Thanks to a communications SNAFU, there will be no real weekly update this week. I had a beaut, all ready to go, but people, TOP people called it off at the last minute. The good news is that it is some fun stuff, the bad news is that it won't be all that surprising to anyone with internet access. Let's just say that sometimes PR and Hollywood are complicated .
We had an amusing server SNAFU this week too on the Banhammer. We moved servers and to cut a long story short, the list of banned players moved 45 minutes slower than the rest of it - so for 45 minutes, the banned were able to play (if they realized in time.) The question is: Did they behave for the short time they were able to participate?
Our Humpday Challenge with the PMS girls this week was fun, but a shocking reminder of what a bunch of random, play-for-fun dudes can do against highly-trained, competitive ladies. The answer: Nothing. They never let up for a moment and we took a mighty hammering.
KP is off to a tournament in Hotlanta this week, with his old friend Dolbex, AKA Cheatbex, Suckbex etc. He'll have a report on what happened, with sexy photos next week.
Meanwhile we signed off on the last pages of the next Halo novel. It was a long, detailed process to ensure this is the sweetest, niftiest Halo novel of all, and with any luck, we'll be able to preview a page or two of it in the next month or two. Let's just say that fans of Eric Nylund's stuff will be in for something of a treat.
We also started discussions about combat dialog for single player mode in Halo 3 - that is, the speech uttered by Marines, Brutes, Elites etc., in campaign mode as you play through regular levels. That could be anything from "ouch" to "Give me all your grenades or I shall pull off your head."
The process is complex, requires a lot of planning, a vast amount of writing and significant amounts of technology. We already have a lot of the work done - the game designers are primarily in charge of deciding what those "triggers" are- such as, how will a Marine react if his buddy is stuck? Or what should a Brute say if you board his Ghost? The trick is to make the language natural, believable and yet never intrude on the action at hand.
The audio guys get a lot of that responsibility too and are currently at work building out a new AV suite for screening, sampling and testing both audio and video. My plan is to trick them into coming to my basement and calibrating the geometry on my now thoroughly wrecked Sony CRT.
I noticed, while playing on that wrecked CRT, that every single one of my buddies was playing ither Dead Rising or the Dead Rising Demo. It's the first time I have ever had trouble finding a friend to play Halo 2 with. I had to play with STRANGERS! But they were OK. And certainly not quite as Grapey as the PMS ladies. Now I guess I have to go BUY Dead Rising, if those zombies are to be stopped.
I've also been practicing on Halo 2 for Vista which looks amazing right now. Slippery smooth frame rate and very high resolution graphics. I do NOT want to get used to playing on a mouse and keyboard though, so I am sticking to using the 360 controller for the moment. Of course the best part is playing against the Vista port team who ain't exactly awesome at it (yet) so I get the minor joy of pwning noobs.
I also got the chance to try out not one, not two, but three new levels on Halo 3 this week. And play through somewhat "complete" campaign missions. The new AI is sick. It does things that are at once video gamey and fun, yet occasionally eerily realistic. The trick is making bad guys behave in ways that are challenging and fun, while instilling enough illogical aggression to make an encounter frightening too. There are some very neat moments where the behavior of bad guys alters as you even the odds in combat. It means that battles never become repetitive "pockets" of action.
The behavior of the good guys too, has to be carefully balanced, and not just for difficulty. They have to feel like they’re helping you, without making a mission too easy. You need to be the bad-ass, after all. I can already tell you their driving skills have improved greatly over the last game. Maybe they went to driver's ed.
Graphics of course are all over the place. They range from a carefully detailed leave, moving in a breeze, to a big gray blob that represents "water." The mix of placeholder and finished graphics is less jarring than you'd think, thanks to the unified lighting model. Even ugly untextured things are beautifully lit. So they look sort of cool.
I also developed a new found love for the Carbine. On an HDTV, in HD resolution, it becomes almost sniper-like in its accuracy (although not power). But it is incredibly, almost erotically satisfying to take out Grunts with headshots. Back in the day, I never even bothered trying, because of my crappy TV and the Xbox's then-normal resolution. Now that I can do it, it's going to make Legendary runs that much easier (except it won't, because the designer jerks will account for that).
And the good news for the Luddites out there, is that the above described technique works just as well in normal TV resolution, but with a slightly different learning curve. So don't sweat it.
Anyway, short and sweet as ever. Lots more next week. I always say that, huh?
Finally, if you want to know who caused the lack of movie stuff this week, here's a clue: