Beta’s nearly over kids. One more week and it’s all over. But we’ve learned a lot so far, and we still have some time to gather more data and make sure that we’ve collected as much as humanly possible. But we’d just like to expose this interesting nugget from this morning – so far in the short couple of weeks the Beta’s been live, players have totaled an extraordinary 40,766,495 games. To clarify, each unique Gamertag constitutes a “game experienced by a player” so a game of Double Team can in fact count as four games, depending on whether or not guests are in. But holy mackerel! Over 40 million games in two weeks. I knew I should have got this attached to my PayPal account.
RP and Rep. Both subjects of contention this week on the intarwebs. RP, because folks were shocked, shocked to discover that their RP would drop if they quit games a lot. There is a solution we’ve been working on to avoid this problem – it’s called, “Don’t quit games all the time, moran.” Easy for us to say, since sometimes quitting is necessary (house is on fire) or desirable (your teammates are jerks.) But if you don’t quit, you won’t lose the RP.
People giving you bad rep feedback however, is out of our hands – that’s all Xbox Live. But we will say this: If you play against an aggressive player who kicks your butt and you’re mad about it, instead of giving him a bad rep, put him on your avoid list because of his incompatible skill level. Don’t wreck his rep just because you’re frustrated.
And speaking of bad habits – here’s the top ten that we’d like to see eliminated:
10. Scavenging other people’s kills – if you didn’t kill him, you have no business crouching on him.
9. Vetoing casually – Think twice before vetoing a game you only half dislike. Murphy’s Law states that the next choice will be worse.
8. Taking off in the Hog alone – You may as well drive around in a huge magnetic target.
7. Talking trash to teammates – Yelling at strangers is bad enough, but do you think yelling at your compatriots will make them play better? Drink some chocolate milk and shut your cretinous noisehole.
6. Blasting your music at us – Yes, you’re hardcore. You love mad rhymes and phat beats. We don’t care. Turn it off. We already muted you, you spaz.
5. Insulting the room before the teams are chosen – Now I don’t want to cooperate with you.
4. Shooting me specifically, with the Needler – Stop it. I hate you.
3. Racism, abuse, foul language – We muted you already. So now you’re just a sad idiot yelling into a vacuum. Actually, go right ahead. Maybe a relative will smack you or get you the help you need.
2. Insulting Gamertags – Obviously Live can’t automatically detect every idiotic Gamertag you come up with, especially with your L337 combos, so how about this: Just quit being a moron.
1. Going to the bathroom while playing – this gem was found on a Halo 3 post in another forum. Names have been hidden to protect the guilty:
I never quit, but sometimes I have to poop, so I take the controller into the toilet with me. I move the sticks and press buttons, but I can't be held responsible for my actions during these brownouts.
Luke's been playing this game a lot, but he swears it's for a purpose.
OMG Nerf This Weapon
Luke says:: Regardless of the Public Beta, there’s an obvious and huge emphasis placed on testing Halo 3. So while you folks are doing a lot of usability testing, netcode testing, and in some ways exploring weapon balance in a limited sandbox where we dictate what toys you can play with , that testing doesn’t begin to plumb the depths of what our internal test team is going through.
Multiplayer producer Joe Tung and I have been playing regularly with six of the “best” testers. In this case “best” doesn’t mean best at bug filing, it actually means good enough at Halo to play competitively. When I started at Bungie, engineer Luke Timmins was calling one of testers “Magic Fingaz” because he was doing things with the controller that make BXR seem pedestrian. Then, we fixed those things. Sorry.
Anyway, this test group is supposed to play the game in a way that attempts to break maps, get to spots where they can’t be killed and use every single dirty trick (and invent new dirty tricks) in a book that hasn’t been written yet. How my newb skillz got tapped for this series of tests is a Moriarty versus Holmes mystery of near-epic proportions, but it probably has something to do with both my “non-essential to the game shipping” status and love of trash talk – and something about “needing to not be terrible at Halo 3 so we maybe win some Humpdays when the game ships.”
It’s impossible to stress enough how constant change is in Halo 3’s multiplayer. One week Jub-Jub has an empty room on one of its multi-tiered levels, the following week that room has Shield Doors and a new weapon in it, the week after that the room is empty again and then the following Tuesday, there’s a brand new piece of equipment inside to mess with.
But instead of testing general map flow and “fun” – which get looked at religiously in the regular Bungie Playtests – this group has been specifically looking at weapon balance and testing some of the stuff that U.S. enthusiast magazine Gamepro is set to reveal in a cover story that is making its way to subscribers, now.
Lots of folks both internally and in the Public Beta have pointed out that the Covenant Carbine has seen a tremendous increase in its effectiveness and that the Battle Rifle seems to be lagging behind it as a result. This week, Joe and I’s teams spent a night testing the Carbine versus the Battle Rifle – obviously they were functioning differently than they did in the public beta.
