But remember – while you can send links to offenders or evidence, do NOT enclose files, since they are automatically deleted. Emails only please, no videos or screenshots.
When are you guys finally going to fix cheating?
Next week or two. See below for absurdly long rant.
The Noobefaction of Gaming
That's right, I said Noob. Which as anyone l337 ("elite") knows, actually makes ME a noob. Kind of like an uncle trying to be "cool." It's an embarrassing contradiction. Some of you might not even know what a "noob" is. Well, it's short for "Newbie" which originally meant a new player who hadn't quite grasped the rules yet. As a matter of fact, its origin as a term was probably quite gentle, even charitable. "Aaaw. Let me help you dear, dear Noob. The railgun is at the end of the corridor on that crate."
But times have changed. Noob is now a catchall for any adjective, noun or pronoun with a negative connotation. You could for example say, "Your hat is totally Noobish." You could even apply it as a verb, "I'm going to give you such a Noobing you Nooby Noobster."
But really, I wish "Noob" was the worst of it. I think I could walk right up to the President and call him a "Noob" to his face and he'd probably smile and say, "Thanks son, always a pleasure to meet young folks." But if I called the President any one of the things I hear on a typical Saturday morning, a secret service guy would snap my neck, Seagal-style and toss me off a balcony. And I'd deserve it.
Behavior on Xbox Live, and frankly any internet gaming experience, can be joyous. Pleasant. Satisfying. Rewarding. But occasionally it can be home to some of the rudest, stupidest, most idiotic, insulting dialog you will ever hear.
And how can you do this? How can you get away with such horrible behavior with no repercussions? Multiplayer, microphone and the velvety luxury of anonymity. That last one is questionable, but we'll get to that.
If parents heard what their golden-haired angels were doing on the internet, or on Xbox Live, there'd probably be some serious spanking apocalypse going down. Most parents would hear what I hear most times I play – the odd curse, maybe a grudging "good game" in the post-match lobby. Other times? An idiot screaming abuse at complete strangers. Now, if I play ten games, I might hear that once. If I meet ten people on the street, how many of them are going to scream insults into my face? Statistically? None.
That's a valuable fact. It means that video games are not, like all other fads before them, the harbinger of the end of civilization. They are like every other technology, working out the kinks and the bugs.
When the telephone was invented, the first words spoken by Alexander Graham Bell were, "“Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.” If it had been invented today, by BunGsuxGoatz, the first words would have been, "Suck it noob! I OWNED CHOO! Taste that? That's tealeaves NOOB!"
When you talk about time scales in videogame culture, you have to speak in shorthand. The games industry has really only existed, properly for about 25 years. So things have evolved rapidly from glowing white squares to 3D, photo-realistic universes in record time. If only other industries grew up that fast – we'd have space-capable flying cars and magnetic induction toilet flush. Actually that last one might be a bit dangerous.
The point is, it's hardly surprising that this kind of rapid evolution has resulted in teething troubles.
And they're being worked out. The nature of Live and other gaming services is that the player is given the freedom to play against anyone he or she likes. Custom games, or games you set up in a group, club or clan, are controlled. They are friends or acquaintances. Rivalries tend to the friendly and enjoyable.
But to give players the most freedom to play whenever they like, we have to open it up to the broader population. And as a wise man once said, "A person is smart, but people are stupid." The bigger a group is, the more likely it is to act like a herd. Here's an experiment – go stand on a street corner, downtown, at lunchtime and stare, rapt, up at something. A window, a lamp post, whatever. Ten minutes later, everyone's doing it. And on Live, the herd mentality even works on smart people.
One jerk. One moron, runs around screaming abuse at players, acting out in the most infantile way possible, and soon, everyone is screaming at him. Unlike the old, "Stand up to a bully and he'll back down" myth, ignoring these clowns actually works. The trouble is finding a Zen-like space to inhabit while finishing the game. Bullies on the other hand will punch out your teeth and steal your lunch money when you stand up to them.
And cheats? Now, in a way, I can understand what a screamer or insult-hurler gets out of it. I met enough of 'em in junior school. He gets attention (and I say "he" with all deliberation – since girls are almost invariably pleasant – and they have to put up with the most abuse) and he gets off on making you mad. Cheats get nothing. People hate them, and their achievements are completely meaningless. They are almost invariably the worst players in terms of skill and ability, and eventually, they end up matched only against each other, in a kind of hell. Which they are welcome to inhabit.
Which brings us to the question again. What is Bungie doing about it? Seems like the preceding screed blames everything on the cheats and screamers. It's not THEIR fault Bungie's lousy code makes all this possible. Well, actually, it IS their fault. They are the cheats and the screamers. Ultimate responsibility lies with them. The question then is, are they going to stop? Eventually they will. They'll grow up, they'll get bored, they'll move along.
