Gaming The Game In Halo 3

While part of me still hopes somehow that the list of Halo 3 Achievements discovered awhile back at is not entirely legitimate, or at least not complete and final, it did contain something quite interesting. The final nine achievements are worded like so:

Score over points in the Campaign meta-game on the Nth mission.

While the idea of points might be new to the Halo series, at least in campaign mode, it is certainly not new to first person shooters or to Bungie games in general. Looking at those two sets of precedents could produce a pretty good picture of what this feature might entail in Halo 3. If that's not enough, a good hit off the crack pipe would provide visions of even more outlandish implementations.

Looks Like The Lost Mars Base

To some degree, first person shooters haven't changed much at all since the shareware version of Doom became a hit. You start at point A and travel to point B, killing everything in your path. Although usually killing everything is optional, as it is in both Doom and Halo.

In both those games, most of the time it's more practical to fight the enemies in your way, but if all you're interested in is how fast you can complete a level, sometimes it's better not to. Doom started off friendly to speedrunners because the game itself times you on how long you take to complete the level; plus it even compares your time to a "par" time determined by the game's developers. Most levels don't require you to kill a single enemy to complete them, bosses excepted. You just need to proceed to each of the three colored keys and open the corresponding doors, and then make your way to the exit.

Of course, Halo is much the same, without the keys. Tricksters showed way back in Halo 1 that you could skip most of the enemies in a level and proceed to the end and still finish the level.

Doom also quantified your performance in other ways that Halo, up until now, just didn't. When you completed each level, it compared your completion time to the designer's "par" time, but it also gave you percentages of completion in three other areas: enemies, items, and secrets. Want to make sure you killed every baddie? Check for that 100% enemies. Want to get every powerup, every health pack, every armor boost? Check for 100% items. Want to find every secret area and door? There's a rating for that, too. Some of them were interlinked-- you obviously couldn't get 100% in enemies or items if some were stashed in a secret area you didn't find.

Of course, back in the days of Doom, there was not much you could do with these ratings after you'd achieved them. There was no online scorekeeping to speak of; the game just forgot your rating right after loading the next level.

Halo and Halo 2 either don't track statistics like this or simply don't expose them to the player, but one can assume that it would be relatively simple to implement, by assigning point amounts to each type of enemy and keeping a running total. A player who kills every enemy and explores a map fully and utilizing all equipment at his disposal would therefore "score" higher than a speedrunner who rushes to the end or a stealth player who sneaks by opponents.

However, Bungie need not stop there; after all, in some of their own past games they've worked schemes a bit more complicated.

We Will Count Them In The Shade

Both Marathon and Halo provide post-game carnage reports for multiplayer sessions. Halo 2's, at least at, are fairly complex, showing your performance with various weapons and against specific opponents. Bungie's online strategy game, Myth, also provided a similar report for its multiplayer games-- but also did so for the single player campaign as well.

After each level you were given a breakdown of how many enemies you killed and of each type, and how many of your own units were lost of each type. Units that survived from one level to the next actually improved their effectiveness and were called "veterans". You were also told how much damage your units dealt out, and how much they absorbed. It provided ratios between these figures, so you could tell if, for instance, you were sacrificing too many of your units to get kills, or taking too much damage. It gave you an ideal to shoot at: a perfect score would be to annihilate the enemy while taking no damage whatsoever.

These might also be usefully tracked in Halo 3's campaign; the game might track how much damage the Chief's shields absorb during the course of a level. If you can manage not to get hit at all, you'd get a very high score. Of course, while Halo is not a strategy game, in Halo as in Myth, you're not completely alone. Many of the most interesting play scenarios in Halo 1 and Halo 2 revolve around your NPC allies-- working with them effectively, keeping them alive as long as possible. Wouldn't it be nice if that, too, was rewarded? Halo 3 might keep track of how well your NPCs perform-- how many kills they get, compared to how many of them die, as well as how much damage they take and how much they deal.

Pass That Over Here

Of course, Halo 3 need not stop there. It could track vehicles used and your effectiveness with them: how many kills you got while driving or gunning, and what your accuracy was, and how many vehicles you destroyed, your own or the enemy's.

Going even further, perhaps even certain kinds of kills could be rewarded with different scores, just like there are weapon-specific medals and rewards in multiplayer. If the game can tell the difference between an assassination on a sleeping grunt and a no-scope sniper headshot on an Honor Guard from across the map, why not reward the player for it?

Perhaps the distance from a target could be used as a modifier for the point value of any enemy. Killing an elite with a sticky from point blank range is fun, but if you manage to tag one from far away, perhaps that should be worth more. This modifier could be ignored when using long-distance weapons, like the sniper, or powerful vehicle weapons, like a tank's cannon. Clearly, blasting an Elite with a cannon from 100 meters away is not necssarily worth as much as a sniper headshot from the same distance, or a grenade stick-- assuming that not all kills are scored equally.



I'd probably end up investing enough time into maxing out the counter for Infection Form kills.