Welcome to another installment of the Bungie Weekly Update! Before we dive in, a few caveats are in order. First off, you've already noticed that Luke and Frank aren't writing this, Shishka and I are. You'll read about Luke's whereabouts below. Frank on the other hand is sitting on a tropical beach somewhere sipping a frozen fruity beverage with a small umbrella garnish. With us at the helm, this should explain the lack of witty prose and the inevitable typo or two throughout the story. The plus side to this is that you don’t have to wait until 6PM to read it. Second, you likely won’t find any huge new bombs being dropped here today with the exception of a particularly juicy matchmaking playlist update from Shish and a cool special offer for Legendary Map Pack purchasers. Now that we've cleared that up, let's get on with the show...
Luke is out of the office attending the MLG season opener at Meadowlands in New York. He’s finally pursuing his dreams of becoming a professional Halo player. Yeah, right. In all likelihood, he’s realizing that while he’s “pretty good” around here, he’s nowhere near the level of play of the pros. That’s all good though, he’s mostly there to mingle and check out the action in addition to showing off the upcoming Legendary maps. If you live anywhere near there, stop by and check out the tournament, see the maps and of course, give Luke a hard time. I hear if you ask him enough in person, he may even give you Recon armor. Just something I heard. You can get more details about the MLG Meadowlands event HERE.
Legendary Map Pack Promotion
By now everyone should be well aware of the impending release of the Halo 3 map pack in just a few short days (4/15). A lot of people are asking exactly WHEN will the new maps be available to download? We're not completely certain yet but they should be up there by late morning on 4/15 (PDT). On Tuesday we'll let you know as soon as we get the word from the LIVE team.
Hopefully by now you've already had a chance to check out the cornucopia of movies and screenshots we've put out over the past few weeks. On Wednesday we played a special humpday match on the new maps which now includes a cool video that I've made available over at Fyreball. And if you missed it, the latest Bungie Podcast is also Legendary in nature.
We’re happy to announce that there will be a special limited-time promotional offer for those of you who purchase the Legendary map pack. Everyone who buys the new maps between now and a to-be-determined cutoff date will be awarded a special four month subscription to Bungie PRO. For the unfamiliar, Bungie PRO is our special service that dramatically increases your Halo 3 file share ability. You get 24 storage slots and a maximum of 250MB compared to the default 6 slots and 25 MB. Bungie PRO is normally sold as an annual subscription for 750 points. You can read more about the service itself in this old story from Roger.
The great part is that nothing is required of you. All you need to do is purchase the maps and then play one game on Xbox LIVE (customs or matchmaking) using your Gold account (trial accounts are not valid). Then, magically, within 24 hours you will have Bungie PRO access for four months. People who already have Bungie PRO will get four months added to the end of their current subscription.
When your four month promotional subscription expires, you’ll have the option of either removing your files that exceed the default limits or renewing it for an annual subscription. None of your files will be deleted by us but you won’t be able to upload anything else until you've gotten your file back within the 6 slot/25 MB limit.
Obviously this may not appeal to everyone out there but we’re happy to at least be able to offer this little bonus to those of you who choose to purchase the maps. For those of you who are still on the fence… please be aware that as we've previously stated, we are not currently aware of any plans to make these maps available for free.
News Unfit for Anyone with Eyes
The Submit News function is an under utilized (maybe rightfully so) feature on Bungie.net that is a holdover from simpler times. In principle the button is a way for regular ol' users to submit News to the News Queue on Bungie.net. That News Queue gets looked through and news is approved for consumption by the general populous on the front page (almost never) or rejected (almost inevitably). Today is the first, and possibly only look, at what festers within the News Queue - the Whambulance of Illiteracy.
Shishka's Matchmaking Playlist Update
Two weeks have gone by, and I haven’t been crushed under the pressure, yet? I might just make it out okay. Maybe. Probably not. This is definitely the most challenging job I’ve ever had, if for any reason because the work I do has direct impact on seven digits worth of people. Imagine how that feels and try not to panic. Luckily for me, there’s always work to focus on, so I should be able to maintain my grip on sanity for at least a little while longer.
