Bungie Weekly Update: 10/15/2010
Posted by urk at 10/15/2010 2:51 PM PDT
We’re officially one month and a day into Halo: Reach’s lifespan according to my calendar and that, dear friends, is cause for some celebration. At the very least we should fire some stats off into the nighttime sky and kick the weekend off right. Sparklers in hand, our online team has some numbers that pack a whole lot of punch.

To date:

  • 16,445 Man-Years have been spent playing Halo: Reach (Not to be confused with Dog-Years)
  • 784,000,000 player-games have been played (1 game with 4 players is tallied as 4 player-games)
  • 544,000,000,000 Credits have been earned (spend that money, playa!)
  • 3,900,000 Screenshots have been uploaded (and plenty of them feature juvenile looks at Kat's "bad side")
  • 5,970,000 total files have been uploaded (your bandwidth bill is in the mail)
  • 300,000,000 Mountain Dews were do'd

The last stat might not be true. There's still probably a few bottles floating around that didn't get sucked down. But you really have played yourselves a whole mess of Reach. Which is awesome. And we’re just getting warmed up.

The Warfront Expands

After sticking its curious claws out of the sack prematurely a few weeks back, the cat is finally and officially out of the bag. Yup, we’re working on DLC, now dubbed the Noble Map Pack, and yes it is shipping soon. November 30th in all stores everywhere (and on Xbox LIVE Marketplace).


And while apparently that’s not fast enough for some of you, this trio of new multiplayer maps are definitely worth the wait. Our DLC team has been diligently working on these new maps for months and they just hit content complete this past Wednesday night. That means from here on out, all that’s between you and the Noble Map Pack is some liberally applied spit and polish. We’ll make sure we rub ‘em all down just right before we hand them over.

Anchor 9

This week we’ve been playing a ton of matches to gather up footage for a trailer, zipping around Anchor 9’s symmetrical halls, lurking in the rocks on Tempest to ogle the swirling skybox, and literally blowing the doors off of the research facility in Breakpoint to get our own claws on some succulent Forerunner data. It’s been a blast. We can’t wait for you to take them all for a spin.


Click on any of the images above to view all of the new DLC images in higher resolution. All the cool kids are doing it.

A Match Made in Halo

We’ll make sure you get to play these suckers as much as humanly possible should you decide to plunk down 800 Microsoft points in support of our DLC Team’s efforts. Unlike the map packs of yore, we won’t only be offering a playlist specifically tailored for players with access to DLC. The haves and the have-nots can swim in the same pool and our newly retooled matchmaking algorithms will systematically segment the player base properly so you won’t have to worry about where you can get your next hit of new map smell. They'll be seamlessly incorporated into the already existing playlists as primary voting options.

Of course, for those who demand a DLC-only experience, we’ll blow the whistle and open up a VIP lap lane just for you. It'll be ready to go on day one. Details coming soon.

Peeing in the Pool

To soak ourselves further in this incredibly buoyant pool metaphor, we should mention that a few thousand people had their credits reset earlier this week for purposefully boosting challenges. It’s odd to witness the lengths certain players will go to in an attempt to snag some ill-gotten spoils, hilarious to read their poor excuses for manipulating their network, and delightful to note how easy it is for our team to catch them red-handed.

But I didn't know!

With each Banhammer swing the mass proclamations of profound innocence become more and more entertaining, and with each subsequent smack down the Banhammer becomes more and more addicted to the delectable taste of booster blood. Soon we will unleash it in its fully automated, self-aware form. You have been warned.

As Rex notes, the machine will be far less forgiving than we are. If you haven’t had a hearty laugh in a good long time, you should check out the aftermath of our latest action in our Halo: Reach forum. (Check the pinned threads for great justice.)

And although everyone who’s been subjected to a credit reset loudly claims their innocence, caps lock punctuating their perfunctory pleas, we’ve been dutifully researching each case by hand and have yet to find a single player who has been reset without due cause. So from here on out, we’ll only be investigating claims on a case by case basis when asked nicely, and if we determine that you did indeed reset your challenges and that your appeals were nothing but an ill-advised waste of our very valuable time, we’ll extend your credit free existence by two fold to compensate for our trouble.

Rex already implemented this new double or nothing world order in the forums and notes that he’s only had a handful of players take him up on the offer. The Banhammer's verdicts were just and none have yet to be overturned.

