Halo

How to Effectively Fix A Problem In Video Games

With a new semester in college beginning, I’m hearing about critical thinking. The basis for this phrase is that a person who is good at critical thinking, can be good at thinking outside the box. This aspect applies to both creating an idea or fixing a problem. In essence, this makes problem solving and critical thinking a fantastic combination for people looking to further themselves in the world. The people who are the best at their jobs are going to be those who are the best problem solvers and bringing the best part of critical thinking to the table. With two games having a broken matchmaking and a flawed understanding of the problem at hand, this concept has come to mind a lot. The games I’ve noticed problems on are Battlefield 1 and Halo 5.

Both of these games experience the same problems, but I’m going to focus on Halo, as they’ve at least identified that there is a problem within their warzone matchmaking. My biggest complaint with the problems in Halo is that they have existed for years, since at least Halo 3, potentially into Halo 2. As a player that has switched from playing as a random (playing alone) to playing in maxed out fire teams, I’ve experienced both ends of what it’s like to be dominated by a full party and dominating a group of randoms. Even before I felt my critical thinking skills were competent, I worked out the source of the problem and thought up my own solutions. This makes 343’s attempts to fix the problem irritating, since it fails to really come close to understanding the problem. Even if they fix a minor portion of the problem in Warzone, they will not affect Arena at all. So what’s the problem 343 is facing?

Basically, the way matchmaking systems are created, do not account for a group of buddies against people who have most likely never played together. As a result, the group of friends is much more coordinated and experience a heavy advantage. This can result in coordinated runs for a flag, an uneven match up when someone goes for a power weapon, or even just a simple rotation around a map that is very effective. From the beginning, it has been a frustrating problem that has only gotten worse as time goes on. With the increase in social interactions between gamers, the number of parties is growing with each release. Throw in the fact that it feels great to win, there’s an incentive for farming, along with a lack of control on the problem, it’s almost like throwing gasoline on a fire. I’ve been playing Halo while typing this and it’s basically just a pile of crap. Some games are good, most are bad.

So now that we’ve identified one of the major problems, how do games commonly get to this problem? It all starts with assumptions. The first is the assumption that your matchmaking based on skill is working, when it truly isn’t. The second is to assume that people will have mics and communicate effectively because of any number of reasons – not the case. Third, developers have to assume that your system will be abused,video games often lack preventing over abuse of a working system. Ex: spawn killing. Last, the assumption that a fire team of people can be comparatively matched with a group of randoms/a mixture of smaller teams. Let’s dive into some more problems, hopefully the assumptions being made are clear without being stated.

Let’s Go Streaking!

Each cause and it’s corresponding effect starts with an assumption, and that’s a bit of a unfair jab considering you can’t test out the full game without launching it. The entire thing is pretty much an assumption. With that information, developers should carefully plan for fail safes to their assumptions. In relation to skill based matchmaking, this means monitoring the success of the rankings players are receiving. The way I view a fix for this is by analyzing the losing streaks and winning streaks a player has. If a player has larger losing streaks compared to their winning streaks, your system is failing. This cannot be found by checking a person’s win lose ratio. My ratio on Halo is not awful, but I have experienced some massive losing streaks. I imagine the reason it evens out is due to the points where I win 2 lose 1 for a few games. Shortly after Halo 5 started doing the daily win REQ packs, I kept track of how long it took me to win both. Part of this was because I was attempting to limit the amount of time I spent gaming. No exaggeration, the worse I had was losing 20 games in a row. Somehow, this massive streak would not indicate any problems to the system. Even if I was on the opposite end, with a winning streak of 20, the system would not take any steps to make winning harder.

Quitting Is For Quitters

During my losing streak, and pretty much any time I play, there was a tendency to have a quitter on my team. While Halo is maintaining it’s competitive aspect, it isn’t updating the system to keep up with games like Battlefield, where you can quit at any time and not overly effect your team. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been attempts to curb quitters, it does result in occasionally being banned. Problem: this does not prevent quitters from ending up in games with people who do not quit. Additional problem: if all my teammates quit while there are still 20+ kills left for the other team to win, and I quit, my quit has the same level of worth as their quit. This angers me to no end, I really hate quitting. I hate wasting time more, and lowering my K/D as a competitive player hurts. The two parts to fixing this is to take notes of the certain parts pertaining to a quit. Did each person quit within 30 seconds? That’s a bad quit. What was the score at the time of quitting?  A heavier quit should be enforced when the score is closer. Catch, the score difference should not result in no penalty for quitting. Were you the last person to quit? No penalty at all, given that the score difference was concerning and the delay between each quit indicates being forced to quit. Realistically, this would involve a point system. As part of matchmaking based on skill, people within a certain range of quit points should be paired up with each other. This HAS to extend farther than just one team though, otherwise one team will have a huge chance of winning from the start. A solution like keeps quitters with quitters, and really helps maintain a healthy matchmaking system.

