Rebutting The Ultimate Halo Game

Gravemind put all his ideas about what would be the ultimate Halo game. I thought I'd take a look at some of those elements and see which I liked, which I didn't, and why:

My preferred compromise would be a Resistance-style "sectional bar" health system, with the player using health packs to fully restore their health; the player's health would have limited regenerative capacity, and could sustain damage that won't come back on its own. The health bar would be divided into three to five sections, depending on which number works better for gameplay or for each particular character. The health bar would be a solid bar with no visible lines to demarcate the sections. Instead, it would change color as it diminishes depending on which section the player's current health level occupies, similar to Halo 1's health bar but without the less accurate individual squares that composed that one -- the colors would be blue, yellow, & red if there are three sections, blue, green, yellow, & red if there are four, and blue, green, yellow, orange, & red if there are five. Each subsequent section could be made to regenerate slower than the preceding one. For example, the blue section might regenerate at one-quarter the rate of the shields, while the yellow section might regenerate only one-eighth as quickly and the red section might not regenerate at all.

This really would be an Ultimate Halo, at least in terms of difficulty, unless the damage model were altered. In this case, players are punished doubly for allowing their health to drop precipitously. Not only are they close to death, with further damage threatening to kill them, but they are forced to wait in safety for health to regenerate longer than if they had taken less damage-- and at that time it would be less important.

Of course, if there are health packs available this difference in regenerative rate is moot, since they restore health fully.

I think the above scheme is unnecessarily complicated and not particularly transparent. Unless the indicator takes up a significant portion of screen real estate the difference in regenerative rate may not be immediately apparent.

Frankly I think the design decision required is bold: to either have regenerating health or health packs but not both. H2/H3 compromised by having your shield, as your primary line of defense, regenerate, while retaining a "hidden" amount of health. (Also not particularly transparent.)

If, for various reasons, the design should include a health pack then I think the change that needs to be made is to allow for at least some absolutely minimal amount of inventory management. Merely touching a health pack should not use it, just as merely walking over a gun does not equip it (unless one only has one weapon). Either it should require a button press, or touching it should pick one health pack up, like equipment, to be utilized later. Perhaps like equipment, one and only one could be used. Of course, this does not leave for much distinction between the health pack and the Regenerator equipment; perhaps they should be combined and made more plentiful.

This game would restore the melee system back to the non-lunging melees of the first game. Halo 1's melee system is basically as good as melee attacks can get, and any future Halo game should have melees functionally identical to those of the original. The only change I would consider is maybe trimming the range by about 0.5 to 1 meters down from the original 3.5 m, though if that causes any complications that did not exist with H1's melees, then I would leave the range the same.

The melee lunge is a favorite target for criticism, but I think this applies more so to the multiplayer than the single player game, which is more my focus. What does concern me is what campaign films would look like if you can melee a character from a range of 2-3 meters and there is no lunge motion to explain this.

Fall damage is a feature from the first game but absent from the sequels that I would restore. I have always stressed its importance in gameplay. It provides tremendous incentive to watch your footing in areas with high drop-offs. Inattentive players can plummet to their death or at the very least suffer damage. Likewise, players who attempt to jump off a high ledge put themselves at risk of injury or death as a tradeoff to getting to lower elevations more quickly, thus providing a certain balance to methods of traversing a stage on foot in addition to encouraging players to be more careful. As Rampancy.net's Narcogen said "A map that has fall damage can offer options and be balanced. One approach, for instance, might require a long drop that would weaken the player, but be the shortest and fastest possible. A longer route would cause no damage, but take longer."

I'm flattered by Gravemind's recollection of my own words, and I'll have the good sense here not to disagree with myself.

Personally, I prefer that faster running speed from the first game. Therefore, I'd increase the base player speed about 10-20% from Halo 3. One reason why is that I would substantially increase the accuracy of practically every weapon (unless of course it couldn't be made any more accurate, as is the case with the sniper rifle), which would make it too easy to hit an opponent in multiplayer if they moved as slow as they do in Halo 3. Likewise, it requires better aim to hit a faster, more agile enemy. Another reason is that it makes traversing large outdoors areas on foot more practical by cutting travel time by a substantial percentage.

Psychopant already replied in the forum that from what he sees, player speed is pretty close to identical in Halo 1 and Halo 3, so perhaps what we're dealing with here is the perception of speed rather than speed itself.

I prefer the opposite for pretty much the same reasons. Slowing perceived player movement makes sense for the kind of character the Master Chief is, and is a cheap way of making the world seem larger.

As for jump height, it's negotiable. While I feel that the lower jump height in Halo 1 cut down on bunny-hopping -- which might be exacerbated if you combined Halo 1's speed with Halo 3's jump height -- jumping in the first game felt a bit unresponsive (I've heard this is mostly due to H1's physics, though Halo 1's controls did feel overall somewhat looser).

I think the height of the character's jump is not as critical as the ability to double-jump or to jump immediately after landing a jump. In single player this has little impact. In multiplayer it leads to bunny hopping, which is a ridiculous scourge on online gaming. Last week I talked about how realism isn't as important as verisimilitude; the problem is that bunny hopping breaks both so thoroughly that I hardly think any debate on the subject can be brooked. Normal soldiers don't bunny hop, and those wearing several tons of armor certainly don't. So make the jump height whatever you like, just make it impossible to hang in the air by mashing the jump button, and make it so that once you do come down, you can't jump again immediately, and that if you do manage to minmax the interval between possible jumps, the more successful minimum-interval jumps you manage to string together, the longer the interval becomes. That'll show them!

Regardless of their HUD type or whether they're playing Campaign or multiplayer, I'd give the player the ability to adjust certain aspects of the HUD, such as the opacity of its main features (shield & health bars, ammo & grenade counters, etc.). I'd also give the player the option to place the crosshair in the center of the screen; the crosshair's placement in Halo 2 & 3 (about a third to two-fifths up from the bottom) is a common complaint I've heard, so I think it'd be nice if the player could choose whether to center the crosshair. Finally, I would give players the option to have the HUD use Covenant text when playing as an Elite.

Not sure how that would work. The crosshair is supposed to represent the point on which your projectiles will converge. Of course there are already some graphical problems regarding first and third person perspectives, in that this means that projectiles do not emerge, in the third person view, from the barrel of the gun, but rather from a location appropriate to present to the first person view the idea that projectiles are headed towards the crosshair. There appears to be no sync between the apparent position of weapon barrels in third vs first person.

Making the crosshair movable just would seem to exacerbate this.

Finally, there's the issue of field of view. In Halo 3, while a player on a widescreen TV has a good FOV, a player on a standard TV gets shafted by being stuck with a much narrower FOV much like that of Halo 2. A future Halo game (or any other FPS, for that matter) should better balance how many degrees of field there are on the two types of TVs. While players on regular TVs should have a better horizontal FOV than they had in Halo 2 & 3 (preferably, it should be as much as in Halo 1, which IIRC gave the players about 10-15* more FOV than the sequels, which were around 55-60*), it shouldn't be quite as much as they'd have on a widescreen TV, or else they'd have too much vertical FOV as compared to the latter. My initial suggestion would be 70-80* of horizontal FOV for 4:3 screens and 90* for 16:9 TVs. Alternately, the game could simply be letterboxed on standard TVs to make the viewable area the same as on a widescreen TV (this would be optional, and the player could have a full-screen view at the cost of less FOV than a widescreen TV).

The last, I think, is really the only workable solution for going forward, unfortunately. There are issues of integrity of artistic presentation as well. The bottom line is that I don't think that any of the above compromises would equally satisfy a significant enough portion of the population that are, admittedly, playing the game on hardware that it was not designed for (4:3 displays). The compromise still gives an FOV advantage to widescreen players, and changes the aesthetic experience of playing the game for 4:3 players. Letterboxing solves both at the expense of less efficient usage of screen real estate. I fear this is the price to be paid for running a next-gen console game on a last-gen display. That probably sounds harsh, and it is, but I think there's nothing better that can fairly be done.

The bubble shield should be far less influential. Instead of lasting for a rather long stretch of time, it should only last long enough for a player to let his shield regenerate and/or reload his weapon (8 seconds is more than enough). It should also be more personal, so it would be a bit smaller. Finally, to compensate for these changes, the bubble shield would activate instantly rather than taking a second to deploy when the player presses the button. Alternately, the bubble shield could be very rare, with the "deployable cover" item becoming the primary form of stationary shield. Deployable cover would function just as the stationary shields of Halo 1 & 2 did, and would take damage like a Jackal's shield.

If you hadn't mentioned that you'd really just prefer to eliminate equipment altogether I could have guessed it from your revisions to the bubble shield. Only eight seconds? Smaller radius? Rare? Why have it in the game at all? Already, as you mention, plenty of players make limited use of equipment. How is that situation improved by making equipment less, rather than more, useful? The bubble shield you describe above isn't useful enough to a player to justify the man-hours needed to create its artistic and programming assets, nor is it an efficient enough use of a player's time to stop, pick it up, and judiciously deploy it, as opposed to just using a standard weapon or taking cover.

The regenerator could be reworked as well, though I could do without it. I don't really care for how it functions in Halo 3. It feels wildly inconsistent; it either works really well or it's useless, and a fight could go either way when two opposing players are inside it in multiplayer, even if there was a wide initial gap in shields. If it instantly restored any damage done to shields, then I'd consider keeping it. In other words, nothing short of a one-hit-kill attack (e.g., sniper headshot, rocket, or assassination) should kill a person inside of it.

I can't speak as the the effectiveness of the regenerator specifically, as I don't play enough multiplayer to get a good sample on its rare use, and in single player it is used far more by my opponents than by me. I merely wait it out if I can. However, the suggestion to restore shields with it just seems to leave too little distinction between it and the bubble shield, as the end result is the same-- a temporary barrier to taking any damage. As such there'd be little reason to leave both in the game.

The trip mine would remain a simple proximity explosive deployed just as it was in Halo 3. However, it would be smaller (about half the H3 model's size), make no noise, and emit no light. In order to be more effective against enemies and less of a threat to careless allies, instead of the glowing and incessant beeping, it would have a bright red waypoint over it that is only visible to the allies of whoever deployed it. Finally, it would be more effective than it was in the final version of Halo 3. To make it as effective as it was in the beta, it would have the same damage and blast radius as the rocket launcher.

I wholly endorse this. While I understand that it was not Bungie's intent to make Halo as deep or as complex as a tactical shooter, the game does make plenty good use of waypoints, but not in this way. I do still think there needs to be some audiovisual cue; the mine shouldn't be completely invisible. There needs to be some chance of an enemy detecting it, even if it is slight and easily missed.

The power drainer would emit a single, instantaneous burst instead of a persistent field. In other words, it'd become more or less an EMP grenade. Indeed, it'd be a small grenade-sized device thrown like a grenade that detonates a couple of seconds after coming to rest. It would have a similar effect as before -- it would knock out any shielding and temporarily disable any vehicle in its area of effect (8-10 meters radius). However, it would no longer cause damage to health or to vehicles, so there would no longer be any instances where a power drainer kills someone or blows up a vehicle.

I have difficulty seeing the necessity for arbitrarily increasing the strength of an already powerful piece of equipment, like the trip mine, by making it both less noticeable and more powerful, while at the same time taking an item of dubious usefulness and making it even less useful. Again, it seems that what you really want to do is remove all equipment without drawing the objections that suggestion would cause. Instead, you want to compromise the effectiveness of most equipment (except the ones you like) to the point that most players would agree with your assertion that these things are useless and the game is better off with them removed.

The flare, as it functioned in Halo 3, was more of an annoyance or minor distraction than something useful. Instead of the Halo 3 version, which was basically a bright, blinding mini-sun that activated the instant it was deployed and persisted for a few seconds, I would have it function more like a flash grenade. Like the power drainer, it would be a smaller device thrown like a grenade. Once it detonates, it would emit an instantaneous flash of extremely bright light. Anything looking at the flash will be completely blinded should they be within a certain distance of it. Even if they are outside that range or are close but not looking directly at it, they would still suffer from "washed-out" vision, kind of like the HDR lighting effect when a player goes from a dark environment to a bright environment (a "dark theatre to bright outdoors" effect). The effects of the flare would of course be temporary, and any affected player's vision would return to normal after a few seconds. Also, this time the flare would be useful in Campaign, as most enemies would actually be blinded as well. They could stagger around, fire in random directions, or run aimlessly around trying to flee.

I agree that more could be done to make it apparent to the player that the flare equipment is useful in campaign mode. So far I can't tell, and that means it isn't transparent, whether it works or not.

Why a player should suffer washed-out vision if nearby the flare, but not looking at it, is not apparent to me. I think that breaks verisimilitude and unnecessarily punishes the player arbitrarily. If what you want is a persistent, area-effect weapon that reduces the player's field of vision then I think the flare should be replaced with a smoke grenade, or perhaps some sort of EMP-like device that would only affect augmented characters like Spartans by somehow scrambling their displays. Perhaps such a device could be combined with the radar jammer and be more useful than either; that's another item that I am not convinced has any utility by the player in campaign mode.

All equipment would, due to how influential it is in gameplay, would take much longer to respawn in multiplayer to place more emphasis on the traditional "Golden Tripod."

I have a fundamental problem with this as I think as a conclusion it works directly against your assumptions.

First, I think there's plenty of emphasis, both in campaign and multiplayer, on the golden tripod. You can't get through any campaign levels or multiplayer matches only using equipment, and the rest of the time, the golden tripod is what you have to use.

If you make occurrences of equipment that much more rare, it means that the use of it, and any resulting advantage gained by the team or player that uses it, will seem more random and more arbitrary. Use of equipment would become not the norm, but an exception to the rule. The rarer its use becomes, the more it would be seen as an exception to, rather than a part of, normal gameplay, and eventually its use would be seen as dishonorable.

As for the power-ups, there would be a few changes as well. First and foremost, the overshield would once again provide two extra layers of shielding, just as in Halo 1 & 2, instead of just one like in Halo 3. Furthermore, that attention-grabbing glow effect it gives the player would be removed.

I'm not sure what the justification is for this. Isn't it configurable in customs anyway? Or are you merely referring to the cosmetic presentation of the shield bar? Why should the shield provide extra protection without any downside?

Personally, I think the camo being a device you can carry around and activate on command later is not only more plausible than some odd blue crystal or floating orb of energy you touch that takes effect immediately, it's also more convenient for the player from a gameplay perspective, as sometimes the placement of the camo could make it to where it would run out by time the player got to where it would be of some use. Since the camo was in the form of equipment, then I think the overshield could be such a device as well.

No argument there. Only promotes equality and symmetry for gameplay-changing effects.

Environments in the Halo series have been largely static and non-interactive. I would try to make them at least somewhat more dynamic. One way would be to give them some degree of destructibility. While this game would not have destructible or deformable environments anywhere near the degree seen in games like Bad Company or Fracture, there would be a sense of persistent damage. This could be achieved by the implementation of superficial environmental destruction like that seen in Gears of War 2.

There I have to disagree violently. If there's an example to be taken on how to handle environmental objects, it's from Half-Life 2, especially Episode 2, and not from Gears of War. Gears of War's ordinary environments are actually far more static than any environment in any Halo game with the possible exception of Halo 1. The entire world is basically a backdrop, and the only items that are in any way interactive are weapons and enemy units. Sometimes some random portion of the environment, as pointed out by the game, is interactive and may be destroyed or otherwise influenced to achieve a particular effect. In many cases this is specific to one instance of an item, regardless of how many other, similar, but noninteractive items may be nearby. In some cases the interactivity is one-time and one-way, and in others it is initiated only by the game engine or by enemy NPCs, and cannot be affected by the player. It is often used to prevent players from backtracking by collapsing things behind the player.

In short, Halo would be a good model of environment interactivity for Gears to adopt, and not the other way around, and Half-Life 2 would be a superior example for either; a model in which any object that appears movable or would otherwise be interactive in some way can be interacted with (picked up, dropped, thrown, pushed) and all objects that share similar outward characteristics are interactive in similar ways and in ways that are consistent with those outward characteristics. Part of the reason for this in HL2 is the gravity gun, but if you ask me, this kind of interactivity should be in every first person game that can possibly justify it.

Moving stage geometry could play a role as well. For example, in Halo 2 there were the moving parts of Cairo Station's MAC gun that interfered with the player's movement, various pieces of machinery operating in Forerunner installations (e.g. the elevator sequence in the stage The Arbiter), the piston on Waterworks, the fan on Zanzibar, and the radar dish on Ascension. I would like to see more stuff like that in a future Halo game.

I agree, and it's interesting to see that nearly all of those elements were removed between Halo 2 and Halo 3; I think they were so problematic that they eventually were just eliminated. I was a big critic of the rail-shooter gameplay induced by H2's gondolas, but there was lots of moving BSPs in Halo 2 and it made those environments seem more alive.

Environmental hazards could also be an element. In snowy stages, there could be ice patches that cause wheeled vehicles to lose traction. There could also be rockslides, avalanches, and other falling stuff throughout the game (e.g., stalactites, which like the ones on Waterworks could be shot off to crush enemies), which could happen as part of a scripted event or as something triggered by the actions of the player or an NPC.

Finally, bad weather would come into play. Weather in the Halo series has largely been mild and usually quite fair. There was light snowfall on Assault on the Control Room, Two Betrayals, and Lockout, light, almost unnoticeable rain on The Great Journey and The Storm, and fog on 343 Guilty Spark and Backwash. Fog was the only example of adverse, gameplay-affecting conditions as it limited visibility to a few dozen meters. None of the other weather effects did anything other than add ambiance. Heavy rain, wind, thunder & lightning (with appropriate light sourcing), heavy snow or whiteouts, thick fog, and so forth would play a larger role in this game, and could affect gameplay by affecting visibility, interfering with vehicle maneuverability, and so forth. Weather effects could even be dynamic rather than static, changing as a stage progresses and even differing in the same place and time on separate playthroughs.

I could only see such variability within a stage being subject to campaign mode, and even then I think it's questionable. I sort of like the idea, and I'm intrigued by it. I think the rain levels in Gears are fantastically atmospheric, and in a way it's too bad that Halo's weather is so unnoticeable. The levels where it is most prominent-- 343 Guilty Spark's fog and Assault on the Control Room's snow-- are the most memorable and fun levels, although not entirely because of the weather. It is a factor, though.

However, such variability within a multiplayer game I think would invariably cause no end of complaints and criticisms when it affects the outcome of battles, either due to lack of visiblity, lack of traction, or other such elements. Of course over a long enough timeline these things would tend to average out for most players, but that is no consolation for those who complain about any event in multiplayer that is random or arbitrary.

Even in campaign, variability within a stage could be problematic if it affects the outcome negatively; you'd just end up with people dying in a way they considered unfair.

I put this on the list of ideas I personally like; but I think any developer shooting for a mass market would tend to shy away from it.

Ultimately I think the above really is less of a discussion about what consitutes an "ultimate Halo game" but rather what defines an ultimate Halo engine, or even an ultimate shooter engine, in that it should have the capabilities to handle items and processes such as the above.

The next portion of Gravemind's article focuses on specific elements in a Halo campaign and I'll get to those next time.

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Comments

[quote=narcogen]Gravemind put all his ideas about what would be the ultimate Halo game. I thought I'd take a look at some of those elements and see which I liked, which I didn't, and why:[/quote]

Hi, Narc. I like the new site layout. When did you update?

[quote]This really would be an Ultimate Halo, at least in terms of difficulty, unless the damage model were altered. In this case, players are punished doubly for allowing their health to drop precipitously. Not only are they close to death, with further damage threatening to kill them, but they are forced to wait in safety for health to regenerate longer than if they had taken less damage-- and at that time it would be less important.

Of course, if there are health packs available this difference in regenerative rate is moot, since they restore health fully.

I think the above scheme is unnecessarily complicated and not particularly transparent. Unless the indicator takes up a significant portion of screen real estate the difference in regenerative rate may not be immediately apparent.[/quote]

My main impetuses for offering this alternative is to offer a compromise between the Halo 1 and Halo 2/3 systems (both systems have thier supporters & detractors) as well as offer a potential solution to the problem posed to the shieldless player characters (the ODST and Spartan-III) by an unaltered H1 health system.

While health doesn't regenerate in Halo 1 but does in Halo 2 & 3, by adding a Far Cry 2/Resistance-style "sectional bar" health system, health can both regenerate and suffer "permanent" damage. My line of thinking was simply take a health system like that of those two games and simply overlay it with a regenerating shield. As to the problems non-regenerating health poses to the shieldless player characters, a sectional health bar system helps them by reducing but not eliminating their dependence on health packs.

Now as to the pace of regeneration, it doesn't have to vary. That's something based largely on a friend's suggestion. While I haven't played it myself, I've seen videos of Resistance and the regeneration rate looks constant regardless of which section the player's health is in. In Far Cry 2, which I have played, all but the lowest section regenerates (that last section requires an emergency self-heal to fill it up and start using health kits), and they do so at the same rate.

The health indicator doesn't have to take up a large part of the HUD. Resistance's health bar looks about the same size as the shield bars from Halo 1 & 3. In fact, I think the health bar could work fine the size it is in Halo 1, but with the sections demarcated by color-coding rather than by lines or bars, which I outlined in my article.

[quote]Frankly I think the design decision required is bold: to either have regenerating health or health packs but not both. H2/H3 compromised by having your shield, as your primary line of defense, regenerate, while retaining a "hidden" amount of health. (Also not particularly transparent.)[/quote]

That's why I didn't like the Halo 2/3 system. Health was not qualitatively different from shields from a functional standpoint. The only difference was the rate of regeneration. And like you said, health in Halo 2 & 3 is a known unknown: you know you have health, but you don't know how much of it you have left if you've taken hits while unshielded.

[quote]If, for various reasons, the design should include a health pack then I think the change that needs to be made is to allow for at least some absolutely minimal amount of inventory management. Merely touching a health pack should not use it, just as merely walking over a gun does not equip it (unless one only has one weapon). Either it should require a button press, or touching it should pick one health pack up, like equipment, to be utilized later. Perhaps like equipment, one and only one could be used. Of course, this does not leave for much distinction between the health pack and the Regenerator equipment; perhaps they should be combined and made more plentiful.[/quote]

Being able to inventory health packs for later use is something I sugessted, and while I didn't say so in the article, it would actually be my first choice. It's been done in other shooters (BioShock and Far Cry 2 are the first to come to mind) and it not only eliminates the need for any form of regenerating health, it offers another potential solution for the problem non-regenerating health poses for shieldless PCs. BioShock and FC2 both allow for multiple health packs to be carried around, so perhaps the ODST and S-III characters could carry several around as well (maybe three max?). As for how they're inventoried, they would fill a different slot than equipment and could be activated by pressing one of the D-pad directions. As for the Regenerator equipment, assuming I left it in, it only affects shields (or it least that's how it should work), so it's not necessarily redundant if health packs could be inventoried.

[quote]The melee lunge is a favorite target for criticism, but I think this applies more so to the multiplayer than the single player game, which is more my focus. What does concern me is what campaign films would look like if you can melee a character from a range of 2-3 meters and there is no lunge motion to explain this.[/quote]

Well, but the melee lunge and the Halo 1 melees are in their own ways unrealistic (the lunge does physically impossible things, the H1 melees can hit a guy without any visible contact). One thing I think we can both agree on is that gameplay > realism.

[quote]I'm flattered by Gravemind's recollection of my own words, and I'll have the good sense here not to disagree with myself.[/quote]

While we've had our disagreements, one thing we've always agreed on is the need for fall damage. You stated why much better than I could and in fewer words (I might be verbose, but I often have difficutly articulating myself).

[quote]Psychopant already replied in the forum that from what he sees, player speed is pretty close to identical in Halo 1 and Halo 3, so perhaps what we're dealing with here is the perception of speed rather than speed itself.

I prefer the opposite for pretty much the same reasons. Slowing perceived player movement makes sense for the kind of character the Master Chief is, and is a cheap way of making the world seem larger.[/quote]

I actually tested this last night with The BS Police before we got offline last night, and sure enough, it takes about 7 seconds to traverse a distance of 50 meters in both Halo 1 and Halo 3, so assuming their scale is identical, you do move the same. I plan on going back and correcting myself later on while I'm fixing the formatting issues.

[quote]I think the height of the character's jump is not as critical as the ability to double-jump or to jump immediately after landing a jump. In single player this has little impact. In multiplayer it leads to bunny hopping, which is a ridiculous scourge on online gaming. Last week I talked about how realism isn't as important as verisimilitude; the problem is that bunny hopping breaks both so thoroughly that I hardly think any debate on the subject can be brooked. Normal soldiers don't bunny hop, and those wearing several tons of armor certainly don't. So make the jump height whatever you like, just make it impossible to hang in the air by mashing the jump button, and make it so that once you do come down, you can't jump again immediately, and that if you do manage to minmax the interval between possible jumps, the more successful minimum-interval jumps you manage to string together, the longer the interval becomes. That'll show them![/quote]

Good points. I never thought about adding a "jump delay." Is that the perceived lack of jump response in Halo 1 I mentioned?

Also, I would actually leave the jump height the same it is in Halo 3 considering that I'd boost the blast radius of rockets and grenades closer to Halo 1 levels.

[quote]Not sure how that would work. The crosshair is supposed to represent the point on which your projectiles will converge. Of course there are already some graphical problems regarding first and third person perspectives, in that this means that projectiles do not emerge, in the third person view, from the barrel of the gun, but rather from a location appropriate to present to the first person view the idea that projectiles are headed towards the crosshair. There appears to be no sync between the apparent position of weapon barrels in third vs first person.

Making the crosshair movable just would seem to exacerbate this.[/quote]

I've tested this in all three Halo games (using the sniper rifle due to the tiny reticle and tested on a long, flat stretch of ground), and it turns out that despite the different crosshair placement, your crosshair is actually lined up with the heads of other players off the spawn. So, this is a display issue, not a gameplay issue. The display would just be shifted a bit to accomodate players who'd prefer to center the crosshair instead of having it only a third of the way from the bottom. Either setting would have the crosshair aiming at the same level off the spawn.

[quote]The last, I think, is really the only workable solution for going forward, unfortunately. There are issues of integrity of artistic presentation as well. The bottom line is that I don't think that any of the above compromises would equally satisfy a significant enough portion of the population that are, admittedly, playing the game on hardware that it was not designed for (4:3 displays). The compromise still gives an FOV advantage to widescreen players, and changes the aesthetic experience of playing the game for 4:3 players. Letterboxing solves both at the expense of less efficient usage of screen real estate. I fear this is the price to be paid for running a next-gen console game on a last-gen display. That probably sounds harsh, and it is, but I think there's nothing better that can fairly be done.[/quote]

Yes, it is a difficult issue. While I haven't bought it yet, F.E.A.R. 2 letterboxes the game for players like me who have a 4:3 TV (Long Live Cathode Ray Tubes!!!). I actually don't mind it, but in the end, we players who haven't upgraded to 16:9 displays that are now the industry standard will have to decide whether we want a full FoV at the expense of not using the whole sceen or use the whole screen and have less FoV than players on 16:9 screens. It sucks, but until the last CRT TV is replaced by an HDTV, we players on 4:3 displays are going to have to bite the bullet one way or the other.

[quote]If you hadn't mentioned that you'd really just prefer to eliminate equipment altogether I could have guessed it from your revisions to the bubble shield. Only eight seconds? Smaller radius? Rare? Why have it in the game at all? Already, as you mention, plenty of players make limited use of equipment. How is that situation improved by making equipment less, rather than more, useful? The bubble shield you describe above isn't useful enough to a player to justify the man-hours needed to create its artistic and programming assets, nor is it an efficient enough use of a player's time to stop, pick it up, and judiciously deploy it, as opposed to just using a standard weapon or taking cover.[/quote]

While removing equipment would be my initial knee-jerk response, I do state that it deserves a second look. It's actually an interesting idea, as I stated in my Halo 3 review from last spring. It's just that I either A) have issues with how certain equipment types currently function, or B) would like to see some of them be a little more unique.

In regards to the bubble shield, I wouldn't have a problem with it if it weren't so common in multiplayer. But if it's going to be common, I'd make it less effective. Of course, I'll admit that making it smaller and/or reducing its duration could have unforseen consequences, though there's no way of telling considering we're dealing with abstracts. I'll come back to the topic of equipment frequency in general later on as you mention in again in a bit.

[quote]I can't speak as the the effectiveness of the regenerator specifically, as I don't play enough multiplayer to get a good sample on its rare use, and in single player it is used far more by my opponents than by me. I merely wait it out if I can. However, the suggestion to restore shields with it just seems to leave too little distinction between it and the bubble shield, as the end result is the same-- a temporary barrier to taking any damage. As such there'd be little reason to leave both in the game.[/quote]

I remember reading an article about equipment back in 2007 before the game came out, and it stated something along the lines that while a player in a Regenerator could be shot (unlike the B.S.), only the most powerful attack could hurt them, which I would assume means only rockets, sniper rounds, Needler superdetonations, and grenades. However, in my experience the regenerator comes across as largely random and only protect. I've often been shot to death by a single guy with an AR while inside a regen, and combat inside a regen is woefully random. I've taken people's shields down and had full or nearly full shields before they entered it to engage me in close quarters, and despite the difference, it's always a toss-up. That's why I'd make it something that fully protects against weak attacks like AR rounds but not against attacks that can punch straight through the shields to cause damage to health. If that proved to make it too effective, I'd probably just remove it from the game, as I can't think of any other way to reduce the random efficacy of the item.

[quote]I wholly endorse this. While I understand that it was not Bungie's intent to make Halo as deep or as complex as a tactical shooter, the game does make plenty good use of waypoints, but not in this way. I do still think there needs to be some audiovisual cue; the mine shouldn't be completely invisible. There needs to be some chance of an enemy detecting it, even if it is slight and easily missed.[/quote]

Glad you agree. :) I would still consider leaving something that lets attentive enemies spot it, such as a small flashing light or a beeping sound (but not both).

[quote]I have difficulty seeing the necessity for arbitrarily increasing the strength of an already powerful piece of equipment, like the trip mine, by making it both less noticeable and more powerful, while at the same time taking an item of dubious usefulness and making it even less useful. Again, it seems that what you really want to do is remove all equipment without drawing the objections that suggestion would cause. Instead, you want to compromise the effectiveness of most equipment (except the ones you like) to the point that most players would agree with your assertion that these things are useless and the game is better off with them removed.[/quote]

You think the power drainer is of dubious usefulness? Really? I've actually gotten some good results out of it. In fact, I got my first Extermination using a combination of the PD and some BR fire. In any case, if my "EMP Grenade" idea would indeed result in it being less effective, I would retain the current "persistent field" version, though I'd still insist on it being effective only against shields and vehicle drive systems (i.e., it wouldn't inflict health damage or cause physical damage to vehicles).

[quote]I agree that more could be done to make it apparent to the player that the flare equipment is useful in campaign mode. So far I can't tell, and that means it isn't transparent, whether it works or not.

Why a player should suffer washed-out vision if nearby the flare, but not looking at it, is not apparent to me. I think that breaks verisimilitude and unnecessarily punishes the player arbitrarily. If what you want is a persistent, area-effect weapon that reduces the player's field of vision then I think the flare should be replaced with a smoke grenade, or perhaps some sort of EMP-like device that would only affect augmented characters like Spartans by somehow scrambling their displays. Perhaps such a device could be combined with the radar jammer and be more useful than either; that's another item that I am not convinced has any utility by the player in campaign mode.[/quote]

My main issue with the flare is that it lights up right when you throw it, blinding yourself just as much as the enemy, which, along with the fact that it's seemingly useless against AI units in Campaign, gives it a serious "Why bother?" vibe. That's why I'd make it similar to the flashbang grenade from Call of Duty 4. I'm not sure if you've played that yet, but the flashbang bursts like a grenade, blinding whoever's inside it. Unless you throw it too close to yourself, you won't be blinded as well, which makes it a helluva sight more useful that Halo 3's flare.

Of course, I like your ideas as well, and they along with my "flash grenade" idea are all good possibilities for improving the flare equipment.

[quote]I have a fundamental problem with this as I think as a conclusion it works directly against your assumptions.

First, I think there's plenty of emphasis, both in campaign and multiplayer, on the golden tripod. You can't get through any campaign levels or multiplayer matches only using equipment, and the rest of the time, the golden tripod is what you have to use.

If you make occurrences of equipment that much more rare, it means that the use of it, and any resulting advantage gained by the team or player that uses it, will seem more random and more arbitrary. Use of equipment would become not the norm, but an exception to the rule. The rarer its use becomes, the more it would be seen as an exception to, rather than a part of, normal gameplay, and eventually its use would be seen as dishonorable.[/quote]

Shortly before the beta, Frankie stated "I read many mails and posts about how Bubble Shields would littler [sic] the landscape like an Igloo village. Well, they won’t. [i]A piece of equipment will be a rare and valuable find. [emphasis mine - SotV][/i]" However, equipment is downright common on many maps. In a way, it does seem to almost "litter the landscape" as I've been in countless matches where there's at least one piece of equipment being chucked out every minute. On many maps, equipment respawns every 60 to 90 seconds, whereas the power-ups (overshield and active camo) and most power weapons generally take twice as long, with the powerups being much less common than equipment (there are typically only two to four power weapon on a map, similar to the frequency of equipment). That's what I'd like to change. Equipment should take just as long to respawn as power-ups and power weapons do given the fact that it has just as much potential to turn the tide of battle to one's favor.

[quote]I'm not sure what the justification is for this. Isn't it configurable in customs anyway? Or are you merely referring to the cosmetic presentation of the shield bar? Why should the shield provide extra protection without any downside?[/quote]

My justification is that the default Halo 3 OS, the one you find in matchmaking, is far less useful (exactly half as much, to be exact) than the Halo 1, Halo 2, and Halo 3 Beta overshields. In the first two games as well as the H3 beta, the OS gave you two extra layers of shielding, whereas in Halo 3 it now only gives you one extra layer of shielding (in all its incarnations, each added layer provided by the OS is equal in strenght to the primary layer you always have). For something that takes twice as long to respawn as a bubble shield, I have to once again say "Why bother?" to the H3 OS. In fact, the [i]only[/i] thing useful about it is that, like in the previous games, you're invincible for the second or two it takes to charge up. [i]That[/i] is why I'd make the OS the same strenght it was in Halo 1 & 2.

[quote]There I have to disagree violently. If there's an example to be taken on how to handle environmental objects, it's from Half-Life 2, especially Episode 2, and not from Gears of War. Gears of War's ordinary environments are actually far more static than any environment in any Halo game with the possible exception of Halo 1. The entire world is basically a backdrop, and the only items that are in any way interactive are weapons and enemy units. Sometimes some random portion of the environment, as pointed out by the game, is interactive and may be destroyed or otherwise influenced to achieve a particular effect. In many cases this is specific to one instance of an item, regardless of how many other, similar, but noninteractive items may be nearby. In some cases the interactivity is one-time and one-way, and in others it is initiated only by the game engine or by enemy NPCs, and cannot be affected by the player. It is often used to prevent players from backtracking by collapsing things behind the player.[/quote]

Well, the Gears 2 approach is only one way I'd approach environmental interactivity. As I mentioned, the Gears 2 approach is superficial and thus doesn't actually affect gameplay. Of course, I'd also add actual, physically meaningful destruction as well. Crysis does this well, as most foliage and many small buildings are partially or entirely destructible. Even Halo 2 had very limited environmental destruction in the form of the pillars and shutters on Zanzibar's base and the stalactites on Waterworks. In the case of the latter, I rarely got kills by dropping stalactities, but it was awesome when I did.

[quote]In short, Halo would be a good model of environment interactivity for Gears to adopt, and not the other way around, and Half-Life 2 would be a superior example for either; a model in which any object that appears movable or would otherwise be interactive in some way can be interacted with (picked up, dropped, thrown, pushed) and all objects that share similar outward characteristics are interactive in similar ways and in ways that are consistent with those outward characteristics. Part of the reason for this in HL2 is the gravity gun, but if you ask me, this kind of interactivity should be in every first person game that can possibly justify it.[/quote]

I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to play Half Life 2 outside of the demo. How interactive/destructible are the environments aside from stuff you get to do with the gravity gun?

[quote]I could only see such variability within a stage being subject to campaign mode, and even then I think it's questionable. I sort of like the idea, and I'm intrigued by it. I think the rain levels in Gears are fantastically atmospheric, and in a way it's too bad that Halo's weather is so unnoticeable. The levels where it is most prominent-- 343 Guilty Spark's fog and Assault on the Control Room's snow-- are the most memorable and fun levels, although not entirely because of the weather. It is a factor, though.

However, such variability within a multiplayer game I think would invariably cause no end of complaints and criticisms when it affects the outcome of battles, either due to lack of visiblity, lack of traction, or other such elements. Of course over a long enough timeline these things would tend to average out for most players, but that is no consolation for those who complain about any event in multiplayer that is random or arbitrary.[/quote]

That's one thing I forgot to mention. Weather effects would be highly limited in default multiplayer maps, likely being limited to fog (I like Backwash because it was foggy) or something else simple, and would not be dynamic (e.g., no sudden whiteouts or blizzards on a snowy map). Other effects would be limited to Campaign or custom/Forge options.

