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 The Halo Bulletin: 8/31/11  

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PostSubject: The Halo Bulletin: 8/31/11    Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:33 pm

Wake me when you need me.

people consider beauty sleep a luxury. However, for me it’s nothing
short of necessity. And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of being
subjected to the frightening sight that is my unadorned face in the
morning, you’d doubtless agree. While I actually need a ten-year
hibernation to reach a semi-presentable state, I have to settle for a
mere eight hours a night, which is the exact reason why I opted to watch
the Halo 4 panel within the Halo Fest space last Sunday, instead of
waking up early and attempting to secure a place in line at the main
theater. I thought about joining the masses for the festivities, but my
hand was unable to resist the temptation of pressing the snooze button.
Let’s just say I hit that. At 6:00, and 6:15, and 6:25, and 6:30…

at the back of an occupied room, hidden within a long row of chairs and
a blanket of darkness, allowed me to silently observe the fan reactions
to the Halo 4 panel. I got to witness the many smiles as we revealed
tiny tidbits of information. I got to see the disappointed yet
understanding nods when we said we weren’t quite ready to talk about
certain aspects of the story. But what I enjoyed the most was catching
the slideshow-like sequence of expression changes on fans’ faces as they
watched some of the early concept art from Halo 4 dance upon the big
screen. First there was excitement, then determination to catch every
last detail, then distraction when some thought the video was over, and
then a silent state of shock when the final scene pulled the crowd back
in for one last punch. Just in case you have the sudden urge to watch
the Halo 4 concept art trailer again, here it is, in all its glory. Feel
free to go through it frame by frame. My words aren’t going anywhere,
despite your best wishes to the contrary.

Halo 4 wasn’t the only title to get some face time throughout
the celebratory weekend that was Halo Fest. Halo: Anniversary had an
even stronger showing, with over sixty stations allowing hands-on time
with several of its Multiplayer maps, including Damnation, Beaver Creek,
Prisoner, Timberland, and the Firefight mission Installation 04—along
with a behind-closed-doors walkthrough of the 343 Guilty Spark level in
3D. The latter I could describe for you, but why would I waste the
effort typing a few paragraphs worth of words when Halo fan Leviathan
has already done that exact thing?

graphics of 343 Guilty Spark are actually pretty amazing, seeing it
move and be played in real time, and in person. The lighting engine that
they've put in seemed like the best lighting I've ever seen in a Halo
game. The Jackal's shields really felt glowing and juicy. The thrusters
of the Pelican scattered blue light across the ship's hull and the tall
tree trunks. The glowing plants threw me off at first, but then as I
investigated them, I really enjoyed how you actually see the energy
surging through the plant, and then reaching its tips. It was great

I hate 3D movies, but my brief viewing of Halo CEA in 3D
was actually pretty amazing. I was literally ducking to the side as a
Jackal shot a charge-up plasma blast at me. I'm sure I looked stupid. Smile
The 3D really felt like something 'new' and an interesting way of
re-experiencing an older game. It's not something that will
revolutionize the series, or even something you'll want to play ALL the
time but I think it would allow for a pretty unique and immersive
experience—a great addition to your memories of Halo.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Not from lack of effort,
but because my vocabulary is limited to descriptors relevant to body
odors and bad jokes. I’ve learned to just go with it. You probably
should, too.

While the multi-dimensional aspect of things is
fairly self-explanatory, the specifics of the upcoming Halo: Reach Title
Update are not. That’s why I thought we’d use this week’s Bulletin to
take a deep dive into the various options coming your way within the
next couple of months. We’re excited to bring a more classic Halo
experience to those of you pining for that CE feel, and we’re also
excited that some of you plan on continuing to enjoy Reach in its
current flavor. It’s all about the choices, people. To paraphrase one of
my favorite rappers, “You got 99 options, and a glitch ain’t one.”

That sounded better, not to mention more relevant, in my head. Moving on.

