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Monday, April 29

Cody Miller decided to edit Halo's final scene with Lasky and 117 - is it better?


Cody Miller, a well known Halo gamer, decided to edit the final Halo cut scene as he felt the Chief talking about Cortana was a bit cheesy. Here’s the edited video.

“Contrast this with the scene directly afterwards. Lasky has been somewhat established now and his conversation with the Chief is written as a natural reaction to the events that preceded the scene. I wish that's what the whole game felt like!

The Chief's last two lines ruined it for me. They were so cheesey and absolutely unnecessary, that they took a nice moment and really messed it up. We're not stupid. When Lasky says 'we're not machines' and the chief turns his head, that's all we need. We know what he's thinking. If I were editing this cutscene I would have done away with the lines. In fact, why not edit them out now?”

Putting the Chief’s line in was deliberately done for people who cannot draw the dots – like movies always do with flash backs to key early scenes so people remember the ‘loaded gun’ moment.

Either way, I had no issue with the lines. I thought Halo 4 was pretty well scripted (except for that crazy dude that ordered Cortana shut down). What do you think of Cody’s change?

Saturday, April 27

What went into making Halo 4.


Here's yet another article on how Halo 4 was made - this perspective below is that of Josh Holmes who was the creative director for the game and you can check out Frankie's thoughts here
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Josh Holmes (@JoshingtonState) is creative director on Halo 4 at 343, but he did have a life in game development before he arrived at Microsoft. He started as a game tester in 1995, working for another game industry giant, Electronic Arts. Holmes moved up the ranks to producer and designer, eventually working on sports games.

"One of the ideas there that took flight was the original NBA Street, which I was lead designer on," recalls Holmes. "We went back into incubation and worked on a couple of concepts. Then I was pulled into kind of a brainstorm think-tank about how to save a dying project that was in trouble. It was a wrestling game at the time, where they lost the WCW license. That rapidly became a game, because I made a mistake with my creative partner of brainstorming the concept of 'urban culture meets fighting and wrestling.'

"It became Def Jam Vendetta. The marketing team was like, 'That's a brilliant idea!' and we were like, 'No, that's a terrible idea! Don't make that game!' But we had a lot of fun." Holmes actually ended up working on a sequel to Def Jam before leaving in 2004 to co-found Revolution Interactive, which would be purchased by Disney a year later under the studio's final name, Propaganda Games. Shuttered a couple years after Holmes left, it was known best for 2008's Turok reboot and a Pirates of the Caribbean game that never saw the light of day.

He eventually found his way to Microsoft in 2009, when he joined the company's internal Halo team, which at 20 people was relatively small. Holmes' interest in the Halo franchise had already been simmering for years, even during the Def Jam days at EA.

"As a designer, I've always been interested in complex systems interacting with one another, and the emergent gameplay that can come from those interactions," he explains. "I've been a long-time fan of shooters. I grew up playing games mostly on personal computers -- Commodore 64 and the Amiga. I never wanted to be a 'PC guy,' because I was this die-hard Amiga fan. Then I remember seeing Doom for the first time on a friend's computer. I went out and bought a PC the next week [laughs]. I converted immediately. I spent a lot of time doing PC gaming with shooters."

When Halo: Combat Evolved came out for Xbox in 2001, his first encounter was the same as with many who experienced the game for the first time. There was a purity in his early experiences with Halo. Like most everyone else, he experienced it as a player, with no real expectations.

"Halo was that first title that really convinced me that shooters could work on a console," Holmes says. "I remember going and buying Halo, buying an Xbox, and bringing it back to EA where I was working crazy crunch overtime. I plugged it in and thought, 'I'll just play the first level and see how it goes.'

"I ended up staying up all night and finishing the game, because I was just so completely enthralled by the universe, and the sandbox systems that were at work. I was enamored with this idea that you could have a shooter with systems of a sandbox nature working together, where different solutions were possible, and emergent gameplay would come out of that. That completely captivated me.

"I finished the game, and I remember finishing it at nine in the morning or something, and I hadn't slept, and I just started it all over again [laughs], because I wanted to go and have that ride a second time. So ever since I had that experience, it really changed in my mind what a shooter could be, and in a lot of ways, what an immersive game experience could be.

"It influenced a lot of my thoughts as a designer."

Thursday, April 25

Mac Walters attempts to rewrite history on ME3 ending.

Mac Walters
Mac Walters is a dude who had lot to do with Mass Effect 3’s ending (he was the lead writer for the game) and appears to be trying to rewrite history. 

During a recent awards show he was reported to have said about ME3’s ending that ‘he doesn’t think the majority of Mass Effect fans had an issue with Mass Effect 3′s ending and that it was just a very vocal minority’. 

Which just seems a nonsense thing to say.

Every man and his dog was talking about the ending. It got people seriously wound up – so much that a Extended Cut was released by Bioware to placate everybody. If it was such a minority, this would never have happened. NO game developer would change their ending just because a couple of people didn’t like the game’s ending. 

I wonder if this was a case of the 'silent majority' and the vocal minority being of similar views.

If so, I think Mac Walters might being a little too cute for his own good. 

He’s currently working on Mass Effect 4: “Right now I’m actually just working on Mass Effect 4 (I wouldn't call it 4, I’d just call it the next Mass Effect).” Read into that what you will.

Follow him on Twitter! Or check out this awesome Ashley Williams cosplay. And some Femshep.

Saturday, April 20

Specific details on Halo 4's weapons update

Following some earlier words, the Halo Bulletin has some more words on the Halo 4 weapons update. Enjoy, with BS Angel's compliments:

Touching any part of a game, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, is a risky, complicated and lengthy undertaking. We often don’t divulge the minute details of the process, simply because it’s tedious and, quite frankly, boring. We know there’s a large amount of interest in the upcoming weapon tune update, however (yes, we read the forums!), so we wanted to invite you into this process so you can get a glimpse behind the curtain and a head start on providing feedback. The cracking open of this door started last week when we shared our basic goals in regard to weapon tuning. Today we’re opening it even further by discussing the progress that was made last week.

As you read today’s update (and the rest that are coming), I ask you to remember that everything is subject to change. One of the facts of shipping games and updates is that until it’s out the door and in the wild, changes, both big and small, happen for a variety of reasons. We anticipate going through several waves of iteration and even more waves of testing before landing on our final design. So below is where we are today but not necessarily where we will be tomorrow.

TL;DR: The below tweaks are nowhere near final. In fact, they are as far from final as they can be without being not final. Please recognize this is a work-in-progress, we will clearly communicate our final plan once we know it, and until then, we’ll provide weekly updates about its current status.

With that out of the way, Bravo is now going to take you through the past seven days of Halo 4 weapon tuning efforts.



Bravo here with more news on overall weapon balance. We have been actively tweaking, tuning and testing the weapons in the Halo 4 sandbox, and we’re now at the point where we can share some of the details with you. I sat down with Quinn, a fellow member of the Matchmaking Systems Team, to get an update on these particular efforts, and the following details the progress we’ve made since last week. Please note these details are not final, and we’ll once again provide an update on the current status of the weapon tuning efforts next week.

As you may have guessed, the first area that we felt the need to tackle was primary weapons, specifically the precision rifles. There are two schools of thought with rifle balance: One suggests that we should reduce the power of the DMR, and the other suggests that alternate weapons should be bumped up to balance out the sandbox. Both things being said, there can be a middle ground. Looking at the DMR, we currently feel that the kill time should remain unchanged, as the weapon has become a clear favorite amongst the community due to its reliability and consistency. So tuning the Battle Rifle, LightRifle and Carbine against this weapon presented quite a challenge. Here are the tweaks that have currently been made, and the challenges associated with each.


Battle Rifle

Right now, we feel that the mid-range role of this weapon is undermined by the strength of the DMR. To combat this, we are looking at decreasing the kill time for the Battle Rifle through various tweaks. This means testing a “4-shot BR” (currently, the Battle Rifle takes 5 bursts to kill) with a reduced rate of fire, though these changes are not final.

LightRifle

At this time, we have adjusted the range at which the reticle turns red to match the DMR.

Carbine

The Carbine has been adjusted to take one less shot to kill, bringing it to a 7-shot kill. This change was applied because we felt that players who used this weapon and took the time to become skilled with it were not rewarded due to the weapon’s kill time.


These changes have sped up the kill times of some of these weapons, which will provide a faster overall Halo 4 competitive War Games experience. The above tweaks have also led to the need to adjust the automatic weapons, which would likely be beaten at even the closest of ranges if tuning ended with the above changes. As a result, the Assault Rifle, Suppressor and Storm Rifle have all received a slight damage buff along with an auto-aim decrease that requires players to be more accurate than they would have previously. This means that while these automatics will be slightly more deadly at close range, they will require that players are more accurate.

Lastly, as we’ve mentioned in the past, we understand the need for viable and effective vehicles in Halo multiplayer, and as a result, we’re looking at bumping up the damage on both the Warthog and the Mantis chain gun. This is not the extent of our tuning, and we are actively investigating tweaks to additional weapons, such as an aim-assist decrease on the Beam Rifle.

If you’d like to leave your thoughts and opinions about this update, head to the ‘Discuss’ link at the bottom of this page, orjoin the discussion over in the Weapons Feedback thread in the War Games Feedback section. We’ll continue to monitor the forums as we test and tweak these changes, and once they go live, we’ll be looking for and reacting to feedback to ensure that the weapon tune provides optimal experiences across all of Halo 4’s game modes and playlists.

Thursday, April 11

343 on the Halo 4 weapon re balance


The Halo Bulletin had this to say about the forth coming weapon re balancing that's going to occur in Halo 4's mulitplayer mode soon. 

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Bravo here with a weapon balancing update! As we have mentioned in various Halo Bulletins, panels and live streams over the past few weeks, we are currently evaluating the state of Halo 4’s weapon balance. The sustain, sandbox, multiplayer and test teams have been working together and evaluating which weapons and categories of weapons need some attention, and we are happy to say that our internal testing has allowed us to make great progress.

We have also mentioned that we are approaching weapon re-balancing very carefully, as each change that is checked requires vigorous testing to ensure that it benefits the entire sandbox, and that gameplay is improved on a global level across all of Halo 4’s maps, game modes and scenarios. Because of this, the process takes several weeks while we are in a constant cycle of making tweaks, testing and retesting. This being said, we are well underway and will be bringing this update to Halo 4 Matchmaking as soon as it’s ready.

Here are some of the big ticket items we’re currently looking at:

Precision Weapon Balance

Our goal of the upcoming balance update is to create an even balance across all precision rifles (DMR, Battle Rifle, Carbine and LightRifle). Our latest tests have included (but are not limited to) rate of fire and damage tweaks to several weapons within this category. Additionally, it is important to create balance amongst all primary weapons, which leads into the next category.

Automatic Weapon Balance
An important part of overall balance is ensuring that each weapon excels within its intended role. As we move the dials to tweak some of the precision weapons, it demands that certain tweaks also be made to automatic weapons, which include the Assault Rifle, Suppressor and more. We are investigating modifying the rate of fire, accuracy and damage on these weapons.

Vehicle Weapon Balance

We have seen many community concerns that certain vehicles may be examples of sandbox elements that could be improved. We are currently looking at tuning some of the weapons that these vehicles have at their disposal in order to increase their usefulness and viability. We greatly value the teamwork (and fun) required in riding around in a Warthog with a buddy, and want to ensure that this and other vehicles have great draw and value.

Also, we are taking a look at many weapons that do not fit within these categories to ensure that the sandbox is providing the most ideal experience possible for all users in all playlists and game modes. As we finish up our internal testing, we look forward to providing further updates on the weapons that will be receiving attention and the specific changes that will be made, once finalized.

Tuesday, April 2

A brief description of the three maps found in the Halo 4 Castles Map Pack


A brief description of the three maps found in the Halo 4 Castles Map Pack

Daybreak: Two UNSC bases oppose each other in this large asymmetrical map. Teams must split focus between attacking the enemy base while playing close defense to their own. Claim your team’s sniper rifle to cover the central Man Cannon, or grab a Warthog to push through the side channels and flank the enemy base. The Rocket Launcher and Banshee both spawn in positions diagonal to the starting bases; claiming their firepower early is crucial to land the first flag cap or take an early lead in kills.

Outcast: Controlling vehicle paths is critical in this circular map set in a desert environment. Outcast features frequent Mantis vs. Wraith battles, so teams must keep their drivers informed with constant communication to get the drop on enemy vehicles. While driving the Mantis, you can target fusion coils in tunnels to flush out camping opponents directly into your rain of fire, or cover your flag runner’s dash to a friendly Warthog. If you find yourself without a vehicle, race to the secondary bases to secure a power weapon or drop on enemies for a game-changing hijack.

Perdition: Blending long sightlines, vehicles, and close-quarters combat, Perdition caters to nearly any gameplay style. Wheelmen and gunners will be right at home in this urban environment as a well-placed Warthog can lock down a quarter of the map, securing valuable ordnances for the team. Learning the interior routes is essential to both escaping danger and finishing off ranged kills. Be sure to look for the Gravity Hammer in Power Station 3 – an ideal revenge weapon against a pesky sniper or a big surprise for an enemy Warthog.

Halo 4 'Castle' Map pack achievement points list


343 has let rip with the list of achievement points available for the new Halo 4 Castles Map Set:
The Halo 4 Castle Map Pack is the third of three Map Packs from the War Games Map Pass. Currently scheduled for release on April 8th, it will cost $10.00 USD or 800 Microsoft Points and consist of three maps, two new Castle DLC Matchmaking playlists, and 10 new Achievements worth a total of 250 Gamerscore. 
What is Yours is
Also Mine
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, disable a vehicle and then hijack it.
40 points
Dodge This!
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, get two direct Spartan Laser kills in one match.
20 points
Hello Nurse!
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, heal a near-death teammate with Regen Field 5 times.
30 points
That Won't Save You
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, assassinate an enemy who is using a Hardlight Shield.
30 points
Ashes to Ashes
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, disintegrate 6 enemies using Forerunner weapons.
10 points
Beating up the Beat
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, perform 5 melee kills in a single match.
30 points
Sight Seeing
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, complete a match in any mode for each Castle map.
20 points
Scrapyard
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, destroy 2 vehicles during a single game.
30 points
Outta My Way!
In Castle DLC Matchmaking, kill 5 enemies during a match by running them over.
40 points