We’ve mentioned before that we have implemented lots of security and anti-cheating systems in Halo 3. We’ll never have it perfect because we cannot stop people being idiots, but it’s already significantly better than ever before. We’re about to activate a part of it that required a few weeks of folks playing in the wild before we’d gathered enough data to activate it. Well, we’re just about ready to swing the mighty mallet of justice and it should make a couple of types of cheating extinct very shortly.
Halo 3 has been available for precisely one month and we’re going to be working harder than ever to make sure it stays a safe and fair place to play for the next few years. So please bear with us and remember we’re always watching and more importantly, acting on the information we receive, whether it’s immediately visible or not.
I’ve had a lot of mails from skilled Halo players saying things like, “Hey, I am stuck at level 41 skill level and I am not going up, so your skill system must be broken.” Actually, what you’re seeing is that it works. What the system is telling you, is that relative to the other players currently playing Halo 3, you are a level 41. You should not be going up in skill level until you become appreciably and significantly better.
If you suddenly developed a whole new level of headshot ability, for example you’d find that your skill level would rise commensurately. It is not, like your rank, supposed to climb inexorably based on experience, but rather to judge and determine your relative skill and match you with players of like skill. My experience is that games are closer, tighter and more fairly balanced than ever before. The spikes happen at the low end, as you mix it up with folks who haven’t played enough to determine a steady skill level. As you get better, progress will slow and eventually halt as the system determines your overall ability and uses that to find matches.
It’s important to note that it is an increasingly accurate estimate, designed to become more accurate over the long term. So don’t worry about dips in your performance, or unexpected sprees, those dips and spikes are not given much precedence by the system.
In theory, it is trying to put you in the most competitive matches. It is not some goal or trophy – it’s a tool.
Although we’re paying close attention to it, melee is still causing folks a headache. The primary complaint is that the fellow with the most health wins the simultaneous melee strike. There are a couple of problems here. One is that the way this victory or loss is displayed on screen is aesthetically frustrating:
Situation: Two people melee almost simultaneously and one wins.
Display: One melee fails, then, a fraction of a second later, your opponent’s, succeeds.
This looks worse than it is, sometimes because of network conditions. You’ll have to take our word for it that in spite of the apparent gap in time and animation, the two strikes were effectively simultaneous. The problem is for most people that it looks bad and is dissatisfying. But we do appreciate the frustration this causes and we are looking into it. As many have noted, the alternative, host advantage, is not preferable.
VGA Resolution Thingy
So we have a bunch of complaints from people using hi-res 4:3 aspect ratio VGA monitors, who find that when they choose a widescreen 1280x1080 resolution, that things stretch. Or that when they choose “normal” aspect ratio, they lose the advantage of a slightly wider field of view found in widescreen TVs. Well, sadly that’s us following the 360 output settings rather than something specific to Halo 3. We can’t override that setting in the game and we can’t guess what it is the user desires. So we have to go with the majority – which is that they desire the entire screen is filled with the correct aspect ratio and isn’t black-barred or windowed. It’s not ideal, but it is one of the drawbacks of trying to play widescreen content on a 4:3 display. So in short, sorry.
Our multiplayer design teams are hard at work on a couple of things. One of them is a fun, seasonal addition to the matchmaking playlist which should keep you entertained for about 27 hours around Halloween. No specifics yet, but suffice it to say that if you want to spend your witchy holiday playing Halo 3, we’ll give you some spooktacular reasons to do so.
The other thing keeping the designers busy, and the artists and audio guys for that matter, is downloadable content. The maps themselves are being prepared in a logical order, designed to fill gaps in our matchmaking selection and add new, interesting environments to our multiplayer arsenal. The more finished the maps are, the faster they’re likely to make it to marketplace. We’ll have more news on the specific plans for timing and availability soon, and we promise to let you guys get a look at the maps and hear more about what they have to offer.
We’ve been testing the new maps pretty regularly and I loved all except one, which for the purposes of this article, I shall refer to as, “Purple Reign.” I sometimes have an initially adverse reaction to symmetrical or semi-symmetrical map designs because I am not terribly smart and I sometimes have difficulty become oriented within those types of space. Invariably, I get used to it and learn to love them. This was just such a case, but when a new slew of architecture was added in the distance recently, it was enough for me to recognize which way was “up,” so to speak. Now I love it.
So the good news is that as far as I am concerned, all of the projected DLC maps are sweet. Two of them in particular will cause a Three Mile Island scale pant-fill-disaster in the Halo community. I can’t say why, but some of you will figure it out correctly and be able to say I told you so later.
Luke and I have been playing a lot of SWAT on the new maps because it’s an easy way to check out a map with only a couple of players. At least two of the projected DLC maps however, are simply far too large for even the hair-trigger nature of SWAT to speed ‘em up. Both of them support lots of vehicles, but one of them, John Carpenter’s Prince of Dorkness, doesn’t need vehicles per se. It’s tough to explain. When you finally see it, you’ll understand.
HALO: LANDFALL Direct Downloads!
Director Neill Blomkamp explores the lives of Marines and ODSTs on a last, desperate mission in a post-invasion Earth – a mission that may secure the salvation, or usher the destruction of the entire galaxy. Edited together as a standalone piece for the first time, these three shorts are the first glimpse at what a live-action Halo could look like and a must-see for Halo fans of every stripe.
Right click the links to Save As:
I Can Has Recon?
Oh, folks are begging us for the Recon Armor perm, and we’re giving it out to a couple of community members today as a special treat:
ZB Shogun for suffering the most humiliating traffic accident ever:
Skyllus vBi for shooting himself in the head with his own Sniper Rifle.
Oh teh Noes
Both lucky players will now find that Recon is a useable armor perm next time they log into Halo 3 and for the rest of you don’t bother asking us for it. We’ll give it out based on good deeds and valuable community service and occasionally because they make us laugh, as seen above. There will be plenty of occasions and reasons to get it. PM-ing and emailing us will not make any difference. But play nice and be a good sport and who knows?
And finally, a horrible Mister Chief to remind you why it is you don't miss them really.