Bungie Weekly Update: 02/27/09
Posted by urk at 2/27/2009 2:57 PM PST
Halo Wars, Now in Stores

Well, in certain regions, of course. 

For those fortunate enough to get Mythic Map Pack codes early and those picking up Halo Wars LCE as it hits retailers, the Matchmaking hopper for the Mythic Map Pack, dubbed Team Mythic, is live and looking for soldiers.  For everyone else, the counter is still ticking away towards an unstated date set sometime in the not-so-distant future.

If you find yourself in the waiting-it-out camp, we're going to try and make your Mythic-less days just a little more bearable.  Over the next five weeks, we'll examine and explore some of the Sandbox variants that will make their way into Halo 3's matchmaking stable when the Mythic Map Pack becomes available as DLC over the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

The lone exception to our plan is Tundra, the only custom Sandbox variant you'll find inside of the Team Mythic Playlist right now (unless you count the Grifball arena).  Since it's already in play, let's take a look, shall we?

Sandbox Variant: Tundra

Deep below Sandbox's weathered clearing lies The Crypt, the empty excavation site plenty of players will select as the starting point for their imagined edifices.  But L askan has already beat everyone to the punch, rolled out his blueprints, shifted boulders, and built up quite the staggering space for combatants to fight over.

Want to learn more?  Good, because we snagged the man himself and asked him to offer up a few words about his Sandbox variant, Tundra.

Q. What was the core concept behind Tundra?

A. Large arena style maps have long been some of my favorites (<3 Sanctuary). I love the competition that they promote and the insta-parity that symmetry provides. Before Assembly, the only maps in Matchmaking scratching that itch for me were The Pit and a few of the MLG Foundry variants. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Battle Rifles on Guardian, just like most though, I cross my fingers and hope to spawn at elbow initially. ;)

Watching strategy evolve on a map is one of my favorite things about Halo, and in my opinion, a symmetrical map allows for some of that in its purest form.

Q. And the name? Not much in the way of an Arctic environment going on in Sandbox. Why “Tundra?”

A. Tundra is one of the most unforgiving, harsh terrains on the planet. As such, I thought the name fitting. Make a mistake out there and it’ll probably cost you a respawn.  It’s also a shout-out to my home state, Alaska. (AK!)

Q. Why did you choose The Crypt as the space you wanted to build in?

A. Saw The Crypt and instantly knew that it was where I wanted to do my first work. Few reasons off the top of my head?

  1. Four walls and a floor. The skybox is awesome, and the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination up there - but for Tundra I wanted to use my budget building the geometry inside of the space already provided.
  2. I dig the lighting in The Crypt and what the new forge lighting objects allow you to in customizing that.
  3. I feel that the crypt lends itself to this type of map perfectly. It’s the perfect size; not too big, not too small - it’s the 12-ounce rib eye of Forge.

Q. Is this primarily a Slayer variant, or do you envision it could be utilized for other gametypes?

A. I did build it with Slayer in mind, but two-sided objective games may end up being some of the most fun you’ll have on Tundra. I built in CTF and when we tested it, it stood up really well. The quick return variants made for the some of the most amazing, intense and fun games of Halo I’ve played to date. (insert editor's note about bias right here) I haven’t tried any Assault variants on it yet, but am excited to get some going in the near future.

Q. One of the prominent features of Tundra are the stone “billboards” that restrict cross-map sightlines. Why did you decide Tundra’s open air needed to be segmented?

A. Restricted sight lines can be an important part of balance. They give you that second of player safety you need to get your bearings when you spawn in. I find it especially important on any map where the sniper rifle is present, and on the default version of Tundra you’ll find one spawning at center as the primary power weapon. After a conversation with a certain Mcblawging friend the other night it’s been decided that the outer X-shaped billboards need to spin like pinwheels when interacted with and the inner, single billboards should show real-time game footage, ala the Jumbotron at Qwest Field. I know you’re busy Urk, (you’re doing a great job!) so if you need some time to make that happen we completely understand.

