It is not even a real day today. It's the 29th of February, which ostensibly is a false day 75% of the years since the calendar was invited by the Teamsters invented the Gregorian calendar in 1952. Because of this I tried to convince Frank that we didn't need to do a Weekly Update, but he just said that meant he didn't have to draw Mister Chief.
As I mentioned a Humpday or two ago, I've recently changed my control scheme in Halo 3 from Default to the ascended zen-state of Bumper Jumper. Normally, I wouldn't think someone changing their control scheme is particularly interesting, but as I'm picking up controllers in the playtest lab every day, more and more of them are set to Bumper Jumper which means one of two things:
Chatting with Eamon this week at the coffee machine he said that Bumper Jumper was at one point in consideration to be the "Default" control scheme for Halo 3, so I tracked down Adrian Perez (Engineer), Jaime Griesemer (Sandbox Design Lead), and of course, Eamon McKenzie (Engineer, brother in Jumper), to see where Bumper Jumper came from. In case you're wondering, Bumper Jumper is two clicks left of Default on the Button Layout menu: Click twice to ascend.
- I'm always playing where Eamon has sat.
- More folks internally are trying out the control scheme
- Frank says that when you look for patterns, you find them and it is an early indicator of madness.
Bumper Jumper as it shipped in Halo 3 is just two buttons different from the “Default configuration” it swaps Jump and Melee with Reload Left and Action/reload right, where’d the idea for this control scheme come from?
Jaime Griesemer: There were lots of ideas about how to move the Halo Controls to the 360 controller. One of them was based on the idea that a really skilled played would want to have all their combat abilities available without moving their hands around on the controller. It turned out to be a little uncomfortable and confusing for most players, but it made sense to include it as an option for advanced players.
Adrian Perez: Bumper Jumper as a control scheme doesn’t really have an ‘origin’ per se; when we first got a look at the 360 controllers the end use of the bumpers was obviously the first thing we were thinking about (being the primary difference from The Duke and Pals). Unlike the face buttons the bumpers let you perform actions while you still have both your thumbs on the sticks - Once the more bombastically inclined players amongst us clicked the bumpers a few times, the thought “I want jump and melee on these things” just appeared in the cloud.
At what point in development did this control scheme surface?
JG: We first put it in during pre-production when we were trying to figure out what the default scheme ought to be. But you could only access it via the debug console. It didn’t show up as an option you could choose through the UI until relatively late, the last couple months.
Eamon McKenzie: The bumper jumper control scheme was envisioned basically as soon as we saw the 360 controller. Initially we thought that that melee would be on the left bumper because that would allow transition from firing to melee in the minimum amount of time; if you use just your index finger for both hitting the triggers and bumpers then there is some amount of time necessary to move your right index finger from fire to melee. During play testing it was realized that you couldn’t jump while holding an overcharged plasma pistol with this configuration so we move melee to the right bumper.
AP: The concept for the control scheme was floating around in the ether since we got the 360 controls, but the primary scheme evolved in a way that the action context buttons (x and y from halo2) moved up to the bumpers for various reasons. The actual bug to implement Bumper Jumper came in from design in Feb ’07, but with the pressure of the Alpha Beta Gaga the bug got kicked around some overstuffed dev plates and was on the chopping block by the beginning of May.
How long did it take for Bumper Jumper to go from dream to reality?
AP: When Chris Butcher and I joined the ship march around May ’07 it meant a bunch of fit-and-finish style bugs that otherwise would have gotten cut could make it in. One of the first things I ended up doing was the Bumper Jumper config (the code side, mapping the selection in the player profile to changed controller buttons). The code-side part of it was simple (it’s just 2 button swaps and we already have a framework for adding button configurations) From there it went to the designers to verify, then to the UI guys to hook it up to the in-game menus, then to Test, then back to me to fix a couple bugs (it’s actually 3 button swaps, the ‘banshee bomb’ button is separate from melee and people were bombing-and-bailing when hitting b). At the point in development we were in, the complexity of the change from an implementation perspective was pretty irrelevant (maybe 3 total man hours of work spread among 3-5 people), but from a production/test perspective it was a scarier proposition, if only because there were so many other things being tracked simultaneously.
Were there any other control schemes that ended up on the cutting room floor?
