Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Halo Bulletin: 7.18.12


As I watch a swarm of rain-swollen clouds descend upon our studio, I am struck by two thoughts: I’m thankful to be back in a place where hoodies are the norm, and I’m pretty sure, as dark and ominous as the sky currently looks, that I could have squeezed more liquid out of the undergarments I wore to both RTX and SDCC than those clouds could ever hope to drop during their entire moisture-laden existence.

Oh yes, it was hot in Austin and San Diego. And I’ll leave it at that.

Halo 4 RTX

Hot Trip #1 – RTX
Location – Austin, TX
Average Temperature – 95 degrees
Felt like – You were sun bathing. On the sun.

RTX, or Rooster Teeth Expo, took place July 7 and 8 at The Austin Convention Center. Amidst the near torturous temperatures, we showed off War Games (the competitive Multiplayer modes of Halo 4) and hosted a panel, all the while wondering why we were there. While that age-old question did not get answered, several others did, especially those about Forge.

You see, during our 60-minute group discussion, we presented a live Forge demo. It wasn’t just any Forge demo, though. It was the first ever Halo 4 Forge demo. Joining us for the festivities were Certain Affinity - a group of people we just happen to have… well, a certain affinity for. They have a long history with Halo, and we’re excited that tradition is continuing with the next installment in the franchise.

If you missed the RTX Halo 4 panel, you can watch it in its entirety here. Not only will you be introduced to Halo 4's Forge mode, but you’ll also get to hear some totally awesome Halo jokes (It’s worth noting only one of the aforementioned statements is true. And I bet you’ll never guess which one...).

Halo 4 SDCC

Hot Trip #2 – San Diego Comic-Con International
Location – San Diego, CA
Average Temperature – 81 degrees
Felt like – You were in a sauna. With 120,000 of your closest friends.

While the heat in Austin was dry, in San Diego it was anything but. The good part about that was the ten-minute walk to the convention center resulted in me losing approximately ten pounds of water weight each and every day. The bad part about that was everybody that visited the Halo 4 booth had to smell the remnants of that water-evaporation process… each and every day.

Those lacking in the olfactory department were treated to numerous Halo 4-related events. Along with having both War Games and Spartan Ops playable on the floor, the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn cast was on hand to sign posters, as were Steve Downes and Jen Taylor. We also hosted two panels, both of which are currently in a viewable format on YouTube (watch the Halo 4 Fiction panel here, and the Campaign and Multiplayer panel here).

All in all, it was a good, albeit sticky, few weeks.

As is customary when we release a new batch of information, there are questions. So, this week’s Bulletin is dedicated to answering just a few of those inquiries. We’ll resume the normal Bulletin format next week, but for this week, enjoy the RTX and SDCC-themed Q&A, the “Q” of which was provided by you, and the “A” of which was provided by Frankie.

Halo 4 SDCC

It was mentioned in the Forge demo that there will be multiple Forge environments. Does this mean multiple Forge Worlds with a different setting and theme for each? If so, can we assume different styles of parts for each? - BenPwnsAtGamez

There will be some aesthetic variety we’ll talk about later – as well as the obvious inclusion of aesthetics and Forgeable objects from specific maps (Forerunner vs. UNSC objects, depending on the content of the environment), but most objects will be UNSC themed – although there’s more to come on that front later.

What sounds (open/close tray, power button) will the Halo 4 console make? - r3m1x3d

The “close tray” and “power” button sounds were created by Tajeen and the audio team and are based off of sounds made by Forerunner technology, but are custom built for the console – so they are not repeated anywhere in the game verbatim, but you may recognize the basic elements of those sounds from the game. I would describe their sound as “metallic crystal.” But I am pretentious like that.

Will we see more Armor Abilities than those already revealed, as well as different secondary weapons besides the Pistol and Plasma Pistol? - u4iX

You have not seen all of the weapons yet. We have not fully exposed all of the Armor Abilities yet.

Halo 4 SDCC

So, we've seen the ball-objective have the ability to be thrown from player to player. Are there any specific flag movement modifications? - Heckfu

What you saw was just a tease. You can expect the full story on returning modes soon.

Will any 343-created Forge maps be released into matchmaking alongside the 10 regular maps? - Link1201

We won’t be putting Forge creations in the “main” matchmaking areas initially, at least. Certainly Forged variants may go in (rules, the odd object placement) eventually, but we’re still discussing how to promote and enable Forge creations in a way that maintains a separation of that kind of content from the main mix.

With the console bundle, you announced that it would come with exclusive in-game content. Is this in-game content the same as the Limited Edition bundle content? - The Little Moa

The content is different and unique to each SKU. While we know there are completionists that would like to have it all, it’s not unreasonable to think that we may eventually make all of the content available one day. I would also like to point out, since this is a thing that generates lots of conversation, that the unique or exclusive items are custom created and curated for that purpose or promotion or partner, rather than simply redistributed from stuff created for the shipping game. It’s a subtle distinction I suppose, but in our case a real one.

Halo 4 SDCC

CTF looks to be Yellow vs. Green and Oddball looks like Purple vs. Orange. Any reason behind this? - Xx Overkill VR

Those are the current colors, based on stuff like map palette content, color blindness, all sorts of reasons, but they’re also simply the colors from the build that was ready at Comic-Con, so don’t be shocked if that changes.

How big are the multiple Forge environments compared to Forge World? - bellz1996

The environments will be large enough to accommodate just about any design you can think of, from a Lockout remake to a sprawling racetrack. There will be rolling hills, flat, sterile spaces, big, flat indoor areas and everything in between. The difference is that we’ll use more than one environment – an aesthetic – rather than a giant contiguous space like Forge World. There will also be HUGE FLAT JUMBO Coliseum “walls” that you can instantly place as enormous floor tiles (or walls). All the spaces are being designed with flexibility and performance in mind. The inclusion of a new lighting engine and some unique palettes will make things look more varied and connected. Some simple examples – you can make Lockout and The Pit with relative ease and plenty of room. If you want to do something giant and meandering, you’ll have to incorporate some of the environments existing features (hills, cliffs etc).

With the new dynamic lighting in Forge, will we be able to make almost a nighttime looking map? And will there be lights at our disposal as well? - x HoMiiCiDe

We’ll reveal more about the environments later, and while you won’t be able to make a literal night time version, there will be an element that will enable a starkly different look than the bright daytime maps you’re used to – and the addition of proper lighting and shadowing on and in objects will make a radical difference.

I noticed that there was no "Weapons" menu selection in the Forge demo. Will we have the ability to place weapons on the map in Forge or will we be limited to using ordnance drops and loadouts? - Lehnaru

The menu in the Forge demo was not only a placeholder, but was actually pretty borked – it was dropped in just for RTX. Naturally the final menu will have complete feature parity with “old” Forge, plus several important new additions, and so yes, of course you will be able to place weapons – and vehicles at will. Custom games will also allow you to define your own loadouts so you will not be limited by your progress in the main Infinity progression.

What changes have been made to the multiplayer sandbox since the build we played at RTX? - CaneCutter

No actual changes have been made, but you only saw a small selection of the potential sandbox content at RTX – specifically, stuff that was firmed up for E3, so it’s older than you think. That being said, there’s been a heck of a lot of tweaking and tuning over the past few months.

In Forge, will the coordinate system we had in Reach be returning? Also, will the Grid be returning as a placeable object in Forge? - Nuclear Taco 42

Coordinates and grids are returning and will be in some ways more useful thanks to other features like magnets and so on.

What can we expect in terms of playlist setup? - JDHarbs19

The Halo 4 team is starting work on that stuff now – the MP design team has always felt that a more concise, streamlined set of playlists is essential to a healthy population of new and returning modes.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

Along with the game and console-related questions, there were also several inquiries about Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, our live-action digital series that will debut on Machinima Prime, as well as Halo Waypoint, on Oct. 5, 2012. Mr. Kevin Grace, who stopped by last week with an expertly penned OHI entry, agreed to stop by again this week to answer the most asked queries. Here they are, in no particular order.

