The update's back. Back again. Update's back. Tell a friend.
Yup, as the fragmented sentences above (and your calendars) indicate, it is in fact Friday. That means it's update time. Are we once again going to kick off the extravaganza in honest and overt style, letting you know straight up that there's no revelatory news contained herein, giving those who've only clicked through in hope that this week will be jam-packed with words worthy of headlines a reason not to keep on scrolling all the way to the end?
Well, when you put it that way it seems like maybe we shouldn't tip our hand. Fingers on mouse wheels. Spacebars work too, but you'll end up making a bit of a racket with all that clacking. Either way you choose to move the page, let's take this update onward and, uh, downward, shall we?
Four Weeks Make a Month
Kind of. Sometimes there's like four-and-a-half weeks in a month. Thirty or thirty-one days in all. Sometimes twenty-eight. There's a little bit of weirdness on Leap Year as well. You know the deal, the Gregorian Calendar is a fickle and perplexing man-made construct. It requires maths. And maths are hard. But honestly, who's keeping track of weeks anyway? Oh yeah, Major Nelson.
In this week's back-patting section we once again tout Halo 3's recent chart-topping performance, noting, as you could probably guess, that it's doubly impressive given the number of days out from launch our title is. (We're tracking it via the ISO 8601 ordinal system, in case you're wondering.)
For folks wanting to see the hard and fast evidence of our suspect and dubious claims of Halo 3's continued King of the Hill status for themselves, you can check out Major Nelson's official Live Activity for the week of April 27th
by clicking on the hyperlink we've just supplied you in the middle of this very sentence. Go ahead and click if you need to. We'll wait right here.
Finished up? Good. Let's move on.
Oh, before we forget, thanks for playing.
Into the Wild
For those that follow along from week to week, specifically last week, below you'll find the continuation of the takehome playtest interviews we conducted on the first of the month. If you missed out on the opening salvo, there's good news, we're digital pack rats. We keep everything
. If you want to get up to speed, hit the link below and have a read. (That rhymed.)
Bungie Weekly Update: 05/01/09
Now that we're all on the same page, let's get down to brass tacks and find out why Test uses takehome playtesting to shore up our titles before they ship. We've coaxed two of Bungie's finest out from the deep dark confines of the datamine and asked them to answer a few follow-up questions that address the takehome playtest from a perspective our original five couldn't provide. Read on for some discussion that explores the playtest takehome from Test's point of view.
Q. In the most general sense, what is a takehome playtest and why do we use them?
: The essence of a takehome playtest is, take an Xbox home with the latest build of the game, and play. These playtests are useful to get semi-unstructured testing done on a wide variety of hardware and conditions. They’re also good to get people looking at the game in a more relaxed environment than the office.
: People tend to notice things that they wouldn’t notice when they aren’t playing the game for fun. I think it’s important to note that there’s a lot of testing that goes into a game before we reach the point where that sort of test is valuable (making sure it’s stable and that the basic functionality matches the actual design), but once we reach that point, switching gears every so often and letting people actually play the game results in invaluable feedback and observations that eventually get turned into bugs or designer feedback.
Q. So, we’ve got a small army of testers that put our titles through the paces, why do we also task employees from other disciplines to be part of takehome playtesting?
: Because playing from home is a lot different than playing from work. You’re seeing the game in a different environment than at work. You’ve got your sweet 5.1 system set up on your nice big screen TV. Takehome tests also get people’s Internet connections involved. People enjoy playing in the takehomes and it’s great to get more eyes on the game. From a test perspective, we want to see how the game performs when people are using real world Internet connections. We can simulate that to some degree in our test lab, but nothing matches the chaos of the real Internet.
: Feedback from these “real world” networking experiences is much more interesting than the benchmarks we get in a more sanitized network environment.
Q. Are there any examples of areas where traditional Test isn’t as adept at pointing out or picking up things that other employees are great at calling out?
: Absolutely. Test has to be a jack of all trades in some respect. We know a little bit about everything. Other employees are specialized in their areas. They will notice and call out things that testers wouldn’t have even known to look for. UI designers will frequently point out little UI animations that are broken. Animators or animation engineers will point out where animations are broken or look bad. It’s also great to get people into the game who are not seeing it every day. They’ll often comment on larger usability issues and get interesting conversations started that way.
Q. Are the configurations for each player chosen randomly, or is there a method to the multilingual madness?
: It totally depends on the test. Sometimes we’ll try to match up foreign language speakers to their proper builds. Other times, that isn’t as much of a priority. In a perfect world, everyone would have a language that they speak. But, since the test team is often under time constraints for setting these tests up, often it’s just random.
: We have a bevy of localization testers devoted to making sure the various language builds are translated correctly, so giving out localized builds to people is more about compatibility than anything else.
Q. Once the playtest is over and done with, what types of information are you looking for and what methods do you employ to collect and preserve it?
: We’re looking for any sort of feedback participants will give. We start an email thread with a good chunk of the studio for feedback. People can comment on bugs, design issues, or even give suggestions. It’s basically a big unofficial forum. We will pull out bugs for investigation, as well as suggestions for designers and route those to the proper people. We also have a large datamine system we use to collect data while people are playing. We use this as an aid to investigate any bugs people might report.
Q. Once you’ve extracted the data you need, what do you do with it?
: First it goes to the email thread. Everyone on that thread has a chance to comment or read. We’ll then cull out all the issues that are potential bugs and pass them along to the test team to investigate and log into the database. We also collect the feedback from the email thread, condense it down into a succinct and readable format, and send it off to the design team.
Q. Well, I live in the Seattle area and I’m in High School. Where do I sign up for these sweet take homes?
: The steps to sign up are roughly this: Go to school. Be passionate about something gaming related. Study hard and master that gaming related thing. Submit a resume to Bungie. Get hired. Accept our takehome invites.
(Also, don’t show up at Nick’s desk right before the takehome and ask where your kit is if you didn’t accept the invite. Oh, you’ll get a box…it just may be held together with duct tape and definitely won’t be an English build. Try changing your controls from his default settings of Inverted Legacy when your menus are in Korean.)
Mad props to our pair of Test G's for taking the time out from their work schedules to offer up some interesting insight into the takehome playtest process. Take Gasca's advice, kids: stay in school! Also, you may want to enroll in some Korean language studies while you're at it, just in case. You never know when it'll come in handy.
Stosh has been fiddling around with the various knobs and levers on the website again. He's turned up some pretty bizarre stuff and we're going to show it to you. Well, some
of it anyway. Plenty of the screenshots he's come across would make your eyeballs fall out of your face. We wouldn't want that.
Up first for your amusement, the Sand Monster.
"The oxygen destroyer must not be used!"
Mythic Recon Screenshot Contest
We'll be putting some more of these oddities on display as Stosh uncovers them in the coming weeks. If you don't like 'em, you know who to blame.
By now the winners from last week's "Mythic Recon" screenshot contest have been notified. That means if you haven't received a Private Message from us already, then your screenshot was not selected. Bummer, dude. But don't let the crushing weight of this terrible and tragic news keep you down, we're gonna be giving you plenty of chances to win a new set of Recon armor in the very near future.
And while we're not going to highlight the winners by calling out their work here, we can say that there were hundreds of quality screenshots that followed the rules and captured the essence of what we were looking for. Of course they didn't all get Recon, but in the end there were plenty of really close runner ups. If you want to view the entire collection and you have something close to an infinitude of time to kill, here's the whole set of screenshots in all its Mythic glory:
Tag: Mythic Recon
This collection actually contains some additional images since it's set to view "All Time." If you want, you can use the drop down menus to display only stuff "in the last week" to get a more correct and concise look. We recommend loading the full batch into Cool Iris to get an idea of just how much content you're looking at. Trust us, it goes on and on and on and on and on. On and on it goes.
If you're wondering why your stuff didn't make the grade, it was probably simply nothing more than a numbers game. We're back to maths once again. Stats and all that. But if you're looking for a short list of some of the reasons your screenshots might not have impressed our judges (or been considered at all), keep scrolling for a handful of scenarios that could have ruled you out of contention.
Doing it Wrong
- You took your screenshot from the Gravity Hammer's lower-level perch on Assembly looking back up the shielded chute. (Not a bad idea, but we saw hundreds of these.)
- You crafted an elaborate message with the Forge, using stone blocks to spell out, "I <3 Bungie." If it's not edible, we're not impressed.
- You staged an explosion while pointing a Sniper Rifle/Battle Rifle/French Horn into the camera. Been there. Done that. Don't want the t-shirt.
- You snapped your screenshot on Snowbound, Foundry, or any other map that isn't part of the Mythic Map Pack. Um, yeah.
- You didn't upload the screenshot into your File Share. You know your File Share is free, right?
- You neglected to tag your screenshot with "Mythic Recon." Or at all. Or you tagged it Mistic Reconz.
- You harassed people, sending unsolicited requests for them to boost your tag count. We have eyes everywhere.
- You had your giant group rate and download your screenshots. We didn't even look at ratings or number of downloads.
For those that won, congratulations. Play nice, go forth, and represent. Don't take it too personally when other players make a million screenshots while teabagging you, whether they win or not. Embrace the experience. Just don't inhale. Armor plating+sweat+crotch=nasty. Maths.
Everyone else, better luck next time.
The Future is Now
Well whaddaya know, next time is right around the corner. Set phasers for this weekend. But we're not going to do the same old, same old. Instead of laying out the rules and guidelines right here so you can rush off and get started straight away, we're going to release the details you'll need sometime over the course of the weekend. That means you'll need to keep your eyes peeled on our frontpage, pick up the transmission when it goes live, and pay close attention to the rules and regulations.
Don't worry, it won't be hidden or cryptic. You won't need to decipher any secret codes or fish out any buried information. If you're interested in participating, you'll see a fresh news item pop into our feed with all the details you need. (That rhymed.)
In the interim hold tight, fire up some Halo 3, and get your relax on. We'll do the same. It's been real nice chattin' with you. Stay safe and stay tuned. Oh, and do something nice for your mom this weekend. It's Mother's Day this Sunday. Tell her we said wassup. We out.