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.