The Bungie Weekly What's Update is a weekly forum to answer Halo 2 players' most pressing and urgent questions. Lots of info can be found HERE
, regarding more frequently encountered issues, but this feature serves as a more organic, interactive forum. Note that we will answer questions that we have clear distinct answers to, as soon as we have answers. Nobody wants to read, "I don't know." As the answer to a question, after all.
Update: Ask and ye will receive. I just got a long and detailed explanation of the "Network Error" message as it relates to failed game invitations and I've done my best to explain it clearly below.
Dozens of you asked,
Sometimes when I try to accept a party invite, I get a blue screen with an error message saying something about, 'Sorry, we're having network troubles." What are these troubles, exactly?
One of the reasons players will sometimes encounter the infamous "We're experiencing network problems" message when trying to accept a party invitation is NAT type incompatibility. This unfortunately is one of the ways we ensure good, solid connections and is unavoidable. Below is a somewhat dry explanation of what a NAT type is, but before you lull yourself to sleep here's a possible solution it works for us quite often.
If an invitation fails, you can try to get a NAT compatible host or player to start a brand new party then have everyone join him instead. When everyone rejoins this new party they simply have to keep their fingers crossed that a new host can invite the failed invitee successfully. It's annoying, but it's usually for someone who's worth the extra effort.
How do you know who this host will be? In many cases, simply having an excellent connection a T3 line for example, will often ensure hosting duties and compatibility, but there's no surefire way to know. One other solution, which is less drastic, is to start a custom game and then immediately quit and start again Halo 2 will always try to find a best-case host, and that may fix the invitation failure by auto selecting a new, better host.
Again, we wish there was a way around this, but it happens at the router level and it happens on other systems and games. The reason we don't identify the host is obvious to anyone who's suffered through other forms of router and modem-related cheating.
NAT is an acronym for "Network Address Translation" and is also known as Network masquerading or IP-masquerading. This is a technique in which the IP addresses of network packets are rewritten as the packets pass through a router or firewall. This technique is used to enable multiple hosts on a network to access the internet using only one IP address. Now, even though routers aren't really supposed to do this, sometimes they do anyway, since it's a very convenient little trick. The problem is that this incompatibility in NAT types causes communication problems between hosts, and that's where the "Network Problems" message is encountered.
We should note that other factors can contribute to this problem, but NAT type is the main culprit.
Everyone on Earth asks,
What's up with cheaters? It seems to be rampant. And you guys are all quiet about it.
Well, let's preface this answer by explaining that we hate cheaters and have a duty to respond to cheating and exploits on Halo 2. We ARE doing everything in our power to investigate, alleviate and remove the problems, but they are many and varied.
Cheating, by its nature is the act and responsibility of a group or individual. We can't do anything from a technical standpoint that stops people being jerks. That's not an attempt to dilute our responsibility – it's a fact. Cheating is caused by cheaters, not by bugs. That's why nobody uses pepper spray in a Ping Pong tournament, even though it would fit nicely in those short shorts. The problem with a video game of Halo's scale – we've sold 6.3 million copies – is that the number of jerks playing rises proportionally.
We've seen all kinds of cheats and griefers. From simple team killing, abusive language, racism – people playing loud music or screaming continually through their headsets – to sophisticated, planned network exploitation. No matter what we do in the immediate and long term future, people will still find ways to be asses. The cheating will in all likelihood decrease with the lifespan of the product, as cheaters become bored, or move onto their next "project." In the interim though, we see it as an irritating and serious problem that we are addressing.
Right now, we have a team of people working on technical fixes. Those are being investigated and tested – some will work, some will be out of our control (ISPs, hardware exploits and other elements may be out of our reach) but we are endeavoring right now to identify good ways to prevent cheating and adjust systems to penalize those who do cheat.
We realize that some cheating is caused by software glitches – flags passing through geometry etc., and of course those are our responsibility entirely. We can't even really blame people for abusing that type of minor glitch, but we're also looking into those. The reason we’re not giving details is that we don't want casual users repeating the cheats, and we don't want to promise fixes for things that might later turn out to be impossible to fix. Hence the delicate language in this answer.
No surprise, as in every online game, we knew there were going to be abuses from the start, which is one of the reasons for such detailed custom game support and we knew this process was going to be an evolutionary one. We're working very hard.
Sigh. So, there you have it, a long-winded answer with few real details, for reasons we've tried our best to explain.
All the people in the house say,
Where's our downloadable content, huh?
A perfectly good question and one I intend to skip delicately around. We haven't announced a schedule or a timeline or anything in fact, and we haven't clearly specified exact types of content other than to say expect multiplayer maps. What I CAN say is that contrary to internet rumors, Bungie did not trash all of its Xbox debug kits after Halo 2 shipped. A very large array of Xbox debugs is humming hotly away in our test room this very minute, and the testers and the Bungie team are busily testing "things" in the lab daily, from 1pm to 5pm. And I can tell you personally, that some of the "things" they are testing are quite enjoyable.
Fourteen dudes asked,
Are you making Halo for the Gizmondo?
I am told Microsoft does have a relationship with the handheld maker, but I can tell you right now the arrangement does not include Halo.
I signed up for a two month free trial subscription and I am not sure if I'm going to call and cancel the renewal or not. My question is this, if I cancel, but decide to renew later, do I lose my Halo 2 stats?
Yes, so if I were you, I'd renew. Your stats will hang around for a bit, but when you cancel your subscription, your expired Gamertag goes into a "dead pool" and you can't recycle it. So when you renew, you'll have to choose a new Gamertag, which will not be linked to your old stats. Two months of effort on Halo 2 is a lot of investment and if you start from scratch, that's a couple of weeks extra play to get your ranking back. Simplest thing to do to retain the Gamertag and the stats, is to let the account autorenew at the end of the trial period.
Lots of folks asked Tom,
What's wrong with Bungie.net and my stats today?
Today you may have noticed lots of strange things on bungie.net. These included "Internal Server Errors", vanishing stats, "Web Exceptions", and general slowness. We've been working the problem all day, and things have gotten better, but we're still closing out the last of the problems, so you'll still see some occasional sputters until we get it fixed, hopefully by the end of the day.
So, that means you can stop emailing us about it - we know your stats have vanished on bungie.net. Rest assured that you haven't lost anything. It is just a case of the web servers having difficulty accessing the data. It'll all be back.
Yo, I Was A Huge Fan of The Marathon Series, Mostly Because My Dad Was A Mac Nerd, But I Was Just Curious If You @ Bungie Ever Thought of Bringing It To The NextGen Consoles, or Even If You Plan to Recreate it For Mac Or PC. If I’m Not Delving Into Classified Information, It’d Be Cool To Know. Thanx.
Sam, I like your style. Every word in your email was so important that you capitalized it. Anyhoo, we LOVE Marathon, and are very fond of the series. I too am an ancient Mac nerd and I remember praying that Marathon was going to be as good as Doom for PC. Then I liked it better. Which is a boring story I admit. Your dad might identify though. We have no current plans to do anything with the Marathon universe except remember it fondly, but unlike Myth and Oni, we still OWN the Marathon rights, so it's possible we could do something in the future.
How come you don't make Halo for PS2 that game is cool except you could make even more money if you make it for PS2 imagine that. Please answer me as soon as possible.
Because the PS2 is made by Sony, a competitor of Microsoft in the video game business. We are owned by Microsoft, so it makes sense for us to make Halo 2 an Xbox exclusive. What? He asked! I had to answer.
Why is the Xbox so Jumbo?
It isn't jumbo, it's just "differently capacious." It contains a DVD drive, a hard drive, networking hardware, video hardware, a bunch of processors and a cooling system. So it's the correct size for containing all that stuff. Anyway, why are you asking me? What the heck do I know?
Freak Nasty asks,
First of all , LOVE HALO 2!!! The game rocks and so does the online play. My question is I heard that if you complete the game on legendary you unlock the black armor. Is that just an urban legend? The game is almost impossible on legendary, but I will finish it if that means I’ll unlock the black armor.
It's a lie I'm afraid. There is no suit of black armor unlockable or otherwise. I can tell you that black armor existed way early in development and was removed for balancing issues (it was practically invisible in shadow) but it is not in the finished game at all.
My team and I, (Drunkinkillers), have been playing clan matches lately and after the games people have accused us of cheating. I have heard of people cheating by unplugging their cable or something like that, but we don't do that. I don't want us kicked off of xbox live for something we didn't do. Thanks.
If you're not cheating, don't worry. We look carefully at the game data before banning accounts.
A fan writes,
Why isnt the Spectre in any of the Matchmaking Playlists? I think putting it in there would spice up games on coagulation (which nearly always end in ties - miserable wastes of time). Same goes for the scorpion. Please put the Spectre in... the ability to transport 4 people would greatly alter strategies...
The matchmaking playlists, as you know, are updated from time to time. It is possible that other vehicles may be deployed in matchmade games, depending on how well they test for balance. There is no specific reason the Spectre is not found in any current matchmaking modes, and talking to some of our testers, they say it's pretty fun in CTF games on larger maps – with the extra passenger being balanced by the relatively weak turret. Keep an eye on the playlists, because if it's fun, it'll eventually be there. In the meantime of course, you can include it in custom games any way you like. And it would be funny to see an entire team wiped out with one rocket…
Several gullible readers ask,
Are you working on a puzzle game called Battle Weasels?
Was the Yellow Warthog a one time event or can you unlock it any time to use it with the other vehicles in the game? Thanks for your time.
It was a (clever) hack on a modified Xbox. It is not actually in the game.
I see in the list of members for a clan there is a member with the rank: Peon. What is a Peon?
Literally, according to the dictionary, a menial worker; a drudge. In Clan terms, the lowest ranked player. They can't do anything except play. It's the position you'd give your irritating little brother. Or a trained monkey!
Well that's it for this week, but one last thing: Robert asked, "What would happen if Mister Chief accidentally ingested a hallucinogen from a South American tree frog?" I think it's safe to say something like this: