So the end of the Halo birthday week draws to a close, and what a week it’s been. We’ve had a ton of announcements and news, showed the first ever shot from the Halo 3 campaign and generally celebrated Halo and our fans for a week. If you missed the story…
STOP RIGHT NOW AND READ THIS!
As we close out, it’s time for some thoughtful retrospective on the events of the week.
First off, the screenshot. Here’s the deal. Brian grabbed a controller, moved the Chief up against a wall from a level in Campaign, and typed a debug command to take a shot. We ran the shot in Newsweek and then later, right here on Bungie.net. We took the shot at 2X so you could use it for wallpaper or whatever. But just to be clear, it’s a very ordinary, if atmospheric moment from the game. Well, ordinary in the graphical sense. Naturally that building is crawling with the Chief’s foes, and he’s not really going to get a chance to stand around chewing the fat.
There’s been some speculation that it’s totally different than that showed in the E3 trailer. Well, that’s just lighting. There have been some minor tweaks to the Chief model, but he’s about 99% identical.
We were on a bunch of stuff this week, including a upcoming 1UP podcast, and the Official Xbox Magazine podcast, talking about stuff while they tried to trick us into admitting other stuff. The OXM one is live now, and you can listen to it here. The 1UP podcast will have more swearing in it and goes live next Wednesday.
One of the reasons the update is short this week, quite apart from the fact that we already spilled our guts pretty good, is that I have been in two very important (and fun) meetings. Actually, three if you count one yesterday afternoon.
One (yesterday afternoon) was about something collectible you can probably buy next year. One was about some Halo fiction you can enjoy next year (we were chatting with Marvel comics and a couple of very famous comic book creators of some repute) and the other was about the Halo TV commercial that’s going to air on Monday Night Football in early December.
We just saw one of Digital Domain’s final submissions before the thing gets finished and has Mart-Music added to it, and I have to say, jaws were dropped. I am not going to overpromise to you guys, but the Bungie folks who saw it were very, very impressed. And there are a surprising number of clues and glimpses into the finished game, although it contains not a lick of gameplay in it.
We also asked the female players out there if they would like to have an option to change their multiplayer Spartan voice to female. We had a huge response, with literally 99% saying yes, they would like it. A couple of women had the legitimate concern that it would encourage pre-pubescent misogynists to give them a hard time, and of course, one or two dudes who thought that their opinion on the matter was somehow more important to the discussion than the females it actually concerned. And a lone voice who felt that the death screams themselves were uncalled for.
The good news is that we collated all the data, requests, polls and news stories and will look seriously at implementing the feature. So thank you for your input.
And that won’t be the only MP feature we’re going to let you customize, but more on that another time.
And now the part where I throw Ninja to the wolves. Matchmaking is a complicated business and juggling the playlists and the population available to make sure that most people are having a satisfactory experience, is incredible difficult and taxing. Please try t show some understanding and restraint when reacting to changes that you perceive as negative, and realize that we would not make these decisions were they not necessary for the smooth functioning of Matchmaking. There’s some news in here that will freak people out. And it’s not Ninja’s choice (or anyone’s really) so don’t blame him.
Last week we hinted at some of the changes that would occur in the next matchmaking update. We told you all about our plans to consolidate our total number of playlists in an effort to condense the population into fewer pools, making matchmaking function more effectively. We told you that Team Carnage was being put on hold over the holiday season, though we do plan to bring it back early next year. We also told you that Team ActionSack is being removed, with all of the popular gametypes from it being moved into Team Training or Team Skirmish.
All of these changes are being made to accommodate the population fluctuation that occurs around the holidays. New systems, new games and vacations all equate to less activity. While we have maintained an excellent population over the past 2 years and don’t expect it to drop drastically, the matchmaking system can be very delicate when the population drops suddenly, so we’re making these changes as a precaution. Moving forward into 2007 we may decide to bring some of these playlists back, it’s hard to say right now – we’ll have to examine our population and activity after the holidays.
This week we have finalized the changes to the hoppers and we’re almost done with the testing phase. In addition to Team Carnage and Team ActionSack, we will be removing the Multi-Team and Team SWAT playlists. These playlists both have unique aspects that set them apart from the rest, so it is sad to see them go, for me as well since they are two of my favorites.
Multi-Team has had quite the run, for a flavor playlist; perhaps we’ll be seeing this playlist again at some point. Team SWAT has been very popular over the past few months and has been a great flavor playlist. We let you experience it as both ranked and unranked and with a variety of gametypes. However, popularity isn’t the deciding factor in these changes. While it is a lot of fun and will remain in matchmaking ; it will no longer have a playlist of its own. Gametypes from Team SWAT will be moved into the Team Training playlist with some extra weight, including SWAT Magnums which was removed from Team SWAT in a previous update.
Anytime we remove a playlist, we know there are people who are very passionate about the change. Please keep in mind that these changes are being made out of a necessity. We’ve explained that necessity in detail, so if you still have questions please visit the Optimatch forum. Perhaps your favorite playlist is being removed, make sure to tell us… as we move forward with future updates we will be looking at this feedback to determine what may or may not be brought back.
Over the next week we will be wrapping up final testing on these changes, so stay tuned to the Optimatch forum for more details!
Thanks Ninjer. We will not reveal your top secret undisclosed location. In 123 Fake Street, Bellevue.
Next week – high res versions of the multiplayer shots (at last) and some chat aout what they do and don’t contain. Anyway, somebody asked me who would win in a fight between bender and Mister Chief, seeing as how “they both have crazy teefs.” Apologies to Matt Groening and Co.
What's wrong with standin' toe to toe and saying, "I am?"