Long story short, if you’ve been yanking your network cable out of the wall to fool the challenge system (or doing anything else as obviously manipulative of our online experience), please, by all means come crying to us. We’ll have a thread ready to collect your salty reservoir of delicious tears.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

We’ll do it Live!

On a friendlier front, today we released the Campaign Matchmaking playlist and soon we’ll declassify all of the imagery on Bungie.net. If you haven’t completed the campaign yet, we’re no longer going to hold your hand and shield your eyes from the sights and sounds of our furiously kick ass campaign. It’s been long enough. Be warned: if you jump into Campaign Matchmaking, you’re liable to play the last mission first. If that doesn’t bother you at all, go nuts. If it does, it’s time to get crackin’ on your campaign progress.


I should also reiterate that Campaign Matchmaking will do a great job of finding well connected players for you to play with, but should you go in with a party of globetrotters with terrible connections or lots of latency between you and your pals, you’ll likely have a bumpier ride than usual. Tips and tricks for a better experience can be found in our Halo: Reach Networking Guide.

And though we’ve already made some significant changes to the playlist offerings this month, including the introduction of Team SWAT and Campaign Matchmaking, we also promised you a second salvo. We aim to keep that promise. Here’s the breakdown of all the expected changes, coming to Matchmaking on Tuesday, October 19th:

October Playlist Updates: Part Deux

  • New Playlist: Team Snipers
  • New Playlist: Living Dead
  • Rumble Pit
    • Lineup rebalanced to offer more kill, less frill.
    • Removed Infection, Safe Havens, Race, Rally, Headhunter Pro
    • Removed “Classic” gametypes
  • Team Slayer
    • Removed all Snipers gametypes
  • Team SWAT
    • Added SWAT Magnums gametype
  • Team Objective
    • Removed 1 Flag Classic
    • Removed Headhunter Pro
    • Removed the following gametypes from Hemorrhage due to the size of the map with only 8 players:
      •  Multiflag Classic
      •  1 Flag CTF
      •  1 Flag Pro
      •  1 Bomb Assault
    • Removed Oddball and Hot Potato from Boardwalk
  • Multi Team
    • Removed SWAT
    • Removed Classic gametypes
    • Removed The Cage
    • Changed weighting for Rocket Race so it does not have a 100% chance to appear in Slot 3
  • Big Team Battle
    • Removed Multiflag from Boneyard and Spire
  • Invasion
    • This playlist now offers 3 voting options
  • Firefight
    • Updated Firefight playlist gametypes to be a full set instead of 1 round. Adjusted skull progression.
    • Removed Friendly Fire
  • Score Attack
    • Removed Crash Site
    • Added Mythic Score Attack
    • You can no longer pickup other weapons in Sniper Attack

  • Zealot/Arena Zealot
    • Arena Zealot is now used for all Slayer gametypes
    • Players can no longer stand on the edge of the generators in space and crouch to shoot below the shield
  • Asylum
    • Softkill zones added to the tops of the Sniper buildings
  • Boneyard
    • Modified respawn zones for Slayer gametypes
  • Hemorrhage
    • Modified respawn zones for both bases
    • Respawn timers for all Warthogs on Hemorrhage should now be 120 seconds

  • CTF
    • All CTF gametypes should now have a player respawn of 10 seconds
    • All Classic CTF gametypes now feature Flag At Home To Score and Touch Return
    • Flag At Home To Score disabled for all non-Classic CTF gametypes
    • Modified Flag Return and Flag Reset times:
      • 1 Flag on Small maps use 10 second return and 30 second reset
      • All other CTF gametypes use 30 second return and 45 second reset
  • Assault
    • Assault gametypes now have a player respawn time of 10 or 15 seconds depending on the map

In addition to the Playlist changes, we’re also introducing two new Forge Map Variants with this update, Cliffhanger and Atom. Atom will be on display in the Team Slayer, Team Snipers, Team Objective, Multi Team, and Big Team Battle Playlists. Cliffhanger will be found in Rumble Pit, Team Slayer, Team SWAT, and Team Objective.


Cliffhanger is Lars’ own in house creation, formerly known as Bakken Crick, dutifully designed for small scale combat. Its tight quarters are perfect for some frenetic, fast paced games.

