Bungie Weekly Update: 06/29/07
Posted by lukems at 6/29/2007 5:18 PM PDT
Frankie writes:
"Hay guys,” says Lars. “Come try my new gametype on this massive, vehicle-suitable map,” he says.

“No wai,” says Luke, “Ah hate vehicles with a venomous, searing passion that boils my soul into an acid black vapor.”

“I spit on your vehicle game,” he adds, and actually spits, for emphasis.

So cut to like, an hour later and Luke’s face is red and bursting with joy. He’s hooting and hollering and now claims that riding vehicles is, “Better than chocolate covered unicorns.”

Lars’ new vehicle game type is actually set in a map you’ve caught the barest glimpse of in the recent Gamepro magazine, and one you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the near-ish future. But his game type is the thing we’re discussing here (although the scale and layout of that map makes it particularly interesting) and it’s a doozy.

As we already mentioned, it requires a lot of vehicles. Everyone is armed with rockets, and it has an objective.  It will have a massive appeal to fans of the original Halo for reasons we can’t discuss yet, and it will make for some of the best Saved Films ever. It is ridiculous, explosive, fast-paced and yet still manages to be coherent. Luke summarized by outrageously asserting that it would be the “greatest Halo experience ever experienced.”

Of course he’s exaggerating. Or is he? I can’t personally say he’s dead wrong. It was a cripplingly mirthful tango of devastation and madness. And in the end, isn’t that the dance we all seek?

The countdown to ZBR (Zero Bug Release) has started in earnest. People are all winding down their main tasks and moving into the polish phase in earnest. That means for artists, no more creating, just lots of tuning and fixing. It means going into that level and fixing the ferns, adjusting the undergrowth, spotting an erroneous lighting condition, or painting moss onto a steaming log. Yes, a steaming log. It’s become something of a meme here.

For designers, it means that the tweaks, which once required forceps and acid-proof goggles, now require needle-nosed tweezers and a jeweler’s loupe.  Tiny, almost imperceptible changes are being made to spawn points, enemy behaviors and weapon placements. Where once we would download a build and experience something new every time, we’ve reached a point where certain changes have to be pointed out to us, lest we miss them entirely.

The happy happenstance as far as replaying the same game over and over again, is that certain features and functionality have been added to make that less of a chore. In fact, I would specifically say it’s a joy, to play the same map over and over again, for reasons that will become plain, soon enough.

The question of difficulty has come up time and time again in the studio. We have a couple of big ticket items to cope with. The most obvious is that we wanted Legendary to be more of a challenge this time around, and less of a horror. To that end, we’re already there. Awful, terrible things are still fired and hurled and driven at you, but this time you have a chance to use skill, as well as plain old memorization to get out of a scrape. And no longer will you be completely hosed by a bad spawn point without enough ammo.

But there’s a subtler problem that we’ve had to accommodate for this time around. Player skill. You can’t expect seven million people to play the same game for three years solid without acquiring some skill at it. That’s definitely the case for Halo. We’ll be bringing on board a lot of players who’ve honed their skills in MP, and think nothing of using a noob combo to take down shields, or softening up a bad guy with a well-bounced grenade. For those people, the game has to be tougher. Which is why Heroic is going to be the sweet spot.

The tricky thing is, that we’ll also be bringing in a lot of new players. They need to be guided in gently. So Normal and Easy are pretty much the way you slide folks into Halo without chafing them. So here it is, the official word from Bungie. If you have enough skills to read this far into a Weekly Update, you’re playing Heroic on September 25th (or September 19th if you are French Pirate).

Heroic is not only the most fun way to play, it’s the best way to enjoy some of the more astonishing AI behaviors. Encounters are more intense, bad guys are more vicious, and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself in the morning. Heroic. You should save Legendary ‘til your second play through.

Sketch just put something on my desk. An object. It is an amazing object. Sometimes it glitters, and sometimes it steals light from this universe, and passes it into another one, where it is no doubt gorged upon by 5th dimensional megabeings. Hopefully someone will show it at E3, or Leipzig, or one of the upcoming game events. It is an object that will be lusted after for years to come. I wish I could say more, but I would get stabbed, or throttled, no doubt.


That right there be a lot of bytez

Chris Butcher, working on last minute code and networking issues, had been chatting with Roger Wolfson, Bungie.net’s professor of webology, and spotted what looked at first, like an ASCII error on Roger’s screen. Because after all, who has a drive mounted on their desktop that says, 70.9 TERAbytes? Nobody, that’s who. Except Roger, who, for snits n’ giggles had basically partitioned Bungie’s storage servers for Halo 3 into one giant drive.

This is where you’re going to store your shared Saved Films and screenshots. You can keep as many as you like or can fit on your HDD, but the publicly available ones go here. It is somewhat unlikely that Roger will keep what’s technically a bunch of HDD arrays mounted as one drive on his HDD….

Right now they’re empty, but we imagine they’ll start filling up pretty rapidly about midnight on September 24th.

Lastly, the Internetz asked “Why don’t you love us more Bungie, where is Mister Chief?” Well, he may start popping up in places you didn’t expect and sooner rather than later. For now, he’s right here:

 


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A Garden of Earthly Delights!

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