ComiCon Wrap Up: Or How I learned to Love the Nerds
Before this year's ComiCon, the last time I saw a cosplayer, it was a husky 15 year-old with cornflakes glued to his head and a suspicious looking black wig. He was a Klingon. This year, it was a full sized General Grievous (giant coughing robot from Star Wars) that was being controlled by a puppeteer hidden under his billowing cape, while another player controlled his walking.
Note the Forerunner architecture on the Convention Center. Coincidence?
That's ComiCon right there. We were there to promote the Halo Graphic Novel - our art-filled wunderbook, created in association with the fine people at Marvel Comics, and with that in mind, we headed down there with all guns blazing. Me, Sketch, Lorraine and Robt McLees, as well as a cavalcade of ever-prettier Bungie artists, comprising Frank Capezzuto, Tom Doyle, Paul Russel, Isaac Hannaford, Lee Wilson, Chris Barrett, and Shiek Wang.
Now, astounding as that line-up of creative talent is (present company excepted, of course) it was only the beginning. A selection of the artists and writers who contributed to the Graphic Novel were there too, including Lee Hammock, Brett Lewis, Ed Lee, Phil Hale, Justin Sweet, George Pratt and more. All of whom were on hand to sign fan copies of the Halo Graphic Novel.
Finally, the answer to the ultimate question: Who would win in a fight, Jedi or Spartans?
One of the more bizarre episodes at the show was the moment that comic book legend Moebius got up to shake the hand of comic book legend Stan Lee (an old friend) and was shut down by a security drone who to be fair, simply didn't know any better. Almost immediately, harried Marvel folks calmed and removed the security blockage, and the two giants of the industry reunited. Luckily I was too amazed to take a photograph.
The book sold out on the first day of the show, but disaster was averted when a second shipment showed up on Saturday. We also made our way over to Joyride Studios where the special edition "paint-splattered ODST" was on sale, exclusively for ComiCon attendees. Our artists signed those too, for folks who asked. Apparently that action figure was a smash hit.
Chatting with the artists and writers was a fascinating experience. Some of them are Halo fans and some of them complete naïfs as far as the Halo universe goes, and had to be educated on the fly. Moebius seemed especially interested in the subject of his story - the fate of civilians in a planetary conflict, saying, "It is very dark, you know? It is fascinating to imagine what would happen to ordinary people in this circumstance. It reminds me of the things that are happening in the news, right now."
Comicon is not necessarily logical.
Listening to Phil Hale describe the process (it was all oil paint) and the thematic elements of the composition (weight, momentum, energy) and comparing notes about the actual physical attributes of the Master Chief was utterly fascinating. Phil's take on how digitization of the painting affected the final look was interesting too. Luckily, Bungie bought the original painting from Phil, so we'll get to see it as it was originally intended soon.
Tom Doyle, weapon designer extraordinaire and cheap Chun Li throw cheat in SF3: Third Strike, said, "My moment of the show was listening to Frankie break off level 60 halo dungeon master questions for fans - Convenant Warp Crystal Shard WTF? Is Halo the Dark Crystal? I think these fans know more about Halo than we do."
Tom bonded with Moebius too, and he remembers it wistfully, through a haze of Street Fighter chetz. "My moment of the HGN experience, was Talking design with Jean Giraud. I mean is anything cooler than that? I had to pinch myself!"
Paul Russel pinches Moebius to see if Tom Doyle is dreaming.
The final night (for Frankie at least) was kind of a let down. Giddy with excitement to see Halo-themed cosplayers (we'd seen a few on the show floor), we made our way to the Cosplay ballroom, only to be told that not only were the CosPlayers all sequestered away in a room we weren't allowed anywhere near, but that there wouldn't really be an opportunity to talk with them. Luckily, "Anastasia" a ComiCon representative, pointed out that she was a Red Vs. Blue fan and would happily hand out prizes to the best-dressed Halo fans...now if only we could see what they actually looked like.
Somebody, somewhere has themselves a copy of Halo 2 Limited Edition signed by Moebius. Probably Anastasia now that I think about it...
I find your lack of pants disturbing, Captain Sketch.
Back in the office, the multiplayer guys are on a roll, making important internal deadlines and kicking off our biggest internal playtest to date - one where every Bungie employee will be playing several maps and several modes for several weeks (on their down time, not that there's a great deal of that) with the added benefit of testing out the new user interface in its complete form. All of the user interface features are now working (although some of them lead to dead ends right now) and it's pleasing to note how smoothly the new UI blends in with the Xbox 360's already robust interface.
I just moved desks too, and from where I'm sitting now, I can see Halo 2 for Windows Vista running at a very high resolution. I need to get in on the playtests for that, and pronto. Of course, that's also a perfect excuse to upgrade my crappy old PC.
Our new faceplate is revealed - a Halo faceplate based on the twin themes of the MC and Forerunner inscription - and it won't be available 'til October…unless you're the lucky winner of Halo.Bungie.Org's design a Halo Faceplate contest. If you want to win one of two faceplate prototypes, head over there right now. And this is what it looks like:
Ninja Virus Returns!
NinjaOnFire (back from Hawaii again, where he says he developed a love for Bebimbop) has been hard at work on a cool new matchmaking playlist - one that's truly democratic and is sure to cause some drama and excitement. I'll let Ninja explain:
Ahhh, matchmaking! I love it, you love it. If you're saying 'I don't love it, jerk!' then go play customs and leave the rest of us to our fun.