JG: Oh yeah. The difficulty with making control schemes is that different buttons have physically different features. You can’t put the Primary Trigger on a button, for instance, because it doesn’t have the analog range necessary to make the Plasma Pistol work. You can’t put the camera controls on the d-pad because it doesn’t have a click function for zoom. That means we can’t just let people completely customize their controls, so we try to anticipate all the different options people might want. What if someone is a dedicated sniper and they want zoom on a trigger? What if they want to crouch a lot and need it on the d-pad? What if they do nothing but jumping tricks and they want Jump to replace the Primary Trigger? In the end most of these control schemes don’t offer enough of an improvement to be worth the effort.
AP: The location of PTT (Push-To-Talk), especially after the gates got opened a little bit with the late addition of bumper jumper, turned into a rather epic holy war inside the studio. After many long arguments and passioned pleas, we got totally sick of listening to Bob's [Glessner] hormonally tumultuous whining and added Walkie Talkie. That was the survivor of the last great control scheme battle, and many other warriors entered the ring.
Was Bumper Jumper ever considered as a candidate for the default scheme?
JG: It was for awhile. But we decided it was too different from the Halo 1/2 layout. It sounds odd in retrospect, but we were really concerned about changing the default control scheme at all. Half the team thought it was a terrible decision that would alienate all our fans. Also, in our user research testing a lot of people found it uncomfortable and it lead to hand fatigue. If you are using all your fingers all the time, you don’t have any left over to just grip the controller.
EM: Although bumper jumper is less intuitive than the default control scheme in general it actually has one usage scenario where is more intuitive than the default scheme. When piloting the banshee with bumper jumper the banshee bomb button is on the right bumper and the banshee trick button is the on the left bumper. Therefore when piloting a banshee with bumper jumper all the offensive capabilities (main gun and bomb) are accessed with the right index finger and all the movement modifiers (boost and tricks) are accessed with the left index finger.
AP: The needs of the default scheme users are vastly different than the kind of power-user that wants to jump around and over a guy, while flipping around in midair and meleeing him from behind. Having the default use of the bumpers be for action contexts had a bunch of nice things shake out of it (having the weapon HUD’s, prompts, and pickup/reload buttons on ‘top left’ and ‘top right’ flowed really naturally). The other killer app for the default control scheme was dual-wield reloading. As varied and storied the philosophical objections I have to dual wielding are, even my icy heart was warmed the first time I emptied two spike rifles into a brute captain and hit both bumpers to reload both weapons. There is some weird ephemeral monkey brain Neo-in-the-lobby power in that interaction.
What’s the iterative process like on control schemes? How does testing get tracked for “is this control scheme working” and worth shipping?
JG: Adrian would implement it in the code, and let the Designers access it through the debug console. Then we would just play with it for a couple days to see if it was usable. We would bring “regular gamers” in to our labs to see how they reacted to it. Then we put it into the UI and the Test department would pound on it for awhile.
EM: Although the Xbox360 bumpers were far superior to the black and white buttons from the xbox 1 controller they actually made the control scheme design process more complicated. On one hand we had the more intuitive and backwards compatible with halo2 default control scheme and the more efficient, but harder to learn bumper jumper control scheme. Halo tries hard to be a game that ramps the player up well from a newbie to a pro, for halo1 and halo2 the most efficient control scheme also the most intuitive and the default, but with halo3 we had to move away from principal a bit; a halo2 player will feel most comfortable playing halo3 default, but will eventually want to switch to bumper jump if they want to continue getting better.
For what it’s trying to accomplish are there any changes that could be made to Bumper Jumper going forward that could improve the scheme even further?
JG: Well, Bumper Jumper is really designed for highly competitive play. The kind of situation where the fraction of a second it takes to move your thumb to the face buttons is the difference between winning and losing. I could see making PTT a little more accessible somehow. But a lot of times the pro players are in the same room anyway, so maybe it’s not that important.
EM: I think it would be useful to allow the player to swap the capabilities of the left and right bumper, especially for those who play with both their index finger and middle fingers. Personally I play with just my index fingers, but that just because I don’t want to develop carpal tunnel syndrome for the sake of being better at halo.
AP: Not without cutting functionality.
Tons and tons of your questions answered (sort of)
A Deaf Boy asks:
What is the next tourney? How long will it last?
We’ll be bringing weekend tournament hoppers out more regularly beginning this Spring.
