Bungie Weekly Update
Not much in the way of change this week. We’re still getting settled into the new building. Harold and Steve (our epic IT guy) are battling new systems to make us spoiled, cosseted folks feel even more spoiled and cosseted. I still think the place is haunted, but the spirits seem more like Swayze’s benevolent
than say, scary chick from
. Still, I hope nothing creepy comes out of the toilet.
After last week’s little tour of the office, we had a couple of interlopers hangin’ around our building trying to figure out if it was the same place. It was. We also had a number of mails asking if the “434” number was a coincidence, or if it had something to do with “343” as in, “Guilty Spark. Well, it wasn’t a coincidence, and in fact, our own Pete Parsons and the Bungie Princess pulled some strings at the top level of Kirkland city politics to make it happen. Rumors that they beat the mayor at Team Oddball are wild exaggeration.
I played some games last night, including one against some girls. They were talking about changing their gamertags, and one was complaining that she couldn’t change hers to “Voltron” like she wanted to. But she said to balance this great injustice, she gives her name as “Voltron” when she puts in her order at Starbucks. The Barista is then forced to utter the legend, “Tall No-Whip Peppermint Mocha for VOLTRON!”
Big news on the matchmaking playlist front. We’re adding a new list, provisionally entitled Team Hardcore. This list is kind of a pro player list. It’ll probably end up being loved by pro players, organizations like the MLG and other by-the-book rule nuts. This playlist is HARD and the barrier to entry for casual players is going to be steep. It is not for the faint of heart. That’s one of the reasons we’ve waited so long to implement it. We don’t make these lists for tiny groups of folks, because building the lists actually requires a lot of time and testing.
Now before we get a bag of mail asking, “Why didn’t you implement MLG rules exactly?” let’s explain: It’s our game, our playlist, and the MLG is more than happy to set up its own rules for its own tourneys. We love the MLG and support their endeavors, but this list is for the majority of the Halo 2 players, not one specific subset.
We don’t just tweak some checkboxes and deploy the new game types, we actually have teams of players testing them for weeks first. That’s not to say things are always perfect, but they do go out robustly tried and played.
Cheating has slowed, but it still goes on. Modders, boosters, and the old standby - Standby - are still out there. This is mostly abused by the two-month free account guys. Those accounts, by the way, are nothing to do with Bungie, so please feel free to complain about them, just not to us. Speaking of complaints, my complaints box is swollen with legitimate griping about cheating. Here’s a statement that is true every week:
We know about the cheating.
We are working hard, full time in fact, on solutions.
We are not ignoring it.
We read every single mail that does NOT contain abusive language.
We do not even bother reading mail that DOES contain abusive language.
Here it is. The toughest, most brutal, most unforgiving matchmaking playlist ever devised. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s Team Hardcore. The name is likely to stay. It represents the fact that this list is hard.
It’s a ranked playlist, designed so that skilled players are matched with skilled players, beginners are matched with beginners, but there will not be a leaderboard for this list, which should cut down dramatically on idiots boosting. This list is purely for folks who want a challenge.
As a matter of fact, this list had more input from players than any prior change to matchmaking. We polled users, ran forum threads and did a ton of research about what folks wanted, what they were playing and what worked best on a map by map basis. It takes a long time to do it, but the list will go live in a few weeks, say mid to late October. There’s still testing and tweaking to be done, so that date is somewhat variable.
The list covers ten maps, and embraces about 10 or 11 game types. Almost every single one of these games will have you starting with a Battle Rifle and a Magnum, as well as default ‘nades. Snipers and Covenant Slayer are obvious exceptions to that equipment rule. And of course, there will be no Motion Sensor, ever.
The gametypes are typically Oddball, King of the Hill, CTF (with classic rules), Single Bomb Assault and of course, lots of Slayer. The weighting will favor objective games over Slayer to the tune of about 60/40. You can find more detailed weighting information here:
More Team Hardcore Info
The maps and gametypes require more strategy and teamwork than many of you might be used to, and so again, newer players may find this playlist kind of intimidating. I for one am a lousy battle rifle shot, and my experience is roughly this: I spawn, my controller rumbles three, four times and I respawn somewhere else. I panic, I don’t take cover and I subsequently get owned.
Here’s another gem of hardcoreness: Weapons respawn times are doubled. That means you’re actually going to have to conserve Battle Rifle ammo, and lord knows, Sniper ammo where appropriate. The maps and game types are as follows (but still subject to change):
Backwash - Classic CTF
Backwash - Crazy King
Backwash - Rifles
Beaver Creek - Classic CTF
Beaver Creek - Crazy King
Beaver Creek - Neutral Bomb
Beaver Creek - Slayer
Colossus - Snipers
Elongation - Classic CTF
Elongation - Crazy King
Elongation - Oddball
Elongation - Slayer
Gemini - Crazy King
Ivory Tower - Crazy King
Ivory Tower - Oddball
Ivory Tower - Slayer
Ivory Tower - Snipers
Lockout - Crazy King
Lockout - Oddball
Lockout - Slayer
Lockout - Snipers
Midship - Classic CTF
Midship - Crazy King
Midship - Neutral Bomb
Midship - Oddball
Midship - Rifles
Midship - Slayer
Sanctuary - Classic CTF
Sanctuary - Crazy King
Sanctuary - Snipers
Warlock - Classic CTF
Warlock - Crazy King
Warlock - Oddball
Warlock - Rifles
Warlock - Slayer
Covenant Slayer in this playlist only happens on Warlock, so you’ll see it, but you won’t see it that often. The pro players tend to frown on Covenant weapons, but largely because they’re creatures of habit. This instance will just switch things up a bit, and force players to adjust in order to give them more of a challenge and obviously more variety.
Marty is excited because the Video Games Live concert series is coming to Seattle. Bungie folks are going to be there in significant numbers because this way we can pretend that what we do is high culture. The Halo score plays a significant role in the music played at this concert. There will of course be more than Halo to hear, including excellent pieces by other game music composers including works from the following games:
Mario, Zelda, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Warcraft, Myst, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Medal of Honor, Sonic, Tron, Tomb Raider, Advent Rising, Headhunter, Beyond Good & Evil, Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, EverQuest II and a special retro Classic Arcade Medley featuring over 20 games from Pong to Donkey Kong including such classics as Dragon's Lair, Tetris, Frogger, Gauntlet, Space Invaders & Outrun. That one you should close your eyes for, and see which ones you can identify.
You will know us by our top hats and monocles. I can’t talk for the rest of the guys but I will sign anything you bring. And better yet, I will sign it, “Marty O’Donnell!” Sketch will be there for sure, and he’ll sign stuff too. We’ll talk Marty into it too. Don’t worry. The Seattle date is Saturday, October 22nd, but you can read all the dates and venues here:
Video Games Live Concert Series
Oh. Keep your eyes peeled next week for a surprising, cool, awesome Bungie-related announcement. No it is not Halo 3, nor is it the surprise revelation of our next project (whatever that may be) but it’s sweet. It’s something I’ve hinted at in the past. And you’ll probably like it. More than that I can’t say. Which even I know is aggravating. But it ain’t up to me. So just be patient.
What’s that you say? You want to see what Mr. Chief looked like when he was a baby? Who am I to deny you that wish?