[Editor's Note: wat - urk]

Q. No Banshee? Seems like Tundra is ripe for a little aerial lovin’. Or maybe a Scorpion.

A. Don’t believe what those boys up there tell you, I’m not that big of a banshee n00b. Flying is amazing, especially the purple people eater, but if I put one on the map then where would I put the laser? The pedestal’s already taken. And why Scorpion when you could Gauss? Hmm, Tundra Heavies coming soon?

Q. After fiddling inside of Foundry for some time, what would you say sets Sandbox apart from its warehouse predecessor?

A. It’s a size thing (that’s what she said?!).

You’ve got a huge budget, right around twice what you’re allowed in foundry, if memory serves.

You’ve a massive pallet from which to requisition your scenery, weapons and vehicles. The scenery pallet alone is enough to make any Forger ecstatic.

You’ve got a gigantic area in which to work. The Crypt got you feeling claustrophobic? Take it up to the main level and stretch your monitor…legs. Want more? Full customization is available one level up just past sporting goods and housewares.

Q. Anything you wanna add before you head back into Forge to get those pinwheels and that Jumbotron in working order?

A. Big thanks to everyone here at Bungie and the TTL Gunslingers.

While that wraps up our preview of Tundra, as mentioned, you should stay tuned over the next five weeks as we take a look at five more Sandbox variants that our internal team has Forged on Sandbox.  We're going to get you acclimated to the sand swept arenas before you ever set foot onto sand or stone and try your own hand at Forging maps that could eventually make their way into matchmaking.

Screenshot Contest Aftermath

We won't be doing most of our readers a service by noting that last week's update came with a challenge.  Our inboxes indicate that almost every one of you caught wind of what was going down.  We asked you to fire up Halo 3's campaign and play the roll of embedded photojournalist, snapping screenshots of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers in action. 

In exchange for putting yourself into harm's way, we promised to scour the File Shares of those who followed our directions and reward some of our favorites with a prize.  We've made good on our arrangement. Winners have been notified and Mythic Map Pack codes have been dispersed.

So, who won?  Everyone wants to know, right?  You can't wait to pounce on the winning screens and tag them with "dunb4" and "poop."  We know you.  We've seen your mischievous graffito.

While we'd love to showcase the winning screens in a direct fashion, we're letting the winner's keep their privacy intact.  Should they choose to share their screenshots, more power to them, but we're not going to be the catalyst that sends the coming fire of a thousand angry runner-ups into their private message inboxes.

Angry missive aside, we're pretty damn impressed by the work you did. While we knew participation would be heavy with Mythic Map Packs on the line, we had no idea of the sheer volume of content you folks were going to generate.  You can imagine our shock when at the end of the day Friday, we peeked in on the Tags tool and found more than fifty pages already in play.  Truly astounding.

All told, we ended up Cool Irising through thousands of entries and fielded hundreds of private messages from forumgoers wondering why they hadn't yet been notified of their winning entry yet.  Sorry to say, that while there were literally hundreds and hundreds of worthy screenshots, we just didn't have nearly enough codes to reward everyone for their effort.  We hope, at the very least, fighting your way through some of Halo 3's campaign alongside some ODST's ended up being a fun and engaging experience.

Thanks for playing.

The Mosaic

While we're forgoing giving out the gamertags of those who did win Mythic Map Pack codes by way of our weekend competition, or links to the screenshots themselves, we do have a way to let you look at the bulk of the shots in one go.  Thanks to stosh and a little bit of software magic, we've re-purposed Jaime Jones' ultra-badass Halo 3: ODST Game Informer cover to show off your handiwork.  Peep it below.  Click it to gigantify.

Click the Pic to Make Awesome

Wait for the Beep

Warnings not to plug up Bungie inboxes with requests for Mythic Map Pack codes were completely ignored over the weekend.  Some of you have trouble following directions.  For the first time since working at the studio, plenty of us had to resort to our Auto Responders to deal with the volume of messages from players begging and pleading for codes.

