H4 Technical & Gameplay Comments from a MLG and Developer

Introduction
Looking at the forums I would like to drop my observations and opinions and hopefully educate and raise awareness.

About Me
I have been working with games and advanced programming for over five years now, for years now I have been working with a great set of programmers on technology far more advanced than anything that can be run on the 360 or for that matter most high end gaming computers today.

I have both worked on and with most commercial quality game engines such as Unreal 3, CryEngine 3. I have seen first hand the tools behind today’s Halo games many thanks to friends at Microsoft.

Key
Observations Strictly Professional = Dark Red
Personal Thoughts = Dark Blue

The Technology Itself
Starting off with the obviousness graphical enhancements, I have observed a slight enhancement on the engines lighting on wrap round you can clearly see light beams created by directional light sources.

However that said all lighting seems pre-baked rather than realtime so with that in mind there is no chance of dynamic shadowing. Which I can remember was highly requested.

On a frame-rate note it’s confirmed to be 30 frames per second which is actually for the best as resource management behind the Halo engine has not really ever been greatly upgraded. 60 frames per second also adds a massive amount of extra heat to the old model ANA Scalar chip causing hardware malfunctions however Microsoft have never commented on the problem.

I personally have experienced ANA hardware faults on my Xbox Development Kit whilst playing a 60 fps game.

As a developer on a technical standpoint I am surprised that there has not been a engine re-build, Yet as a Halo player I am happy with the decision not to even do a small rebuild as it means all code in the game has been thoroughly tested from previous releases, yet I am concerned other’s won’t see it that way.

The Rest of the technical improvements
Without radical change in this new installment on a technical stand-point I would say it is extremely un-likely that this new trilogy will ever step up and be technically ahead of the rest.

The actual engine toolkit seem’s sub standard, from what I have seen.

Havok Physics is still on the bar but is outmatched by PhysX and Vortex yest again a new resource manager would need to be implemented and the entire engine would need to be made more modular.

Halo’s animation is still smooth and perfectly in sync, and the audio cannot be vastly improved.

In my opinion 343 are like every other studio out there, in it for the profits, not to advance technology or enrich users experiences at their own financial loss. On a second note whilst Frank O’Conner and Kiki Wolfkill are both good mediators they lack deep technical understanding.

Press Release
IMO, Badly timed and poorly executed, They gave details to the press and not the fans causing a slight upset across the community. For example the whole AA’s and perks argument.

Gameplay

Where to begin, I know a list;

  1. Fans are not going to adapt to change whatever anyone says. Period. 343 and MGS (Microsoft Game Studios) should have thought of that from the outset.

  2. BR back is a step towards a more competitive Halo without effecting casual players

  3. Yet there seems to be a randomization effect on the burst and not hit scan I could be wrong.

  4. The maps are a step in the right direction, but I will need to get hands on before I comment further, Warhouse being described as Sword Base is a problem for me as a competitive player.

  5. Catering to casual players seems to be a trending theme, creating a consistent Mutiplayer experiences is a plus for the competitive community without damaging the casual community.

  6. Randomized weapon spawn times = reduction of skill gap further not a good move.

  7. Loadouts and player upgrade like systems will effect gameplay however I will again need to have hands on to comment further yet from a preliminary point of view it seems to have taken the essence of Halo and destroyed it.

Just form the point of view that a game starts and everyone is on a level playing field, Imagine football where one team is without padding and you’ll see my logic.

Ranking and Investment
All for modifying ranking and player investment as long as the skilled players who spend time practicing to get better are rewarded over casual players who don’t practice or try their hardest.

And Trueskill would be a way to do that very effectively.

Please give me your thoughts. Thanks

Oh and any tech questions you have I would be happy to answer.

Why is it all intelligent post bounce off the first page near instantly.

> Why is it all intelligent post bounce off the first page near instantly.

People generally don’t read posts of this length. Also, it’s bad form to call your own post intelligent.

> About Me
> I have been working with games and advanced programming for over five years now, for years now I have been working with a great set of programmers on technology far more advanced than anything that can be run on the 360 or for that matter most high end gaming computers today.
>
> I have both worked on and with most commercial quality game engines such as Unreal 3, CryEngine 3. I have seen first hand the tools behind today’s Halo games many thanks to friends at Microsoft.

All I’ve read is an eloquently posted wambulance post.

Your name and game credits or no dice.

well did you try reading more than 2 paragraphs?