[quote]Even in campaign, variability within a stage could be problematic if it affects the outcome negatively; you'd just end up with people dying in a way they considered unfair.

I put this on the list of ideas I personally like; but I think any developer shooting for a mass market would tend to shy away from it.[/quote]

Good point. Perhaps randomly-generated weather could have unforseen negative impacts on gameplay, though I'd think regular, scripted, predictable weather patterns would still be good.

Well. I think that covers everything for now. Thanks for the feedback. It always helps me refine ideas or create new ideas when I have constructive input from others.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]
[quote=narcogen]Gravemind put all his ideas about what would be the ultimate Halo game. I thought I'd take a look at some of those elements and see which I liked, which I didn't, and why:[/quote]

Hi, Narc. I like the new site layout. When did you update?[/quote]

Gee... more than a year, I think.

On the health recharge:

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]
My main impetuses for offering this alternative is to offer a compromise between the Halo 1 and Halo 2/3 systems (both systems have thier supporters & detractors) as well as offer a potential solution to the problem posed to the shieldless player characters (the ODST and Spartan-III) by an unaltered H1 health system.

While health doesn't regenerate in Halo 1 but does in Halo 2 & 3, by adding a Far Cry 2/Resistance-style "sectional bar" health system, health can both regenerate and suffer "permanent" damage. My line of thinking was simply take a health system like that of those two games and simply overlay it with a regenerating shield. As to the problems non-regenerating health poses to the shieldless player characters, a sectional health bar system helps them by reducing but not eliminating their dependence on health packs.

Now as to the pace of regeneration, it doesn't have to vary. That's something based largely on a friend's suggestion. While I haven't played it myself, I've seen videos of Resistance and the regeneration rate looks constant regardless of which section the player's health is in. In Far Cry 2, which I have played, all but the lowest section regenerates (that last section requires an emergency self-heal to fill it up and start using health kits), and they do so at the same rate.

The health indicator doesn't have to take up a large part of the HUD. Resistance's health bar looks about the same size as the shield bars from Halo 1 & 3. In fact, I think the health bar could work fine the size it is in Halo 1, but with the sections demarcated by color-coding rather than by lines or bars, which I outlined in my article.[/quote]

I think my angle is that trying to offer both regeneration and permanent damage offers a weak version of each. It does, in a sense, promote player choice, but both choices are less palatable than in a model that doesn't offer any choice. In H2 and H3 you are essentially only dealing with rechargeable shields; as you can't see your health level, the rate at which it recharges and your health level are largely academic. You take cover, wait, and when your shields recharge fully, you return to playing normally.

This does drop a dramatic element from Halo 1, which is having to alter one's playing style to compensate for low health while looking for a health pack. Forcing a player into this tradeoff I think can heighten excitement, and killing off a room feels like that much more of an accomplishment when you've done it with low health. This can even add drama into scenarios that might seem to have lost all drama. If you've got two slugs in your pistol you can take out two Hunters, and you should be able to do so without taking a hit. But when you know you can't survive even a brush, and just on the other side of those two hunters is the health pack you need to make it to the end of the level, all of a sudden it feels like a different game.

Slowly regenerating health is negative because it rewards a player for not playing. Health packs without inventory control are negative because they punish a player who limits his own damage (being healed consumes a full health pack regardless of how little damage is healed, and since all you need to do to utilize a health pack is walk over it, this can easily be done inadvertently in battle or afterwards).

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]Frankly I think the design decision required is bold: to either have regenerating health or health packs but not both. H2/H3 compromised by having your shield, as your primary line of defense, regenerate, while retaining a "hidden" amount of health. (Also not particularly transparent.)[/quote]

That's why I didn't like the Halo 2/3 system. Health was not qualitatively different from shields from a functional standpoint. The only difference was the rate of regeneration. And like you said, health in Halo 2 & 3 is a known unknown: you know you have health, but you don't know how much of it you have left if you've taken hits while unshielded.[/quote]

The real issue here is transparency, I think we agree on that. I have to admit, though, that the amount of health, compared to the amount of shield, is so inconsequential as to be unimportant. So while nontransparency is bad, this is not as bad as it could be. What it means is the introduction of a small random element; in some cases, when close to death, you will survive because you have a tiny bit of health you are not aware of, whereas in other, qualitatively similar situations, you will die because this tiny bit of health is a bit tinier.

So at this point let me say that transparency is a good thing in moderation. Complete transparency ultimately results in determinism, and I think that's bad, because determinism is the enemy of replayability. I also think that there's a degree to which game mechanics need to be transparent and comprehensible, but that transparency need not, and perhaps should not be complete. To bring in an example from a different genre, look at Speech checks in Fallout. I hate, hate HATE seeing those percentages there. Sure, it's transparent. But it brings to the player's mind the arbitrary nature of the game, and lets the player know, in a game that is supposed to be a fully open sandbox, that there is a clearly preferable outcome to this interaction. It leads to creep and save, where you save before the check and then repeat it until you "win". It's awful.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]If, for various reasons, the design should include a health pack then I think the change that needs to be made is to allow for at least some absolutely minimal amount of inventory management. Merely touching a health pack should not use it, just as merely walking over a gun does not equip it (unless one only has one weapon). Either it should require a button press, or touching it should pick one health pack up, like equipment, to be utilized later. Perhaps like equipment, one and only one could be used. Of course, this does not leave for much distinction between the health pack and the Regenerator equipment; perhaps they should be combined and made more plentiful.[/quote]

Being able to inventory health packs for later use is something I sugessted, and while I didn't say so in the article, it would actually be my first choice. It's been done in other shooters (BioShock and Far Cry 2 are the first to come to mind) and it not only eliminates the need for any form of regenerating health, it offers another potential solution for the problem non-regenerating health poses for shieldless PCs. BioShock and FC2 both allow for multiple health packs to be carried around, so perhaps the ODST and S-III characters could carry several around as well (maybe three max?). As for how they're inventoried, they would fill a different slot than equipment and could be activated by pressing one of the D-pad directions. As for the Regenerator equipment, assuming I left it in, it only affects shields (or it least that's how it should work), so it's not necessarily redundant if health packs could be inventoried.[/quote][/quote]

If the regenerator affects shields and the bubble shield is an extra shield (like the overshield is an extra shield) then you've effectively got three items performing functions that are extremely similar. The bubble shield distinguishes itself from the overshield in that it covers a larger area, which allows for additional strategies and gameplay interactions. The regenerator, as it works on health, is distinguished from the overshield. If the regenerator worked on shields but not health, that means the only distinction between it and the overshield is that the overshield provides an initial increase in shield HP that then depletes as normal, while the regenerator temporarily replenishes shield hp that otherwise would have depleted as normal. That's a razor-thin difference, to me enough either to keep the regenerator as is (operates on non-transparent health rather than transparent shield) or eliminate it.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]The melee lunge is a favorite target for criticism, but I think this applies more so to the multiplayer than the single player game, which is more my focus. What does concern me is what campaign films would look like if you can melee a character from a range of 2-3 meters and there is no lunge motion to explain this.[/quote]

Well, but the melee lunge and the Halo 1 melees are in their own ways unrealistic (the lunge does physically impossible things, the H1 melees can hit a guy without any visible contact). One thing I think we can both agree on is that gameplay > realism.[/quote]

Hmm... sort of. Gameplay is nearly always more important than realism, but not always more important than verisimilitude. Many things that happen in Halo are not, strictly speaking, realistic. What I do mean though is one particular item you point out above: that H1 melees are able to hit targets without physical contact. This is excusable when, from the first person perspective, it is not necessarily readily apparent. When you have campaign films, you can't do this. The "lunge" in this sense is strictly a cosmetic device, accelerating a character that is within melee range but does not appear to be because of the difference between the physical space the character's model occupies in comparison to the theoretical "melee range" for that character.

[snip stuff about walking speed]

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]I think the height of the character's jump is not as critical as the ability to double-jump or to jump immediately after landing a jump. In single player this has little impact. In multiplayer it leads to bunny hopping, which is a ridiculous scourge on online gaming. Last week I talked about how realism isn't as important as verisimilitude; the problem is that bunny hopping breaks both so thoroughly that I hardly think any debate on the subject can be brooked. Normal soldiers don't bunny hop, and those wearing several tons of armor certainly don't. So make the jump height whatever you like, just make it impossible to hang in the air by mashing the jump button, and make it so that once you do come down, you can't jump again immediately, and that if you do manage to minmax the interval between possible jumps, the more successful minimum-interval jumps you manage to string together, the longer the interval becomes. That'll show them![/quote]

Good points. I never thought about adding a "jump delay." Is that the perceived lack of jump response in Halo 1 I mentioned?

Also, I would actually leave the jump height the same it is in Halo 3 considering that I'd boost the blast radius of rockets and grenades closer to Halo 1 levels.[/quote]

Not sure about that. Maybe Bungie did put in something that leads to a perceived lack of responsiveness when jumping; I can't say I noted it myself except for the fact that bunny hoppers seemed far more common in H2/H3 than in H1. Another reason why I like high gravity games.

[snip stuff about reticles]

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]The last, I think, is really the only workable solution for going forward, unfortunately. There are issues of integrity of artistic presentation as well. The bottom line is that I don't think that any of the above compromises would equally satisfy a significant enough portion of the population that are, admittedly, playing the game on hardware that it was not designed for (4:3 displays). The compromise still gives an FOV advantage to widescreen players, and changes the aesthetic experience of playing the game for 4:3 players. Letterboxing solves both at the expense of less efficient usage of screen real estate. I fear this is the price to be paid for running a next-gen console game on a last-gen display. That probably sounds harsh, and it is, but I think there's nothing better that can fairly be done.[/quote]

Yes, it is a difficult issue. While I haven't bought it yet, F.E.A.R. 2 letterboxes the game for players like me who have a 4:3 TV (Long Live Cathode Ray Tubes!!!). I actually don't mind it, but in the end, we players who haven't upgraded to 16:9 displays that are now the industry standard will have to decide whether we want a full FoV at the expense of not using the whole sceen or use the whole screen and have less FoV than players on 16:9 screens. It sucks, but until the last CRT TV is replaced by an HDTV, we players on 4:3 displays are going to have to bite the bullet one way or the other.[/quote]

Well eventually that will be nearly everyone, given enough time, as prices fall and even the best CRTs eventually fail. Having upgraded both my primary viewing hardware and my desktop's monitor to 16:9 / 16:10 I do say I'm more than happy with it for gaming (although it's rubbish for word processing).

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]If you hadn't mentioned that you'd really just prefer to eliminate equipment altogether I could have guessed it from your revisions to the bubble shield. Only eight seconds? Smaller radius? Rare? Why have it in the game at all? Already, as you mention, plenty of players make limited use of equipment. How is that situation improved by making equipment less, rather than more, useful? The bubble shield you describe above isn't useful enough to a player to justify the man-hours needed to create its artistic and programming assets, nor is it an efficient enough use of a player's time to stop, pick it up, and judiciously deploy it, as opposed to just using a standard weapon or taking cover.[/quote]

While removing equipment would be my initial knee-jerk response, I do state that it deserves a second look. It's actually an interesting idea, as I stated in my Halo 3 review from last spring. It's just that I either A) have issues with how certain equipment types currently function, or B) would like to see some of them be a little more unique.

In regards to the bubble shield, I wouldn't have a problem with it if it weren't so common in multiplayer. But if it's going to be common, I'd make it less effective. Of course, I'll admit that making it smaller and/or reducing its duration could have unforseen consequences, though there's no way of telling considering we're dealing with abstracts. I'll come back to the topic of equipment frequency in general later on as you mention in again in a bit.[/quote]

I think the problem here is that with Halo in particular there are two distinct contexts: the game, and matchmaking. I suppose the only baseline you have to deal with in "the game" is campaign. Matchmaking itself is infinitely variable. So I'd draw a line in the sand between criticism of the game (campaign and the nature of gameplay items like equipment themselves) and criticism of matchmaking (game types, map choices, item frequency). I certainly don't play enough matchmaking to comment on item frequency there, but I'd hazard a guess that if the problem can more easily be dealt with by changing matchmaking hoppers than a title patch (which we're unlikely to get) then that route is best. In any case, players can themselves make these changes in custom games, and I think future Halo titles are unlikely to have less customization than H3 has.

