In this week’s Weekly Update you will not find:
- An announcement of Bungie’s next project
- The unveiling of a never-before seen map
- A series of 60-word teases, tickles and vagaries about maps you haven’t seen and won’t see for many moons
- New Screenshots from Ghost Town, Moonlight Sonata or Cotton Balls
- Apparently too subtle interviews about the evolution of a control scheme that gives insight into Bungie’s workflow and creative process
- Announcement of a relationship between Bungie and some near-equally rad company
- Pictures of cats
The Ides of March
Earlier this week, we detailed a bunch of changes that slammed face first into Matchmaking. Here’s a quick retread of the changelist and what that should mean to players.
- Fixed map exploit on The Pit
- Fixed map exploit on Construct
- Fixed map exploit on Epitaph
- Reduced Ranked Big Team Battle "Large party" size to six players and increased Big Team threshold to two*
- Fixed Spartan Laser occasionally falling through map on Sandtrap
- Fixes to matchmaking to allow more even leveling for players
- Disabled Mixed Skill restrictions for RBTB and Team Slayer**
*The reduction in "Large Party" size for Ranked Big Team battle does not affect the total amount of players in a given game, but rather is a change to the system and what it "considers" a big party. A few weeks ago we changed that number to seven and found that it did not decrease matching times significantly, and so we're adjusting that number. Ultimately, we want to have Ranked Big Team evolve into a playlist where you go as a large team to fight other large teams -- now we've changed the system so that Large Teams are considered parties of six or more instead of seven or more.
We've adjusted the threshold to allow teams of six to now match with teams of six, seven, and eight players, where before, an eight-player team would only match against a team of seven or eight, now an eight player will match against a six, seven or eight player team. We're still keeping some restriction because we don't want the Ranked Experience to be a bunch of "organized teams" steamrolling a collection of solo players. We hope that these two changes (along with the below change) will improve the Ranked Big Team matching experience. We'll be monitoring this closely, going forward.
**Parties are considered "Mixed Skill" when there is a spread between the highest skill and lowest skill is greater than 10 levels. In matchmaking, when your party has mixed skill the system tries to match you up with similarly mixed skill parties. Now, in Ranked Big Team and Team Slayer when your party is "Mixed" you will be able to match against parties that do not have "mixed skills" associated with them.
A bunch of folks asked about the “fixes to matchmaking to allow more even leveling for players” and since we didn’t give an asterisk’d explanation of it here’s some more information on that change:
Previously, the Skill assessment system (the one that is determining your rank) would devalue games that took place in Mixed Skill conditions to discourage the rapid boosting that was pretty prevalent in Halo 2. In a Mixed Skill scenario the value of the game quality (think of it like the amount of points you’d “earn” toward your next level) was previously 1/100th of what it would be in a situation where you were not in a Mixed Party. The net result of this is extremely slow advancement of the displayed Skill.
The fix significantly eases the restrictions on Mixed Parties, meaning that players will level quicker than they were previously.
Right now, folks are online playing Grifball – the RvB-Forged game and map variant in one of our new DoubleXP Weekend Playlists. As previously stated, you do need to have acquired the Heroic Map Pack in order to play in this week’s DoubleXP Weekend playlist. This month’s second DoubleXP weekend, Team SWAT (beginning March 20th at noon) will not require the Heroic Map Pack.
Each week (beginning late next week and continuing through March) here on Bungie.net we’ll have new information, images and details from the rest of the Legendary Map pack.
It's Raining Maps
We’re not announcing a specific date just yet, hints, allegations and things left unsaid are still hanging in the air like the echo of a bad chorus from a Collective Soul song, but the Legendary Map Pack, which includes the recently-discussed Ghost Town will be coming to Xbox Live Marketplace soon.
Additionally, once the Heroic Map Pack becomes free, we’ve decided that in order to increase the frequency of appearance for these maps in regular matchmaking – there’s no way to “force” all players to download the maps, but we can limit access to hoppers based on content detected on your Xbox – players will be required to have the Heroic DLC maps in order to access the following announced playlists: Ranked BTB, Social BTB, Team Slayer and Rocket Race.
We’re ramping up the DoubleXP weekends in March and continuing that trend in April and pending the success of Grifball and SWAT, it’s a safe bet that both of those gametypes will see returns. Additionally, folks have asked to see a weekend of Infection return and right this very moment we’re trying to find some good community Zombie maps that we could possibly incorporate (feel free to shoot me a PM here on Bungie.net if you have a particularly devious Infection map).
In the frothy wake of the Legendary Map Pack’s release, we’ll be launching a weekend-long DoubleXP playlist that requires the Legendary DLC for the experience.
Just like Grifball is and SWAT will be, these DoubleXP Weekend playlists are also another opportunity to receive the Reconnaissance Raiment.
A few weeks ago we pointed users to MLG’s first ever ESPN Halo 3 Top 10 and we were interested in Strongside’s creation of the Halo 3 Spawn Trap (it’s number two on the countdown and in Bungie Favorites right now [slot 14]), was the film an exposure of a bug? Multiplayer designer Tyson Green investigated and sent this info-heavy report back:
“A clip of this film was graciously supplied to us, and we've determined that everything is operating By Design.
What happens here is that Blue lost four players in the shotgun corner almost immediately prior to the spawn camp. This resulted in that corner having an extremely negative weight (-2000), ruling it out as a spawning area. Meanwhile, a red player was crossing the middle to grab the flag, ruling out those spawn points too (-1000, plus an additional penalty from his enemy bias, so probably -1100). Another red player was standing on top of their sniper tower, so those points are also off limits (-1000 to -1100).
The following happens in rapid succession:
- One blue player spawns in the spawn trap, and dies. Those points are now -500.
- A second player spawns, but because all of the other points are -2000 or -1000, he spawns on the -500 points. He dies immediately. Those points are now -1000.
- A third player spawns, but the -1000 points are STILL better than any other available points. However, because he's there, his teammate positive influence is bringing these points up to -900.
- A fourth player spawns at a -900 point. The third player dies literally 2-3 frames later, followed by the fourth player. These points are now -2000.
- A blue player spawns back in their base, where we'd expect him to. The cycle is broken.
The dead teammate influences have a duration of 20 seconds, so they are starting to decay towards the end of this episode, and I expect spawning has returned to normal at this point. It's basically a perfect storm of Red dominating the Blue team.
Note that on the default version of this map, the respawn zone is larger, and there are some backup points above the flag that likely would have come into play.”
Frank took a break from his restful afternoons in the Northwest's only Turkish bath to send this along:
“The More You Know: Plasma Pistol
Did you know… that when you charge up your Plasma Pistol (for that noob combo you’re workin’ on) you can actually let off the analog trigger very gently and slowly – and the Plasma charge is extinguished safely. This doesn’t have many practical applications, but it does mean that you don’t have to give away your position to everyone in the map with an unwanted Plasma burst. Adrian Perez implemented this feature during the Beta on the request of Swah and Jaime Griesemer. The most interesting thing of all is practicing it – it’s a lot harder to pull off than it sounds. Give it a try next time you play.
The More You Know: Screenshots
Everyone knows our hi-res screenshots get a boost in size and quality when they are uploaded to the website. But if you’ve ever wondered how and what, then read on.
Bungie graphics engineer Chris Tchou talked me through some of that technique.
Halo 3 screenshots are just hi-resolution renderings, directly from the normal game engine.
The initially rendered resolution is 3840 x 2160, but as you’ll see, that’s not what you end up with.
The 360 doesn’t have the memory to render at this resolution (especially while the game is running), so we render the image in 16 tiles and then crop and stitch them together. The final image is converted to the standard PC color space (from our ‘special’ 360 color space), downsampled to 1920 x 1080 (with a simple box filter), compressed to a jpeg on your xbox, and transmitted to bungie.net. That downsampling is where much of the “anti-aliasing” comes from.
The only tricks that are played during the rendering are to do with that jumbo magnification. The bloom filtering switches to a smooth bspline instead of bilinear – this gets rid of a subtle blocky appearance of the bloom on super bright lights which becomes more apparent in a high resolution shot.
Some textures are bumped to use 8x or 16x anisotropic sampling – this makes some ground and wall textures more detailed at farther distances, though it also has the side-effect of making tiling patterns more obvious. All of the post-processing is simply designed to make the big uploaded images function, and not be janky messes of obvious tiling.
Almost all of our LOD (Level of Detail) is based on the size of the pixels in an object. So when you are rendering at higher resolution, everything renders with more pixels, and will therefore use a higher LOD.
All of this will be old news to PC owners, who’ve been seeing roughly the same thing for about 12 years.