Bungie Weekly Update: 09/24/10
Posted by urk at 9/24/2010 2:50 PM PDT
Don’t believe everything that you read. A wise man once said that. Pretty sure it was Beck.

On Wednesday, Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson published the latest Xbox LIVE Activity report for the week of September 13th, and much to many a fan’s shock, chagrin, and horror, Halo: Reach was outclassed by not one, but two titles – the second being our very own battle-tested (but still subtly beautiful) Halo 3.

The “news” spread far and wide like the fifth shot from your DMR (I see you out there spamming the trigger, Annie Oakley), but it turned out that reports of Halo: Reach’s demise had been greatly exaggerated. Major Nelson quickly made good with a retraction, noting that the LIVE Activity chart included a “manual reporting error,” and further remarking that Halo: Reach has now held the number one spot on the Xbox LIVE charts for a full seven days running.

So, breathe easy. You can go back to enjoying the game now. Crisis adverted.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

All Aboard the Twain Train!

And that’s really the only metric we care about. Twelve days in, we hope you’ve been able to squeeze a ton of fun out of the succulent fruits of our labor. We’ve been having an absolute blast mixing it up with you in matchmaking (with the exception of our online, test, and engineering teams who have been kicking ass around the clock to keep a million moving parts from going up in a blaze of hot molten glory).

We tooted our own horn yesterday, too, blasting some stats of our own into the cold, blackness of cyberspace. In case you missed our self-aggrandizing, here are the tastier morsels, lovingly segmented out for your viewing pleasure. (Don’t worry, we double checked ‘em for accuracy.)

  • On Tuesday, 09/14/2010 at approximately 1:30 pm PST, just a few hours after launch, Halo: Reach’s online unique user count had already completely eclipsed Halo 3’s total tally for the entirety of the week (09/13 through 09/20).
  • To account for the same number of online players found in Halo: Reach during that same window (just six days), we had to run the numbers for Halo 3 going all the way back to 8/6/2010, encompassing a full 45 days of Halo 3 play!
  • Ultimately, Halo: Reach’s online population for the first week dwarfed Halo 3’s by comparison, snagging four times the number of total unique users and decimating Halo 3’s all time high of concurrent users by more than 65%.

And, of course, the requisite numerical absurdities:

  • 70 Million+ Games have been played
  • 235 Million+ Player-Games have been played
  • 2 Million+ Files have been uploaded to File Shares
  • 5,901 man-years have been spent in online Reach games (sorry, Corporate America!)
  • 20 Million Daily challenges have been completed
  • 709,840 Weekly challenges have been completed
  • 165 Billion Credits have been earned

Thanks for playing!
Fun and Games

And though we’re excited and energized by Halo: Reach’s week one performance metrics, we’re definitely not content to rest on our laurels. Hell, we don’t even have any laurels. But we have already identified a few elements of our online experience that need a wee bit of tweaking. Don’t worry, we’re already on it.

So you’re not left in the dark or caught off guard, here are some highlights from the pending October Playlist update, courtesy of Playlist paesan' Jeremiah.

Playlist Changes

  • SWAT Playlist added (SWAT removed from Big Team Battle and Team Slayer)
  • Campaign Matchmaking (live on 10/15 – You will be required to have earned the Grade “Corporal” to enter this Playlist)
  • Team Slayer rebalanced to highlight default Slayer game variants and include new offerings
  • Classic Slayer removed
  • Removed “Pro” game variants from the Arena Playlist
  • Removed Boardwalk from Arena Team Doubles Playlist
  • Added “Return to Battlefield” volume to Space on Zealot in the Arena Playlist

Game Variants Additions

  • King of the Hill (multiple Playlists, including Arena*)
  • Rocket Race
  • Juggernaut (Rumble Pit Playlist)
  • *King of the Hill not included in Arena

General Housekeeping

  • Sudden Death will be added to all Assault game variants, including Invasion
  • Team Objective will now feature the map Powerhouse
  • Replacing Drop Shield with Evade for King of the Hill, Territories, and Oddball
  • Replacing Hologram with Evade in Oddball, Capture the Flag, Assault, and Stockpile
  • Replacing the Scorpion on Hemorrhage with Wraiths (Hemorrhage Heavies variant, TBD)

