Halo 4 developer 343 Industries has released details of its next title update, which will add a new Forge Island playlist to multiplayer, and has called on players to submit their own creations for its consideration.
>OXM reports – via the >Halo Bulletin – that the new update will drop May 20, and that the Forge Island playlist will be live for a limited time only. The 343 post added, “If you’d like to submit your creations (or those of a friend) for consideration, be sure to post in the Community Cartographer’s Thread in the proper format.
“During the remainder of this week and over the weekend, the Matchmaking Systems Team will be working alongside the Community Cartographers to select the final candidates, which will be announced in next week’s Bulletin, along with the full details of the next Matchmaking Playlist Update.”
Meanwhile, the studio is still hard at work on a major weapon re-balancing update that will be livestreamed soon to get feedback from the community. >Check out what the patch involves and details of the stream here.
The team will also host a public event on June 3, which will see 343 staffers facing off against the community.
Halo 4 developer 343 Industries has laid bare the contents of its next Monday update, which will add new Forge maps into playlists and implement further gameplay tweaks. The studio will also be livestreaming work-in-progress weapon balancing fixes on its Twitch channel throughout May.
OXM reports that the update will go live on May 6, and will add a batch of user-created Forge maps into a variety of playlists:
Added to SWAT
Black Site by The Fated Fire
Plaza by Smexi Bilzo
Shutout by SaLoT and NLTROOO
Added to Rumble Pit
Black Site by The Fated Fire
Simplex by SaLoT
Scythe by PA1NTS
Serenity by DG Intensity
Opus by SHIFTY time
Removed from Rumble Pit
Shutout by SaLoT and NLTROOO
Added to Team Objective
Edifice by Redemption1271 (KoTH)
Plaza by Smexi Bilzo (KoTH)
Serenity by DG Intensity (KoTH)
Station 9 by SaLoT (KoTH)
Station 9 by SaLoT (Extraction)
Added to Infinity Slayer
Assault by NLTROOO
Opus by SHIFTY time
Simplex by SaLoT
Scythe by PA1NTS
Shutout by SaLoT
Added to Flood
Black Site by The Fated Fire
Malice by AgentPaperCraft
Serenity by DG Intensity
Shutout has been updated with improved respawn points for Team Snipers.
Meanwhile, the latest Halo Bulletin confirms that 343 is still ploughing away at its big weapon and vehicle balancing patch, and added, “We are still regularly playtesting, and excited to say that we’re nearing the end of tweaking and tuning each weapon.”
The studio aims to stream its balancing work on Twitch throughout May – although exact dates and times have yet to be confirmed. Check out the team’s official channel to keep an eye on any updates.
What weapons would you like to see re-balanced? Let us know below.
Halo 4 developer 343 Industries has outlined its plans to tweak the balancing of the game’s weapon set and vehicles in a new blog post. Find out if your favourite gun is about to be nuked.
The information comes from the latest Halo Bulletin, which explained that while the DMR is a powerful fan-favourite, the team decided to balance the rest of the game’s weapons up, rather than mess around with the rifle, for fear of fan backlash. The poster also explained that any changes listed in the blog were not final.
“Looking at the DMR,” the post explained, “we currently feel that the kill time should remain unchanged, as the weapon has become a clear favorite amongst the community due to its reliability and consistency. So tuning the Battle Rifle, LightRifle and Carbine against this weapon presented quite a challenge.”
So first, the Battle Rifle kill time may be reduced to just four shots, instead of five as it currently stands, along with a decreased rate of fire. The Light Rifle’s range will be brought up to par with the DMR and the Carbine will be become a seven-shot kill weapon, instead of eight.
Both the Warthog and Mantis chain-guns may receive a damage boost, along with Assault Rifle, Suppressor and Storm Rifle, which will also receive auto-aim decreases to increase accuracy.
What do you make of the proposed changes Do they make sense? Let us know below.
Halo 4 developer 343 Industries feels that there could be space for micro-payment items in its shooter franchise. However, Dan Ayoub has stressed that nothing has been discussed on the matter yet.
Speaking with Digital Spy, Ayoub said, “I think Halo certainly has the potential for those kinds of things. We don’t have too much to talk about in terms of our plans down that line, but it’s certainly something … we’ve seen the fans of Gears are enjoying, and if it’s something we think our community is going to enjoy, it’s something we’ll seriously talk about.”
On what’s next on the Halo 4 DLC slate, Ayoub gave a thin but tantalising little nugget, “Obviously our commitment is always that we’re going to make sure there’s something for people to do on Halo, whether it’s playlists, or new maps or new content, something like that. We can’t say too much about the specifics we’re planning, but what we can say is we don’t take that commitment lightly, and people should keep their eyes open for cool stuff.”
What’s your take? Are you pro or anti-micro payment, or do you feel that they don’t do any specific harm? Let us know below.
343 Industries is offering an advance preview of the upcoming Castle multiplayer map via a livestream today. The broadcast begins at 5:00PM PDT; check it out on 343 Industries’ Twitch channel or via the embed through the break. The DLC map launches on April 8, US time, and will set you back 800 MS points if you don’t have a season pass. Certain Affinity seemed pretty proud of it when Dave spoke to the DLC developer recently.
Thanks, Major Nelson.
Halo 4′s Castle Map Pack DLC is out April 8, and VG247′s Dave Cook has spoken with 343 Industries and Certain Affinity about what it takes to make the perfect map.
Founded in 2006, Texas studio Certain Affinity was formed by ex-Bungie staff and has worked closely with the Halo franchise since Halo 2′s Blastacular Map Pack.
The team also created many maps for Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Halo: Reach and more.
Certain Affinity also developed games Age of Booty, Crimson Alliance and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
You can see a trailer of the Halo 4: Castle Map Pack here, showing off all three maps – Daybreak, Perdition and Outcast.
The DLC will launch worldwide on Xbox Live from April 8 at 800 Microsoft Points.
You may not have heard of Texan developer Certain Affinity but chances are you already know their work. Besides developing Xbox Live Arcade games Age of Booty and Crimson Alliance, the team has created many multiplayer maps for a range of triple-a shooters.
The studio was responsible for a great deal of Call of Duty: Black Ops maps, as well as the game’s ‘First Strike’ DLC. When you compare these maps to the frankly boring locales found in Modern Warfare 3, you can see the team has an eye for solid map-making.
Lately Certain Affinity has turned its hand to the Halo franchise, as it co-developed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and worked on Halo 4′s Forge Mode. Its next release is the game’s Castle Map Pack, due to hit Xbox Live on April 8.
It features three maps including the rocky terrain of Daybreak, the desert colony of Outcast and the evacuated city of Perdition. Each terrain tells a story and isn’t just a lazy patchwork of assets and building blocks. Best of all they have high carnage potential.
I recently spoke Certain Affinity producer Tom Potter, and map lead Ryan Mansfield to discuss the fundamentals of solid map design, and to learn more about the Castle pack’s vehicle-heavy environments.
343 Industries’ Dan Ayoub also spoke with me to about how the studio approaches the direction of each Halo 4 map pack, and what it’s learned from the community since the game launched in November.
“There’s really no one key to making a good map,” explained Mansfield. “The trick is that we do a lot of testing, and we’re fans of all the games we’ve worked on, like Halo. When creating the Castle Map we sat down to discuss it and in the end our finished project was nowhere close to what we started with.
“That’s because we constantly banged on our ideas – and I don’t mean the same five people – but the whole company. No matter who you are or where you’re at, you get to come in and play the game, then all ideas are accepted.
“An idea that some people came up with was, we had a good map in Daybreak for a while, and then somebody said, ‘Let’s just throw a Banshee in’. We put it in and the feel of the whole map changed, so we then altered the elevation of the terrain, the rocks and it became a new style of map.
“So there really is no one thing. It’s just a matter of listening to people’s feedback, playing the map, and letting people know if they enjoyed it or not. With designers, they subscribe to the idea of ‘Don’t fall in love with your idea’, because it could change on a dime.”
If there’s one thing the Halo franchise has been perfectly attuned to over the years, it’s the idea of community. Ayoub explained that each Halo 4 map pack was borne out of a gap in the player-base, which could be anything from desired features, unexplored mechanics and more.
The Castle pack was the team’s response to the community demanding more environments suitable to vehicular combat, where stunts, car-jacking and big skirmishes between Warthogs and Banshees could be made reality.
Although Certain Affinity had targeted this angle, it still had to carefully plan each locale. Many questions were raised throughout the process, as the team iterated on its ideas. Does a particular map lean towards a certain game type? Is there scope for emergent gameplay tricks? Is either side at a severe advantage? It’s all important.
You can never truly win them all, as Ayoub suggested, “I’m sure we get caught of guard daily. Whenever you’re designing something there are always things you think people are going to love, and the hope is that they do but sometimes they don’t. Then there’s things where you maybe didn’t go as far as you could have.
“I can’t think of anything particular but we’re constantly surprised by our community, especially when it comes to emergent gameplay or some of the videos that get posted online. They may show things that even we never intended, and I think the Halo community is fantastic for finding things that maybe we didn’t consider.”
Certain Affinity certainly learned a lot from its own maps after the developer got stuck into some seriously heated matches across each of Castle’s three locations. The team also employs ex-MLG Halo pros who have a tendency to own the payroll. Regardless, it’s all killer research.
“Take Outcast for example,” Potter explained. “That’s a large map actually built to support Dominion mode. Because of its size you’ll be dealing with a lot of power vehicles, so to stand a fighting chance you might want to try and get one of your own. All of the Castle maps support every game mode, but there’s usually one mode in particular that really shines on each.
“Daybreak is probably my personal favourite because Capture the Flag plays extraordinarily well on that map. We’ve had some ridiculously competitive matches here in play-tests where people goad each other, matches will restart and go on and on.
“Then Perdition leans towards Extraction Mode, which plays very well on that map, coupled with some really crazy vehicle skill jumps. There’s some pretty unbelievable gameplay in there and in the end I’m personally very proud of the work we did on Castle.
“The maps we’ve created scored very, very high in our user tests, and just seeing people play who weren’t involved in development agree with our intuitive notion that hey, these maps are great is really exciting for us to see.”
In the end map DLC really taps into the supply-and-demand mentality of customer relations. It’s a way to deliver new elements that the fan base is crying out for, while trying to make sure gamers keep coming back for more. It certainly isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely worth it.
“The challenge with any good multiplayer experience is how do you keep people coming back,” Ayoub concluded, “and a big way we go about it that is to look at our channels within the community. Halo: Waypoint is obviously big for us as we’re having those dialogues with players, listening to what hey have to say and that informs a lot of what we do going forward.
“That’s how we scratch the itch with map packs, and Certain Affinity has been a fantastic partner for us in delivering that.”
Halo 4: Castle Map Pack launches on Xbox Live April 8 and will cost 800 Microsoft Points, or will be free if you have a Halo 4 season pass.
Halo franchise creative director Josh Holmes told GDC audiences that 343 Industries toyed with the idea of a stasis gun or grapple harpoon for Halo 4. As reported by Shack News, Holmes said he was very keen to explore and elaborate on Halo’s science fiction themes, but testing revealed players didin’t respond to kooky weapons and enemies, preferring the more familiar toolbox of shotgun (scattershot), assault rifle and sniper rifle. This helped flatten Halo 4′s learning curve and make it more accessible to the mass market is commands despite being an Xbox 360 exclusive.
343 Industries hosted a Halo 4 panel at PAX East yesterday, during which the developer revealed new content for April, and the fact the game has seen 11.6 million unique users connected to Xbox Live who have played in any mode – not just multiplayer. This figure also includes guest accounts.
A new Forge map containing a series of “flat spaces” called Forge Island will will released for free on April 11.
The new competitive skill ranking system will be out in early April and will allow players to pair up based on their competitive skill rank, according to Polygon. It has been in testing since November.
“X-markers” will be added to the HUD with a title update, Active Camo users will be visible when shooting, and the Gauss Warthog was reworked with auto aim, damage and magnetism adjusted.
Halo 4 developer 343 Industries has released a new batch of Castle Map Pack images. Developed by Certain Affinity, the same team behind the Halo: Anniversary HD and the Black Ops ‘First Strike’ map pack Castle is full of vehicle-focused battlegrounds just waiting to be torn up.
Stay tuned for our full interview with 343 and Certain Affinity on creating the map pack, and how 343 tackled the challenge of taking over the Halo series from Bungie.
Halo 4 developer 343 Industries has released a new update for its shooter, enabling them to tweak gun balancing in the background. It means that players won’t have to download a new patch each time. the studio changes something slightly.
The update was announced over on the Halo: Waypoint, and community manager BS Angel discussed the reasoning behind the patch.
“Previously added weapon adjustments, such as the Bolt Shot Nerf that went live last month, needed a title update in order to be released. With this title update, we are adding the ability to make weapon adjustments outside of the standard title update process.
“This will allow us to fine tune and tweak the Halo 4 sandbox as often or not as often as needed. One thing to keep in mind is that even the tiniest of changes affects the sandbox as a whole, so these adjustments will be closely scrutinized and carefully tested before being released.”
The update also comes with a small string of patch notes:
- Enabled “X-Markers” on the HUD to designate when and where teammates are killed.
- Updated Active Camo to fully reveal players when they fire all weapons.
- Reduced the auto aim, magnetism and damage on the Gauss Warthog.
- Fixed an issue in which some players at SR-130 did not see their Specialization on their in-game Player Card.
- Fixed various issues with ordnance navigation markers.
- Fixed various join-in-progress issues with Flood.
- Added the ability to make weapon adjustments via backend tuning.
What do you think? Is this a good idea? Let us know below.
Halo 4′s Castle Map Pack DLC is dropping April 8, and 343 Industries posted a new batch of locale screens last week, as well as new information about each locale. We’ve got the goods here.
We missed this one a few days ago, but over on Halo Waypoint the studio posted up the images as well as map discussions and more details about the incoming update. Click the link for the details and head below for the shots.