Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of the October Bungie Weekly Update! Let’s skip the formalities and dig right in.
We’ve already promised a big mid-month Matchmaking deployment, but Jeremiah and the core team responsible for Reach’s playlist management have decided to fast track some of the “easier” implementations and break October’s update into two distinct and meaty halves. The first round of playlist updates, barring any unforeseen shenanigans, will go live on Tuesday of next week.
Here’s what you can expect when we pull the trigger:
SWAT is taking one in the face (being removed) and the weighting for all other gametypes will be adjusted to fall in line with voting data. Expect – surprise, surprise – more traditional Slayer offerings to appear.
SWAT gametypes that are removed from other playlists are being incorporated into their own, unique playlist with adjustments made to modes and maps based on voting data (farewell SWAT on Hemorrhage, you sucked and everybody hated you).
Powerhouse will now feature several more gametypes, including 1 Flag and Stockpile. Because Powerhouse is awesome and we don’t get to play it enough.
Rocket Race is being added. You win by staying on the Mongoose and racing to the checkpoints. (Oh, who am I kidding, you’re just going to hop off and try to assassinate people, aren’t you?)
Big Team Battle
SWAT and Classic are being removed and the frequency of Snipers is being reduced based on – you guessed it – voting data.
Boardwalk and “Pro” options are both being removed. Default Zealot is being replaced with Arena Zealot, a map variant which features modified initial player spawns and a soft-kill zone in spaaaaaace.
“Pro” options are being removed. Arena Zealot (details above), is being added.
Credit earn rates for Gruntpocalypse are being reduced to fall more in line with other modes.
Alongside the major alterations listed above, a myriad of much needed fixes and tweaks to the experience will also go into effect on Tuesday, including a metric ton of small, but annoying bugs and gameplay issues that we’ve identified and earmarked for eradication. As these updates go live, Jeremiah will publish the full details to our Optimatch forum so you can pore over the subtle nuances of each individual change.
Make sure to pop in and tell him that you agree with every single decision we’ve made! We prepped a pile of official discussion threads and bucketed them by playlist to facilitate polite and mature discussion. You can weigh in here
Loud and Clear
The second salvo for October will include the fix to the current betrayal booting system, bringing it back in line with Halo 3 (three strikes and you’re out), and it will also introduce some significant changes to the Firefight experience, including the removal of friendly fire. Also on the way, a proper Team Snipers playlist, the possibility of a radar-less “Pro” experience in Season 3 of Arena, and more love spread out over all of our offerings, with a strong focus on Rumble Pit and Multi Team (all barring any unforeseen issues).
Already mentioned and still planned is the introduction of Campaign Matchmaking and some substantially awesome changes to the Firefight Matchmaking experience, the latter by way of cooperative multiplayer maestro, Larzy B. We’ll talk more about these updates next week.
Long story short, we’re evaluating all of our playlists and we’re acting fast to make sure feedback from voting data and the community-at-large is being evaluated and implemented.
While we’re on the Firefight tip, we should talk a little Matchmaking Best Practices. As more and more players roll through Firefight Matchmaking, the network experience should continue to improve. We’re able to record your proximity to other players on the network and link you up with low latency players.
That said, the networking model used for Firefight (and soon enough, Campaign Matchmaking) is different than the multiplayer model and by default, the effects of latency are experienced a little bit differently as well. One sure fire way to ensure that your experience is impacted dramatically is to party up with other players thousands of miles across the globe from you (or with players who have demonstrably poor connections). While Matchmaking can and will make great connections, if you’re forcing a poor match-up through a party, there’s literally nothing our algorithm can do to lessen the impact of a bad connection.
It should go without saying that in every multiplayer mode you play, you should turn off torrents, stop streaming music, and make sure your network is running at optimal conditions. If you’re on a shared network, check to see that someone else isn’t killing your throughput. Every last megabit is precious.
For a more in depth look at how you can improve or troubleshoot your network, check into our Networking 101 article, previously posted to our Project Page.
Also on the playlist front, we’ve begun the monumental task of evaluating the early crop of user submitted map variants. For now, it’s a piecemeal affair, with several of us tasked with exploring File Shares and community hot-spots in search of well-made community maps. I still plan on detailing the process in a much more transparent fashion, but my own amateur offering, Riptide (formerly known as Jurkout), has yet to be put through the official paces. When we do run it through the grinder, I’ll resurrect the Incompetent Cartographer series so you can see exactly what we’re looking for.
It's a World...for Forging!