Atom is one hundred percent community made and the creator, JoeSki73, crafted some of his own words to help wrap your head around building something great with the Forge in Halo: Reach.

Shining Some Light

"My approach to map design using Forge, by Joe Ski (Grade 6)

Now I’m no expert and don’t claim to be. So think of this as more or less a bit of insight into how I personally approach maps; which I’m sure is just one of many valid approaches. With that said, I hope this proves to help my fellow Forgers consider different angles to map design and push our maps to a higher level of awesomeness.

Chances are if you’re reading this you are already an avid Forger so I’ll skip my usual speech about newcomers diving right into Forge and connecting pieces to get a feel for the limits and freedoms Forge has to offer. If you aren’t the avid Forger, then I suggest you first do just that. Get your hands dirty and find your comfort level in Forge before trying to go all super technical with everything.

*bleep bloop* Achievement unlocked: Usual speech, not skipped. So, here’s the quick and dirty version: (which happens to be really long…um also, I think she said that). What do you want to build? Asymmetrical, symmetrical, BTB, 4v4, Invasion, Slayer, CTF, Headhunter...start your map with purpose.

I want to make a small-medium, symmetrical 4v4, Team Slayer map which also supports a couple of my other favorite gametypes.

Bam! Just like that, we’re on our way. Time to get out the pencil and paper or Google SketchUp http://sketchup.google.com/ or MS Paint or whatever tickles your fancy. (Yes …fancy = tickled) Do a few sketches of your map overview (heatmap style) plotting out your bases, tunnels, bridges, ramps, overlooks, and (often most importantly) spend some time dreaming up that focal point you want for your map. That one thing, or couple of things, that is going to visually set your map apart from the rest.

Yes, gameplay is the MOST important ingredient, but if you want to stand out in the crowd you need to be thinking very early on about how you will integrate your focal point aesthetic pieces into your design as functional pieces to the puzzle and not just “omg, I have $2,000 left…imma build a snowman!” Now I’m not saying you don’t want to throw a block up on a wall here and there to break up the sea of grey, but overall you should be thinking how to best make your aesthetic elements functional cover and/or playable spaces.

With that said, back to the rough draft sketches. Be thinking about what lines of sight you are going to have standing in this area over here, what advantages a guy might have if he’s up on that balcony over there…things along those lines. It’s typically a good rule of thumb to have no less than 3 entrances / exits to any base or room so teams can’t defend choke points with the greatest of ease. You go overboard with it and it’ll be like playing in Swiss cheese so find that balance that is good for your design.

Sketches in hand, good overall visual of your map floating in your head, it’s time to load up Forge. Having that experience with Forge and finding your comfort level (that I was talking about earlier) is going to go a long way here because without a doubt you are going to have to adjust your design here and there to make the best use of the tools available to you. Don’t sweat it. It’s normal.

It’s typically helpful to have a good idea of the size map you want to be similar to. For example, you want your map to be roughly the size of Countdown. Countdown is roughly 16 “Spartan walking seconds” (or 16 grid squares) long. Walk off your map, or use the Forge grid, and throw some blocks down to give yourself the map limits you plan on staying within.

Go ahead and start laying down your rough design and don’t forget to start working those aesthetic elements into your map as functional pieces. Also, try to push yourself to use the pieces in ways you normally wouldn’t think about. Push your envelope further than you’re comfortable with. Most Forge pieces were designed to be used upside-down, at odd angles, on their sides, all kinds of ways. Work those unique things into your map as you go, but only if they assist gameplay and not if they clutter it up.

Once you have your basic layout down, which may only consist of a few placeholder pieces here and there, move right on to fleshing out an area of your map and build outward from there toward your next area.

I typically keep Sprint and Jet Pack spawned on the map. I often drop into Spartan mode, pick up one of those Armor Abilities and spend some time jumping around my newly built area to ensure proper heights of jumps and railings, or running from cover to cover while looking around to see what other areas of the map I’m exposed to. I’ll spend some time going to different places on the map and try to get a sense for how easily I could shoot people from that location, adding in some cover here and there or blocking lines of sight for areas that have an obvious advantage.

Test your map. Get all the feedback you can get. Specific things that people liked, all the things they didn’t like and initial impressions. If you can make adjustments based on the feedback and it doesn’t hinder your goals for the map, go for it. Make the changes and test it again.

