They are very emotional and couldn’t be done like that in an earlier Halo game. Their relationship is based on efficiency and deep trust. And since neither of them could really express their real feelings towards the other, the dramatic events of Halo 4 push both of them to somewhat romantic and emotional conversations. The upcoming rampancy and therefore the loss of Cortana bring up covered up feelings and a deep rooted fear of loosing each other. The Chief is utterly helpless with the imminent rampancy of Cortana. He is used to getting things fixed with a big bang, but this is something different. But ok I’m rambling on, off topic. Haha, I should write about MC’s and Cortana’s relationship sometime.

Anyway, now that we have established how important the voice of a video game character can be, let’s see who the person behind the Chief’s voice is.


This is Steve Downes. He is an american voice actor and DJ and has been the voice of Chief since 2001. The second video game he had ever done was Halo: Combat Evolved. Marty O’Donnell, mastermind composer of the soundtrack of the Halo games (Besides Halo 4), did cast him back then. Steve is also famous for hosting the morning radio show 97.1 fm The Drive WDRV in Chicago. He just recently made a big announcement saying he will be ending his 14 year long commitment to hosting that radio show. He is planning on spending more time on traveling, spoiling his grandchildren and improving his golf skills. I say, well deserved Mr. Downes! Furthermore he hosts two nationally known radio programs called „The Wine Experience“ and „The Classics“. Want to know more? Steve Downes

To me his voice is just so sexy. Over the last 14 years I’ve grown to love the Chief and his voice dearly. If 343 should ever decide to cast someone different for the Chief, I would go on strike and harass them. And I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be alone. Let’s just hope that Mr. Downes doesn’t get tired of voicing the most beloved video character ever created.


I love Cortanas voice! To be honest I get the chills when I hear her saying anything. Especially in Halo 4, where she has very long and emotional lines, you truly are embraced by her voice.

Jennifer Lee Taylor gives her voice to Cortana since 2001 and also to Dr. Catherine Halsey in Halo 4.


She is the new voice assistant for Windows phones and named Cortana there as well. Being the biggest Halo fan it is a shame that I don’t own a windows phone but I’m just so used to my iPhone…ahh, I know there is no excuse. Jen Taylor also voiced Zoey in Left 4 Dead and Princess Peach, Toad and Toadette in various Mario games. It must be extremely difficult to voice an AI who has a lot of lines full of tech blabber. Here is a short compilation of some bloopers:

The Arbiter:

A very expressive voice. Deep and powerful. The actor behind it, is Keith David


(c) 2010 by Brad Bethell

He is a film, television and voice actor with a stunning career and hundreds of engagements in several video games, as well as acting roles in films and series. His website: Keith David

He will continue to be the Arbiter in the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. I can’t wait to see the Arbiter back in action and I’m so curious on his role in the new game. Being player 2 in most of the co op adventures with my boyfriend, I have payed a lot of time as the Arbiter in Halo 3. I feel very close to him. Keith David has done an outstanding job on giving him his voice.

Captain Jacobs Keyes:

The cigar smoking, combat experienced captain is voiced by Pete Stacker.


We can hear him as Captain Jacob Keyes in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo: Reach (The end). Pete Stacker also voices a UNSC Marine Sergeant named after himself: Markus P. Stacker. His character can be heard in Halo: CE, Halo: 2, Halo: 3 and Halo: Reach. Fun fact: The IWHBYD skull (I would have been your Daddy) is named after Pete Stacker. He was improvising during a scene on Halo: CE/Assault on the Control Room saying „Who’s your Daddy? Who’s your Daddy?“ And then he said „I would have been your Daddy but the dog beat me over the fence.“ It’s not Pete as Captain Keyes, but him as Sgt. Stacker and it’s very rare to hear. I never heard it so far. Listen yourself:

(copyright by Bungie /

If you google the line „I would have been your Daddy, but…“ you see a lot of people saying it’s a line of Sgt. Avery Johnson, but as you know now, that’s not true. Would suit Johnson for sure though.

Pete Stacker is also involved in a comedy show which is called Real Men of Genius.

To learn more:  Pete Stacker

And finally, please take your time to watch this video. It’s from Halofest 2011 from a panel of the voice actors of Halo. This covers some of Pete Stackers work (not only on Halo) and some hilariously funny outtakes. I couldn’t stop laughing!

Halofest 2014 recap

It’s monday and that means Halofest! Ahhhhh, that’s so amazing. But first Maxi and I took a trip to Venice Beach to get our dose of weird, but very interesting people. The taxi ride there was long and painful for me. I was feeling so sick I thought I couldn’t bear it. Plus the driver was constantly blabbering about this and that.

We went up and down the beach and the boardwalk with the many colorful stores and ended our tour at Santa Monica Pier. It really is a magical place. Although I’m not a big fan of the beach and the sun burning me up, I can imagine why people love this place. It’s very lively, you hear people making different kinds of music or performing some „awesome“ tricks and of course there’s this certain smell in the air…like everywhere…like it’s legal…wait, it is legal.

The hour grows late and we had to hurry back to the hotel to get ready for the Halofest 2014.
The event took place in the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood. And guess what? The Warthog was there as well. Looking good as usual.

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There was a blue or red or green carpet and a lot of interviews were being held when we arrived. I must say they did an impressive job on decorating the outside venue. There was a stand where you could get your Gamer Tag or your name engraved on iPhone cases or on dog tags.
Special Guests at this event were Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion, Mike Colter (Nightfall), Freddie Wong, Ben Schwartz, Aisha Tyler, Joel McHale, Donald Faison and Zachary Levi. How exactly did it happen that I only saw Freddie Wong and Ben Schwartz??? And not Zachary Levi, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day??? I have no clue! I’m sad, so sad. Maybe it was because I spent a big amount of my time playing Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer? Yeah…might be.

Inside the venue, which is absolutely stunning, was a green screen booth where you could take a picture of yourself on a Halo background. They had 3 weapons to choose from: The Magnum, the Assault Rifle and the SMG. A pretty nice moment was when I watched Kiki, Frank and Bonnie taking a group shot together and Kiki said something I can totally relate to: „Oh no, now I blinked! Can I see it real quick? Oh can we take another?“ I mean come on, if you have the chance to take an awesome Halo shot like that you want it to be perfect right?

Then there was a candy stand with lots and lots of Halofest chocolates, sweets and 3 giant Spartan Lollipops. I wanted to silently sneak off with one of those.

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So when you had your mouth stuffed with candy and a drink in one hand you walked past several gaming stations where you could play the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta. As I walked by I witnessed the winners of the MCC Launch Invitational Tournament playing some „casual“ matches.
But not only Believe the Hype were present at the Halofest. I think most of the american players were there as well, all in good spirits and playing tons of matches.

Upstairs you found more gaming stations. There you were able to test your skills on the beautifully remastered maps of Halo 2: Anniversary. It was my favorite place.

Around 8 pm we took our seats in the main room to watch the premiere of Halo: Nightfall. The live action series executive-produced by Ridley Scott, Scott Free TV President David Zucker, and directed by the award-winning director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Battlestar Galactica, Heroes) will connect the story of Halo 4 with Halo 5: Guardians.

fotu_halofest_2014_0067 fotu_halofest_2014_0061
We watched the first two episodes. I like it a lot. I have always dreamed of a Halo movie and loved Forward unto Dawn very much. So for me this is a big deal. I know a lot of people weren’t that impressed by what they’ve seen, but I’d say give it time. Yeah sure, I wasn’t caught emotionally right from the start but it’s a series not a movie. There’s time to build a story and engage the audience in it. And seeing the Elite in the beginning gave me chills. It looked so real. I’m looking forward to the new episodes.

After that the pre recorded Halo 5 multiplayer match of BTH and Optic was shown and the Embargo for us was lifted. Both teams came up on stage and played more of the multiplayer. In the above picture you can see the set up they had prepared for the gamers. We joked that the chairs looked like „sci-fi torture chairs“.

At this point the public saw the new game type Breakout for the very first time. It’s 4 versus 4 on a very small Tron-esque map. You have to eliminate the other team completely to win. There are 5 rounds and the coolest thing is, that before a round starts, you and your team jump right into the map, which looks just fantastic and badass. Later on I got to play on the stage as well. That felt cool.

And that was about it. A very neat event.

Things I wished would’ve happened:
– Somehow my skill level raised to pro and I would’ve been able to play the pros.
– A kiss from Nathan Fillion…or a hug…or a pic with him.
– More time, more eyes, more memory.
– More fans on the event.

Things I totally forgot to mention:
– The good people of the 405th were at the event and showed some pretty cool self made armors.
– The 343 guys were very kind and friendly. Kiki is still the coolest wolf there is.
– I drank too much coke.


Halo Master Chief Collection Launch Invitational Tournament Recap

I’m back home from L.A.. I have to say I didn’t get over the jet lag feeling yet. I won’t complain though because I had a wonderful time and met so many friendly and interesting people. I have to thank Xbox and most of all Boris from Xbox Germany for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. They took good care of us in L.A..
So what did I see? What did I get to play? I’ll answer it all.
After arriving at LAX late friday afternoon I took a Taxi to Hollywood where our Hotel was located. Right next to Hollywood Blvd. you find the fancy W Hollywood Hotel.

