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Bungie Weekly Update: 11/2/07

Posted by lukems at 11/2/2007 5:14 PM PDT

Boo! Scary!

If you missed it because you were out loading up on candy, snax and apples (worst Halloween treat ever), earlier this week we activated our first event-based hopper, The Living Dead, a mix of Infection gametypes and Infected maps. A handful of those maps and variants have been uploaded to Bungie Favorites, but if you were around for the event and played them there's a chance they will still be in your game history. Here's how to find them.

To find a recently played Map Variant:

  • Go to the Custom Games Lobby
  • Highlight Map and Press A
  • Scroll up to Recent Maps and press A
  • Download and Save Recent Maps

To find a recently played Game Variant:

  • Go to the Custom Games Lobby
  • Highlight Games and press A
  • Scroll to Recent Games and press A
  • Download and Save Recent Games

Speaking of Bungie Favorites

There have been scads and scads of gametypes and Map Variants that the Community has cobbled together. And believe it or not we've been watching, downloading and playtesting a bunch of the variants to mostly hysterical results. This week a bunch of the designers, engineers and members of the DLC team sat down and played some player-created gametypes to test for possible Favorites inclusion.

We tested a version of a Normandy-style beach assault (there have been a bunch of really solid ones so far), a clever spin on Infection involving the life (and death) aquatic and a version of Capture the Flag that modified The Pit and added the slickest gameplay mechanic I've seen from the Forge since Rocket Race.

There are two nooks on The Pit that are covered by the soft ceiling, but via the Forge players can spawn and survive there. Beneath each of the towers in The Pit, the user had placed a teleporter receiver nodes and then blocked those nodes with giant crates. The teleporter sender nodes were placed up in the nooks and when players died all spawn points took them to what we'd start to call "The Jail." There are a number of ways to get the crate off of the receiver teleporter and spring your buddies from "The Jail," so that they can get back to the business of capturing the flag. The crate that covers the teleporter respawns pretty regularly, re-sealing off the jail. Mission Designer Dan Miller pointed out that the Quake 1 had a similar Jailbreak system where one player would climb on other players heads in order to exit a respawning purgatory and seek vengeance against those who have tresspassed against him.

Shamelessly, I'm ripping off the "Jailbreak" mechanic this weekend and planning on giving a multiple teleporter Jailbreak version of Team Slayer on The Pit a whirl. Unless the Colts lose the Patriots, in which case I'll be completely inconsolable in a bathtub or back alley somewhere in Seattle's scary district.

Map forgers and game variant makers we are watching, playing and enjoying what you're doing and it's entirely possible that you'll get a message from us once we've tested a gametype with some feedback and a few notes and maybe a date as to when it will be showing up on Favorites.

And no, don't ask: us using your map/gametype/films/screenshots doesn't mean you're getting the Recon armor. Recon is Fight Club and the first rule is you don't talk about it.

Content Download

The map tadpoles in the DLC pond continue to swim along, with some even growing into full-sized and feature-rich bullfrogs in the last couple of weeks. Only a little bit of growing left to do before the frogs find their way to the stream. One of those maps that isn't ribbit-ing around just yet though, is O.K. Corral, an asymmetrical medium-sized map and O.K. Corral had its lighting tweaked considerably. The changes shifted the sun's position shifted, giving the entire map a warm death-at-sunset feel. The sun's rays stream through trees and into the blown out structure that often ends up at the very epicenter of combat (assuming you've procured some kind of close-quarters weapon). If you haven't got anything short range, however, there's a variety of multi-level open air catwalks, with glorious sight-lines down long semi-protected alleyways where you can rain death from above.

Jodrell Bank, a map Frankie talked about in recent weeks, is fast becoming one of my favorite maps from our excellent smorgasbord of DLC maps. It's a Team Slayer main course and player counts would fit swimmingly into both Social Slayer and Team Slayer hoppers and I think it might even be possible to shoehorn a few more players into the mix without overcrowding things.

Purple Reign continues to see slick revisions. The earliest iteration of the map actually had a completely different overall shape. If I sketched the cross section of the map's floor onto a napkin it would've looked like a small hill, but when you played it, it wasn't readily apparent. In the last month, the concavity was changed so that if you were staring the same napkin with the new version of it it'd look more like a gently sloping bowl. The difference in the way the map played then versus now is pretty remarkable. Subtle changes to the floor's geometry resulted in wider lines of sight for players staring down one half of the map and an intricate and strategic mix of floor/column/ramp gameplay on the other side and all of the sneaky jumps those mechanics entail.

One of the sooner-than-later maps is a treat we're calling Vandelay. Vandelay is structurally the simplest map we've ever made, yet the tools that we're providing with the help of the Forge give the map tons of potential. That potential could be used for devising clever contraptions, unique playspaces and when paired with Player Traits could become a test bed for new ideas from both Bungie and the playerbase.

Tom Doyle, one of the artists working on some of the fineries in Vandelay described the knicks and knacks on the map as Legos. Up until now, Forge has been primarily thought of as an object editor. It's been a great tool for devising tweaks and changes to maps, the net result ranging from "Oh, you put more BRs on Snowbound," to "Wow, you made a Jail that you rescue players from."

We hope that Vandelay will help folks use the Forge because of the variety and different types of tools players will have at their disposal. Doyle has been working tirelessly with Tyson Green on these objects and tools. Changing weapons and spawns inevitably affects balance and map flow, but the Legos that Doyle is talking about will let players create spaces for gameplay and give them the means of dictating where players will encounter their foes, in addition to what they will be holding when they get there. Again, like we were with the Forge in the first place, we're pretty stoked to see what folks come up with when Vandelay releases into the wild.

Get Routed

One of our AI engineers and the Internet's very own Max Dyckhoff had a great router for network testing while Halo 3 was in development. Whenever anyone would join his game in out take home playtests his router would somehow ensure that players had a bad experience. Everyone would lag, scream profanities at Max and ask following morning that he not be allowed to participate in takehome tests because he's ruining all of the fun. We sorted out the issues with Max's router but he had some more tips on network connectivity that he wanted to pass along. Here's what Max sent along:

"Look at your router's documentation to see if it supports Quality of Service (QoS) settings, and if so then try setting the maximum upload and download speeds to 85% of your actual upload/download speeds."

Remember folks, not every router has a Quality of Service setting and before you go tweaking your network configurations, make sure to thoroughly pore over your router's information pamphlet. Most routers have online manuals and should come with paper manuals, so be responsible and do your homework.

Web Gems

While it's surely not new to some folks, I spent an embarrassing amount of time this week looking at different images from a couple of Halo 3-related fan sites that made some blips on some folks at Bungie Studios' radar.

Roger Wolfson pointed out that an Internet traveler figured out how to make 3D screenshots using our Screenshot function in-game. Now in order to see these images in 3D, you're going to need to eat a whole bunch of boxes of snacks until you find some 3D glasses inside. Thankfully, Roger brought some to work. Check out the images here.

Simply taking the screenshots and putting them up and making them totally sweet is one thing, but it's a whole 'nother thing to actually write an incredibly detailed guide on how-to make the screenshots on your own. It's like an episode of Mr. Wizard, but without the pauses for station identification and "public television needs your money" interruptions.

The other website we stumbled across this week is called Halotivational. The idea comes from a bunch of jokey Internet memes that are the result of the high action, overly intense, drama-filled shots of mountain climbers that you'll see while sitting in the Dentist's chair.

New Joints at the Bungie Store

There's a whole mess of new wares and wearables over at the Bungie Store: