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15 May 2013
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The Halo Bulletin: 5.15.13

05.15.2013 14:54

Ever since Bravo joined the team, he's been trying to wrestle the Bulletin away from me— and I don't mean figuratively, either.

Previously, the winner of our weekly arm wrestling match got to write the intro to the Bulletin. Clearly I have an edge when it comes to brute strength, so my many-months-long winning streak surprised no one. Once Bravo realized he would never secure a pin, though, he changed up the rules: our weekly match-ups were moving in-game.

Our first 1v1 was Plasma Pistols only...or so I was told. Turns out Rockets were secondary. Bravo wins (and pens the 5.1 Bulletin). Our second 1v1 was on Settler, where Bravo placed my only spawn point in the ocean. Yup, he wins again (and pens the 5.8 Bulletin). After the shenanigans, I insisted that our third head-to-head be a straight-up Battle Rifle duel to the death. I got the four-shot BR, and Bravo got a broken one. Or at least that's what I'm assuming happened, considering he spent more time watching my celebratory crouching than actually playing.

So here we are, bs angel at the Bulletin helm once again. Considering that I don't know what next week will bring, I'm going to make the most out of this one by talking to you about... well, you.

Halo is nothing without its community, and that's something we remember each and every day. We share your creations on our web site, through both informal blogs and also more formal spotlights. We promote your events, from both our personal and official Twitter accounts, and we spend a sizeable amount of time consuming your feedback, primarily on our forums but also around the rest of the Haloverse as well.

That's why when a community-voted award is bestowed upon us, it resonates across the entire studio. It's your vote that got us the recognition and we're appreciative and thankful for that. Such was the case last week, when we were honored to be named the recipient of GeekWire's Game of the Year award, which was voted on by you, the fans. GeekWire covers the people, companies and innovations emerging from the Pacific Northwest, and Chris Lee, Halo 4's Lead Producer, was on hand to accept the joystick-themed trophy.

We don't know either.

So thank you for your support, and, without further ado, here's Bravo to talk multiplayer with you. Yes, he still gets to write part of the Bulletin. I do have cat pictures to look at, you know.

Weapon Tuning Live Stream

Bravo here with some weapon tuning and Matchmaking updates! As we've been discussing over the past few weeks, several community members will be joining us in studio this Friday to check out the current state of our multiplayer sandbox weapon tuning. Not only will these players have a chance to check out what's going on behind the scenes, but they'll also be joining us on a live stream that will give you a chance to see the newly-tuned weapons in action with gameplay from top pros and personalities as well as insight and commentary from multiplayer designer Quinn DelHoyo and yours truly.

Join us on Friday at 2pm PDT at www.twitch.tv/343industries. Be sure to follow the stream to be notified of future live streams!

Joining us in-studio on Friday will be:

We will showcase gameplay from several of these players across multiple game modes and maps, as well as discuss the current sandbox tuning during and after their matches. We can't wait to show you what we've been working on and hope to see you at 2pm on our Twitch.tv channel!

Current State of Weapon Tuning

Let's talk a bit more about what's going on with weapon tuning. While we're certainly nearing the final build, we're also looking forward to receiving feedback from our community guests as well as those watching the live stream from home: you! This feedback will undoubtedly provide valuable insight because Friday's live stream will be the world premiere of our sandbox tuning. Additionally, we'll continue updating you with our progress in each Bulletin. For now, I sat down with Quinn to grab some details about the vehicle weapon tuning, as it seems some of you are particularly interested in this area.

Vehicle Weapon Tuning Details

We've mentioned that we've been looking at the overall state of game types with vehicular combat and attempting to find a balance with vehicle weapons that makes them the perfect mix of deadly, viable, and, of course, balanced. As of right now, both the Warthog and Mantis chain guns have received a 35% damage increase. In current testing, this increase provides a deadly method for objective play and Slayer domination for players who utilize vehicle play.

