Bungie Weekly Update
November 18th 2005
Ha! I am heading off to the desert tomorrow for the Xbox 360 launch event called Zero Hour! Which I am reliably informed looks something like this:
When is It? We'll play Xbox 360 games from sundown on November 20 through 12:01 A.M. on November 22.
What's On? Hundreds of gaming stations fully tricked out with hi-def monitors and digital sound Play the full Xbox 360 launch lineup
- First opportunity to play a 32-player match of Perfect Dark Zero on Xbox Live
- Highly anticipated games that will ship this year and into 2006, from 2K Games, 2K Sports, Activision, Bethesda Softworks, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Namco Hometek, SEGA®, Square
- Enix, Tecmo, THQ, and Ubisoft
- Full access to all Xbox Live Arcade titles
- Demos, sneak peeks, and live game play of Gears of War
- Round-the-clock refreshment stations
- Live entertainment and music, including a genuine "Kaiju Big Battel" and rock band Louis XIV
- Exclusive schwag, such as Zero Hour Xbox 360 faceplates
- Onsite Best Buy store where partygoers can purchase their Xbox 360 consoles, games, and accessories
There's a small chance I will be playing some backward compatible Halo 2 matches and answering any questions leveled at me. Unless they are regarding our next project – at which point armed security guards will hustle me into a limo and away to an undisclosed location (the pub). I will aslo sign ANYTHING, including bad checks.
We should carefully point out that apart from HDTV resolution, none of the features associated with Xbox 360's Live environment will have the slightest effect on Halo 2 – when you play it, the game will look, feel and act exactly as it does now. That means feedback, cheat reporting, mod banning and all that stuff, will continue just as it is now.
You CAN play Halo 2 from your 360 against someone using an Xbox and vice versa. They won't see any difference either. Same thing holds true for System Link – you can use any Ethernet cable to connect the two different systems – even the Xbox-style "crossover" cable. The emulation is 100% - from interface to netcode. All identical. And in our serious testing, no difference in gameplay or balance was detected between the two systems.
We've been involved with the development process of this very closely for two reasons. One is that we are obsessive about making sure our universe is treated with kid gloves, respect and stunning brilliance. Two is that we heart Itagaki and are totally obsessed with seeing what he's got up his sleeves.
One odd conversation we had with Team Ninja, was regarding the colors of Spartan costume made available in DOA4. Some colors we wanted to do in Halo 2 we couldn't for balance reasons. Black, for example. But the good news is, since there are no gameplay balance issues, Black is back, baby. Black Spartan = best Spartan. Sketch is in love with the Steel model (pictured below). You will decide when DOA4 arrives. 1UP.com's excellent interview with Mr. Itagaki is a must-read , but it doesn't tell the whole story.
The Steel Spartan rocks hard.
We've been playing with Spartan 458 on all sorts of levels against all sorts of characters and personally speaking, she and Ryu Hayabusa are now my go-to characters. My favorite match up however, is Spartan 458 versus Hitomi, just because she's dwarfed by our Spartan.
Team Ninja knocked it out of the park. The lighting, the animation, and most of all, the gameplay. She feels like a Spartan. Huge, pummeling strikes, thundering throws and bone-breaking grapples. The way we envision Spartan hand to hand combat is the way Team Ninja represented it in the game. We'll bring you more on this soon.
Noguchi, the King of all Tools says, " I heart Itagaki too. I wish Itagaki would do PR for us. " Noguchi also says cryptically, " I'm working on stuff that nobody really understands, but that makes the game infinitely better. " He is of course talking about our next project, revealing officially at least, that it's a game. I reckon it's cloth physics or sparks. Or a new sweat engine.
I lucked out last week and got the chance to play a little somethin'. That's all I'm saying. Except that it was a blast, and surprising at times.
I got asked by a LOT of people if we had large versions of a couple of top story images from our front page. After careful consideration (read: Andrew made them and gave me them so I could take all the credit) I have decided to share them with you. Just click these for the big versions.
Playlist changes always cause huge drama, so we're going to keep you regularly updated. Brian chimed in with this report:
Playlist work is continuing and we're almost finished with the test pass. Tweaks are being made as necessary but for the most part everything is coming together nicely. We are still targeting this release for early December.
This past week was rather exciting with the huge outpouring of support for Big Team Battle (which we've since reported as remaining mostly unchanged for this next update). However, we have been talking about the removal of other playlists and it seems like a good time to go ahead and get that out of the way. So here goes - in our next update, Head to Head and Major Clan Match are both being removed from Halo 2 Matchmaking. If you recall Frankie's "By the Numbers" story a few weeks ago, you'll remember that Head to Head and Major Clan were clearly the least played of all playlists. H2H averaged about 2% of all matchmaking activity and Major Clan was too low to even rank (less than 1%). We have a finite amount of playlists we can accommodate and the decision has been made to remove some of the dead weight. This is a process that will continue as the game matures and the online population begins to shrink and we will keep making these adjustments as necessary.
There will still be one Clan option available - Minor Clanmatch will remain but we're going to rename it to "Clanmatch" and we're increasing the player count to allow up to 5 per team. We will not be adding any new version of a 1 on 1 playlist. However, Ninja on Fire is working on two new "flavor" playlists which will hopefully be fun, unranked novelty playlists that will mix it up a bit for players. More on these next time but for now I'll leave you with this : "Team ActionSack"
In the meantime, please continue to stop by the Optimatch forum and share your opinions and suggestions for future updates.
Finally, somebody was -blam!-ing that Mister Chiefs were getting too fancy, and could I just bust one out old school that would hurt people's faces, like it did back in the day. Bam!