Bungie Weekly Update: 02/06/09
Posted by urk at 2/6/2009 3:18 PM PST
Mythic Map Pack Previews

By now you've seen the aftermath of the two exclusive interviews we gave to IGN.com and T3.com.  Shots have been fired, shields are down, and we've only just begun to fight.  Though the hulls of the unbelievers now list awkwardly in space, their precious oxygen spilling out into the cold, soundless vacuum, this is but a taste of things to come.

If the paragraph above has you scratching your itchy little head wondering where these exclusive interviews we're writing about are hiding, hit the jumps below to read a pair of sweet interviews with Bungie designer Lars Bakken and our very own community guy, Brian Jarrard (sorry Steve, you're sitting this one out).

IGN: Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack Interview

T3: Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack: Exclusive Bungie Interview

A long time coming, the first media blitz of official Sandbox screenshots should help ease the wait between now and your first opportunity to wage war upon its sand-lined stages alongside Assembly and Orbital.  That date, of course, remains unchanged.  Should you choose to purchase the Halo Wars Limited Collector's Edition, you'll be able to play all three maps that comprise the Mythic Map Pack as soon as Halo Wars hits retail shelves in late February or early March, depending on what region you call home.

And though we've already made mention, we should probably reiterate that no matter what region you find yourself in, when you pick up Halo Wars LCE, we'll have a dedicated Team Mythic Playlist waiting for you in Matchmaking proper.  Here's the scoop from the Playlist Maestro Shishka himself on what you can expect when you jump in, day one:

"Team Mythic is going to be a social 4v4 playlist exclusive to owners of the Mythic Map Pack. Primarily slayer, Team Mythic will feature Slayer, Slayer BRs, SWAT, and Snipers. Additionally, 2 Flag, Neutral Assault, and even Grifball will make cameos at a lower weighting. The playlist will feature all three Mythic maps, including Sandbox in multiple variants."

But we also have plans in place should you find yourself in the other camp: those who will resist the temptation to jump in early with Halo Wars LCE and instead have decided to wait for the Mythic Map Pack to hit the Xbox Live Marketplace as DLC.  After Halo Wars LCE hits retailers, your wait won't be too much longer than the span of time between the Gettysburg's departure for Earth to warn of the Covenant invasion and Regret's slipspace jump out of the skies above New Mombasa.  Afterwards, you'll be able to plunk down 800 Marketplace Points for your very own copy of the Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3.

We don't have details on what the post Team Mythic playlist landscape looks like just yet, but don't worry, all playlists that require "All Marketplace Content" will automatically adjust to include the Mythic Map Pack, and the Team Mythic Playlist that will already be in the wild to support the earliest of adopters, will still be fully operational and ready to go.

What begins as a treat for those who pick up the Mythic Map Pack with Halo Wars LCE will soon become a feast for all to enjoy.  The Haves and the Have-Nots will be forced to rub elbows, hobnob, and mingle together.  We're facilitators.  Please play nice.

Gallery What Gives?

We've yet to update our own official Halo 3 Screenshot Gallery with the new screens that made their way onto the web earlier in the week.  Those badboys are still under embargo.  As soon as we can, we'll be adding the crop that went out to IGN and T3 to our own gallery.  When they go live, we'll let you know.

Deadly Design

Just what is a Killball you might be asking yourself, completely oblivious to the general utility of its simple, but explanatory naming convention.  Turns out the nomenclature is all the description you really need to describe a Killball.  They are, in fact, balls that will kill you.  What else do you need to know?  Okay, maybe a little bit of context is in order.

Ask and you shall receive.

Killballs are the large, spherical, orange-colored objects that can be placed in Sandbox via Forge. Once spawned, they become static objects that kill on contact.  Spartan, Elite, Chopper, or Scorpion, it doesn't matter.  If you head into a Killball, you die.  If you're in a vehicle, it explodes and you die.  If you have one dropped on your head by Shishka, King of Jerks, you die.

But those envisioning a map completely filled with orange death should temper their murderous tendencies just a touch.  Killballs come in pairs.  Two at a time only.  Like many things in Forge, you'll have to find inventive ways to make use of them.  Lavabox v2 and Sandcano are right out.

