Game Mechanics:

Fox_Spartan asks:
“Why am I not able to see other player’s emblems on their arm in multiplayer? When you add an emblem in the “Appearance” screen, you can see the emblem on your characters arm (eg; a yellow “Sergeant” emblem, or a red and blue “Bull’s-eye” emblem etc.), but when you actually play a split-screen/system-link game, you can’t see an emblem anywhere, apart from a translucent emblem above the players head in team games.” (I had to check this one for myself, but this question is accurate, at least in split screen.)

Split screen is pretty taxing on the graphics engine, so we have to scale back a surprising number of features. Emblems on character models is one of these things.

Several people ask:
Probably the one of the hottest debates we see on the MLG forums is debates about the pistol not returning in Halo 2 with the same mechanics from Halo 1. Bungie has stated many times before that they removed/modified the original pistol due to its god-like abilities. While attempting to balance the game with this maneuver, modifications were made to the sniper rifle and the addition of the beam rifle and the energy sword seemed like a backwards step. Can you explain what lead you guys to make these decisions?

As far as the pistol goes, it was too powerful in Halo, more powerful than we intended. Our philosophy for weapon design (and game design in general) is based on simple rock-paper-scissors relationships. In Halo 1 there was no rock to smash the pistol. The weapons in Halo 2 are much better balanced.

Along these lines we also toned the sniper rifle down a bit because we found it was too difficult to counter at mid to close range when in the right hands. The networking model seems to overcompensate for poor sniping accuracy, but this was an unforseen consequence of other decisions.

The energy sword is a what I like to call a “super weapon”, and so we treated it similarly to how we treat other super weapons, like the rocket launcher for example. We did our best to balance it, but we also made a point of limiting and restricting its availability. Personally I wanted it to run out of gas, like it does in single player, but unfortunately that change was made too late to incorporate into multiplayer.

Synide asks:
“We noticed pretty much right when the game launched that it was impossible to grenade jump off of host, even on LAN. Grenade jumping is a huge part of the game’s dynamic ability and I was disappointed to see it missing for every player other than the host. Was this aspect just overlooked?”

I wasn’t aware of this, so yes, it must have slipped past. It certainly wasn’t intentional, we tried to eliminate any differences between hosts and clients. The complexity of Halo 2′s networking is staggering, I’d be surprised if a few more problems don’t surface down the road.

WLT asks:
“Why did you guys [take] out the fall damage?”

Unfortunately falling damage didn’t play nice with the energy sword, which made it into the game pretty late. If you lunged at someone below you you’d get accelerated so fast that when you hit the ground you’d die. We had to make a last minute decision whether to keep it like this or to turn off falling damage in multiplayer. We’d been playing without falling damage for quite some time anyway, and it didn’t bother us too much, so we chose the latter.

Cullen asks:
With the popularity of the “hump” in Halo 1 many of us were disappointed with the “crouch” in Halo 2. why this was changed/removed?

You’d have to run that one past the CANanimators. I doubt it was intentionally made less amusing, those guys hump like nobody’s business. I try to keep my legs under my desk when they’re around.

Several people ask:
“Are there any differences between the Elite and Spartan models other than cosmetic? Several people mentioned faster Melee animations, larger hit boxes, ect.”

Not that I’m aware of. We intentionally made all attributes, with the exception of their physical appearance (and yes, the related collision models), identical.

XBL/Downloadable Content

Xraf asks:
“It appears that a test version of Halo2 had a “Head Collecting” game type, sounds fun… Question: Is it possible/likely that we could see new GAMETYPES or variations (such as Head Collecting) as downloadable content or will we only be seeing maps?”

The game you’re referring to was called Headhunter. It was fun, but we didn’t really feel it had the same staying power as some of the others. Plus it was darn confusing at times.

No, you will not see any new game types as downloadable content. Sorry.

BTW, there’s still one last remnant of Headhunter in the UI. See if you can find it.

Several people ask:
“What is both possible (from a “just interested” standpoint) to change via downloadable content, and what is not. What type of allowances did Bungie make for themselves when thinking ahead to updates? Adding to that question, what, in your opinion, do you think will actually be modified/added via downloadable content/update-disks? (New vehicles, weapons, maps, changes to thinks like ‘damage from a plasma pistol bolt’)”

We’re limited to downloadable multiplayer maps. We are not able to change any fundamental game mechanics, short of possibly fixing catastrophic problems. Maybe.

davidgojr asks:
“Is there any chance that we could see some remakes of classic Halo maps released on XBox Live such as Hang em’ High, Sidewinder or Damnation? Many, many devout fans have been requesting these.”

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. It’s interesting to read those threads requesting Halo maps, I honestly would have a hard time narrowing down the list to a few that are more popular than others, everyone seems to have different favorites. A little consensus would make my job easier ;-)

Bones asks:
How do you plan on distributing maps and updates? The map files are fairly large and will take some time to download in the traditional sense. Do you plan on releasing any of these updates via a content disk included with OXM or some other publication for people without XBL?

This is definitely something that we’ll consider, we have no interest in excluding those without Xbox Live. Right now we don’t have any plans one way or another.

Culture:

Dolbex and spunt ask:
“The pure nature of any game forum is to moan and groan, and in the last few weeks we have seen a lot of that at both MLG and Bungie. How do you, as the developer, take the various criticisms that come with the release of any title of this magnitude?”

Everyone deals with this sort of thing differently. Most of us understand that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and thus take it in stride. Personally I talk to players a great deal online and in person to get additional perspective. I also read just about everything and anything I can, especially on the Bungie.net forums, commenting when I feel I can do so in a constructive way. Often community members make insightful posts long before I have written a response, so I like to sit back and let things take their own course whenever possible. I consider keeping a cool head and extracting useful feedback from even the most frustrated players an important part of my job, so as long as the poster’s intentions are good the moaning and groaning don’t bother me.

CitizenOne asks:
“Bungie, a lot of people have made countless threads about halo 3, and what they want in it. Will you take these requests into consideration, or just do what you think is best?”

I don’t think that we’ve ever officially confirmed or denied another Halo game. Nice try though! Just for the sake of discussion, were we to consider another Halo game, we certainly would take all of the feedback we could get our hands on into consideration. That’s part of our job. Then we’d do what we think is best. That’s also part of our job.

Several people ask:
“What is the best way to make map/game type suggestions for the playlists?”

Right now we’re so caught up in the game’s release and online activity that we don’t really have the time to test new games for the existing playlists. Eventually I’d like to be able to ask you to post your suggestions to the Optimatch forum on Bungie.net, but right now I can’t guarantee they won’t get lost. Still post them if you’d like community feedback, but be sure to keep your own detailed list of suggestions and at a point down the road when we’re making a less comprehensive update we’ll solicit proposals. As always, keep an eye on the Bungie.net news and the sticky posts at the top of the forums.

I want to thank all the people that participated in our Q&A session on the forum, and of course Max Hoberman over at Bungie. Thanks a lot guys!~Dolbex