It’s a huge undertaking. Even while Halo: Reach was still on hot approach, we were still receiving nearly 100,000 unique Halo 3 map variants each and every month. Obviously, downloading and playtesting each and every offering would require a level of manpower and patience far beyond our limits and capabilities.
That said, we’ve got several us-yet-unveiled programs in the works to aid us in our quest and we’ll be making a lot of noise about all of them soon. We’ve already pushed one community map variant through several phases of our internal gut checks and test passes, and it looks like you’ll actually be playing on some sweet community maps before the year is out. Maybe even as soon as next month. (No promises.) One in particular has been a blast to play in both Big Team Battle and 4v4 Stockpile. Hopefully, you'll get a chance to play it soon yourself.
In addition, Sketch has been hard at work to bring a massive community Forge competition to fruition, where we'll pit our finest Forgers against one another in one of several broad map categories for fame, glory, and some truly fabulous prizes. Of course, the ultimate prize will be getting your map into matchmaking where we can all partake in your design genius, so if you want to get an early jump on the competition you should start thinking about building maps that would fit into the existing Halo: Reach ecosystem. Team Slayer is a great place to start, but we’ll also be looking at maps well suited for Invasion, Big Team Battle, Team Objective, Race, and several other playlist options we already have on offer.
More on this front soon, including map design primers and Forge tutorials. Stay Tuned™.
The online team is still hard at work to bring Bungie.net up to full strength in the immediate aftermath of launch. One of the hot discussion items that continues to pop up in our forums is the player model featured in every player’s Service Record (or rather, the lack thereof). Rest assured your cries are being heard and the team is steadily working towards a solution. Keep your fingers crossed and we’ll keep you updated.
I make this look good.
If you’ve devised an ingeniously elaborate method to circumvent our credit cap or exploit our challenge system, all of your “hard work” is soon to be for naught. While we understand the compulsion to race to the top and earn all the good gear before any of your friends do, network manipulation and other easily detectable workarounds that fall well outside of standard gameplay will result in a credit reset and several other punitive measures designed to knock you back down to a level playing field with all the rest of us who are playing the game without having to resort to exploits. We're watching you.
Without calling attention to specific methods, here are a couple of examples to help you wrap your mind around what we consider acceptable behavior and what we consider the machinations of people with way too much time on their hands:
Example 1: Laziness is Next to Godliness
You’ve commissioned your little brother to play through the same section of ONI: Sword Base over and over again, wielding the Target Locator like a barbarian’s cudgel in a quest to hit your daily credit cap without ever having to lay a finger on the controller.
This is a little bit sad, but it is not an offense we’re going to punish. *You* are playing the game. Keep your credits (but please go easy on your little brother).
Example Deuce: Communication Breakdown
You’ve written a crafty piece of code in your spare time that plays the same section of ONI: Sword Base over and over, wielding the Target Locator like a mechanical death ray in a sad, robotic quest to hit your daily credit cap while you’re busy doing something that isn’t playing the game.
This is really
sad and you can expect to have your credits wiped and your armor items reset (and you can possibly expect to be banned, depending on the severity of the manipulation). We’ve already got a sizable list of offenders gathered up and the Banhammer is being heaved high into the air as soon as this afternoon. Make your peace. You get no warning. We’ll see you on the forums real soon!
Jay and C Paul want to have a few words with you about your audio setup. They worked long and hard to stuff as much audio love into Halo: Reach as was humanly possible and it absolutely pains them to think that you might be listening to their herculean effort on a system ill-suited for the task at hand. Help them help you get your audio equipment up to truly danceable levels.
Jay and C Paul here from the Bungie Audio Team here; we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our fans for playing and listening to Halo: Reach (and all our games!). We’ve had a great response to the sound of Halo: Reach so far, and we’d like to help Halo fans make sure that they are getting the best possible audio experience when playing.
To do this, we’re releasing the Halo DVD Surround Sound Test online, and this FAQ covers how to use it. This fun little animated piece is something we made a few years back to test our own systems. It features a Grunt who calls out each of the five speakers in a surround sound system one by one.
Click the image below to download the Halo DVD Surround Sound Test. In order to test it on your Xbox 360, you will need to copy it to a USB drive in FAT32 format. Once you’ve got the file loaded onto the portable USB, insert it into your Xbox 360, browse to the Video Library in your media blade, and play the file.
Right Click, Save As
If your audio setup is 5.1 surround sound:
1. Set your console to “Dolby Digital 5.1” in System Setting->Console Settings->Audio->Digital Output
2. Make sure your receiver supports Dolby Digital and that you are plugged into it using an optical cable (toslink), or through HDMI.
