Chronique:Halo Bulletin 02/04/2014
Sometimes, 343'ers play tricks on each other around the office, and the frequency increases significantly on the first of April. These tricks can take various forms, such as when team members walk away from their unlocked computers, you are somewhat encouraged to change their desktop wallpapers to a risqué picture of 1990s David Hasselhoff. Other times, certain members of the Franchise team will wrap your entire desk (and each individual item) in wrapping paper. This year, though, a pretty clever prank was pulled on me, and I am not afraid to admit it.
The story begins with me sitting at my desk, which features an arsenal of monitors, a few Xbox 360s, an Xbox One, and way too much Halo memorabilia. As is generally the case, I was sitting here, working very hard (scrolling through posts on r/Halo), and minding my own business. After some time, I just happened to turn to my right, and noticed an Xbox One Kinect on the corner of my desk. I looked past it, but then realized that the Kinect light was on, and that it was neatly positioned at my head.
Naturally, I picked up the Kinect and began tracking down the cords to determine where it was plugged in. It led me back over to the Franchise team, who began laughing and complaining that the show was over. I eventually unplugged the device, wrapped the cord around it, and stole it from them. It still sits on my desk.
The best part, however, was walking over to their desks and seeing that there was an actual show dedicated to my every day work. I couldn't make this up. I give you: The BRAVO-CAM:
I am not sure how long the show lasted (I am told weeks, and that advertisers were lining up left and right), but it is now off the air.
Now that I've cleared the air, let's talk 'bout some Halo.
Matchmaking Playlist Update[modifier]
We're always excited when we can deliver Matchmaking updates that the community is not only clamoring for, but that they've helped us create. This past Monday's Matchmaking update included a Squad DLC playlist and a significant Flood update, which brought in some of the top community maps as well as a new community-created game type, Last Stand. For the full details, check out last week's Bulletin, and be sure to hop into the playlist this week.
This weekend, we've got a new special edition playlist coming: Ricochet Rebound. Let's get into the details!
Ricochet Rebound is a brand new 4 vs. 4 playlist inspired by basketball-themed game types from community Forger HOBO ITCHY. We'll hear from him later about the maps and game types, but here is an overview:
- Primary Weapon: Scattershot / Shotgun
- Secondary Weapon: Sticky Detonator
- Score to Win: 15 points
- Time Limit: 10 minutes
- A "throw" = 1 point
- A "dunk" (slamming into the hoop) = 2 points
- Ball Reset Time: 15 second ball reset
- Automatic Pickup: Enabled
- Respawn Time: 3 Seconds
The playlist will be available from April 4–7. Hop into the playlist to join the special-edition action.
Community Choice: Proving Ground[modifier]
It's been two weeks since we launched the Proving Ground playlist, and we've been keeping a close eye on feedback regarding settings, maps, game types, and more. Our Matchmaking team tells us that by this time, ranks should be settling out, so it'll be easier to find even matches. While we continue to iterate on the playlist, we also want to ensure that we're regularly adding game types to increase playlist variety. For next week, we're asking which objective game type you'd like to see next. The three options are:
Click here to vote on the Waypoint forums! Voting will be open for approximately four days. Next week, we'll announce the Community Choice winner along with the Matchmaking Update!
Lastly, in Spartan Ops, we are featuring a selection of missions with the Red vs. Blue Radio Easter eggs to celebrate Rooster Teeth's 11th Anniversary! The following missions are now available in Spartan Ops Matchmaking:
- Episode 1: Chapter 5: Core
- Episode 2: Chapter 5: Gagarin
- Episode 3: Chapter 4: Shootout in Valhalla
- Episode 4: Chapter 2: Rally Point
- Episode 5: Chapter 5: Spartan Thorne
If you'd like to hunt some Easter eggs, hear some tunes, and unlock the Roses vs Violets achievement, hop into Matchmaking.
The UNSC Quad Walker[modifier]
The UNSC Quad Walker is here! As the newest release in the Halo Mega Bloks ONI REAP-X line, this vehicle is a highly advanced prototype walker based loosely on a number of Covenant models, including the Locust. Deployed from space much like a drop pod, the vehicle's boosters unfold upon entry, becoming its four fully-articulable legs. The walker's primary weapons are two plasma cannons, similar to the Covenant's Shade turret. The set includes a copper Covenant Anti-Vehicle Shade Turret and a pair of figures: A Recon Spartan and a gold Storm Elite.
The Quad Walker is available now, so if you are craving some extra four-legged machinery in your home, you know where to look. Or, if you'd rather win it for free, you can simply enter our Twitter contest by retweeting the message below by the end the day on April 3.
Halo: Spartan Assault News & Deals[modifier]
We've got a Halo: Spartan Assault Red Stripe Deal starting tomorrow! From April 3–9, you can get Halo: Spartan Assault for only $1.99 on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. If you haven't picked up the game on either platform, now's the time. On April 10, Halo: Spartan Assault will be permanently priced at $4.99 across these platforms, and $9.99 on Xbox One and Xbox 360.
This Friday, April 4, Halo: Spartan Assault will also launch on Steam! As always, we're super excited for the title to be featured on a new platform, and to be working with the Steam crew on supporting this release. Keep an eye on our official Twitter account for some Steam giveaways later this week.
Community Forge Interview: HOBO ITCHY[modifier]
Last month, we toyed around with the idea of putting together a basketball-themed Ricochet playlist during March Madness. We had the idea in the back of our heads since the Halo 4 Spartan Bowl and even as far back as the Turkey Bowl. A few weeks ago, we realized we needed to get started on a game type and some maps. Luckily, our testers and designers had remembered playing an awesome basketball-themed Ricochet game type, and we eventually dug up HOBO ITCHY's files from the Halo 4 File Browser. We started playtesting the game types, had a blast, and decided they were coming into Matchmaking. Read on for some details about his designs, inspiration, and more!
