Heatmaps have been welcomed into the Bungie.net architecture and are now supported in Halo 3. Although we’ve turned this feature on, we’re still treating it like a beta, because we’re not entirely sure how it will affect the database and load balancing for our current server system. Additionally, we’re still trying to prioritize all actions in-game that require processing for the Web site (things like statistics, file share data) ahead accoutrements like Heatmaps in the database. If introducing Heatmaps slows things down, we’ll probably take them offline while we work out the kinks in the interest of preserving the end user experience.
What’s a Heatmap?
Heatmaps are the Doppler Radar System of Death in Halo 3. We’re tracking encounters, weapons used and their results in a given game, collecting that data and sharing it with players visually. The key here is “the darker the red, the more frequent the deaths (or kills, depending on the parameters).
We’ve taken that tracking system and adapted it to your own statistics. By visiting your Career Stats page, you’ll see a new tab labeled Heatmaps. Once you click that, you’ll be able to click each of Halo 3’s maps on the left side and see all manner of statistics, what weapons you’ve killed (and where you’ve used them) with on a given map, where you’ve died to a certain weapon on a given map all via sortable dropdown menus. These heatmaps, however, aren’t a collection of your lifetime statistics, we’re only processing roughly half of the information right now, but we’ll be turning it up to full power once the feature leaves this beta phase.
In addition to your own stats, there’s now a Global page displaying Heatmap results (it's found under the 'Bungie Online' tab of the main site navigation bar). Here, you’ll be able to look through each map in (both Social and Ranked playlists) and see where shenanigans are beget. Like the Career Stats page, the Global Heatmap page uses dropdown menus to display on what the tools of destruction are on a given map. Are more folks camping the canals of Snowbound, while your Heatmaps show you atop low base with a Carbine?
The below images show the heatmaps in action. These are global heatmaps tracking the kills (top) and deaths (bottom) from the Sniper Rifle on
Ya'all don't move around much with the long rifle, do you?
Yellow room = dead room.
Heatmaps and their implementation are the first of some new Bungie.net features Chris Gossett and his fellow web devs are working on; some of the features they are working on implementing are particularly exciting to competitive jerks like me.
In addition to continuing our investigations into melee in Halo 3, we’re aware of some other issues that are causing ruckuss and rage in the ever-vociferous Halo community. One of the armor permutations for the Elite model – the Commando shoulders – isn’t unlocking properly for anyone. This is a code-related bug and something that we’re aware of and looking into. Fixes in Halo 3 are pretty complicated and when you adjust one thing, it can turn out like that sci-fi movie where dudes went back in time to see dinosaurs and when one of them stepped on a butterfly it somehow eradicated humanity’s future. We’re trying to not eradicate futures, folks, but we are looking into a number of issues and possible tweaks going forward.
Other dudes report their screenshots either aren’t uploading at all or are taking ages and eternities to upload to the Web site. This is an issue we’re aware of and looking into. The issue is related to the autosave and upload feature for screenshots not collecting data properly, and while it’s unfortunate that it’s not working as intended, there is a feasible workaround. In order to expedite the appearance of screenshots, you can upload them into your File Share, and because we prioritize the data in the share, you should see results quickly. We know it’s not the most elegant solution in human history and top men are working on permanent fixes.
Last month, Halo 3’s Hoppers received a handful of changes and tweaks, most notably, perhaps, reducing the frequent appearance of Shotty/Snipers was appearing in Team Slayer. This update, due early next week, includes a more robust list of changes, tweaks and adjustments to Halo 3’s Matchmaking. We’re continuing to take pretty long looks at Community feedback in the Optimatch forum (among other places) and tracking hopper data so that we can continue to improve the hoppers regularly.
Here’s the list (remember these changes aren’t live right this very moment, but they will be early next week):
Social Doubles has been removed from matchmaking
Rocket Race Hopper has been added to the Social hopper – 8 players, join in parties of up to 8 players.
- Hammerzeit game variant has been added
- The frequency of VIP gametypes has been reduced
- Swords gametypes will now be to 25 kills, rather than 50
- Player count has been increased to 6 players
- Swords gametype has been added
- Oddball games on Snowbound and Epitaph have been reduced considerably
- Guardian has been added to the playlist
- Valhalla has been added to Team Slayer
- Flag gametypes will now appear more regularly
- Added both Construct and Isolation to several gametypes
Last week, I talked about a new map, “Art Vandelay” and how revising the object system in Forge has led to some pretty interesting creative possibilities in Vandelay’s playspace. Earlier this week, Downloadable Content Producer Allen Murray mentioned a few other types of objects making their way to those wiley DLC maps.
In addition to the customization the Forge currently offers, DLC maps include the ability to place Mancannons (with varying trajectories), a couple of different sized Shield Doors and some vehicles will see a variety of tweaks. There are a couple of still-secret, still-in testing adjustments and changes that come to classic Halo vehicles. To say that these changes are the intersection between hysterical and tactical would be a pretty drastic understatement. Other less risque changes coming to vehicles include environment-specific decals being applied to vehicles and certain vehicles have had their weapon systems modified so that they behave differently in multiplayer combat.
All of that teasing aside, in the extremely near future we’re going to have much more in the way of cold, hard DLC-related fact and much less in the way of gimmicky names and vague descriptions. Things are in motion and the DLC bullet train is making a bee line straight for your face.
777,777,777 And Counting...
Three years ago today, Halo 2 arrived at retail, so our last project is celebrating somewhere, eating delicious cake (we're not lying). In a weird coincidence, Roger Wolfson came up and told me that, "At the current pace tomorrow will be the 777,777,777th game of Halo 2 played on Xbox Live." Given the current pace of Halo 3's gameplay, we're on track to hit that number of games played at this time next year. The Wolf(son) says that games of Halo 3 are being played three times as fast as its older sibling.
In just a few short weeks, and just in time for the holidays (yes, we planned it that way) the two disc Halo 3 Original Soundtrack will make its way out of production facilities and into your CD players. Composed and written by our own Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, the Original Soundtrack is an aural adventure through the events of Halo 3. The events of Halo 3 are recounted musically in the order they occured, making the two-disc set an experience from Sierra 117 to the game's stirring conclusion.
Much to Marty's chagrin I've had Mp3's of the soundtrack on my work machine for the last few months, he promised certain and vicious death were they to leave the office and if I put them on a portable music player and tried to leave, somehow he'd know, but the reason I needed them was for research. See, next week Marty is going to sit down with Ske7ch and me on the Bungie Studios Podcast and we'll play bits, pieces and chunks from the upcoming soundtrack and listen to Marty discuss composing the music for Halo 3 and the Halo trilogy. Stay tuned.