For the first time since I started working at Bungie, I really don’t want to write this update today. I really don’t even want to be here at all, parked at my desk, staring into this computer monitor. Fact is I’d rather be playing some Reach, continuing my methodically indulgent Legendary campaign play through. Even after spending time with several versions of the game while it was a work in progress, there’s still something extra sweet about plunging headlong into the finished product. Right now, plenty of our own personnel are doing just that. You seem to be enjoying yourselves, too. I’m seeing a lot of players remarking that Reach is now their new high point in the Halo series. And that
is some high praise indeed.
Reviewers are giving us high marks, as well. I’ll spare you the methodical indulgence on this campaign front, though. If you want to read through some reviews, you know where to find them. Let’s just say it’s great to hear good things from both the community and the critics alike.
Here are a few good things Michael Williams, our stats specialist, sent my way to help encapsulate Reach’s early success inside a cocoon of soft, silken integers.
31,000,000 Games have been played since launch
98,000,000 Player-games have been recorded
8,214,338 Daily Challenges have been completed
255,996 Weekly Challenges have been completed
78,499,560,895 Total Credits have been earned
953 Man-years have been spent in matchmade games
1365 Man-years have been spent in campaign
854,107 files have been uploaded
577,804 recommendations have been sent to friends
4,619,455 files have been downloaded
If you follow Bungie Tweets
you already know that we’ve already surpassed Halo 3’s All Time High Score for concurrent players (for the uninitiated, concurrency is used to measure simultaneous connections being made at a single moment, not total number of players over a given span of time), with online launch day festivities officially reaching well above the 700,000 player mark. Suck it down, Halo 3 (we still love you)!
If you counted yourself among the ranks and contributed to the mind blowing tally, we’d once again like to say thanks for playing! You are stupidly awesome and we really hope you’re enjoying the hell out of our game.
On the eve of launch, we descended on the EMP launch party in full force. Sussman was there, watching, waiting, and snapping photographs.
Blood Violence Ensued
Wrong Way, Marty
Guess They're the Desperate Measures
All the World's a Stage
Beard Status: NOT NERFED
Oh, the Humanity!
Pasty Nerds Receive Sweet Community Poster
In between gigs, we returned to our Bellevue studio for a private celebration, velvet rope style – a family and friends only affair with decadent hors d'oeuvres and deliciously mixed drinks.
But private functions lack the brand of delirious mania that can only be found via a good old fashioned public mob, and this night was just as much about you as it was about us. So, after our party we packed a few buses with employees and set course for the heart of the madness.
We're On a Bus!
"I'm gonna need to consult with my agent before I can sign that."
McLees Always Goes Straight for the Moobs
Bucket Hat and His Human Host Signing a Copy of Halo: Reach
Dunn, as always, was Dashing
As you can see, we had an absolute blast ringing in Halo: Reach with you. We hope you had some fun yourself. Of course, we’re just getting this update bus warmed up. Let’s get some business out of the way.
Though the Halo: Reach launch was a monumental moment for us, some of you rushed home, laid out the tarpaulin, and found a few things lacking. Don’t worry, though, we got you covered. In no particular order:
Legendary and Limited Edition buyers ran into a little Midnight Marketplace Madness, finding that their upgraded Elite Officer Armor permutation would not properly download. Lame! The steps to complete the transaction should be up and running now, but if you already pulled the trigger and didn’t get suited up, your code will no longer work. Double lame.
Here’s how to remedy the problem:
- Open the Guide
- Go to the Settings Tab
- Go to Account Management
- Go to Download History
- Select the Halo: Reach Legendary Edition Bonus Content
- Select Download Again
- Once the download is complete restart Halo: Reach
We’re seeing reports of players being booted for betrayals after just one measly stinkin’ team kill. Yup, it actually can and will happen, but as always, it’s a bit more nuanced than it appears to be on first glance. Currently Halo: Reach is using a betrayal system similar to the one employed by Halo 2, where players accumulate strikes against their betrayal count not just for straight up kills, but also for doing non-fatal damage to their teammates.