Hey, HOBO ITCHY! Tell us – what influenced you to design your basketball game type and maps in Halo 4?
Hi! First, I have to say thanks so much for having me - this is a real honor. Way back in December 2007, I was playing around in Halo 3's Forge, and trying to come up with something new, something outside of the box.
I was seeing other Forgers creating great Slayer arenas and CTF wonderlands, and I just wanted to craft something original. I had a buddy who was a total basketball nut, and I figured one way to pull him away from basketball video games and back into Halo with me, would be to make my own basketball-based Halo game! A legend was born. I used the "Neutral Assault" game type initially, and set the goals to be the size and shape of a basketball hoop, giving players shotguns and sticky grenades. Old versions required players to jump up into the goal via grav-lift, which was clunky, to say the least - how far we've come since!
Anyway, a few months later, a group called "Rooster Teeth" came up with a game called "Grifball." Perhaps you've heard of it? It kind of took the wind out of my sails for my game type until Reach came along, and Reach's new forge mechanics threw the doors of inspiration wide open for me again. I've been fine tuning it ever since.
Did you begin forging right away when Ricochet was released with the Champions Bundle?
You better believe it! As soon as I heard the announcement I was mentally crafting ways to improve existing maps and getting struck by divine inspiration for all new court maps! As a matter of fact, it changed my game's experience for the better to such a huge degree that I would like to take a second right now, while I'm holding this mic, to personally thank the developers who brought Ricochet to Halo 4's already robust palette of options. Thanks so very much!
Have you worked on other major Forge projects in the past?
I have never been involved in a project that made it to Matchmaking, but I have forged a sheer metric ton of maps spanning Halo 3, Reach, and now Halo 4. All of them have been 'major' in terms of hours spent tweaking, polishing, and negotiating the last squeaky bits of Forge Budget. Mini Games tend to be my favorite to play, but my favorite to Forge are traditional, 'Halo-style', symmetrical, competitive arenas. I would urge anyone who may be curious about my other creations to head on over to my File Share!
What were some of your design goals with the basketball game types and maps?
For the game type, I wanted something that felt like a 'sports' experience more than a 'shooter' experience. I wanted it to be fast-paced, teamwork-heavy, and full of BOOM! (I'm a sucker for explosions.) I knew from the beginning that in order for the feeling of basketball to come through, I would need to keep the focus on close-quarters combat, and have any long-distance kills be the result of true skill...or crazy luck. My Halo 3 version only had Shotguns or Plasma Grenades as weaponry, and it wasn't until Halo 4 that I introduced the secondary weapon. Why, you ask? Because "Dat Sticky Det!"
As for the maps, I wanted each to have its own flavor and feel, and not just come across as a carbon-copy of the last one. And I knew I wanted to have a whole suite of different maps because my group tends to play the game often, I really wanted to give them some variety. To tell you the truth, I was never even considering the feral masses in the world of Halo Matchmaking! Other design goals for the maps had to do with the little things, like scaling them slightly differently to accommodate different sized groups. I feel some play better for 4 vs. 4 (which I would call the player cap for this game), such as "Seaside", and some play better as 1 vs. 1, which is the case with "Cavern."
Any tips for players who will be heading into the playlist this weekend?
"Be the ball"...no, wait...no. I've got a few tips, and here they are:
- Use that Thruster Pack!
The Thruster Pack is invaluable for dodging those Sticky Detonator rounds, as well as closing the gap between you and the ball before someone else gets it.
- Pass that Ball!
It is so tempting to be a hero once you get a hold of that glowing Promethean Skull, but if you try to run it the whole court, it probably won't work out for you. And when you do pass the ball, communicate that with the receiver, or risk a fumble which could cost your team the ball. Also, on the topic of ball passing, if you pass the ball to a nearby oncoming enemy, you will suddenly render them weaponless, making for an easy kill and ball retrieval.
- When in doubt, CHUCK IT!
If your teammates are nowhere to be found, I find a good tactic is to simply haul off and throw the ball as far towards the enemy goal as you can. This can buy you enough time to respawn before they can recover the ball and score on you.
Do you have any future projects currently going or that you'd like to start?
Right now, my biggest future project is my 9-month-old daughter, Penny. But as for Halo, I am currently making another basketball map, and I have a couple more competitive maps in the works. Beyond that, I am super excited to see what y'all at 343 have cookin' up for Halo's future! Forge has grown and evolved with each title exponentially, and I can't wait to see what future versions will allow the community to create.
Thanks for joining us today, and we can't wait to check out more of your work! Any shout-outs?
Thanks so much for having me! It's been an unbelievable honor to have the opportunity to share my creations with you, and the worldwide Halo Community!
And lastly, before I go, I'll take the opportunity to give a shout-out to my "Halo Nerds" Clan, without whom, none of this would have happened:
torresguitars: Our Fearless Leader!
Festuca: Official Liaison!
lunchbox2085: Official Tester!
DipChic: The Glue that keeps us together!
Enjoy the show, and I hope to see you all out there on the court!
~ HOBO ITCHY
Screenshot Spotlight: Grenades[modifier]
Last week, we turned the spotlight on Haven. Take a gander at the following Grenade screenshots, and maybe even find inspiration to make your own.
For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a screenshot featuring the color pink and then tag it with "Pink" and "Halo Waypoint," and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!
And with that, this week's Bulletin comes to a close.
Until next week,