The Halo Bulletin: 10/19/11

By bs angel -

Halo: Reach Screenshot

I wonder how he feels about centipedes

The other day, during one of my many leisurely strolls through the thread-laden forums, I noticed a post about slugs. Well, a post about one of my Bulletins that contained a few paragraphs about our favorite shell-lacking gastropod mollusks, to be more exact. Apparently the OP found my commentary less than captivating, which I was taken aback by. I hadn't gone into detail about their strangely soft yet firm bodies. I didn't discuss their damp, dirt-like smell. And I tactfully refrained from talking about my theories on what would happen upon biting into one (I go back and forth between thinking a sour milky-type liquid would come gushing out and a thicker, mucus-like slime would slowly seep out). But, despite being oddly restrained in that particular piece, I decided I should go ahead and make a vow to never mention slugs in a Bulletin again.

Well, after today, that is.*

*Please note I find snails, cats, and centipedes of the human variety fair game. Plus, I still have that story about the one time my chicken peed. All in due time, my friends. All in due time.

Halo: Reach Screenshot
Specially made by xSoGx Grim to celebrate Halo: Anniversary going gold

Going, Going, Gone

Completely not slug-related, I may or may not have some super exciting news to share. And by may or may not, I mean I definitely do. Over the weekend, while some people were in London (me), others were in New York (Alison), and the tired amongst us were sleeping (Frankie), Halo: Anniversary went gold. What does that mean, exactly? Number one, the rest of the team gets to sleep now, too. Number two, the final discs are that much closer to being in your Halo-hungry hands.

To help pass the time during the final stretch before release, I thought we could talk about Hang 'Em High—or, as the Anniversary reimagining is called, High Noon. Officially announced at New York Comic-Con, this particular map was spotted by several eagle-eyed trailer watchers many moons ago. For those that remember its predecessors, it will return you to a familiar playspace full of canyons and catwalks—one that is densely-packed with platforms, corridors, and cover.

High Noon

Of all the maps in Anniversary, High Noon probably got the most work. It also caused a rivalry dating back to Halo 2 to surface. From Chad:

Hang 'Em High is an old battlefield for Max Hoberman and myself. Back when Certain Affinity was less than 10 people (compared to the 70+ they are now), we undertook remaking the map for Halo 2's final map pack. Back then, I had wanted to remake the map as Forerunner to match its original aesthetic, but Max argued (not entirely incorrectly) that the only thing that made Hang 'Em High Forerunner was the color of the textures and some of the repeating patterns. Ultimately we took "Tombstone" in the direction of an old rock quarry from which a city can be seen burning in the aftermath of the Covenant invasion.

I can only imagine how my then-new coworkers must've felt. I had been at 343 for maybe a month or two when we travelled down to CA, and within minutes of the discussion turning to Hang 'Em High, the publishing team found themselves watching their new designer and the CEO of their partner arguing with each other in the middle of the room. Of course, there were no hard feelings; Max and I are good friends, and he's been a great mentor to me. That's just how we work. That, and pitching game ideas that are often laden with innuendo.

I would say no comment, but I actually have several I'd like to make. Unfortunately, none of them can be repeated in present company. Why must it be so hard? And yes, I'll just leave that dangling right there.

Back to the work that went into this map.

Hang 'Em High was tackled in the early phase of Anniversary, a time when we were ironing out what you might call the "visual identity" of the Multiplayer maps. Damnation/Penance was still early in development; so early, in fact, that we weren't sure it would pan out as a Covenant map. It was during this time that CA was given the leeway to experiment with Hang 'Em High's rebirth. They didn't think "gray" was going to work, so they opted for a sandstone appearance, much like Sandbox and Sandtrap from Halo 3. Building bridges and platforms from what looked like beaten copper yielded interesting results, and the map began to transform into something reverent. However, fiction-related and practical problems began popping up.

It was then that CA gave us our first good look at what was to become Penance, and with that good look came the realization that we could maintain the spirit of the original maps while taking creative license to fill in the gaps left by 10 years of development and a new generation of hardware. With that lesson learned, everybody decided maybe it was possible to make Hang 'Em High out of Forerunner materials. And thus, work on this particular map restarted. Throughout its evolution, a lot of exploration was done into the nature of Forerunner architecture and technology. Let's just say I think the Franchise team might have had as much fun working on this map as CA did!

High Noon

In its final version, High Noon is an iteration of the Forerunner Slipspace portal technology. With the portal active, the storm swirling around it picks up anything loose and hurls it about, resulting in a whirlwind of debris surrounding the center of the portal device. Your battle occurs in a barely sheltered structure that acts almost as a sort of observation deck to the power of the portal storm. The result is breathtaking, and Chad told Max so. From what I heard, there may have even been tongue involved. Of the neener-neener variety, of course.

Aside from the aesthetic, there were some design changes made to account for the inclusion of Armor Abilities. A few tunnels and ramps have been added that allow for back-door access to either base. Similarly, a couple of gravity lifts give alternative approaches to movement should you ever find yourself without a jetpack. And, as with the other maps, each new path can be removed via Forge to create a more classic map experience. In fact, we've already done that, and you'll be able to play both versions of the map in the very near future.

Yes, you read that right: very near future. We're at weeks now, people. No longer months. And guess what? It will soon be days...

 New York Comic-Con

Behind the Scenes: Anniversary Campaign

We released an entire smorgasbord of Halo-related news throughout the entirety of New York Comic-Con weekend, and Hang 'Em High was just a small part of that varied number of figurative dishes. Also included were the tasty specifics of Kinect functionality in Halo: Anniversary. Not only will that little black box allow you to use voice commands, but it will also assist you in gathering canonical information while out and about on your Campaign adventures. Check out this handy-dandy PR-friendly bulleted list of specifics, and then watch the behind-the-scenes video to get a glimpse into that feature, and also the Anniversary Campaign as a whole.

Analyze Mode– Analyze Mode is a Kinect-exclusive feature that allows players to scan items of interest within the Halo: Anniversary campaign to populate the Library, an interactive encyclopedia of Halo lore. Once in Analyze Mode, you can add new articles of interest to the Library by focusing the reticule on them and saying, "Scan."

The Library – The Library is an expansive index that provides detailed information on items of interest players have scanned through Analyze Mode, such as vehicles, characters, enemies, and weapons. Through the use of gesture controls, players can explore the entire Library at any time and then return to the campaign to continue unlocking more secrets within the Halo universe.

Voice Commands– Harness the technology of Kinect for Xbox 360 to reload your weapon, throw grenades, switch seamlessly between Classic and Remastered graphics and more, using only your voice.

Now, on to your regularly scheduled batch of community-submitted questions!

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Why was the 1 v. 1 Slayer hopper removed from playlists? – The person who stumped the panel at NYCC

Matchmaking decisions always have a variety of reasons behind them. The two big ones for this one are: there's no way to enforce sportsmanlike conduct, and it suffered from low population. Overall, we feel this is a gametype better suited for customs, where you can choose radar or no radar, power weapons or no power weapons, and settings that appeal to both players. Semi-related, I heard Dan Ayoub, Executive Producer here at 343 Industries, is always looking for 1 v. 1 challenges. Hit him up on Twitter should you find yourself craving a little head-to-head action.

P.S. Hi, Dan!

Where did the Gamma forums go? Or the Beta, for that matter?! – All forum members

Monday morning, at approximately 10 a.m., we began changing over to our new forum software. By early afternoon, data migration was complete and we quietly revealed our shiny new forums. They not only function better, but they are reorganized, there is a smattering of new features, and more teeny-tiny adjustments are on the way. Be aware we're still getting settled, so there is definitely some dust to pardon. Join us, though, won't you? We've kept the light on just for you.

Check out our new forums here.

Halo: Anniversary Achievements

Can you tell us some of the achievements for Halo: Anniversary? Any PLEASE!!! – goobot

We released the full list of Halo: Anniversary achievementslast Friday, but a few people noticed the Multiplayer ones were omitted. Since you asked so nicely, though, goobot, here is that batch. And, for the record, just because this is at the very end of the Bulletin doesn't mean I completely forgot I was supposed to post them today. Srsly. I would never forget something as important as this. Cough.

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

Top Shot

Get 3 headshot kills in a row in a matchmade game.

50 points

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

Emergency Room

Infect 3 players in a single round in a matchmade Infection game.

15 points

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

Stick it to the Man!

Stick and kill the flag carrier with a Plasma Grenade in a matchmade game.

20 points

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

Dive Bomber

Perform a Beat Down on an enemy player while using the Jetpack during a matchmade game.

50 points

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

License to Kill

Run over 5 people with a Ghost in a matchmade game.

15 points

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

Bounty Hunter

Capture 10 skulls at once in a matchmade Headhunter game.

75 points

Halo: Anniversary Achievement

From Hell's Heart

Kill an enemy player that sticks you with a Plasma Grenade with their own grenade in a matchmade game.

25 points

And with that, I'm out. Until next week, anyway…

bs angel

P.S. I really wanted a slug-themed Friday Caption Fun image for you but alas, all I have to offer is a bear. Enjoy the cute and cuddly while you can, and contribute a quip or two while you’re at it as well.

Friday Caption Fun

P.P.S. What is this I don’t even

P.P.P.S. Discuss.