3. Receiver is set to Dolby Digital and NOT Dolby Pro Logic II.
4. Turn off any audio processing that is being done in your home theater system. Our audio mix already contains real time audio effects that are based on where you are in the game.
5. If you have the kind of speakers that require you to hook the red and black wires up make sure that they are all identically set up and not reversed, otherwise your speakers will be out of phase (inverse polarity). Having your speakers out of phase causes things to sound really weird.
If your audio setup is stereo (only two speakers):
1. Set your Xbox 360 to “Digital Stereo” in System Setting->Console Settings->Audio->Digital Output
2. If you’re using a receiver that is capable of surround sound, but only have two speakers hooked up, make sure that your receiver is not set to decode the audio as Dolby Pro Logic II. Otherwise sound will be sent to speakers that aren’t there.
3. If you have the kind of speakers that require you to hook the red and black wires up make sure that they are all identically set up and not reversed, otherwise your speakers will be out of phase (inverse polarity). Having your speakers out of phase causes things to sound really weird. In stereo, sounds that should sound like they’re in the middle of the screen can be too soft or completely disappear.
Once you’ve double checked that your audio settings are up to snuff, it’s time to check it with the Halo DVD Surround Sound Test (dee dit deet dee!). In the test, a Grunt points to each speaker, as his voice comes out if it, then a Hunter rumbles the subwoofer (LFE) channel.
If your setup is 5.1 surround sound, you should hear the Grunt's voice come from each speaker that he’s indicating, followed by the Hunter rumbling the subwoofer. Things to watch out for:
1. If sound only comes from the front speakers, check that your Xbox 360 and your receiver are set to use Dolby Digital 5.1.
2. The Grunt dialog should emanate from the rear speakers separately. Listen carefully to where the sound comes from. If the Grunt sounds as if he comes from both of the rear speakers, you may be decoding the audio signal as Dolby Pro Logic II. Check that your Xbox 360 is set to Dolby Digital 5.1 and that your receiver is set to receive Dolby Digital 5.1.
3. If sound comes from individual speakers, but not from the appropriate ones, check that your speakers are connected to the correct outputs on your receiver.
4. If the Grunt sounds significantly louder when emanating from one speaker in comparison to another, you may need to rebalance your speaker gains (loudness). See the manual for your particular receiver on how to balance the speakers appropriately.
If your audio setup is Stereo, you should hear everything the Grunt says, but you will miss the beginning of the Hunter’s rumble, because the subwoofer channel is not used in stereo. Things to watch out for:
1. If you don’t hear the Grunt talking about speakers behind you, check to make sure that your Xbox and receiver are set to stereo, and not to either Dolby Digital or Dolby Pro Logic II. You may be sending signal to speakers that don’t exist.
2. If you don’t hear the Grunt say “center speaker!” or it sounds funny or too soft, then you may have your speakers out of phase (inverse polarity). See if your audio setup is stereo description above for how to fix that.
Thanks again for listening.”
For posterity’s sake, we’re publishing this article, and the download link to the surround sound test to our official Halo: Reach Project Page
Get it while it’s hot.
Two weeks back, we spoke out about a small number of users experiencing Disc Read Errors and described what they could do to get their Xbox 360 back into fighting shape. The resolution path hasn’t changed. If you are one of the unfortunate few experiencing issues with your Xbox 360 failing to read discs, you need to contact 1-800-4-MY-XBOX for assistance. There are no Title Updates or software patches capable of resolving this issue. Replacing the disc will also not resolve this issue. It is hardware related.
We had hoped that the resolution would have been much the same as it had been for users experiencing similar hardware issues around the launches of Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST, but it appears that those players who find themselves outside of warranty will be responsible for getting their Xbox 360's up and running again.
We apologize for the delays getting word out on this front. We build these games so you can play them and we wanted to make sure we’d explored all avenues for those affected before we delivered the hard and fast news.
Looks like Stosh is a bit distracted this week. I hear he stole this week's Blame Stosh from Rooster Teeth.
Lars tells me that he had a great chat with one Eric Johnson at PAX this year, but failed to secure good contact information. Shame. If you’re the man, the myth, the legend, please send me a PM and make the subject line the outfit you were wearing when you and Lars conversed. We’d love to get back in touch.
Everyone else currently concocting devious schemes to assume Eric’s identity, please save me the trouble of having to ban you.
Don't Spam Me, Bro
And that’s it for this week. Next week’s update duties once again fall upon Sketch’s capable shoulders. Expect him to scoop up all the news I’ve been hoarding to get us through the long, cold winter together, and deliver it all in one epically entertaining shot.
See you soon.