Game looks ok to me. The proof is in the GP not how it looks however

> Game looks ok to me. The proof is in the GP not how it looks however

Agreed. Technical knowledge is useless when we only care about the gameplay. Dynamic shadows are just not an issue for me and I’ve never thought “Halo needs dynamic shadows”. The only thing that matters for me is the gameplay, the story and the artistic direction. Technical capabilities of the game engine and the type of bump mapping or light sources are no concern of mine.

> Your name and game credits or no dice.

In fact I remove my previous statement I am not getting into this argument.

> Gameplay
>
> Where to begin, I know a list;
> 1) Fans are not going to adapt to change whatever anyone says. Period. 343 and MGS (Microsoft Game Studios) should have thought of that from the outset.
>
> 2) BR back is a step towards a more competitive Halo without effecting casual players
>
> 3) Yet there seems to be a randomization effect on the burst and not hit scan I could be wrong.
>
> 4) The maps are a step in the right direction, but I will need to get hands on before I comment further, Warhouse being described as Sword Base is a problem for me as a competitive player.
>
> 5) Catering to casual players seems to be a trending theme, creating a consistent Mutiplayer experiences is a plus for the competitive community without damaging the casual community.
>
> 6) Randomized weapon spawn times = reduction of skill gap further not a good move.
>
> 7) Loadouts and player upgrade like systems will effect gameplay however I will again need to have hands on to comment further yet from a preliminary point of view it seems to have taken the essence of Halo and destroyed it.
>
> Just form the point of view that a game starts and everyone is on a level playing field, Imagine football where one team is without padding and you’ll see my logic.

I couldn’t agree more with your statements here. Especially #7. Halo is losing it’s feel because they are catering to the casuals way too much. They want the game to take the more casual approach which is seen in games like Call of Duty and Battlefield 3. They give the players these perks that add customization to their characters to make them feel more personal. But the thing is that Halo has never taken that approach up until Halo Reach. Halo has always been about complete balance in both map environment as well as character abilities. Every player had the same chances as every other player, all that mattered was skill.

Team play for example, focused on map control and holding power weapons. They didn’t have special perks, just skill. These perks that 343 is carrying on with introduce the factor of randomness. When you turn a corner, you don’t know what the guy has for perks, loadouts, etc. You don’t know what he is capable of until you turn that corner and find out. This random factor takes the skill and balance out of Halo. Sure some skill is still there, but the fact is that the perks give you a random chance of winning each fight. You can’t make something work competitively that contains a large factor of randomness. Just like you said with the football analogy, it just wouldn’t work out right. Competitiveness demands balance, and these perks prevent that.

I’d agree with you on your personal thoughts on H4 in general.

> Introduction
>
> Where to begin, I know a list;
> 1) Fans are not going to adapt to change whatever anyone says. Period. 343 and MGS (Microsoft Game Studios) should have thought of that from the outset.

Finally someone else said this, nobody buys a Halo game and wants it to have a bunch of gimmicks in it.

> > Introduction
> >
> > Where to begin, I know a list;
> > 1) Fans are not going to adapt to change whatever anyone says. Period. 343 and MGS (Microsoft Game Studios) should have thought of that from the outset.
>
> Finally someone else said this, nobody buys a Halo game and wants it to have a bunch of gimmicks in it.

I was saying these exact same things before Halo: Reach was released and that’s whats bugging me, for once I wish a studio would listen.

What do I need to do to get someone to listen over at 343 or then Bungie? Go pee through their letterbox?

