narcogen's blog

For most of the past few years the bulk of my attention has been on Halo's campaign play: story, characters, and settings. Partly it's my choice, since it is where my interest in Halo lies, but partly due to circumstances. For most of the past seven years, the Internet connections I had access to were unsuitable for online play.

Recent events, however, have conspired to bring my attention back to online play. The first is the upcoming Halo 3 multiplayer public beta. True to form, it appears that Bungie will have multiplayer ready to show the world before the campaign is finished; so between now and when the beta test ends, most Halo 3 discussion will probably focus on multiplayer aspects.

The second thing is that I finally have a reasonably priced Internet connection that makes it possible to participate in Halo 2 matches. While I still have more latency and less skill than a below-average Halo 2 player, for me, participation is the thing. I've already missed out on far too much.

The last thing was that during a discussion of an entirely different subject, my attention was drawn to Halo2sucks.com.

This is not normally a site I would pay much attention to. There's something incongruous about reading a site that labels Bungie "sellouts" and proudly (if largely incoherently) claims that Halo 1 is better than Halo 2 and this inevitably leads to the conclusion that Halo 2 sucks.

However, then I began to feel that simply dismissing all the points the site tries to make simply because of the presentation was prejudicial; and despite the fear of directing attention somewhere it's not warranted, I felt a need to address some of the points the site raised. Then I discovered what really bothered contributors to that site. More on that near the end.

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Bungie has the Waaambulance, where people who have been banned from Halo 2 matchmaking write in nearly incomprehensible questions and complaints, and Bungie makes fun of them.

I don't have the power to ban players from Halo 2 matchmmaking, not that I would if I could. What I do have is some search logs that indicate people end up at Rampancy.net looking for some pretty odd things.

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Ducain over at High Impact Halo put up a wish list for Halo 3. I thought I'd take some of his points and respond to them: ones I liked, and ones I didn't. Thanks to Louis Wu at HBO for the notice.

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So the Brute documentary is out. I'm going to stop using Bungie's VIDOC or Video Documentary term, because I really couldn't think of any other kind of documentary except perhaps for film, and since George Lucas says film is dead and HD Video is the way to go, I suppose it's redundant.

Certain pockets of the fan community, while they enjoyed the very slick and polished Halo 3 Announcement Trailer, have been bothered by the stream of apologia that accompanied first the non-real-time, non-Halo-engine CG television commercial, and now the pre-pre-alpha, not-yet-finished visuals of the Brute documentary.

I'd like to praise Bungie for its candor, however. The documentary on the Halo 2 Limited Edition was quite frank about some of Halo 2's shortcomings, as well as some of the reasons for them. This latest documentary is no different: first and foremost Bungie is admitting that Brutes in Halo 2 were a late addition to the game. They were tough only because they could take a lot of damage; there was no differentiation between different Brute individuals except for Tartarus himself and a few honor guard headdresses, and fighting Brutes was more like fighting Super Flood than fighting Elites or other Covenant units.

Click "read more" below from the front page for the complete text.

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Captain Jacob Keyes started to have bad luck from the first moments of Halo 1. His ship, preparing for a secret mission, was ambushed when the Covenant attacked Reach. They fled blindly, only to arrive at Halo 04 and find the Covenant waiting for them. After a valiant effort, the ship crashes on Halo and Keyes is taken prisoner.

The Master Chief and Cortana mount a daring rescue, so the player has to get inside a Covenant cruiser, find the captain, and keep him alive until the end of the level.

Almost immediately after, however, the captain's search for hidden weapons to use against the Covenant lead to the discovery of the Flood, who take him captive for the second time in the game. The Chief's second valiant rescue attempt fails, as they recover only the neural implants he needs to set the Pillar of Autumn to self-destruct, destroy Halo 04, and supposedly end this whole nightmare.

Crashed, captured and Floodified.

So perhaps Julie Benz should have known going in that there's a bit of bad luck associated with characters sharing the last name "Keyes" in Halo games.

Click "read more" from the front page for the entire article.

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Ahh, the Halo rumor mill. When the tabloids fail to satisfy or even titillate, Halo rumors always ride to the rescue.

A Microsoft blogger in Belgium apparently reposted verbatim an electronic mail message sent from a "bigwig" at Microsoft about a video due to hit Xbox Marketplace on December 20th. The email alleged the 7 plus minute video would focus on the Brute race-- which would be playable in Halo 3-- and feature two and a half minutes of gameplay footage.

HBO followed the breadcrumbs on this one, with forumgoers pointing out that a new documentary video was consistent with statements Bungie made last month, but Frankie was quick to quash the "playable Brutes" part in several community forums.

Of course, that didn't stop the discussion there, as many fans debated back and forth about whether Brutes, as a playable race in campaign, would have been a good idea or not, which only brought out all the Arbiter fans and detractors again over whether or not his inclusion in Halo 2 was a good idea.