Let’s talk a little about making matches in the month of May.
The podcast is out, now, and for those that haven’t listened to it yet, we mention that we’re adding Team SWAT as a full time ranked playlist in May. This decision was made after spending some time looking long and hard at the numbers provided by the weekend SWAT playlists. The Double XP weekends are always really popular, but SWATs popularity was simply astronomical, and we couldn’t deny it a place in the roster. After some consideration, we have decided that the MLG playlist will be joined by SWAT in a new “Hardcore” category, moving MLG out of the “Community” category it currently exists in. That isn’t the last you’ve heard of the Community category, mind you. It’s just taking a break for now.
So, for May, the full-time playlist load out will look a little like this:
• Lone Wolves
• Team Slayer
• Team Objective
• Team Doubles
• Ranked Big Team
• Rumble Pit
• Social Slayer
• Social Skirmish
• Big Team Social
• Multi Team
• Rocket Race
• DLC Slayer
• DLC Objective
Eagle-eyed readers will note the omission of Team Control. This was not an accident; Team Control will be retiring as of the first of May.
Ranked Big Team
The rest of the May changes mainly involve modifications to the existing hoppers. Perhaps the most significant of these is Ranked Big Team Battle. Due to a rather awkward skill spread, players jumping into RBTB have been having trouble getting games. The problem stems from the fact that we try to match people within 10 levels above or below of each other. The majority of players are in the 1-10 bracket, with the curve dropping dramatically after 15. So, players whose level is 20 or higher are having trouble getting into games due to a low population of similarly skilled players. Ever gone into RBTB with your friends and waited forever to find a match? Blame your friend that’s level 25.
To remedy the matchmaking delays in RBTB, we’re going to try something a little different. Specifically, we’re increasing the search spread to 15, rather than the normal 10. This should increase the number of matches made, as well as alleviate some of the matching difficulty mid-level users are experiencing. High-level users may still have some slower times, but this should get better as more low and mid-level matches are made, giving more people the opportunity to rank up. Besides, how the hell did you get to 40 when nobody else has even been able to make a match?
Another significant change to ranked matchmaking is that mixed team restrictions have been turned off across all ranked hoppers. What does this mean for players? Well, mixed team restrictions sought to ensure that teams of varying levels of skill matched with other teams of that were mixed in an attempt to give these groups an evenly matched game. By removing this restriction, players in mixed skill groups will see faster matchmaking results. The consequences, however, is that mixed skill groups will now match with even-skilled groups, resulting in potentially more challenging games.
With the release of the Legendary Map Pack next week, a lot of players are going to be hoping to get their matchmaking on with their three new maps. For April, the best way to do this will be using DLC category playlists, which focus almost entirely on the Legendary map pack, with some heroic maps sprinkled in for good measure. The maps will also be integrated into regular matchmaking. However, as people discovered with the Heroic map pack, matchmaking into DLC maps when the maps are optional is very rare. The reason for this is that Halo queries users to see if everyone has the map pack after they’ve been matched, rather than before. There’s no easy fix for this, I’m afraid, though we’re looking at the best way to remedy it. In the meanwhile, we don’t want people downloading the Legendary map pack to feel alienated. As such, Team SWAT will be Legendary required, as will weekend hoppers (save Grifball). Legendary will be integrated into standard matchmaking as well, but will not be a requirement.
Double XP Weekends
Double XP weekends continue well into May with Team Snipers replacing Team SWAT as a weekend spot. Grifball will make a return with the Spring League map variant and gametype. The other three weekends I’m keeping in my pocket for now. One in particular hasn’t been done yet and should yield some entertaining reactions from the community. We’ve been playtesting for a while now, and each session has been full of frivolity, excitement, and shouting. Lots of shouting. Good times, to be sure.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, the best place to put them (assuming you can do so in a civil way!) is Bungie’s own Optimatch forum. I’ll try to get back to you when I can. Matchmaking is a big meal, and I’m a busy chef. It wouldn’t be so busy around here, though, if perhaps Frankie could stop eating all the pies: