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26 February 2014
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The Halo Bulletin: 2.26.14

02.26.2014 17:33

The Halo Bulletin

Last week, I predicted that this month's community playdate would result in numerous interoffice debates, references to match highlights, and food fights. While I have been unsuccessful at actually getting the third activity in that list to happen (one day, I tell you), the first few days of this week have absolutely been full of sly references to Monday's mischief. Several of us hopped into the Big Rumble playlist on February 24, and before each game, bs angel not only encouraged everyone in the lobby to target me during the match, but also made sure that everyone voted for anything but my favorite voting option. Essentially, she was doing her best to make sure I was having an awful time. Despite her best efforts, though, we (myself included) had an awesome time playing with many of you, and also enjoying the chaos that is Big Rumble Oddball on Exile. We ran into a bunch of community members, including several of you who kicked our butts. As usual, if this applies to you, you are now banned from Halo 4. (Just kidding! Or am I?)

If you missed us this week, don't worry - we've got another community playdate right around the corner. On March 10th, we'll be playing some Medal Madness. Speaking of - let's get into this week's Matchmaking update.

Matchmaking Playlist Update

343 Community Playdate

This Monday, we'll be bringing some new freshness into Halo 4 Matchmaking, including a brand new featured playlist and Community Choice Poll winner. Last week, we asked which throwback Rumble Pit game type you wanted to see in Matchmaking, and your votes have been tallied.

343 Community Playdate

Securing nearly half of the community votes, Rumble Swords was selected by you for inclusion into the Rumble Pit playlist, and the game type will be available in Matchmaking this coming Monday! If you've got the urge to do a bit of slicing and dicing or want to rack up some kills for your Energy Sword weapon commendation, hop into the playlist and do some damage.

The March 3rd Matchmaking update will also include our newest game type, Medal Madness. This 4 vs. 4 game type brings an entirely new experience to Halo 4 War Games, and we have been playing (I mean, cough, play testing) every chance we get. Rather than ramble on about how cool I think it is, I sat down with TTL L askan, one of our multiplayer designers, to talk about the game type and also what's in the works in the Matchmaking department.

Hey, Laskan!

WHATSUP, BRAVADO! It's not often that we get to talk here in the office so I gotta say it's nice to hear from you. I love hearing your buttery-soft dulcet tones live and in person. For anyone who doesn't know, who maybe hasn't heard Bravo call a game of Halo (Halo 4 Global Championship FTW), his voice is pretty darn easy on the ears. I often wonder if the world even knows what it's missing since he decided against pursuing a career as a vocalist. Also, dude, I thought Ave Maria was a bold choice for karaoke.

Thanks for the kind words! I've always had a soft spot for 19th century French classics. Let's start with the game type on everyone's mind. Tell us about Medal Madness!

I'm glad you're asking about the game type. We've never done anything like this in Halo, and I'm excited to see what the community thinks. Medal Madness is a 4 vs. 4 team game type where each side works to collect the most of a requisite medal in a one-minute time period, which we refer to as mini-rounds. The team that collects the most of said medal will win the mini-round and earn a point. The first team to earn seven points (by winning mini-rounds) wins the match. To facilitate the earning of medals, we dynamically shift player traits as the new mini-rounds begin, and there are no breaks in the action (as opposed to actual round-based game types). As a quick example, when the Double Kill medal is the goal, the rules of the game mirror SWAT - you'll immediately have no shields, no radar, and a Battle Rifle will pop into each player's hand. Headshots galore!

What are some of your favorite mini-rounds in Medal Madness?

There are a bunch of cool, and maybe I should say, unexpected mini-rounds in Medal Madness. A few of my favorites are Snapshot, Assassination, and Hail Mary. One thing I particularly enjoy is watching the mini-rounds shift and how the proximity of players changes so dramatically. Watching players go from Binary Rifle kills to Melee Medals is a riot. Since you never know what's next, no two games are ever the same.

Here are the different medals that are available in Medal Madness in each of our randomly generated mini-rounds:

  • Double Kill
  • Snapshot
  • Assassination
  • Hail Mary
  • Spartan Laser
  • Melee
  • Supercombine
  • Rail Gun
  • Binary Rifle Kill
  • Sword / Hammer Kill
  • Rocket / Fuel Rod Kills

Any plans for Medal Madness after the playlist is over?

If I have my way, and I sometimes do, it's going into Action Sack. I think Medal Madness fits really well there, and Action Sack has seen a real resurgence since January's inclusion of Husky Raid, Paintball, and Clang of the Hill, so I'm hoping that this game type will help to continue that. If it isn't obvious, I'm excited about the prospects for this game type.