Depending on your factors; there are tons of ways you could approach map design and I could probably go on forever about the different ways I approach different situations (as if this wasn’t long enough).

I think the key is to take the time to plan the paths of egress throughout your map, constantly thinking about the lines of sight a player will have in any given area and also what other areas on the map they will be exposed to. Drop into Spartan mode often and run around your map visualizing encounters, making sure you can or can’t get to places on the map just as you intended, and to ensure the scale is appropriate. Test, make adjustments, test again, repeat.

Bottom line: Have fun. I can’t wait to see and play on tons more community maps. Keep up the good work everyone and let’s all push each other to get better and better.

Thanks for listening to me run my mouth. Oh and quick shout-out to The WorkPLace (formerly Halo 3 in The Work PLace). Suck it, guys! (<3 u guys.)

- JoeSki73”

If you want to check out Atom prior to the update on October 19th, you can download it for yourself and take it for a test spin. Or, if you’re a visual learner, watch the embedded fly-through below to get familiar.

Along with the changes highlighted above (and his sweet map variant), Lars has also made some pretty insane modifications to the Firefight Playlist offerings. Here’s what he had to say for himself.

Lars’ Firefight Updates

"Hey Firefighters! We hope you are all enjoying playing Reach as much as we are. I’m in the Warrant Officer Grade 3 hump, but the Daily Challenges are helping me power through it. My playlist of choice is definitely Score Attack, which we’ll get to in a second. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should.

Fight Fire

So, on to the meat. We’ve definitely heard the comments and criticism and we’re ready to react. As of next week, there will be a bunch of new changes. Before I detail them, however, I want to warn you about something. Leaderboards in the Score Attack playlist are being RESET with this update! We knew it was a possibility, but now it’s a reality. We’re making a couple core changes to keep the integrity of the Score Attack Playlist, and because we are changing one variant and adding a new one, this is a necessity. This can and will happen as we change and update the playlists, so it’s better to get used to this now. Kind of like ripping off a bandage quickly. You just gotta do it.

For the changes, you can either read them here or look at the handy list below. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt my feelings if you just skip to the list. First we are extending the time limit in ALL the gametypes. That means that Score Attack games will still go to 1 Round, but now you have 15 minutes to get through it. This should help the people that couldn’t quite make it through a Round in 12 minutes. Also, the standard Firefight playlist variants will go to a full Set or 30 minutes max. Yes, you’ll get to feel the Skull progression as well as a Bonus Round. Good Luck.

In the Score Attack playlist we are retiring Crashsite and replacing it with Mythic Score Attack. It’s the same progression as Score Attack but with the Mythic Skull enabled. This will truly test your mettle. If you’re worried about Crashsite going away, please don’t; it will come back at some point in the future. We’re also changing the Sniper Attack variant so you can no longer pick up any weapon you want. This again ensures the sanctity of that gametype, and one of the reasons we’re resetting the Leaderboard in this playlist. Lastly, we’re adding Glacier into all the gametypes.

In the Firefight playlist, as mentioned above, we are increasing the time limit to 30 minutes and setting the Wave Limit all the way up to 1 Set. This means we changed up the Skull Progression as well. If you want the fine details see the list below, but it will be slightly changed from the standard you know currently. Because we are stretching out the games, we also made some minor modifications. In Sniperfight, you’ll run into Hunters in your Bonus Round, as opposed to Elites in Rocketfight. Firefight and Generator Defense still have the loveable Grunts as their Bonus Round enemy. You’ll also notice Friendly Fire and Betrayal Booting have been turned off based on feedback. Glacier has been added to all these variants as well. Play nice.

So, that’s about all there is to the update. It will go live next week, so we hope you enjoy the changes. As always we’ll be listening in and taking notes based on community reaction. For you pure Firefight players out there that want Limited Lives, it will happen… just not quite yet. Also, for all the people clamoring for Versus, that will happen too, but we’re not sure as to when. It’s entirely possible we’ll try out a weekend offering before making it an official playlist. You’ll hear more on that stuff, as always… soon."

Score Attack Playlist Updates:
  • Score Attack:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 15 minutes.

  • Gruntpocalypse:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 15 minutes.

  • Sniper Attack:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 15 minutes.
    • Weapon pickup is now Disabled.
    • Increased Melee Modifier to 150% to match Damage Modifier.

