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Phoenix was the working title of Fantasy Siege,[1][2] a cancelled game that Bungie was working on in the early 2000s. The game was also known among fans at "TTFKAM2" and "Breach."[3][4][5][6] It was envisioned to be the successor to Myth: The Fallen Lords,[7] and was built on the Blam! engine.[8]

Paul Bertone said that the game was going to be a real-time strategy fantasy game with siege warfare where one player attacks while another player defends. The game would have included a siege engine, such as trebuchets, that could destroy enemy fortifications brick-by-brick. [7]

Writer John Tynes, who was hired by Bungie to write Phoenix's story, said, "I wrote a big, epic story, a real gut-churning tale of empire, conquest, and mystical destiny. It was rich with symbology and put the player in the role of a true conqueror, laying waste to entire regions with the forces at his command. I still love that story, to this day."[9]

History[]

Phoenix is dead, long live Phoenix.

~ Matt Soell on Phoenix's cancellation

Fans first suspected the project's existence in 1999 when Bungie showed off their spring picnic with a caption under an image of employees in a tug-of-war match that said, "The, um... team formerly known as Myth II,"[10][11] implying that the team still existed and was working on a new project. This quote was used again by Alex Seropian in January 2000 during a BungieTV tour of Bungie's Chicago office[12] and was the source of the fan-nickname "TTFKAM2."[3][4]

In April or May of 2001, the Phoenix project was put on a temporary hiatus and its team was absorbed into the Halo team to help complete Halo in time for its launch later in the year.[7] After the game shipped, the Phoenix team quickly returned to work on its original project, with some members returning to work on it as little as a week after Halo was completed.[7]

In 2002, Hardy LeBel, then-Monster Hunter's lead, was moved to the Phoenix team when Monster Hunter was cancelled. Alex Seropian and Jason Jones asked LeBel to work on the project, get the team up and running, and report back on whether it should be "killed or not." After the team made a playable build, LeBel told Seropian and Jones to kill it, so they did. Matt Soell, Bungie's then-community manager, announced on Bungie.org that "the game formerly known as Phoenix has indeed been shelved" in response to a rumor posted on the old Team Xbox forums.[13] As a result of this announcement, posthumous artwork was created.[14]

However, Jones wanted the Phoenix team to survive, so they started work on a new project, codenamed "Gypsum."[7]

In early 2003, Jones told Marty O'Donnell that the Phoenix team was demoralized, so Jones became their creative director and project lead, believing that he would run the team and then check back in on the development of Halo 2 once a week.[7]

Due to the difficulties in Halo 2's development, Gypsum was cancelled and the team was absorbed into the Halo 2 team to make the game's launch date.[7]

Trivia[]

  • Based on the subject matter and the use of the name "Breach" in the filenames on Craig Mullins website, some fans have speculated that the art may have originally been part of the Phoenix project.[5][6]
  • Writer John Tynes[15] wrote an editorial for The Escapist video game website about being hired by Bungie to write the story for Phoenix.[9]
  • The phrase, "Phoenix is dead, long live Phoenix," is attributed to Matt Soell[13] and was a common phrase used by Bungie fans for many years after Phoenix was cancelled whenever the project was brought up.
  • The "Runes" emblem featured in Halo 2 and later Halo games was one of many original symbols created by Christopher Barrett for Phoenix.[16] This emblem was used in Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) and Batman: The Knight (2022) to represent the League of Assassins due to it being referenced in a fan-fiction wiki that uses the emblem for the League.[17]

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. Next Generation Magazine, July 2000 (Issue #v2 #7) - Xbox Gets Halo: "For two years running Bungie has wowed the crowds with the astonishing Halo, and according to Fries, "What is even more impressive is Fantasy Siege - a totally different type of game running on the same engine. The engine is a very important thing to us, and is a huge part of the deal.""
  2. Shacknews - Bungie's Fantasy Siege (July 13, 2000)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bungie.org - Myth 3????????? (OT) (April 23, 2000)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bungie.org - any reason why it wouldn't be TTFKAM2? (nt) (May 5, 2000)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bungie.org - Re: Phoenix and Minotaur (December 5, 2004)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Imgur - Craig Mullins concept art for Breach
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Vice.com - The Complete Untold History of Halo (March 2018)
  8. GDC Vault - Lessons from the Core Engine Architecture of Destiny, Page 5
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Escapist (archived) - The Contrarian: Roll the Dice (September 6, 2005)
  10. Bungie.com (archived) - Bungie Spring Picnic, 1999 (September 17, 1999)
  11. Myth.Bungie.org - What's Next For the Team? (September 17, 1999)
  12. Bungie.org - Team formerly known as Myth II
  13. 13.0 13.1 Bungie.org - Re: Project Phoenix canned? (October 17, 2002)
  14. Bungie.org - Posthumous Phoenix Artwork (October 2002)
  15. Wikipedia - John Scott Tynes
  16. Twitter/X - @cia391: Fun extra fact: The emblem was made by @cgbarrett! This is part of the Illustrator file that they shared that contains it! (June 3, 2023)
  17. Twitter/X - @DC_moments: In Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) and Batman: The Knight (2022), the Halo "Runes" emblem is mistakenly used as the League of Assassins' symbol. (June 2, 2023)
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