Truly Old School
There’s this odd – and often misunderstood – rule in the NFL with respect to Quarterbacks. It rarely pops up, because it’s not often that an NFL team has their third quarterback (generally referred to as the Emergency Quarterback) take the field. This is one of those times and I am your Emergency Quarterback.
The rule states that “if a third quarterback is inserted before the fourth quarter, a team’s first two quarterbacks cannot be used in the game at any position.”
Some teams don’t even keep a third quarterback around (they just use their Punter as an Emergency QB), but with Urk elbows deep in diapers (belated congrats) and Sketch up to his neck in preparations for a pretty gigantic suite of media visits next week, desperate times call for desperate measures.
As Halo: Reach enters the RC process (more on that later) it is very much the fourth quarter here at Bungie.
Coach, put me in.
Currently the game is entering the RC process – in plain(er) English, we’re cutting our first Release Candidate. Now, the first Release Candidate won’t end up being the final shipping product, but it’s a significant step on getting Reach from us, to you, hopefully without leaking in France. Executive Producer and the man who brings out the worst in my mouth – and the best in my Halo play, Joe Tung offers some additional insight:
“The RC process can be favorably compared to passing a physical blockage. From the giant army of artists, designers and engineers that once fixed bugs with impunity now only a handful of people still have clearance to make changes to the game. ZBR can be a bit misleading because it suggests that you are done with bugs, but that isn’t really the case. You bounce from zero, ratchet up the bar, and take the worst offenders that would prevent cutting an RC. You start taking into account not only how bad an individual problem is, but how mainline it is – in other words, is it something that players will see in Matchmaking on standard map configurations in common gametypes? Or is it something that shows up with specific options on a particular map? Does it happen every time? Or does it require button mashing to reproduce? And so on.
The result is that, day by day, hour by hour, the number of fixes we take decreases, while the stability of the game increases. Matrices that chart the playability of missions which were once red across the board now come in green nearly all of the time. For everyone on the team that is already locked out, a good amount of co-op campaign, firefight and multiplayer is being played. We are knocking on the door of our first RC and may even have it by the time you end up reading this. (editor's note: Nope, not till Saturday)”
An additional perk of the RC process is that we do even more from-home network testing during this period. Folks who are locked out (almost everyone, including all artists, animators and much of Design) are at home all day playing in Matchmaking. The downside of playing from home, is that there are very few residences in Seattle with air conditioning and it just so happens to be our first ‘hot week’ of the Summer. Sweat it out, my compatriots.
Just Buy It
Earlier this week, Gamestop announced that they are going to have an exclusive Armor permutation as a preorder incentive. There was immediately – as oft the case with these things – a breakout of vitriol and sore hindquarters and we wanted to clear some of that up.
If you don’t preorder the game from Gamestop, you will never see the chest piece in your Armory. We aren’t going to wave the banner of something you can’t acquire because you didn’t purchase a particular SKU, or buy from a particular retailer. Buy whichever version of the game you covet at your favorite retailer.
In fact, this particular chest wasn’t ever part of the Investment rollout to begin with, it was from a bucket of items earmarked for this type of thing. Additionally, some pieces will be available exclusively via Waypoint.
And before anyone begins to bounce feverishly on the "Conclusions Mat," pieces available on Waypoint are going to be made available through an Acheivement Progression that spans Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Reach. We worked closely with the good folks over there to come up with a system of unlocking that works well – while existing outside of the Reach Player Investment system. The net effect is that once you've completed some Achievements in Reach, and played some ODST and Halo 3, you're going to have a couple more free options to choose from.
Speaking of the Investment system, one of the many stats we’re tracking in Reach is Armory Unlock %. This stat is displayed prominently in the game UI in Player Details – and each time you make a purchase in the Armory it will inch closer to 100%. In the cases of preorder incentives, SKU incentives or the pieces that will be available on Waypoint, none of these items will count toward 100% completion of the Armory. That completion percentage is for Credit (our reward Currency) transactions only.
It’s worth mentioning that there are definitely items in the Armory that are going to take weeks, months and probably even longer to acquire. Some of those things we’re going to show you on Day 1 – some of them you won’t be able to see until you’ve reached specific ranks and made certain purchases. And some of those things won’t even be available until the Community’s collective might has been harnessed.
