Chronique:WWU 08/04/2005

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Last week was a special April Fool's "treat" but this week we're not fooling. Real info, hard information and the creeping approach of the Autoupdate. Check it out and start complaining now!

Posted by Frankie at 4/8/2005 1:39 PM PDT

Bungie Weekly What's Update
April 8th, 2005

This week we're back to normal after last week's April Fool edition (don't worry we harnessed the rage energy and used it to power our entire state for a week) and we answer some of your more pressing questions. And we'll have some more news about maps and map downloads next week. This week, good news on the cheating front..

Untold Millions ask,


The fixes and enhancements included in our next autoupdate are finally done, from our side at least. That means all the code has been handed off to Microsoft certification, where it will be tested for various issues. Certification applies a huge matrix of tests to the code, checking it for crash bugs, verifying that it follows a bunch of standards, even making sure that terminology matches the MS standards. They make sure that the code works on every iteration of the Xbox hardware (there have been a couple of hardware revisions over the years) and they report back to us if they find any problems. We can tell you that so far, they haven't.

This process usually takes between a week and two weeks. As soon as it makes it through certification, we will make it available, possibly even that same day. That means that you'll log onto Xbox Live and see the autoupdate message. It's a relatively small file, so it should only take a few moments to download. After that you'll be able to enjoy the game with dramatic improvements designed to dissuade, deter and defeat cheaters. You can read more about the fixes here: Ancient Weekly Update

Some fella asks,

In the latest issue of OXM, they state that the two free maps are Containment and Elongation, but you guys said it's going to be Containment and Warlock. Who is right?

Well, when OXM went to press, they were correct. In the end, we swapped them around because we felt that Containment's huge team objective suitability and Warlock's crazy confines made a slightly better pairing. We're like that. We're flighty. And contrary! Unfortunately, OXM had already gone to press by the time we changed our minds.

Hardcore Bungie fans ask,

Is Bungie having another FanFest at the E3 expo in LA this year?

Sadly, the answer is no. In prior years, Bungie has taken a center stage at E3, showcasing Halo 2 in various forms for eager fans. As such, it worked out great to take over the Xbox booth at night and have a private soiree for our fans to hang out with us, enjoy crappy pizza and get hands on time with Halo 2. This year, things are a bit different. Since we haven't even officially announced our next title and we're just now wrapping up work on exciting new content for Halo 2, we have no reason to be at the E3 expo. However, the FanFest tradition will continue in one way or another. We are currently looking at a variety of options for a potential FanFest later this summer. We'll keep you posted once we have firm details to share. And you know, you can always organize your own fanfest events. You are after all, the fans, who love to fest.

Matt asks,

I was wondering what the plans for DLC are extending beyond our current really sweet batch that's about to come out. Are you guys planning on continually shooting out maps every couple of months or so, or is the plan to not really have any plans at the moment? I would ask in the weekly what's update, but I figure my chances of getting picked there are about as good as my chances of winning the lottery.

I just asked Parsons, the studio manager that exact question. He stood up and bellowed, "SURE GUYS. QUIT WORKING ON BUNGIE'S NEXT PROJECT AND JUST KEEP MAKING NEW MAPS FOR THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS!" Then he sat down and stabbed me in the spleen with a number 2 pencil. You tell me what that means. Also, you really should buy a lottery ticket with the following numbers: 08, 11, 24, 25, 31 and Mega Number (or local equivalent) 06.

Also, is graphite toxic?

Osiris asks,

I have heard MANY rumors about you guys resetting our levels on Halo 2 on Xbox live. Is that true? People are saying you guys are resetting the levels because of TOO MANY people using stand by... I hope it isn't true because a lot of people WORK for their levels and do not cheat to get them. Please, PLEASE... reply to this message on the weekly news update. We all want to know what is going on about this, we are scared stiff about it. Thanks Frankie.