A Very Particular Set of Skills

Much like the penalty for quitting, the way a person’s skill goes up and down is also way too focused on a team. I understand that the game wants to make sure the player isn’t lone wolfing it to the point where they really don’t need a team, but that does not mean my skill is on the same level as my team. As a person who now mainly plays as a random, I’ve noticed just how hard it is to control my skill rank. If I get placed on a team that doesn’t put in the same level of effort as me, I will get docked when we lose. I could go 15/0 and still drop in skill because my team didn’t win. How is that even fair? I can’t control my team, and even if I got a mess of assists in there, followed my team around, or any number of things, the loss would indicate to the system that my teamwork sucked, and therefore, I deserve a lower rank.

The fix is a little complicated, but it has the potential to be perfect. There will be some point where I will be at the perfect level for my skill. Let’s assume my perfect skill level is an Onyx 1500 (could be true?). Winning games should not eventually lead me to being an Onyx 2200, because I will be out played. If I consistently rank up due to a win, while I barely break above a 0.0 K/D, I do not deserve to be ranked up. On the flip side, if I lose while doing great, I do not deserve a drop in skill. Therefore, winning while breaking a 0.0 K/D means I should go up, losing while breaking a 0.0 K/D means I should either move up, or maintain my current position. If I lose while failing to break a 0.0 K/D, I deserve to go down. If I win while failing to break a 0.0 K/D, I do not deserve to go up. A flaw that people may see is that it appears as if I don’t think a person will never have a bad game. However, if you have a bad game, that means you can quickly get out of the rut and get back to where you belong. All this jumping up and down each game is a disaster, and it really feels as though I’m simply trying to climb a ladder without finding the perfect niche for my skill. A fix like this would also prevent “boosting” someone who really doesn’t belong at a rank. If I have surrounded myself with good players, this does not mean I am good.

That fix may go against what a developer would believe. For any reason, I may eventually get better. It’s actually bound to happen, the instant I pick up a game will definitely be worse gameplay than me after weeks or months with the game. The fix mentioned above will account for that, as I play better, the system will take note of wins where my K/D is above the average. Combined with a current matchmaking system that required multiple wins to actually move up, small flukes will not damage or falsely raise me.

I love both Halo and Battlefield, they are pretty much two games I will always play as they release more. With the fixes mentioned above, maybe even a little critical thinking about what is in front of a developer, developers will begin to get down the core problems of their systems. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

 UPDATE:

I decided to hop on with some old friends of mine after this fix 343 put in place. It was interesting to hear from the fireteam basically the exact words I’ve said in matches. The games are now less core’s being blown up, but there is a lot of difficulty in playing because a game could be won or lost based on your randoms. In reality, it has been like a band-aid: the win-loss ratio for most players has probably gone down significantly, but the real problem is still there. The fact that people are getting poor matchmaking is a problem they will not fix without some additional pieces.

I would like to tag on another piece of information that I forgot: the final flaw in Warzone only. The REQ system is a nice way for power weapons to be introduced in Warzone, but it is massively broken in a not so noticeable way. And no, it is not the pay to win part. The problem is the way you get access to those weapons once you’re in a match. The winning team will always get the better weapons before the losing team. It’s simple, if you get a kill, the bar moves up, if you get a base, the bar moves up, if you kill a boss/AI, the bar moves up. All of these are attributes of a winning team, and once you’re winning you do not need power weapons to help you win. I understanding that it is hard to create a system where the losing team gets weapons first and it’s even worse to create a system where everyone gets weapons at the same time, but the current system will always result in a winning team getting an edge. Especially when additional weapons and vehicles are added that are too powerful. The fix in my eyes is the rate at which you can get a weapon after calling one in. If I call in a sniper rifle, that should probably be the only one I get for 5-10 minutes. Being able to always have a power weapon while the other team is still a few levels behinds just creates a down spiral early on in the game. To end on a note that emphasizes the positive things: this is the mind set all developers need when creating a game. It may even require going into the system without friends, to experience what 75% of your buyers will experience. Going in with friends and using the test lab will never get the same experience as those lone users.

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Halo

Where Can Halo Go?

I’ve decided it’s time to try and pick up this blog again, but with a different intention. Previously, I wanted to get my opinion out there and maybe try to prove some people wrong. This time around, it’s going to be about me. I’m a programmer with ambitions to make the world a better place by making something you love, if that’s an app, a website, or a game it doesn’t matter. Recently I’ve found that it doesn’t take some internal cogs spinning to get a good idea going, sometimes it takes a tiny snowflake that I need to talk about. Suddenly, that snowflake is snowballing into an idea and I can’t control what comes out of my mouth, the person I’m talking to starts getting a little more freaked out by each word and their eyes are popping out of their head. That’s the basis for this blog now, getting that crap out of my head, and letting the ideas I have about personal projects get their own spark. The emphasis is still games, but instead it’s on improvements and the future.

This idea didn’t come out of nowhere, much like my previous attempts there was just something that I couldn’t let go and that led me to here. There are three major things on my mind recently, the first was an interview with Bonnie Ross shortly before Halo 5 came out. The topic was the future of Halo, and it really showed why she has the job. There’s massive ambition to build a universe that’ll last a long time and expand over many forms of media (source). That’ll be a point to discuss later on. The next was a moment in Warzone Assault when I realized some potential for where to go. Almost instantly some more ideas started popping into my head. At last, that’s when I realized at work I had started to talk to my coworkers to expand on ideas and how much it improved the final product. The urge was real, it’s time to get this out and onto a blog!

I don’t want to rant on this too long, but before I praise the potential of what Bonnie Ross and 343 Industries wants to do, I need to put a warning label for anyone who wants to follow her thought process. At one of my previous jobs, a few lawyers and business professionals were hired in some very high positions. Nothing against people who do that for a living, but as an outsider, I found a few flaws in their thinking. There were multiple times I heard the discussion about what to do in the future follow Bonnie’s logic: if someone else can do this and succeed, why can’t I? It was an Internet based company, so obvious names like Amazon got thrown out there. It came off as an attempt to follow Amazon much like a littler brother follows his older siblings. The fact that someone else did something does not mean you should, and if a company does something to succeed, that doesn’t mean follow their choices. The thinking should be “do Amazon executives get in a meeting and ask themselves who should they follow?” No, they want to keep being Amazon, and you’ll want to be the next whatever company people constantly talk about.

Halo can follow this by saying, how can we be more Halo? Do I want to be the next Call of Duty? Once you understand where you want to go and who you want to be, you’ll create a game far greater than borrowing ideas from successful video games. The great thing is it seems like they are embracing the idea of utilizing the universe outside the games. Halo 4 is the prime example, they wrote 3 books before releasing the game and they were very deeply tied together. The universe was expanded far more than 5 games from Bungie ever did. Yes, Bungie did do a lot, and had plenty of literature to keep a fan entertained, but the results did not expand into the games. To me, this leaves your bonus material as virtually useless. There’s a fine line in this potential mess though, and Halo 4 crossed it. Sounds confusing right? Well the universe was expanded massively, but for a game focused fan like me, I didn’t know about that extra information until 2 years after the game was released. I knew enough to understand why the Didact was a total dick to the Master Chief, so I wasn’t completely lost. Basically, the key point for improvement here is, don’t tie in multiple pieces of work if you aren’t going to connect them for absolutely everyone. Especially when it can change your mind from “whaa?” to “oh that’s huge”. I’m extremely excited for future Halo games. 343 has proven to have potential, so I’m rooting for them to figure out how creativity works and what it takes to tie your media together.

Now for the part I love the most, the number of places the Halo universe can go. Halo Wars 2 is another case for 343 making smart decisions. They could have moved straight onto Halo 6 and stick with the Master Chief, but here we are taking a safe trip with some old friends to explore different areas. To make things better, they’re heading to a place we are familiar with: the Ark. More praise: after a rocking the multiplayer in Halo 5, Halo Wars’ RTS gameplay gets a chance to see some of that love. My experience with the first game isn’t very strong, largely because my attention span was very small combined with my inability to actually win matches. Doesn’t mean I won’t dive deep into the campaign though, especially since it’s the first real area where we are seeing some love for something outside the main story line. It’s too late to give ideas on this game though, it’s months away from release and most things are finalized. Time to plan out the next game right? 🙂

ODSTs! The most bad a’ soldiers in the Halo universe! Bungie gave them some love, but it was a massively missed opportunity. It was probably a way for them to knock a game off their contract with Microsoft, so the lack of effort isn’t a surprise. So who is full of effort? 343 Industries! And once again, that rockin’ multiplayer in Halo 5 will prove helpful in unfortunately dividing your player base but only because there are two fantastic FPS games. The concept honestly has me wishing I could build the game myself. ODSTs lack shields, and not that anyone is thinking it, but they need to stay that way. They’re also slower, so mobility isn’t something they’ll capitalize on. This combination allows Halo to dip their hands into a PvP multiplayer much like Battlefield and Call of Duty. The unique part is the guns Halo typically has, not exactly modern stuff. It almost seems like the guns are weaker because you’d think a futuristic gun could take down a super soldier, yet it doesn’t happen so quickly. The combination of ODSTs and Halo weapons allow for slower deaths, but a SWAT like scenario in every situation. Two head shots to kill, 5 body shots, all around a quicker death than typical Halo, but slower than typical modern FPS shooters.