Welcome to Halo: Reach Title Update 101.

the hustle and bustle of the weekend, we gently released the specifics
of the Title Update within the wilderness of our forum. We didn’t go
into much detail, though, so I thought it may be beneficial to elaborate
upon the particulars and hopefully, by proxy, clear up any lingering
questions. From the team that is bringing you the TU (a few of which are
known as the dynamic duo of Greg and Chad), here’s more information
about some changes that may soon be coming your way. When reading over
the specifics, please keep in mind these options—which are still being
fine-tuned, altered, and generally played around with—will live in their
own special area. You’ll be able to go into a specific hopper, check
out the adjustments, and provide feedback on your experiences. And it is
with that feedback that we’ll be able to provide the best possible
experience over time. So repeat after me: conventional Reach gameplay
will continue to exist alongside this new stuff. Also, there’s no place
like home. Or something like that, anyway.

Now, put on your listening ears and sit on your pockets, class, because it’s time to pay attention.

Make damage bleed to health through shields possible.

regard to non-ordnance weapon damage in Vanilla Reach (i.e. not the
Rocket Launcher, Grenade Launcher, grenades, etc), the damage system is
divided into shields and health. If you have 10 points of shield left,
and take 25 points of damage, your shields are eliminated, but the
remaining 15 points of damage are not inflicted upon the character. With
this change, however, said 15 points transfer into health. This is
consistent with the behavior of previous Halo games.

Example: Say the player has 5 health points and 10 shields points. If you hit him with 25 points of damage, he dies.

Make reticle bloom configurable.

“bloom” is more than just the way the reticle expands when the player
shoots. What we actually have done is take control over the maximum
radius of the cone of error that expands as the player fires. The actual
UI “bloom” is just a representation of a feature that has been in Halo
since the beginning. The colloquial “BR Spread” from Halo 3 was this
same set of variables, just implemented differently. The same goes for
the Halo CE magnum, where holding the trigger down resulted in less
accuracy than pulling the trigger rapidly.

What makes Reach’s
implementation different from previous games is that it was applied to
medium range headshot weapons with the goal of enforcing a “cadence.”
Cadence here refers to the pacing and pattern in which the player is
expected to fire the weapon to maintain accuracy. For the Needle Rifle,
for example, the optimal cadence is to hold down the trigger for three
shots, then let go and hold it again for three more shots, then deliver
the seventh shot to the head.

Ultimately, bloom and cadence
(among other features) were specifically designed to give Reach a slower
pace than previous titles. However, a couple of notable features have
arisen from this decision: for starters, cadence is easily interrupted
in Reach. In fact, many of the Armor Abilities are almost explicitly
designed to do that and waiting for that fifth DMR shot to be ready can
be really frustrating when you lose the race against your opponent’s
Armor Lock energy recovery. Second, shooting to cadence is really only a
valid tactic at range; the closer you get to your opponent, the less
cadence applies, and players both casual and competitive can attest to
how spamming the trigger actually becomes the more reliable option here.
So, ultimately while the goal was to make the weapons feel more
sophisticated and add a layer of skill required to use them, the net
result has been that medium range weapons such as the DMR feel
unreliable at their intended range, and trigger spam has not been

What we can do is adjust the maximum cone of error
on all headshot weapons (except sniper rifles) for any gametype based on
a percentage of its default value. The obvious example that we used at
Halo Fest is 0% bloom, which guarantees that the DMR, Needle Rifle, and
Magnum are going to shoot exactly where you point them, every time. We
could, if we wanted to, raise the bloom to 300%, making it so that said
weapons become even less accurate over sustained fire, and take longer
to recover their accuracy. Not that we’d do that. Especially not to the
MLG playlist on April Fool’s. Why are you looking at me that way?

