Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bungie Speaks About October Playlist

Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of the October Bungie Weekly Update! Let’s skip the formalities and dig right in.

October Playlist Update, Inbound Imminent

We’ve already promised a big mid-month Matchmaking deployment, but Jeremiah and the core team responsible for Reach’s playlist management have decided to fast track some of the “easier” implementations and break October’s update into two distinct and meaty halves. The first round of playlist updates, barring any unforeseen shenanigans, will go live on Tuesday of next week.


Here’s what you can expect when we pull the trigger:

Team Slayer

SWAT is taking one in the face (being removed) and the weighting for all other gametypes will be adjusted to fall in line with voting data. Expect – surprise, surprise – more traditional Slayer offerings to appear.


SWAT gametypes that are removed from other playlists are being incorporated into their own, unique playlist with adjustments made to modes and maps based on voting data (farewell SWAT on Hemorrhage, you sucked and everybody hated you).

Team Objective

Powerhouse will now feature several more gametypes, including 1 Flag and Stockpile. Because Powerhouse is awesome and we don’t get to play it enough.

Multi Team

Rocket Race is being added. You win by staying on the Mongoose and racing to the checkpoints. (Oh, who am I kidding, you’re just going to hop off and try to assassinate people, aren’t you?)

Big Team Battle

SWAT and Classic are being removed and the frequency of Snipers is being reduced based on – you guessed it – voting data.

Arena Doubles

Boardwalk and “Pro” options are both being removed. Default Zealot is being replaced with Arena Zealot, a map variant which features modified initial player spawns and a soft-kill zone in spaaaaaace.

Team Arena

“Pro” options are being removed. Arena Zealot (details above), is being added.

Score Attack

Credit earn rates for Gruntpocalypse are being reduced to fall more in line with other modes.

General Matchmaking

Alongside the major alterations listed above, a myriad of much needed fixes and tweaks to the experience will also go into effect on Tuesday, including a metric ton of small, but annoying bugs and gameplay issues that we’ve identified and earmarked for eradication. As these updates go live, Jeremiah will publish the full details to our Optimatch forum so you can pore over the subtle nuances of each individual change.

Make sure to pop in and tell him that you agree with every single decision we’ve made! We prepped a pile of official discussion threads and bucketed them by playlist to facilitate polite and mature discussion. You can weigh in here.

Loud and Clear

The second salvo for October will include the fix to the current betrayal booting system, bringing it back in line with Halo 3 (three strikes and you’re out), and it will also introduce some significant changes to the Firefight experience, including the removal of friendly fire. Also on the way, a proper Team Snipers playlist, the possibility of a radar-less “Pro” experience in Season 3 of Arena, and more love spread out over all of our offerings, with a strong focus on Rumble Pit and Multi Team (all barring any unforeseen issues).

Already mentioned and still planned is the introduction of Campaign Matchmaking and some substantially awesome changes to the Firefight Matchmaking experience, the latter by way of cooperative multiplayer maestro, Larzy B. We’ll talk more about these updates next week.

Long story short, we’re evaluating all of our playlists and we’re acting fast to make sure feedback from voting data and the community-at-large is being evaluated and implemented.

Firefight Matchmaking 101

While we’re on the Firefight tip, we should talk a little Matchmaking Best Practices. As more and more players roll through Firefight Matchmaking, the network experience should continue to improve. We’re able to record your proximity to other players on the network and link you up with low latency players.

That said, the networking model used for Firefight (and soon enough, Campaign Matchmaking) is different than the multiplayer model and by default, the effects of latency are experienced a little bit differently as well. One sure fire way to ensure that your experience is impacted dramatically is to party up with other players thousands of miles across the globe from you (or with players who have demonstrably poor connections). While Matchmaking can and will make great connections, if you’re forcing a poor match-up through a party, there’s literally nothing our algorithm can do to lessen the impact of a bad connection.

It should go without saying that in every multiplayer mode you play, you should turn off torrents, stop streaming music, and make sure your network is running at optimal conditions. If you’re on a shared network, check to see that someone else isn’t killing your throughput. Every last megabit is precious.

