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8 February 2012
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The Halo Bulletin: 2.8.12

8. February 2012 20:00

Are you ready for some football?

Oddball is one of my favorite game types, I find juggling to be positively captivating, and becoming a pool shark continues to hold one of the top spots on my bucket list. I suppose, after taking all those things into consideration, it's safe to admit that anything involving the handling of balls tends to tickle my fancy. That's why I, along with dozens of my 343 comrades, recently gathered around the studio's big screen to watch grown men move air-pressurized balls up and down a hash mark-covered field.

Super Bowl Super Bowl

Super Bowl Super Bowl

Super Bowl Super Bowl

Spread out amongst the piles of popcorn, pans of ribs, and manly bite-sized cupcakes were human and canine friends alike, all cheering on their favorite team. I would say each side was equally represented, but most people seemed to be rooting for a certain six-pack-wielding soccer player. At least, everybody at my table was. And no, the fact that I was sitting by myself is not at all relevant to this particular discussion.

What is relevant to this discussion, however, is halftime. Because, just like it was halftime at the Super Bowl, it's halftime in the Halo Universe, too.

The Master Chief hasn't been seen for almost five years, and you're all wondering what we're going to do to make a comeback. And you're all scared, because this isn't just another game.

The Halo community has seen some rough patches, and reduced populations when the time between games has stretched us to our limit. And times when fellow fans didn't always understand each other. It seems like we lost our heart at times. When the fog of mutual beat-downs, bullet spread, and informational droughts made it hard to see what lies ahead.

But after those trials, we rallied around Halo, and acted as one. Because that's what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can't find a way, then we forge one.

Halo: Anniversary

All that matters now is what's ahead. Where do we go from here? How do we come together? And, how do we win?

The Halo community can't be knocked out with a single plasma punch. Our shields will recharge, and we'll get right back up again. And when we do, an ancient evil will hear the roar of our Warthogs.

Yeah, it's halftime, fellow Halo fans. And our second half is about to begin....

bs angel

Okay, so that's not really the end of this week's Bulletin. I just couldn't come up with a smooth segue, so I ended it, just so I could start it again.

Stop looking at me like that. It made sense at the time.

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Stats, Stats, Baby

If you're anything like me, you not only like Halo, but you also enjoy the numbers that go along with it. That means the end of each game probably leads to not only checking your total number of kills and deaths, but also comparing your performance to your teammates'. And the seconds spent searching for your next game more than likely provide serious drill-down time, where you analyze the medals, sprees, and other vital stats that are saved for each and every game you play.

Because those numbers give you a tangible way to track your performance and improvement within the game, we offer you a variety of statistics for your number-crunching pleasure. To start you off on your data-mining adventure, I thought I'd introduce you to your Halo Career Overview page here on Halo Waypoint.

Halo Career Overview page, meet the one person reading today's Bulletin. One person reading today's Bulletin, meet your Halo Career Overview page.

Halo Career Overview

To access your Career Overview, sign in to Halo Waypoint, and then click the down arrow on the right side of your gamertag tab. Four boxes will magically appear. Select the one on the left that's conveniently titled Career Overview.

After selecting your Career Overview, you will then be greeted with information relevant to your entire Halo Career, including your BPR, your current Halo: Reach rank, your current Halo Waypoint level, summaries of both your Campaign and multiplayer experiences, and your Awards. From that page, you can also view a high-level summary of all the Halo games you've ever played, beginning with Halo 2.

Halo Career Overview

The current version of your Halo: Reach Spartan model is also visible on this page. So, whether you changed your armor last week or last year, that rather attractive in-game character and the numbers you've attained with him or her are current as the information is updated in near real-time.

Next week, we'll get into your nitty-gritty statistics, but for now, dip into your Career and thoroughly get to know your Overview page. Because, between you and me, it's fine with the wham-bam part, but it's the lack of a thank-you-ma'am that sometimes causes the problem.

While we're on the subject of numbers, I should also mention that we wanted give you a little something extra to spend in the Armory this week. That's right; if there weren't credits burning a hole in your virtual pocket before, there certainly will be soon...

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Team Slayer Super Jackpot

If your pocket is strangely void of any and all jing-a-ling-a-ling sounds, I highly recommend hitting up the Team Slayer playlist as many times as possible during the next two-week period, because with every game you play, you have a small chance of receiving a very cool 50,000cR bonus. This particular Super Jackpot, which I have officially renamed "Very Big Jackpot" due to its ginormous nature, will run until either you break the UNSC's bank or the calendar changes to February 22, whichever one happens first.

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Custom Challenge of the Week

We don't want you non-Team Slayer folks to be left out of the credit loop, so if the aforementioned Very Big Jackpot doesn't float your boat, we have a special Campaign-themed Custom Challenge of the Week that will hopefully keep your head above water. Here is the challenge, should you choose to accept it:

Kill 100 Banshees on the Halo: Reach Campaign level New Alexandria on Heroic, and get 10,000cR conveniently deposited directly into your account next week.

Halo fan Brantrecon suggests getting those kills while in a Banshee. Thus, the name of this challenge is "Beautiful Irony." Here are the applicable (and must follow exactly) constraints if you want to take a stab at this 10,000cR opportunity.


Name - Beautiful Irony
Challenge Type - Campaign
Goals - Kills of Enemy
Type - Banshee (Type-26 GSA)

Target - 100
Time Limit - Any time ending before Tuesday, February 14, 11:59 pm PT
Map - New Alexandria
Difficulty - Heroic

Please note the payout associated with this challenge will not happen upon turn-in; the 10,000 credits will instead mysteriously and magically appear in your account toward the latter part of next week. Also, you can only receive the increased payout once. So while doing it multiple times will undoubtedly bring you mass amounts of pleasure, it won't result in multiple 10,000cR rewards. It's ok, though, because we heard the amount of time your plasma cannon needs to recharge is unusually long anyway. We're not sayin', we're just sayin'.

Office of Halo Intelligence

Once, twice, three times an OHI.

While I'm fairly confident you know we love you (I mean, we have told you that lately, right?), I still enjoy grabbing various members of the Halo 4 development team and making them express that emotion in diary-type entries. This week, for the third installment of our Office of Halo Intelligence series, Frank O'Connor, the master wordsmith himself, took 20 seconds out of his day to write four words for you. I then insisted he add 439 more.

Ship Just Got Real

Obviously we've been working on the game in earnest for a long time, but it's all starting to feel pretty real to me now. Campaign is playable from start to finish (not to be confused with complete or polished) and multiplayer has been running for a while. It's amazing to see changes big and small have a dramatic effect on making the game smoother, more playable and more enjoyable in almost every session.

Personally I have been traveling a fair amount in support of the impending year-long launch activity. Visiting with our partners and colleagues in Europe to talk (and walk) them through the game, the features, the U.S. marketing plans and the sheer scale of the project. We certainly surprised some folks with the ambition and concrete realization of where we're at, but it was kind of cool to see genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the game.

Our show and tell was pretty BIG, since the European partners (marketing, retail guys, etc.) need as much information as is available to make their plans and start building the path to launch abroad. So they went from knowing practically nothing about the game, to knowing practically everything about it. Which is a weird feeling when you expend so much effort and energy on security and secrecy. It's amazing how much detail you need to go into. It's not good enough to simply list off the changes and additions and improvements, you have to contextualize them. It's been almost five years since Halo 3 and a LOT of stuff has happened between then and now: ODST, Reach, multiple map packs, loads of story and a whole swathe of technical and gameplay changes.

Creating material to explain those changes, walking people through the game features - showing them a lot of this stuff in action, it's fun, but it's nerve-wracking. In a way it's a preview of our public showings, where we get a feel for which changes, which additions, which refinements are going to get people excited. It's also a chance to get a feel for which new features are complicated and how to distill the explanations to capture the essence of what we're making. Training wheels, as it were, for showing you guys.

Launching a game is a massive undertaking, with literally hundreds of people all over the world preparing and planning to make sure that every aspect, from the box art to the matchmaking, is executed flawlessly. And if it seems slow, ponderous, even, then remember that there's a plan and a process, and that you'll see Halo 4 soon enough. And we can't wait to share it with you.


Now, while I'd love to leave you with Frankie's words resonating through your brain cavity, my need to share useless information has not quite been satiated. Thus, it's time for another round of community-submitted questions!

Halo: Reach Screenshot

How many boring Bulletins will there be till Halo 4 information? - DeDoubleyou

I'm disappointed you think my Bulletins won't be boring even after we begin sharing Halo 4 information. Why you gotta underestimate me like that?

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Will it be possible to have a sizeable update for Invasion in the very near future? - Kayne Undhelun

The Halo: Reach playlist designers have a set list of matchmaking-related tasks they're hoping to accomplish over the next several months. Freshening up Invasion is one of those things. More news about that as the work begins on freshening it up.

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Is the new composer going to keep the original theme's motif or is it going to be a brand new motif for us to listen for across the various tracks? - TitlingScarab35

Sotaro Tojima, the Audio Director for Halo 4, agreed to write the next Office of Halo Intelligence entry, so expect to hear more about the music in a week or two. For now, I'll just tell you his real goal is to make you cry. I don't think he realizes I already do that on a weekly basis, though.

And with that, we're done. Until next week, anyway....

bs angel

P.S. Here is your newest Friday Caption Fun desktop adornment, for the quip-addicted amongst you. Embiggen, snag, and then hit the latest installment to impress everyone with your wit!

Friday Caption Fun

P.P.S. Discuss.