The Bungie Weekly Update (plus bonus mini
It's raining here.
Everyone seems to have their heads down, hard at work on
. Next week is the one-year anniversary of the launch of Halo 2. Which seems unbelievable. I still remember going to the Best Buy in Bellevue and the EB in Redmond, seeing the lines of folks waiting patiently for Halo 2. It seems like maybe a month ago. Time flies. We'll be bringing you a few wee treats to celebrate next week, so look out for that. Nothing humongous, so don't panic.
The movie continues its inexorable crawl through the streets of Hollywood. With Jackson and WETA on board, we're happy as clams. The next big announcement from that front will likely be the identity of the director. We've had some names bandied around, and they're all froth-worthy. I wish I could gossip and chatter about this stuff, but we don't want to jinx anything.
Had an interesting conversation with David Candland, our UI (user interface) designer. He's very excited about the possibilities on an Xbox 360. And as a UI guy, he's actually very thoughtful about how things should look on 4:3 (regular) TVs versus HDTV widescreen.
Obviously you can pack a significant amount of detail onto a widescreen TV with HD resolutions, but there's no reason you have to. After all, an interface should be simple. Dave's philosophy is that you can either make an interface that scales nicely, or build a custom one for each resolution/aspect ratio.
One example he pointed out is that if you pause a game on a regular TV while playing split screen, any options that appear have to be readable, so they may block your friends' view. He said that with HD resolution, it would be possible to have perfectly readable and complete options appear only in your split-screen window, thus allowing your amigos to continue playing uninterrupted.
Dave doesn't want to take a widescreen interface and just squish it for 4:3 TVs, so you can bet that whatever he works on next, he'll be keeping the advantages of each aspect ratio and resolution, firmly in mind.
Dave also pointed out that it's quite feasible to build custom UI for any eventuality. The software can simply check against your 360's settings to decide which UI to load. You can set your Xbox 360 to 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i in the dashboard.
Playlist Update from Sketch
"Work on the next Halo 2 matchmaking playlist is underway. Ninja on Fire has been working through the OptiMatch Forum to get some feedback and ideas for tweaks and possible new additions. The actual update is still a few weeks away from release and the first test pass is slated to start this coming Monday. This update is a bit more complicated than prior releases since we're actually removing playlists that we shipped with. As Halo 2 continues to mature we will occasionally need to do away with playlists that are no longer popular. If the player population in a given playlist starts to drop too low, it could end up being a long wait and a bad experience for people looking for a match. The beauty of the matchmaking system is that we have the ability to freshen things up based on what you, our players, want to see (like the recently added Team Hardcore, for example).
In this next update we plan to remove two existing playlists but the good news is that we're adding three more. Since we're still a few weeks away and things could change I'm hesitant to give out any specifics right now but I can tell you that we're not removing anything that gets a lot of play. I will also say that due to popular demand we are adding an unranked 16 player playlist that will support guests and have some opportunities for large scale slayer mayhem. We'll leave it at that for now but I promise plenty more details in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, be sure to check out the OptiMatch forum from time to time so you can share your input and ideas for future updates."
Now, since it was a short update this week (as is the norm these days) I decided to treat you to an old school, "What's Update" Q&A session, using questions pulled from my PMs, emails and other people's forums.
Any word on when any kind of information about your next project will be released?
No. We're torn between two goalposts (worst metaphor ever!) which are; waiting til' we're comfortable about talking about it, and being very busy making it. I know that's frustrating, but it's a complicated business and we're not just being jerks.
I seem to be running into modders at high levels that haven't been automatically banned yet. It looks like they are getting around the system. Any plans for new updates to detect them?
They're not getting around the system, they're simply using new 2 month accounts (which is out of Bungie's jurisdiction.) They log on, mod, we detect it, put them on a list to be banned. After an unspecified time, that list is activated and they are booted. It's irritating as heck, but I can rest easy at night knowing how annoyed they get when they lose yet another 2 month account.
Any news on Spartan 458 development?
Other than that the latest version looks sweet, it's Tecmo's news to reveal. But it looks sweet.
Now I know you guys got little more than a year and a half until Summer '07, but what is Bungie's stand on the music that would be used in the Halo: The Movie? Will it feature the soundtrack from the original Xbox game, or will Marty O'Donnell redo the music? Or.... will Marty O'Donnell take some trademark songs from the soundtrack and create a few new songs to be featured in the film?
Marty, when asked, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I honestly don't know what's going to happen with that." He's in something of a musical whirl, having just returned from his spell as Maestro (hanging around the Video Games Live concert hall foyer).
Is Team Snipers ever getting removed? I am sick of party leaders DRAGGING me in to it so I can get pwned.
No. We suggest leaving the party. There are no plans to remove it at this time. You will continue to get pwned. It may be changed in the future, but we love it right now.
I got a question: Why doesn't Bungie answer Single Player related questions?
See? You had the perfect opportunity, and asked a semi-rhetorical question. I would have answered a real one.
Do you consider the Halo story as a whole an epic in the sense of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid? There are some similarities if you think about, and I guess I am wondering if that is intentional or if all good stories just ended up being a variation on the epics like they tell me in English class.
On a completely unrelated note, wouldn't it be cool if a game incorporated a voice recognition system so that you could order npc that fought along side you with your voice instead of a menu? I wonder if that is even possibly now...
Wow. Those are weighty questions. Certainly we consider the story epic in scale. We would be boobs to compare it directly to those ancient epics. What our story does contain is the age old ingredients of hero, conflict, journey and so on. Those are universal themes. They're the things that all humans share in their storytelling. As for your AI/talk idea, it sounds very nice.
I played with a British sounding halo 2 guy, and he said his dad did the credits for Halo 2. We were being standbyed on, and he pulled out his laptop and booted the standbyer out of the game! is this possible?
Nope. And we did our credits here. The "Standbyer" was probably just a host who lost his connection or quit the game. If the timing seemed suspicious, it may have been because your British guy was communicating with the guy who left.
Legendary mark asks:
At the risk of not getting an answer to that, I remember you said you and Ske7ch were hoping to do a video tour of your brand-spanking new offices, any word on that?
It is coming soon. Ish.
What is the funniest post you've read today?
This – the most baffling way to celebrate anything that I have ever heard of:
Celebrate the Halo 2 anniversary
How do Halo and Halo 2 look on an Xbox 360? (You hinted in one of the other updates about it.)
And what launch window game are you most excited about for Xbox 360?
I will tell you how they look next Friday (probably). And I am most excited about the following games (personally): PDZ, COD 2, Ridge Racer/PGR3, DOA and Condemned. And now NBA 2K. Oh and maybe NFS and Kameo. To be honest, I haven't ever had this much content to choose from in a launch lineup. Usually it's just one game, like Mario 64 or Ridge Racer. And I'm not just saying that because I am a puppet OF THE MAN. I am quite serious.
I would like to know once and for all what Bungie's official position on "Super Bouncing" is. Would you not agree that is is an unfair advantage to whomever does it?
It is bad sportsmanship in matchmaking.
Mr. Fiddle asks:
What's with all the pirate references?
They're because our game is for adults, so it is rated, "Aaaarrrrr!"
Commander Cool asks:
What about an explanation of this:
Is this book real?
It is teh fake.
And finally, Michael M asks:
What happened to Pinkuh's Furry Mister Chief request?
Here it is, now aren't you sorry you asked?