For a more in depth look at how you can improve or troubleshoot your network, check into our Networking 101 article, previously posted to our Project Page.

Also on the playlist front, we’ve begun the monumental task of evaluating the early crop of user submitted map variants. For now, it’s a piecemeal affair, with several of us tasked with exploring File Shares and community hot-spots in search of well-made community maps. I still plan on detailing the process in a much more transparent fashion, but my own amateur offering, Riptide (formerly known as Jurkout), has yet to be put through the official paces. When we do run it through the grinder, I’ll resurrect the Incompetent Cartographer series so you can see exactly what we’re looking for.

It's a World...for Forging!

It’s a huge undertaking. Even while Halo: Reach was still on hot approach, we were still receiving nearly 100,000 unique Halo 3 map variants each and every month. Obviously, downloading and playtesting each and every offering would require a level of manpower and patience far beyond our limits and capabilities.

That said, we’ve got several us-yet-unveiled programs in the works to aid us in our quest and we’ll be making a lot of noise about all of them soon. We’ve already pushed one community map variant through several phases of our internal gut checks and test passes, and it looks like you’ll actually be playing on some sweet community maps before the year is out. Maybe even as soon as next month. (No promises.) One in particular has been a blast to play in both Big Team Battle and 4v4 Stockpile. Hopefully, you'll get a chance to play it soon yourself.

In addition, Sketch has been hard at work to bring a massive community Forge competition to fruition, where we'll pit our finest Forgers against one another in one of several broad map categories for fame, glory, and some truly fabulous prizes. Of course, the ultimate prize will be getting your map into matchmaking where we can all partake in your design genius, so if you want to get an early jump on the competition you should start thinking about building maps that would fit into the existing Halo: Reach ecosystem. Team Slayer is a great place to start, but we’ll also be looking at maps well suited for Invasion, Big Team Battle, Team Objective, Race, and several other playlist options we already have on offer.

More on this front soon, including map design primers and Forge tutorials. Stay Tuned™.

The online team is still hard at work to bring up to full strength in the immediate aftermath of launch. One of the hot discussion items that continues to pop up in our forums is the player model featured in every player’s Service Record (or rather, the lack thereof). Rest assured your cries are being heard and the team is steadily working towards a solution. Keep your fingers crossed and we’ll keep you update.

If you’ve devised an ingeniously elaborate method to circumvent our credit cap or exploit our challenge system, all of your “hard work” is soon to be for naught. While we understand the compulsion to race to the top and earn all the good gear before any of your friends do, network manipulation and other easily detectable workarounds that fall well outside of standard gameplay will result in a credit reset and several other punitive measures designed to knock you back down to a level playing field with all the rest of us who are playing the game without having to resort to exploits. We're watching you.

Without calling attention to specific methods, here are a couple of examples to help you wrap your mind around what we consider acceptable behavior and what we consider the machinations of people with way too much time on their hands:

Example 1: Laziness is Next to Godliness

You’ve commissioned your little brother to play through the same section of ONI: Sword Base over and over again, wielding the Target Locator like a barbarian’s cudgel in a quest to hit your daily credit cap without ever having to lay a finger on the controller.

This is a little bit sad, but it is not an offense we’re going to punish. *You* are playing the game. Keep your credits (but please go easy on your little brother).

Example Deuce: Communication Breakdown

You’ve written a crafty piece of code in your spare time that plays the same section of ONI: Sword Base over and over, wielding the Target Locator like a mechanical death ray in a sad, robotic quest to hit your daily credit cap while you’re busy doing something that isn’t playing the game.

This is really sad and you can expect to have your credits wiped and your armor items reset (and you can possibly expect to be banned, depending on the severity of the manipulation). We’ve already got a sizable list of offenders gathered up and the Banhammer is being heaved high into the air as soon as this afternoon. Make your peace. You get no warning. We’ll see you on the forums real soon!

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