Michael Williams thought it would be good timing for me to talk about our internal playtest process a little more in depth this week. He’s probably right. Lord knows he’s way more smarter than I am. But my experience with playtest has always been rather grisly. Sure the actual playing portion is the definition of fun and games, but each session’s aftermath is more autopsy than anything else – the surgeons wiping bloody gloves across their gowns as they discuss not just what went right with the procedure, but what went wrong.
In the end, it’s not always about assessing the great stuff – maps and game types being tested have already met that quality bar in many respects – it’s about splaying open the chest cavity and examining the delicate inner workings for blunt force trauma. That brand of violence isn’t really fit for public consumption.
In the same vein, before I revealed the Forgetacular winners, I pinged Lionel to see if we had any internal feedback that made sense to include with each map’s brief write-up. He was reluctant.
“Why would you want to publish that stuff?”
Indeed. So while I’m not going to dig deep into the guts of the playtest process, I can tell you a little about the bits and pieces that have been put on the table in recent weeks, starting with Carney’s most recent revisions to his magnum opus, The Cage.
Though I wasn’t able to participate in the latest round of playtest – apparently you now have to schedule these affairs with Lionel instead of simply wandering into the lab fifteen minutes late – I did sniff around the room while the games were going on and from all appearances and feedback, it looks like Carney’s crowning achievement has received a significant amount of spit and polish over these last few months.
The most notable changes are found on the lower level, which is now graced with more options out, including a quick man cannon lift up to the elbow. Weapon placement and spawn locations also received some tweaks, resulting in improvements that give players more freedom to roam the map and more opportunities to oust their opponents from previously unassailable positions. It’s definitely still The Cage at heart, but the nips and tucks Carney made appear to be in all the right places.
We’ll see. The Cage 2.0 – which will not be its official name – is still undergoing some final checks and tests before we commit it to matchmaking forever and ever, but assuming things still look great when all the swelling goes down, you should be giving a good test spin yourself in the weeks ahead. When we can commit to a more concrete schedule, expect to see details in a future update.
While I missed out on the most recent session for The Cage, I did get a chance to participate in a secret playtest featuring heavy use of the word “Bro,” but details on that are still sketchy, so we’ll have to wait a little while longer before we blow it out. That said, February should be interesting.
In addition to The Cage and other Bromantic playtesting efforts, our blessed sustain team also invested some time in crafting a sizeable doctrine covering a wealth of proposed matchmaking changes and additions for February and beyond, but unfortunately they issued a moratorium on almost all of the details contained therein for this week’s update.
Their fiat is binding for good reason. Though most of the updates will likely go into effect, undoubtedly there are certain elements that either won’t make the grade, or that will be deployed off schedule, and if we parade them out for you now you may consider them carved in stone when really they’re something more akin to scrawls on a stone prison wall.
I do have it on good authority, however, that Firefight Arcade will be resurrected as a full time Firefight playlist, pending the analysis previously mentioned in this space surrounding the upcoming Limited affair. While we definitely won’t see its triumphant return next week, it should be along shortly. Again, when everything starts to cement, we’ll make more noise.
On the Arena front, the team is now turning its eye toward revising the Divisional breakdown and giving players more insight into where they’ve placed in a given Season, regardless of their Division. Later, they’ll be looking at the possibility of making much more substantial changes to the full Arena portfolio. As you might have guessed, I don’t have concrete details to relay right now, but if and when I get more news on this front I’ll make sure to pass it right along.
In more immediate news, this week saw the deployment of our inaugural matchmaking version of Grifball, which seems to be faring well despite some hiccups in the playlist configuration in the early going. It’ll stick around for another full week, so if you haven’t had a chance to get your Hammer and Ball on, there’s still plenty of time. And though Grif is going away after next week is out, Jeremiah is directly connected with the Grifball community’s leadership (he’s kind of a big deal) so we can stay on top of the most recent maps, settings, and modes. It’s definitely not going away for good.
And, as mentioned last week, the Community Cartographers group has been given its mandate and turned loose into the wilderness. Don’t expect to see an immediate return. From the looks of the early going, the members are preparing to put your maps through a very fine filter. Still, I’m pretty pumped about the core group we’ve assembled and hope that their efforts bear a bushel of fresh and delicious fruit. And by fruit, I mean Forge maps.
Before we get into the meat of Bungie All Stars – Week 2, there’s a little bit of Bungie Store
news to cover. Three new apparel items have been lovingly deployed into the storefront. If you have some spending cash left over from the holidays, or if you’re just looking to enhance your image, you should take a few minutes to finger the merch.
Click to get your shop on.
Madness is right. With my Monday fully absorbed, I was forced to sift through hundreds of community submissions with twenty four hours of precious time sucked out of my typical weekly schedule. Okay, so technically I wasn’t forced to do it – I brought all of this upon myself – and though I thoroughly enjoyed the shortened work week (no offense), I had a ton of fun browsing through all the artful submissions once again this week.
Halcylon says that you raised the bar. Let’s find out if you agree. Scroll down to browse a selection from Bungie All Stars – Week 2.
Just like last week, we received more than our fair share of takes on birds with Sage beards…
…ladies in skimpy outfits…
…and alternate takes on well-worn memes.
Added to the been-there-done-that bin for Moa Madness specifically were Joust-esque Moa riders…
…takes on the Old Spice commercial…
…takes on Jurassic Park…
…and fast food Moa Meals inspired by in game signage.
Of course, we also received some really nice Forge Art.
And Hal was right, though last week’s submissions were mighty impressive, choosing this week’s winner was even more challenging.
But in the end, there can be only one winner. And that winner is:
If you recognize that image as your fine work you’ll have access to the star nameplate soon (if not already). Thanks to everybody who submitted work this week. You made my inbox a much more pleasant place. Hopefully, even if you didn’t win, you at least had some fun flexing your artistic muscle.
Noble Team would be proud.
More to come Monday.
Though this has nothing to do with Bungie All Stars, I think you’ll agree it is a fine work of art worthy of awe and admiration. This, my friends, is some impressive Forging.
I’m pretty sure Halcylon’s ringtone is a Lady Gaga jam. I don’t know how I feel about that. I do know that in between rings he took the time to create a few new wallpapers to keep you upgraded while you’re out in the club sippin’ that bubb.
Snag ‘em over at our Facebook page
. While you're there, tell us that you like us and get into an argument with our other fans about Call of Duty. It's fun times! I promise.
In case you missed the announcement earlier in the week
, here’s a late heads up for anyone who will be in the Seattle area tomorrow night.
VIDEO GAMES LIVE™ TO DEBUT THE FIRST LIVE PERFORMANCE OF MUSIC FROM HALO®: REACH
Halo Composers Marty O’Donnell, Michael Salvatori and Other Special Guests to Attend
World Premiere to take place in Seattle, WA at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, January 22nd
LOS ANGELES, CA - The live touring sensation Video Games Live will be debuting new music from the highly acclaimed Xbox 360 exclusive video game, Halo: Reach. The Award Winning music from the latest game in the Halo series was composed by Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori who have been with the franchise since the beginning. Both Marty and Michael will be in attendance at the Seattle performance of Video Games Live and are available to all ticket holders at the post-show meet & greet for autographs and pictures.
This will mark the first time that the music from Halo: Reach has been performed in front of a live audience. “It’s a real thrill and honor to have our music be a part of such a successful event like Video Games Live.” said Bungie Audio Director Marty O’Donnell, “To know that people around the world are able to experience our music live in such a creative and artistic way is very exciting for both myself and Mike.”
Video Games Live currently has over 30 tour dates on sale across the globe with 30 more shows expected to be added for 2011 (http://www.videogameslive.com/index.php?s=dates
The world premiere of Halo: Reach will take place on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA. New tickets for this event have just been added: http://stgpresents.org/artists/?artist=1401
Looks like there will be a good contingent of Bungie employees in attendance this year, myself included, so if you do make the show, hunt us down and say hello.
Also announced earlier this week, one of the local radio affiliates, KUOW, broadcast a segment with our very own Marty O’Donnell. Now, we all know that NPR is a little edgy for Marty, but the promise of literally dozens of listeners tuning in to hear him drone on and on about his favorite subject – himself – was just too great an opportunity for him to pass up. If you can’t locate a working radio at a local garage sale, KUOW has generously hosted Marty’s segment on their website. Enjoy.
Oh, and it must be mentioned that Marty thoroughly enjoyed the All Star submissions that featured him last week. Especially this one:
He claims his trifocals really
make the artwork pop.
Stosh is on vacation this week and he refused to commit any of his personal time to finding you some awesome Blame Stosh footage. HBO’s overdoziz stepped up with this mighty fine, and totally planned precision grenade tossing.
See you next week.