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11 December 2013
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The Halo Bulletin: 12.11.13

12.11.2013 18:11

The Halo Bulletin

It's not every day that you get to celebrate the 343rd day of the year. In fact, we're almost certain that it only takes place once a year. Lucky for us, many of you helped us celebrate this day, so we'd like to thank you. Not only for watching Monday's 343 Day live stream, or playing in Matchmaking to unlock the Commando helmet, or playing Speed Slayer, but also for playing Halo, creating everything from content to relationships, and being you. We had the extreme pleasure of having some community members join us for live gameplay on Monday, and we know that without support from them, you, and everyone who may not be reading (please forward them a link to this Bulletin and tell them to get their acts together), none of this would be possible, including fun events like 343 Day.

The studio setup for 343 Day.

We also hope that if you watched our live stream, you enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at in-studio happenings, hearing from bs angel, Kiki Wolfkill, Josh Holmes, Brian Reed, Dan Ayoub and more, some entertaining game play, and the update on Quinn's beard. Personally, knowing that I played a role in the development of Quinn's grizzly and rugged appearance is a big deal to me, and I'd chalk this up as one of my biggest contributions to the studio (and mankind) yet.

New 343'ers Sean and Mason (who you may know as Dersky and Neighbor, respectively) join employees Melad and Jeremy for 343 Day with some live gameplay.

We'd also like to thank you your feedback on 343 Day, and very much look forward to planning future live streams, special edition playlists, and more in the future.

Matchmaking Update

As you may have seen in Matchmaking or Monday's stream, the Race Playlist is now available. If you haven't yet had a chance to pop into the playlist, be sure to do so before Rocket Race premieres as our featured playlist on 12.23.

Additionally, due to the fact that the game type seen in the Race Playlist is brand new and created from scratch by the Matchmaking Systems Team, we have not included any community made race tracks, which need to be built off of the official Race game type. We know that talented Forgers will be downloading the game type and creating their own custom tracks, and we look forward to featuring them in Matchmaking at a later date once the community has had a chance to experiment with the game type. In order to create a race track of your own, save the Race game type from the Race Playlist, and create your map based off of this game type using Forge. Once you've got a track you'd like to share, make sure you post it in the Community Creations section of the forums.

Matchmaking Playlist Calendar

As first revealed on Monday's live stream, we've got new featured playlists coming in spring 2014! These new playlists are currently in the design stages, and will be fine-tuned before their release next year. See below for our updated calendar, from now through April.

Halo 4 Matchmaking Calendar

More information on each of these playlists:

1.6 - Big Team SWAT
No shields, but lots of players and headshots. Lots of those. 8 vs. 8.

1.20 - Team DLC
Team game types on DLC maps. 4 vs. 4.

2.3 - Heavies
Big guns, big vehicles, big fun. 6 vs. 6.

2.17 - Big Rumble
Free-For-All with 12 players.

3.3 - Medal Madness
Earn medals to help your team win the match. Team sizes TBA.

3.17 - Extraction
Extract supply sites to win. 5 vs. 5.

3.31 - Squad DLC
Team game types on DLC maps. 6 vs. 6.

4.14 - Ninja Assassins
Details TBA.

We are super excited about each of these playlists, many of which are a result of community feedback. We look forward to detailing more specifics for each playlist in the future, including game types and settings, which maps will be featured in the DLC playlists, and more. Lastly, as the team is currently working on Rocket Race as well as other updates, so there will be no Community Choice Poll this week. This feature will return in future Bulletins.

Red Bull 5G 2013 Finals

Our friends over at Red Bull Japan have the Red Bull 5G 2013 Finals happening on December 15th! The tournament will feature a showdown between East and West Japan, with the first team to win three out of five genres taking home the grand prize. We're proud to say that Halo 4 has been selected as the official FPS title of the Red Bull 5G 2013 Finals, and a 4 vs. 4 match of Simplex CTF will be included in the finals. Representing the East will be Fanatic and representing the West will be Next Dimension. We're told that there is quite a rivalry here, and we're looking forward to checking out the match.

The finals will be streamed at http://www.twitch.tv/redbull5g at 3PM JST (10PM PST) on 12.15.13. Best of luck to both teams, and we'll see you then!

Community Map Spotlight: Advantage

This week, while working (browsing r/Halo on reddit) as I often do, I stumbled upon a thread with a community-created Forge map that was gaining some attention. After checking out the pictures, I thought the map looked pretty darn cool, so I downloaded it and also contacted the map's creator to get some insight. This week, I chatted with SpiritOfApollo about his new map, Advantage.

Hey, SpiritOfApollo! Thanks for joining me today. Something I like to ask Forgers is how they got their start and what inspired them to start creating. What got you into Forge?

