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29 January 2014
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The Halo Bulletin: 1.29.14

01.29.2014 19:41

The Halo Bulletin

As the first month of 2014 comes to a close, it seems like an appropriate time to check in on the status of New Year's resolutions across the team. bs angel has boldly promised to wear a cat shirt once per week, and I do believe she's on track so far. Quinn has set out to become the Heisenberg of soap by creating an empire of scented soap bars for gamers. As for me, I've sworn to eat healthier and get more active. However, as some of you may have discovered, the major caveat with New Year's resolutions regarding a healthier lifestyle is that as soon as you 'round the January corner, you get smacked with Super Bowl weekend. Generally speaking, it derails any and all hopes of continued success, doing enough caloric damage in one day to negate all progress you may have made in the past month. Science has proven this disaster (or delicious defeat) is unavoidable, so we've put together the Halo 4 Spartan Bowl, an exclusive (and calorie free!) playlist we've got coming to Matchmaking this weekend only. Read on for details!

Halo 4 Spartan Bowl

Spartan Bowl

Super Bowl weekend means a few days of football-themed festivities, and this year, said festivities extend into Halo 4 Matchmaking. For this weekend's special edition playlist, we're featuring "touchdowns only" Ricochet on an updated version of "Stadium", a virtual football / battlefield designed by Nokyard. Two specific teams (Go Hawks!) will be represented through their official colors, so you can simulate the matchup in Halo 4 Matchmaking and custom games before the big game. Then, if you're unhappy with the final result (or in my case, just can't get enough Halo), you can continue to run games through Sunday evening.

The playlist will be available from this Friday, 1/31 through Sunday, 2/2. This reminds me that it is nearly February, which means we've got another Matchmaking update coming on Monday, and also that I need to make sure that bs angel is on track with her resolution.

Matchmaking Playlist Update

The next Matchmaking update will be released this Monday following the Halo 4 Spartan Bowl, so if you're craving some new playlist and game type action, you're in luck. We've got some brand new experiences on the way in the form of a featured playlist as well as new game type chosen by you, the community.


Heavies is our next featured playlist! In this warzone, you'll work with teams of six players each in Slayer and objective game types with a tremendous amount of firepower, including large weapons and vehicles. In Heavies, each of the maps in the playlist have been outfitted with an abundance of vehicles, additional cover for infantry, and heavy weapons. Hop into a vehicle or grab the weapon of your choosing, and join your teammates in all-out vehicular warfare.

On top of bonuses for destroying vehicles, the playlist will give players an opportunity to work towards their Vehicle Mastery commendation, with plenty of chances to destroy a healthy number of Mantises, Scorpions, Wraiths, and more. Additionally, those of you chasing Halo 4 commendations for some of the heavier weapons are likely to find success in Heavies. We will be offering both Slayer and King of the Hill in the playlist across on-disc maps as well as maps from the Crimson and Castle Map Packs.

Heavies will be available until February 17th. We'll see you in the playlist!

Community Choice: SWAT CTF

Thanks to your votes, SWAT CTF will be available in the SWAT Playlist this coming Monday! The game type was the clear winner over SWAT Oddball and SWAT King of the Hill, grabbing 47% of your community votes. The game type will feature forced respawn times and be playable on a variety of maps.

Thanks for your votes, and be on the lookout next week for another Community Choice Poll! Once you've had a chance to hop into Matchmaking, head on over to the War Games Feedback section of the forums and let us know what you think of the above.

Come Work on Halo - Franchise Writer

That's right! We're hiring, and looking for a certified Halo expert to join our team. If you know everything there is to know about the universe, can handle working with a ridiculously awesome team, and have the desire to grow the Halo franchise with your fancy words, you may be interested in our recently posted Franchise Writer position.

To give you an idea of what the job entails, I picked the brain of one of our writers from that very team, Jeremy Patenaude. Jeremy is one of the go-to experts on the team, and when I have a question about the history of UNSC vehicles, or evolution of the capitalization of the term "game types," I head on over to his desk and bother him. This week, he gave me some insight into what he loves about his job as well as the universe. Read on for the details!

The franchise writer position sounds pretty badass. Tell us, how did you end up working as a writer on the team?

My work at 343 Industries began in 2009, but before that I had been working in the community since about 2004. Initially, it was just a group of guys who liked discussing Halo, but it eventually evolved into a blog where we started throwing some of those ideas out there into the public space. When we published stuff on the blog we tried to ensure that it was articulate and thoughtful, whether we were talking about the moral implications of Halo 3's terminals or the combat flow and sight lines on Lockout. It was serious-minded conversation on Halo, and while there was some of that in the general community at the time, it wasn't very widespread. Not terribly long after we started the blog, Microsoft's Halo team was preparing to launch Waypoint; I was tipped off about an open writer position and was fortunate enough to be brought onboard to help out. After a year or two on Waypoint, which was a blast to work on, I moved over to the Franchise team. It's a small team of really great people (who work extremely hard on unbelievably rad things) so I consider myself beyond blessed.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of working on the Halo universe and fiction?

There are a ton of rewarding aspects: the team is awesome, the stuff we work on is great, and I love going into work every day to see what unique challenges crop up. If I could pick one thing that is rewarding about being involved in the fiction of Halo, it's seeing a project go from birth to completion and playing a role, however large or small, in that process. Like seeing novels come together from just a kernel of an idea to 400+ pages of Halo canon. Or watching a weapon or vehicle go from an early concept sketch to something I can actually use in the game, and then having to go back and figure out what interesting ways it could slot into Halo's existing canon. That whole arch of ideation to realization is something that is a blast to watch and experience.

What is your favorite area or subarea of the franchise to explore and write about?

My favorite area in Halo canon is easily the rich lore around the forging and fomenting of the Covenant, particularly the war between the Prophets and the Elites. There's something primal and profound about that era, when the Covenant wasn't so much an alliance of billions of aliens, but just an agreement between two species not to kill each other. The events in and around that time period, from the Prophets' own brutal civil war to the subjugation of the Brutes on Doisac--there's just a lot of really cool moments there that are huge in the history of Halo, but have seen little light of day yet outside of the story bible. Don't get me wrong, I love the other parts too--there's just something special about the Covenant's origin that I find interesting.

What is the maximum top speed of a Warthog, anyway?

Not fast enough if you're driving the flag back to base. Too fast if you're trying to pick up your teammate who now has the flag and is running outside the base directly in front of you.

Lastly, any advice would you give to Halo experts who might be applying for the Franchise Writer position?

Honestly, the key ingredients for this position are there in the job listing--if you've got them, you should absolutely apply. There are a lot of incredible writers out there, but as the listing indicates we want someone who is passionate about Halo and knows it at an intimate level. The great thing about Halo is that there are a ton of people out there who do love it and who do pay close attention to the games and the books, and so we're just as excited about this opportunity as anyone else.


For those interested in the position, head here to apply! Next up, bs angel is back with another Screenshot Spotlight.

Screenshot Spotlight: Nature

Last week, we turned the spotlight on explosions. This week, we decided to go with something a bit more scenic. Take a gander at the following nature screenshots, and maybe even find inspiration to make your own.

For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a screenshot of a heavy vehicle (Scorpion, Wraith, Warthog, etc.) and then tag it with "Heavy Vehicle" and "Halo Waypoint", and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!

And with that, this week's Bulletin comes to a close.

Until next week,