It should be noted that these are some, and not all of the proposed changes we'll be making to the online experience in the weeks and months ahead. The items listed above are those of the inbound soon™ variety. We'll make some more noise about a potential second October update as soon as the details are set in stone. Suffice to say, we'll be adding some new "stuff" to keep it fresh and we've already begun to dig into some sweet user created content in search of future matchmaking hopefuls. More on that in updates to come. Stay Tuned.

Time for some housekeeping.
What a Load!

We’ve noticed that plenty of players with hard drives are opting not to install their copies of Halo: Reach. That’s like licking the chocolate coating off a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and defiantly tossing the delicious center you've already paid for into the garbage– Halo: Reach has been optimized to run from your Xbox 360’s Hard Drive! You want significantly faster loading speeds, don’t you?

Nice Rack!

All you have to do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Exit to the Xbox LIVE Dashboard
  2. Select My Xbox when the Reach disc is in the tray
  3. Press Y to bring up the game options menu
  4. Select Install to Hard Drive
  5. Launch the game and play!
For the visual learners, here's what it looks like without all dem werdz.

You did it!
Enjoy the Silence

I was over at Michael Williams’ desk earlier this week to bug him for stats and he noted that a surprising number of players who make prolific use of our lobby mute mechanic appear to have no awareness of our more robust audio options. You don’t need to mute everyone individually if you’re looking for a solitary online experience. Turns out, there’s a nuclear option.


Under the Audio Video option in the Main Menu, you’ll find a handful of settings aimed at aiding your quest to quiet the more vocal element of the community. Tiny beat boxers and expletive spewing adolescents beware.

Mute Everybody

Mute Everybody but Your Friends and Teammates

If you select "Muted" as your Mute Voice option, you won't hear a peep out of anyone. If you select "Team and Party" from the Matchmaking Voice option, you won't hear anybody on the other squad, unless they happen to be in your party. Bam.

Credit Investment Banning and Limits

why u ban me, bungee?

Seems we're in the midst of some kind of credit default swap shenanigans and a ton of people are asking about several facets of the Player Investment experience. Our in house investment broker and proud owner of a precious new puppy, Luke Smith, agreed to step in and provide some consultation for us this week. We asked him to keep it brief (his day rate is astronomical).

Here's his expert advice:

A bunch of questions have popped up on the forums with respect to the Investment system in Reach this week.

What’s up with the Daily Cap?
The Daily Cap is a ceiling applied to the amount of Credits a player can earn each day. It exists as just one of the countermeasures we have in place against exploiting. It was ultimately implemented as a degenerate-case cap, with a value set high enough that the vast majority of our players wouldn’t hit it. As it turns out, the vast majority of our players aren’t hitting it.

Credits are ultimately the result of a mix between time spent and actions per hour. In some game modes those actions per hour are higher, which of course begets more Credits.

However, we don’t want the pressure of players migrating away from their favorite gametype in an effort to “keep up” - so we’ve limited the amount of Credits that can be earned per day. We believe players will have a hard time hitting the Daily Cap in multiplayer matchmaking and an easier time hitting it by running checkpoints in Campaign, or playing Firefight matchmaking, and we’re OK with that.

One of the byproducts of having an Investment system that touches cooperative, solo and multiplayer experiences is that the rates at which rewards are accumulated oscillates. The Cap stabilizes these oscillations.

Will I be banned for playing <my favorite gametype>?
Nope. You won’t be banned for legitimately playing Reach. If you find some particularly fast way of earning Credits because you want to be the first person on the planet with thunder and lightning swirling your visage, we won’t ban you for that, either. Assuming you’re actually playing, your efficient means of farming Credits will only expedite your trip to the Daily Cap – it won’t send you to Banadu.