From Bungie's perspective I can see why they might err on the side of too much equipment rather than too little; it is difficult to derive significant satisfaction from having created a sumptuous cake icing and then restrain oneself when applying it to the cake. Bungie thinks these things are cool, or else they would not have spent time creating and iterating them. Having created them, they want to use them and see them used. This is at odds with Frankie's quote, I know, but to be honest I saw his quote in the context of campaign.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]I can't speak as the the effectiveness of the regenerator specifically, as I don't play enough multiplayer to get a good sample on its rare use, and in single player it is used far more by my opponents than by me. I merely wait it out if I can. However, the suggestion to restore shields with it just seems to leave too little distinction between it and the bubble shield, as the end result is the same-- a temporary barrier to taking any damage. As such there'd be little reason to leave both in the game.[/quote]

I remember reading an article about equipment back in 2007 before the game came out, and it stated something along the lines that while a player in a Regenerator could be shot (unlike the B.S.), only the most powerful attack could hurt them, which I would assume means only rockets, sniper rounds, Needler superdetonations, and grenades. However, in my experience the regenerator comes across as largely random and only protect. I've often been shot to death by a single guy with an AR while inside a regen, and combat inside a regen is woefully random. I've taken people's shields down and had full or nearly full shields before they entered it to engage me in close quarters, and despite the difference, it's always a toss-up. That's why I'd make it something that fully protects against weak attacks like AR rounds but not against attacks that can punch straight through the shields to cause damage to health. If that proved to make it too effective, I'd probably just remove it from the game, as I can't think of any other way to reduce the random efficacy of the item.[/quote]

That seems unnecessarily arbitrary to me, just arbitrary in a different way. It's just that you are opposed to sometime random results (using a regenerator does not always keep you alive) while I'm opposed to random processes (regenerator protects against one class of weapons but not another class). Perhaps if there was a more solid distinction to be made-- say, protects against energy weapons but not projectile weapons, or vice-versa. In any case, again using this device like this adds a third item to the list of shield-enhancing equipment, and I think that's too much.

Also, if you're in close quarters battle in a regenerator, your opponent is also affected, so one assumes that the regenerator is no longer having any impact on the outcome of combat whatsoever-- it should affect both players equally for whatever duration they are within the radius of the effect.

[snip agreement about trip mines]

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]I have difficulty seeing the necessity for arbitrarily increasing the strength of an already powerful piece of equipment, like the trip mine, by making it both less noticeable and more powerful, while at the same time taking an item of dubious usefulness and making it even less useful. Again, it seems that what you really want to do is remove all equipment without drawing the objections that suggestion would cause. Instead, you want to compromise the effectiveness of most equipment (except the ones you like) to the point that most players would agree with your assertion that these things are useless and the game is better off with them removed.[/quote]

You think the power drainer is of dubious usefulness? Really? I've actually gotten some good results out of it. In fact, I got my first Extermination using a combination of the PD and some BR fire. In any case, if my "EMP Grenade" idea would indeed result in it being less effective, I would retain the current "persistent field" version, though I'd still insist on it being effective only against shields and vehicle drive systems (i.e., it wouldn't inflict health damage or cause physical damage to vehicles).[/quote]

Hmm. Let's say "limited" then, rather than "dubious". In certain specific applications (against vehicles) it is very effective. However in the beta (last time I saw significant multiplayer) it many times got dropped against infantry and is less effective in that role. You can use it to influence your enemy by making them move away; in that sense it was like a grenade or a mine, except one that was relatively rare and announced its presence in a way impossible to ignore.

I'm on the fence regarding its explosive damage. There is a part of me that wants its effect on vehicles to be like that of plasma weapons-- temporary. There are enough ways of taking out a vehicle permanently-- rockets, missiles, grenades, mines, spartan laser. I would like to see the power drainer be useful for stopping a vehicle, killing its crew, and then stealing the intact vehicle. I think I could go for something that did do health damage, but only to players and not to vehicles. Sort of like a neutron bomb.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]I agree that more could be done to make it apparent to the player that the flare equipment is useful in campaign mode. So far I can't tell, and that means it isn't transparent, whether it works or not.

Why a player should suffer washed-out vision if nearby the flare, but not looking at it, is not apparent to me. I think that breaks verisimilitude and unnecessarily punishes the player arbitrarily. If what you want is a persistent, area-effect weapon that reduces the player's field of vision then I think the flare should be replaced with a smoke grenade, or perhaps some sort of EMP-like device that would only affect augmented characters like Spartans by somehow scrambling their displays. Perhaps such a device could be combined with the radar jammer and be more useful than either; that's another item that I am not convinced has any utility by the player in campaign mode.[/quote]

My main issue with the flare is that it lights up right when you throw it, blinding yourself just as much as the enemy, which, along with the fact that it's seemingly useless against AI units in Campaign, gives it a serious "Why bother?" vibe. That's why I'd make it similar to the flashbang grenade from Call of Duty 4. I'm not sure if you've played that yet, but the flashbang bursts like a grenade, blinding whoever's inside it. Unless you throw it too close to yourself, you won't be blinded as well, which makes it a helluva sight more useful that Halo 3's flare.

Of course, I like your ideas as well, and they along with my "flash grenade" idea are all good possibilities for improving the flare equipment.[/quote]

Actually I did just finish COD4 this past week, albeit on the Normal difficulty (suggested by the game as a result of my lackluster first run through the obstacle course, combined with my impatience to get to the game without running through it a second time) and my feelings are mixed. I found myself noting more negatives than positives but that is partly just my nature.

I think both items have problems. Why can't there be an item that both requires the target to be within range AND looking at it, and that does not ignite immediately? It shouldn't be a simple radius effect; if I'm within X meters but looking away I should not be affected. If I'm > X meters but looking at it, I should either not be effected, or not affected to the same degree (how about a blind spot?)

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]I have a fundamental problem with this as I think as a conclusion it works directly against your assumptions.

First, I think there's plenty of emphasis, both in campaign and multiplayer, on the golden tripod. You can't get through any campaign levels or multiplayer matches only using equipment, and the rest of the time, the golden tripod is what you have to use.

If you make occurrences of equipment that much more rare, it means that the use of it, and any resulting advantage gained by the team or player that uses it, will seem more random and more arbitrary. Use of equipment would become not the norm, but an exception to the rule. The rarer its use becomes, the more it would be seen as an exception to, rather than a part of, normal gameplay, and eventually its use would be seen as dishonorable.[/quote]

Shortly before the beta, Frankie stated "I read many mails and posts about how Bubble Shields would littler [sic] the landscape like an Igloo village. Well, they won’t. [i]A piece of equipment will be a rare and valuable find. [emphasis mine - SotV][/i]" However, equipment is downright common on many maps. In a way, it does seem to almost "litter the landscape" as I've been in countless matches where there's at least one piece of equipment being chucked out every minute. On many maps, equipment respawns every 60 to 90 seconds, whereas the power-ups (overshield and active camo) and most power weapons generally take twice as long, with the powerups being much less common than equipment (there are typically only two to four power weapon on a map, similar to the frequency of equipment). That's what I'd like to change. Equipment should take just as long to respawn as power-ups and power weapons do given the fact that it has just as much potential to turn the tide of battle to one's favor.[/quote]

If most equipment spawns once a minute, and the average match is five minutes, then the total number of pieces of equipment possible in a match is 5n where n is the number of spawns. If there are three spawns and eight players that means that each player will have two chances to use equipment within the scope of the match, and it would indeed be possible to see one deployment per minute, especially on a small map. Lengthen the spawn time and for a five minute match you'd be down to one or fewer opportunities for equipment use per player, and then player spawn locations in relation to equipment spawn locations would start becoming a major issue, as they have been with regard to power weapons.

Given that a usual number of kills needed for a slayer game is in the double digits, this hardly seems excessive. Perhaps it is more strategically important in objective games?

I think there's a serious problem in making respawn times for equipment the same as power weapons, and that's the period of efficacy. Once you pick up a power weapon it lasts as long as its ammunition supply, which you have control over. You can save it to use for later, and you still have a secondary weapon, grenades, and melee.

You can only carry one piece of equipment at a time, and no equipment's effect lasts as long as a power weapon. The effect is also many times not portable; drop a mine, a bubble shield, a regenerator, a deployable cover, and that effect is not only temporary but rooted to that spot. I'd say that on balance, equipment is perhaps not as valuable as a power weapon and therefore need not be as rare.

If you want this to be just a "but Frankie saaaaaaid" point, I guess that's OK, but Frankie isn't and wasn't a coder and doesn't determine the matchmaking hoppers (I don't think).

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]I'm not sure what the justification is for this. Isn't it configurable in customs anyway? Or are you merely referring to the cosmetic presentation of the shield bar? Why should the shield provide extra protection without any downside?[/quote]

My justification is that the default Halo 3 OS, the one you find in matchmaking, is far less useful (exactly half as much, to be exact) than the Halo 1, Halo 2, and Halo 3 Beta overshields. In the first two games as well as the H3 beta, the OS gave you two extra layers of shielding, whereas in Halo 3 it now only gives you one extra layer of shielding (in all its incarnations, each added layer provided by the OS is equal in strenght to the primary layer you always have). For something that takes twice as long to respawn as a bubble shield, I have to once again say "Why bother?" to the H3 OS. In fact, the [i]only[/i] thing useful about it is that, like in the previous games, you're invincible for the second or two it takes to charge up. [i]That[/i] is why I'd make the OS the same strenght it was in Halo 1 & 2.[/quote]

I can see this as part of Bungie's attempt to narrow the maximum conceivable gap between the best and worst players in any given match. The bubble shield is temporary and fixed. The overshield is portable and how long it lasts depends entirely on the decisions made by the wearer. It is still much more valuable than a bubble shield. I'm not sure how you can say that having double the shields is not at all useful compared to a fraction of a second of invulnerability-- especially given that this second is granted when it is used, which is only at the spawn point. So, yes, if your game is centered on spawn control then I suppose so.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

[quote=Narcogen]There I have to disagree violently. If there's an example to be taken on how to handle environmental objects, it's from Half-Life 2, especially Episode 2, and not from Gears of War. Gears of War's ordinary environments are actually far more static than any environment in any Halo game with the possible exception of Halo 1. The entire world is basically a backdrop, and the only items that are in any way interactive are weapons and enemy units. Sometimes some random portion of the environment, as pointed out by the game, is interactive and may be destroyed or otherwise influenced to achieve a particular effect. In many cases this is specific to one instance of an item, regardless of how many other, similar, but noninteractive items may be nearby. In some cases the interactivity is one-time and one-way, and in others it is initiated only by the game engine or by enemy NPCs, and cannot be affected by the player. It is often used to prevent players from backtracking by collapsing things behind the player.[/quote]

Well, the Gears 2 approach is only one way I'd approach environmental interactivity. As I mentioned, the Gears 2 approach is superficial and thus doesn't actually affect gameplay. Of course, I'd also add actual, physically meaningful destruction as well. Crysis does this well, as most foliage and many small buildings are partially or entirely destructible. Even Halo 2 had very limited environmental destruction in the form of the pillars and shutters on Zanzibar's base and the stalactites on Waterworks. In the case of the latter, I rarely got kills by dropping stalactities, but it was awesome when I did.

[quote=Narcogen]In short, Halo would be a good model of environment interactivity for Gears to adopt, and not the other way around, and Half-Life 2 would be a superior example for either; a model in which any object that appears movable or would otherwise be interactive in some way can be interacted with (picked up, dropped, thrown, pushed) and all objects that share similar outward characteristics are interactive in similar ways and in ways that are consistent with those outward characteristics. Part of the reason for this in HL2 is the gravity gun, but if you ask me, this kind of interactivity should be in every first person game that can possibly justify it.[/quote]

I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to play Half Life 2 outside of the demo. How interactive/destructible are the environments aside from stuff you get to do with the gravity gun?[/quote]

More interactive than destructible. A wide range of objects can be picked up and thrown. Most small ones can be picked up either with or without the gun, but as you nearly always have the gun, the distinction isn't very meaningful. Heavy objects can only be picked up with the gun, and some objects, like bodies, can only be picked up by the gun in a certain special state, which happens at special times due to special circumstances.

The kind of interactivity that games like Faction tried to get from destructibility-- destroy walls and shoot through them-- HL2 gets from interactiity, by allowing the gravity gun to dismantle certain things that would otherwise be cover. It also allows you to pick up certain items and use them for cover.

Where Halo and Gears both fail is where they tried to use special mechanics relating to interactive items and melee attacks; namely, bashing open doors. They introduce the mechanic and then use it so seldom that you completely forget about it, and then the developers forget about it too and stop using it. Since HL2, like Marathon, actually has a use button, and you can use it to open doors, and doors that can't be opened can be bypassed by doing other things (like moving piles of rubble or opening air vent grates and crawling through) there's always a higher degree of interactivity. Let's face it, in Gears you either shoot things, hide behind them, or turn them. Everything else is scenery.

[snip agreement about variability and weather]

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]

Well. I think that covers everything for now. Thanks for the feedback. It always helps me refine ideas or create new ideas when I have constructive input from others.[/quote]

Likewise!


Rampant for over se7en years.

[quote=narcogen]Gee... more than a year, I think.[/quote]

Wow. Well, I have been out of the loop for a while since my computer crapped out on me last June and I didn't get it fixed until last month. My internet usage was highly limited during that time since I had to use a friend's laptop when I visited. If I did see the new site before my computer messed up, I probably just forgot, especially considering I was used to the old layout for so long.

[quote]I think my angle is that trying to offer both regeneration and permanent damage offers a weak version of each. It does, in a sense, promote player choice, but both choices are less palatable than in a model that doesn't offer any choice. In H2 and H3 you are essentially only dealing with rechargeable shields; as you can't see your health level, the rate at which it recharges and your health level are largely academic. You take cover, wait, and when your shields recharge fully, you return to playing normally.

This does drop a dramatic element from Halo 1, which is having to alter one's playing style to compensate for low health while looking for a health pack. Forcing a player into this tradeoff I think can heighten excitement, and killing off a room feels like that much more of an accomplishment when you've done it with low health. This can even add drama into scenarios that might seem to have lost all drama. If you've got two slugs in your pistol you can take out two Hunters, and you should be able to do so without taking a hit. But when you know you can't survive even a brush, and just on the other side of those two hunters is the health pack you need to make it to the end of the level, all of a sudden it feels like a different game.[/quote]

That was one of the many things I liked about the first game. For whatever reason, you getted messed up bad by the enemy and your health is in the red, and there's that pulsing heartbeat. I knew I had to be more cautious, because if I get hit when my shields are down, I'm toast. Getting to a health pack was a relief. I never get that feeling in Halo 2 & 3

[quote]Slowly regenerating health is negative because it rewards a player for not playing. Health packs without inventory control are negative because they punish a player who limits his own damage (being healed consumes a full health pack regardless of how little damage is healed, and since all you need to do to utilize a health pack is walk over it, this can easily be done inadvertently in battle or afterwards). [/quote]

So, I think we can agree that the "inventoried health packs" solution is probably the best overall. Actually, it was the first thing I put into the section on health. I didn't add the "sectional health bar" idea until after I someone mentioned that system being used in Resistance and Far Cry 2, upon which I thought it could be a good solution to several issues people associate with health in Halo as well as a way to have an ODST and Spartan-III Campaign that isn't ridiculously hard or doesn't have to resort to a Gears/CoD-style system.

[quote]The real issue here is transparency, I think we agree on that. I have to admit, though, that the amount of health, compared to the amount of shield, is so inconsequential as to be unimportant. So while nontransparency is bad, this is not as bad as it could be. What it means is the introduction of a small random element; in some cases, when close to death, you will survive because you have a tiny bit of health you are not aware of, whereas in other, qualitatively similar situations, you will die because this tiny bit of health is a bit tinier.

So at this point let me say that transparency is a good thing in moderation. Complete transparency ultimately results in determinism, and I think that's bad, because determinism is the enemy of replayability. I also think that there's a degree to which game mechanics need to be transparent and comprehensible, but that transparency need not, and perhaps should not be complete. To bring in an example from a different genre, look at Speech checks in Fallout. I hate, hate HATE seeing those percentages there. Sure, it's transparent. But it brings to the player's mind the arbitrary nature of the game, and lets the player know, in a game that is supposed to be a fully open sandbox, that there is a clearly preferable outcome to this interaction. It leads to creep and save, where you save before the check and then repeat it until you "win". It's awful. [/quote]

Are you saying that Halo 1's visible health bar is similar in this manner? I guess you can make the case that a player who is unhappy with how a particular encounter has left him with less health than he's comfortable with might simply hit "Revert to Last Save," whereas in Halo 2 & 3 the inability to monitor your health means that lack of knowledge eliminates any incentive to revert to your last save. However, health is a [i]very[/i] important variable. Sure, like you've said, you can't always account for everything in gameplay (Is there a guy lurking around a corner with a shotgun? Is that guy carrying a power drainer he could chuck in my face?), but to me knowing how much health you have left is just as important as knowing how much ammo, grenades, and shields you have. Anything involving "basic stuff about my guy" should be transparent. If we don't know how much health we have, it could prove necessary to keep regenerating health in the game, which we both have issues with. Health packs wouldn't be useful without the existence of a health bar, that much is certain.

With a few tweaks to the gameplay, we could reduce or eliminate a player's urge to revert to their last save. Inventoriable health packs could do so by allowing a player to heal themselves after debilitating encounter (this system seems like it could solve a lot of problems). Proper placement of checkpoints could help, too.

[quote=Narcogen]If the regenerator affects shields and the bubble shield is an extra shield (like the overshield is an extra shield) then you've effectively got three items performing functions that are extremely similar. The bubble shield distinguishes itself from the overshield in that it covers a larger area, which allows for additional strategies and gameplay interactions. The regenerator, as it works on health, is distinguished from the overshield. If the regenerator worked on shields but not health, that means the only distinction between it and the overshield is that the overshield provides an initial increase in shield HP that then depletes as normal, while the regenerator temporarily replenishes shield hp that otherwise would have depleted as normal. That's a razor-thin difference, to me enough either to keep the regenerator as is (operates on non-transparent health rather than transparent shield) or eliminate it.[/quote]

Well, there's no way of telling if the regen affects health in Halo 3 due to our inability to monitor health. In any case, if the regen, regardless of how it works, proved to be too redundant of an item if we already have a bubble shield, overshield, and health packs, then I'd remove it.

As a longish side note, I have though of something a bit different from my previous modification of the regen. Instead of rendering you immune to all but the strongest attacks, it could simply increase the rate of regeneration. In Halo 3, the regen merely causes shields to start replinishing instantly rather than 5 seconds after the player last sustained damage. The actual rate of recovery is the same (it takes about 3 seconds to charge from zero to full shields). While this provides good protection from the slower-firing, weaker per-shot weapons (BR, Carbine, and Magnum), it provides only minimal protection from fast-firing weapons like the AR and negligible to nonexistent protecton from high-damage weapons. Add to this the woefully unpredictable nature of close-quarters combat inside a regen, and you have a "Why bother?" item.

So, the regen could, in addition to causing shields to start coming back instantly, actually increase the rate of regeneration by several times. If my calculations are correct, if the player regenerates at least 60 HP of shielding per second instead of the usual 15-20 (depending on the game), it would provide protection against a wider array of weapons. In a one-on-one confrontation, not only would BRs, Carbines, and pistols still be useless, even automatics are likely to fail. It would take either the use of a high-damage weapon (sniper, shotgun, etc.) or concentrated fire from at least two enemies armed with just about any of the weaker weapons to kill someone inside a regen. So, the regen would give you the edge against a single opponent that's not equipped with a power weapon or result in a stalemate if you and your foe are inside it together, you'd be in trouble against a group of enemies even if they're not inside the regen with you.

[quoteNarcogen]Hmm... sort of. Gameplay is nearly always more important than realism, but not always more important than verisimilitude. Many things that happen in Halo are not, strictly speaking, realistic. What I do mean though is one particular item you point out above: that H1 melees are able to hit targets without physical contact. This is excusable when, from the first person perspective, it is not necessarily readily apparent. When you have campaign films, you can't do this. The "lunge" in this sense is strictly a cosmetic device, accelerating a character that is within melee range but does not appear to be because of the difference between the physical space the character's model occupies in comparison to the theoretical "melee range" for that character.[/quote]

For me, I'd rather take that one small instance of lack of verisimilitude (the lack of visible contact for melees when viewed from third-person) if it meant removing the melee lunge, which is one of my most hated aspects of gameplay in Halo 2 & 3. If it didn't drastically change the way they worked, an H1-style melee with a trimmed range (2-2.5 m instead of 3.5), perhaps also combined with tweaked melee animations, would be an acceptable means of making the melees look like they're actually hitting, or at least come closer to making them look like they're hitting.

[quote=Narcogen]Well eventually that will be nearly everyone, given enough time, as prices fall and even the best CRTs eventually fail. Having upgraded both my primary viewing hardware and my desktop's monitor to 16:9 / 16:10 I do say I'm more than happy with it for gaming (although it's rubbish for word processing).[/quote]

Why, oh why are CRTs being forced into obsolescence? Games on older systems look like crap on HDTVs, and even most HD stuff looks off to me (artifacts and other stuff). While I have seen a handful of great-looking stuff on HDTVs (NBC Nightly News looks outstanding on my parent's Sanyo, which I got to watch when I was dogsitting for them while they went out of town, as do most DVDs on their upscaler player), a lot of stuff still looks as good or better on regular TVs. Halo 3 and BioShock look sooooo much better on my 10-year-old 19" Toshiba than on my parent's Sanyo HDTV or any of the HDTVs my friends have. The colors are better and the textures look much nicer, without all those jaggies I see on HD displays. So far, the only thing I've seen HDTVs do consistently better is the rendering of small text. Sometimes, small font in games can be hard to see on my TV, but look much clearer in HD. Almost everything else looks like ass in HD to me, though. I guess as the display and upscaling technology improves, I'll come to like HDTV, but until then, I'm sticking with CRT TVs.[/tangent]

[quote=Narcogen]I think the problem here is that with Halo in particular there are two distinct contexts: the game, and matchmaking. I suppose the only baseline you have to deal with in "the game" is campaign. Matchmaking itself is infinitely variable. So I'd draw a line in the sand between criticism of the game (campaign and the nature of gameplay items like equipment themselves) and criticism of matchmaking (game types, map choices, item frequency). I certainly don't play enough matchmaking to comment on item frequency there, but I'd hazard a guess that if the problem can more easily be dealt with by changing matchmaking hoppers than a title patch (which we're unlikely to get) then that route is best. In any case, players can themselves make these changes in custom games, and I think future Halo titles are unlikely to have less customization than H3 has.

From Bungie's perspective I can see why they might err on the side of too much equipment rather than too little; it is difficult to derive significant satisfaction from having created a sumptuous cake icing and then restrain oneself when applying it to the cake. Bungie thinks these things are cool, or else they would not have spent time creating and iterating them. Having created them, they want to use them and see them used. This is at odds with Frankie's quote, I know, but to be honest I saw his quote in the context of campaign.[/quote]

The frequency of equipment in Campaign is fine, but in the competitive arena of multiplayer, it's just too damn common on many maps. You talk more about this later in your post, though, so I'll get to this more then.

[quote=Narcogen]That seems unnecessarily arbitrary to me, just arbitrary in a different way. It's just that you are opposed to sometime random results (using a regenerator does not always keep you alive) while I'm opposed to random processes (regenerator protects against one class of weapons but not another class). Perhaps if there was a more solid distinction to be made-- say, protects against energy weapons but not projectile weapons, or vice-versa. In any case, again using this device like this adds a third item to the list of shield-enhancing equipment, and I think that's too much.

Also, if you're in close quarters battle in a regenerator, your opponent is also affected, so one assumes that the regenerator is no longer having any impact on the outcome of combat whatsoever-- it should affect both players equally for whatever duration they are within the radius of the effect.[/quote]

While I'm not opposed to all random things, there are forms of randomness I strongly dislike. The wildly unpredictable nature of the melee lunge in Halo 2 was one; you never knew if it was going to connect, bounce off, or send you flying past an enemy and to your death. Combat inside a regen in Halo 3 is another. If someone gets inside it with you, it usually devolves into a fistfight since melees are stronger and easier to use than most firearms up close. It's a crapshoot, just meleeing like crazy and hoping for the best. While a lot of things in Halo aren't deterministic (you can never tell where you're going to respawn, and most weapons that aren't snipers or explosives are random or unpredictable to some degree), they're not always a gamble where whatever happens, happens, and you can't even begin to guess the results. Tyson Green said "[R]andomness is a poor substitute for tactics and skillful execution." While not all forms of randomness are inherently bad, there are a few things that fit Green's description. Combat inside the regen is one of them. It's like I'm all of the sudden playing a gambling simulator disguised as an FPS.

