Chronique:BWU 14/05/2010

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Posted by urk at 5/14/2010 3:16 PM PDT

Well over ten million games played already on record. Ho, boy. You're the best around, Seventh Column. Nothing's gonna ever keep you down.

As a reward for your herculean efforts, earlier today we rolled out Network Test 1 - sweet Spartan on sweaty Elite Generator Defense action. Okay, so it was always in the plan and never intended to be the gilded prize for you to stroke and fondle for kicking so much ass in the Beta. It's really - surprise, surprise - a network test. And as the description advises, you might wish to steel yourself for some small blips and bumps before you head in.

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But you should totally prepare yourself to have heaps of fun, too. The addition of generators to the mix adds an interesting element to what otherwise would be a simple three on three match-up pitting Spartans straight up versus Elites. With the added wrinkle folded in via the trio of generators at play, regardless of the species you spawn in as, you'll need to coordinate effectively with your team and explore the space if you wanna succeed. Fight 'til the end, 'cause your life will depend on the strength you have inside you.
Down by the River

The map is Overlook. Elites spawn in riverside and must make the short march up the incline where Spartans brace for impact just beyond the border fencing. If you're attacking as an Elite, be careful. Smart Spartans will be lurking in the shadows at the base of the mountains and hiding inside the dimly lit barn. And they might be rockin' Rockets and other devices of mass destruction as well.

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Spittin' Fire Like Jenkees

There aren't any weapons strewn about the map, but you will have access to a number of loadouts and you should pay close attention to the rumbling sound of Longswords as they fly-by overhead. They're dispersing deadly weapon drops onto the battlefield. Make sure you're standing by as they hit the ground, but you might want to stay clear of the immediate drop zone. Heavy metal isn't very forgiving when it comes raining down from the skies above.

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Okay, so it's not that bad.

I Have the High Ground![modifier]

Speaking of lofty perches, you might have already noticed, but we've made some changes to the standard Invasion game mode. Spartans are no longer able to loadout with DMRs during Phase 1 and lord over the whole of the Boneyard like jerks with pinpoint ultra long range fire. Instead, they'll be required to work as a team to stave off the Elite assault, forming a tight-knit contingent of courageous, but outgunned soldiers.

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When Worlds Collide

We've already witnessed the immediate impact of the alteration, as Phase 1 has started to swing more in the Elite's favor early on, which is great because the new skew lends itself well to a more interesting Invasion experience. After all, there aren't any big guns in Phase 1 and more games should now be ending in data core captures or defensive holds involving a bit more drama.

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Don't Want No Drama

This also gives us a good place to remind everyone that yup, the Beta is indeed designed to provide us with deeper insight into how millions of real games play out over Live, taking into account all the stuff you see right before your very eyes and all of the secret under-the-hood stuff you don't. We're not pandering when we propose that this Beta really is an honest assessment for us. We're already getting great data and feedback we can use (and in some cases, already have) to make the overall experience better in the fall. And as you now see, when and where we can, we can use it to make intelligent decisions on the fly.

Like preventing jerks from ruining Stockpile. Bam!

Survival of the Fittest[modifier]

"Hey Bungie, Spartans vs. Elites isn't fair. Fix your -blam!-!"

"Elites are supposed to be more powerful, by design: faster native speed, more health, faster shield recharge, full health recharge, evade maneuver. Honestly I was kind of surprised when they announced Spartans vs. Elites Slayer, but I thought they'd tip things over to the Spartans with better load outs for them. But no load outs at all makes me think they're testing just how much better Elites really are, starting each side with more equal footing through the game. We are all just bacteria in Bungie's petri dish, after all."

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Fun fact: Right now you are harboring more microorganisms on, in, and around your body than you are your own personal, homegrown cells. Think about that. Miniscule monstrosities are maneuvering all over your skin - clustering together in disgusting clumps to feed on detritus, slithering apart to emit waste gas and noxious fumes, and then clamoring atop one another again for grasp and purchase on regions of your physical form that none of us ever want to think about.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Spartans vs. Elites.

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Wake me, when...whoops! Wrong game.

Yup, it's unbalanced and totally unfair. Yup, it's by design. Did we open it up just to see you scramble as a Spartan, secretly laughing after we pulled down on the lever and sent you out to die in the face of insurmountable odds? No. Well, maybe a little, but ultimately we are, as our fine community commentator quoted above correctly alludes to, gatherers of information. It's simply, as Carney notes, "all for science!"

We already knew that Elites outclassed their Spartan counterparts in a variety of ways, but we are still interested in seeing just how big the gulf between the two species really is. Yeah, we have a handful of game modes that pit the two against one another in various forms of mortal combat, but we wanted to decouple the core brawling from all of the other external factors introduced by objectives, loadouts, map layouts, and vehicles. So, you get SvE Slayer. Native Spartans versus Au Naturel Elites.

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Nature Calls

We recognize that may make for some unfair blemishes on your overall win/loss record, we hope you understand that it's all for the good of the game. Besides, the disparity affords Spartans far more opportunity to go clutch and out skill their powerful opponents (and we're gonna wipe your stats soon after the Beta concludes anyway).

Human losses are by design. Human victories are glorious things to be cherished. Whichever way the pendulum swings for you, in the end, we hope you're still able to have fun with it.

Boom! Headshot[modifier]

In the weeks leading up to the Beta we beat the Reach drum hard. We wanted to get everybody prepped for the transitional period players now found themselves in as they leapt headfirst into the multiplayer Beta. We knew plenty of players would be coming off of thousands of games of Halo 3 and we anticipated a few growing pains. Change is always difficult.

