Jo Clowes, the project lead on Halo 2 for Windows Vista, answers some of your most common questions about the intricacies of Halo 2 on a new platform, a new OS and a new way of enjoying your games experience anywhere. Remember, this information is about a game that is currently still in development, and any features discussed are subject to change.
You can find out more about Windows Vista here , and even try out the Beta version of the OS (after carefully reading about all the impact it could potentially have on your PC…)
What is Live Anywhere?
Live Anywhere is the Xbox Live service that has been extended to the Windows Vista & mobile platforms. You can think of it in terms of the Xbox 360 Live guide blade on the Windows platform. That means you will be able to see and manage your Friends list, manage your Gamertag and account details, and access Live messaging services. As with most Live games you will be able to find your Friends no matter where they are and join them in your favorite games. In some games you will be able to play your friend when they are on a different device (Xbox 360, Windows Vista, Mobile), this is the cross-platform play that you have seen mentioned in titles like Shadowrun, although it should be noted that cross-platform play is not supported by Halo 2 for Windows Vista.
Can I see my existing friends on the Xbox from Windows Vista?
Yes, Live Anywhere extends the Xbox Live service beyond Xbox. Anytime you are logged in with your Gamertag, your friends can see you and you can see them, no matter what device you are using. Pretty cool stuff, it makes finding people you want to play with all the easier.
What is different in the online game on Windows Vista?
Windows Vista is a different beast and Halo 2 was originally written with the Xbox in mind. Live Anywhere brings the online experience closer to that found on the Xbox, but there are still differences on Windows Vista. We have made changes to the design of the online systems in Halo 2 to make it more appropriate for the Windows Vista gamer. Some of these changes include dedicated servers, and the ability to configure online games how you want them rather than having them chosen for you as in the Xbox version, support for the keyboard and mouse, text chat, etc. There are loads of really cool things we are doing in this area, and we will let you know about them in future developer diaries.
How many players will be able to play together on Windows Vista?
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it! We are going to have all of the original multiplayer maps and the map pack. These were all expertly tuned by the folks at Bungie to work for up to 16 players. We do have the addition of a Map Editor and may ship with a few new maps, we have chosen to make these 16 player max as well to keep the game experience as consistent as possible between the original maps and the new ones and to help keep groups together between games by not having huge variances in map sizes. This is especially important with Playlists in dedicated server sessions.
How will I find games on Windows Vista?
We are implementing a game browser that you will be able to use to find the game you want to play. This will also be the place that you can manage your favorite dedicated servers. You will be able to find games based on performance of the host, game type, where your friends are, favorite dedicated servers, and others. Look for more details on the game browser in future developer diary entries.
Can I play on the Vista version of the game against players on the Xbox?
No, we are adding Vista-specific features to the game that will not be compatible with the original Xbox version. We wanted the game to be the best it could be on Windows Vista and did not want to be limited by backwards compatibility with the Xbox version. If you have a friend who is playing on the Xbox you will be able to invite them to your game on Windows Vista, or send them messages, just like you can today on the Xbox 360.
Will Halo 2 be available on my cell phone with Live Anywhere?
No, we do not plan on making a Windows Mobile version of the game at this time. Once Live Anywhere launches on cell phones, you will be able to access your friends list and see their achievements in Halo 2 Vista.