The Halo Bulletin: 5.22.13
Back in my day, we had to walk to school uphill both ways, get up if we wanted to change the TV channel and play whatever map and game type combination the Matchmaking gods selected for us. That's right, no fancy-schmancy voting system existed. If you got Neutral Flag on Waterworks, you played Neutral Flag on Waterworks...and you liked it! Assuming you capped the flag and didn't fall off the bridge to your death every time, anyway (coughs and looks at Bravo).
Way back then, I may or may not have been a total pain in the ass (think chocolate milk kid plus Exorcist girl plus adorably curly pigtails). When I was being particularly rambunctious, I was often plopped down in front of the TV in an attempt to keep me still for more than two minutes. It was during this forced downtime that I picked up even more annoying habits, such as a near-perfect "ET phone home" impression, an obsession with Gremlins and a refusal to fall asleep until someone confirmed that no evil clown dolls were hiding under my bed. I also picked up something that wasn't annoying, though, and that was a love for Steven Spielberg and his many masterpieces.
From Jaws to Men in Black to Back to the Future to Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg has made a tremendous impact on not only the film industry, but also my life. That's why, when I first heard there was a possibility he was going to be the Executive Producer for our original Halo live-action television series, I peed my pants just a little. Then, when I heard it was official and finalized, well... let's just say a change of pants was in order.
The studio is incredibly excited about this partnership, and we can't wait to share more information about this particular project in the future. To set expectations accordingly, it will be a (long) while before you hear more about our just-announced TV series, as we are all still very early in the process. Fret not, though, because we have numerous things, both big and small, up our sleeves. None of those things are going to be revealed in today's Bulletin, but Bravo still has some interesting stuff to share with you. So pull up a chair, get comfy and start reading the tidbits below, which includes an update about the June 3 weapon tune and various Halo 4 Matchmaking odds and ends.
Current State of Weapon Tuning
Hey, it's Bravo. This past Friday, we had several community guests join us in the studio to check out a behind-the-scenes look at our current weapon tuning efforts. Through several hours of gameplay, a live stream broadcast and multiple group discussions over gourmet burritos, we got a chance to discuss how the weapons felt. If you'd like to check out the live stream, head here to watch.
The group hanging out after the live stream. Pictured left to right: Tashi, Ninja, Gh057ayame, Bravo, TheDrMouse, Greenskull, bs angel, CrazyByDefault, Quinn, Rukizzel, Neighbor
Everyone had a blast hanging out, but the most important thing to come of the visit was the ability for the Multiplayer and Sandbox teams to get direct feedback on the weapon tuning. Since their visit, we've been tweaking various values based on what we heard and saw, and we are excited to deliver the final weapons update to you in the next Bulletin before the weapon tuning goes live in Halo 4 Matchmaking on June 3.
I got a chance to sit down with several of our community guests after they returned home to pick their brains about weapon tuning (and more).
Thanks for joining us in the studio this past week, and thanks for sitting down with me today to discuss weapon tuning. First things first: What are your overall thoughts of the current state of weapon tuning testing?
Ninja: I believe that the current weapon tuning testing is near perfect. With just a small nerf to the scoped LightRifle, it would be perfect.
Greenskull: The game is much more fast-paced now. People are going to go crazy over the new Battle Rifle (BR) and Carbine settings.
Tashi: Totally agree with Greenskull. The game is much faster paced and intense. However, it isn't out of control or chaotic.
GH057ayame: I like to think that Quinn makes magic when dealing with weapon balancing. Every weapon feels right.
Was there a particular updated weapon that stood out more than others?
Greenskull: Carbine all the way. Everyone expected the BR to be cool, but I don't think anyone expected the Carbine to be so powerful. It frequently won in face-offs against every other weapon.
GH057ayame: The Battle Rifle gave me chills whenever I landed a four-shot. Its newfound mechanics really made it feel like old times. They say that once you've learned how to ride a bike, you never forget—and that's exactly how I view this tuned-up BR.
CrazyByDefault: I was using the BR for the most part at the beginning of the test, but I started using the Carbine a lot more as the day progressed.
Tashi: I would say the BR for me, surprisingly. I really accepted the five-shot BR, and it felt fine. However, after playing the new tuning with the four-shot BR, it was just so satisfying. I was honestly surprised about how much I missed the four-shot. Each kill with the new settings is very rewarding, and that doesn't apply only to the BR.
Ninja: The weapon that stood out the most to me for the weapon tuning would have to be the Carbine. It's actually viable to use now and is extremely rewarding! I love shooting rainbows out of my gun also, so that's a plus!
