Archive for October, 2003

Hardfought turns three

By K2 on October 22nd, 2003 at 11:53 am EST

Happy birthday Hardfought… today is it’s third anniversary. I was looking back at the past couple other posts I did in the months of October, and they usually start off with ‘Wow, another anniversary!’ – still holds true today. Every year that passes, I’m still amazed that Hardfought has lasted as long as it has, and that we still have a good-sized community of ‘old-school’ folks that have stuck around with it. Without you guys and gals, Hardfought wouldn’t have become what it is today.

So… hold up that glass in salute, and drink a toast to the best online gaming community there ever was or will be ;-) And here’s lookin’ at year four… see ya online folks.

K2

State of Halo

By K2 on October 19th, 2003 at 3:55 pm EST

Figured I’d do a post about Halo in general and how the gaming community is accepting (or not accepting) the game.

Halo started off with a bang to be sure… one of the most anticipated games EVER, that I can recall. Stores were sold out of the game before it even hit the shelves. Everyone was happy it was finally released. I was happy, my friends were happy. Nirvana had been obtained, so to speak ;-)

And then people started noticing things that weren’t exactly up to par, with the biggest one being game performance. Yeah, Halo will tax your system… it uses a lot of special effects and high polygon counts, and that is a drain on any system. Some people, like myself, are able to play the game at an acceptable frame rate with all the eye-candy on, while others are struggling to play in safe-mode at the lowest resolution/gfx settings. That is to be expected really… past game titles like Quake2 and Half-Life pushed the envelope on existing computer hardware, and people bitched and moaned about it back then, too. Hell, the debates I’ve seen that surrounded the release of Quake2 are 10x the intensity in comparison to what you can read about Halo right now. A lot of performance problems can be fixed by doing some simple tweaking to driver installs to just doing a format/reinstall. You’d be suprised what doing one of those can do for fixing software issues, especially if ya haven’t done one in awhile.

BUT… the community started noticing other issues as well. Like the FOV (field of view) being set to 70 as default… a major no-no in the FPS industry, where FOV 90 is standard, and is able to be changed client-side. Admins voiced their dismay over the lack of a robust RCON system, which can’t even be accessed remotely. One of the biggest complaints right now from players and admins alike is the complete lack of TK (team killer) protection/handling. Netcode issues are a major problem as well, with the game shipping with a total lack of client-side prediction (which means what you see on your screen most likely isn’t really there in terms of player/vehicle movement). And there are other issues, such as a lack of spectator mode, reserved join slots, demo recording, player name/server name length, the lack of a client-side config file… list goes on.

It appears gang, we’re all playing a beta version of the game. Granted, every new title that comes out from ANY software developer could be considered a ‘beta’ – the best way to work out the bugs of any product is to release it to as many people as possible. However, Halo: Combat Evolved is missing so many features… it’s hard to believe something so incomplete made it to ‘gold’ status. Why this happened is anyone’s guess.

In Gearboxes/Bungie’s/Microsoft’s defense, a lot of these issues are being worked on, the developers of the game have responded to the player communities outcries and suggestions for improvements (I’ve received a few replies personally from suggestions I’ve made) and say that improvements/fixes have either already been made or will be out soon in the next few patches, one of which we should be seeing very soon. Randy Pitchford, the president of Gearbox Software, recently did an online interview, the whole thing can be found HERE on this GB forum thread. He addressed a lot of concerns people had about the game, but unfortunately worded some things in such a way as to alienate the community even more. I personally understand the ‘expectations’ statement for what it is, but a LOT of people took that as an insult. I can see why… I know Randy meant well, but I think he should have chosen his response a bit more carefully.

So… what do I see from all of this? The Hardfought public ports aren’t as popular as they used to be, already. Yeah, both of ’em are usually full for at least several hours each day, but from looking at the performance counters I have set up, you can tell they’re not getting as much traffic as they did from the outset. Players are no longer playing, either because they are waiting for patches to be released to fix the major issues with the game to date, or actually took the game back to where they bought it from for a refund.

The developers of Halo better fix the major issues with this game, and fast… or they’re going to lose any momentum they had at release, and might possibily lose CPL backing to boot.

Personally… I’m going to stick around for the long-haul. Halo has just WAY too much potential to be ignored, faults or not. Even with the glaring issues and lack of admin functionality, this game is still helluva lot of fun to play, bottom line. IF the Halo game developers put out the right patches, and quickly, and listen to what the more level-headed of the community are saying about what needs to be done, then this game will be here to stay for a long time. I’d suggest to the rest of you to stick around as well, and see where things go from here. Past titles became much better over time, and Halo can be, too.

That’s all I got for ya today gang. Check back in a few days, Hardfought’s three year anniversary is this Wednesday… woot!! :-P See ya online.

K2

More Hardfought Halo news

By K2 on October 13th, 2003 at 4:54 am EST

Yeah yeah I know, I’ve been promising people a news update like three days ago. Pfft!! :-P Been playing too much Halo online… it’s very addicting. That and new things/updates to the website here. It’s a never-ending project…

Lets see, first off – Hardfought is now supporting three Halo ports – CTF, Assault, and a reservable match port, which conforms exactly to current Caleague match rules. The server display to the right shows which port each instance of Halo is running on. If your clan needs to reserve the match port for practice, an actual match, etc… get with me or one of the other Hardfought Halo admins, we’ll get ya set up. In the future we’ll have a reservation system in place (hopefully soon) so all you’ll have to do is make a couple mouse clicks and you’re done.

Featured organization – Divo Networks – they offer affordable game port hosting for Halo as well as several other games. EmmEss is the man who works for Divo Networks and heads up their gaming division, and is also the author of the perl-based Halo server query script I use on the main page of the Hardfought website (you can get the latest version of that script here – http://jovial.divo.net/ms/POE-Component-Client-Halo-0.2.tar.gz). He runs a pretty good co-lo/network, guy knows his stuff. If you’re looking for a gaming server to run for your clan, or just for you and your friends to play on and you’re located in the west coast/midwest, give Divo Networks a hollar.

Hardfought Ventrilo server is up and free for public use in conjunction with the Hardfought gaming ports. You may have noticed a ‘Ventrilo userlist’ pop up on the site here a couple days ago… it’ll display in real-time who’s connected to my Ventrilo server and what their ping to it is. The Ventrilo port resides on the game server. You can connect to it at 69.41.227.74:3784 (default port), the password to connect is ‘hf_vent’ and it’ll accomidate up to twenty-four people at once. Bandwidth usage is minimal, and will not impact performance of the game ports at all. Don’t have the Ventrilo client? Get it at http://www.ventrilo.com, it’s free to use. This product works pretty damn well, best VoIP I’ve ever used. God help you if you have an issue with it though, and that problem isn’t covered in the manual… their support staff are, for lack of a better word, assholes ;-) No worries, if ya have an issue with the client, I can help ya out.

Last bit before I go – I recently added a lil intermission map/gametype to both public Halo ports, it kicks in once every 8-9 map rotations or so. Not gonna give ya details on it, I’ll let you discover it on yer own. Let’s just say you better practice up on those driving skills :-P

Got another ‘featured organization’ for the next news post, and also, Hardfought’s third anniversary is coming up real soon. So check back often for new stuff. Later gang.

K2

Hardfought Halo is UP

By K2 on October 6th, 2003 at 12:25 pm EST

Hello all. This news post would have been up last night, but as I was finishing it up, IE froze up on me and I lost the entire post. Funny how that only happens when I have to do something important…

Anyways, on with the news! You may have noticed by now, the Hardfought Halo game server is up and running. Brought her up within minutes of the dedicated server files being released, and she’s pretty much stayed full that entire time. I can’t even get into my own server to play half the time ;-) We also have an active Halo port monitor thanks to the hard work and effort put forth by EmmEss who maintains the Halo servers over at Divo Networks – Thank you EmmEss!! :-P The display to the right works just like it did for CS, and will update itself once a minute. I’ll add things like next map and time remaining once that becomes possible. I’ll also be bringing up a second public port (game type – Assault) and a private reservable match port that you or your clan can use for matches/practices or just to have a private pickup game with you and your friends. Server configs will cater to online leagues/ladders, such as the CAL, OGL and CobaltNova. More details on that later when I’m able to do that, should be soon.

In light of the Halo server being up, I’d like to take a moment to officially announce Hardfoughts admin staff for the Halo ports we’ll be running. They are, in no particular order – SaGe^KS, PUPPY, Maverick, spudboy, pyro, Ibuprofen, EnSanity, Phrozin and koolzie. You’ll be seeing these guys at various times on the game ports ensuring fun gameplay is had by all. If you have any issues or problems while on the server (port crahses, someone intentionally team killing/wounding repeatedly, someone cheating, etc) let one of these guys or myself know, and we’ll resolve it. Best way to contact us is either in-game, on the Hardfought IRC channel, or via the admin form located under the ‘Server Admins’ link to the left. We all live in different time zones (PST, CST, EST, HST and GMT) so round the clock coverage should be possible. Tell this crew congrats on the position, a lot of people applied for the spot… and thanks to everyone else out there that did apply.

A few other Halo-related tidbits… shout out to Louis Wu, who posts most of the news for halo.bungie.org for giving Hardfought a quick blurb and a link to one of the Halo-howto posts on the msgboard here. I think I logged over 300 new registrants in under 48 hours… ROFL ;-P Maybe some of those people will stick around to see what Hardfought has to offer.

HaloHQ has officially opened it’s doors – one of the top spots for all things Halo. It’s owned and maintained by our own crazy British admin pyro… the work he’s put into that site is evident, it look’s top-notch. Pretty much anything you need to know or ask about Halo (PC or Xbox) can be found there. The forums are pretty active too, has a nice-sized community going and it’s growing. Be sure to swing across the pond there and check it out.

Both the CPL and CAL have announced their various tournaments and league openings for Halo (PC). To find out more about those, check out their perspective sites, or you can hop in on gamesnet.net IRC network and join #CPL-Halo and #caleague-halo.

To wrap up – be sure to check out the msgboards here, we have a lot of good posts concerning Halo and how to get the most performance out of it. Also have fielded a few fix ’em up posts with success. Of course, if you wanna start some mindless post about whatever, that’s acceptable too ;-) Also, should have a new .gif banner button for people to link to us with, should be up and ready soon. And last but not least – a new voting poll. Let everyone know how you feel about Halo:Combat Evolved.

Go play Halo ;-P I’ll post more news as it happens, should be soon. See ya folks.

K2

Quick blurb

By K2 on October 1st, 2003 at 2:15 am EST

Just a quick lil post to keep everyone informed about the Hardfought server status concerning Halo. Saw just less than an hour ago a post on the Gearbox msgboard forums an update concerning Halo dedicated server files. Here’s the direct quote –

Now that many of you are getting the game we figured we should give you a heads up on the dedicated server release. The dedicated server is currently being tested by our friends at MS.

Assuming no serious problems are found, expect to see a dedicated server package sometime next week. Until then, MS will be hosting tons of dedicated servers for you guys to play on. Just look for the ded server icon in the browser window.

-=marc

Producer
HaloPC

Bah!! That kinda pisses me off. I can understand why they are doing this, but still… :-/ This means any dedicated servers you see up and going right now will be ran by either Gearbox or Microsoft. And the Gearbox servers are passworded, but you can find the login on their forums. Oh well. I guess I’ll have some time to really get into the single player aspect then before my Halo port goes live. Oh yeah, word is that the retail version has smoother gameplay than the beta did, been seeing screenshots with higher FPS scores at high resolutions and a lot of eye candy turned on. That’s good news.

Sorry for the wait everyone. The second the files come out, a port will be up, rest assured. Keep checking back often. Later…

K2