Also, we've noticed a ton of questions about the schedule of our weapon tuning, so I sat down with several members of the Matchmaking Systems Team to get some insight into what tweaking sandbox settings requires (and what can go wrong):

The biggest difficulty in tuning the Halo 4 sandbox is that we support so many different modes (at a high level, we have Campaign, Spartan Ops, and Multiplayer). But each of those gets broken down even further: co-op (1-4 players), difficulty levels, Skulls, Forge, saved films, and a plethora of different multiplayer modes, some of which have different traits that further modify sandbox elements. From that perspective, just fully vetting and testing everything can be an incredibly complex and challenging problem. What might seem like a relatively simple change can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare for our testing team. Start changing multiple things at the same time, and it gets even harder! And that's just looking at things from a high level and ignoring the impact of loadouts and the fact that our low-level moment-to-moment gameplay provides players with so many tactical choices and interplay (golden triangle of guns/melee/grenades + Armor Abilities, vehicles, and regenerating health/shields + headshots, and so on).

-Matchmaking Systems Team

As you can begin to see, we have to be very delicate with sandbox tuning not only due to how each change affects the entire sandbox, but also due to technical concerns. These include verifying that all animations, audio effects, and more function correctly as we tweak the firing rate, reload speed, and other values. As a result, our weeks of testing and tweaking will ensure that the final changes, when delivered on June 3, will provide the most optimal multiplayer experiences.

Matchmaking Playlist Update

This coming Monday, we have some new stuff coming to Matchmaking. As usual, I'm excited, and I want to tell you about it. In Spartan Ops, we'll be featuring an encore of episode 7, and in War Games, we'll be adding a playlist and updating several others.

Premiering this coming week is the Community Forge Island playlist, which brings with it 6 new community-made maps on Forge Island, and will be available until the June 3rd Matchmaking Playlist Update. If you haven't yet downloaded the free Forge Island canvas, head here to download to your Xbox 360. The Community Cartographers have worked hard to select some of their favorite map and game type combinations:

Map: Elevated by Smexi Bilzo
Infinity Slayer
Capture the Flag - 5 Flag
Extraction 1-Site

Map: Crucifix by Wraith2098
Capture the Flag - 5 Flag
King of the Hill
Infinity Slayer

Map: Onyx by Hahkarazy
Throwdown v3 Slayer
Throwdown Capture the Flag - 5 Flag

Map: Confined by Big Papa Salot
TD Slayer Pro
Team Snipers
Capture the Flag - 5 Flag

Map: Ender by The Fated Fire
King of the Hill
Infinity Slayer

Map: Forgotten by Flying Shoe ILR
Extraction 1-Site
Capture the Flag - 5 Flag
King of the Hill

Please remember to head to the War Games Feedback section and give us your thoughts on the maps and playlist overall. The Community Cartographers and Forgers will review the feedback prior to selecting which of these fine maps will potentially make their way into Halo 4's official playlists in future updates.

In addition, Big Team Infinity Slayer and Infinity Slayer have some updates as well.

Big Team Infinity Slayer:

  • Slayer Pro added to voting options.
  • Complex added to map rotation.
  • Voting options reorganized to provide increased variety.

Infinity Slayer:

  • Slayer Pro added to voting options.
  • Complex removed from map rotation.
  • Voting options reorganized to provide increased variety.

If there's no Matchmaking Update next week, it's because I am practicing my arm wrestling strategies.

Halo 4 Screenshot Spotlight - EVA

Last week, we turned the spotlight on the Battle Rifle. This week, we decided to go with Extra-Vehicular Activity Armor. Take a gander at the following images of the fish bowl-esque helmet, and 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 the incineration effect. Then tag it with "Incineration" and "Halo Waypoint," and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!

And with that, another Bulletin comes to a close. Ninja, Ghost, CrazyByDefault, Tashi, Greenskull, and Neighbor, we'll see you Friday. The rest of you, we hope to see you Friday as well. Until then...

bs angel

P.S. Discuss.