Halo 5 did miss something though, and it was the Warzone Assault entrance, the offense is shown to be dropping in, but no one really spawns near the drop pods. It almost seems like it’s built for story, but to the point where you can’t question or answer why you’re in a battle. Could you image if that opening scene showed your solider in the drop pod, followed by you replicating the first time you actually play in Halo 3: ODST. You hit a button and plop yourself out of the pod, the enemy team isn’t there so you can’t quite go guns a blazing. However, kind of like Breakout, you’re put in a situation where running into battle feels natural. It’d be cool if you did this more than once, but it makes respawning infinitely harder because there’s now a beacon indicating where you are at. Once again, 343’s interest to improve and create a masterpiece would take this type of thing to a whole ‘nother level in a ODST specific game. 343, MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

If a game like that was huge, then the chances of more expansive games grows. A potential problem just came to me though, a typical studio looking to be a huge success might skip unique games like this and try to cram them into a DLC or different aspect of the game. For example, Elites are not the same as Spartans, Halo: Reach tried to show that, but it was not very effective. A stand alone game stood a better chance with this, Elites wouldn’t seem like oddly changed versions of the characters you’re used to playing as. Another bonus- the fans get to explore the Sangheili side of the universe with it as the main focus. I’d by that game in a heart beat as well.

I’m very optimistic for ideas like this to happen, Creative Assembly is the primary workforce on Halo Wars 2. If the work for future FPS games could be split up like this, we could be seeing a lot of fantastic campaigns and gameplay released. With so much potential, it’s a shame to see it wasted. Hopefully Microsoft and 343 are willing to take some chances, put in a lot of effort, and create the universe + brand Bonnie Ross wants Halo to be.

Finally, I’m not sure how many people actually read this, but hit a button or leave a comment to let me know if you disagree or agree. As time goes on, I’ll be posting more stuff like this no matter what, since it is building some creativity in my head.

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Halo

Halo 5, The Good Side

Last time I talked about Halo 5 there was quite a bit of negativity. While this was justified, I do think they are headed in the right direction so I’d like to defend it despite my disappointment.

The Basics

So Halo is a futuristic game, and that means futuristic features. I feel like recently the games have gone away from that though and followed modern shooters. To me this is just uncalled for. People play Halo to get away from the modern shooters and enjoy a different game. And Halo 5 Beta shows that they know that now. The Spartans are decked out with abilities that belong to the future. They also follow the thought process that Spartans are not ordinary soldiers, one rushing straight at you would kill you. This is great, someone finally took a step back and realized what made Halo so much fun.

It’s also obvious that they went big for this Beta. There are lots of changes in every aspect. The game has a more shiny appearance to it. The matches are quicker. The moves create new aspects of game play. And a lot of this is working for them. I still feel the thruster is a bit much, but after using it more successfully I can see that it counters the games fast play style. While I am not a fan of this, I manage to do better about the whole thing if I don’t flat out rage for it. Now with a beta they can do things like this, throw in everything and see what works. And I can say the thruster might need to remain in if the game remains so fast. As much as I hate the thing….

As much as it probably won’t happen in the actual game, I loved the maps variants. The second I started both of them I couldn’t be happier. And I’m sure it is much easier on designers to take a good map, and make an equally good variant. I do enjoy Eden more than Empire though. Truth and Regret and equally good, I would play both of them the same amount.

The Not So Basic

Let’s look at past game styles that worked really well for Halo. My two examples for this are Grifball and SWAT. Both are popular game variants that tend to have massive amounts of players. What’s common in those two? Fast kills, lots of medals, but not unfair. And that’s why Halo 5 goes into a faster mode. I’ve seen some articles about people saying this is moving towards CoD and Battlefield. However that’s not the case. It really is based off those two popular modes. Hopefully over the next 9-12 months 343 will perfect that process.

I’ve been using the default button layout for one large reason. The left trigger to scope in. Now this is very much influenced by modern shooters. And once again it works. It can also hurt too. Lets start with the hurtful part. As soon as I scope I am getting ready to hit the spot button cause I’m used to playing BF4. For a developer that’s one thing you want to avoid, players should be focused on your game when they play. But it does work, after thinking through it using the right thumb stick really didn’t work. At least for me, when I clicked in and then tried to aim it just didn’t happen as quickly. Using the left trigger really allows me to focus on aiming and not get so distracted.

What will keep me going the most is the SR system. I enjoy a ranking system, but it doesn’t keep me in the game. The SR system gives me something to strive for while being placed in the right matches. It’s wonderful for players like me. But the most crucial thing is to is that they DON’T FOLLOW HALO 4. It was over so quickly. After a month or two I was done trying to rank up and that really stunk. If they could follow the one good thing about Reach is to keep that game going on and on. With an exp cap I did the math and one of the last ranks took a full month of every day exp cap to rank. Fantastic! So let’s hope they can follow that, there doesn’t even have to be an unlock. Just give me a goal.

Now the last thing that I find good is something some people are hating on. The announcer and medals. But there is a science behind this. It is proven that a player gets more excited when they earn a medal and even more when they hear that announcer behind it. The key is getting the right placement for it. You can’t just stick in there for walking in a straight line. But things like multikills are the key. Not things that happen by chance, like hat trick. Unique kills deserve a unique medal. If they can successfully find how to do that it could improve their game.

The Finished Product

So I should at least confess that I’m getting better at Halo. It really takes all my focus, my wife talked to me for a little once and it threw me off. And to me that isn’t Halo, but not everyone enjoys a game that doesn’t require all their attention. I’ll even still buy the game if it takes lots of focus. I’m really excited to see where 343 takes this beta. Hopefully I can avoid another rant out of rage again, though I still think those points have a good basis behind them.

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Battlefield, Halo

How the Digital Age Killed Gaming

Pre-ordering?

So I’ve seen many people discussing how pre-ordering is destroying what makes good games release perfectly. They make good points, why make a good game if you already have a player’s money? I disagree with this, for a publisher that certainly is the case. They don’t interact with the players and that detaches them from releasing a fully functioning game. But the underlying problem for everything is the Digital Age we currently live in. Let’s take a look back at gaming when it initially began growing and how it differed from today.

Information

If you were like me one of the first games you ever played was Pokemon. There was so much unknown about the game. I picked Squirtle because he looked cool. My brother picked Charmander cause he’s a freakin pyro. THAT WAS ALL THERE WAS TO IT! Now you can’t go without picking the one that has best stats and evolves into the best Pokemon and can beat all the Gym Leaders. Part of this is due to the evolution of gaming, a game can’t just be fun at the base now. There’s articles all over about Destiny being such an in depth game that has such smart designs and that’s what makes it good. This applies for just about every AAA game these days, but Destiny got the most attention for it.

Do you remember back when you picked up your Gameboy and played Pokemon? You knew nothing about anything. There wasn’t the Internet seconds away to tell you that Squirtle becomes a Blastoise with Hydro Pump. You had to learn by testing types against each other to find out what was strong and weak. This was a key thing in making games become such a big deal. But now things are laid out plain and simple for you. By the time you get to a certain point with a new enemy, your character is already completely decked out to take on what’s ahead. There’s very little surprise in what you do. But surprisingly if you let your players learn on their own it creates a better game. Not too much learning of course, but dying because you got caught off guard is kind of exciting. And that’s one thing gaming has lost.

As a Halo player I’ve followed the blog posts when a game gets close to release. I remember back when Halo: Reach came out and they mentioned going dark to avoid spoilers. This is something I try to practice with every game now. It’s really hard because that information builds up anticipation. And somehow no one finds that bad. It’s a weakness humans have. I have a decent laptop and a great tablet, yet when I see more tablets and laptops I want to replace them instantly. It’s a great way to make money so publishers take a huge advantage of this. All games must go big or go home with new features and big changes. Just look at Halo 5, they didn’t bother to go small and say lets add this one or two things. The game is faster, there’s 5+ new features that change how you play. This isn’t a bad thing at a glance. It brings a breath of fresh air into games so they don’t go stale. But now new games are so focused on new features they force some things that really shouldn’t fit in.

And the sad thing is developers are trying to get back to this old style release. But they miss because they think it’s something you can copy and paste. Frequently games try it by replicating a scene or a map layout all the while missing the key part that made it a success. There was no IGN month coverage, no details released every month. It’s really hard as a person to do that though. We all enjoy telling a great story and seeing the excitement on peoples faces. So let’s draw a comparison to something in the real world that gaming should follow. Books. How do you sell a good book? You certainly don’t give away just about every detail before the reader grabs it. You give the basics in brief sentences while drawing the reader in. That way when a certain surprise happens you are waiting on the edge of your seat to move on. You don’t have to do something like kill someone off to have them say “I never saw that coming”.

Fixing The System

Emphasis on new and big things can remain, but some of the biggest surprises need to remain hidden. Could you imagine playing Battlefield 4 and seeing Siege of Shanghai with that building falling for the first time, having no idea it was possible. Call me crazy but that’s the kind of feature that needs to remain hidden. Give players a reason to jump head first into a game. Easter eggs are something people hunt down like crazy. Imagine if the basic features of your game were given that much attention. The small features can be released to build that anticipation or even one of the few big things.

If it were me though, I’d base the whole game around the hidden features. I imagine being a company that has tons of players already. Give a few Youtubers or writers a chance to play one map and say find what you can. Let them go crazy and tell all their viewers or readers how excited they were finding something new. Maybe even label a few things as do not discuss, tease and hint at it all you want but build anticipation to actually jump into the game and play around with every detail.

So what do you think? Would you play games if you knew less about everything? Do you think an information overload can ruin the excitement of discovering new features? Leave a comment and let me know and thanks for reading.

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Battlefield

Battlefield 4

So as much as I love Halo I’ve played my Battlefield lately. Largely for two reasons: Halo MCC has too many quiters, and I’m way better at BF4 than the beta. So here’s my opinion on BF4 on just random things.

How I got here

I started with Bad Company 2, which is hands down one of my favorite games of all time. I bought it on a whim and loved it from the second I started playing. I understand it’s not the typical Battlefield game, but there was so much success in the game I couldn’t put it down. Every since then I’ve been carried away.

BF’s large maps and long games really grabbed my attention. I don’t follow DICE’s thought process on massive, open maps though. I enjoy maps like Zavod so much because it is massive with tons of close quarters, that’s a huge part of the game’s success I think. Rush also used to be a big star of the series, even in BF3. However they lost focus and kind of killed that mode. The campaigns aren’t the best, or even decent sometimes so let’s not focus on that.

Play Style

The engineer has always been my favorite, I got a big boomstick and no one can stop me! Even after the PDW’s became the main weapon I still used Engineer more. They also have some of my favorite weapons every time. It all started with the Bad Company 2 Engineer, especially the Scar L. That gun made me a mean lean killing machine by the end of a match, regardless of winning or losing.

When BF3 arrived I started to use the PDW’s a lot more though. For some reason I just love the concept of a small close quarters machine gun in any game. The PDW-R is one of my top guns, it’s basically like a rifle sometimes. The range on it is ridiculous for a PDW and it just feels good to shoot. I would prefer PDW’s to be the gun that goes across classes, but beggars can’t be choosers I suppose.

Rush became a favorite of all time instantly. The fact that those big maps would just grow was amazing every game. Any Rush game also feels more intense than most Conquest games. It’s all about the basis of just two areas to attack. It makes it so a 32 player game can feel as big as a 64 player CQ map. However as time moved on it became very clear that DICE prefers to make CQ maps and use them for Rush. This is a horrible idea as it doesn’t work, I don’t think I enjoy any map on BF4 in Rush. Maybe it was just BC2 that had a focus on Rush, so obviously I have a bit of a bias for it.

What Could Be Improved

I’m very surprised that BF4 is still being played as much today as it is. The game started poorly and I mentioned many times giving up on the whole thing entirely. Still, here I am playing just about every day. That makes it pretty obvious that the game itself isn’t the problem. It’s a successful game in the end, and the holidays really made a jump in player count. So where can Battlefield change and improve to be better.

One of the hardest things to balance is the vehicles in the game. And now that I think about it sometimes there isn’t a problem. Personally I feel it’s the AA that deserves the most tweeking. It’s wrong to be killed from just about any spot on the map when someone is determined to use it. On the flip side an air vehicle can really dominate if the range of the AA is far shorter. I have no idea on how to manage this, as if it were me I’d remove the whole thing and boost the AA rockets for Engineers.

The map packs for BF4 haven’t been to stellar. In fact a large portion of map packs for BF4 and BF3 haven’t been awesome. Not all of them need to be successful, and they obviously know how to make good maps cause they launch with great maps. With Final Stand it finally clicked into my head that there is a basic concept being repeated. Largely open maps with close quarters in the center. There was even one map that I swear felt exactly like a Naval Strike map. For me the obvious place to be is at the center camping out the two objectives there. Not a single pack stood out as much as Close Quarters in BF3. This was due to a hugely successful game type that matched the maps perfectly.

Now I’m assuming someone didn’t think this part fully through because Domination was good in CQ and in BF4 it’s not so good. One of the things DICE does that I absolutely hate is using the portion of a map for different modes. Sure this means less work for the developers so that’s great. On the flip side, the different modes don’t work so well. Rush is a perfect example, the maps just aren’t designed to move that way. Again this is something wrong with Domination, CQ fit perfect because they were designed for Domination. Taking more time to match maps with their game modes would improve a variety for the game.

Past and Future

Now I’ve missed quite a few games by jumping in at BC2, so I don’t really have much room to talk about what happened before. From what I can gather there was less focus on being so big though. The competition between CoD and BF wasn’t the main focus for getting games out. BF4 was probably such a disaster because they couldn’t delay and “lose” to CoD. Sure competition drives the entire gaming community today, and it’s great to a certain point. Given any other situation though and this whole thing would seem crazy. Going bigger and better sometimes distracts from the fact that you actually have a great game.

Now Hardline is coming in two months and this does appear to be following everything I say in the upper paragraph. It’s not a military themed game and it does go as big. But it was originally scheduled to come out a year after BF4. That is following the path of CoD in just about every way. They massively changed the theme, again like CoD, and aimed a quick release that actually failed. So if they can’t compete with CoD that way, what can they do?

Follow the path of Levolution even more. Small level destruction is really what makes BF so great. Running around with a rocket launcher or M320 and taking down walls to find enemies is uniquely BF. The last game didn’t capture this so much for me though. It felt like the small level destruction got replaced with massive map changers. They also removed the “Destruction 2.0” kill feed from BC2. Which gave a kind of emphasis to knock every building down. If you got 1 kill there was a sense of accomplishment.

Weapon variety is great. I’m always changing my weapons during a game, though I really shouldn’t. Bringing back old weapons is even a great idea. Old memories often drag me back to crappy weapons that I should avoid like the plague.

Bleh

So that’s my thoughts on Battlefield, sometime soon I think I’ll post a montage of Battlefield. I have a battle buddy that has some freakin epic moments with me and I’d love to share them. Thanks for reading, leave a comment or some feedback.

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Halo

Halo 5 Beta!

The Halo 5 Disaster

So after a week of the beta I can confidently give my opinion. It honestly sucks. There have been more games that I hate than I enjoy. I did go back and forth between the older Halos so I could grasp more of what was off. So here’s a thought on what is wrong:

Small Things Take Down Big Projects

The ranking is terrible. My K/D is about to break even and that’s not normal for me in an FPS. Despite that I’m somehow halfway between Onyx and Semi Pro. It goes up a lot when I win, goes down a little when I lose by a ton. Naturally I find myself playing against teams that are way better than mine. Seriously, I saw 3 Silvers in one game who had a 2.0 K/D. Now maybe it’s because occasionally I find myself going up against people who I win, or don’t die a ton against, but this doesn’t make up for the 5 I lose massively in return. UPDATE: I just played a game where I went 5 and 17. There was a party of 4 and I had 2 quit on my team. I lost 7 points on my ranking, clearly I don’t belong at Onyx.

It’s way too quick to be Halo. I loved the thought of this and had a post all ready for it earlier. After playing it I realized that it’s more of a who sees who first thing. As you can guess I don’t see people too often cause I find one, he hides and then I get hit from behind. It’s 75 percent of my deaths. That’s not to say the game should be too much slower, like the older games. After going back and forth I realized it was too slow sometimes, like gosh that could have been quicker. But I shouldn’t feel like I’ve lost a battle once someone sees me first. If anything, I think the booster should be gone. That’s breaking most of the game for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to counter act grenades. Here’s a great example of what it does though: I shoot a player, his first reaction is to use the booster and hide. Once his shields are up he throws a grenade and gets help in time to counter act the fact that I’m alone.

I would say the booster in general has one key flaw that nothing else new has: it has no counter. Stabilizers are great, but if you get caught using them at the wrong time, you’re gonna be in trouble. ADS is gone once you get hit so you can’t remain scoped in. Sprint has it’s correct timing to use it. Boosters have no downside. You dodge grenades, get out of a battle in a snap, move faster. Maybe the downside is you might occasionally jump off the edge of the map, once in a year.

This is pure speculation but it feels like I get teamed up against parties, with randoms on my team. Now the simple fix for this is joining a clan or something. As a casual player though, this ain’t gonna happen soon. Now the focus lately has been on MLG for Halo. So obviously they want to encourage this. However that is a small portion of their fan base, so they’re gonna lose a lot to gain favor with a few.  This has been a problem in my eyes for every Halo game. They have never bothered to really fix it either.

Oh gosh, the nades. It seems lately that nades have gotten a bit of a bad rap for me in just about every FPS. If you’re resorting to using it in every combat situation then it’s OP. The kill cam for it is especially awful, I know I got naded so I don’t need to see that. Lemme know where the guy is so I can hunt him down.

Why play then?

The game is still fun, at it’s core there is a good game. However it won’t keep me for very long if i can’t help but lose over and over and throw my controller. I haven’t done that yet, but it’s approaching. Sure this is what the beta is for (and that’s why I’m typing this up, hoping some guy will pass by it), so let’s hope for a better game at release.

It was actually good when the game didn’t start with BRs. I didn’t like it at first, but I was playing old school style and that’s what was wrong. Everything felt perfectly matched and I didn’t lose a battle if I was caught off guard. Empire wasn’t the best of maps, but there’s a few bad ones in every game.

The system of having a rank and an SR is great. I’ve been playing a lot of Battlefield 4 and it’s only because I have a rank that doesn’t affect who I play against. I enjoy having goals and striving for them, so keep that and I’ll play Halo 5 till it breaks down.

It’s close to where it needs to be, just a few more tweeks and I think it would be there. Without those tweeks though, they’ll have a very poor game because of it’s MLG focus.

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Halo

The Master Chief Collection’s Beauty

As I sit here in a dimly lit room I’ve finally come up with a way to describe why I think the MCC is still a great game despite it’s set backs. First off I’d like to state that this game was a huge improvement and the number of things happening makes me think someone up top should have been considering the possibility of such a huge problem. The game does more than release new maps and an upgraded campaign, it is everything that was previously on a older system plus dedicated servers and 60 fps with 1080p. Murphy’s law alone is reason to suspect launch issues everywhere. It’s a tough situation considering you can’t launch a beta for something that’s already come out and it would be hard to target that audience. Though had someone made that happen they would have learned at least a month in advanced their servers were bad and matchmaking wouldn’t work. To me though the simpler solution would have been starting the servers far in advanced, basically when reviewers first get a copy. But that’s in the past, what’s done can’t be undone.

To me this is still a successful game though and I’m probably the only person in the world who thinks that. Given that they fix the game completely later on, it will still succeed in dragging me and thousands of other back in. The point of the game wasn’t to be “Game of the Year” because it’s a re-release, the point is to bring back those memories and put a Halo game on the Xbox One. I have still largely enjoyed the game and taken the hassle with matchmaking as a side effect of new territory for 343 industries. So let’s branch off on that, it’s literally what makes the MCC worth buying and so we should focus on that.

Halo 2 and 3 had some of the best memories of my life on it, as sad as that can be it is true. I spent countless hours playing those maps over and over, memorizing every trick jump and location so I could master the game. There were so many nights I didn’t get a second of sleep and proceeded to try and take on the next day because I couldn’t drop that controller. And I’m still there today, they are still constantly fun. So much to the point where I don’t care if my team sucks cause I’m still getting kills and feeling all those memories rush back. I can never completely decide which playlist I want to play cause they are all so much fun. I can’t wait until the whole game is functioning as I will still be playing this game way up until Halo 5 comes out.

Next up in this perfect match up is the Halo 5 beta. It’s so common to see a beta offered with a game that the Halo 5 beta kind of blends in. People are ignoring that this the best way to present a beta to players, and it will likely never happen again in the future. People are constantly playing Halo 4 and looking back saying “the previous ones were better”. 343 is taking that jump and saying, here are those previous games that you enjoy so much. Please play them and give us feedback as to what is great. Then immediately they follow it up with a beta so far in advance from it’s release that it is guaranteed it will be modified in many ways before it is complete. They might as well be saying this game could really be the crappiest thing you’ve played, please fix it. And of course everyone will feel free to tell them why it sucks cause they already do.

After watching some of the beta gameplay I’m tempted to join them, it looks so different and it is concerning. But Halo is trying to create a new ground breaking game and if it’s worth calling it Halo I’m gonna give it a shot. I’ve heard it isn’t something to be judged by videos and that it honestly has a learning curve that deserves more than an immediate first impression. I’ll be playing the crap out of it just to enjoy every minute, I like the ideas on paper and it will get it’s chance for me.

However the biggest thing for the MCC is Halo 2 Anniversary. And boy did it deliver. I could watch every cinematic over and over again. The game plays great along with the new skulls they threw in. That by far is the biggest accomplishment of the game, it was a smashing success in that aspect and I love every part of it. The music is great and sometimes gives me that feeling like it hasn’t been changed massively. However after switching back and forth you can tell there is so much improvement in some places, I didn’t enjoy all of them. The new maps look and play great, but since I can’t get even teams when I start a game it kind of destroys that playlist for the mean time. Multiplayer is where I feel they made their subtle test though, the maps have changed and gamers do not like change! But they took the risk anyways and even though they were made by Certain Affinity I still feel like it’s 343’s way of seeing if it’s the maps that are not doing so well in the games.

I’m excited to play this game everyday, and I hope you give me your feedback as to what I’ve said. It’s different from what I’ve read in other places so I expect a harsh lashing to come my way. In the future I think posts will be about what has made Halo such a great game. This’ll go over the small aspects that add up to a large game and maybe even take this on as a perspective of building a “new” Halo game. It’ll cover everything from the campaign and universe to the multiplayer. Again, if someone is reading this please leave feedback, and maybe spread the word 🙂

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