I’m in Forge all day long making maps and I’m not getting rich?
In terms of granting Credit awards, we treat Forge sessions just like we treat Custom games. Let’s be honest, if Forge was worth a bunch of Credits, people would just idle in it overnight and post about how much they earned while they slept. That’d be pretty lame, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, bad the Apples really do spoil the bushels.

I’m already Lt. Colonel, what’s next?
For this phase of Reach’s release, Lt. Colonel Grade 3 is the Level Cap. We inserted a Level Cap to give our hardcore players an opportunity to reach the top of A mountain and enjoy that time while giving the rest of our population a chance to catch up.

We’ll absolutely be raising that Cap (for Free) in due time. When the level cap is lifted, new ranks become available and there’s yet more Armor to unlock. But how and when are we going to lift the cap? More appropriately, what are you going to do to lift it?

There’ll be another time.

Osci-what? Osci-who? Thanks for the master class, Luke!

Sage and Josh also noticed a whole lot of confusion over the new melee system in Halo: Reach. Operation Uppercut appears to be a total mystery to many players, with more than a few of you falling for the old rope a dope and subsequently succumbing to a maddening amount of "cheap" double melees. We’re here to help. Here’s what Josh had to say about Halo: Reach’s new, one-two punch.


The low down on the beat down…

So as some of you may or may not have noticed there are big differences in the Reach melee system as compared to Halo 3. I’ll try and explain the changes you need to know about and tell you how to win in a couple of situations that you may often find yourself in.

First, the differences:

Shields: More absorbent than ever before!

In Halo 3, you really needed to learn the rhythm of a weapon or even count bullets to learn how long you needed to fire at an enemy before a melee was a guaranteed kill (or a headshot for that matter). In Reach, we’ve taken the guess work out and made it very simple, “When the shields have popped, a headshot or a melee will kill.” The opposite holds true as well, if the player has a shield you can NOT headshot them or melee them and expect a kill. The Sniper Rifle is the exception to this rule as its high caliber rounds are built to pass through shields, metal and bone like butter.

In Halo 3 damage was allowed to bleed past shields after they were popped.

  • i.e. If there was 10 points of shield on the enemy and you caused 20 points of damage to them, you’d pop the shield and then do the remaining 10 points of damage to the body.

In Reach, shields absorb all damage as long as they are active.

  • i.e. If there was 10 points of shield on the enemy and you caused 20 points of damage to them, you’d pop the shield, but it would absorb all of the remaining damage, so NO damage would make it to the body.

Blocking: All melees “clang.”

Even if you have an assault rifle and you are going up against a sword guy, if you melee in the correct window of time, you can actually clang with the sword guy knocking him away from you. This MAY turn the fight to your advantage and give you enough time to either finish him off or at least get away from him.

Damage dealt from a Clang is dependent upon the type of weapon you are clanging with:

  1. In the case of normal weapon vs. normal weapon (i.e. AR vs. DMR) clang, both parties will receive normal melee damage. So the same rules from above apply. If the players had shields before the clang, the shields will pop. If they don’t have shields, the players will die.
  2. In the case of normal weapon vs. melee weapon (i.e. AR vs. Sword) clang, the AR guy will receive MUCH more damage that the Sword guy. If the AR guy hasn’t had any other damage done to him (or very, very little) he will survive the clang, otherwise there is a good chance the clang will kill him. The likely hood of killing the Sword guy with a clang from a normal weapon is pretty slim unless you’ve pumped enough rounds into him to pop his shields and cause some additional body damage.
  3. Killing an enemy after saving yourself with a clang should always be followed by the war cry “Clang-a-lang-a-ding-dong!”

Melee Recovery: Patience [may] achieve more than force…

While not an explicit change for Reach, it is very important to consider melee recovery when making decisions during combat. Melee recovery is the time after throwing a melee that you must wait before you are allowed to throw another one. In Reach, the melee recovery time is one second. Melee recovery should have serious impact on both when you choose to melee and what to do once you’ve been melee’d. Knowing that you will have to wait a full second before you can melee again or knowing you have a full second to react before your enemy can melee again may allow you to consistently turn melee battles in your favor. This is better illustrated in the examples below.

