Bungie Weekly Update: 5/16/2008
Posted by lukems at 5/16/2008 4:41 PM PDT

Ranked Big Team

A chart of the Ranked Big Team Battle playlist population would show a steady decline in activity over the past few months. Despite addressing countless issues for the playlist, players are still reporting incredible amounts of trouble finding matches. Unfortunately, the matching difficulties have led to a Mosesian exodus out of the Playlist.

The problems with matching in Ranked Big Team Battle are multilayered. First, and most obviously, there is an incredible amount of skill gap in the Playlist's population. An imbalanced percentage of players are clumped at very low levels and then play beside higher level players, which resulted in lower game quality ratings (a metric that Trueskill uses to assess how valuable the game data will be) and then people leveled slower. Trueskill pushed some players were to high levels where they became outliers in the population and had an extremely difficult time finding games. Because of low game quality ratings earlier on, people didn’t rank as fast as expected and the skill gap didn’t close fast enough to increase matching times. We alleviated the matching strain caused by those scenarios by lifting mixed party restrictions.

Second, in a 16-player game that’s 16 NAT connections that have to find a way to work together, which can prove problematic when it comes to Matching. Since Social playlists allow guests (and often games include them) that’s fewer NAT connections that Matchmaking has to account for – which in turn, speeds matching times. Solving that problem is a bit more complicated and it’s imperative that players make sure their NAT connections are open. To open your NAT follow the loose instructions here (actual instructions will vary based on your particular router).

Now, as we’re [and by “we’re” I mean Shishka, Test and Networking Engineers, that stuff is just crazy numbers and space gibberish to me] are poring through hopper files trying to figure out what else is contributing to the substandard matchmaking experience (and the subsequent dramatic population lost) fixing the Ranked Big Team Battle playlist gets even more challenging because there are no players in the Playlist. The Playlist’s problems drive people from the playlist and then with no people playing we can’t do our due diligence researching to fix it. The problem is cyclical and frustrating – especially since so many of us (and you, we know) are Ranked Big Team fans.

It’s entirely possible that Ranked Big Team Battle could go offline altogether in the foreseeable future to undergo a different type of adjustment (most of the tweaks made to playlists involve changing the gametypes, this would be a deeper, more invasive series of fixes). If the population surges again, we’ll continue collecting more data.

San Francisco Treat

Trainspotters may have noticed that Frank and I were in San Francisco this week in a show of brotherhood and camaraderie at Microsoft’s pre-E3 press day. We checked out a bunch of titles from Microsoft’s roster and answered a handful of questions about things like “downloadable content” and if there would be more of it.

Almost on cue, massive amounts of folks on the Internet have recently inquired about the state of Purple Reign and Moonbase Alpha, two maps we’ve talked about in this space before. Rest assured, those two fine maps haven’t gone anywhere other than closer to completion.

In a strange twist of fate and fortune, upon arriving at his hotel at the St. Regis and San Francisco, Frank discovered that his standard, rack rate room had been upgraded to the Presidential Suite. An upgrade action like that requires an equally powerful reaction. So after the Microsoft event was over, we threw a massive party with everything but the foam on the floor until the gentle and courteous management of the St. Regis asked us to end the evening's events (their methods for this included but were not limited to, not bringing up any more Cristal).


Frank and Aaron looked good, don't they?


A Dish Best Served Cold

A truly great Photoshopped image is a monument to behold. A masterpiece combining wit, color palettes, pixel density and pulsing with the true effort of its creator can send a volcanic blast of liquid all over a computer monitor.

There are all kinds of subjective factors in assessing an image. Did the artist capture the spirit of the image, do the colors blend realistically, does it look like it really is Frank in Pirates of the Caribbean, or does it look like someone put Frank’s mug over Johnny Depp’s face and thought that afterwards there would be a new helmet for their Spartan. Good photoshops take time, the best ones take a bit of luck, too.

Amidst the giant thread in Bungie.net’s News Forum hundreds and hundreds and hundreds more images were posted. I’ve seen so many variations of Frankiana Jones, Bond, Frank Bond, Frankolean Dynamite when I see him at work, I see photoshopped versions of him. On the Internet, things were less peaceful: The natural outcry of sore behinds  (“I did that one back on page 12, stop stealing my ideas,”) gave way to the sea of “they won’t even get to this page to look at them anyway” (I looked at every single picture in that thread, actually) and then erupted into furious multi-page arguments that consisted of vitriolic spew like, “OMG Stop posting so many links, there can only be one entry per person.”

