Bungie Weekly Update: 01/14/2011
Posted by urk at 1/14/2011 2:14 PM PST
There’s something really special about the Bungie Community. Not the distinguished brand of special, either. More like, you know, special.

On Monday I kicked off the first round of “Bungie All Stars” on Bungie.net – a series of off the cuff, weekly challenges aimed at showcasing the talents of the community-at-large. First up, fan art. (Yes, we are gluttons for punishment, and no, you did not disappoint.)

On the line, the Star nameplate to show off in Halo: Reach. It’s no Halo 3-era suit of Recon armor, but it is something, you know, special. And after over 500 submissions and minutes of careful deliberation, we’re ready to crown our winner…but not before we force you to feast your eyes on some of our very special favorites.

Hey Now

Though we found plenty of unique and dare I say inspiring submissions, the most common approach was to simply slap a dot on the page and call it a day. Which would have been clever and unique had it not been thought of by more than a few dozen people.

Yes, we get it.

Up next in the “Been There, Done That” category: Sage-inspired beards strapped onto lovely ladies.


Bad Touch

And of course, as always, several other employees proved to be “inspirational.”

Dot from the television show Animaniacs also made more than one appearance, as did dated depictions of Cortana, screen grabs of in game cinematics, and a handful of takes on Metroid’s Samus, most of which have already made the rounds over at DeviantArt.

There were also a handful of images that would have required copious amounts of censorship (not pictured here, we’re a family site), and more than a handful that skirted the line.

Some made use of Forge.

Some forged real works of art.

And in the end, I was honestly surprised by the number of impressive offerings we received. I knew we’d solicit some standouts, but the choice wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped it’d be. I actually had to get some real artists to weigh in on the decision making. Turns out you’re really good at making pretty pictures.

And the winner is…

Far be it from me to clearly articulate why our impromptu panel of studio artists selected this design as the winner – I’m just the dummy that makes the words appear on the Internet – but each judge gravitated toward this piece independently, making my selection for this week fairly simple. If you’re the designer behind this masterpiece, print it out, stick it on your fridge, and wait for your prize to be delivered (check your emails). You get a star!

Next week we’ll be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but I don’t want to stall the second round of Bungie All Stars. While I recommend you observe the federal holiday yourself, if you want to get a jump on the next round of community competition, you can put in some extra hours over the weekend.

Once again, we’ll be taking submissions via email at contest@bungie.com until Thursday, January 20th at 11:59pm PT. And your task, should you choose to accept it, is to follow the tough act depicted below by capturing some “Moa Madness” in a work of original art, screenshot, or via our rendered video service. Use the subject line: Bungie All Star Week 2.

Happy hunting!

Forgetacular Finalized

After diligently sorting, analyzing, playing, and comparing three thousand three hundred and fifty nine Forgetacular submissions, our panel of celebrity employee judges has finally settled on a winner in each of the seven categories. It was a long and winding road. To give you some insight into how the maps were ultimately broken down and judged – and to give you an insight into how painfully awesome it was to review every single offering – here’s a look at the Team Slayer email folder, lovingly sorted by Lionel.

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of maps made their way into the folder labeled “Punt.” Now, don’t get us wrong, we certainly wanted to give every single map a vigorous and fair shake – we know everybody put a lot of work into their submissions – but there’s just no way for us to playtest each and every single map. We’d still be neck deep in Shield Doors and Spike Rifles. So, insta-punts were judiciously applied to any map that featured ridiculously glaring oversights. As you can see, there were plenty that shined in this respect. If they didn’t have the necessary geometry or spawn logic in place, or were immediately identified as offensive or created outside the rules governing the competition, we nuked them in short order.

Everything else went into the “Investigate” folder. Basically, anything deemed “playable” made its way there to be evaluated by a committee of terribly handsome men whose thorough visual inspection and brief initial playtesting informed the list of maps that would be moved into full playtest. Maps that made it beyond this round were labeled “Approved.” Maps that didn’t were “Denied.” “Punt” was reserved for those maps that somehow slipped past the initial round still boasting major issues (i.e. Mount -blam!-). "Maybe w/ Tweaks" was reserved for maps that we felt were good, but needed one or two major revisions to stand up to their peers.

After the initial investigation, we opened the doors to a larger pool of employees and began to test each map in our studio labs, gathering and assessing feedback, and ranking each map according to how impressive they were, and most importantly, how much fun they were to play.