You gotta know when to punch ‘em, know when to shoot ‘em and know when to run…

Here are a few scenarios (Spartan vs. Spartan) you may find yourself in, and the “correct” solution to hopefully keep you alive and make them more dead.

Q. The target has his back turned and doesn’t know I’m there. What should I do?

A. Assassinate that fool!

Q. The target is looking in my direction, but I am not his current target. How do I take advantage of this?

A. You could run in and go for the double melee but this approach could get you into trouble for being so hasty. Instead, I’d recommend joining in on shooting him until his shields have popped and then go in for the melee OR have the headshot lined up if you are holding an appropriate weapon.

Q. I put 3 DMR rounds into a guy while he was running for me but now he’s on top of me and about to melee. Should I try and clang?

A. NO, DO NOT CLANG HERE! If you clang (which will be the instinctual thing to do) you are both just going to be stuck waiting on the melee recovery to expire. Either of you could still get out of this situation with a headshot, but that’s a risky maneuver. There is a better solution…

Q. Ok, I put 3 DMR rounds into a guy while he was running for me and then chose not to clang with him when he melee’d me. What now smart guy? Can I melee him now?

A. NO, DO NOT MELEE YET! Currently he still hasn’t secured the kill because he has to wait for his melee recovery to expire before he can swing again. If you melee early in this situation, you have thrown away your previous advantage. You will pop his shields, but then you will also be in melee recovery and your opponent is going to have a significant advantage. Instead, keep shooting him until his shields pop (only one more DMR bullet in this scenario) THEN melee for the kill!

Q. Well, what if I’ve only put 2 DMR rounds into the guy before he melee’d me? Can I still win?

A. Yes, IF you DON’T MISS. This is a much harder win that if you would have had 3 rounds in the guy before he melee’d you, but it IS possible to win (if you do everything absolutely right). If not, the worst case for this scenario is that you’ll trade a kill for a death with a double beatdown.

Q. Ok, this all sounds great, but I totally panicked and my target and I melee’d each other at the exact same time and now both of our shields are popped! Gah! Is all hope lost?

A. NO, you still have options! You could either, make smart use of you armor ability to flee or block the next melee attempt and potentially live to fight another day, OR, if you have a headshot capable weapon you could go for the headshot and walk away a winner. If you can’t do either of these things, you may be forced to except the tie and go for the double beatdown.

Thanks, Happy Helper!

All Together Now

Also causing some confusion post launch: Assists. Here’s how we’re calculating them in Halo: Reach, courtesy of engineer extraordinaire, Bob.

Halo: Reach tracks each player’s last four attackers when calculating assists. Each time a bullet strikes a player, the amount of shield and body damage is recorded and time stamped. If that player is killed, that data is used to determine whether or not players are awarded with an assist (or any other medals/metrics based on assists). An assist is awarded to a player when they deal “recent” damage greater than 40% of the total damage points, including shields and health. Data is cleared when the target player’s shields recharge above 95%, or after five seconds if no further damage is being inflicted.

Short form: to score an assist, deal 40% of the damage on a subsequently killed player before their shields can recharge to 95%, or before they can stay safely out of fire for five full seconds.

Blame the Tools

Mat Noguchi said some mean spirited things on the Internet in the name of science. Gamesauce got it on film. If you’re easily offended, please don’t click on the image below. If you want to learn about what it takes to develop tools in the game industry from one of our brightest and most rage addled minds, by all means, click away.

Blame Stosh

Stosh has been working hard to make Bungie.net look even better. In between battles with the few untouched elements of our website that still retain their outdated look, he found the time to dig up a brand new Blame Stosh.

Let's see that from a different angle!

Nobody to Blame but Yourselves

You’ve been doing work. Our File Search is stuffed to the gills with great content. Here are just a few of the offerings we pulled out with just a quick shuffle through the pile.

Le Awesome



In Atmosphere?

Rocket Lawn Chair

Mega Awesome

Pillar of Awesome

Mount Chieftain


That’s it for this week. We love you so hard right now. See you online.
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