Bungie Weekly Update: November 11th, 2005
Earlier this week, we ran comparison shots of the 360 and original Xbox systems running Halo and Halo 2. Knowing how convoluted HD is, and how confused people are about the technology, we second guessed ourselves about whether to even show it. After all, we don’t have a 100% perfect way of illustrating the difference, without sitting each and every one of you in front of the screen to demonstrate.
Lots of folks don’t care anyway, but for those who do, we decided to explain some more of the details behind backward compatibility, HDTV and more.
Firstly, a reiteration of Wednesday – we had to do a kind of hacky screen capture, using analog connections, a Mac and Final Cut Pro. The results do show a pronounced difference, but nowhere near as accurately as running it on a real HDTV, or VGA monitor.
Running side-by-side pics doesn’t do it justice, so you’re just going to have to check it out for yourselves when the 360 ships in just over a week. So with all that in mind, here’s a quick Q&A about Halo and Halo 2 on 360.It doesn’t answer all the questions, but it answers a lot of ‘em.
What do I need to play Halo and Halo 2BC?
You need an Xbox 360, an Xbox 360 hard disk drive, and a copy of the original Xbox games Halo or Halo 2. None of the backward compatibility or improvements will function without a Hard Drive.
Do I need Xbox Live?
To play Halo 2 on Xbox Live, you will need a current Xbox Live or Xbox Live Gold account. To activate the “hi-res” modes of Halo and Halo 2, for Xbox Live members (either Gold or Silver members), just connect your Xbox 360 console to Xbox Live and insert an original Xbox game. The system will automatically check if you have the latest emulation software, download it to your Xbox 360 console as part of a system update if you don't, reboot, and start loading your original Xbox game.
Those who are not part of the Xbox Live network will be able to download the emulators from Xbox.com, and burn them onto a CD to insert into your Xbox 360 where it will auto-install the emulator. Or you can go to Xbox.com and simply sign up for a CD to be sent to your home for a nominal shipping and handling fee.
What about my existing Xbox Live account?
All current Xbox Live accounts transfer seamlessly to Xbox 360 as Xbox Live Gold accounts. You'll keep your Gamertag and the friends, stats, and reputation that you've built up over the years.
So can an Xbox play Halo 2 against and Xbox 360? Or System Link with the original Halo?
Yes. Both games can interoperate between 360 and Xbox, Xbox and Xbox, or 360 and 360. No special cable is required for the 360 – either Ethernet or crossover (System Link) Ethernet will work, even when connecting a 360 to an Xbox.
What other improvements can I expect?
The texture “pop-in” during Halo 2’s cinematics is slightly improved, thanks mostly to the Xbox 360’s newer, higher-tech DVD drive. Other than that, you should expect your copy of Halo 1 & 2 to behave almost exactly as they did before.
Why is the backward compatibility coming so close to the launch of the machine?
Largely because to test BC completely, it has to be tested on final, retail hardware, which of course only became available very close to the launch.
My TV only supports 1080i; does this mean I can’t play in 720p?
The Xbox 360 will correctly scale the HD image to suit your TV’s resolution. If your TV only supports 1080i (or some other HD resolution) then that is the resolution at which the game will display once you select that in the Xbox 360’s dashboard. Optimum settings will depend on your TV’s resolution and aspect ratio.
Can I play in the new “hi-res” mode on a VGA monitor?
Yes, with the purchase of the VGA cable accessory, you can play in any of the modes selectable through your Xbox 360. Optimum settings will depend on your monitor’s resolution and aspect ratio.
How is the resolution change achieved technically?
For Halo and Halo 2, it happens in the “frame buffer” where Full Scene Anti Aliasing is applied. That image is then scaled for the best mix of image quality and compatibility.
Are any other games backward compatible?
Yes. OVER 200! Woot. With more coming, including the ones you’re about to start -blam!-in’ about. Go read about ‘em here: Read the whole (current) list here.
Marty is in Korea this week, attending a game conference. It’s the first time he’s ever been out of North America. I hope he likes Kimchee. Talk about culture shock. Korea is beautiful, and the people there are lovely, but it’s nowhere near as easy to navigate as say, Tokyo and I already think that Marty’s brain would explode if he went to Japan.
The very last thing that Marty did, before becoming completely lost at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport was, “Ahn young ha sae yoh! Bungie gah han-blam!- sallam dul man nan nun guh gah geng jang yee bang gah wuh yoh!”
Legend has it that he is still there, walking from terminal to terminal, looking for the exit to public transport. We have already contacted the Incheon Sunset Home for the Terminally Bewildered, but as yet, nobody has found him.
Speaking of absurdly old humans, Pete Parsons, the studio manager, turned 50 this week. Uncannily, his birthday falls on the same day as Halo 2’s – November 9th. We’re not joking about that, and Pete assures us it was a coincidence, rather than admit HE delayed the game to November 9th for reasons of vanity.
Anyway, to celebrate his 50th birthday, Pete is going to Old Country Buffet for an oatmeal shake and prune cobbler. He says he’s got the impetigo, and prunes help him “go.”
Joe Staten is in Hollywood right now. Doing somethin’ sneaky. He’s becoming one of them. He’s started wearing sunglasses indoors now, and claims he is the “Vice President of the spot near the window.”
Brian’s Hopper Chopper
Brian and Jeremiah (Ninja on Fire) are working hard to prepare the new matchmaking playlist updates. Some old deadwood is being burned, and fresh saplings planted in the fertile forest of Matchmaking. Brian explains:
EDIT: Updated 11/14/05!
Last week's disclosure of plans regarding the state of Big Team Battle caused quite a stir amongst the community. While BTB is actually among the lesser played playlists and arguably offers a questionable experience for a great deal of players, there are cleary a good number of you who love your Big Team Battle. I spent a lot of time in our forums hearing your concerns, suggestions and complaints and we have since regrouped interally to re-evaluate our plans. Ultimately the Big Team Battle as you know it now (and likely every other playlist) will have to change to accommodate a shrinking player population and other factors associated with the game getting older. However, that time doesn't have to be right now. I'm happy to say that we're going to leave BTB as it stands for the time being. Before our next update we'll be taking a hard look at everything again and we will continue to make changes that we feel are necessary for the greater good of all players.
For now, Big Team Battle will exist as a 16 player ranked playlist with your existing ranks intact. We are going to do what we can to fine-tune the existing offerings (like removing the team imbalance so many people complain about and tweaking some of the gametypes that are less fun than others). We are also going to add the new ranked 6v6 Team Battle playlist as well. While some may feel otherwise, we feel that 4v4, 6v6 and 8v8 are each different experiences that appeal to different people for different reasons. Both BTB and 6v6 will offer a mixture of objective and team slayer games with specific entries built to accommodate respective team sizes. We will not be adding an unranked 16 player option at this time.
I'll leave a few of the other details for next week's update - keep in mind we're still a few weeks out on the new playlist itself. As always, please stop by the OptiMatch forum on Bungie.net and vote in our polls and share your opinions as we work on plans for future updates! If you want something to ponder for the upcoming week, I give you the name of two of Ninja on Fire's new Gametypes that will appear in one of the new novelty playlists, "Brutality" and "Combo Training."
Finally, Rannie pondered what Mister Chief would look like in Korean national costume and realized that he wouldn't know the difference between male and female costume.