this is a powerful tool that we plan to use in very controlled
instances. Our primary goal is not to simply strip away bloom from all
gametypes. What we’ve found is keeping some bloom actually allows the
headshot weapons to feel more rewarding and reliable without
overpowering them. In fact, the number we’re currently sweet on is 85%.
At a 15% reduction, the DMR feels a lot better, without the Needle Rifle
becoming Dolphin Gun, Destroyer of Worlds. In that way, we may find
ourselves with a happy medium. That’s not to say that “Zero Bloom”
doesn’t have its place in this new world order. It certainly does, but
trust us: with zero bloom in place, the Needle Rifle becomes (and should
be treated like) a power weapon. As such any implementation of zero
bloom will be in a place where we don’t likely expect players to
necessarily want to pick up anything other than what they start with.
Unfortunately, we can’t make this user-facing, so players will not be
able to experiment with bloom themselves, but we plan to release
multiple gametypes with varying bloom settings.

Modify Armor Lock.
• Sticky grenade will not be nullified if you use Armor Lock after being stuck.
• Damage received while in Armor Lock is transferred to remaining Armor Ability energy.
• How much the damage depletes your Armor Lock energy is configurable.

Vanilla Reach, an armor locked player is completely invincible.
Further, they can even cancel a death they were about to experience if
they were stuck, simply by locking. To address this, we’ve made a few
changes. First and most notably, damage taken by an armor locked player
is fed to their ability energy. What this means is that you can cause a
player who is armor locked to run out of energy faster by attacking
them. We are also able to cap the amount of damage transferred to
ability energy based on the percentage of their total energy. For
example, we can make it so a player can “damage” 75% of a player’s
energy. If a player locks with full energy, and someone hits them hard
enough, a 75% cap would leave them with 25% energy that would drain over
time, like ability energy normally does. If that player only has 50%
energy left in that same situation, however, the damage will knock them
out of Armor Lock and expose them to take normal shield/health damage.
50% here is only an example and is something we can fine tune.

worth mentioning is that if a player is stuck and then armor locks,
rather than shedding the grenade and surviving unhurt, the player will
die, and the player that stuck him will get his stuck medal. This works
for both Plasma Grenades and the Plasma Launcher. The net result of
these changes is that we are changing Armor Lock in a way that makes it
(to quote one Greg Hermann) “a block button, not a pause button.”

Modify Active Camo.
• Reduce the bonus time the player gets in Active Camo while standing still.
• Reduce the overall length of time the player can be in Active Camo.

you initiate Active Camo, it depletes faster if you’re moving. If you
stand perfectly still, however, it depletes at a slower rate. We are
able to modify these rates, and in testing have reduced both by about 15
seconds. This encourages a more sparing use of the Armor Ability, as
opposed to in Vanilla Reach where players might camp in one place for
upwards of a minute just waiting for someone to run by. Instead, its
usage is better saved for quick escapes, or quick surprise attacks.

Remove Sword block.
• Disable the ability to block Sword attacks using melee with anything other than another Sword.

sword block brings the sword back to a better version of a power
weapon. This change was implemented simply to make the sword feel more
reliable—and the outcome, of course, is that the sword is more reliable. Keep that in mind when you see the sword guy charging through the battlefield!

Implement the classic Magnum from Halo: CE.
• Can make the Magnum automatic.
• Can modify rate of fire of the Magnum.
• Can modify Magnum damage.

the other features of the TU are there to assist in the transition to
343 steering Reach’s future, the Magnum features are simply meant to
enhance the “Anniversary” experience when the game is released.
Ultimately, the only way to completely match the Halo CE experience
would be to completely rerelease Halo CE Multiplayer, exactly as it was.
For a number of reasons, that wasn’t an option but the TU presented us
with at least an opportunity to nod toward the multiplayer experience
that started it all. As such, we added some additional features that
specifically affect the Magnum that allow us to imitate the behavior of
the Halo CE Magnum. In conjunction with the bloom settings, making the
weapon fully automatic, and adjusting its rate of fire and damage allows
us to give the weapon a behavior consistent with the Halo CE death

The net result is that we can make gametypes that
feature the Magnum in a unique way. As with something as dramatic as
zero bloom, it is our intent to keep the three-shot Magnum in a
controlled environment. It’s certainly not meant for default Slayer
(where it’d be more effective than either the Needle Rifle or the DMR),
but it has a special place in the Anniversary gametypes, and there’s
probably other niches where it’ll work as well.