So, what could you decide to do with a Killball?  Let's say you are King of Jerks.  You might want to load up Forge, spawn a Killball, grab hold of it, and whiz around Sandbox with the damn thing dangling down, dealing out death to unsuspecting players who think they're just here to take some exclusive screenshots destined for the web in a few weeks.  You could also laugh as everyone else tries to figure out what in the world that beautiful orange globe is the sky is as it descends upon them and sends them to wait out yet another five seconds in spawn purgatory.

Or, you might incorporate it into a map variant and gametype in an inventive and interesting way.  Surprise us.

The Grid

Also making a triumphant return in the most recent batch of images is the "Blue Grid" showcased at the tail end of our EDGE Award acceptance video.  Speculators have postulated that this grid, first seen without much geometry save the small floating bunker the illustrious L.M. Smith was perched upon, would be what's left when you delete the entirety of the terra firma from underneath Sandbox, or that it was the mechanism by which players could change the position of the sun and skybox, or that it was the lighted trails left behind by a freshly-finished round of the new gametype, Light-Cycles.

Turns out, it's none of those things.  And none of those things exist in any shape or form in Sandbox, Forge, or Halo 3.  In case you were wondering, yes, this is the dream crushing segment of the Weekly Update.

So, just what is the Blue Grid you can still see clearly overlaid on the sand in some of the newly released Sandbox screens?  Well friends, it's a grid.  A blue grid to be precise.  It's on display when you head into Forge on Sandbox and it's meant to be used as a guide for lining up objects you pull from the map's wide and varied pallet.  It's there to help you stay within the lines, so to speak. 

Not quite a snap-to, but better than using the textures of the bedrock and sand to make a go of it.

Forging on a Budget

A few people picked up on the words of wisdom offered by Bungie designer Lars Bakken in the interviews linked above that touched on a small trick players could deploy in Sandbox to save some precious budget.  Since there was some confusion over his tips, he gave us the go ahead to expand a little bit on the idea of dueling budgets.  We typically try not to bother Lars too much - he's always pretty busy making sweet stuff - but in this case, we thought we'd tap his brain and give you a little bit of an expanded explanation.

Let's get technical.

When you finally get your hands on Sandbox, draft out your ultimate map design, and fire up Forge to make it happen, you'll need to be aware of two distinct concepts.  The first is one that you're more than likely already familiar with: Budget.  When most players talk about a map's budget, they're referring to the dollar value assigned to objects and the total dollars available to spend placing them.

Each object is assigned a specific dollar value, and when dropped in or deleted from play, the maps overall available budget is updated to reflect the most recent addition or subtraction.  When players tap out the budget, they can't place anymore objects without first removing another.

Got it?  Good.  But there's another budget you might have to consider when you build your Sandbox map: the Object Limit Number.  We'll call it the OLN from here on out in this update (please don't sue us, Outdoor Living Network).

Oh snap, a secondary budget?!  Yup. Simply put, a map can only contain a fixed number of total unique objects, regardless of how many budget dollars you have available.  When the OLN cap is reached, you're done placing objects, even if you still have money in the bank (shoteh what you drank?).  You're then forced to delete something should you want to keep on keepin' on.

So why are we telling you this?  Well, in test we frequently ran into the upper boundary of the OLN before we ran out of dollars.  You probably will too.  We just wanted to make you aware.

We also wanted to let you in on a little trick we learned.  It turns out that all the default objects on Sandbox are automatically and irrevocably factored into the OLN.  That means that if you delete them and create a blank "canvas," you won't be reclaiming those objects and you'll ultimately hit your OLN value long before you really should. 

So, instead of making a "canvas," you should stack all of the original objects off to the side (spawn points included, they're also factored into the calculation), away from your build site, and save them for reuse later.  That way, you'll be able to make the most out of the total number of objects you're given to work with.

Halo 3: ODST

Just some minor housekeeping this week.  We wanted to address an oft-asked, but pertinent question about the Halo 3 Multiplayer content that will ship with Halo 3: ODST this Fall.  All twenty-four Halo 3 Multiplayer maps will be in the box.  All shipping maps: The Heroic Map Pack, The Legendary Map Pack, Cold Storage, The Mythic Map Pack, and three brand new exclusive maps are included.

And so ends this week's words.  We hope you enjoyed the first real look at Sandbox.  But of course, we're not done yet.  Sketch is talking about working on a new gametype and map variant, "Fish in a Barrel" over the weekend.  Early next week, you'll probably have a good idea of what kind of mechanics it might entail.  Stay Tuned.

Mac cannons coming back online and charging.  All stations at the ready.  Firing solution calculated and confirmed...

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