After several rounds of playtesting and feedback, our small committee reassembled, and voted on the top three contenders in each Forgetacular category. And so, without further ado, here are your Forgetacular Winners.

Arena - Enclosed by Kymicals

A simple, well-thought out design married with some great structures and interesting sight-lines made this map one of our early playtest favorites. The sentiment did not dissipate as playtest continued apace, even though there was certainly some stiff competition.


Big Team Battle - Abridged by Schmittler 5000

Abridged takes full advantage of Big Team Battle’s staples: vehicle and infantry combat. Add in some well-placed weapons, and you have a recipe for success (and carnage!).


Capture the Flag - Atonement by Psychosis687

The two opposing bases are difficult to assault, but there are some unique sightlines to help coordinated attackers break an entrenched defense.


Infection - Mansion by SWAS LightningZ

This one has to be seen to be believed. A mansion not in name only, this dark complex features all the fixtures and makes for one fun game of Infection.


Invasion - Saucered by Ye5

Invasion was a tight category, with several standouts in contention until the very last moments. In the end, Saucered was not only a fun space to play Invasion within, it also utilized Forge in a really interesting way as each Phase unfolded.


Race – Cobra by Irritab1e B owl

Utilizing a large swath of Forge World’s core geometry, Cobra snakes its way around the hills and valleys while Mongoose riders jostle for position.


Team Slayer - Treasury by JoeSki73

Also involved in a tight race, Treasury ultimately stood atop all comers in the Team Slayer categories. A simple, but well-crafted layout coupled with thoughtfully placed weapons and plenty of fun.


To be honest, I can’t say it was a pleasure to sift through each and every one of the 3,000+ submissions we received as part of the Forgetacular contest. Because I didn’t have to - Lionel, Jeremiah, and Gasca combined their super test powers to ensure we looked at everything with a fair, but critical eye, and that ultimately we’d feel comfortable and content with our final selections.

I can say, however, that I am impressed by the overwhelming response we received. You guys are as insatiable as you are talented. We hope the winners feel a sense of swelling pride in their victory, and that everyone who submitted feels that their time was well spent – none of our decisions were made lightly.

Winners have been notified via email. Thanks to everyone who submitted a map. You’ll be playing plenty of the offerings – including the winners and some of the standout runner-ups – soon™.

Community Cartographers

Also on the community map making front, we’ve recently engaged upstanding members of the community to help us continue to discover, test, and showcase the very best community maps. Selected from multiple community haunts, these contributors weren’t necessarily chosen for their Forge abilities (though there are some savants among them), but rather for their leadership abilities, community involvement, and their willingness to straight up bribe me with cold, hard cash. Late this week, we deployed them into the field.

A little cryptic, I know, but don’t worry. If you’re an aspiring mapmaker who is already engaged with the community, you should be hearing from them soon. Stay Tuned.

Matchmaking Updates

I’m just going to say it – Firefight Arcade is the best thing man has ever created. Suck it, the Wheel. If Lars were at my desk right now, I’d kiss him right smack on the lips.

That said Firefight Arcade is still toast on Tuesday.

But don’t worry, we know you love it. Lars does, too. Next week, Firefight Limited will go live in Arcade’s place, featuring a single set, limited lives experience similar to the standard ODST experience of “old.” Depending on its reception, Lars and the playlist team will formulate longer term plans for the Firefight suite of playlists that should see the return of Arcade, either as a Grab Bag, or a permanent experience. Sit tight.

As noted in last week’s update, Grifball is also going live on Tuesday as a planned two week long Grab Bag playlist. Here are the details of the inaugural outing:

Voting Slot 1 will always be vanilla Grifball on Bloody Grifball. If you want to mix it up, you’ll also be given the option to play Evolved on one of four maps, Coliseum, Cliffside, Concave Arena, and High Tide.

I have been informed that there is a disease, and that it would greatly benefit you to catch it.

Mobile Machinations

I’m also getting word this week that the online team is working diligently on some choice updates to the mobile version of Bungie.net. Nothing too major, mind you, but along with faster response times across the board, sometime soon you should be able to see your Challenge and Commendation progress, search through screenshots with better efficiency and more control, and enjoy the complete Blame Stosh Collection on the go.

Blame Stosh

Speaking of, here is Stosh’s contribution to this week’s breakdown.

That’s it for now. See you next week.
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