Hey, Bravo! Thanks for having me. Well I'd like to think I haven't lost the creativity and imagination that I had as a child. I've always loved creating things in whatever medium I can get my hands on. The first time I created anything in a videogame was with the Far Cry map editor on the original Xbox. When Halo 3 shipped with Forge, I fell in love! Finally I could create with my favorite game series. I spent countless hours toying and tinkering, building and destroying. Ever since then, I've always loved to spend a lazy day pouring my mind onto the Forge canvas and seeing what I can come up with. I've continued the trend through Reach and into Halo 4, arriving at what I consider the pinnacle of my Forging: Advantage.

Before we discuss your new map, what are some of your all-time maps from the Halo series?

Well I'm sure you see a lot of the same answers to this question so I'll try to give some unique ones. Obviously I love the classics, Blood Gulch, Lockout, Zanzibar, The Pit, etc. But I also love Headlong from Halo 2, High Ground and Narrows from Halo 3, and Sandbox and Forge World for obvious reasons. Two others that especially stand out would be Reflection from Halo: Reach, which is possibly my favorite, and Boarding Action from Halo: Combat Evolved. What can make a map really special is what the players make of it. I remember playing Free-for-All Snipers and Rocket Launchers with my brothers and friends on Boarding Action. If you weren't skilled enough with the sniper you could launch a rocket and watch it sail to the opposing side and after a few seconds delay, explode on your enemy.

I first discovered your map Advantage on reddit earlier this week, and not only was I impressed by the layout of the map, but it seemed redditors were too. Many cited a similar vibe to Halo 2's Lockout, Halo 3's Guardian, and Halo: Reach's Uncaged. Tell us a little bit about the map - how it started, how it evolved, and how the final version came to be.

Advantage was actually based on a map I had made in Halo Reach, which I originally titled Heaven. Following the Halo trend, when I remade the map I added a unique new touch and gave it a new name. The name Advantage comes from a common phrase cut short, "uphill advantage". When I first made Heaven, I was aiming strictly for a competitive arena. I started from the center and worked my way out symmetrically. Occasionally, when I was unsatisfied with a section, I'd toss it and start it over. The map is composed of upper and lower decks, bases on either side, and walkways throughout. The goal I hoped players would strive for would be to control the upper deck, so I provided many ways to get there. Players can either take the walkways up, use a teleporter in the center of the lower deck, or gravity jump up from platforms located on the sides of the lower walkways that are affected by a player trait area increasing jump height. This two deck layout, walkways of varying heights, and no fall damage throughout the map add a vertical element to the combat. When I finished Advantage I was pleased with it. I had accomplished everything I had envisioned for it: aesthetics, symmetry, cover, movement, weapon placement, spawns, etc.

It's really neat to have seen the map, walked around the playspace, and then hear about your design goals - I do indeed think that you've established a control point with the upper deck area. What were some of your inspirations when creating this map?

When I made the map, I actually had Forger's block - I had no idea what to create. Then I remembered my map from Reach that I loved, Heaven, so I set about recreating it. However, my inspiration while creating both maps came from other Halo maps. Especially maps that had a location that players naturally wanted to control and fought over throughout the game. Ivory Tower, Ascension, Lockout, High Ground and others all had a strategic point that players were attracted to, and it was usually in a higher location. I remember playing "Tower of Power" on Ascension with no shields and only Shotguns. The object of the game was to control the larger tower and defend against invaders. It was kind of a "defend the castle" game. That custom game was definitely a big inspiration for me.

What game types / team sizes / etc. would you recommend for Advantage?

I would recommend no less than four players and no more than eight. It's a medium sized map, so it could feel empty with not enough players or overcrowded with too many. For game types, I see some awesome Free-for-All brawls going down as well as Team Slayer. Personally I would love to test out 4 vs. 4 SWAT on it. However, I was caught off guard when my reddit post received so much attention, including from 343 itself. So as of right now only Slayer, King of the Hill, and Capture the Flag variants will work straight from download. Any other variants will have to be implemented by the downloader, but if there is enough demand I would gladly add in more.

Speaking of, where can players download the map?

The map will be on my file share, SpiritOfApollo. Either click this link, find my Xbox Live profile and go to my File Share, or you can simply search for _the tags "Advantage" and/or "SpiritOfApollo".

Thanks again for taking time to sit down and discuss the map. Best of luck to you with future projects (we're looking forward to seeing them!).

Thanks for giving me this awesome opportunity and all that 343 does! Have a good one.

If you'd like to have your maps looked at by the community, 343, and the Community Cartographers, swing on over to the Community Creations section of the forums and share it! Lastly, bs angel is back with another screenshot spotlight, which is very much inspired by the current weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Screenshot Spotlight: Yellow

Last week, we turned the spotlight on snow. This week, we decided to go with the color of the sun! Take a gander at the following predominantly yellow screenshots, and maybe even find inspiration to make your own.

For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a screenshot that's holiday-themed, and then tag it with "Holiday" and "Halo Waypoint", and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!

With that, this week's Bulletin comes to a close. Also, we'll be taking some time off for the Holidays (specifically the 25th of December and the 1st of January), but we'll have something for you to read next week. Until then,