Interesting observations

> > Gameplay
> >
> > Where to begin, I know a list;
> > 1) Fans are not going to adapt to change whatever anyone says. Period. 343 and MGS (Microsoft Game Studios) should have thought of that from the outset.
> >
> > 2) BR back is a step towards a more competitive Halo without effecting casual players
> >
> > 3) Yet there seems to be a randomization effect on the burst and not hit scan I could be wrong.
> >
> > 4) The maps are a step in the right direction, but I will need to get hands on before I comment further, Warhouse being described as Sword Base is a problem for me as a competitive player.
> >
> > 5) Catering to casual players seems to be a trending theme, creating a consistent Mutiplayer experiences is a plus for the competitive community without damaging the casual community.
> >
> > 6) Randomized weapon spawn times = reduction of skill gap further not a good move.
> >
> > 7) Loadouts and player upgrade like systems will effect gameplay however I will again need to have hands on to comment further yet from a preliminary point of view it seems to have taken the essence of Halo and destroyed it.
> >
> > Just form the point of view that a game starts and everyone is on a level playing field, Imagine football where one team is without padding and you’ll see my logic.
>
> I couldn’t agree more with your statements here. Especially #7. Halo is losing it’s feel because they are catering to the casuals way too much. They want the game to take the more casual approach which is seen in games like Call of Duty and Battlefield 3. They give the players these perks that add customization to their characters to make them feel more personal. But the thing is that Halo has never taken that approach up until Halo Reach. Halo has always been about complete balance in both map environment as well as character abilities. Every player had the same chances as every other player, all that mattered was skill.
>
> Team play for example, focused on map control and holding power weapons. They didn’t have special perks, just skill. These perks that 343 is carrying on with introduce the factor of randomness. When you turn a corner, you don’t know what the guy has for perks, loadouts, etc. You don’t know what he is capable of until you turn that corner and find out. This random factor takes the skill and balance out of Halo. Sure some skill is still there, but the fact is that the perks give you a random chance of winning each fight. You can’t make something work competitively that contains a large factor of randomness. Just like you said with the football analogy, it just wouldn’t work out right. Competitiveness demands balance, and these perks prevent that.

I’d agree with you if these perks were what we are all interpreting them to be. But Frankie says that whatever they are, they are not CoD-style like we are assuming. I doubt they’d make that mistake, I think these perks are gonna play much less of a role than we are all expecting.

I also completely agree with all of your points. I’m tired of games moving towards bad players and comforting them in the fact that they are unable to compete against the players that take time to practice and understand the game at a level above the casual players. Maybe Halo 4 will not be ruined by all of these CoD addons that are being put in, but I feel as though Halo will never be the same unless they go back to what made the first 3 Halo’s so great. I have been playing Halo since the beginning, but I stopped maybe a couple of weeks into Reach because I didn’t want to play a CoD game with armor. I have always been a big MLG fan/player and personally I feel it’s the only way to play the game properly. It’s basically what the game should have been, so as long as MLG is able to change the game into that competitive monster title that the Halo series is known for, I can’t see many people willing to spend $60 or even 60 minutes on the game. If you look at the amount of people still playing Reach in comparison to how many people bought the game, you can see how bad the game is. If I wanted to play CoD I would buy CoD, but don’t change Halo. Halo is for the people who actually have skill and can play at a level above simply camping in a corner and waiting for someone to walk by. So I really hope 343 listens to the competitive population for once, because otherwise, Halo 4 will fail like Reach.

> Introduction
> 2) BR back is a step towards a more competitive Halo without effecting casual players

IDK what competitive people you’ve been talking to, but MLG has been asking for a single-shot precision weapon ever since the Pistol was removed in Halo 2… The DMR is a perfect weapon for that, but the bloom was a poor idea for competitive gameplay (even though reduced bloom isn’t that bad).

The only reason most people are happy the BR is back is because most people started investing all their time into Halo’s multiplayer with Halo 2. I guarantee near 100% of people who invested 3 years into Halo 1’s multiplayer on a deeply competitive level agrees with the precision weapon > burst fire debate.

Can you source the random weapon spawn times claim please?

I’ve seen quite a few websites which all show the same video and feature mostly informed statements, though I’ve seen some spread misinformation too. So I agree with you on the press release. I think that 343i should have been more vocal towards us. Instead, we’re having to procure information from middlemen like IGNorant, who can’t even remember the full title of Halo 3: ODST, “Halo: ODST,” and write sentences like “[Halo 4] will feature a new as-of-yet-unrevealed new enemy threat.” I mean c’mon, really? Were they trying that badly to pad out an article? Or was the author just that terrible at writing? xP

> Can you source the random weapon spawn times claim please?

I can’t remember where I read it, probably the Guardian or Eurogamer.

> MLG has been asking for a single-shot precision weapon ever since the Pistol was removed in Halo 2.

Actually where most MLG’s from the CE days have fond memories of a single shot pistol the new age pro’s much prefer a three shot burst to the DMR.

On a side note

NEIGHBOR’s BR WAS OFF THE HOOK AT TIMES,

> BR back is a step towards a more competitive Halo

No, the zero-bloom DMR was a step forwards. Burst fire is simply inferior to single shot.