Bungie Weekly Update: 03/06/09
Posted by urk at 3/6/2009 3:57 PM PST
One Thousand Million Milestones

Those who drop by our digs on a regular basis already caught wind of the news that Halo 3's Matchmaking broke the one billion games played mark last weekend.  We're not going to dwell on it for too long in today's update, but we wanted to take a few lines of text at the outset to once again offer up our thanks.  We couldn't have achieved such a lofty milestone without you.

Thanks for playing.

Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack


As expected, the introduction of the Mythic Map Pack into the wild has led to a pretty stark increase in the Team Mythic hopper traffic.  Tallied in the mere hundreds prior to this week's influx, player count now extends easily into the thousands range as more and more people redeem their codes and jump into the fray.  What was once an intimate playlist where friendly faces faced off time and time again, is quickly being transformed into something more akin to standard Matchmaking.

As we noted in our inaugural "Game with Flame Humpday" (nomenclature we should have come up with months ago), we've been having a ton of fun in the confines of the Team Mythic Playlist, getting in more Halo 3 time than we have in recent memory, and getting sandy sinkholes stomped into our faces.  And yeah, on rare occasion, we've been kicking some sand into a few wimp's faces.

It's been real, it's been fun, and it's just getting started.

Mythic Map Pack Not Loading?

For those who've rushed home, gnawed through the shrink wrap and security tape that stood between you and your Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack code, only to find out that Halo 3's multiplayer refused to let them load the maps and get some games in, we have your solution. This isn't a new phenomenon by any means, we've talked about this exact issue before, most recently after the Legendary Map Pack was released into the wild, but we figured it was about time we gave you a refresher and added the steps to the site FAQ.

The details and remediation steps outlined below are only viable for this one specific case.  They're tailored.  If you're unable to redeem your code for the Mythic Map Packs, or you find that your download attempts fail, then you need to get in touch with Microsoft's Xbox LIVE Customer Support at 1-800-4-MY-XBOX.  We've gotten word that their support agents are ready to assist you with any Marketplace problems you may run into.

But if you've redeemed your code, downloaded the maps successfully, and you're not able to play on 'em, check out one way you might take care of the problem. We recruited Andrew Harrison, Bungie's Test Guru, to provide us with the technicalities involved, and the text below, filled to the brim with fancy pants jargon, exists for those who want to know the why along with the how.

If you're already at the content item limit and you download any additional DLC (Mythic Map Pack, Legendary Map Pack, et cetera), the new content will not enumerate until you fall back below the limit.  You can generally have one saved game item, fifty screenshot items, and one hundred "general" items (saved films, clips, game or map variants), for a total of 151 content items.

When you are five items away from hitting the general content item limit, or five away from hitting the screenshot content limit, you should get a warning to clue you in that you need to be judicious with any additional items, or more ideally, that you should run a little bit of clean up and delete some older content before adding more.

To put it more directly, If you've successfully downloaded any of the Halo 3 multiplayer maps and can't load them, the first thing you should check is the total number of Halo 3 content items you have squirreled away on your hard drive.  If you're at the limit (151) it's time to delete some stuff.  Once relaunched, you should be able to load them and get playing.

To put it even more directly, if you downloaded the maps and can't play 'em, delete some Halo 3 stuff from your hard drive and try again.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons you might have trouble loading content on Halo 3, or content for any title for that matter.  If the steps above don't do the trick for you, it's time to phone up Xbox LIVE Support.

Halo Wars LCE

Emphasis on the Limited Collector's Edition

Some in our forums are crying foul. They feel that they were misled.  Rushing to their local retailer on Halo Wars launch day, they scooped up a standard edition copy and expected to find the Mythic Map Pack stuffed inside like a secret decoder ring in at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

Candy-coated popcorn and peanuts aside, we made it our business on more than one occasion to get the word out about the Limited Collector's Edition and the Mythic Map Pack for months on end.  If you happened to miss our information dumps, Microsoft's press releases, and decided to forgo asking the retailer themselves about the details of your purchase, don't come crying to us.

We came correct in full effect all the way back in November and continued hammering the LCE message home in just about every update this year.  If you missed it, it's all on you.

Housekeeping out of the way, let's dig back into the Mythic Map Pack, shall we?

Plurality


Brute Shot Shootin'

As promised, we're kicking off our five week long examination of the six Sandbox Forge variants that we plan on injecting into Halo 3's Matchmaking in some form or another after the Mythic Map Pack makes its way into the Xbox LIVE Marketplace as standalone DLC.  Week One takes a look at Plurality, a slayer arena set high up in Sandbox's Sky Bubble.  In order to fill you in on the concept behind its creation, we've brought in the map's creator, Chad Armstrong, to give us the scoop.

Q. What was the core design concept behind Plurality?

A. The goal was to create a map that had a rotational symmetry, without being difficult to learn. A small touch of verticality was added to the middle just to shake up the standard dodging and weaving with some acrobatics.