CrazyByDefault: Now if only there was a unicorn skin for the Carbine.
Greenskull: Green projectiles are the best projectiles.
That's why you love the Carbine! It all makes sense now. We haven't released too many details regarding the Battle Rifle's updated rate of fire. Which of you noticed it, which of you noticed it immediately and how do you think it felt? Do you think most players will notice this change?
CrazyByDefault: Maybe I'm just not attentive, but if I had not known that it had been changed, I probably wouldn't have noticed.
Greenskull: Every tiny factor added up the overall speed of gameplay. Whether or not players notice the little things, EVERYONE will notice the pace of battles.
GH057ayame: I noticed it within the first few minutes of gameplay. It felt like it was finally synchronized with the BRs of old, but it still had that fluid transition from the original Halo 4 BR's rate of fire. Because of this smooth shift, I find it hard to believe that the majority of players will notice it.
Ninja: I honestly need to be in my super-comfy zone to be able to notice minor details like that, and I say minor because that's what it is. It is hardly noticeable and will not cause a fuss. :)
Tashi: I had heard that the BR received a rate of fire change, but I really didn't notice it when I was playing. Maybe I just subconsciously adapted but there was nothing that I noticed. Like Ninja said, it could have been the environment that made me unaware of a change so slight.
Which playlists do you think will be impacted the most by this update?
CrazyByDefault: Big Team and Infinity Slayer are the two most immediate playlists that come to mind. The shortened red reticule range of the Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) will lead to much more map movement in Big Team, and I think you'll see a lot more BR and Carbine gameplay in Infinity Slayer.
Greenskull: The LightRifle will see a lot of use in Big Team. I feel like in every playlist, players will start choosing the BR or the Carbine a lot more.
Tashi: I think the "Pro" variant in Team Doubles, Rumble Pit, Infinity Slayer and Big Team Infinity Slayer will see the biggest change. When the game type was originally created for Doubles, most agreed that loadouts were not 100% balanced, but it offered every starting rifle to provide the player with options. With the new weapon tuning, I feel as though each weapon is a viable choice.
GH057ayame: I think that almost every playlist, excluding maybe Snipers, Grifball, Throwdown and SWAT, will see a huge impact from the update. Any playlist set with personal loadouts will see the biggest transformations. The DMR won't be the obvious choice anymore!
Ninja: I have to agree with Ghostayame on this one. Every playlist that will be impacted will be impacted heavily and for the best.
Is there a weapon you are not currently using in Matchmaking but may start once the weapon update goes live?
Ninja: Not sure if serious or.... :D The Carbine, of course!
GH057ayame: Plain and simple: the Covenant Carbine. This thing hasn't been getting the TLC that it deserves. However, the update will bring this gun back to its former glory!
Ninja: Yeah, it is one of the most underpowered weapons in the game as a precision rifle, and now I am going to throw DOWN with that bad boy, busting caps and getting multi-kills left and right.
Greenskull: I ONLY use the DMR right now, but after this update I will have a Carbine loadout and a BR loadout, both of which I will use frequently.
CrazyByDefault: I haven't been using the LightRifle much, simply because I was often shredded to bits by DMR fire when I would peek out from behind cover. The Carbine is a close second, though!
Tashi: And another vote for the Carbine. While I always preferred the crispness of the four-shot BR, I'll definitely be using the Carbine more. I probably used it more during the trip than I did the entire duration of Halo 4 so far.
What are your initial thoughts on the update to the automatic weapons?
Ninja: I love how the pull from the automatic weapons has been reduced to increase the skill in using them. And the damage buffs are needed and should promote some fun and exciting gameplay!
Greenskull: The Assault Rifle (AR) is a viable weapon now. That being said, it is still more beneficial to roll in with a precision weapon rather than an automatic one.
CrazyByDefault: I feel like they've finally found their niche. As automatic weapons, they're supposed to be powerful in close-quarters. A skilled player with steady aim will find plenty of kills on tight, close-quartered maps.
Tashi: I really love the changes that have come to the HAWTomatics [bs angel edit: I see what you did there]. I was surprised to see how difficult it was to keep my reticule on someone from close range. I'm really pleased with how they turned out.
GH057ayame: The automatic weapons definitely have that power boost, but their auto-aim has been tweaked to balance out the damage buff. It was even hard for me to aim at an enemy once they jumped up in front of me. So, automatics will take some skill now!
Community guests discuss their first impression on weapon tuning, after being some of the first to get a hands-on look.
Is it true that weapon balance discussions go best with burritos?
CrazyByDefault: Hold on, let me grab an air freshener.
GH057ayame: (laughs) They go best with burritos and cookies. Somehow Buckley snagged a double-cookie box, and I'll never look at him the same way.
Greenskull: Yes. Burritos are tasty.
Tashi: I actually have a newfound love for burritos after this trip. I'm not even kidding. I grabbed a burrito in the Seattle airport before I left, in addition to the ones we had at the studio. Halo and burritos go together like Quinn DelHoyo and Kenny Loggins.
CrazyByDefault: I regret my choice of chicken.
Greenskull: I don't. It was delicious.
CrazyByDefault: Number one rule: When presented with the choice between steak and chicken, go with steak. ALWAYS STEAK.
GH057ayame: Always steak.
Is it true that Greenskull cannot read?
Ninja: Yes. I hear he actually has his own reading eye dog to assist him.
Tashi: Not only can he not read, but he also can't form proper sentences. All I heard from him during the trip was, "Carbine Carbine Carbine Carbine, Carbine Carbine. Carbine!"
GH057ayame: I heard that he's only fluent in Elite—Wort, wort, wort!
CrazyByDefault: I once heard that his favorite number of the alphabet was green!
Greenskull: Yes...I have only been guessing what you have been asking me. Being unable to read is so very difficult.
Who played the best on the live stream?
Greenskull: *Waits for Ninja to brag*
CrazyByDefault: If this was a game of golf, I'd have you all beat!
Ninja: I don't want to brag or anything...
GH057ayame: I did have Ninja's number a few of those Free-For-All (FFA) games though. ;)
CrazyByDefault: If you ever need an Overshield gone, I'm your guy! ;)
SHOTS FIRED *cough Gh057 cough*
GH057ayame: *whimpers away*
If you had to compare the crispness of the four-shot Battle Rifle to something, what would it be?
Greenskull: A fresh bag of potato chips.
Tashi: Fresh bag of potato chips; that's a good one. What kind of chips, though? Am I legally obligated to say Doritos?
CrazyByDefault: Like waking up on a cool morning to sunlight on the morning dew. Or something happy like that.
GH057ayame: A fresh batch of crescent rolls.
You like your crescent rolls THAT crispy?
GH057ayame: Well, when they're around a mini hot dog, you bet your ass I do.
Fair enough. Thanks guys!
Matchmaking Playlist Update
Many of you have checked out the new Community Forge Island playlist, which contains six community-created maps with a wide variety of game types. Due to an error with backend conversion, several of the maps contained errors at launch, such as a missing Forge piece or out-of-place ordnance drop. We identified this issue and corrected the problem in an update this morning, so be sure to hop into the playlist and check out the maps in all of their glory. Seriously, go. But finish reading first.
As we mentioned in last week's Bulletin, we've been monitoring and adjusting the skill-searching parameters for Matchmaking. We are fine-tuning the duration in which the game searches for matches around your skill level. As a result, search times may increase slightly for certain playlists, but players will see more consistent skill-matching with and against players at their Competitive Skill Rank (CSR) level. We'll continue to modify these parameters on a per-playlist basis. For example, Team Throwdown currently has a slightly longer skill search time because skill matching is of extreme importance to those that frequent this playlist. We'll provide further updates on this when appropriate.
Finally, we are actively investigating the Halo 4 playlists to consolidate them in a way that makes sense for the entire community. While it may sound easy to just merge some game types into other playlists, there are several factors we look at when considering playlist consolidation. Per playlist, these include minimum and maximum concurrent population, unique players, average games played per session, total time played per session and more. Additionally, we must compare these stats against each playlist that contains similar team sizes, and game types. We do not have a date locked in for this consolidation, but it is on the way. This being said, be sure to play your favorite playlists if you'd like to see them stick around. Some could be on the chopping block soon.
A few days ago, I started selecting screenshots for the Screenshot Spotlight. Then, bs angel made a mean face, so I stopped. This being said, here she is with some of her favorites from this past week.
Halo 4 Screenshot Spotlight - Incineration
Last week, we turned the spotlight on the EVA helmet. This week, we decided to go with something originally developed for the Knight's death. Take a gander at the following images of the incineration effect, 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 screen shot that features a Flood-Infected Spartan. Tag it with "Flood" and "Halo Waypoint" and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!
And with that, this week's update comes to a close. Be sure to stop by next week, where we'll reveal the final details of the weapon tuning efforts and more Matchmaking goodies.