Two nights later, the MP team had taken our feedback and we reconvened to wage war with the rifles again. Both had seen subtle tweaks to things like damage and rate of fire and were performing differently from their “earlier in the week” and “Beta” counterparts. Are the tweaks finished? By no means. They’ll see tons of testing before we see them again and it’s entirely possible and extremely likely that they’ll have changed again by the time we see them next.
This constant state of flux makes watching your reactions to the beta more interesting, because while tears have been shed about changes or lack of changes to your favorite or least favorite weapons of all time, no weapon in the beta will perform exactly as it does now when the game ships. That could be because of subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes being made to the weapon itself or similar changes to other weapons in the game that affect the way the weapons in the sandboxes operate. But anyone who says the Needler is underpowered needs to lay off the meds. Come awwwwn.
Today, Bungie got another new employee. We call her "The Beverage Center." Inside her arms she keeps stacks upon stacks of ice cool beverages. Studio overlord Harold Ryan said she would easily be the 'hardest working team member for the rest of the project.' Here, go read more from Frankie.
Campaign is Coming
In September. But we’ve been playing all the way through the game for weeks now. Our favorite level at the moment (and it changes week by week) is the challenge presented by the very last level. Now the thing that sucks for us, is that we’ll never be able to experience the game properly. It’s just not practical or possible for us to sequester ourselves away from the Campaign game. We have to play it. But it’s hardly torture either. And we can’t tell you anything else about it.
Joe and I were taking turns at a driving challenge somewhere else in the game, created by Dan Miller, one of our Campaign designers. Now being backseat drivers AND backseat game designers, we gave him loads of awesome feedback. We can only imagine how grateful he was for it. In a very real way, he’s lucky to have us.
Speaking of driving, I was trying a speed run on one of my other favorite levels (earlier one) which has a spot you’re technically not supposed to get a vehicle across. This was slowing me down and cramping my style, so I used my top-secret new vehicle to nudge some bits of debris around to make a ramp. Massive justice! Leap achieved. When I reported this to that level’s designer, Chris, he was all, “Well dur, how come it took you a year to figure that out?”
Sketch and Luke, meanwhile, have been trying out Legendary. Sketch was playing through the first level, while Luke tried one of the middle ones. “Jackals are jerks!” and “Even Lee can’t throw a plasma that accurately!” are the yells coming from their monkeypit.
HaloClix is Also Coming!
Yeah, you read it right. A Halo based ActionClix game is coming in September, 2007. From the folks who brought you HeroClix, comes a tabletop game set in the Halo universe (featuring characters, scenarios and equipment from all three games) that requires skill, strategy and is basically great fun. We did a brief mention of this a while ago, but we finally have some color shots of some of the characters.
One of the most satisfying, fun and pleasant aspects of working with WizKids was just how much they “got” the Halo universe. The WizKids designers’ most fundamental task was to build a game that Halo players would appreciate and enjoy, taking elements of the fiction and the gameplay and pairing them correctly.
Which means you’re not just going to see another version of a Clix game with Halo characters bolted on, but rather a game that’s built from the ground up to support Halo themes and ideas. For example, there will be respawn points, accurate species specs and even the ability to swap weapons with teammates (a la Halo 2 campaign). But it still retains the classic Clix gameplay engine.
As with all the Clix series of games, you’ll be able to buy packs – in the case of Halo ActionClix, these will be $10 per pack and each will contain four game figures, four stat cards, a couple of dice and a startup map. Not bad for the price of a couple of Frappucinos.
During the game, two or more players can choose to field teams of UNSC or Covenant units, or mix ‘em up for highly entertaining, but probably non-canonical action! Series one launches in September and the complete set will contain almost 100 pieces. If you don’t know anything about Clix, it’s basically a really approachable turn-based board game that anyone can play. Read more here: http://www.wizkidsgames.com/wk_home.asp.
Don’t forget, you can still win a Halo 3 Zune, complete with loads of exclusive content over at HBO. In keeping with the Zune’s broad Multimedia capabilities, the contest at HBO is multimedia focused. Contestants are asked to enter in one of the following categories:
1. Halo Song Parody - Using Halo as the theme, create a song parody based off any existing song you like. Entries will be judged on creativity, humor and execution.
2. Original Halo Song - Create an original song inspired by Halo! The sky is the limit in terms of instruments and musical genre. Entries will be judged on lyrics (if they exist), delivery and execution.
3. Halo 3 Beta Montage Video - Using the Halo 3 beta, create the ultimate montage video! Mix one part creativity, one part awesome game footage, one part audio and a dash of editing skills and make a video that will wow and amaze the Halo community. Entries will be judged on concept, originality, entertainment value and execution.
4. Halo Original Machinima Video - Using the Halo 3 Beta or Halo 2 or Halo 1 for that matter, create a Machinima style production. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, entertainment value and execution.
Remember, you can’t enter here – Halo.Bungie.Org is hosting the contest, so head over there right now for a chance to win.