Q. Does the name “Plurality” hold any significant meaning beyond being somewhat less emo than “Vindictive?”

A. Note to self: Words Urk doesn’t understand = “emo.”

[Editor's Note: Why it gotta be like that, Shishka? - urk]

Anyway, I played with Plurality’s design while Sandbox was being developed. Originally, Plurality was meant to be a Sandbox remake of Solitude, a map that was cut from Halo 2’s Blastacular Map Pack in its infancy due to time restrictions. As development on Sandbox was completed and the final object budget was decided, it became clear that my map variant couldn’t be a true recreation of the original design. Solitude being such a, well, singular name, I figured it would make sense for its spiritual successor to have an incremental name.

Q. Why did you select The Sky Bubble as the space you wanted to build in?

A. Solitude was designed to have a very “Lockout-esque” feel to it, and part of what makes Lockout “Lockout” is the treachery of the infinite abyss below. Plurality doesn’t have that same Lockout verticality, but danger of not watching your step is still there.

Q. What Game Variants and number of players was “Plurality” intended to support?

A. Plurality is great for Doubles. Slayer is best, but it’s not a terrible Flag map.

Q. How did you account for the perilous walkways? Are you adding baby bumper? It’s very easy to slip and fall off the map. Plurality seems dangerous in that regard
.

A. I only added bumpers after your dumb ass started wailing in the middle of a playtest. Real men use something called “Situational awareness.” At any rate, there are some bumpers on the central dance floor (though not in the corners), but the bases and the upper walkways are intentionally treacherous. “By design,” as they say in the biz.

Q. Speaking of "real men," don’t you think you should add some additional Battle Rifles?

A. It’s not like you’ll have time to four shot when you’re jumping off ledges, anyway.

Q. After fiddling inside of Foundry for some time, what would you say sets Sandbox apart from its warehouse-themed predecessor?

A. The sensation of having lots of space to work in is absolutely liberating. You could be working on a map that’s roughly the same area as the open area of Foundry, but you never feel confined to that space, which is really handy when you’re trying to find the right angle from which to place that block or ramp. At the same time, the sky bubble gives you an appreciation for having some walls to build against. It’s a different game building a map from scratch than it is building into a pre-existing room. The lack of walls, floor and ceiling to restrict you can quickly be made up by the hard number of objects the game is willing to let you have, which means Forgers will find themselves solving new challenges.

Welcome to map construction!



Shishka also fielded some pressing community questions regarding user-created map variants.  If you've already busied yourself with Forging a Foundry or Sandbox variant, with designs on your map ultimately making it into Matchmaking, you'll definitely want to read the brief Q&A below.

Q. Beyond the six maps we’re going to highlight in the coming weeks, what can players expect out of their own custom content in terms of Matchmaking play?

A. We’re always watching for awesome community made map variants, despite the lack of community content present in Matchmaking. The process of vetting these maps takes a lot of time.

Q. How about some advice for players looking to catch your eye? Where should Forgers focus their attention when building and testing their maps?

A. First and foremost, if you think your map is Matchmaking worthy, post it to Atlas, my Seventh Column Group. Be sure to follow the submission guide, we have a zero tolerance policy for improper posting in the group.

It’s great if you’re willing to take the time to use every trick known to man (and some known only to dolphins) to make your Forge variant look amazing. However, if you’re not making sure your map is fun, you’re doing it wrong! Consider how your map flows, how and where players spawn, how players in Matchmaking may act as opposed to your friends in a custom game, things like that. You’d be surprised at the number of maps I’ve rejected simply because despite all the efforts the author went through to make perfectly flat platforms out of boxes with rounded corners, he didn’t see a problem with piling all of one team’s spawns in a corner of the map.

Q. Are you still working on the tentatively named “Guide to Spawn Points” to give players a hand with one of the more critical areas of building a map?

A. Yeah, I’m still working on it. I’ve started and then restarted several times now, but I think I have a format I am going to stick to now that’ll work. Player spawning is a very complicated concept, so I want the guide to be as clear as possible. No ETA, I’m afraid, but I promise to make it as handy as possible!

Gamers Outreach Foundation

Zach Wigal, Xbox MVP and all around awesome guy dropped into the Seattle area this week to accept an award for being awesome.  We figured we might as well sit down and have pancakes with the guy.  If you're not familiar with Zach, you might remember his High School tale of hilarity and woe that pitted the evil Superintendent (no, not that Superintendent) against three-hundred rebellious youths who just wanted to have fun, let their hair down, and get their Halo LAN on.  Like a sour-faced John Lithgow in the hit 1980's film Footloose, the Superintendent preached that Halo might as well be as evil as dancing, and that the fire and brimstone erupting from player's rifles was clear evidence of the Devil's work.