Hungry Like the...
Roger Wolfson sends along this tidbit and image for this week's Update:
"On the evening of 7/6, Bungie fan Adam Young, who some of us are friends with via the local puzzle-writing community, sent us a message that he was out of town and away from his Xbox this week, and wanted to know how he could support Bungie Day. We had just decided to enable the flaming helmets, so we told him this and suggested that he might craft his own blazing headwear. Within five minutes, he’d written back that he had done so, and would be able to join the ranks of the flame-enabled on the 7th. Sure enough, he spent the day proudly wearing his flames and spreading the Bungie Day spirit to a mix of admiring and confused passers-by. Thanks, Adam!"
Turn on the Faucet
It’s only a matter of time before Halo Reach’s Achievements leak. It is officially the third of life’s inevitabilities, taking a place a few pegs below Death and Taxes. So while we’re not going to unpack all of the Achievements today, we are going to show you all of the icons. It’s such a shame that you only see these at "petite res" in-game, Dave Candland, Andrew Davis and Stosh’s work deserves to be blown up.
Wallpaper flavors below:
Really though, has there ever been a game that didn’t have their Achievements leak early? I can’t think of one. Airtight isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Achievement security. It makes sense to reveal a few of these now, Sketch and Urk will dole the rest of them out as they see fit:
- A Monument to All Your Sins – Complete each Campaign Mission on Legendary – alone.
- Banshees, Fast and Low – Hijack a Banshee during the Reach Campaign.
- Yes, Sensei – Earn a First Strike Medal in a Matchmaking game.
- A New Challenger – Complete all of the Daily Challenges in a given day.
- Make It Rain – Purchase an item from the Armory that requires the rank of Lt. Colonel.
There will be 49 total Achievements in Reach. Twenty-three of them are Campaign-specific Achievements. We set out to make sure that each Campaign mission has its own ‘special’ Achievement, like:
If They Came to Hear Me Beg
– Perform an Assassination against an Elite to survive a fall that would’ve been fatal.
Achievements were bucketed into five different groups, Campaign (23), Firefight (7), Multiplayer (4), Training (6) and Player Experience (9). Some of the Training Achievements can be earned in both Campaign and Firefight.
Here's a couple of wallpapers for Achievements:
"If They Came to Hear Me Beg"
Last week, a diaper-free Urk mentioned there are 120 medals in Reach (technically 14 of them or so are Bungie.net only). This week, meet three new ones (and hilariously giant iPhone4 res wallpapers for them) that didn’t appear in the Spring’s beta.
– Armor Lock and survive damage that would be fatal.
How it works
: Armor lock and survive single, incoming damage types that have the ability to kill a player at full shields and health, like a Rocket, or a Sticky grenade.
How interested parties will react
: The dude who’s Rocket you just rejected will probably throw his controller, or as resident Armor Lock savant Froman can routinely be heard saying, “Oh man, that guy is so angry.”
– Save a teammate by killing his foe.
How it works
: We track damage done to players by other players, even if those players don’t generate kills. In Protector’s case, after a certain amount of damage has been done to a Player A by Player B, if Player C kills player B, he earns the Protector Medal. Player A receives a message (in the same place as messages like You sniped JimmyAwful) that says PlayerC saved your life.
How interested parties will react
: Player A will survive and have a newfound appreciation for the bro he may or may not know who just bailed him out of harm’s way. Player B will be selecting a loadout while respawning.
– Kill an opponent while they are performing an Assassination.
How it works
: Assassinations (which have had many names internally throughout development) have a strike frame where the kill occurs. This enables players on the receiving end of an Assassination to be saved if their assailant is killed prior to the strike frame. Enter, the Showstopper Medal.
How interested parties will react
: The guy performing the Assassination is going to pitch his controller and possibly his Xbox out of a window. The guy who earned the Showstopper is going to watch his friend stand up and walk away, unscathed.
Blame Stosh, thinly-veiled innuendo and cheesy “We out”-style departures are more Urk’s thing than mine. Fret not, those will return once he’s exhausted his Paternity leave.