So what’s the story with Chief’s armor? Does that design work with canon/Halo Wars/book covers/everything else?

Totally works. That design, influenced heavily by the armor seen in The Package from Halo Legends, fits squarely within the Mark IV line of MJOLNIR armor (and all existing stories/depictions from that timeframe in the canon). Does it look exactly like the armor from Halo Wars? Nope, and that’s 100% okay. MJOLNIR armor is constantly evolving and having special variants developed, just like many other major weapons systems (fighter jets/helicopters/capital ships/tanks). There is no “one design only” for each generation of MJOLNIR, as it would lessen the scope of the MJOLNIR project to suggest that those scientists made one suit and then called it a day for a decade or so. But it is important that each generation shares similar characteristics and a signature look (as well as evokes the big-picture Master Chief gold visor/green armor/overall profile), and we think that this version of the armor works well on all fronts.

What happened to Chief’s voice? That’s not the Steve Downes I was looking (listening) for!

Quite correct, that’s not the heroic growl you’re used to hearing coming out of that helmet, but just like the armor that is the result of some very specific (and challenging) decisions about how to best integrate Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn into the existing fiction. Light spoiler incoming, but we’ve already announced that the series takes place right around the beginning of the Human-Covenant war, which in our universe means we’re somewhere in the neighborhood of the year 2526. Since most of the time we’ve spent with the Master Chief in the games so far takes place right around the end of that war, which means we’re used to hearing Chief’s voice around the year 2552. Applying a bit of maths, the Master Chief you see and hear in the trailer is around 26 years younger than what you’re used to. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t sound the same 26 years ago, and while we love Steve Downes’ voice it wouldn’t make sense for Chief to have had the same exact voice across three decades of war. Because we wanted to maximize consistency, we first tried to “de-age” Steve Downes’ voice, but all efforts there ended up with something that sounded like an awesome reject from Alvin and the Chipmunks. With that option off the table, we turned to the great casting team we used for the rest of the actors in the show to find us a younger sound-alike voice actor to provide younger Chief’s voice, with the aim being that if you close your eyes and squint your ears just a bit, the voice you hear from Chief makes you think “yeah, put that voice through 26 years of hell and battle and he’ll end up sounding like the Chief I know.” This is a really sensitive subject for a lot of people because voices are so important in connecting to a character, but I think we have a solution that works for both character and consistency… give young Chief a shot, and I hope you’ll agree.

Hey, is that the girl from Narnia?

Quite! And she, like all our cast and crew, is most excellent and was just as excited to be a part of Halo as we were to have her join us for the show.

Who designed the armor those cadets are wearing?

That armor is a good example of the production and costume designers on the show working very, very closely with artists at 343 Industries. Like all the Halo projects made by 343, we’re building in tons of meaningful connections to and from the game so every little bit of Halo you can get all feels like it solidly fits together in the same universe. What this means, of course, is that paying very close attention to the show will result in some very interesting Halo 4-specific bits and pieces… but perhaps I’ve already said too much. Let’s move on for now!

Is this an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) training academy?

Corbulo Academy of Military Science is an academy for the children of high-ranking UNSC officers from all branches of service, and in turn it prepares cadets for careers all across the UNSC. That ODST cadence you heard in the teaser trailer released a few weeks ago is definitely an ODST reference, but that’s more a representation of how respected the ODSTs are among everyone in the UNSC than of a specific course of training for those cadets. Those cadence calls are often ways to remind you how tough you are as you’re running your feet off on tour around the grounds, and what’s tougher to compare yourself to than an ODST? Hint: Not much.

I heard that the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Special Edition that comes with Halo 4 LE will be digital content. Is that true? If so, as one of the minority whose internet connection isn’t good enough to stream video content without obscene hours of buffering, please tell me that a physical copy will one day exist. -Stolen Snapshot

Yes, we’re working on making the full show available for sale both digitally and in stores in case you’re not lucky enough to snag one of the Halo 4 limited versions. Plans are still very much in progress and more details on those options will come later. Please stay tuned.

I feel like Kevin may have said more than he should have. Oh well, as long as nobody mentions the space mop, we should be okay…

bs angel

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