We already know Bungie isn't doing it... but if they had, would it have made sense? And would fans (at least some of them) have liked it?

Click "read more" from the front page to see the entire article.

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Although it is only sixty seconds in length, there's actually quite a bit of content to pore over in the CG animated Halo 3 TV commercial. It starts slow, moves quickly, and ends suddenly, so pay attention.

There's also a transcript of the events in the advertisement pointing out various items, but without any commentary on what they might mean.

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Also at the Escapist today, a Microsoft "perception engineer" confirms something about Halo I've long been terribly annoyed by: the tendency of enemies that are far away and do not see you to luckily dodge just as you are about to shoot.

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The HaloWars.com forums are both new and very busy. It has been difficult at time to get at the interesting discussions because so much time has been taken up by the same issues over and over again. Since the announcement of Halo Wars, some eleven thousand posts have been made. About half of them are about why marines have battle rifles.

Things are improving. Their FAQ, while short, one can assume will be expanded at some point. Two sticky threads, on most-often discussed issues and instructions to new posters have gone up to try and keep duplicates to a minimum.

Still, this has barely stemmed the tide of those who wonder about the battle rifle's presence.

I'll try to put this question to rest once and for all here. Wish me luck.

Click "read more" from the front page for the entire article.

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Penny Arcade today doesn't mention Bungie or Halo, but it did mention Senator Brownback's Truth in Video Game Rating Act. 1Up posted a news story late last month, and GamePolitics did as well.

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Yep, well I've received a lambasting from a few in IBO, and support from a few others. A lot of focus in this thread has been on whether an RTS is the right medium to go through, and that's getting beside my point. I'm replying to me previous post as to not clutter up the forum with my rants. I think I can sum up my point in a few steps of thought.

1. I consider Halo an art.

2. Artwork is created by an artist in the medium he/she chooses and portrayed in the angles and perspectives he/she wishes.

3. I happen to like the art that this artist creates.

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While I don't think there's enough actual content in the Halo Wars trailer to do a full-on annotation, as for the Halo 3 trailer, I did think it worthwhile to try and collect some thoughts about yesterday's announcements that will be worth pondering in the time between now and when we actually see these new games. Some are picayune details, and some are big questions. First, the picayune details.

For the entire article, click "read more" from the front page.

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If Halo 3 were going to have boss battles, who would your opponents be?

That's an idea that occurred to me after participating in an HBO forum thread that started out talking about a rather idiotic article wondering if Halo 3 would suck, and ended up morphing into a discussion of boss battles.

I'm not really sure how boss battles got into Halo 2 in the first place. Perhaps somebody asked for them. Perhaps it was felt that Halo 2 needed "bigger" encounters than the first game; conflicts with individual characters instead of anonymous Covenant foot soldiers.

Whatever the reason, some of them worked fairly well, and others garnered a lot of negative feedback, particularly the fights against the Prophet of Regret and Tartarus. Most of the criticism stemmed from the arbitrary and repetetive natures of those encounters; how the rules varied significantly from how the rest of the game was played, and how they evoked stereotypical gameplay situations perhaps better suited for other genres.

With Halo 3, there are still a number of recognizable characters in the story who are potentially sources of conflict for our main characters, the Master Chief and, presuming he returns, the Arbiter. Might any of these be the subject of a boss battle? If so, how might Bungie alter the way those battles work compared to Halo 2?

Click "read more" from the front page for the entire article.

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With Halo 3 not only stealing the thunder from every other game on the Xbox or Xbox 360, but personally tasked by Bill Gates with submarining the PlayStation 3 launch (guess he didn't know about the proposed $600 price tag, or else he wouldn't have bothered) it's not surprising that a little studio called Wideload that made a funny little game called Stubbs the Zombie might, for at least, awhile, go unnoticed.

Stubbs sold well enough, to be sure, but the gaming press often spoke more about the studio's outsourcing-heavy business model than the game itself. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So while the hype over Halo is such that Bungie gets taken to task by supposed fans even when they don't say a word (because saying nothing is the best way to hype a game, didn't you know?) then the silence must be deafening in Chicago, where Wideload was actually able to update their website last month without scarcely causing a ripple.

Click 'read more' from the front page for the entire article.

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Normally the very entertaining Halo Story Page is rather like the equivalent of the Bungie fan community putting on funny costumes, lounging in easy chairs and sipping snifters of brandy while contemplating the treachery of Cortana, the inscrutableness of Gravemind and the machismo of Keyes family officers of both genders.

Wait, it's not the equivalent of that, it's exactly that.

However, today they've got something a bit better than that. Yes, hard to believe, but they do.

Joe Staten, along with Frankie and Robert McLees, at the request of mnemesis and Finn, granted the HSP an interview that contains some silliness, some pretty solid information, and some heavy hints about the Halo Story.

Let's sift through some particularly salacious morsels and read between the lines, shall we?

Click "read more" from the front page for the entire article.

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