Bungie Weekly Update: 10/03/08
Posted by lukems at 10/3/2008 6:38 PM PDT
Shishka writes:
Prepare to J-Pop
Brian and Luke are, as you read this, witnessing the marvel that is the beautiful city of Tokyo. This leaves me pretty much by myself, and you guys without your standard source of Weekly Update goodness. While this sounds like a very, very bad idea to all parties involved (let's face it, nobody should give me the keys to anything ever), I've actually got some goodies for you guys to chew on over the weekend while Brian and Luke have their open casting call for their own Harajuku girl entourage.


Sharing the Love
We mentioned last week that some major(ly awesome) changes are coming to your file shares. Before he left, Brian had a chance to talk to Chris Gossett, gigantic disembodied head behind the Bungie.Net curtain.

Bungie.net is getting a significant overhaul next week and I recently sat down with Bungie.net Lead Chris Gossett to shed more light on what's to come....

1.   In a nutshell, what was the motivation behind overhauling the entire file share on Bungie.net? What are you hoping to accomplish with this new update?

Size and scale. We’ve had more than 50 million unique files uploaded to Bungie.net since the launch of Halo 3. The existing system just couldn’t handle the demand of thousands of content creators and content consumers. New files would be published and maybe have 10 seconds before they were on the third page. A lot of really good content went unnoticed. Yes, some really interesting things have bubbled to the surface, but we knew it could be better.

So, we basically have three major problems that we want to address with this update.

First, in a word, searching. People were frustrated with the existing searches, it was too narrow. We also did a lot of trickery behind the scenes in to show interesting recent files, but it wasn’t transparent enough to make people feel like they were getting what they wanted. So we’re vastly expanding the search capabilities and giving complete control to the users.



Second, ability to relate files. Game types that required certain maps and screenshots that described a cool film currently have no way to become related. It was hard to find that Standoff map that went with the “Duck Hunt” variant, for example. To solve this, we’re introducing file sets. It will be much easier than before to include preview screenshots, relate those maps to game types, and download the required files from a single place.

Lastly, re-discoverability. Screenshots obviously can be viewed and rated right on Bungie.net. However, Games, Maps, Films all need to be downloaded and played in Halo 3 first. The challenge of finding the file again to rate it or comment on it afterward was tedious. Enter tagging, tagging history and download history. We're including a tagging system to enhance the searching capabilities but also to help people organize and brand their creations. Use the download and tag history to quickly find files that otherwise might have gotten lost.




2. Where do these designs and direction come from – is this all in response to community feedback or is this something you already intended to do?

It’s a bit of both. We had intentions of enhancing the file searching even before we launched Halo 3, but quickly realized that we needed to do more as the files came pouring in.

The frustrations we learned from community feedback solidified our own opinions and frustrations. So we, mostly Stosh, started on a complete re-design of the system. We focused on features that improved the three pain points I mentioned before and ditched some of the old parts of the site that just didn’t work. The end product turned out great.


3.  What are you most excited about with the new upcoming file share system?

File Sets. I’m very excited to see what people do with it. The ability to relate screenshots, maps, game types and films into a single package is a feature I’ve personally been wanting for a while and allows for even further creativity on Bungie.net. People can now include screenshot previews of that sweet map they spent hours on and even bundle the related game type. I think this will be equally cool for films and clips.


4.  What’s one thing about the new Bungie.net file share experience that people may not initially notice or take advantage of (but they should)?

I have two.

Your personal tagging history. We’ll be tracking every file and tag you ever add. You can use that page to basically manage/create your own personal categorized collections of files.

And…



Tag suggestions. When you search for a tag or type in a new tag we’ll be offering suggestions based on other tags in the system. Along with that suggested term there’ll be a couple of the top search results from that tag. Use this to quickly bypass the search results page altogether and go straight to the most relevant file for the tag.


5.  What is the main goal/motivation behind the new “Bungie Card”?

The main goal was to give the community an ever updating memento of their allegiance to Bungie. The inclusion of screenshots and stats makes this another feature that really lets people be creative. Now they can show off their killer stats or best screenshot even outside of Bungie.net.  You can take a small piece of your Halo 3 / Bungie.net experience with you beyond the confines of our site.