This means, of course, that most people who sent legitimate messages got replied to with an impersonal, "No, we don't have any more codes to give out" message.  If you received one of these and we never got back to you in regards to your pressing matters, we apologize.  It couldn't be helped.

And while I busied myself with the task of deleting page after page of Mythic Map Pack messages, I happened to notice several of you sending dozens of messages in reply, even though I wasn't actively responding.  Interest peaked, I opened a couple to see what was so urgent and what did I find?  Well, turns out a few of you were literally having conversations with my Auto Responder.  Seriously.

A Dramatic Reinterpretation:

itz Daniel Day Lewis v2: hay urk whats up lol
Auto Responder: I'm all out of codes. :(
itz Daniel Day Lewis v2: ok but thats not wat i asked
Auto Responder: I'm all out of codes. :(
itz Daniel Day Lewis v2: d00d i just wantd ti say helo
Auto Responder: I'm all out of codes. :(
itz Daniel Day Lewis v2: stop syaing that!!
Auto Responder: I'm all out of codes. :(
itz Daniel Day Lewis v2: :'(

Sadface, indeed.

Oh Yeah, the Auto Responder

If you're wondering what this "Auto Responder" we're talking about is, head into your B.net profile and check it out yourself.  Achronos was looking for an easy way to tell everyone who nagged him for Recon to get lost.  Auto Responder is the fruit of that frustration, but it's a tool we can all use.  Turns out you can even use it for good, keeping all your friends in the loop should you happen to be away from B.net for any period of time.  Think of it as your own little answering machine.

Activate your own Auto Responder

Making it Sprinkle Mythic Map Packs

Though the above recount of Private Message Inbox Apocalypse may make it sound like giving out codes was something of a chore, it wasn't.  We had a ton of fun making it rain where we could, and we hope that those fortunate enough to get their hands on early copies of the Mythic Map Pack will share the love by way of screenshots, written analysis, and video with those who didn't get their Golden Ticket yet. 

In the coming weeks, we're going to keep dropping Mythic Map Pack codes here and there on Bungie.net, and pointing out the offsite folks who find it in their hearts to give away the codes they've been gifted.  Keep checking the site and the forums if you're not planning on going the Halo Wars LCE route.  And as a matter of fact, there are a couple hidden nuggets waiting to be plucked from some deep, dark spaces and one or two hiding in some pretty obvious places right now on Bungie.net. 

Keep your eyes open and an ear to the ground.  Who knows, you just might snag one.

Paying it Forward

Our friend TTL Demag0gue, Gunslinger extraordinaire and purveyor of all things Reclaimer, stepped up after he was granted early access and he's made it his business to fire off rounds from his webcomic at a blistering pace using his new found Mythic Map Pack scenery.

Logan "Casual Crab" Rini, fashioned the amazing panoramic shots below.  We can't do them justice here, if you want to see them in their full glory, you can check them out in their permanent home over at HBO as soon as Casual Crab adds them to the gallery.

On Rails

Around the Corner

On the Horizon

Plenty of others are also getting in on the act.  We can't rightly name them all - there's been an absolute deluge of awesome content and impressions from all corners or the Internet this week - but if you got in on the act, we say thanks.

We don't require that these folks take the time to share the Mythic Map Pack love with everyone.  We gave out our codes with no strings attached.  They could have just fired up their custom games and disappeared, but plenty of them are foregoing the private time they earned and using their moments with the Mythic Map Pack to show it off publicly.  Please take the time to offer up your thanks if you've enjoyed their coverage should your run into these fine folks online, on our forums, or in inside the confines of Matchmaking.

For those who went ahead and made skull tutorials, despite our requests that you exercise restraint and let everyone discover these little hidden gems for themselves on the way to obtaining their own set of Recon armor, you're now on The List.  Thanks for nothing, Jerks.

And with that, we're once again heading off.  It's weekend time and we've got some R&R penciled in.  Don't wander too far though, you never know when we're going to pop in and drop some Mythic Map Pack codes on Bungie.net.  Stick around and stay tuned.  We out.

Have a Great Weekend
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