And while plenty of those changes came to fruition exactly as we intended, brought about by subtle differences in the mechanics players are all too familiar with, it turns out one was owed to something completely inadvertent - a bug.

In a recent playtest, we picked up on a problem in the way our collision model was calculating headshots. Coupled with rumblings from the community regarding some inconsistencies in the Beta's headshot capable weapons, we were able to identify an issue that you may have already experienced.

In certain circumstances, explicitly those where you would typically score a headshot in the lower range of the target zone (for the layman, that'd be the face and head region), we've discovered that bullets are impacting a few pixels lower than they should, plunging into the chest volume instead of the head. This often allows an unshielded opponent to remain upright after your crack shot should have taken the legs out from under 'em.

Once again we're reminded how potent a tool a Beta test can be. Having a teeming horde of ravenous players chew through our game makes identifying these nuanced issues possible. And while you may be gnashing your teeth while reading this paragraph, the good news is that this will definitely be resolved for the retail release in the fall. In fact, it's already been fixed.

The bad news is that it won't be fixed for the remainder of Beta. The best way for you to mitigate it on the fly is to aim slightly higher than you think you need to when you go up top. Right between the eyes or straight through the forehead will definitely get the job done. If that's always been your modus operandi for years, you likely haven't experienced the effects of this phenomenon. If you're more into chin music, however, you might have noticed that it hasn't been as sweet as it should have been in the Beta.

The great news is that you now have an excuse for why you're not landing way more headshots. If you're in Bronze or Steel, undoubtedly you're actually an Onyx level player. If you're Onyx, you're like Painite or something. Pick a rare mineral and run with it.

Shoot a Nuke Down a Bug Hole...[modifier]

While we're on the subject of objects of rarity, we should spend some time talking bugs. Not the trans-dimensional stuff that turns innocent assassinations into a mind bending voyages through dark and unknown space, but some specific scenarios that will be far more useful to us in the real world. Well, hopefully.

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o hello

This is where you come in.

Our test team has identified a number of rare bugs that they would love for you to help us squash once and for all. Full films of the following will net the original finder something sweet. Like our undying gratitude and love, or maybe even a t-shirt. Who knows? (Don't answer, it's rhetorical.)

Here's the hit list:

  • CTF - Flag way-point displays up as a large set of icons
  • Invasion Slayer - Warthog exhibits "magnetic" properties
  • Invasion - Spartans and Elites' roles are reversed (Spartans attacking, Elites defending)
  • All Modes - Player model spawns into a game, half red and half blue.
  • All Modes - Player retains shields, has no health, is immobilized, and does not respawn. (Basically, you are a living corpse that cannot move, but can see all the carnage as it swirls about you.)

That last one happened to me in a dream. In the dream, I was having a vision. Freaky stuff, man. Freaky stuff. Anyway, you have your marching orders. Help us, help you and we'll make it worth your while.

If you happen to have come across any of the above bugs/issues, please email a brief description of the issue, the URL to the game in your history, and a link to the entire Saved Film from your File Share (a Film Clip will NOT make the grade).

Send these reports, and only these reports, to septagon at, Use the subject line, "Beta Bug Hunt" without the quotation marks.

Thanks for the help!

Quit Ban Probation[modifier]

We talked about it last week, but talk is cheap. Quit Probation and Penalties are now being meted out in the Beta, much to the chagrin of people who apparently keep lengthy lists of legitimate reasons to quit that simultaneously weren't legit enough to last more than 15 minutes. Yeah.

Anyway, last week we called the punitive actions for quitting a multitude of games a Quit Ban. Today, we're revising the nomenclature to more suitably describe what's really going on. Because we're fickle like that.

Quit too many games and we'll put you on a week long "probation." Consider that a warning, not a ban. If you quit another game during your probationary period, however, you'll be required to sit out of Matchmaking for fifteen whole entire minutes.

If you had a legitimate reason to step away, likely this won't be seen as a severe punishment. One might imagine you may not even notice. You'll be legitimately away doing something legitimately important while your fifteen stinkin' minutes of shame slip away completely unnoticed by anyone.

Of course, if you've just jumped out because you didn't like the way things were working out in a CTF match, making those very same things that weren't working out work out way worse for everyone else, you'll probably feel every minute of the timeout as you mash the A button in hopes of getting a fresh start. Then you'll make a post to our feedback forums to let everybody know that you had an exceedingly legitimate reason to step away. "How dare u, bungee?!" If that's the position you find yourself in, my advice is to return to the preceding paragraph above. We've already got your use case covered.

If you're being routinely disconnected from Xbox LIVE and now you're feeling the pain more than ever, this would be an opportune time to phone up technical support and finally resolve your issues. A solid connection is better for everyone involved. While you're rooting around, you should check your NAT settings, too. Maybe think about upgrading your firmware.

All in all, these penalties amount to little more than a brief respite for those that find themselves on probation. 15 minutes for each game you quit. Of course, there's always Phase Two, but should you happen to find yourself marked as an Extra Special Case, well, let's just say that you've already been warned and you won't want to be privy to the fine details on this front. Finish your games, please.

And that's our finisher for this week. The Beta is still going strong, so if you're looking to get your games in, now's your chance. This is the final weekend of Beta access. We shut this sucker down on Wednesday of next week.

If you've been busy uploading Film Clips and snapping off screenshots, make sure you take a few minutes to save everything you may want to keep to your local hard drive. Just as we'll need to wipe your stats soon after the Beta comes to a close, we'll also be doing some housekeeping on the multimedia front. Make sure you act in accordance. Right Click, Save As.

Blame Stosh[modifier]

Before we shove off, Stosh wants you to say hello to his little friend.

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Stand Back!

See you online, suckers.