Of course, none of that is communicated very well in game, so it’s no surprise that you’re freaking out about it. Even internally, we’ve already talked about tweaks to the current system and we’re looking into deploying a solution. Don’t worry; it’s something we can configure without a major update, so you can expect to hear back from us soon about some modified betrayal booting conditions. Maybe December. (Yes, that's a joke.)
For now, here’s how you remedy the problem:
- Stop shooting your teammates
Some people are attempting to game the Arena system by quitting before they turn in a poor performance. These people aren’t very bright. While your Arena Rating is used to give you a good gauge of your present performance levels in any given match, Trueskill is still in full effect, underpinning the matchmaking experience and informing your ultimate Seasonal Rating.
The only achievement you’ll be unlocking by quitting out of games is one that’s not worth any Gamerscore. We call it Quit Probation. You’ll also end up in a lower tier Division than you would have had you had sacked up and stuck it out. Chumps.
We made mention of it earlier in the week, but since it wraps nicely into a couple of other points we want to drive home I’m going to cover it again. Right now, Campaign Matchmaking is not available as part of our online experience. The main reason for its omission is simple: we don’t want your very first experience in campaign to occur on the very last level, and like all our matchmaking playlists, Campaign Matchmaking will offer all players in the party a vote as to which mission they’ll end up tackling together. Democracy is totally sweet, but in this case, the majority might overrule your No Spoilers Doctrine.
As soon as we feel like there’s been a big enough cushion between launch and present day, we’ll open it up for everybody (more on timing in a few scrolls).
Other omissions are also likely owed to some inexplicable internal phenomenon too esoteric to cover here, but rest assured, we can and will make nimble and frequent changes to the matchmaking experience. That said, the scope and breadth of the Halo: Reach online experience is intended to cater to a pretty wide spectrum of tastes and gaming styles. While you should expect us to mind the experience, you shouldn’t expect each and every one of your own personal whims to be catered to explicitly.
Stuff like Rocket Race, Firefight Versus, and more, are all in the plan and will be deployed sometime down the road. Some sooner than others. To arm you with a little bit of additional information, Jeremiah prepped a wee bit of lip service.
"The first matchmaking update for Reach will occur in early October and consist primarily of fixes for bugs and balance issues. We're not done testing them all yet, but when they're ready we'll fill you in on all of the little details. We'll also be adding some game types and Forge maps. Co-op campaign will be going live in October as well.
Campaign matchmaking will not take into account what your current progress is, so if you're worried about spoilers make sure you finish campaign before jumping into this playlist!
Since Jeremiah was so short with you, I’ve taken the liberty of snapping a screenshot of something Cotton cooked up in Forge that may or may not make it into Matchmaking.
So, Theater Mode no longer supports party viewing. The reasons are pretty complex. I pinged engineers Aldridge and Timmins to get the scoop earlier in the week and they responded in a language I’m unfamiliar with. Something about “breadth of use cases,” “maintenance burden,” and sending “a 3 meg blob to all the clients.”
The short form is pretty simple. Our guys thought Halo 3’s Theater Mode party viewing experience was less than optimal and supporting it in Halo: Reach would have entailed a large investment of time and resources directly impacting other, more frequently utilized modes and experiences in a very negative way. Instead of stubbornly insisting on supporting party viewing to make a relatively small handful of people happy (who are all now likely screaming at me in the discussion thread attached to this update), they decided to limit Theater Mode to just one player at a time and focus their time and energy on other aspects of Halo: Reach. Namely, adding the ability to rewind films in both Campaign and Firefight.
I think it was a wise investment and a fair trade. Hopefully, you agree.