We should have more news about levels, cheats and stuff next week, but you should know that your level is for matchmaking only. It is not a sign of prestige, but rather a way to match you with players of similar skill. If we changed your level to be "Spastic Donkey Sphincter" you'd still get matched against other "Spastic Donkey Sphincters." Even at the highest levels of play, the level number itself is far less relevant than the players sum total of achievements. So really, there's literally nothing to be scared about whether we reset stats or not.

There is no magical prize for being ranked in the number one spot, nor is there any cash to be earned for having a higher level – the reward is an enjoyable game. So people who abuse that system are idiots, with no understanding of what it is they're achieving (nothing). With all that said, we're seriously considering doing just that at some point after the cheats and other ranking problems are fixed.

Hella kidzorz askzor Tom,

What is up with the website? It has been acting crazy all week.

Frank, unfortunately I got into a drinking contest with the Webmaster. He lost.

In a fit of rage... well, you've seen the website.

Jumbo numbers ask,

I've heard that you can hack a game save and go online with basically a power up that means there's no reload time. Is this true, can I do that?

It's true, such a hacked profile exists and it will be disabled by the autoupdate, however, right now we can see that hack automatically and we are banning EVERY player who uses it. So don't. Ask the players who've just been banned if they still think it was a good idea....

Hugo asks,

Since I live in Norway I suffer from a high latency. My latency to the Xbox live server is 228 ms with no packet loss. I have a good internet connection (3 mb/s download and 1 mb/s upload) and a correct configured router.

I know that the latency to the server does not matter, but for some reason Halo2 matchmaking often picks a US host, and I think it is safe to assume that my latency to this US host in about the same (or even higher).

Hi Hugo,

This is unfortunate, but a known issue with the matchmaking system as deployed on Xbox Live. Because of the large number of players using the system, it is performing in ways that we did not expect. Specifically, even if there are players online that meet your criteria for a good match, if they make up a very small fraction of the population then the matchmaking system does not do a good job at selecting them for you to match with. It's more complicated than this, but you get the general idea.

We have some thoughts on how to solve this, but they would involve significant changes to the infrastructure of the matchmaking algorithms. Because Halo 2 is a console game, it is super important that we preserve a very high standard of quality when making changes to the application. There is very little room for error compared to a PC environment. This means that we need to test everything extensively before we can consider releasing it. This is one of the reasons why the current autoupdate has been in testing for so long.

So while we have some ideas that we would like to experiment with to solve the matchmaking issues, we could never deploy them without testing them in a wide environment, with tens of thousands of users. That's because the effects we are seeing simply don't emerge in any smaller environments - our beta tests, with 8,000 users, were not able to uncover the behaviour because the peak user populations of only a few thousand players were insufficient.

At this point we are focused on supporting the Halo 2 experience as best we can, but fundamental changes are out of the question. We are definitely paying close attention to the Live experience and we'll continue iterating and refining it as best we can with the tools available to us.

Hope this answers some of your questions.

-- Chris Butcher Networking & Simulation Lead

Stat freaks ask,

Is there any way for me to get more detailed stat information?

Yes, there are a number of sites currently parsing our RSS feeds to make customized stat tracking features. One cool site to check out is which lets you do stuff like compare your stats side by side with another player. Registration is required (and a fee to use some of the more adavanced stuff!) but they do interpret the data we make available in cool and interesting ways. And look around, there are several other sites doing similar stuff.

Nick asks,

Do you know when the map CD for halo 2 will be out in the UK and how much it will cost?

It will be available in most world regions on or around June 28th. There may be some differences in your territory based on local retail practices, and prices will be decided by the local division of Microsoft. Hope that helps.

Robbap asks,

Is there any hope of Bungie releasing an update that will give the driver of a warthog/spectre an assist if the player in the turret scores a kill? I ask because I am becoming more and more fond of driving around (and my teammates are, well, not so good at it), but in the postgame carnage report I find that I have nothing standing out where I can say "Well at least I had the most [stat]'s". I know that it's not that important, but it sure would be nice.

You actually DO get the assist. Check your stats.

Finally, someone asked what Mister Chief would look like on an Atari 2600 console. Check him out (and click HERE for a larger version).

WWU Misteratariguy.gif