You can stick it on your blog, your MySpace or where ever else you hang out on the internet. I think I read one guy in the forums wants to print it off and put it on his locker. It won’t update as quickly there and he’s kind of missing the point, but I like the enthusiasm.


6.  Is it possible to add additional/different stats to the card at a later date? For example, some people have asked if their K/D ratio could be displayed.

Definitely. Like everything on Bungie.net we have the opportunity to iterate. So, rather than spend another month adding customizations and additional UI we thought this first version is cool enough to let people start using now. And remember even though the stats aren’t selectable yet, again… you can infinitely personalize your card by swapping out your trophy shot.


7. What’s next for Bungie.net?

We’ll I can’t spill all beans, but there will be at least a couple more large updates that people should watch out for this year.


buTube (<-- not really called this)
Chris can't spill the beans, but that doesn't mean other people can't as well! Roger Wolfson, Online Team extraordinaire and certified mathemagician has another really awesome feature that that film clip fans have been requesting for some time. From the Wolf's mouth:

Hello again, Roger here with an update on the Bungie Pro subscription service we inaugurated a year ago. To recap, Bungie Pro allows subscribers expand their Halo 3 File Share from 6 slots and 25MB of storage to 24 slots and 250MB of storage, to the tune of 750 Spacebucks for the year, which is around 78 cents per month. Halo 3 file sharing has been tremendously popular, with over 53 million pieces of content shared online in the first year alone! That year is up for the first subscribers, which makes this a great time to announce a soon-to-arrive feature that we're going to add to Bungie Pro.

And that new feature is? Render-to-video! At long last, you won't need to have a video capture card to free your saved film from the confines of your Xbox. Integrated right into the Bungie.net file-sharing experience alongside current features like "Copy to My File Share" and "Download to Halo 3" will be "Render to Video" where your short Saved Films or Film Clips (length and quantity to be determined) can come to life as a computer-playable WMV file which can be downloaded to your computer, or seen on Bungie.net alongside other game content like your Screenshots.

We're still finalizing quite a few implementation details and trying to determine at what temperature a server melts into a pool of slag that will drip through the datacenter floor. So stay tuned over the next few weeks as we get those last details sorted out. In the mean time, enjoy the Title Update, and keep that great content on your file shares.


October and Matchmaking
We're finishing up testing on the October matchmaking update as I write this. Given that the September update came out so late in the month, we didn't have much time for October so the changes will be pretty minimal. In fact, most of our "October" changes such as Double EXP weekends were implemented with the September update just to focus the actual October update on back end fixes. The short version is that you won't even notice most of the changes.

Without further ado, here is a few interesting bits of the October changelist, which will go live in the middle of the month:

All Matchmaking
  • Increased weighting of Oddball on Legendary maps
  • Swords Variants now tweaked so players do NOT spawn with grenades, but must pick grenades up off of the map. Any pairing of Swords and The Pit has been changed to use SWAT Stop.
DLC Big Team
  • All non DLC maps in this playlist now skip after veto

Double EXP Weekends (In Order)

  • Team Snipers (Legendary Required)
  • Rocket Race (Heroic Required)
  • Grifball (Heroic Required)
  • 3 Ball (Legendary Required)
  • Ranked Living Dead (Legendary Required)

Rocket Race is exactly how fans of the recently retired playlist remember it. However, future iterations of Rocket Race will require Legendary so people have a better chance of trying Avalanche Speed. We may at a later time reintroduce the Tricks maps as well if the weekend proves popular enough.

Living Dead, our first ever weekend hopper, is returning to its roots and will be ranked for Halloween weekend. This is a great opportunity to get some of those rarer medals for your ranked medal chest on Bungie.net.

The official Bungie Matchmaking Playlist Page has been updated to reflect these changes. Weekends and the 7 on the 7th playlist will pop up on the list as they are available online.

Seven on the Seventh
To ensure that people that have been playing the game since TU2 have an opportunity at the Seven on the Seventh achievement, we will be bringing back Icy Treats, available this time for single EXP. Icy Treats is a playlist that focuses entirely on Cold Storage, so you will need to download the map from Marketplace if you wish to participate. Win seven times then enter the playlist once more to get your achievement!

Technical Difficulties
After the scheduled down time last Monday, Matchmaking fans have noticed sporadic (and sometimes nonexistant) rewarding of EXP. We've been in constant communication with the Xbox Live team since the difficulties were first noticed. They've been working really hard to get everything back in order, and at this point it looks like arbitration (the system responsible for doling out EXP) is starting to behave like it should. There are still some hiccups here and there, but for the most part people should start seeing their EXP show up as one would expect it to.

We'd like to thank everyone for their continued patience over the week as these issues were investigated.


The Blood-caked Super Hammer
We hinted at this in the past, and discussed it more directly last week, but the Banhammer has a new edge to it, and its effectiveness has left Jedi reeling from the feeling of thousands of voices shouting at once and then falling silent. If you are unfamiliar with the Banhammer, I strongly urge you to read http://www.bungie.net/ban. The newest touches on the Banhammer include the ability to recognize behavior consistent with cheating and apply a ban to the gamertags and 360s responsible. Let's clear that up because a lot of people have misconceptions about what the banhammer is doing.

1. We're not banning you for winning.
The Banhammer observes behavior, not results. You're not going to get banned because you won 30 games in a row and got experience for each of those games. If you aren't cheating, you can continue to destroy your opponents without worry. If you are cheating, throwing a game or two isn't going to save you from the Banhammer's ire.

2. We're not banning you for playing with your friends.
We can tell when someone's actually using the controllers you've plugged into your 360. More importantly, we can tell when someone isn't. Filling a party with guests that are not actual players and then going into social matchmaking is not okay. If you don't want to play with randomly matched players, go in with a full party of friends (not the invisible kind), or don't go in at all.

3. We ban for behavior, not intent.
It doesn't matter to us whether you were trying to get Alas Poor Yorick or if you were trying to get your general in DLC FFA. Boosting is not acceptable.

4. Take it up with your brother.
If an account is caught EXP boosting, the entire 360 is banned from EXP for two weeks. We will not un-ban someone because their brother, or cousin, or neighbor, or roommate, or grandma was the one that did the cheating. All users share equal responsibility.

5. Quitting: Only in moderation
There are plenty of totally valid reasons to quit. For example, if you're on fire. Or, if your mother is on fire. Or, even if your dog is setting your mother on fire. However, these things come with statutes of limitations. For quitting, if you do it so often that we recognize it as bad behavior, you're risking the wrath of the Banhammer.

6. We don't mess around with Ranked.
If you're boosting in ranked, you don't just get an EXP ban: You get a temporary ban from matchmaking, meaning you can ONLY play custom games or co-op until your ban has ended.

7. Booters, standbyers: You're next.
You know that warning that's been in Matchmaking for some time? The one that says "Cheating is being autodetected?" It wasn't kidding. We've got your behaviors down, too. If you wish to continue playing Halo online, I suggest you knock off the crap. The punishment coming your way is far more severe than what boosters are getting.

If You Get Banned...
Way to go. Don't mean to sound cruel, but if you were banned it was likely your own fault. If someone else on your machine was who got banned, you'll want to give them a stern talking to, but don't take it up with us. You're welcome to try to contest the ban by either messaging me discreetly on Bungie.net or posting to the stickied thread in the Halo 3 forum, but keep in mind we are just going to look at your stats and point out to you what you did wrong. Nobody (despite some of the self righteous that are trying to suggest otherwise) have been "wrongfully" banned or banned for "no reason." With that out of the way, keep in mind that if you're banned for boosting in Social, you are banned specifically from earning EXP for two weeks. That's the first offense. The second offense is... Harsh. How harsh? I'll put it this way: don't get banned a second time.

Footnote
That covers it for this week, folks. If you're in Tokyo, and you happen to see Brian and Luke, say hi! I heard that they're dressing in matching cosplay so they can find each other in Tokyo's busy streets, tourist style:


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