With great power, comes great responsibility and Cooperative Multiplayer Lead Lars Bakken informs me that it was well understood that by adding full customization to Firefight certain players would decide to cheese the related achievements (i.e. the laziest, least skilled players). The solution to this problem would have been simple, we could have either cut the Firefight Achievements in question or cut Firefight customization altogether. Neither of those would have made Lars very happy.
So yeah, Firefight in Halo: Reach is literally what you make of it. If you want to take the easy way out, and download game variants from IGN’s File Share, feel free. You’re only impacting your own enjoyment. You're also a baby who sucks at Halo. Your call.
Luke has a slightly different take, noting that if you want to utilize the wealth of available Firefight customization options and our built-in File Browser and File Share features to download an easier way to snag these particular achievements, or if you create a variant of your own design, you've simply discovered yet another one of Halo: Reach's robust features. It's what you call a Win/Win.
If you find yourself lumped in with the “small number” of people who find relevance in this portion of the update, you’re probably finding that five letter moniker more than a little frustrating. We feel your pain (we want you to play Reach, too!). If you’re receiving a disc read error with Halo: Reach, or any other title for that matter, Microsoft customer support is your path to resolution.
Here’s the official word:
"We are aware of a very small number of customers reporting that their copy of Halo: Reach is causing a 'disc read' error. Those affected should contact Microsoft customer support at 1-800-4MY-XBOX for troubleshooting assistance."
Give them a call sometime. They'll do lunch. (Lunch not included.)
If you didn’t already notice, I’ve peppered this update with some sweet concept art and multimedia that we deployed at various outlets in the run up to launch. Since they’ve all seen light of day at this point, we’re making them available as wallpapers in various formats. You can click on any of the images, or simply use the link below to browse and download the full body of work.
Halo: Reach Wallpapers
During the process of arming the team that created the “Deliver Hope” spot with a good pile of digital assets, producer Dave Lieber was asked to explore what Elites might sound like just before a big battle, spurring their lower tier compatriots to fight and die for the Covenant in their native tongue. This is what he delivered:
(Right Click, Save As)
It should be noted that this has no real fictional bearing in the Halo universe even if you should manage to decipher it. It should also be noted that Lieber provided all the voice talent and audio mastering. He is quite the industrious fellow. He even whipped up a ringtone, should you be inclined to broadcast your ridiculous nerd status to anyone within earshot.
Put a Ring On It
(Right Click, Save As)
Stosh hopes you like the new digs. Apparently, you’ve been hitting Bungie.net so hard that our guys had to throttle a few aspects of the experience to keep the whole thing from exploding. Speaking of, here’s this week’s Blame Stosh
. I'd embed it, but you know, throttling.
It’s been said that Marty’s music can add a measure of gravitas to just about anything. This morning, I experienced the magic first hand. We’ve been having a bit of trouble with the “brown noise” in our new Bellevue bathrooms over the last few weeks. It’s been eerily quiet in the spacious new facilities and each and every movement, be it the unbuckling of a belt, the unrolling of toilet paper, or the unleashing of some foul and sinful beast, amplifies and echoes off the barren walls.
Today as I stepped up to the throne, I heard not the sounds of horror, but of horns as Marty’s Halo: Reach suites graced the silent room with an undeserved, but very welcome pomp and circumstance. What a difference a good sound system can make! The swelling of horns spurred me to action, my friends. The rhythmic drums drove me onward. Tip of the Spear? Hardly. I gave it my all, Marty! Never before had my own movements been so epic. And never again will I take Marty’s moving work for granted.
You should experience the magic for yourself. You will not be disappointed. The Halo: Reach soundtrack is topping the charts at Amazon.com
. It’s available for download right now in digital format via iTunes
and Sumthing Digital
. And if you’re looking for something you can hold in your hands, say while you’re getting your think on in the restroom, physical copies of the Halo: Reach Original Soundtrack will be available in all stores everywhere on September 28th.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for picking up our game. Thanks for making our launch so successful. We'll see you online.