To the point, the next playlist update is currently in the works, testing will begin next week and we have a bit of information to share with you regarding what changes will take place. First and foremost, I'll cover the removal of Rumble Hardcore. For the vast majority of players this will not make you crawl into a corner and cry a thousand tears. While Rumble Hardcore does provide some intense gameplay which is popular amongst a small group of our fans, it's simply not popular enough to hold its weight as a matchmaking playlist. Perhaps you're asking 'Why do you remove playlists, why not just leave them all and add more?' which is a question we find ourselves answering on a fairly regular basis, so here's the short and sweet version.
Matchmaking is all about numbers. Who is playing in which playlists and how often they play. The purpose of matchmaking in Halo 2 is to enable users to find matches quickly and easily in a variety of popular categories of gameplay. The primary reason that matchmaking is reserved for popular categories of gameplay, is that for the service to function correctly there has to be a significant number of users active in each playlist at any given time. When a playlist drops in usage and users have a hard time finding a match, matchmaking isn't really serving its intended purpose any longer. That is the point in which we examine usage and start considering changing or removing playlists. We love our fans and we're excited about the fact that matchmaking has remained a very successful method of assisting players in enjoying the game even more than they can by only playing with their close friends, but the times do come when we have to remove something that people enjoy, it's unfortunate but it is necessary.
Now on to the happy stuff, new hotness! We'll be adding a new playlist in the next update which is the first iteration of a new program we're trying, in which we allow organizations from the fan community to design their own short term playlist. The lifetime of these playlists will vary depending on popularity, so if people really enjoy them we'll keep them around a little longer. The playlist we're adding was designed by a well known and established organization within the Halo fan community, we're not going to announce who they are quite yet, but we hope you'll enjoy the 'eccentric' twist that it adds to matchmaking playlists.
In addition to this new playlist, we'll be revising a few of our pre-existing lists. Double Team will undergo a much desired revision in which we're addressing some starting weapon and weapon set concerns. Notably, we're removing the sole 2v2 Pistols game on Lockout and we're also removing Gemini from the playlist entirely. SMG starts are being added to Midship games in Double Team and we're changing the weapon set to Human for Midship and Warlock on slayer gametypes only. There are a few other changes to Double Team that we'll address when we're closer to releasing the playlist, so keep an eye on the Optimatch forum for more information.
The Team SWAT playlist is holding strong at #2 just below Team Slayer. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the rank status of Team SWAT, many good points have been made to change the playlist to be ranked but just as many have been made to keep it unranked. We're still considering the future of this playlist and we're not making any changes to the rank status of it at this time, if you wish to discuss this issue you may do so in the Optimatch forum where there is a dedicated discussion thread for that specific topic. As for changes to the Team SWAT lineup, we're removing objective games from Lockout to address some negative gameplay issues; we're also removing Gemini from the Team SWAT playlist entirely. Gemini is an enjoyable map, but with the absence of grenades and the excess of teleporter camping on the map, gameplay is shifted from what SWAT is meant to be about, accuracy and awareness, not camping teleporters.
Not many other playlists are being affected in this update, as we're working on various other things at this time. It's also worth mentioning that Team SWAT gametypes in the Team Training playlist will now use SWAT Classic settings from the Team SWAT playlist, which means no more grenades in those gametypes. As always, since we're not yet finished with testing this is all subject to change, so we'll keep you informed of our progress when testing is completed!
Of course, a truly complete Weekly Update requires a taste of the Waaahmbulance. Here's a smattering of plaintive wailing.
Two Time Loser
ok so i was suspended from matchmaking about two weeks ago for standby the sespension lasted one week. Last night I tried to get on line and play a match made game and it said i am banned from match making for ever and i am confused as to why that is i dont get it. My brother has a modded xbox and i singed in on my account yesterday and played CUSTOM games with him never any match made games so why is my account banned????????
Well, you do sound like a valuable member of the gaming community - maybe we should reconsider.
2 mnth plz?
ok so there is no way of getting a 2 month or anything to start a new account? and yes i do have
modified data on my xbox. but it does not affect the game play of my halo 2 and why should I become ban for having something that doesnt affect another?
You get credit for having the cajones to ask Bungie for another opportunity to cheat on their service. What you won't get is a second chance, a two month trial or a clue, ever.
Softly Softly am Monkey
i currently softmodded my xbox and play a few CUSTOM GAMES by modding, next thing i notice is i get PERMANENTLY banned from matchmaking which makes no sense at all because i didnt go into matchmaking with modded maps. i only softmodded my xbox to play customs. i even went over the games my accounts play with my mods and they were all ARRANGED GAMES. Please give me a "good" reason why I got banned from matchmaking when i played customs. and if you can reactivate my account or give me another 2 month because i currently dont have one.
Here's a "good" reason: You broke the terms of service, ours and Xbox Live's. There isn't a deeper logic to this, ur am lollerchetz therefore ur am lollerbant. Deal.
Letter from Space
I will try to be as succinct as possible. This programme has many cheats!! If the other player 'fireballs' themselves this can give a double. In fact 'frooming' throw the game in their favour.
I bought an xbox , for myself,as we already have 2, but my children know I enjoy backgammon, but got sick of the cheating on Winfibs!
This experience, although brief, as I have only had my xbox a few weeks, is worse. Also if people drop from a game, no one loses any points, which is wrong. If you drop you should forfeit the points to your opponent, then there would also be less droppers.
I hope you can look into this, and things might change, if not you have a very disappointed Xbox purchaser.
Those Naughty Teenagers
My nephew was banned from playing Halo 2 online. We've just bought an X360 and would like to play online. Could the ban be removed somehow? He is a teenager and does not listen sometimes.
Thank you for considering my request.
I find your lack of faith in your own nephew disturbing.
Finally, about 20k folks asked if I could do a Mr. Chief/Zidane pic and the short answer is no. But erstwhile Bungie artist and all around genius, Andrew Davis (agdTinMan) was able to do one almost instantly. And here he is, in all his headbutting glory.