But we know better, don't we?
MVQDG
We're also quite familiar with the proverb, "He who laughs last, laughs best," and yesterday, as he stuffed delicious pancakes into his face, Zach was all smiles as he recounted the story for us all. 
RVQ2Q
It turns out he wasn't set back at all by the revocation of the rental permit that nearly squashed his attempt at getting in some good games of Halo.  Over lunch, Zach talked a bit about how he, along with a great group of dedicated people, turned his early defeat into much success, eventually forging the original idea into a bona fide charitable organization that uses the positive aspects of gaming to bring smiles to some of the faces that need them most - folks in hospital beds, troops serving overseas, and teachers who want to use games as educational tools to engage their students.
GDKPX
How awesome is that? Answer: so awesome.
Y333D
If you want to see what Gamers Outreach Foundation is all about (and you should), click on the inline link to browse the site for yourself.  They've got a sweet homepage to navigate, links to direct you to their upcoming projects and events, and even a forum if you want to chat with like-minded players and ask them how you can get involved in your area.
YBGBT
Oh, and if you just don't have the time or funds to make it out to one of their charity events or tournaments, might we suggest you donate a little bit of your hard-earned cash in support of the cause?  We know times are tough for tons of people right now, but that's all the more reason to help out those who are even less fortunate than we are.  Any amount helps, and if you do feel inclined to help this great charity, we say thanks.

Contribute to Gamers Outreach Foundation

"Support Gamers Outreach Foundation by making a donation! From now until Gamers for Giving 2009, general donations will be used to help jumpstart our 2009 community programs. You can read all about our current projects here. Gamers Outreach Foundation is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible, (Tax ID: 26-0321174)."

Beef Jerky for Breakfast

Speaking of charitable giving, a giant cardboard box arrived at the studio this week, inconspicuously addressed from one "Wolfiez Premium Beef Jerky."  Unpacked early Thursday morning, fourteen pounds of meaty beefiness made its way onto our kitchen counter, and a handful of hours (and dozens of mouthfuls) later, all that remained of the meat was dust, echoes, and a lingering stench in the men's restroom. 

Unsavory bathroom humor aside, this amazing beef jerky (especially the super spicy Habanero flavor) was a huge hit on the floor. Not unlike a ravenous pack of mongrels, our employees tore and gnashed through the jerky in some kind of mad, delicious frenzy.  And almost as if they anticipated the maelstrom, Wolfiez was even kind enough to include some toothpicks into each vacuum-sealed pouch, so the slabs of succulent beef that became wedged between molars in the chewstorm could be plucked free of their tenuous and irritating mooring and ultimately find their rightful place within the dank recesses of our guttiworks.

Thanks, Wolfiez.

If you've read this portion of the update and there's a disgusting slick of your own spittle now coating you lower lip and chin, get a towel man, that's just disgusting.  Once you've wiped away your salivations, it's time you satiating your own animalistic cravings.  Wolfiez may be a premium label, but it's wasn't crafted just for Bungie - this jerky is made for mass consumption.

Get your own bag by clicking on the link below.

Wolfiez Premium Beef Jerky

On Being Fair

We're still getting some pretty strange stuff by way of the Submit News feed.  Since the "paragraph" below won't make it into the Bungie Blog, we thought we'd slap it here for everyone to see.  As always, we've stripped away any identifying information and changed names to protect the innocent.

demands justice writes:

"ok like i said not all people can be a bungie member so why can't the people that arn't bungie members do it not all mom's and dad's can work for bungie like this armour called crstal or somethjing and thsi helmet where your head is on fire thats is not fair all people should be able to get that stuff if bungie members can. i love playing halo 3, halo 2 and stuff but it isn't fair. i don't I DON'T CARE HOW YOU DO IT MRS OR WHATEVER JUST DON'TMAKE IT ALOT OF MRS IF YOU ATCUJ2CF92K CFFMHXJXB 3JV8 WB3H8ALLY DID WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY. all i ask is jsut make some way for us to get the same stuff as a bungie member and like people that work at bungie can get games free like halo wars and stuff that really isn't fair to the people who arn't bungie memberes. like i am not a bungie member and i have max friends and only like one of them is a bungie member and that dude gets tons of games fir freee from is dad and the other people have to wait but i can see why they can do that but like right now the mythic map pack for halo 3 if oyu buy halo wars you can download it and that i really isn'y fair so plz consider what i am saying"

We'll certainly consider this plea for video game equality over our short weekend break.  "From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his needs," and all that.  Here's another rant we plucked out of the pile:

jerkosaurus writes:

"I do not know y u would make it so only people who can spend 60 dollars right now to get that map pack iv been waiting for that a really long time but abviously u do NOT care and alot of people out there c my views i just figured i would let u know how jewish u really r to do so dumb -blam!- like that. WHO wants to go buy a new game just so they can play new maps on halo u r the dumbest team of creators iv come across idk wtf u would b so -blam!- for just know ur all JEWS"

I think this gem speaks for itself.  Bigotry.  Gross.

Have a great weekend folks, and don't stray too far from home, you never know when the Mythic Map Pack clouds will roll in to rain down codes from on high.  Stay tuned.

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