Enable playing Co-Op Campaign and Firefight without requiring a HDD.

those without an HDD will be able to experience all the Xbox LIVE
features of Halo: Reach, including Co-op Campaign and Firefight. Bam,
said the lady!

And there you have it: the lowdown on the
upcoming Halo: Reach Title Update. Hopper and date information is
forthcoming, so stay tuned for that. Please note some of these options
may not be included in the beta hoppers, but will be available with the
Anniversary playlists.

Back to Halo Fest.

the pre-coverage, all of the videos and news that came out over the
weekend, and this Bulletin, you may or may not have gotten your fill of
Halo Fest-related information. But I would be remiss if I did not take a
second to express our appreciation to all of you that participated in
our celebratory festivities, and also those of you that played a part in
the behind-the-scenes aspect of things, too. Thank you to Rooster Teeth for the Achievement Hunter activity and also the donation to Child’s Play. Thank you to Blue Realm Studios for the incredible Halo 4 Master Chief costume. Thank you to Fight Like a Girl for all the hard work on the numerous tournaments. Thank you to Gamers Outreach for bringing the Fun For Our Troops initiative to Halo Fest. Thank you to the Spirits of Fire for being the best volunteers we could ever hope for. Thank you to MEGA Bloks
for providing Fest attendees with the most amazing free swag ever. And
thank you to everybody else I forgot to mention, which is undoubtedly a
lot of people, because I have pretty much the worst memory ever. Wait,
what were we talking about again?

Uh, yeah… Anyway, that was a whole slew of words, so instead of subjecting you to more drivel, here are some pictures—taken by Meg Stacker, Count3D, and various 343 Industries folks—that capture the Halo Fest experience in a succinct and beautiful fashion.

Halo Fest line.

Halo Community Panel: Fragging, Forge, and Flowers.

Halo 4 Panel.

Weta Warthog.

Halo 4 Master Chief.

Swag, swag, and more swag.

Mr. Terrible Warthog Driver!

This Halo cake is not a lie. It was, however, delicious.

Looking for the starship.

Steve Downes (Master Chief) and Jen Taylor (Cortana).

Tim Dadabo (Guilty Spark) and Jen Taylor (Cortana).

Halo Family Photo.

Noble Six and a Brute.

MEGA Bloks 343 Guilty Spark.

Believe Diorama, Marines.

Believe Diorama, Brutes.

ODST portion of the History Wall.

Halo: Anniversary Firefight.

VIP Party costume contest.

And with that, my fingers are now as sore as my feet. That means it’s time to bid you adieu. Until next week, anyway…

bs angel

I was busy with Halo Fest last Friday, so for two weeks in a row
(someone fire me, already!), I don’t have a Friday Caption Fun image for
you. Instead, I offer you this picture of Frankie—who you might know as
our resident child artist—instead. Enjoy!

Oh, and on the subject of Frank’s art, he’d like to issue this statement in response to the earlier incident:

“This is a Yoink! outrage.

the Seattle art community finally wends its way out of the provincial
taste backwater it has been mired in since the turn of the last century,
it might begin to understand that art is more than a Dale Chihully
installation or a Thomas Kincade Christmas cottage, then perhaps it will
finally realize that my paintings speak to people. They speak, they
sing at a level so primal and visceral that it permeates into one’s very
bones, drumming out an ancient rhythm, a rhythm that has beat within
our very DNA since we first looked at a cracked, empty cave wall and
said, “Here I will scratch out my dreams and days that others may share


End Transmission ....
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