Ease up, Highlander. This is supposed to be fun.

Some entries defied the rules. Some remade them. The Motivational Images category seemed to cause the most problems. People thought that taking a black box and slamming some white text at the bottom instantly transformed their idea into a motivational poster. Maybe I should have been a bit more vigilant about communicating what I was looking for. However, in the language of vengeance sometimes words fail.

With that out of the way, here are some of the excellent honorable mentions in this contest. To everyone who participated, Thanks for the LOLz.

(Names have been removed to protect the guilty from Frank)

Honorable Mentions: Best Use of Frank's Image in a Motivational Poster





And the Winner Is...



Both of those images were done by the same user. In fact, this guy did an entire Web site of motivational posters, but in the interest of not killing his bandwidth we're not going to link you to them. Plus, some of them were actually mean-spirited and I hate it when Frank cries.


Honorable Mentions: Best Use of Frank's Image Inspired by a Major Motion Picture







And the Winners Are...


It's not the most technically proficient photoshop of all time, but it's the thought that counts. Who doesn't want to get a body bag, yeaaaaaaaaaah?







To the poster who made the above image, we lost your information in the shuffle. Please send me a PM on Bungie.net with the link to the file and the subject line "I AM LEGEND WINNER" and your Gamertag for Recon -- anyone who isn't the winner but thinks it'd be sweet to send a PM anyway will be turned over to Shishka.


Winners for Best Use of Frank's Image in an Existing Internet Meme






It's not a meme and it's not actually a part of any of the categories, but this photoshop was so good that I had to include it. It went immediately into my "right-click Save As" folder. Masterful.

Congrats to all of the winners. I foresee more photoshop shenanigans in the months to come.


Goodnight, Sweet Pimp

On a much more serious note, hearts are heavy here at Bungie -- even the cold, shriveled prune in my chest -- as this week, Frankie announced his decision to leave the studio. As much as you all will miss Frank, Bungie will miss him that much and more. He brought a finely shaped dome, spot-on writing and a much-needed Scottish lilt to Bungie. Good luck, Broconnor.

A note from Frank and one final Mister Chief are below:



"Dear BungieFans,

It’s not you, it’s me.
 
In many ways, you’re too good for me. You can find someone better. Maybe a little hairy dude. Maybe a Hungarian Unicyclist. I just know that I don’t deserve you, and that this is just as hard for me as it is for you.
 
Yours truly,
 
Frankie.
 
 
I am leaving you. I am off to work more closely with Microsoft on the Halo franchise, so I shan’t be too far away, but I wanted to take this last  chance, appropriately enough in a Weekly Update, to tell you a very fond thanks. Thanks for being the most energized, enthusiastic, loyal, faithful, creative, imaginative and incredible community any video game could ever have.
 
Thanks for being patient when things went wrong, when playlists didn’t work, when matchmaking broke, when bugs were being fixed. Thanks for the mail, the screenshots, the movies, the machinima, the models, the paintings and the sheer enthusiasm and talent you’ve shown me over the years.
 
Thanks for not following through on the death threats.
 
Thanks for sticking with us through thick and thin and thanks for the loyalty you’re going to show Bungie over the coming years.
 
And on that note, let me tell you a bit about the coming years. It was very hard for me to make the decision to move on, but one thing that made it just a bit easier, was seeing the amazing work that’s coming down the pipe. I was busy working on a story for one of our next games, an experience that is destined to surprise, amaze and entertain like nothing we’ve ever made before. That game has an amazing team invested in it, and one that will be tasked with building the Next Big Thing. You should see what they’ve already achieved, you truly should.
 
And there are other things rumbling at Bungie, just as secret, just as epic and just as incredible. And the thing that turns all that rumbling into incredible gameplay experiences is, has always been and will always continue to be, the people. The brilliant, talented, industrious gang of geniuses who brought you everything from a monochrome Pong clone to the staggering vistas and vision of Halo 3.
 
Artists, engineers, musicians, designers, writers, administrators, producers, managers, even our security staff are Bungie people, through and through. They are all, every last man, woman and Bob, the very essence of the spirit of the company and the thing I will miss most of all.
 
There are too many to name. More than 120 now, more than double the number than when I first started, about halfway through Halo 2. Amazing to think that I am Old School Bungie, when I never felt like anything other than a wide-eyed child in a moonlit candy store.
 
So thanks again. And look forward to all that candy. They’re making it for you.
 
Goodbye, thanks for all the Photoshops today - and don’t eat stuff off the sidewalk."

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Seis de Mayo!

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