What other game types do we have in the pipe for the near future?

I've got a couple of things in the works in our Sustain Design Lab. The first thing we're working on are some changes to the Team Throwdown playlist, and that update will be coming in the middle of March. While the playlist will still emphasize balance and precision shooting, we are looking at making some changes that we'll discuss once that update draws nearer.

One other thing I'm working on (be on the lookout for shirukens as we discuss this, my friend) is a little something called Ninja Assassins. Details on this one are still shrouded, in black, but we might be able to release more information in updates to come. Or the game type might appear from the shadows, decimate an entire village, throw down a smoke bomb and vanish.

Were you impressed by my Oddball skills on Exile in this past Community Playdate? Were you?

Bravo, we know you're good, no one can deny that. I'd be remiss in my duty though, if I didn't warn ya young sir, that you'd better show the proper respect to a cagey vet. I've put down 350,000 (confirmed) who thought that they were up to the challenge. On the virtual battlefield my Battle Rifle doesn't discern, it lays waste without prejudice to any and all who would seek to oppose me. Many great foes, not unlike yourself, have witnessed firsthand what waits for those who'd try. I beseech you Bravo, be oh so very careful what you wish for, as you just might get it.

I'm not sure what all of that means, but I'll take that as a "yes, I was very impressed!" Thanks for taking some time and chatting with me, Laskan.

Anytime Partner!

Halo: Escalation #3

As of today, the third issue of Halo: Escalation is now available! In this issue, Commander Palmer confronts the traitor who has betrayed her team as the Covenant closes in on their position. With time running out, Lasky is forced to make a costly sacrifice to save the peace delegation from the impending attack. If you haven't read the first two issues, you can catch up on an introduction from issue #1 here, or if you're a bit further ahead, you can peek into Halo: Escalation #2 here. If you're ready to get started on issue #3, read on below, and if you aren't caught up, beware - spoilers be ahead.

If you'd like to jump into the action, here's the introduction and first page from issue #3:

Splitting up, Captain Lasky and Spartan Ray set off to restore communications with UNSC Infinity while Commander Palmer and her Spartans escort the diplomats toward a Covenant redoubt where they can better defend themselves.

En route, Palmer discovers the enemies they've been fighting are actually mercenaries . . . though who they are working for remains a mystery . . .

To continue reading, head to your local retailer or download the third issue of Halo: Escalation from Dark Horse. We've also put together some wallpapers of the Halo: Escalation #3 cover art for you to adorn your devices with, because we kind of sort of like you, and your devices, too.


Waypoint Mobile App Update

As the team moves forward (full speed ahead) with new projects (insert absolutely no new info here), we are sometimes required to take a step back and examine everything that we're supporting in order to ensure that we're delivering the best experiences possible. On August 1, 2014, we will be discontinuing support for the Halo Waypoint mobile apps (including the ATLAS feature) on Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. It is a difficult decision to end support for any element of the Halo franchise, but doing so allows us to apply the people and resources used on those legacy items to focus on future Halo projects, including of course, Halo for Xbox One. We are grateful to those of you who found the Halo Waypoint mobile app useful - you have helped make our products better.

So what does this mean? On August 1, 2014, the Halo Waypoint mobile apps will no longer be available for download from the respective mobile app marketplaces. The decommissioning of these apps will in no way impact the Halo 4 Stats app, and you'll also still be able to access your Halo: Reach information, including Game History, Challenges, and Stats, on Halo Waypoint, which is optimized for mobile and tablet devices. If you have the Halo Waypoint app on your device, you can still use it to access your Halo stats, but the ATLAS feature will no longer be supported. Also, if you delete the Halo Waypoint app from your device, you will not be able to re-download it.

On the same date, we'll also be discontinuing the rendering of custom Halo: Reach Spartan images on http://www.halowaypoint.com. If you played Halo: Reach before the service is decommissioned, your Spartan image will be the last one rendered on Waypoint. If you play Halo: Reach for the first time after the service has been decommissioned, you will see the default Halo: Reach Spartan image.

If you need further assistance beyond that, please use one of the Xbox Support contact methods here.

Next up, bs angel is back with a brand new screenshot spotlight!

Screenshot Gallery: Purple

Last week, we turned the spotlight on the Magnum. This week, we decided to go with a color intermediate between red and blue. Take a gander at the following purple screenshots, and maybe even find inspiration to make your own.

For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a screenshot featuring the FOTUS helmet and then tag it with "FOTUS" 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,