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2 February 2012
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The Halo Bulletin: 2.2.12

2. February 2012 21:00

Two Beers, Wassup

Two Beers, Wassup.

If you were to pull up a chair, grab one of our food-encrusted controllers, and partake in the shenanigans that routinely go down in our super-secret playtest lab, you would probably find yourself subjected to an endless stream of comments regarding your mom, your face, and the perfectly timed headshots that recently struck both the former and the latter. While our hypercompetitive nature typically results in an excess of trash talking, we also know how to harness it in a positive way, too. Take, for instance, our recent studio-wide activity where we not only made a difference in the lives of thousands, but also almost managed to make dozens of 343-ers regurgitate simultaneously. Let me explain....

The cold winter months are an especially difficult time for those who are less fortunate. That's why we pit half the studio against the other half of the studio in a competition to see who could donate the most food to Northwest Harvest—a local charity dedicated to fighting hunger across Washington State. The premise was simple: fill up the most food bins, and choose what type of beer goes into your kegerator, and your opponents', the next time they run dry.

Oh yes, the stakes were high. Almost unbelievably so.

Fueled by the fear of being forced to ingest barely drinkable, beer-flavored water (I'm looking at you, Milwaukee's Best), numerous 343-ers cleared out their kitchen cabinets, pantry shelves, and nearest buy-in-bulk stores until all of the aforementioned areas resembled a ghost town (see what I did there?). When the standoff was said and done, the entire studio stood as one and donated over 35,000 meals to Northwest Harvest. With a number like that, I think it's safe to say we're all winners. Except the half of the studio that is stuck drinking a not-fit-for-human-consumption type of fermented beverage, I suppose.

Okay, that's not really how that story ended. The winning team actually took the high ground by opting to put Guinness in both kegerators. I'm not saying the person that made that decision needs to toughen up a bit, but the person that made that decision should probably think about toughening up a bit. By the way, should you find yourself with a spare serving of food any time soon, drop it by your local food bank. I'm sure the lucky recipient would be eternally grateful. <3

Halo: Reach Screenshot

February Matchmaking Playlist Update

Speaking of being eternally grateful, the team that designs the Halo: Reach playlists always appreciates the feedback you leave in the Matchmaking section of our forums. They're looking for additional feedback this month, though, so let's dip into the specifics of the February Matchmaking playlist update, which is slated to go live on February 7, so you can find out yet another way to make your voice heard.

  • Grifball updated.

    Map changes include Radiant being removed and Impact Arena (Grifball) and Sierra Vista (Grifball Dash) being added. One additional change to this playlist is that Blargball variants will now appear in voting slot three only. Semi-related, to vote for that choice, you must say "wort wort wort" into your mic while simultaneously selecting that option. Please note that saying "wart wart wart" will render your selection null and void.

  • Squad DLC updated.

    Squad DLC's population is dangerously low. To breathe some life into this list, we're making a few changes. Anniversary maps have been set to optional, and Noble and Defiant maps continue to be required. We have also heard your concerns in regard to a few achievement-friendly game types still being difficult to find. In response to that, we've added the following objective game types to voting slot three:

    Multiflag on Highlands, 1 Flag on Highlands, 1 Flag on Condemned, Invasion on Breakpoint, Crazy King in Breakpoint, 1 Flag on Breakpoint, 1 Flag on Tempest, Multiflag on Tempest, Crazy King on Tempest, Neutral Bomb on Tempest, Multiflag on Condemned, Crazy King on Condemned, Crazy King on High Noon, 1 Flag on High Noon, Crazy King on Breakneck, 1 Flag on Breakneck, Stockpile on Ridgeline, Neutral Bomb on Ridgeline, and Crazy King on Ridgeline.

  • Rumble Pit updated to TU settings.

    TU game types are our standard Reach Matchmaking settings with the Title Update changes. Those changes are: damage bleed enabled, modified reticle bloom, sword block removed, Armor Lock modified, and Active Camo modified.

  • Infection updated.

    Map changes include Sword Base being removed and The Cage replacing Uncaged. Also, we've noticed some feedback coming from both matchmaking and internal playtests about players getting betrayed by teammates at the beginning of games. Since that sometimes results in a less advantageous respawn position, we've removed friendly fire in an attempt to cut down on that particular form of griefing.

    P.S. One final effort is all that remaaaaaaains, so please, dear players, just focus on the braaaaaains.

  • Banshee replaced with Revenant on Breakneck.

    The classic Gauss 'Hog vs. Banshee battle on Headlong will continue. We bid adieu to the flying purple thing on Breakneck, though, and welcome its hovering brethren in its place!

  • Rocket 'Hog Race weighting reduced in Multi Team.

    I think this game type should be renamed "Spawn in the Passenger Seat Every -Yoinking- Time." That has absolutely nothing to do with the reweighting, by the way. I just don't want the impending name change to take you by surprise.

  • Zero Bloom moved to Competitive category, and Beta category hidden.

    Zero Bloom Slayer is popular enough to be moved to the Competitive category. We're working on what will be in the Beta category next, but it needs a little more time to marinate in order to reach its maximum important status. Keep an eye out for its return in the near future.

  • Classic game types removed from Anniversary Squad, and One Bomb Damnation moved to Anniversary Classic.

    Classic game types are being removed from Anniversary Squad, and One Bomb Damnation is moving to Anniversary Classic. What? I already said that? Fine then. Moving on.

  • Team Slayer changes. Make your voice heard!

    We are in the process of deciding if the Team Slayer playlist will be updated to TU settings. This continues to be one of the most popular playlists, so we are not taking this decision lightly. In an effort to get player feedback that's as accurate as possible, we are going to pull voting data over a two-week period.

    Team Slayer Voting Screen

    To do that, we're removing one of the voting choices. That will leave you with one vanilla choice and one TU choice. We realize that ties default to the highest voting option, so in order to balance the results, vanilla will be the top selection for the first week, and TU will be the top selection for the second week. Once the results are in, we'll analyze the data and make an informed decision.

    So, participate in the Team Slayer playlist starting on February 7, and make your voice heard! Because the other option, of course, is forever holding your peace....

  • Team Hotshot added to Action Sack.

Right about now you're probably asking yourself, what is Team Hotshot? To answer that question, I grabbed the playlist designer that created this game type, and asked him a few questions.

Team Hotshot

Mr. L, I'd like to ask you, on behalf of both people reading the Bulletin this week, what exactly is Team Hotshot?

Team Hotshot is a new game type in which a player's damage output is tied to the number of successive kills the player has achieved. When you spawn, you're at level zero. One kill progresses you to level one, the next kill progresses you to level two, and the third kill progresses you to the third and final level. We call this the player's "heat." The twist is that players will notice their speed is tied to their heat level.

Congratulations on doubling your readership, by the way.

Why, thank you! Back to business, though. How did you come up with this game type?

My original idea for Team Hotshot was to have the person get stronger with every successive DMR bullet that hits a target. What it eventually morphed into was players getting stronger as they get kills. So it's not every shot you land, but every kill you get. The tricky part was that you have this rich-keep-getting-richer economy, and there needs to be a balance for all the players who are suddenly stronger than their opponents. So, the idea was much like working your way up the weight classes of boxing; the stronger you are, the slower you are. The heavyweights in a boxing match don't throw 120 punches per round like the featherweights do. But when you get hit with a haymaker from a heavyweight, it puts you out. They throw fewer punches but have more power behind them. Hotshots are similar. They can't move around as quickly, but they can do more damage.

What is a good strategy when playing Team Hotshot?

You want to work with your team to protect the slower players who are putting out more damage. You also want to get those people power weapons. Here's why: when you're at the third level of heat, you are doing significantly more damage than a player who just spawned. For instance, one sniper shot anywhere on an enemy player will kill them. That brings up another point. Players who are ascending through the heat levels need to be more careful about their ordnance output. When one grenade can kill an enemy player, it can betray a teammate just as easily.

Rockets Chart

I wanted to help illustrate your point, so I made this rocket damage chart. I was attempting to show the radius being the same but the damage output increasing. I think I just ended up drawing a rainbow, though.

I would say A for effort, but that's really bad. To make up for that, here are the specifics for each heat level.

Heat 0/3: 100% D.M. 100% Speed
Heat 1/3: 115% D.M. 90% Speed
Heat 2/3: 130% D.M. 85% Speed
Heat 3/3: 145% D.M. 80% Speed

Another fun thing about this game type is that players will be able to adjust heat level traits in custom games.

So, if people want to mess around with the settings themselves, they should grab the game type when they see it in Action Sack?

Yup. I'll also upload it to the Halo Waypoint File Share shortly after the update goes live on February 7.

You're so super nice, L.

So I've been told, Jessica. So I've been told.

And that's your February Matchmaking playlist update in all its wordy glory. We hope you enjoy this month's changes. Although if you don't, we know you'll let us know one way or another. Hopefully not through powdery substances sent through the mail this time, though....