But for some of this stuff, you won't have to wait. Cheats, hackers, modders – and yes, this includes the ones who demonstrated a way to "unban" their banned accounts – are going to be largely history within a week or two. If I were them, (and one or two of 'em are reading this now) I would delete anything on my Xbox that shouldn't be there, and I would do that today. Feel free to ignore that, but you've been warned, and besides, we don't really owe you that courtesy. If you can't play Halo next week, it was your own fault. We're not going to unban you.
We're realistic, we know that every time we fix a crack, some jerk with a jackhammer makes a new one. We know that we can't stop screaming, cursing without silencing the good along with the bad, and we know that human nature is going to ensure that the system is never perfect. But it's going to be better.
We work very, very hard on this stuff, contrary to some of the less-thoughtful emails we get. There's a room behind me, filled with people working long hours, on difficult problems, in a complicated matrix of online code, gameplay problems, hundreds of ISPs, modems and different situations. Of course it takes time, and of course we appreciate your patience.
We have a special responsibility here and we take it seriously. Halo 2 is a really big online game – especially on consoles. It has more simultaneous players, more sessions and more people than any other console game out there, at least for the moment. So we encounter problems on a different scale. We have a responsibility to Microsoft, to Xbox Live and maybe gaming in general, to try and manage the process in a cool way and learn all the lessons we need to. We're still learning.
On the next generation of Xbox, the 360, some systems are already in place that will make Live a much nicer place for the nice among us. Imagine a perfect world where you only played against pleasant, well-behaved, skilled, non-cheats. Sounds heavenly huh? Well, looking at what they have planned, I think that's going to be largely possible. I hope Bungie's next game is one that takes advantage of that idealized, happy space.
I genuinely believe that as this technology and community matures, the bad apples will be shaken out and the good ones will float to the top. There will still be bad people – but they can all hang out on their own. In a dark place of their own making. And guess what? They're not really anonymous. We know who they are.
But what do I know? I'm just a noob.
Captain Pierce asks,
Hey there. I was reading the Halo 2 message boards and came across a topic for a Halo Chess set. It sounds like a great idea. Hey there. I was reading the Halo 2 message boards and came across a topic for a Halo Chess set. It sounds like a great idea.
It does sound like a great idea. You could have Prophets as bishops, Spartans as knights, Grunts as pawns and so on. We actually have a group who comes up with cool ideas like this all the time. Then they come to us and ask if we like it. Master Chief toilet seat? No. Halo chess set? No idea, but we wouldn't automatically dismiss it. We'll keep you posted.
I know I'd feel much better knowing that the people who ruin live for me have had their accounts permanently ruined. Also would it be possible to publicly display their e-mail addresses too? Now that would be justice!
Totally! That would show 'em. Problem is, it brings up all sorts of privacy issues and we simply can't do it. That said, Gamertags are on public display and you can look at stats to see who the really crappy, talentless cheating players are. Until they're banned, that is.
LS Slasher asks,
I have had several people tell me that they can delete their feed back? Is this true?
Haha, no. And the hilarious part is when they have all their buddies send positive feedback about them to try and counteract negative. That does NOT work. But it's cool they waste all that time on it.
Did u guys ever think of putting in a language selector where a person could choose the language they speak and then they would only be put on the same team as someone else who speaks the same language. I can't tell you how many games I've lost because the other person on my team didn't know what I was saying and vice versa. This is probably due to me playing most of my games between 2-6am pacific. Also, its probably too late for you to do anything about this but I still think it would be a fun thing to talk about and take up time in the update.
It makes sense in some ways, but it really limits the number of players available at any given time, and in the US for example, there are simply too many different first languages – that's true in other parts of the world too. We match people based on conditions including skill, network speed and so on. In the end, we chose not to limit players even by country, in order to let folks play with the broadest range of opponents.
If you're in a Matchmade game and someone starts modding and wins the game on your own team, does that mean you are a cheater too? Lots of people are saying this after games, "you stayed the whole game so your going to be reported and banned". Please say it isn't so
Don't worry. The modder will be banned. His teammates will not. We can tell the difference. And to be banned by feedback, in this case, you'd need to ONLY get matched with modders. So don't sweat it.
Load of folks ask,
What's going on with the Halo movie?
Top level discussions in Hollywood. Nothing to report. My ideal version? Rob Schneider as wisecrackin' Chief, who has, in his role as a space-bicycle courier, to deliver a package of important papers to Fotherington Smythe III, head of the largest bank in New Mombasa, but when he gets there, poor old Smythe is dead of a heart attack. Antics ensue as Schneider has to pretend to BE Fotherington Smythe for reasons too convoluted to explain. Luckily, I am not helping with this project.
And finally, AintItFool asks, what would the Mister Chief movie poster look like? Oh, it would look like this: