Halo: Reach |OT7| What are They to Say Now?

At Forward Unto Dawn (now with a lovely new set of curtains thanks to Flipyap!) we're kicking off volume two of our Beyond the Frontline opinion series. We'd like to know what folks think so I'm happy to put the full piece here and ask.

BTF #5 : Are We BETA Off Without It?



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We’re still in the dark times. Audio engineers, software scribes, artists and many more are busy with their heads down working away secretly on the next adventure for Master Chief. The dark shroud of secrecy and mystery of what is to come has yet to be lifted and at this very moment that unveiling itself is being planned and thought out. What we know about Halo 4 with any amount of certainty amounts to little more than confirmation that the game is still coming out at the end of this year. We’ve been told great things are coming even the most cynical fan cannot doubt the intention and well meaning behind that promise.

Already we know the next Halo experience is going to be different. The changes in development behind the scenes have resulted in a very public shift from fan’s expectations. We’re getting the game a whole year earlier than most had expected and the big reveal of the game along with the massive media assault drumming up to the release of the game is already sounding to a different beat. It’s hard to imagine we’re getting Halo 4 this year and yet we’ve seen nothing from the game and know little about the setting or the scale or the feature set.

A few weeks back in the Sparkast we were informed that the marketing push may be bolder than previous efforts and just recently Frankie confirmed that the key art is being worked on.

So the engines are being revved up as I type this. The lights are about to be switched on. We know things will be a little different this time around, but how different? And what if something we take for granted is missing entirely?

We’ve come to expect an open multiplayer beta for Halo 4 simply because each significant Halo release on the Xbox 360 has featured such a beta before the game launches. Halo 3’s beta access was included with Crackdown (a non-Halo game) and over the course of twenty six days reached into the living rooms of 820,000 Halo fans. Reach three years later would top this impressive number. Reach’s beta access was via Halo 3: ODST this time rewarding loyal Halo fans. Reach’s beta was being played by 2,700,000 fans, a healthy and noteworthy increase over Halo 3’s numbers.

Shortly before Halo: Anniversary launched last year, at the HaloFest event at the PAX games convention that Anniversary would in fact not contain any form of access to a Halo 4 open multiplayer beta. In fact, Microsoft refused to confirm any plans for such a beta during the event and up to now this has not changed.

Halo’s previous multiplayer betas were more than just a chance for players to get early access to the next big Halo game. In addition to stress testing backend processes and services and providing valuable gameplay and bug feedback to the developers, the beta are essentially an additional marketing tool to promote the upcoming release of the next Halo game. Having whetted the appetite of almost five millions users before the games launched almost certainly helped to spread and promote both Halo 3 and Reach. A beta gives the public a something substantial and no amount of sporting event or food product sponsorships can match it.

Will there be an open beta for Halo 4? Does it matter?

I think a beta is almost inevitable despite being genuinely surprised at the lack of beta access with Anniversary. I still believe it is coming simply because, from a marketing perspective, it would be a huge missed opportunity. It would disappoint the fans that have come to expect a beta from the two previous Halo releases and I think it would cause some concern from fans that aren’t sure if the new developer is up the difficult task of hitting Halo’s lofty quality bar.

On the flip side, going into Halo 4 fresh without having any prior hang ups or expectations just might be the best way to go about it. We really don’t need to play an early version of the game a few months before the game comes out. It might just be that we feel entitled to something like the beta because of our past experiences. It’s hard to imagine fans being angry at a lack of beta but I wouldn’t discount the possibility.

I see a beta as a massive spoiler. You’re spoiling the gameplay rather than the story but you’re still being spoilt in advance of the final game and just like fictional or story spoilers you simply will not have the fuller picture until later on. Also, if you’re reading this site, chances are you’re going to playing Halo 4 at the end of the year, beta or no beta.

This summer, we’ll be playing the Halo 4 beta or we won’t (MS employees will for sure though! ). I don’t think it will have any impact on whether or not I’m queuing outside the shop at midnight when I get the chance on launch night. I honestly think I’d get more out of my launch experience if there was no beta (that un-played, new game feeling!) because I doubt I could resist playing one if there was.
 
There needs to be a beta, it's their first game, and I really don't want to go into it completely dark on the MP side. I want a beta like Gears 3 where the devs are actually open to changing stuff like maps and whatever. Not a beta like Reach where most problems were completely ignored.
 
As long as they put vanilla back into BTB. Two TU BTB lists is pointless.

Vanilla lists stay vanilla, new lists are TU.
Not sure why you have the hots for vanilla so badly.

I played Vanilla AR starts on Reflection the other day and it was probably one of the worst experiences I've had with this game. Everyone on the other team had active camo the entire game, they spawned red so they were hiding with rockets the entire game, and the AR/vanilla pistol are just two terrible unbalanced weapons (there are 2 DMRS for 8 players on the map) so I could barely get a kill without spamming jetpack. I dont know how you find that fun. I didn't even feel like complaining, I just felt like turning the game off afterwards.

There's a reason why so many people left this game. I really don't understand how you, N00bs, and Steven love vanilla so much.
 
Vanilla BTB is terrible compared to TU bro. Let it go.
Yeah, spamming a DMR across a map because of reduce bloom allowing you to cross map even faster and being awarded for doing it because of bleedthrough sure is great.

Add the fact that there was already TU BTB available to those that wanted it.. I did let it go. I let it go by refusing to play BTB after the update. It was already annoying enough that we had two BTB lists splitting the Reach population as it was, but making them redundant to each other is icing on the cake.


Not sure why you have the hots for vanilla so badly.

I played Vanilla AR starts on Reflection the other day and it was probably one of the worst experiences I've had with this game. Everyone on the other team had active camo the entire game, they spawned red so they were hiding with rockets the entire game, and the AR/vanilla pistol are just two terrible unbalanced weapons (there are 2 DMRS for 8 players on the map) so I could barely get a kill without spamming jetpack. I dont know how you find that fun. I didn't even feel like complaining, I just felt like turning the game off afterwards.

There's a reason why so many people left this game. I really don't understand how you, N00bs, and Steven love vanilla so much.
I don't see where I confused AR starts with bleedthrough (which they still ignore the feedback on, and continue to dodge questions on if it's actually separable). Bleedthrough shits up AR start gametypes anyway, since you only need a short burst from the AR (around 3-4 bullets) before a melee will kill someone. Remove the broke-ass bleedthrough and I'd play BTB again. BTB has never been AR start in Reach, and giving people a non-RoF locked DMR with reduced bloom and bleedthrough in BTB just shits up the sandbox.
 
Yeah, spamming a DMR across a map because of reduce bloom allowing you to cross map even faster and being awarded for doing it because of bleedthrough sure is great.

Add the fact that there was already TU BTB available to those that wanted it.. I did let it go. I let it go by refusing to play BTB after the update. It was already annoying enough that we had two BTB lists splitting the Reach population as it was, but making them redundant to each other is icing on the cake.
The other playlist is to play Anniversary maps and the CE pistol settings, not sure why you are so confused.
 
There needs to be a beta, it's their first game, and I really don't want to go into it completely dark on the MP side. I want a beta like Gears 3 where the devs are actually open to changing stuff like maps and whatever. Not a beta like Reach where most problems were completely ignored.
I think you're right about addressing the issues of fans. If Reach had addressed the many issues folks brought up from the Beta, I think it would be fairing much better than it is currently is, or at least fans would be down on it so much.

A game of Halo scope and scale on the multiplayer side needs to be solid and I think Reach proves that we're very, very demanding but not unreasonably so.

I agree about the devs taking on feedback and showing fans how they done it. I've heard nothing but good things when folks talk about how Epic addressed their fans concerns from the Gears 3 beta.
 
I'd love to see a beta. Getting to play the game early is really great but it also gives the developer a lot of great information. Imagine Halo Reach without a beta: We would have had a lot more glitches, jumping height would be even lower, the movement would be slower, and the netcode probably wouldn't be as good as it is now.

But if Halo 4 is going to do things very different, I can imagine 343 doesn't want to have a beta (or a beta that non hardcore Halo fans can enter freely) so that the players won't know whether they like these changes or not. I'm 100% sure they want to make an awesome game but the game does have to sell. And if people actually hate the beta, I can see that hurt the sales.

Of course, you probably won't have this problem if only the hardcore Halo fans are able to enter.
 
So there's two solutions at this point:


1) Make BTB All-DLC required, fold Anniversary BTB Slayer gametype into it, and stop the silly population split

2) Make one TU and one not TU so people have an actual choice and each playlist justifies it's own existence.

Even if Reach went 100% TU (which they probably should just do at this point), it'd still be silly to have two BTB lists. Not even Halo 3 could support two BTB lists for very long. Halo 2 also folded Big Team Battle and Big Team Slayer back together after a while.

Or I don't know, finally answer if bleedthrough comes as a package with reduced bloom, and if it is seperable, remove it.
 
I always say this when talk about a possible Halo 4 public beta. They would be foolish not to have one. Would Reach's launch have gone worse without the beta? Not testing their backend with the beta could have been disastrous at launch. A title update would have most likely been required in the first few months, thus more resources and money on Bungie's and MS's end.


With the internal MS beta, we are going to get leaked footage and screenshots considering there are alot of Employees and with families most likely having access. Why not please the real fans (not saying MS employees aren't fans, but most of them probably don't even play halo) and let us test your systems?

How does an internal MS beta even work? Do they have to play in the office? Do they do it over XBL?
 
There needs to be a beta, it's their first game, and I really don't want to go into it completely dark on the MP side. I want a beta like Gears 3 where the devs are actually open to changing stuff like maps and whatever. Not a beta like Reach where most problems were completely ignored.
Yeah, like the sawed off shotgun that they were so willing to change.

Just saying :p

I always say this when talk about a possible Halo 4 public beta. They would be foolish not to have one. Would Reach's launch have gone worse without the beta? Not testing their backend with the beta could have been disastrous at launch. A title update would have most likely been required in the first few months, thus more resources and money on Bungie's and MS's end.


With the internal MS beta, we are going to get leaked footage and screenshots considering there are alot of Employees and with families most likely having access. Why not please the real fans (not saying MS employees aren't fans, but most of them probably don't even play halo) and let us test your systems?

How does an internal MS beta even work? Do they have to play in the office? Do they do it over XBL?
MS employees are people just the same as everyone else, I'm sure there is a fair share of Halo players there.

An internal MS beta, they get a code to download a build at home, and they play over XBL
 
Yeah, like the sawed off shotgun that they were so willing to change.
Of course it wasn't perfect, and I specifically mentioned map changes for Gears 3. How much better could Swordbase have been if the weapon spawns were changed, or the gold lift room was redesigned? Powerhouse, a map built for 1 Flag/Bomb had a terrible setup for the plant/cap spot, their solution? Put it on a random building outside and pretend there's no base on the map. I mean c'mon.
 
Of course it wasn't perfect, and I specifically mentioned map changes for Gears 3. How much better could Swordbase have been if the weapon spawns were changed, or the gold lift room was redesigned? Powerhouse, a map built for 1 Flag/Bomb had a terrible setup for the plant/cap spot, their solution? Put it on a random building outside and pretend there's no base on the map. I mean c'mon.
I agree, I just wanted to point that out.

Honestly, I don't really know what you could do to save Swordbase, it's just a terribly designed map in so many areas, especially for Reach's gameplay.

Always thought that Powerhouse's best gametypes were King/3 Plots myself, but I agree with your point.

That also brings up another point though, if a developer know going into a public beta that they aren't going to make changes like that regardless of the feedback, is a public beta really that important?
 
I know this may be completely off base but to me a beta or lack there of almost shows their confidence level with the game. If they are confident the MP is fun and people will enjoy it they will have a public beta test. If they are unsure of the MP they might decide they want right until release to get it right.
 
Damnit this thread is moving slow today. I'm at work and am essentially doing nothing.


Oh! I DID just win two tickets to see the Avett Brothers in concert. So...there's that...
Nice! I'm not usually a fan of folk music, but I like the Avett Brothers. They have enough rock mixed in to keep me listening.

Oops. Off topic.

Who's getting Halo 4 news first? What's the next game going to play like? When's the beta? Where's the bulletin? Why's there bleedthrough? How's babby formed? Rabble Rabble Rabble Rabble
 
Nice! I'm not usually a fan of folk music, but I like the Avett Brothers. They have enough rock mixed in to keep me listening.

Oops. Off topic.

Who's getting Halo 4 news first? What's the next game going to play like? When's the beta? Where's the bulletin? Why's there bleedthrough? How's babby formed? Rabble Rabble Rabble Rabble
The London Toy Fair will have Halo 4 character toys. So either we get a proper look before then or the first proper insight into Halo 4 is going to come from some plastic toys in a glass case.
 
I think you're right about addressing the issues of fans. If Reach had addressed the many issues folks brought up from the Beta, I think it would be fairing much better than it is currently is, or at least fans would be down on it so much.

A game of Halo scope and scale on the multiplayer side needs to be solid and I think Reach proves that we're very, very demanding but not unreasonably so.

I agree about the devs taking on feedback and showing fans how they done it. I've heard nothing but good things when folks talk about how Epic addressed their fans concerns from the Gears 3 beta.
Yup, Ram is right.

I think 343I have a huge opportunity here. Open Beta, All Xbox Live Members, free, just download it, no gating.

I realise MS would at least want the Gold gating, that for the Reach beta they had a weekend offer for Silver players. I think this is too small an event, that beyond.. a week of the betas launch the hype and media coverage has largely died down. So you need to get as many people interested and dl'ing the client as much as possible, maintaining that hype and excitement.

God damn it, I typed this an hour ago

The London Toy Fair will have Halo 4 character toys. So either we get a proper look before then or the first proper insight into Halo 4 is going to come from some plastic toys in a glass case.
Unless of course plans change and they're presence is denied due to wanting the unveil to be different.
Or limited to the Master Chief, Cortana and a Warthog. Actually that's probably a certainty, hardly reveal anything significantly new through a figurine, would they?
 


Bulletin said:
Jessica has asked me to contribute to a Halo 4 developer diary as a recurring part of our weekly Bulletin. While we won’t be able to share secrets that would spoil any of the Carefully Planned Reveals™ that we have coming down the pipe, we will give you our impressions of some of the work that is going on behind the scenes here at 343. We’ll also provide our thoughts on anything that we do make public as part of the lead-up to the game’s launch. I realize that isn’t a lot at this stage, and trust me, this is hard for us, too. We are working on so many things that we can’t wait to share with you, but patience is in order. Good things come to those who wait. All will be revealed in due time. And assorted other clichés.…

Right now the team across 343 is shaking off the last remnants of our turkey-induced stupor and whipping ourselves into fighting shape for the year ahead. It’s going to be a huge one. This will be the culmination of a multi-year journey that has already filled several cylindrical space-canisters with delicious blood, sweat and tears. Now we’re entering the crucial final stretch in which we will ready our baby for release into the wild. It’s an exciting time but stressful, too, as we place pressure on ourselves to live up to your expectations. The good news is that the game is already looking great and fun to play. So, as we ready ourselves to give you your first real look at Halo 4 in the months ahead, we can only hope that you, too, will like what you see.

/Josh
 
I'm thinking Bear-style Terminals. Rawr!
This was exactly my thought as well. Given that 343's dual goal with the fiction is to 1) make all pieces interconnected, and 2) make each piece stand alone, a good way to do that would be to have Bear add terminal-like content to Halo 4 that ties back to his fiction, while adding backstory to Halo 4.
 
I'm thinking Bear-style Terminals. Rawr!
Nope. Instruction manual.

"Hold X to reload." - Greg Bear

I hear they're still negotiating with Karen Traviss to write the game credits.

It'd be interesting to see if they do choose to have a beta, if they decide to just slap it up on the marketplace and let everyone in on it, rather than using it as an incentive to buy another game.
Halo 4 beta exclusive to Windows Phone 7 confirmed.
 

Plywood

NeoGAF's smiling token!
It'd be interesting to see if they do choose to have a beta, if they decide to just slap it up on the marketplace and let everyone in on it, rather than using it as an incentive to buy another game.
 
I was hoping to pleasantly surprised and lucky to read some Voc crafted work in Halo 4. "Settling" for Mr Bear is no bad thing though.

Nope. Instruction manual.

"Hold X to reload." - Greg Bear

I hear they're still negotiating with Karen Traviss to write the game credits.
KT better not touch them. She'd mess up the credit's canon because she has bewbs and we'd have three more outraged fans in the Waypoint forums.
 
I was hoping to pleasantly surprised and lucky to read some Voc crafted work in Halo 4. "Settling" for Mr Bear is no bad thing though.



KT better not touch them. She'd mess up the credit's canon because she has bewbs and we'd have three more outraged fans in the Waypoint forums.
People are outraged with her because she has bewbs?

Pretty cool that Greg Bear is involved with Halo 4 in a deeper way, im excited about just how well intergrated the books and games will be with this new trilogy!