[quote=Narcogen]I'm on the fence regarding its explosive damage. There is a part of me that wants its effect on vehicles to be like that of plasma weapons-- temporary. There are enough ways of taking out a vehicle permanently-- rockets, missiles, grenades, mines, spartan laser. I would like to see the power drainer be useful for stopping a vehicle, killing its crew, and then stealing the intact vehicle.[/quote]

That's about the way I see it.

[quote]I think I could go for something that did do health damage, but only to players and not to vehicles. Sort of like a neutron bomb.[/quote]

Hmm. A radiological weapon. Never thought of that. Kills living things, but leaves technology intact.

[quote=Narcogen]Actually I did just finish COD4 this past week, albeit on the Normal difficulty (suggested by the game as a result of my lackluster first run through the obstacle course, combined with my impatience to get to the game without running through it a second time) and my feelings are mixed. I found myself noting more negatives than positives but that is partly just my nature.

I think both items have problems. Why can't there be an item that both requires the target to be within range AND looking at it, and that does not ignite immediately? It shouldn't be a simple radius effect; if I'm within X meters but looking away I should not be affected. If I'm > X meters but looking at it, I should either not be effected, or not affected to the same degree (how about a blind spot?)[/quote]

That's actually about how I'd envision the flare. It would work similar to a grenade and would emit a sudden flash of bright light when it detonates, which would affect vision about the same way you described it.

Well, I'm going to cut this short. I'm about ready to fall asleep and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to think of good stuff to say. If I can remember, I'll try to finish replying tomorrow.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid][quote=narcogen]Gee... more than a year, I think.[/quote]

Wow. Well, I have been out of the loop for a while since my computer crapped out on me last June and I didn't get it fixed until last month. My internet usage was highly limited during that time since I had to use a friend's laptop when I visited. If I did see the new site before my computer messed up, I probably just forgot, especially considering I was used to the old layout for so long.[/quote]

That's OK. I don't update as much lately. In fact, I should get to this stack of podcast episodes that need editing...

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid][quote=narcogen]

The real issue here is transparency, I think we agree on that. I have to admit, though, that the amount of health, compared to the amount of shield, is so inconsequential as to be unimportant. So while nontransparency is bad, this is not as bad as it could be. What it means is the introduction of a small random element; in some cases, when close to death, you will survive because you have a tiny bit of health you are not aware of, whereas in other, qualitatively similar situations, you will die because this tiny bit of health is a bit tinier.

So at this point let me say that transparency is a good thing in moderation. Complete transparency ultimately results in determinism, and I think that's bad, because determinism is the enemy of replayability. I also think that there's a degree to which game mechanics need to be transparent and comprehensible, but that transparency need not, and perhaps should not be complete. To bring in an example from a different genre, look at Speech checks in Fallout. I hate, hate HATE seeing those percentages there. Sure, it's transparent. But it brings to the player's mind the arbitrary nature of the game, and lets the player know, in a game that is supposed to be a fully open sandbox, that there is a clearly preferable outcome to this interaction. It leads to creep and save, where you save before the check and then repeat it until you "win". It's awful. [/quote]

Are you saying that Halo 1's visible health bar is similar in this manner? I guess you can make the case that a player who is unhappy with how a particular encounter has left him with less health than he's comfortable with might simply hit "Revert to Last Save," whereas in Halo 2 & 3 the inability to monitor your health means that lack of knowledge eliminates any incentive to revert to your last save. However, health is a [i]very[/i] important variable. Sure, like you've said, you can't always account for everything in gameplay (Is there a guy lurking around a corner with a shotgun? Is that guy carrying a power drainer he could chuck in my face?), but to me knowing how much health you have left is just as important as knowing how much ammo, grenades, and shields you have. Anything involving "basic stuff about my guy" should be transparent. If we don't know how much health we have, it could prove necessary to keep regenerating health in the game, which we both have issues with. Health packs wouldn't be useful without the existence of a health bar, that much is certain.

With a few tweaks to the gameplay, we could reduce or eliminate a player's urge to revert to their last save. Inventoriable health packs could do so by allowing a player to heal themselves after debilitating encounter (this system seems like it could solve a lot of problems). Proper placement of checkpoints could help, too.[/quote]

I wouldn't say it applies to H1's health bar within the context of Halo 1. I do think that, had that meter been carried forward into the H2/H3 model, it might have. In Halo 1 you might get seriously hurt, but you also know that at some point there will be relief: a health pack someplace, or the end of the level. And although you have explicit control over when to exercise the "rever to last" command, you don't have explicit control over when you get checkpoints (although it is possible, once you are familiar with the system, to use it to your best advantage). However, the lack of precise control I think limits the temptation to keep using revert as a "win" button to certain specific situations.

There's also a difference in how you get rewards in Halo, compared to RPGs like Fallout or Oblivion or Mass Effect. Advancement in Halo is largely binary; either you fail and you die or you win and survive. Your reward, the experience in playing the game, is largely how you win, as opposed to just winning itself. So using endless reverts until you get a "perfect" run in which you master an encounter without dying doesn't actually feel much better than dying.

Whereas the branches and dialogue choices in the RPGs give you a real chance of missing out on content based on your choices. There's more temptation.

I think with a small, but visible amount of health in H2/H3 that additional information would be additional temptation to use the revert; especially since, if the bars were proportional, any reduction in health would seem significant compared to the total amount, and any amount of remaining health would seem small in comparison to shield strength. Non-regenerating, but transparent minor health levels in H3, added to the absence of health packs, would mean that once you got hurt you had to finish the level in order to advance. The health bar here is just information overload; it can't help you because the only useful decision it can affect is the decision to exit normal gameplay by using Revert.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid]
[quote=Narcogen]If the regenerator affects shields and the bubble shield is an extra shield (like the overshield is an extra shield) then you've effectively got three items performing functions that are extremely similar. The bubble shield distinguishes itself from the overshield in that it covers a larger area, which allows for additional strategies and gameplay interactions. The regenerator, as it works on health, is distinguished from the overshield. If the regenerator worked on shields but not health, that means the only distinction between it and the overshield is that the overshield provides an initial increase in shield HP that then depletes as normal, while the regenerator temporarily replenishes shield hp that otherwise would have depleted as normal. That's a razor-thin difference, to me enough either to keep the regenerator as is (operates on non-transparent health rather than transparent shield) or eliminate it.[/quote]

Well, there's no way of telling if the regen affects health in Halo 3 due to our inability to monitor health. In any case, if the regen, regardless of how it works, proved to be too redundant of an item if we already have a bubble shield, overshield, and health packs, then I'd remove it.

As a longish side note, I have though of something a bit different from my previous modification of the regen. Instead of rendering you immune to all but the strongest attacks, it could simply increase the rate of regeneration. In Halo 3, the regen merely causes shields to start replinishing instantly rather than 5 seconds after the player last sustained damage. The actual rate of recovery is the same (it takes about 3 seconds to charge from zero to full shields). While this provides good protection from the slower-firing, weaker per-shot weapons (BR, Carbine, and Magnum), it provides only minimal protection from fast-firing weapons like the AR and negligible to nonexistent protecton from high-damage weapons. Add to this the woefully unpredictable nature of close-quarters combat inside a regen, and you have a "Why bother?" item.

So, the regen could, in addition to causing shields to start coming back instantly, actually increase the rate of regeneration by several times. If my calculations are correct, if the player regenerates at least 60 HP of shielding per second instead of the usual 15-20 (depending on the game), it would provide protection against a wider array of weapons. In a one-on-one confrontation, not only would BRs, Carbines, and pistols still be useless, even automatics are likely to fail. It would take either the use of a high-damage weapon (sniper, shotgun, etc.) or concentrated fire from at least two enemies armed with just about any of the weaker weapons to kill someone inside a regen. So, the regen would give you the edge against a single opponent that's not equipped with a power weapon or result in a stalemate if you and your foe are inside it together, you'd be in trouble against a group of enemies even if they're not inside the regen with you.[/quote]

Still I think ends up as partly redundant and partly "why bother". There are already 2 items that affect shields. A third is redundant, I think, no matter what it does. A bubble shield is just a regenerator with instant recharge, therefore any regenerator that regenerates shields at a higher rate than normal, but more slowly than instant, is an inferior shield. For parity as a piece of equipment it would have to do something else-- cover a larger area, last longer-- but it doesn't do those things and clearly wasn't designed to.

We can't measure the regenerator's effect on player health because we can't monitor it, but we might be able to do so against NPC health. Or perhaps there would be a way in a game with no shields under controlled circumstances, monitoring shots required for kills with or without a regen in use.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid][quote=narcogen]Hmm... sort of. Gameplay is nearly always more important than realism, but not always more important than verisimilitude. Many things that happen in Halo are not, strictly speaking, realistic. What I do mean though is one particular item you point out above: that H1 melees are able to hit targets without physical contact. This is excusable when, from the first person perspective, it is not necessarily readily apparent. When you have campaign films, you can't do this. The "lunge" in this sense is strictly a cosmetic device, accelerating a character that is within melee range but does not appear to be because of the difference between the physical space the character's model occupies in comparison to the theoretical "melee range" for that character.[/quote]

For me, I'd rather take that one small instance of lack of verisimilitude (the lack of visible contact for melees when viewed from third-person) if it meant removing the melee lunge, which is one of my most hated aspects of gameplay in Halo 2 & 3. If it didn't drastically change the way they worked, an H1-style melee with a trimmed range (2-2.5 m instead of 3.5), perhaps also combined with tweaked melee animations, would be an acceptable means of making the melees look like they're actually hitting, or at least come closer to making them look like they're hitting.[/quote]

The lunge isn't anything to hate-- it's cosmetic. You should not be able to hit something 3.5 meters away. If you can, you should be able to do it by quickly moving that 3.5 meters. That's the lunge.

The lunge is a common complaint but not all the complaints are the same. What's yours, exactly? I wouldn't mind losing the lunge if it meant actually reducing the melee range, but I have a feeling this was considering a necessary adjustment to the tripod and won't be reversed.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid][quote=narcogen]Well eventually that will be nearly everyone, given enough time, as prices fall and even the best CRTs eventually fail. Having upgraded both my primary viewing hardware and my desktop's monitor to 16:9 / 16:10 I do say I'm more than happy with it for gaming (although it's rubbish for word processing).[/quote]

Why, oh why are CRTs being forced into obsolescence? Games on older systems look like crap on HDTVs, and even most HD stuff looks off to me (artifacts and other stuff). While I have seen a handful of great-looking stuff on HDTVs (NBC Nightly News looks outstanding on my parent's Sanyo, which I got to watch when I was dogsitting for them while they went out of town, as do most DVDs on their upscaler player), a lot of stuff still looks as good or better on regular TVs. Halo 3 and BioShock look sooooo much better on my 10-year-old 19" Toshiba than on my parent's Sanyo HDTV or any of the HDTVs my friends have. The colors are better and the textures look much nicer, without all those jaggies I see on HD displays. So far, the only thing I've seen HDTVs do consistently better is the rendering of small text. Sometimes, small font in games can be hard to see on my TV, but look much clearer in HD. Almost everything else looks like ass in HD to me, though. I guess as the display and upscaling technology improves, I'll come to like HDTV, but until then, I'm sticking with CRT TVs.[/tangent][/quote]

Without more specifics it is hard to say. However, I have seen Halo 3 on similar sized standard def televisions, as well as on HDTVs, computer monitors, EDTV projectors and HDTV projectors. There is simply no comparison. A properly configured, reasonable quality high definition display simply trounces all but the best and largest CRTs, with the added benefit of using less energy and being a lot smaller.

If you're PC gamer who, as a few others I've talked to, basically consider FSAA the be-all and end-all of visual fidelity, then the lack of it on certain 360 titles might seem less egregious on standard def displays.

Beyond that I can only wonder about the basics-- what cable is being used to connect the 360 to this Sanyo? What model is it? Was the HDTV switch on the high def cable in the correct position, and were the console settings on the correct resolution? What display mode is the unit using-- 720p? 1080i? 1080p? What is the unit's native resolution, and if you're displaying in another resolution, where is the upscaling or downscaling being done?

If going from SD to HD with Bioshock and H3 doesn't elicit a response like "wow I never knew all this detail was here" then I suspect something is wrong somewhere along the line.

[quote=ShadowOfTheVoid][quote=narcogen]That seems unnecessarily arbitrary to me, just arbitrary in a different way. It's just that you are opposed to sometime random results (using a regenerator does not always keep you alive) while I'm opposed to random processes (regenerator protects against one class of weapons but not another class). Perhaps if there was a more solid distinction to be made-- say, protects against energy weapons but not projectile weapons, or vice-versa. In any case, again using this device like this adds a third item to the list of shield-enhancing equipment, and I think that's too much.

