A Labor of Love: halo.bungie.org Webmaster Claude Errera
Developer Bungie Studios first announced Halo® at MacWorld on July 21, 1999. That same day, halo.bungie.org went online and has been the indispensable fan Web site for all things Halo and Halo 2 ever since. Founder and Webmaster, Claude Errera, runs the site from his home and seemingly spends every waking hour serving up fresh content for Bungie fans around the world. We caught up with Claude in between catnaps andHalo multiplayer sessions for this interview.
Xbox.com: Tell us how you got into this. You didn’t simply wake up one morning and decide, “I’m going to build a kickass Halo fan site and run it for five years straight.” (Did you?)
Ha! When this site started, there wasn’t even a game to make a fan site for. It was just after E3 1999, and I’d heard rumors that Bungie was showing some cool stuff behind closed doors. We were bungie.org, after all, and here was a new Bungie game. Covering it was a no-brainer. [Bungie was] really, really good about keeping it all secret: We didn’t even hear the name “Halo” whispered until early July.
Halo.bungie.org has been keeping theHalo fires burning since 1999.
Xbox.com: What makes the site work?
I think it turned into a kickass fan site because it stuck around. When you’re there from the beginning, and you add new content every day, folks tend to come back.
Xbox.com: What has been the most rewarding aspect of running the site?
The most rewarding part is the interaction with the fans. It’s amazing to watch what folks can do when challenged. We’ve had several contests that required more effort than just filling out a form, and the response was astounding. The Pillar of Art contest is a prime example. We challenged fans to create traditional media art and provided just enough cash to make it worth their while to mail the stuff to us, and we ended up with an incredible collection of material. We display it every now and then, whenever there’s a good opportunity.
Xbox.com: What’s the most challenging aspect of running the site?
That has to be the maintenance. Part of it is expectations—we provide new content almost every day, and we’ve been doing that for five years. Our staff hasn’t grown much, while the volume of submissions for the various fan creation sections increases weekly.
Xbox.com: Tell us about the evolution of the fan creation sections.
In 1999, we received no fan fiction, maybe two miscellaneous art submissions every week, and the odd PC wallpaper now and then. Today, we receive dozens of each of these things every week plus movies, flash games, and comics. Staying on top of it all, while maintaining a full-time job and having a family—I’m married and I have three kids—is not trivial!
HBO provides a high-traffic home for Bungie fan creations.
Xbox.com: What about Halo 2 do you most look forward to?
What am I not looking forward to? I’m looking forward toall of it. The continuation of the story line as played out through the campaign section is probably tops on my list. Better A.I., better graphics, new dialogue, it’s all got me drooling! And, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t itching to get killed a few 100 times on Xbox Live …
Xbox.com: Do you have any advice for those hopeful future fan site managers out there?
The biggest complaint I’ve heard from fan site managers in the last couple of years is that it’s hard to compete with the big boys. There are two or three large Halo fan sites that do a pretty good job of covering the news, and they’ve been around long enough to have gained enough readers that they tend to get the news first. So, other sites are often playing catch-up. After a while, that gets discouraging. I recommend finding unfilled niches. I’ve always wanted to see a Halo blog, for example.
Xbox.com: What do you feel is the best thing about the Halo gaming community?
What I love about the community is what makes any community good: the interaction between the members. There is a pretty wide range of personalities and ages in the community—from 12-year-olds to 60-somethings, from students to teachers to construction workers and everything in between, all interacting on forums and at fan gatherings. Everybody brings something different to the table, and what ties us all together is our love for this game.
Xbox.com: What’s in store for the site now thatHalo 2 is on the horizon?
We’ll continue to add to our Halo 2 information, but your ability to sort through our content will get more sophisticated.Halo is Halo, and the site will be there to cover it for the foreseeable future!
Xbox.com: And when do you sleep?
Tuesdays, from 10:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Of course not! I sleep on Thursdays, too.
By Jim W. Gettys