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28 March 2013
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The Halo Bulletin: 3.28.13

3.28.13 15:00
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While the weather in Boston was frightful, the inside of its convention center was delightful. At least it was if you were there last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, anyway.

Taking place March 22-24, video game lovers from around the world recently descended upon the snowy coast of Massachusetts for PAX East - an annual convention that celebrates all things gaming. We were there, happily nestled in the Xbox booth, letting people get their hands on the Halo 4 Castle Map Pack before its official April 8th launch date. We also discussed where we've been, where we are and what is on the horizon for Halo 4 Multiplayer in our Matchmaking-themed panel. Covering everything from the soon-to-be-released trio of maps to the Competitive Skill Rank system, to a little surprise by the name of Forge Island, we tackled as many subjects as we could cram into a single hour.

There are always questions after we release a spattering of new information, so this week's Bulletin is dedicated to answering some of those inquiries. We'll resume the normal Bulletin format next week but for now, enjoy the PAX East-themed Q&A, the "Q" of which was provided by you, and the "A" of which was provided by Franchise Development Director Frank O'Connor, Multiplayer Designer Quinn DelHoyo and Lead Multiplayer Level Designer Kynan Pearson (with a special appearance from Senior Environment Artist Vic DeLeon).

PAX East Q&A
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Are there any plans to further support Halo 4 after the next title update?
We intend to support Halo 4 through Matchmaking, events, essential fixes and playlist design for a long time to come - and while there are no announced map packs after Castle releases later this spring, we have some cool ideas about future content and support that we're tinkering with right now.

Will Multi-Team be 4 teams of 3? What game types will be included in that playlist?
Multi-Team, which launches with the Castle Map Pack, will consist of six teams of two. A couple of the modes that you can expect at launch are Slayer and Oddball. Who knows... maybe we'll throw SWAT in there as well.

Can we expect to see some universal balance changes applied to the default game settings?
-D34D D34D D34D
Yes. You can expect to see global tweaks to the sandbox much like the adjustment of the Boltshot in the previous title update and the Warthog's Gauss cannon in this one.

What weapon balancing is being considered right now?
We're constantly keeping an eye on the overall state of the game and its sandbox. We'll let you know more as soon as we can.

Is the TU weapon manipulation focused solely on damage and rate of fire or are there more variables that can be changed: Aim assist, bullet magnetism, bloom, spread, recoil, etc.?
We have several knobs that we can use when it comes to weapon tuning, a few being auto-aim, projectile accuracy and rate of fire.

Will players get some of those backend knobs to jiggle for custom games?
Unfortunately, the title update does not allow for weapon tuning in custom games.

Will the weapon tweaking you'll be doing with the new TU affect custom games or only Matchmaking?
-Nuclear Taco 42
Any tweaks done to the sandbox will only affect Matchmaking. Players can download the specific game mode variants from Matchmaking to implement those settings in custom matches.

How in-depth will you allow community-driven playlists or game types such as Throwdown or Grifball alter the weapon traits to suit their respective playlists?
Those playlists are very community-driven and that's what we love about them. If the community is interested in crazy weapon stuff in Action Sack or some competitive tuning in Throwdown, for example, we would love to foster that type of engagement.

Will weapons ever return to the regular despawn time of 1 minute as opposed to the quick 12-second despawn that happens now?
This is not something we're considering at this time, as higher despawn times with Map Ordnance and Personal Ordnance leads to an overwhelming amount of power weapons at play.

Will an option for enabling/disabling Sprint become available with the title update?
Currently there are no plans to add a custom games option to enable/disable sprint. We may look into experimenting with that, though, in a game type or playlist at some point.

What will CSR rankings be based on, wins/losses or K/D ratio?
For the mainstream playlists, your CSR is based on your individual performance in each match and the CSR of those you play against. In select playlists, your CSR will be determined on whether you win or lose as a team, as well as the CSR of your opponents.

Will it be easier or harder to rank up in the CSR system than Halo 2/Halo 3, and will you go down when you lose?
We expect different players to have different experiences with the CSR system, based upon several different factors, including their skill level along with the skill level of their opponents. In the same way performing well positively affects your CSR, performing poorly will negatively affect your CSR.

Will everyone's CSR start at 0 or will it be retroactive?
As this is a brand new feature, everyone's CSR will be set to 0 when it launches (please note stats such as your SR and Commendations will remain intact). This will allow all players to start on equal footing and enjoy the progression of the 1-50 system. We will also periodically reset CSR for things such as game updates and special events.

How often will you reset CSR?
Resetting CSR is something that we aren't taking lightly. When we do reset CSR, we'll be sure to provide ample messaging describing the reasons for doing so.

How soon will CSR be updated after a game? Immediately after each game or will it take a few minutes?
CSR is based on the previous full game played, so the data from that session is processed, applied to your Halo 4 account and then displayed. You won't see it update on the fly as you play, but rather between games. So you will basically always be one game ahead of your CSR as you play.

Why implement CSR in all playlists? For example, it doesn't fit the spirit of Action Sack and risks making everything hyper-competitive.
-Plastic Hassle
Because CSR deliberately isn't exposed directly in the game, there will be an automatic and significant reduction in the amount and type of abuse, grinding and garbage - that, and the natural selection that our community will do as it relates to the importance of CSR game types. That is to say, nobody will really care about the wackier modes, but lots of people will care about the more precise, competitive modes.

Will Join-in-Progress be taken out for CSR playlists?
Join-in-Progress windows will be tweaked for certain playlists like Team Throwdown or Doubles to help ensure valid and accurate CSR reporting.

Will there be a second season of Spartan Ops?
There is no "Season 2" of Spartan Ops scheduled at the moment, but rest assured the story of Crimson, the Infinity and those characters and events is far from over.

How big is the play space of Forge Island?
-Lord Zedd
The largest of the three islands is as long as the playable space of Ragnarok, though it's wider since it's cylindrical. The others two islands are medium and small by comparison, though I don't have exact numbers offhand. We also let you build away from the islands in any direction and in the sky with an extremely large range as well. Using the length of the large island as a unit of measurement, you can get between 6-10 units away from the cluster of islands in any direction before hitting the boundaries of where you can build.

Will there be hill/more rock pieces included in Forge Island? What about tree pieces?
We don't provide hills but we did include new rock pieces. These new rocks and trees are available in the "Natural" palette but we also included 2 extra-large rock objects in the "Buildings" palette so you can make a much more natural map.
Actually Kynan, some of the larger rocks are so big that I've used them as hills and ramps -made some really sweet Warthog jumps, too. Heck, I built a whole level made solely from rocks. So many rocks! Trees, too. I made a giant forest! It was so... necky.

Will the Forge budget be greater on Forge Island than other maps?
As you know, there are limitations on the quantity of objects that can be placed due to max object count limitations and lightmap memory. The budget hasn't been expanded, though there are changes to where objects are located in the palettes now. Most of the larger pieces from other palettes and some new larger rocks have been placed into the "Buildings" category. The quantity of "Buildings" objects that can be placed has been increased from 12 to 20. The other categories object quantities have stayed the same. Technically, it is a minor increase, though you will still have to manage your object counts just as you did in the original three Halo 4 Forge maps.

To what extent can we use the water to build on Forge Island? Is the kill boundary set in a way that we can place objects and play underwater?
You can build along the surface of the water but you will die if the water level reaches above the waist of the Spartan. There were limitations on what we were able to do with water, based on many different factors, including the size of the level. The water is opaque, so while you can place objects below the surface, you won't be able to see them unless they are poking out

Will the Forge pieces from Ravine, Impact and Erosion be available on Forge Island?
We used the base object set from Ravine for Forge Island. There have been some additions and improvements to the Forge palette, including trees, new rock types and a "green screen" object Machinima creators have long asked for.

Will any previously removed custom game types be added to Halo 4, e.g., Assault, Race, Territories, etc.?
There is always a possibility for old favorites to make a return in Halo 4 but we have nothing to announce on that front at this time

Are the Mega Bloks ONI REAP-X vehicles canon?
The REAP-X program itself is part of the Halo canon, but the "shape" of the Mega Bloks universe allows us some latitude in design and variance. All of the vehicles are being designed in collaboration with 343 Industries and you will see these new ONI and UNSC vehicles (or variants of existing vehicles) coming to stores this fall.

Will we ever get the option to drop the flag or press "X" to hold the flag?
Currently there are no plans to add the ability to drop the flag or pick it up manually. But I never say never, so we'll see.

I am very curious about Legendary Slayer. Are there any more details aside from what little was given at PAX? When it was said to be between Infinity Slayer and Throwdown, I was very intrigued!
-enigma within
Glad that you're excited for Legendary Slayer! So are we. Stay tuned.

While we couldn't fully answer all of the above questions, we wanted to let you know the current status of as many topics as possible that regularly pop up on our forums. Speaking of current statuses, Forge Island is running a bit ahead of schedule, so don't be surprised if you see it appear in the Halo 4 DLC menu before its April 11 release date. We hope you're excited about the information we could share, and we'll continue implementing as many of your requests as we can, while also adding new game modes, maps and content to your Halo 4 Matchmaking experience.

Halo 4 Screenshot Spotlight - Seeing Red
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Last week we shined the spotlight on Forge-themed screenshots. This week we decided to go with the color red. Take a gander at the vibrantly beautiful shots below, then capture your own for your shot at being featured in next week's Bulletin.

For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a screenshot that features a vehicle. Then tag it with "Vehicle" and "Halo Waypoint", and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!

And with that, another Halo Bulletin comes to a close. As always, thanks for spending a small part of your day with me, and I'll see you next week for more of the same. Until then...

bs angel

P.S. Discuss.