Bungie Weekly Update 02/01/08
Posted by lukems at 2/1/2008 5:08 PM PST
Frankie writes:

Rank Amateurs

After releasing with a hiccup, instead of a throaty wet burp, a bug showed up in the Ranked Big Team Battle hopper. The bug concerns the round time/round limits for a couple of gametypes in RBTB. The round time/round limits were incorrectly swapped for Big Team Territories, Big Team Territories Tanks, Big Team Land Grab and Big Team Land Grab Tanks, the net result being instead of two rounds of five minutes each, games were five rounds of two minutes each. The most glaring flaw being that one team was getting an extra round of offense.

An update to the Ranked Big Team Battle hopper was applied this morning and resolved the round time/round limits bug. As always, we’re looking for your feedback on Ranked Big Team Battle, leave your thoughts in this thread in the Optimatch forums (remember, you have to have a linked Gamertag to participate in the Optimatch discussion). We’re sorry for the oversight, but order should be restored to the Playlist now. 

MLG Prose

But speaking of feedback, today we had a couple of relatively senior MLG players in the office to help us in the final stages of our melee “fix” testing. We’ve been working through this process with a watchmaker’s attention to detail – and it is a very tricky problem to address. It should be pointed out that the majority of Halo players probably haven’t noticed anything is even wrong with melee – but at the competitive end of the spectrum, there are issues with several granular melee features – simultaneous strikes, shield depletion and so on.

The bottom line is that we felt it could be improved without alienating folks who hadn’t noticed any problem and so we’ve been working with real life players, like one or two external hardcore clans, as well as the MLG guys, to make sure the changes are satisfactory, balanced, fair and fun.

So it was very interesting to see their reactions and suggestions. It’s such a delicate matter that there’s no way we could have addressed it in a vacuum. Hopefully you guys will appreciate the care and input that helped tweak the thing when we (hopefully) roll out the fix in a few weeks.

We chatted about the general nature of the changes – subtle versus significant, perceived fairness versus actual fairness, system link versus online. Then we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in. Obviously the MLG guys wanted to see the nature of the changes, so we played a couple of games where points were only awarded for front-facing melees, just to force the issue. The number of simultaneous deaths goes up as a result of some of the changes – but it was the visceral response we were looking for.

We can’t put words in our MLG guests’ mouths, so we’ll let them discuss the meeting and their opinions about how the changes felt at another time. Suffice it to say that we all had fun. But then something awkward happened. Something I can only describe as Lukewarm.

See, the thing is, generally I suck at Halo 3. I have inconsistent streaks, but the overall fact of the matter is that I am a player of at best, unreliable quality. So I wasn’t surprised when Luke offered to put me on the MLG team to “balance” it out – give the aces a scrub so that he, Joe Tung and Lars would have a chance. Unfortunately for them, I was having a good day. Let’s just say that the Bungie boys took a beating of horrific proportions. And I was NOT the lowest scorer on our team. If you need me, I will be at the MLG tryouts…

…and now I’m back. I suck again. The universe is back in balance. But for one glorious game, I was a wing-footed golden god. Luke and Joe tried taking on the two MLG guys in a two on two. It was their second Steaktacular failtacular of the day. It is worth noting however that Joe Tung managed just seven kills to Luke's 14, both performances were pathetic, Joe's was just twice as tearful.

After they left, we participated in a test of something quite amazing and unlike anything we’ve ever done before. That test was a glorious success. I wish I could tell you about it, but that’s for the distant future…

In the very near future, we will bring you a release date for the autoupdate, complete with a list of all the (visible and publicly consumable) changes. In the interim – it’s going to be “soon-ish” and will contain roughly, in order of bigness:

Melee Fix

  • Physics fix for “flying” dead bodies
  • Fixes to make future Forge-related playlists better.
  • Lots and lots and lots of tiny, neat fixes that will make everything better.
  • We’ll give you a detailed list later, since some things may be more important to you than others.

Map Flap 

Some changes are afoot in our plan for the next batch of DLC. Although the next group of three maps is nearing some semblance of completion (don’t get too excited by that fact, since there’s still oodles of polish and testing to be done before they’re ready for the mainstream. But there has been a significant change since we last mentioned ‘em.

One of the maps, actually one of Luke and I’s favorites, the oft-mentioned “Purple Reign” is being held back after class, so to speak and will not make it into the next DLC pack. Booo! That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s being replaced by something potentially much more exciting – a map we haven’t really spoken about because it was a ways behind.

But things change. That map’s progress accelerated as Purple’s slowed a little. As we looked at the schedule it became apparent that we could probably leapfrog one to the advantage of the other. Now, I can’t tell you much more about this replacement map, beyond the horrible codename I just made up, “Moonlight Sonata” but I can tell you that it will be universally adored. Of that there is no doubt. Usually I am in the business of soft-selling new maps in case folks have adverse reactions to ‘em “it’s too big!” or “it’s not symmetrical” or “where’s XXXinsert fave map hereXXX” but this time, confidence is high. It will be beloved.

Luke and I have been playing it a lot recently as Luke struggles with his hopeless inability to jump, while I wrestle with my colossal failure to point the reticule at opponents. Yesterday I beat him fairly soundly on that map using a technique I think of as a carrot-stick approach. I will lure him towards me and he won’t realize that the path to me is littered with fusion cores. He gets too close and I take a safe shot at the core, sending him hurtling to whatever hell is reserved for Michigan Wolverines fans (which may simply be a normal game, but with flames on the periphery).

So during a later one on one deathmatch (it is a relatively small map) I dropped a Bubble Shield and backed out of it while simultaneously throwing a plasma nade (the old, “Splosion Igloo” trick) but I failed hard. The nade came out of my grasp, slid on the surface of the shield and stuck to my face. Luke of course tried to make a clip so that he could laugh and touch himself – but as he was watching back the film, I saw his new fear-driven technique. He was systematically destroying every fusion core on the map to stop me from using them against him. He also leaves near-empty weapons lying around for me to pick up. His favorite trick is to leave one round in a Carbine. In many ways, he is worse than Hitler.*

Let me tell you a few other Luke-isms before we move onto new business: He yells at his own teammates that they suck during games. He uses the Needler constantly. He can’t play oddball. He smells faintly of rabbit, or other gamey meat. His car is full of old newspapers, like a homeless guy. He can't eat Fatburger or he faints. Did he beat me? That’s irrelevant.

Now, it’s been a while since I made a Mister Chief. But now there’s a good reason. I AM PAINTING A REAL ONE! On a large canvas. With some kind of fancy color art sticks that Lorraine gave me because she felt sorry for me. I will take a photo of the result and print it her next month. And maybe eBay it if I can think of a good charity. Suggestions welcome. Here is a sketch of what I am thinking:

 * Obviously he is not worse than Hitler. 

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