Bungie Weekly Update: 01.29.10
Posted by urk at 1/29/2010 2:38 PM PST
When it rains it pours.

Coming off a pretty lengthy dry spell, we’ve finally lifted our frilly little skirt and let you get a good old fashioned peep at the intimate apparel we're pimping. Hot on the heels of the most recent media blast, we’ve deployed tons of high resolution screenshots, concept art pieces, 3D renders straight from the engine, and even a few delectable fictional tidbits to keep you coming back around to our little corner of the gaming universe from time to time.

Of course, with great assets comes great responsibility and since there are now a good number of understandable assumptions and gross misconceptions floating about, we figured we’d take a stab at dispatching a few of them with extreme prejudice.

So, let’s dive right in. Answers courtesy of Sketch, with some added Editor’s Notes by yours truly.
Halo: Reach Mythbusters




Myth: That cross hair in the first person screenshot is way off to the left! It totally means <insert wild gameplay speculation here>!


Truth: Sorry folks, you won’t be perpetually leaning to the left nor will you be navigating multiple cross-hairs for various purposes. Truth be told, it’s just a good ole fashioned bug. Bug #15163 to be exact. Here’s the entry as found in our RAID database:

===== Opened by dg on 11/02/2009 01:33PM =====
SCREENSHOTS: Tiled screenshots using screenshot console command have crosshair in the wrong spot
Description:

Screenshots taken with the screenshot commands (tiled screenshots) all have the crosshair in the wrong place. It's either missing, or aligned too far to the left.

Note: attached screenshots correspond to commands below. chief.jpg is a screenshot using xbox chief.
Repro Steps:

  1. Launch Reach
  2. Start a campaign game
  3. Create screenshot using _screenshot_ command
  4. Note crosshair position for each shot

Actual:
Crosshair is off center for all tiled screenshots

Expected:
Crosshair is centered appropriately

Impact:
This prevents the community team from getting good screenshots.

Repro:
100%


Editors Note:

Impact:
This also makes the Internet freak out.


Myth: I read that every weapon in Reach will now be “hit scan.” Hell yeah!

Truth: Here’s the real scoop, straight from Sage Merrill, sandbox Design Lead for Reach:

“Most of the primary human weapons were moved to hit scan while the Covenant weapons remain as various speed projectiles.”

Currently the Magnum, DMR, Assault Rifle and Sniper Rifle are all hit scan, but other weapons such as the Shotgun and Rocket Launcher are, for obvious reasons, not. When the beta hits this spring you’ll be able to get up close and personal and see for yourself.

Editors Note: For more information about Halo: Reach’s sandbox design philosophy and changes, you should check out our most recent podcast featuring none other than Bungie’s aforementioned and majestically bearded sandbox designer, Sage Merrill.

Myth: Reach is being built for Natal! (See that crosshair to the left as proof!)

Truth: Halo: Reach is NOT a Natal title and is being developed expressly with the traditional Xbox 360 controller in mind.

Myth: Reach environments don’t have any decorators and a lot of those textures we saw in screenshots seem like they could use some work!

Truth: The screenshots that recently surfaced were taken from a pre-alpha build that was created last November. A lot of work has happened since then and a lot more work is yet to come. The environment art team is continuing to polish and beautify everything, including adding plenty of decorators. We’ll hopefully be able to share some progress soon.

Myth: The HUD in Reach is yellow!?

Truth: The same pre-alpha build that didn’t feature final textures, geometry or decorators also included one of many earlier iterations of the HUD (which even today is still getting tweaked and refined). As of now it’s no longer yellow and sources say it won’t be returning, either.

Editor’s Note: We did drop in on David Candland, Bungie’s Lead UI designer earlier in the week to ask if HUD customization is something he’s ever considered implementing and the answer is yes. The problem with the multi-colored approach, it turns out, is that it can often blend into the color palette on display in a given environment, rendering it effectively unreadable. Since those color palettes can change dramatically from space to space (and even from room to room), it’s more problematic than just hooking up the technology and hoping for the best.



Myth: Bungie pixelated some super top secret stuff in one of the screenshots.

Truth: Here’s how it really went down:

Sketch: Dammit, I really like this screenshot and it’s the only passable first person asset we have right now, but it’s got all this extra UI text in it that’s not in campaign.

Urk: Just pixelate it. Everybody will think we’re hiding super top secret stuff.

Sketch: lol

Myth: The Assault Rifle has a 600 round capacity and the Magnum tops out at 50!

Truth: That’s what it shows in the screenshots, fo sho, but you should always take that stuff with a grain of salt. Not only are all of those parameters in flux as the team continues to test and tweak, but when us community dudes get into a build, we’re often turning on all kinds of freaky cheats to make sure we can get the right shots in time to deliver. If that means we want to rip through a sequence without having to scrub for ammo, we might flip some dials of our own.

Myth: Some of the high resolution assets released on Bungie.net feature flipped and mirrored art. Bungie is lazy!

Truth: Astute observers noticed that the weapons on display in our high resolution galleries feature flipped/mirrored art. Seems a few people weren’t too happy with that. Seems even a few went as far as to call our team lazy. Suffice to say, those people are jerks and the texture issue on display was identified long before we published the shots. It’s definitely gonna be fixed for ship.

We figured you wouldn’t want us to hold back the sea of high resolution assets on its account. That’s just how we roll.


Click for Asset Enhancement

Myth: Sketch called the Falcon, the “Warthog of the Skies.” Does that mean we’re going to get to pilot it in campaign and multiplayer?

Truth: Yup.



If you’re feeling all the more filled in after reading our little dose of Halo: Reach roundups, you should thank the fine forum dwelling folks over at HBO for zeroing in on the set of questions. We did our best to answer what we could honestly, but in the end we were only able to sate a small handful of their curiosities.

At this point in the project, just about everything is still being tinkered with, so gameplay specific questions are almost impossible to nail down (but please, do continue debating and arguing what’s right and wrong with each weapon or ability without having any context or hands-on experience ;) ). That said, Sketch just put out the request for the formal URL we’ll be using to give Marcus a platform to sound off about Halo: Reach’s development progress. You’ll be getting a much more insightful look into that process soon.

Questions concerning major elements and plot points contained in the game’s fiction are, and will remain, off limits until you play the game in the fall, but we'll tackle some of the broad strokes a few scrolls down.

Halo: Reach – 3D Art Evolved
If you make Friday your one and only stop to Bungie.net, you likely missed Sketch’s sweet Reach 3D Asset roundup. Inside you’ll not only find pretty, high resolution pictures, but plenty of great commentary on what it takes to give all of our 3D assets a shiny new coat of paint and tons of extra polygons.

Halo: Reach – Point of Impact
We also went in depth with designers Sage Merrill and Josh Hamrick to detail out some of the form and function upgrades being applied to Halo: Reach’s weapon set. If you’re itching to get your finger on the trigger, this is the closest thing you’ll have until you start squeezing off rounds in the multiplayer beta.

Sketch’s Note: See, Urk gets to use sweet assets in his stories too!
Spartans Never Die
We also dropped some brief back story in the form of Colonel Holland’s Action Report covering Noble Team’s performance in the field. Of course, just like the assets we released, sometimes more information simply leads to more questions. I asked Robt McLees to tackle a handful below. He obliged.

Hey! Why do the members of Noble Team have higher ranks than the other Spartans I’m familiar with, like the Master Chief?


As NOBLE tends to operate much more closely with non-augmented personnel than Blue, Red, et al ever did, NOBLE's CO decided that his team shouldn't have to worry about some Oscar Sierra light-switch they might run into in the field trying to start calling the shots or otherwise alter OP parameters mid-mission.

What about their armor? How can they be wearing Mark V? I read that Spartan-III’s were assigned SPI armor and that Master Chief was the first Spartan to adopt Mark V!

The Mk. V armor was the first of the line to be equipped with energy shields (based, in part, on captured Covenant matériel). S-117 was not the first Spartan to receive the Mk. V armor, as he had been in the field when it entered service on 24 Nov 2551. The most obvious indication of this is how familiar the Marines on the UNSC Pillar of Autumn (C-709) were with the armor.

So, what was so special about 29 Aug 2552? This was the very first time a "smart" AI had "piggy-backed" in the Mjolnir Mk. V powered assault armor during "live-fire" simulated combat conditions.

