Get a swiffer or a nice broom, there’s even more housecleaning to do in this week’s Bungie Weekly Update.
By now, Frankie and I are both headed off to separate but equally extravagant dining facilities in celebration of our respective birthdays. Through a weird and bizarre circumstance it was sometime last week we found out that we’d both been ejected from our mothers’ wombs on the same day. Odd coincidence or more Bungie magic? Who could say.
Speaking of magic, and of course by association, mysteries, there’s been a glut of WAAAAAAAAHMBULANCE-worthy complaints about the ranking system and the way it’s operating in Halo 3. Now, that’s not to say that these complaints aren’t justified and understandable, just sometimes they lack the coherent, thoughtful, articulate verbiage we’ve come to expect from Bungie.net users.
I'mma Go and Git Sum Rankz
Let’s talk about Ranking, EXP and Matchmaking in Halo 3.
First, your “Rank” in Halo 3 is the numerical value near your name. You’ll have a different number in each ranked playlist (social playlists don’t have a rank associated with them) and those numbers serve two purposes. First, and most important that number is our system’s assessment of your skill level relative to the Halo 3 player base. The higher the rank, the better the system thinks that you are. The second part of the “rank” is Service Record component, certain numerical ranks are required to reach different military advancement, General for level 50, et cetera.
Your rank and advancement through the ranking system isn’t a linear experience. There isn’t a “if I win 8 games in a row, I should go up X ranks.” Behind the scenes, we’re calculating all manner of information about your play style, skill, foes and party mates. Because the “leveling curve” isn’t a straight line, someone might get to level 30 in Team Slayer in 50 games, or someone might take a year to reach level 30 in Team Slayer. There’s no hard and fast rule to gaining rank aside from winning games, but even then, there’s no rule as to how fast you’ll advance. The system is infinitely more complicated than just a number being displayed in your profile.
Where “Rank” is the descriptor related to your skill, EXP is essentially a visually description of how much you’ve played. Depending on your finish in a game, you’ll earn an EXP point. Quitting, disconnecting, leaving a game are all cause for losing EXP, and to the folks who claim they’ve lost EXP without quitting, we’re unable to restore EXP to you. After the “Arenas Incident” this week, we’re aware that people have a way of pumping up and juicing their EXP, but just like using ‘roids have consequences, so does abusing EXP. Plus, and most importantly, juicing your EXP isn’t going to affect your rank, those ranks are what we’re using for competitive play and what we’re paying the most attention to. Frank will revisit this theme later in this very update.
Are You a Marathon Man?
Hella folks have said they found all the Terminals but they didn’t unlock the Marathon Man achievement. In addition to their being a slight hook to what you may consider “all the terminals” – that’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourselves, our test team did some extensive post-ship testing to see if the Achievement was working as intended. Here are some findings and the appropriate FAIL or WIN condition is listed, as well.
“I read all terminals through the first screen of text (after it’s been translated), then pressed B to back out before the hack point.” FAIL
“I read all terminals to the first screen after the hack point (where it says FRAGMENT X/Y at the top_ in order .” ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
“I read the first a bunch of terminals in different gaming sessions, in order, reading each terminal past the hack point.” ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
“I read the ‘last’ terminal first, then read three from one place and three more, all past the hack the point.” ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
“I read one terminal on Heroic, some more terminals on normal and the rest of them on Legendary, power cycling my Xbox 360 before changing difficulty levels each time. This is a combination of different sessions, reading terminals out of order and on variable difficulties.” ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
We’re still not talking about what they are or where they are, but in terms of the logistics of unlocking them, this should shed a little bit of light on the situation for those folks having trouble.
Each week both in-game and here at Bungie.net we’re updating the list of Bungie Favorites. These files can be films from the Humpday, screenshots from wherever or clips we’ve seen at various destinations around the Internet. We’re tracking who is watching and seeing what and typically culling through some of those files when we’re picking out our favorite stuff.
If you’re taking a bunch of screenshots and take a particularly awesome one, remember to put the screenshot in your File Share, simply having it in your screenshot gallery doesn’t allow us to steal it and promote it to the world with your name on it on Bungie Favorites.