Also, if you're in close quarters battle in a regenerator, your opponent is also affected, so one assumes that the regenerator is no longer having any impact on the outcome of combat whatsoever-- it should affect both players equally for whatever duration they are within the radius of the effect.[/quote]

While I'm not opposed to all random things, there are forms of randomness I strongly dislike. The wildly unpredictable nature of the melee lunge in Halo 2 was one; you never knew if it was going to connect, bounce off, or send you flying past an enemy and to your death. Combat inside a regen in Halo 3 is another. If someone gets inside it with you, it usually devolves into a fistfight since melees are stronger and easier to use than most firearms up close. It's a crapshoot, just meleeing like crazy and hoping for the best. While a lot of things in Halo aren't deterministic (you can never tell where you're going to respawn, and most weapons that aren't snipers or explosives are random or unpredictable to some degree), they're not always a gamble where whatever happens, happens, and you can't even begin to guess the results. Tyson Green said "[R]andomness is a poor substitute for tactics and skillful execution." While not all forms of randomness are inherently bad, there are a few things that fit Green's description. Combat inside the regen is one of them. It's like I'm all of the sudden playing a gambling simulator disguised as an FPS.[/quote]

And so is your opponent. You can choose not to deploy a regenerator, and you can choose not to engage an opponent who has deployed one. I still have a hard time seeing this as much more than a complaint against any random element; but even more so because this one is clearly identifiable, avoidable, and not a part of the core gameplay, as opposed to the mechanics of melee combat itself. So we'll agree to disagree here. I would only say that the regenerator stands as a piece of equipment whose effectiveness is difficult for a player to guage because it operates on a characteristic that is not directly accesible to the player: health. (Or, more to the point, its effectiveness cannot be judged until your health level is exposed to you in the only way possible, which is when you die: at which point the decision is already made.) All other equipment operates more transparently.


Rampant for over se7en years.

[quote=narcogen]I wouldn't say it applies to H1's health bar within the context of Halo 1. I do think that, had that meter been carried forward into the H2/H3 model, it might have. In Halo 1 you might get seriously hurt, but you also know that at some point there will be relief: a health pack someplace, or the end of the level. And although you have explicit control over when to exercise the "rever to last" command, you don't have explicit control over when you get checkpoints (although it is possible, once you are familiar with the system, to use it to your best advantage). However, the lack of precise control I think limits the temptation to keep using revert as a "win" button to certain specific situations.

There's also a difference in how you get rewards in Halo, compared to RPGs like Fallout or Oblivion or Mass Effect. Advancement in Halo is largely binary; either you fail and you die or you win and survive. Your reward, the experience in playing the game, is largely how you win, as opposed to just winning itself. So using endless reverts until you get a "perfect" run in which you master an encounter without dying doesn't actually feel much better than dying.

Whereas the branches and dialogue choices in the RPGs give you a real chance of missing out on content based on your choices. There's more temptation.

I think with a small, but visible amount of health in H2/H3 that additional information would be additional temptation to use the revert; especially since, if the bars were proportional, any reduction in health would seem significant compared to the total amount, and any amount of remaining health would seem small in comparison to shield strength. Non-regenerating, but transparent minor health levels in H3, added to the absence of health packs, would mean that once you got hurt you had to finish the level in order to advance. The health bar here is just information overload; it can't help you because the only useful decision it can affect is the decision to exit normal gameplay by using Revert.[/quote]
I think I get you now. So, non-regenerating health combined with health packs and a visible health meter wouldn't give much incentive to revert. Well, I think I'm set on my optimum health system now: like Halo 1, but with health packs capable of being inventoried. Sound good?

[quote]Still I think ends up as partly redundant and partly "why bother". There are already 2 items that affect shields. A third is redundant, I think, no matter what it does. A bubble shield is just a regenerator with instant recharge, therefore any regenerator that regenerates shields at a higher rate than normal, but more slowly than instant, is an inferior shield. For parity as a piece of equipment it would have to do something else-- cover a larger area, last longer-- but it doesn't do those things and clearly wasn't designed to.[/quote]

So, while our primary reasons for doing so are different, I think we both agree that it would be best if the regen were simply eliminated, am I right?

[quote]We can't measure the regenerator's effect on player health because we can't monitor it, but we might be able to do so against NPC health. Or perhaps there would be a way in a game with no shields under controlled circumstances, monitoring shots required for kills with or without a regen in use.[/quote]
I actually tested this the other day, and the regen does affect health. It seems like it works on health the same way it does shields, by causing the health to start regenerating instantly instead of 10 seconds after the player last took damage to their health. Presumably, it also does not affect the actual rate of regeneration (9 HP/sec according to Bungie), just like how it doesn't increase the rate the shields recover (about 30-35 HP/sec).

[quote]The lunge isn't anything to hate-- it's cosmetic. You should not be able to hit something 3.5 meters away. If you can, you should be able to do it by quickly moving that 3.5 meters. That's the lunge.

The lunge is a common complaint but not all the complaints are the same. What's yours, exactly? I wouldn't mind losing the lunge if it meant actually reducing the melee range, but I have a feeling this was considering a necessary adjustment to the tripod and won't be reversed.[/quote]
Actually, the lunge isn't entirely cosmetic. It does have several demonstrable effects on gameplay. For one, it changes your character's position, whereas in Halo 1 the melees did not cause you to move. In Halo 2, this was a problem due to the finicky behavior of that game's melees. On many occasions I was thrown off ledges because the melee missed, which often resulted in death. This problem is largely solved in Halo 3 as the melee lunge has a nearly 100% success rate. I've only had it not connect a handful of occasions, and I think those failures were because of some physical obstruction. Also, I've only died because of the melee lunge once in Halo 3; the guy was jumping backwards when I lunged with the sword, and by the time I connected, I was pulled over a dropoff and fell to my death (and I was 14-0 >_

Another notable gameplay feature of the lunge is that it largely eliminates the need to time your melees like you did in Halo 1. In Halo 1, you had to aim and time your melee as you only meleed straight foward; the enemy could not be too far away from the center of the screen or you'd miss. So, even if an enemy was within melee range (3.5 meters), if you didn't aim or time it right, you could miss. In Halo 2 & 3, you only had to be within range. You didn't necessarily have to be facing him. You can even melee someone who's not even on the screen. Of course, while the lunge has a maximum range of 4.87 m for an opponent directly in front of you, it's reduced to about 3 m for an enemy on or just past the periphery of your vision. You can easily test the differences between the Halo 1 and Halo 3 melees by experimenting on sleeping Grunts in Campaign or against a "dummy player" on a multiplayer map (I have a video of the Halo 3 melee in action against way off-center enemies if you want to see it).

Of course, this is more or less an area-of-effect issue, and isn't necessarily because of the lunge per se. It's conceivable that someone could alter Halo 1's melees to where they can strike enemies in the perhiphery of one's vision just like Halo 3's. Conversely, Halo 3's melee lunge doesn't [i]have[/i] to lunge off at high angles like it does. That being the case, I could deal with the melee lunge if the maximum angle you could lunge off-center was no greater than the angle it was in Halo 1. I like how Halo 3's melees are deterministic just like Halo 1's are rather than being the random mess that was the Halo 2 melee lunge. I just don't like how it makes timing your melees almost a non-issue.

Finally, another gameplay change wrought by the melee lunge is that it resulted in the elimination of fall damage. I can't recall any exact quotes, but I remember hearing that during the development of Halo 2, it was discovered that if the melee lunge missed and the player crashed into a wall, it would result in death because you were moving fast enough for fall damage to be a factor. Thus, one of the two had to go. Unfortunately, for reasons never explained to any of us, Bungie gave priority to the lunge. Of course, I don't see any reason why the lunge and fall damage can't co-exist. For one, the lunge as it functions in Halo 3 rarely if ever misses, so there's no need to worry about players dying from lunging into walls. Also, making it to where fall damage doesn't come into play unless something strikes the soles of the player's feet could be a backup solution just in case a lunge did fail to connect.

[quote]Without more specifics it is hard to say. However, I have seen Halo 3 on similar sized standard def televisions, as well as on HDTVs, computer monitors, EDTV projectors and HDTV projectors. There is simply no comparison. A properly configured, reasonable quality high definition display simply trounces all but the best and largest CRTs, with the added benefit of using less energy and being a lot smaller.

If you're PC gamer who, as a few others I've talked to, basically consider FSAA the be-all and end-all of visual fidelity, then the lack of it on certain 360 titles might seem less egregious on standard def displays.

Beyond that I can only wonder about the basics-- what cable is being used to connect the 360 to this Sanyo? What model is it? Was the HDTV switch on the high def cable in the correct position, and were the console settings on the correct resolution? What display mode is the unit using-- 720p? 1080i? 1080p? What is the unit's native resolution, and if you're displaying in another resolution, where is the upscaling or downscaling being done?

If going from SD to HD with Bioshock and H3 doesn't elicit a response like "wow I never knew all this detail was here" then I suspect something is wrong somewhere along the line.[/quote]
My friend has his 360 connected to his 32" Samsung via component cable. I used component cable at first to connect my 360 to my parent's Sanyo. In both cases, the switch on the cable was set to HD. Their upconverting DVD player is connected via HDMI, so last time I had to dogsit I used that HDMI jack to connect my 360 to their TV. I really didn't notice much improvement. In all cases, I think the resolution was set to 720p, which is the native resolution on both TVs. Now, DVDs look fine on my parent's TV, and TV programs looked absolutely amazing (they use an HD antenna since they live outside of the cable company's service area), but games didn't look any better than they do on my 19" SD Toshiba. Maybe my TV is just ridiculously good-quality for an SDTV? I guess once I get a good-quality HDTV of my own and calibrate it to how I like, then perhaps I'll finally have a "WOW!" moment with games.

[quote]And so is your opponent. You can choose not to deploy a regenerator, and you can choose not to engage an opponent who has deployed one. I still have a hard time seeing this as much more than a complaint against any random element; but even more so because this one is clearly identifiable, avoidable, and not a part of the core gameplay, as opposed to the mechanics of melee combat itself. So we'll agree to disagree here. I would only say that the regenerator stands as a piece of equipment whose effectiveness is difficult for a player to guage because it operates on a characteristic that is not directly accesible to the player: health. (Or, more to the point, its effectiveness cannot be judged until your health level is exposed to you in the only way possible, which is when you die: at which point the decision is already made.) All other equipment operates more transparently.[/quote]
You have a point about the regen not being a core part of gameplay unlike melees. However, if it's going to be in the game, it should, y'know, work in a predictable manner. I have a general idea with what to expect with each weapon and with all the other pieces of equipment. Not so with the regen. I guess this is the lack of transparency you mention. Of course, like I said before, we both would probably just eliminate the regen even if our reasons for doing so differ.

[quote]I can see this as part of Bungie's attempt to narrow the maximum conceivable gap between the best and worst players in any given match. The bubble shield is temporary and fixed. The overshield is portable and how long it lasts depends entirely on the decisions made by the wearer. It is still much more valuable than a bubble shield. I'm not sure how you can say that having double the shields is not at all useful compared to a fraction of a second of invulnerability-- especially given that this second is granted when it is used, which is only at the spawn point. So, yes, if your game is centered on spawn control then I suppose so.[/quote]
This was something from your other reply that I didn't get around to.

With the Halo 3 OS, its weaknesses still outweight its strengths. It still automatically diminishes over time and it still gives the same attention-grabbing glow effect from Halo 2 despite being only half as strong as it was in Halo 2. Compare this to the active camo, which renders you almost totally invisible, its one drawback being you still show up on the motion tracker. That's not a terribly huge weakness if I do say so myself. There just seems to be a stark differences in the contrast between strengths and weaknesses for the two powerups. The AC is by far a better powerup than the OS in Halo 3. Perhaps if the OS didn't diminish by itself over time and/or it didn't cause you to glow, I might be able to deal with it being only half as strong as the Halo 1 & 2 OS. Of course, I'd just much rather have the Halo 2 OS: two extra layers of shielding instead of one, but it slowly depletes on its own and has the "Hey, look at me!" glow effect.

Well, that's all for now. Are you working on a reply to the rest of my article yet? If so, I'll be looking foward to it. In the mean time, I posted a link to my file share at HBO for a map variant I made. Check it out.

Later.

[url=http://shadowofthevoid.wordpress.com]The Dark Sangheili[/url]

Hey Narc. Did you want to continue this discussion or dissect the rest of my article, or are you calling it quits for now? I'd like to continue it.