And while it’s true that the typical Spartan-III soldier was outfitted with the cheaper SPI armor, the members of Noble Team are anything but your typical Spartans.

Yeah, well, I also read that all of the Spartan-III’s save two were dead. Explain that!

The idea that SPARTANS never die is a key element of the SPARTAN mystique--and was wholly manufactured by Section 2 of the ONI when they made (limited) info on the Spartans public back in 2547. The fact is that SPARTANS do die. But chances are that if the fighting is bad enough to kill a SPARTAN, nobody else is likely to live to tell about it. Directive 930 states that SPARTANS can only be listed as WIA or MIA.

Which companies did each member of Noble Team originally belong to?

That should already be evident by each member’s age.

Are the human soldiers seen in the screenshots Army or Marines? Will we see only Army troops, or both Marines and Army?

The troopers seen in the current crop of screenshots are indeed Army Troopers. And of course you’ll see some Marines!

How extensively will insurrectionists/civilians/other non-military humans feature in the game, dead or alive?

More extensively than ever before. ;)

You might find some not-so-subtle hints in our concept art gallery.
Bug Smash
Since we’ve talked a little bit about bugs…

The Halo: Reach team is working around the clock to make sure Alpha build that’s on approach is a supremely polished affair. We don’t delve into details and specifics on this front (though we have talked in length with our test team before about what a bug smash entails), but chances are if you’re seeing some oddities (like the reticule bug noted above in Sketch’s Mythbuster extravaganza), it’s slated to get super slammed by the team from the tip top rope. While it’s helplessly splayed out across a table. And the table is made out of dynamite.
Button Mash
Of course there’s plenty going on in builds beyond bug squashing. Earlier in the week, the team notified us that some changes were being made that affect control schemes across the board. Obviously no small undertaking and something we don't take lightly. As with everything else we’ve been revealing, things are always subject to change, but as systems like Armor Abilities get fitted into place, more thought is being put into how each established control scheme will need to adjust to afford players with the most intuitive experience.

We’ll give it a good internal go round and we’ll be looking for you to sound off when you get fingers on triggers when the beta drops.
The Sound and the Fury
Last week I promised I’d try to scare up some source audio from some of the Halo: Reach weapons we’ve been detailing. I did you one better. I convinced Jay and C Paul to hand over five weapons you should already be familiar with and one you’ll never see coming.

Turn Your Headphones Up!









And the mysterious newcomer:



Sounds dangerous, doesn't it?
Emblem Contest Update
I had a nice chat yesterday with Candland about the Halo: Reach emblem contest he’s been hosting. I’d already browsed through some of the submissions and had a chuckle at how many folks were attempting to get some not so subtle phallic emblems into the mix. Sorry dudes, your veils aren’t a little too thin. Whether or not we think camping is a legit strat online, we’re not down with you pitching this kinda tent in our matchmaking digs.

Good rule of thumb in life: keep your little drummy to yourself.








weseewutudidthar



Love the composition and art.  Unfortunately, Harrison's Mom would not approve.



While we’re not in the business of outing the people who turn in submissions, this last one warrants some special attention. The legalese clearly states that Bungie employees are not eligible, Marty. Please use the established internal comm channels.

Of course, there was plenty of good stuff in the mix too and Candland’s been nice and busy pounding the pile for potentials. One small note some of you might want to highlight even though it’s already been stressed: we’re not looking for your favorite existing emblem or a slightly different take on an already established offering. It’s gotta be an original work.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t send in your original take on something from the Halo universe, but it does mean if you’re using some of our existing assets, you should think long and hard about how your offerings fits into our current crop. There’s some stiff competition out there. A screenshot of a Recon helmet with a hand drawn arrow and the note, “do that” won’t do the trick.

Blame Stosh
Stosh is pulling double duty this week. Not only did he make the Halo: Reach project page a thing of beauty, he also found the time to dig up more Blame Stosh goodness. He loves you so. If you don’t like anything we’ve put on display over these last few weeks, you can be damn sure who to blame.




Oonsk Evolved
TDSpiral submitted his own dark take on Noble 7 over at HBO last weekend. We thought he could benefit from some of our latest Halo: Reach upgrades.  Makes a great note to go out on, too. 

See you next week.



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