E3 brought up a lot of confusion about Halo 2 for Windows Vista, which is hardly surprising. We'd been working on fixed platforms (Xbox, Xbox 360) for so long, that we'd almost forgotten the vagaries and complications of discussing a PC product. I guess that's going to be the case for a while! Two games to update you on!
We actually played with the PC version recently when a mini-milestone was reached - the development version had been running in black and white for test purposes, but we were invited over to play when it switched to <GASP> color! Anyway, it looked lovely, and we're promised further improvements as the months roll on. It was amusing to see it running in different resolutions on different folks' PCs.
I guess this means I have to install our Vista beta on my PC to play multiplayer tests. And I guess that also means I am going to be all mouse/joystick confused when I switch between H2 Vista and Halo 3 on 360.
But to answer the two most common questions after E3:
Will I need a DirectX 10 graphics card to run Halo 2 on PC?
No. Although you will require Windows Vista to play Halo 2 on a PC, you won't necessarily need to upgrade your graphics card to do it. Halo 2, like some other Vista titles, will work just fine on a wide range of graphics cards, including DX9 cards. We will provide far more detailed minimum hardware requirements closer to the game's completion.
Will I be Matchmade with Halo 2 Xbox players who have more than two years head start?
No, as the question indicates, the gulf (more than two years) between the launch of Halo 2 on Xbox and Halo 2 on PC means that a level playing field would be impossible. Add to that the fact that both versions have their controls and aiming system balanced and tuned for that system's abilities and you would have a lopsided situation at best. Halo 2 Xbox players will continue to play against Xbox and Xbox 360 players, and Halo 2 PC players will play against other PC players. Although we will support other control methods, including joystick vs. mouse, the player will always have the choice, so if he feels confident he can beat a mouse-player online, that’s his prerogative. We won’t be forcing him.
A game like Shadowrun was built from the ground up to run on both platforms with finely balanced cross-platform gameplay. We don’t have that luxury, and instead intend to make the Vista version of Halo 2 the best it can be. Add to that the fact that we will have new maps built specifically for the Vista version and a map editor, and cross-platform matchmaking becomes even more complex and less realistic.
We're taking the development of Halo 2 for Windows Vista very seriously and want to ensure the best possible experience for everyone.
Actually, we promise to have some very cool insider development stuff from the Halo 2 Vista team coming up soon.
Some momentous changes are coming to matchmaking playlists, one that won't affect the vast majority of you, but will hurt a small percentage of you, right in the heart. And for that we're terribly, terribly sorry.
The simple fact is that the Clan playlist has become so shrunken and inactive, that it no longer makes sense to keep it alive. Even those who do play on it have to either wait for a long, sometimes interminable time to find a matched clan, or they arrange to "meet" online at a specific time, which is counterintuitive at best. Given the propensity for folks to arrange move from clan match to custom clan match, we're really better served making a totally new kind of playlist instead. We'll have more news on that soon, but in the interests of balanced, usable playlists, Clan is going bye-bye.
We don't propose this lightly and we know we're going to upset folks who do still glean some enjoyment
NinjaOnFire is the dude who has to absorb all the hate mail about this, so I beg you - please don't flame him, it's not his decision, just one he's tasked with enforcing. As you know, this has been mooted before and heavily discussed in the forums, but we're bringing it to wider attention today. And it's not all bad news, since almost every facet of that playlist is till available.
Here's Ninja's explanation:
Clan playlists are being removed from matchmaking due to low usage.
The matchmaking system exists to provide a quick and easy way of finding players and games for popular modes of play, clan playlists are not popular and so they are being removed. Additionally, the gametypes used in Clanmatch were a combination of Team Slayer and Team Skirmish gametypes, making it somewhat redundant.
This should not affect the social aspects of your clan in any way. You can still party up with your clan and use any team playlist, or organize your own matches between other clans. The only major change is that you will no longer have a clan rank.
Over time, as the Halo 2 matchmaking population fluctuates, it will be necessary to remove and reorganize playlists to maintain the health of the matchmaking system. This isn’t the first removal or revision to the original playlists that existed when Halo 2 was first released and it most certainly isn’t the last.
Currently, the active clan population varies so much in levels that some of the higher end clans have trouble finding matches. This is partly due to the fact that clans are constantly being abandoned to create new clans, creating a steady circulation of low level clans, but removing many of the higher level clans from the active population. Essentially, the reason some higher level clans are unable to find matches is because players aren’t using clans as they were intended to be used. By starting new clans to you can “pwn noobs” again, you’re defeating the purpose of having clan ranks in the first place. Not all users abuse the system in this way, but the vast majority does and it has caused the clan ranking system to lose its purpose.
For those players and clans who have used the clan system properly and been dedicated to keeping their clan together and using the clan playlists regularly, we sincerely apologize for this outcome. However, we simply cannot allow a playlist with such a low usage and problematic matching issues to exist in the matchmaking system any longer.
Thanks Ninja. You're good people. Anyway, our readers are good people too, so I returned to a common update tradition - answering reader questions. Obviously there's a lot of things we can't talk about right now, but this is a selection we can talk about.
1. Will Steve Downes be returning as the voice of the Chief?
2. Any new screenshots soon?
3. When will the Mister Chief shirt be available?
4. Any new updates on Ghosts of Coral?
1. No reason why not.
2. Nope, sorry, but we will have something tasty soon! Better than a screen? Yes!
3. No time frame yet. Soon-ish.
4. That is a placeholder title which is subject to change. As for updates "it is happening."
Can I have a raise?
To get a raise, you first need a salary. Don't push your luck.
Does Bungie have any plans for after Halo 3, or are you guys commiting 100% of your energy towards completing Halo 3?
We are currently hard at work on two projects - Halo 3 and Halo 2 Vista. But as always, enormous brains are pondering fantastic, amazing ideas which may or may not come to fruition. And Pimps at Sea is still in development.
How does it feel to know everything about the Halo storyline while we're taking guesses at every little scrap of information that is released?
It feels pretty good. But not because we're mean, rather, because a surprising story is a better story. Holding plot details secret is one thing we will never apologize for.
I demand to know when Bungie will man up and take on Team Schooly D in a Humpday Challenge.
Since Team Schooly D is my current clan, and Bungie is my employer, I would have no choice but to team kill somebody .
1. How drawn out are elements in the Halo Universe? For example, does Bungie have a scale chart with sketches of all the ships in Haloverse? I know some people who would find that very helpful.
2. After Halo 3, would the Halo Story Bible be available to the public?
3. How many Tijuana Mamas can you eat in one sitting?
1. Yes, we have such a thing. Stay tuned.
2. Not all of it. Some of it is secret, some of it boring, some of it protected. Bits of it? Maybe one day.
3. A quarter of one. Let me explain, it isn't spicy at all, it's the pickled flavor that gets you. It's just wrong, somehow, and I LOVE pickles.
How does it feel having someone you can't beat at Halo, getting your coffee?
KP, our new guy, has never beaten me head to head at Halo. I mean, he almost certainly would, he just hasn't yet. Also, he doesn't get me coffee, but that is an excellent idea. I'm sure he will thank you for it.
Is Bungie planning more games in the Halo universe after Halo 3? (please say no)
Would Bungie seriously consider doing an MMO? (please say no)
That's all I got for now.
Those are pleas really, rather than questions. But we'd never say never to anything. I can tell you we're not working on those things today though.
Marathon and XBLA: is it at all possible?
Of course it's possible , it's just not on any current agenda. If it's any consolation, many, many people think it's a good idea.
For those of us without eyes, who use that program to read text, what are the actual differences between the old AR and the new one?
It will be in the end game, right?
It looks almost exactly like the old AR, but with minor cosmetic differences. It is currently planned to be in the final game. And it works great. Note that it is not the same rifle however. More will be revealed.
How sweet are the physics in Halo 3? Are they brand-spankin' Bungie-style new, or Havok, or something else?
How accurate is the landscape in the trailer? Could it be recognized if we were to go to Kenya, or to, say, look in Google Earth?
What new types of lightsabers does Mister Chief get in Halo 3?
How many islands are there?
The physics are mad sweet. More will be revealed much later.
The landscape is loosely accurate to a real place in Africa, give or take 500 years, and sadly, Kilimanjaro actually has less snow on it in real life than in our game L
Mister Chief will have like, an umbrella stand full of lightsabers.
There are probably at least ten islands on Earth. Minimum. I'm guessing like, 15.
Will there be Halo 3 toys?
You have to figure there will be.
And finally, I didn't do a Mister Chief in time, so I tried to do a Sin City one, but it turned out ass. But hey, that never stopped me before.