Will there be any more Social Playlists like Rocket Race put in (infection, swat, et cetera)?
It’s safe to say there will be changes to the Social playlists over the game’s lifespan. In the immediate future, there will be new stuff to do with the Weekend Playlists.
When will we get to see new pics of the other new maps?
Have patience. Have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient you only start to worry.
Will there be a release date for the map pack.
If there wasn’t a release date it would just sit at Bungie forever and then I’d only have to play it against Bungie folks and then I’d have like a 4 kp/d and be a level 50 in all hoppers in an evening. Wait, a second…
Will there ever be a Team Snipers or Team SWAT playlist in the future?
Team Snipers and Team SWAT are two of the most requested playlists and we’re definitely aware of that, in fact, there’s even a dedicated thread in Optimatch to discuss the playlist. Deduce from that what thou wilst.
Any plans for weapon changes like BR spread or grenade splash damage?
The oh-so-controversial spread in the Battle Rifle is something we continue to look at, but right now the weapon is performing “by design.” For some helpful hints on maximizing your BR check here.
Any plans for adjustments to MM party restrictions or mixed party restrictions?
Absolutely. We’re looking at both party restrictions and mixed party restrictions and how changing those values will affect things like match times and ranking curves and we’ll be making changes to those things after we’ve completed the necessary investigations.
Legitt Legit asks:
Are there any intentions on making [sic] a foundry like map set in the open instead of a warehouse?
Reception to Foundry has been really positive. We’re impressed with the types of content that folks have created with the tools at their disposal. The Dr Whom asks:
Is there any concern that in the new melee fix two hammer attacks can kill each other or that a regular melee and a sword can kill each other?
Why would there be a concern? If that’s what happens, then that’s what happens. The system is designed to cause a fair outcome based on health, shields, timing – as best as can be done with the realities of latency. Think about the number of simultaneous deaths that happened in olde worlde pistol duels. Or even sword duels.
Shady K1llaz asks:
When are we going to see fire grenades in Matchmaking?
Fire grenades are a huge performance hog – so while they’re a fun addition to Customs, they would cause significant horror in a big matchmaking game. That’s not to say you never will, but in this case the downside outweighs the benefits.
Carton O Spartan asks:
Any possible chance of Grifball in Social?
More Grifball news in the near future.
What exactly were you [Bungie] looking for in the Valentine’s Day tournament? (edit: it was mentioned that you wanted to test something specific in this playlist in regards to tournament mechanics....this is what I am referring to) And, the AU1....from a development perspective, are the results as expected? Anything unexpected?
Nothing unexpected. Folks seemed to enjoy the rapid leveling with a sort of goal-minded feel. More vitally, it was testing boring, but useful matchmaking tools. We will be using this data and experience to increase the variety and frequency of playlist updates. And we have some news about a related new hire coming soon, too.
Also, (though I know the time is a long way off) can we have any mysterious Frankie-isms on Bungie’s next project?
Is it true that Recon is unlockable. I'm not asking for hints or for recon itself. Just wondering if it is truly unlockable.
No, it is NOT UNLOCKABLE. Bungie has to gift it to you. So please don’t spam mailboxes, or come up with crazy schemes. It will be a natural organic process. Bungie will give it to folks who’re cool, do something nice, play well, perform good deeds, whatever. They will NOT give it to anyone who harasses or harangues them. And don't complain about the vague criteria either, or you go on the "complainer" list of no Recon.
Gears of Led Zep asks:
How many new maps are still in production for Halo 3? Mentioned and unmentioned.
A bunch. At least three, probably more. We won’t reveal the exact number because it could change – and we don’t want to overpromise.
Any classic Halo CE remakes in the works?
We would not discuss that, nor reveal it in this fashion. Anything is possible. Nothing is certain.
Will the waaaaaaaaaaaambulance be returning?
The waaaaaaaaaahmbulance is always cruising for “little brother” accident victims.
Will Push to talk ever be fixed or removed?
No, because it works. It can be annoying, but remember, this is to salvage valuable bandwidth, not work your nerves. If we “fixed” it, we’d compromise other elements of the game and you would be even less happy. Making a game is all about balancing resources. This is one of those necessary compromises.
Why is it when I win a game I’m called a cheater, then when I lose I’m called a noob?