Jonathan Irons CEO of Atlas Corporation was accommodated there as well, maybe spying on some real and super „Advanced Warfare“. I wonder what time travel agency he booked. Haha funny, of course i am talking about world famous actor Kevin Spacey. After flying 12 hours and an hour Taxi ride I could finally take a shower and change. Then I met with the rest of the group. All in all we were 7 people from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy. The other guys were mostly Youtubers, one french guy works for Xbox France. I was really glad to meet Maxi, a german like minded Halo fan who works for GameStar/High 5.

The next day was the first day of the Master Chief Collection Launch Invitational Tournament that took place in the ESL Studios in Burbank, California.

It was about 86 °F on this day. I was told that even in L.A. this is quite uncommon for this time of year. My light skin was shocked and I had to put on sunscreen…in November!

8 teams were invited to compete over the top prize of $ 20.000:

– StK – Heinz, OGRE2, Royal 2, Snakebite, Coach Diesel
– OpTic Halo – Flamesword, Pistola, Ace, Snipedown, Coach Elamite
– Believe The Hype – Formal, Lxthul, aPG, Maniac, Coach Mr. X
– The Agency – Ninja, Hysteria, FearItSelf, Victory, Coach Towey
– VwS Gaming – Naded, Legit, Goofy, Mikwen, Coach Wolfmayyne
– TCM Gaming – Riotz, TuFoxy, Ramirez, Chalkie, Coach Xavier
– Str8 Rippin – Tsquared, Ryanoob, Roy, Str8 Sick, Coach Walshy
– Purple Rain – Gandhi, Elitest, Maven, Legion

The game types were Team Slayer, Neutral Bomb, 3 Flag CTF, 5 Flag CTF and King of the Hill. The playable maps were all from Halo 2: Anniversary. Shrine, Warlord and Lockdown. I think it’s fair to say that most votes were on team Optic Gaming. With players like Ace and (iGotUr)Pistola, winner and second best of the Halo 4 tournament last year, their chances were pretty good.

Andy “Bravo” Dudynsky and Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez were there to give a live-commentary on the gameplay and they did a hell of a good job. On saturday the event went from 2 pm till 9 pm or something. Imagine to have to comment about 10 games of intense and fast pace game play.


Even I couldn’t watch all of it. Hunger got us searching the neighborhood and we found a good old arcade. I did some wild animal hunting with Joost from Holland which I lost at. Damn you Joost! A nice meal at the Renegade Ranch completed the day. There was a mechanical bull you could ride and two of our younger, wild boys actually rode the bull. Let’s say they did quite well.

Sunday, I’m still jet lagged but overall happy as a clown. It all felt surreal. Our chaperone for the event was Clare from London. What a sweet girl! She managed everything for us and made us feel comfortable. She’s a gamer as well and has her own youtube channel. Around 11 am we were headed to ESL Studios again to see the grand finals of the tournament. Optic Gaming were out already, so was The Agency with Ninja on the team.


We had Str8Rippin facing Believe The Hype in the grand finals. Boy did those teams play well. I couldn’t really say who I was rooting for, I was just so very impressed with both teams. In the end BTH won.
And did I mention that in The ESL Studios stood the most bad ass car there is? The Warthog, mother of all cars. I always dreamed of seeing one live. That I would be sitting in one wasn’t even part of the dream. But guess what we were allowed to hop in and take some pics. I even got to stand behind the turret. Haha the excitement! As far as I know there are only two official Warthog models out there. One from the movie Forward until Dawn and this one.


After the tournament was over two teams (Optic and BTH) were invited to be the first to play the multiplayer Beta of Halo 5: Guardians. The footage of that was shown later at Halofest. It was the first footage of live gameplay the puplic saw.I didn’t want to watch it, since I knew we were invited to play as well later this evening. Needless to say I couldn’t resist. I was really impressed with the graphics and the new abilities like Ground Pound and Clamber.

After what seemed like an eternity we were brought into a small back room with several gaming stations build up. We were allowed to record our gameplay. I brought my Elgato but in the end it didn’t work. Thanks to lovely Maxi I could use hers so I will have some gameplay for you guys when she sends it over. I will have a detailed post on my thoughts on Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer later. What I will say now is: It’s fast pace, it’s different, i will love it. At first I was scared when I saw the new design and feel of the weapons but after playing at Halofest a bit longer, that changed. 7 new armor abilities available to everyone right at the start. My favorite is Clamber. But yeah, detailed post soon to be up on here.


fotu_halofest_2014_0030The End. Stay tuned for the Halofest 2014 recap…

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