Well, not exactly. We’re actually in the Release Candidate phase, which essentially means that the team has already put an astounding amount of absurdly hard work into crafting a representative slice of Halo: Reach’s multiplayer that will ultimately serve as the foundation for the tasty pie that is the public beta. As we speak they’re scrubbing the spit out of it for game breaking bugs and packaging it up real nice so it can be tested and certified before we open the internal flood gates and let a few thousand friends pound on it big time. It's a ton of work and it'll all ensure that the finished product meets our ultra high quality bar across the board.
You can learn a little bit more about the process by checking out our handy dandy Reach development blog. That is where I cribbed the information in the opening paragraph from after all. Stop by and get the full scoop on Alpha RC from Executive Producer Joseph “I love it when you call me that” Tung.
Go ahead and squat our new digs for as long as you like. You can even add our web zone to your list of Internet favorites and drop in unannounced if you want. There’s gonna be plenty more to come from Marcus and Joe as we march toward the public multiplayer beta build and beyond.
On a more personal note, this week’s Alpha RC meant I got to get all kinds of giddy poring over personal email messages sent by one very dashing Nick Gerrone over in Test. He delightfully dished out the dreamy details covering our own internal Alpha plans and ongoing weekly playtest schedule. Stuff like:
“Kits are ready! Stop by and pick out your favorite box and power brick. Don’t forget to fill out the sign out sheet (it’s on the cart with the kits)! See everyone online at 9:00!"
Oh yeah, deliver those devkit details, Nick. I’m totally gonna fill out your sign out sheet.
It also means that there was quite a bit of morning after buzz around these here parts in the wake of the latest playtest aftermath. Epic tales of heroism, clutch victories, and defeat snatched from the jaws of…
Sounds ultra sexy, doesn’t it? Mmm hmm, nothing says tons of fun like the word “test” baked right into the hopper description. “Break our netcode, or die trying,” you say? Don’t mind if I do!
Well, I did and I died heaps, but the netcode seemed to hold fast even though the hoppers were packed and the games were frenetic. Yup, it was smooth sailing for me all through the night with just a few minor bumps here and there (even though mayhem most definitely ensued).
We’ll keep steering the ship through dark and dangerous waters all the way through to the public beta. Then it’ll be your job to jump aboard and put it through the paces like a wizened old man reeling in the haul of a lifetime. You do have your manifest in order, right? One copy of ODST is all any of you scurvy dogs need come May 3rd.
It should be no secret at this point that I’m what you might call an ass. As soon as I got the Magnum in my hot little hands on Wednesday night, I was grinning ear to ear and making sure anyone within hearing range knew that I was cranking out headshots with what I felt was absurd efficiency. (Didn’t seem to instill much fear in Bob as he crouched over my lifeless corpse and offered up his own analysis of my elite skills.
“Yeah, headshot that, dumbass.”
While it’s not quite the double damage, TSK machine from the Evolved era Sage spoke out about in our most recent podcast
, the Reach Magnum was far and away my favorite weapon in the latest takehome build. At one point, I must have said, “My God, the pistol is soooooo good!” just a little too loudly, because Luke piped up to admonish me for calling attention to it.
“Shut up, dude. They’ll hear you!”
I don’t know who “they” are, but Luke seemed to think that the Magnum in its current state wouldn’t be sticking around for too much longer. In fact, I heard him recount this very same tale to some unlucky passerby again this morning.
“If I like a weapon too much, it gets changed.”
So, yesterday morning I crept up on Sage’s right-hand man, Josh Hamrick, and praised him for all the fine work they were doing with the weapon set. “It all felt perfect,” I said. “Tuned up just right.”
Then I inquired *gulp* as to the status of the Magnum and the forecast for its short and long term future. Josh assured me it was pretty much locked in. Now, all the weapons will likely undergo some small tweaks through Alpha, Beta, and public release cycle of course, but Josh seemed confident that the pistol will ship as the effective sidearm it was when I wielded it this past Wednesday night. Sage echoed the very same sentiment to me earlier this morning.
And Luke definitely wasn’t taking his own advice, anyway. While I was busy not shutting up about the Magnum all throughout the evening’s festivities, Luke’s own DMR-fueled taunts quickly devolved into moans and groans of pleasure that would have made an entire tribe of scantily clad Na’vi warriors blush in brilliant aquamarine embarrassment. He and his trusty rifle were definitely working together in some kind of disturbing tsahaylu tandem. I see you, Luke Smith. I see you
Speaking of multiplayer, Jay tipped me off earlier in the week that Jeff Steitzer would be in the building today, laying down some vocals. (Actually, he recorded remotely from a studio in the NYC, but whatevs, same diff.) Pretty cool to sit in on the session and see all the new hotness get caught on tape. Surreal, even. Steitzer makes everything sound epic, even sips of water between sessions.
Catch the disease!
Good timing, bro. This should give us something good to talk about as we get set to record February’s podcast with Jay. Stay Tuned. Should be on the way before the month is out. I hope.