Custom Challenge of the Week

Custom Challenge of the Week - Catch

Last week, for our Custom Challenge of the Week festivities, dead Drones were worth ten times their usual amount. This week we're focusing on a different part of the Campaign experience: Skulls. Or, to be more specific, Catch. Normally this particular gameplay modifier adds a 10% boost to your total Credit value for a challenge, but for one week only we are tripling that percentage.

So, from now until next Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, setting up a Custom Challenge with Catch and then turning that skull on in-game will result in three times the usual multiplier. Please note that when you set Skulls as a Constraint, you must activate ONLY those skulls for games to count. No more, no less.

I do believe there's only one thing left to say.... Swing, batta batta, swing!

Different Way to Campaign

A Different Way to Campaign - Available Now on YouTube

The Halo Waypoint content team has been creating videos longer than you have been alive (assuming you've been alive less than three years). During that timeframe, they've produced and created everything from motion comics to fiction pieces to game-related trailers, and we're working hard to make this content available in as many places as possible.

We started that effort last week by making four of our original motion comics available on the Zune Video Marketplace, and we're continuing that trend by bringing our Different Way to Campaign series to YouTube. Starting today with DWTC: Setting the Table, we'll upload one nostalgia-inducing video a week to our official YouTube channel. Watch it, embed it, or post a well-thought-out and intellectually stimulating comment. But subscribe today, so you're ready for all the incoming goodies!

Not related, I originally misspelled the word "intellectually" in the preceding paragraph. I'm sure that says something about me, although I'm not exactly sure what.

Halo Waypoint

What's next for Halo Waypoint.

Our friends at Bungie recently announced that as part of Halo's transition to 343, they will no longer be able to update game stats and player service records, host new user-generated content, or operate the Bungie Pro Service after March 31. This is part of our contract with Bungie, and a planned stage of the Halo transition process. Decisions on future and ongoing support are Microsoft's alone, and if you have any further questions, please direct them at us, not Bungie. There has been a lot of discussion and some confusion around this transition, so we wanted to take a moment to tell you what will be affected and what's next for Halo Waypoint.

Starting on April 1, we will be increasing Halo: Reach File Share capacity from 6 slots to 24 slots at no extra charge. All Halo: Reach files, including films, screenshots, game types, and maps, will continue to be fully accessible in-game, just like they are today. We're also excited to announce that we are bringing Halo: Reach File Share access to the web version of Halo Waypoint this summer. After March 31, there will be a short period where new Halo: Reach user-generated content will not be accessible from the web.

While the real-time export of Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST data to the web will not be supported on Waypoint at the time of this transition, data collection is still taking place. In fact, Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST stats will continue to be reflected in your Halo Waypoint Career. To access your Halo Career, log on to the website, and click the drop-down arrow located to the right of your gamertag at the top of the screen. Then, click the Career Overview panel. There you will see the total number of Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Wars, and Halo: Reach Campaign and Multiplayer games you've played throughout your entire Halo career. You can also see Games Played, Time Played, Total Kills, and Kill/Death information for each title by selecting it in the Halo Stats Summary column.

Halo Stats

The most noticeable changes will include those features seen exclusively on Bungie.net, such as rendered films and Halo: Reach API keys. Those features are not included in the transition, and we do not have plans to develop similar features at this time.

343's focus for the near future is ensuring that the Halo: Reach experience is the best it can be, both in-game and on the web, expanding our Halo Waypoint services, and making Halo 4, which you can expect to hear more about in the not-so-distant future. We're excited about continuing to evolve the Halo franchise, and we thank you for joining us on this ride.

bs angel

P.S. If you need a new desktop adornment for your constantly rotating series of wallpapers, here is the latest Friday Caption Fun image. Embiggen, snag, and then hit the latest installment to leave your usual hilarious comment.

Friday Caption Fun

P.P.S. Discuss.

2.3.12 UPDATE

Since publishing yesterday’s Bulletin, we’ve seen a lot of spirited conversation within the Halo community on a variety of topics. In response to one of those topics, we would like to clarify some of the confusion around the upcoming Team Slayer matchmaking vote.

We want to make it clear there will always be a way for you to experience Halo: Reach multiplayer with the original, non-TU settings in matchmaking. As we move forward, we’re constantly looking at ways to consolidate and update multiplayer. In fact, we’re still looking at ways of refining the Title Update player experience in Reach.

As always, thank you for your passion and honesty, and please continue giving us your feedback. We appreciate it more than you know.