The Internets are a cruel and evil set of tubes.
A long time ago, in darker, unstable times, Bungie was thrashed mercilessly. Their broken, withered bodies fell lifelessly to the rocks at the bottom of a deep ravine, tossed aside by the aggressors that moments ago had cut their way through Bungie's ranks like a fell lumberjack passing through a forest.
Battered and beaten, but not belly up, a single voice, quivering and choked with tears, rose up from that darkest place, piercing the silence of the battlefield:
"We'll see you in the Halo 3 beta, jerks."
Time passes, and so does the beta. The windy hills of Valhalla soak in the blood of countless battles. None of those battles, however, contain the promised revenge. What happened to this forgotten war? What became of the fighting spirit that drove the last voice to demand justice? What governed the decision to neglect this final epic stand?
I'll tell you what I think. Fear drove Bungie to burrow further into the darkness. I can smell it in their posts. So vicious, so violent was the thrashing they received that even to recall the previous battle forces them to shrink away and cower. Fear reminds them that such a brutal routing could easily happen again, a possibility that their minds simply cannot bear to imagine. Bungie is afraid.
Care to prove me wrong?
This is not a question. Please enjoy your three day ban. Reason? Lord British impersonation.
I’m wondering if we might see any new armor perms in the near future? Maybe a helmet that looks like Frankie’s head?
Our armor-creating artists see no challenge in creating a perm that is basically a circle with a frown on it.
Shinzen declares with poison on his tongue:
When are you going to stop trying to be mysterious with your information? It was cute for the first 5 years or so, but now it's just stupid.
It's not quite as retarded as the "hype machine" CliffyB (the internets only rockstar OMG!) mentioned recently, but it's pretty close.
Seriously. Get over yourselves and make with the info.
Ah, that would be telling! Let’s just say that information about information will be forthcoming!
Can I have Ling Ling’s head instead of Recon?
Every time we have tried to give away Ling Ling’s head to a Bungie staffer, they have refused. The idea of it toppling over and making a vinegary mess of deceased dog head seems to put people off.
Have you considered releasing DLC armor perms based off of the community’s designs in “Custom Armor Variants: Original Designs/Post Yours” thread?
That’s a great idea, but new armor perms are not very likely. The system simply wasn’t set up that way to begin with. Adding armor simply isn’t all that simple.
Xbox Live has not yet implemented any type of clan matching and I have not found any information that they intend to... How would clan matches be implemented for Halo3 in the future?
We don’t have any idea about future plans for Xbox Live clan implementation. However, there is already a “hack” that works surprisingly well for mini-clans. You simply make a new Silver Account, (IceSharkClan, for example) and using the Friends of Friends visibility, you can have your clan members use that friend as a hub around which to gather the Clan. That account never needs to actually play – just provide Clan visibility. It actually works really well and even allows for multiple clan memberships. As for matchmaking inclusion, that’s a complicated issue – but we will have some more news about more competitive matchmaking hoppers soon.
Is the Mancannon Pach1nko Horror an early design of the inevitable of the Giant Slingshot scheduled in your 7-Step Guide To World Domination?
"After they left, we participated in a test of something quite amazing and unlike anything we’ve ever done before. That test was a glorious success. I wish I could tell you about it, but that’s for the distant future…"
This is from the Bungie update for the week of Feb 1st, any details as to when you can reveal details about what this was?
Nope. Not for ages. Still proceeding well, however.
Currently, only a handful of the pieces of Equipment are in use in matchmaking, namely the bubble shield, regenerator, trip mine and energy drain. Are there any plans to incorporate other items, or to change the mix at all for variety? Items such as the stationary turret could add some new tactics to MP. I'd personally love to see the flare added back in, as well as heavier availability of the radar jammer, especially in CTF and Assault gametypes.
Again, a new hire we have planned should be able to react faster than we can at the moment. He’ll be a mildly familiar face, too. We can’t promise miraculous changes all of a sudden – the realities of test and matchmaking mean that evolution is more likely than revolution, but you will notice more varied stuff very soon.
In the case of the Flare and the Radar Jammer, those objects had physics properties that let folks do things they shouldn't have been doing.
Is there going to be more tournaments, like the Valentines Day tournament?
Will you give a straight answer to any questions concerning Bungie's future projects or anything else of a similar nature?