Additionally, we’ve placed a sticky in the forums where players can put gametypes and accompanying map variants (after all, a gametype like Rocket Race needs a map variant to play on) and that thread is just for submissions, it is not for discussions about a given map or variant. It’s simply a tool we’re placing in the hands of the Community and our moderators (who will vigorously police the thread) that could serve as an eventual encyclopedia of gametypes and map types. It will give us a great way to keep tabs on what you folks are created and second, it will give you folks a great way to keep up with what your contemporaries have created.
Here’s the thread.
Please follow the instructions within the thread and we can grow a resource and archive of gametypes and map variants in our forums.
And now back to Frankie…
Follow Up On Divestiture
There’s nothing much new to report on Bungie’s newfound independence. Last week was a comfortable reminder that we still enjoy a near-symbiotic relationship with Microsoft and the Xbox 360. It was basically business as usual. The only real difference is that with MS HR well and truly out of the loop, we were able to shrug off the burden of pants foisted upon us by their dictatorial rule, and enjoy god’s own breeze, commando-style.
Expect this new pants-free existence to change everything for the better.
Work is progressing on new maps for future downloadable content, with the design and art teams vigorously engaged in the process. More entertainingly however, the ad-hoc test team of Bungie staff is enjoying these new maps greatly. My favorites are what I have already nicknamed Jodrell Bank and Moonbase Alpha.
I “invented” a game type on Jodrell Bank which is actually just Team Slayer with Swords and Snipers. Thanks to some unique geographical features of that map, it works great. Moonbase Alpha, on the other hand is best suited to objective games, like CTF and Assault, but it has some natural deadlocks that make Slayer interesting and Infection terrifying.
Which reminds me of one more downloadable map. The scariest map of all time. Dark, frightening and surprisingly enormous. One of the scariest things that has ever happened to me (and this in a lifetime fraught with terror) was racing away from a marauding gang of zombies in Infection atop a Mongoose, only to have one leap out of the darkness ahead and unseat me with a throaty scream. I call that level John Carpenter’s Prince of Dorkness. It’s not as catchy as Jub Jub, but it’s every bit as accurate.
Slam Dunks and NBA Rank Whoring
Lots of drama abounded (or perhaps rebounded) on Wednesday and Thursday as famous baller Gilbert Arenas got busted for EXP boosting on Live. Although it’s a little sad, it’s not strictly cheating at the game and he’s not really harming anyone. However, we should reinforce our philosophy and comment here.
We explicitly want to encourage people to form parties and play with groups of friends for extended sessions, not penalize them for doing so by denying them progress towards a rating.
EXP is simply a record of successful games played, and not an indicator of skill. There is nothing to be gained from boosting it other than the kind of embarrassment visited upon Mr. Arenas. It should be noted that his skill level, 42 when we last looked, is not the result of chicanery and is an admirable skill level. It seems he just wanted the shiny epaulettes that accompany a high EXP rank.
Abusing the system in even minor ways is inexcusable but most of our efforts, both engineering and punitive are aimed at abuses of Skill level (which would adversely affect people’s gameplay experience) and other forms of cheating. Both are being dealt with far more severely and efficiently than in Halo 2. And as ever, we will be diligent and observant and adapt to change.
Our tools are better than ever now. Don’t cheat and you’ll spare yourself the whiny shame when the banhammer falls.
Armor Permutations and Flames
I’m making a list, I’m checking it twice, and it’s a list of dumb messages (and perfectly polite ones) inquiring about the Recon armor permutation. The short answer to those inquiries is, “No, you can’t have it.” The people you see with the Recon helmet are Bungie employees, and they did nothing in-game to unlock it. There is nothing you can do to unlock it.
The same counts for the flames. Don’t be too jealous however, since the flaming head makes us a giant target and is reflected in our online performances sometimes. Sending us angry or rude messages won’t help and our policy now is to simply block communications with folks who’re rude and our sincere apologies to the polite folks, that we don’t have enough time to answer your question individually. We’ve had literally thousands of requests.
No apologies however to the dude last night telling me to “turn down the retardation” in a game of Social Slayer.