We tested Halo 3 matchmaking last night. A bunch of folks here, and a bunch of folks in real-world, top-secret locations, with regular intarwebs connections, played the first ever online Halo 3 matchmaking stuff and it was a great success. In early tests like this, you sort of expect it to be a crash-festival, and the test guys will just assemble all the failure data in the morning. But not this time.
We only tested two matchmaking “hoppers” - both of course created by our own Ninja on Fire. And only three maps – the three featured in the upcoming EGM story (which contains more info and art than the screens and images already leaked to the intarwebs this morning). And we only tested two playlists – Team Slayer and Rumble Pit.
Obviously we’re making changes to the way matchmaking will work this time around, and they’re all improvements. Some are interface tweaks and some are feature additions. We don’t want to give away too much about what we’re doing with matchmaking, but there’s an important principle at the heart of the matter.
Before Halo 2 shipped, we got a lot of complaints that you couldn’t simply search for a really specific server, but rather, a general type of game – think Team Snipers as an example. We knew before shipping, thanks to an extensive beta test, that the end result would be really satisfying, but we also knew it would take folks time to get used to it. The trick was making available a big enough population of players to find matches against – and that means softening the sharp edges of uber-specific game types, and making more players available. A couple of years on and we still have about 250k players per day, which vastly exceeds our target numbers for satisfactory matchmaking.
This time around, we’re applying the same principles, but giving the player considerably more options and fine control, while still maintaining the balance of population availability. After all, the worst thing of all is not being able to find ANY suitable game – something players of older PC games can relate to.
All fine and dandy when you have 250k players, but last night we had about 20, so we all had a fair idea who we’d be matched against. Still, it was fun to see the user interface working correctly, even if we knew that some of the new features wouldn’t exactly be utilized by a grand total of 20 Halo 3 players. Also, for whatever combination of luck, bandwidth and new netcode, we all experienced LAN-like conditions – one of the exclamations in this morning’s post game water cooler chat. It will be interesting to see how the new, smarter code translates to real world conditions in 2007.
Problem was, because the testers needed to test matchmaking, rather than networking performance, the game sessions were limited to five minutes, so every time I was getting’ mah kill on, the game ended prematurely and we got dumped back out into the matchmaking lobby. This of course, to ensure that we fit as many matchmaking sessions into the evening as possible.
Anyway, it may have made for great test conditions, but they were lousy REVENGE conditions. I’ll get you Joe Tung. I’ll get you.
Lots of folks asked about the movie, and specifically today’s IGN story, which in turn refers to a Variety story talking about our movie going forward. I’m not going to comment about the specifics, since they involve several entities that aren’t Bungie.net, but suffice it to say that the spirit of the story – that the movie is moving forward – is true enough.
The leaked scans this morning caused a huge fuss, and we’re not going to discuss any of that stuff here today – suffice it t say that subscribers will be getting their issues of EGM in the next few days, and they can read all about Halo 3 multiplayer (and more) in that magazine, and see some images that aren’t leaked on the interwebs already. I think you’ll find some very interesting and exclusive insights to come. The hi-res images will be available in all sorts of outlets eventually, including this here website, and we’ll go into more detail – and answer some of your questions at that time. And that won’t be the only Halo 3 info this year… there are one or two surprises still to come.
Rob McLees and I, along with Damian Isla and Lorraine, have been working very hard the last couple of weeks on a really cool thing that may or may not make it into the game. If it DOES make it into the game, it will probably be one of the biggest forum-thread spawning things of all time. If it doesn’t make it into the game, then don’t worry, we have another avenue for it.
Anyway, the stuff Robt, Lorraine and Damian have come up with is absolutely mind-blowing, and reminds me again why I drive across the 520 bridge in rush hour traffic every day. That project certainly won’t see the light of day before 2007, so I won’t tease you too much.
And speaking of teasing, the next podcast is sorta recorded and ready to go, but we’re too stupid and lazy to edit it together (read: busy) and so as ever, we’re sitting on it. The good news is that when it arrives it will be hypersweet.
We all had a laugh at HBO luminary Miguel’s reinterpretation of a KP interview. Click here to see a snapshot of KP’s inner workings.
Finally, we’re working on a bunch of new stuff for the Bungie store, including a new hoodie and two new T-shirts – one of which will be very amusing to hardcore H2 fans and completely indecipherable to members of the public. Anyhoo, here’s the hoodie. See if you can spot Mister Chief.