Last week I teased you a little bit about the unfounded claim that our brilliant and beloved multiplayer designers and artists had ransacked campaign, absconded with a few choice spaces, and lazily called it a day on the multiplayer map front. Were it so easy. The reality is that the multiplayer team staked and proved out their battlegrounds as they always have, while naked, skunked, and full of artificial cheese flavored snacks.
Jokes. Don’t eat artificial cheese, kids. It’s bad for your health.
Like we noted last week, the process was a bit different this time around. The multiplayer spaces were still constructed separately by a team of trained multiplayer experts, but as each arena came online they were subsequently passed over to the campaign team and injected into the game in progress as small portions of much larger campaign missions (which should explain the information coming out of X10 last week).
So, if you were worried that multiplayer would suffer from the reuse of campaign ideas and architecture designed for that explicit purpose, you can rest easy. If you were worried that you’d be spending the majority of your campaign play-through in multiplayer-inspired spaces, you can rest easy on that front, too. Not happening.
Don’t believe me? Fine! Here’s what Chris Carney had to say on the subject:
“Absolutely no sacrifices were made as to the quality of the multiplayer maps for Reach. In addition, the visual experience of each map is now equal to campaign, as they received crazy amounts of polish to makes them ‘super sweet.’
Oh, and if you think we’re telling you the whole story, well, you must be as green as they come. This week Shishka tipped me off that he was working on something cool that Cotton’s been cooking up and it was ready for a really early sneak peek. Jaw, I’d like to introduce you to Floor. Floor, this is Jaw.
Cotton, you must be out of your damn mind. This is impossible. Right?
Since we’re already rocking the Show and Tell action in today’s update, I should probably talk a spell about Max Dyckhoff’s Most Amazing Show on
Reach. While we’re not talking at all about campaign story details beyond what we've already disclosed – that lidded adventure will stay undercover for a good, long spell – I can provide some cryptic details about some pretty serious technical upgrades the team has in the works to make your experience even more epic this fall.
The scene: Chris Opdahl’s workstation (he’s the svelte gentleman that showed off the big AI battles in our most recent and totally awesome ViDoc). He's already in the midst of a conversation with Max about what’s happening onscreen when I walk up behind them, stalker style. For some reason, the engine is spitting out a tinny rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee
to accompany the visuals. Max and Chris are talking numbers.
“How many are there running onscreen right now?”
“Two hundred, plus.”
“Oh, I was thinking we could do double that.”
And here I am off to the side speechless, drooling like Homer Simpson dreaming about pink, glazed donuts. Then they called security and I had to slink away ashamed.
Still, all things considered I’d say it’s a damn good week to work at Bungie.
While I can’t offer you access to the studio digs so you can see the goodies for yourself, get you in early as an Alpha playtester so you can throw down early, or even grant you access to any new and tremendously exciting information, I am prepared to hand over some parting gifts for playing along and being great sports this week.
You’ve been privy to the pair of pictures below for a spell already; they were both used as part of our most recent Halo: Reach extravaganza, but personally I think they look a whole lot better without the UPC codes and other superfluous text tacked on. Right click either one to make awesome. Save As to make your desktop look just like mine. Awesome
After reading a comment left on Marcus and Joe’s aforementioned dev blog, Sage thought he’d take a second to address some latent issues he’s been coming across as he scrubs the World Wide Web in search of the meaning of life and extra manly beard shampoo.
In the past, when we talked about what you can do to address latency
, it’s almost always been couched in the networking side of things. And while your broadband gear is a major player when it comes to smooth and seamless online play, there’s also some other hardware in your A/V rack that can impact your individual performance. Like, say, your television set.
Here’s what Sage had to say in response to one soul’s struggle to come to grips with his lagging controller:
“The perceived change in sensitivity is likely caused by lag in your HDTV. This causes you to over-correct and ends up feeling like the controls are "too fast." Sounds strange, but it’s true.
Here is a simple test to see if your HDTV has too much delay. Flick the look stick quickly to one side and listen for the 'click' when it hits the side of the controller. Simultaneously watch the screen and see how long it takes for your character to start turning. If you can hear the 'click' before you start turning, your HDTV (or component chain) has too much lag due to post-processing the image.
Now go and try this same test on an old SDTV, you may notice a big difference between them. To fix this problem on the HDTV, Look for a 'Game Mode' in the menu, or turn off extra image processing, and then try the test again. Could be you're SOL, but most modern TV's have a few things you can do to decrease the lag. Google your TV specs or consult your manual for more information.
Hope this helps.
Sage also recommends that you check any other gear you might have that adds any level of post processing or image enhancement to your display, like say an amplifier or image upscaler. Ultimately that might mean that you don’t get to run all your rig's fancier bells and whistles, but what you lose in crystal clear IQ, you’ll more than make up for in reclaimed frames.
And for the love of all that is right in this world (and your bleary eyeballs), please stop using “Dynamic” mode.
Stosh found this. It’s a video. It might make you laugh.
That’s it for today, folks. Maybe next week I’ll be able to talk about the email Opdahl fired across my inbox bow. Elite AI just made some big strides, he says. “Come by and take a look.”
I came. I saw. I got my ass royally