Next week, we’re going to have a major announcement about the details of our new maps. Right now, there are some dates, details and ideas out there that are actually wrong, so please take everything you read between now and then with a grain of salt. We can't talk about how and when the new maps will be released, we'll leave that to the smart folks who actually do all the logistical work for this stuff – marketing and PR, but we can tell you this much - our entire plan is designed to make new content available for everybody, those with Xbox Live and those without Xbox Live. We hope in the end, everyone will be satisfied.
Lots of folks query,
What's up with the cheat, glitch and bug fixing?
Fixing Cheats and Glitches: UPDATED
Autoupdate for the Masses
As it stands, the Autoupdate is scheduled to be a small Xbox Live download, and when it becomes available (as soon as testing is finished), it can be implemented by logging any Xbox with Halo 2 onto the Live service. While we encourage non Live users to borrow an account, try a free trial membership or take their box to a Live-using friend's home, we are looking at ways to distribute these improvements to a wider audience and we'll have more news about this soon.
With the sheer number of variables on the Xbox Live service, the fantastic numbers of players involved and the vast disparity between ISPs, modems and quality of service, it took time for us to identify all the cheats, glitches and exploits. And unlike a PC game, even once you've addressed all of the problems, the solution isn't as simple as posting a patch on a website. A console game is largely immutable, and implementing changes is a significant task. The fixes we've implemented required a great deal of testing, tweaking and retesting to ensure the autoupdate process would go smoothly and provide satisfactory results for every Halo 2 player on Xbox Live.
With all that aside, what follows is a partial list of the changes, bug fixes and anti-cheating measures we have implemented so far.
Split Screen Enhancement
Split screen players have long complained that their screens are too muddled with interface and messages to see what's going on clearly. The Autoupdate also removes the more trivial pop-up messages (like ammo pick up, for example) that have plagued split screen gamers. The downside is that they no longer see those messages, but in testing and polling, we've found that the cleaner screen presentation makes that a small price to pay. "Important" messages will continue to display as before.
Flag Bouncing: We're fixing the super high flag bounce caused by collisions with certain objects – like the conveyor belt in Colossus. Teams would often simply bounce the flag from one side to the other, thus ruining a vital aspect of that map's intrinsic design.
We've fixed the flag-grab-through-solid-walls problem (although you can still toss a flag through legitimate places, like gates and windows). This will have a huge effect in CTF games on Beaver Creek, Zanzibar and Coagulation.
Elite melee ghosting – a glitch allowed a player (using a short sequence of button presses) to exit a vehicle and continue to an objective while all other players viewed the player as an invulnerable stationary "ghost" at the original point of disembarkation. This was caused by forcing the Xbox to "lose track" of the player.
Sword flying will be gone from multiplayer, though we'll keep it in Campaign mode. This was basically an exploit that allowed players to "fly" by locking onto a target with a Sword while riding in a vehicle – then later releasing a pent-up Sword lunge, and basically soaring, unhindered through the air. Although a noisy part of the community feels this was a fun, unexploitable bug, we have witnessed it used for cheating, and when we fix other problems, any we left in deliberately would be exploited all the more.
We've addressed the "ghosted dropped weapon" problem, which was caused by a difference in object location tracking between different machines - a gun you just couldn't pick up, for example – and is easily encountered during games between Pal and NTSC machines.
We've fixed the tie resolution problems that automatically defaulted the red team as winner in a tie.
We've made some changes to the way our system works when entering Clan matches – basically making it easier to enter even when conditions are less than ideal. The measures used before were perhaps too strict and prevented some players from entering games with their clan.
We've addressed the bug on Beaver Creek that caused double-teleporting – this was related to poor bandwidth, and it would cause a player to bounce back out of the teleporter rather than passing cleanly through.
We've fixed the glitch that would allow seemingly destroyed gun turrets to be used before they respawned.
We've addressed the modem standby cheat. Can't say how, but we've implemented several fixes to help alleviate this problem. We can't stop people from pressing suspend modem, but we can make it less worthwhile to them. We've also added a number of ways to make it more difficult for players to abuse the fact that they are the host of a game.
This is just a sampling of what we're fixing. Some things are insignificant, some you won't even have heard of, and others we don't want to discuss at this time. All in all, it should be a very pleasant and painless experience and one that improves your experience significantly.
This is a partial list. Many of the changes we've implemented will be invisible to players. Some are simply minor tweaks to networking or performance code. Some are more important, but happen in the background. Some fixes will simply remain undisclosed to prevent further abuse of the system, and we realize that even this tremendous run of changes won't be entirely complete and that abuses by unsportsmanlike players will continue, but we're confident that these tweaks and adjustments will improve the experience for beginners and experts alike.
A kid asks,
When I look at some players’ stats on Bungie.net, often almost all of their games are grayed out and marked as “unreliable.” What does this actually mean, and why is it only happening to some players, over and over again?
What this literally means is that 50% of the players who started a game were gone by the end of the game. That's all.
This can be caused by:
1) Various types of standby cheating
2) Normal network glitches that cause a player to drop, or the game to fragment into multiple pieces that finish separately
3) Players quitting before the end of the game
Players it happens to repeatedly might have really bad internet (or wireless LAN) connections, might be repeat cheaters, might be repeat droppers, or might be so overwhelmingly good that their opponents don't bother seeing the game through to the end.
It's worth noting that this is just a reporting feature on Bungie.net; nothing has changed as far as how Live computes rankings and experience. We could in theory have it wrong, although so far it's pretty accurate.
Heat Miser asks,
How many games of Halo 2 have been played since launch?
As of this afternoon,
Total number of Live games played:
Total number of player sessions
(you know, like a four player game of Slayer = four individual player sessions)
Total number of unique players since launch:
An awful lot.
Are you guys mad at Penny Arcade over that wicked zinger?
Oh yes, quite incensed. No. Really we love them, especially Twisp and Catsby and the erm, Fruit Juicer, I think he's called.
And finally, a reader asked: What would Mister Chief look like with a hangover?