  • Mythic Score Attack:
    • The same set up as Score Attack but with the Mythic Skull on.

Firefight Playlist Updates:
  • Firefight:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 30 minutes.
    • Increased Wave Limit to 1 Set.
    • Round 1 has only Tough Luck skull.
    • Round 2 has Tough Luck and Catch skulls on.
    • Round 3 has Tough Luck, Catch, and Cloud skulls on.
    • Friendly Fire is Disabled.
    • Betrayal Booting is Disabled.

  • Generator Defense:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 30 minutes.
    •  Increased Wave Limit to 1 Set.
    • Round 1 has only Tough Luck skull.
    • Round 2 has Tough Luck and Catch skulls on.
    • Round 3 has Tough Luck, Catch, and Cloud skulls on.
    • Friendly Fire is Disabled.
    • Betrayal Booting is Disabled.

  • Rocketfight:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 30 minutes.
    • Increased Wave Limit to 1 Set.
    • Friendly Fire is Disabled.
    • Betrayal Booting is Disabled.

  • Sniperfight:
    • Added Glacier map.
    • Increased Time Limit to 30 minutes.
    • Increased Wave Limit to 1 Set.
    • Bonus Wave Squad 1 set to Hunters.
    • Bonus Wave Squad 2 set to Hunters.
    • Bonus Wave Squad 3 set to Hunters.
    • Friendly Fire is Disabled.
    • Betrayal Booting is Disabled.

Bustin’ Caps

Thanks, Lars! You’re not the only one grinding their way through the Warrant Officer ranks. According to our forums, you’d be led to believe that we’re all at max rank with nothing left to live for. Of course, our stats say otherwise.

But Luke promised we’d talk about raising the level cap soon and today we have the details. Hope you’re up for a challenge. In the very short term future a thermometer will appear on the Bungie.net front page charting the community’s collective progress towards completing, wait for it…

117 Million Daily & Weekly Challenges!

Don’t freak out. Currently, our online engineers project that you’re on pace to hit that milestone sometime in November. I’d wager to guess that you’ll hit it early in the month, but hey, what do I know?

Well, I do know that when you do cross the 117 Million mark, we’ll celebrate by blowing the lid off the level cap! In the immediate aftermath, new ranks and armor will be made magically available for you inside The Armory, provided you have the rank and credits required. Time to get to work!

Oh, and no, we won't be counting boosted challenges.



There’s plenty of excitement swirling around the Forgetacular Contest that’s now underway. We’ve already been sent some spectacular submissions. If you have no idea what I’m on about, click the link below to get up to speed.

Bungie Reach Forgetacular Contest

Brian wanted me to clarify that we’d love to let International competitors try their hand at submitting something great, but our Legal Eagles tell us we simply can’t allow it. Boo-urns! But even though you can’t partake in this particular contest, we still urge you to build some great maps. This contest isn’t the only way we’ll be incorporating user generated content into Halo: Reach - as you may have noted from our playlist update above, we’re not opposed to finding stuff on our accord and fast tracking it into matchmaking. (As long as it's totally awesome and you don't spam the crap out of our PM or email inboxes.)

We also want to expand the Invasion category to include maps that do not support Invasion Slayer. If you want to make a standard Invasion offering, or vice versa, please do so. Just note in your submission which Invasion types your map is setup to support so we don’t bin it thinking it’s not correctly set up for one or the other.

Happy Forging!

Blame Stosh

Stosh is super busy fixing the mouse over on your Service Record’s circle chart today, but he still found the time to dig up a sweet Blame Stosh.

Wish Granted

From time to time we are fortunate enough to play host to some well-deserving children through Make-a-Wish’s amazing Northwest Wishes program (run by the equally amazing Renee). It’s an honor we never take lightly. But often the visits weigh heavily on our hearts, so it was incredibly uplifting to receive word that a 2009 visitor, Evan (aka pleepleep), just underwent his final treatment and is now at the end of his miraculous road to recovery.

We couldn’t be happier to read the news and I can’t think of a more triumphant note to end our update on this week. This job isn’t all fun and games, sometimes it’s downright inspirational. See you soon, Seventh Column. Have fun out there.
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Seis de Mayo!

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A Garden of Earthly Delights!

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