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Batchford

Halo and it's Competitive Future

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Hello all. I have been thinking a lot recently, and it has been because of the recent discussion in the HCS Teams and Seeds thread. This thread will be in two parts: 

 

  • Halo and it's Competitive roots, or lack of
  • 343 and the HCS

 

Let's talk about Halo's past first.

 

Halo CE is the only game that has at least some competitive aspects inside the game. The game revolutionized in 2001, and it still holds up to other competitive shooters to this day. Bungie could have easily continued to cater to the hardcore audience, by improving CE's formula, but they looked at the bigger picture, and decided that Halo should be a social game, that should not be taken as seriously, and should be enjoyed by everyone.

You can easily see this in H2: lunge, insane bullet mag, duel wield, etc

 

But at the same time, it revolutionised Xbox Live as a Social Experience, and things would have never been the same if Halo 2 did not come along.

Halo 3 dumbed the gameplay down even more, with 2 hit melees, a shocking competitive sandbox and some could argue but pretty bad maps ( I personally liked some of them )

 

But at the same time it innovated Social play again by introducing Forge and Theatre. Loads of groups blew up in that game; Machinima, Forgers and Skill Jumpers to name a few. But once again, the competitive community suffered because the game just is not as deep as CE or even 2.

 

 

Now 343 steps in. After 2 incredibly mediocre games that not only stilted the comp community AGAIN but limited social aspects (mainly Halo 4), 343 decides to create the HCS. A league designed around competitive play. But looking at the H5G reveal, some weird things arose. Sprint. Some Ground Pound thing. Clamber. SPRINT.

 

I just feel that after the socialisation of 2 and 3, and the failures of Reach and 4, that the competitive community of Halo will never see the limelight ever again. 343 wants to make H5 competitive, but they add in things like Sprint? I just feel myself slowly losing the will to play this series. It has not been fun for me for the past 4 years, and I could just easily move to a more competitive title like Counter Strike.

 

I feel like MCC's absolute failure of a launch was the last straw with me and Halo. Only reason I own Xbox now is because of Gears, but that game now has a new developer. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself with Black Tusk...

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Halo's competitive future depends on viewers.  (in terms of Halo ever making it back to its own main stage)

I will intentionally leave out talking about dev who actually "want" to make a competitive title.

 

 Halo has to have an on going interest as well, in-between the major tournaments that happen every few months. 

 

Viewers = Money = attracts sponsors/leagues/orgs = more players = more events

 

(If u need an example, just look at where Halo is at on twitch rankings every so often...)

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Bungie always wanted the casual playerbase. They pushed for everyone and their mom to be able to play Halo 2. Things like their Battlefield-esque mode planned for Halo 2 should show that competitive play was never the goal for Halo, just making a game for Bungie to play with other Bungie guys was.

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Bungie always wanted the casual playerbase. They pushed for everyone and their mom to be able to play Halo 2. Things like their Battlefield-esque mode planned for Halo 2 should show that competitive play was never the goal for Halo, just making a game for Bungie to play with other Bungie guys was.

Let's hope 343 and their focus on eSports will be good, right?

 

inb4 game has focus on Spartan Ops

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Well, here follows just my personal view of...idk, everything and nothing I guess.

 

I am certain that 343 have a staff of employees working with marketing and how to evolve the Halo franchise but I think that they are doing way to much stuff. I have been a Halo fan since the beginning and I do think that 343 are on the edge to killing the franchise because their ambitious plans makes their resources thinner and thinner and that makes the quality suffer for each product. MCC (still) sucks for many of us, Nightfall sucks, Halo channel is not good and HCS is an average experience because of the unfinished feel H2A gives.

 

"Hey, let us release 4 games, Halo Channel, Nightfall, HCS, etc etc ett and Halo 5 beta at once". 

 

Ok, we love Halo but I think we all would have preferred an almost perfect H2A experience instead of a poorly made MCC. 

 

They seem to be lost and confused from a marketing perspective. Instead of being everything everywhere for everyone on the planet,  I honestly believe they should try to be consistent, keep it simple, define the Halo-USP and fucking stick to it. Start from the beginning and take away all the bullshit, and focus on hard and competitive gaming for people who love to play for a reason and just not for killing some spare time.

 

But hell no, Halo must be the number one selling game and also be the new Star Wars. It´s not going to happen as long as the quality is average imo.

 

In the end it is only about the money and somewhere there are a bunch of business people who calculates which path that will bring most money into Microsofts bank account, and I think they are going for everything everywhere for everyone on the planet.

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To be honest I think the series is done, sure future releases will no doubt sell well but that's because they are riding the coat tails of a once great trilogy and are not quality titles in their own right (example H4), so I once again expect mass exodus after a week or two when the gameplay cracks appear (halo4popchart.jpeg).

This in turn will bode poorly for halo's competitive community as the player base won't be there to support it; I agree with you and honestly don't think halo will ever get back to the height of the MLG days.

 

Anyone holding their breath for a return to a 'traditional halo' experience is kidding themselves sadly, 343 have shown us their vision for halo and are continuing to add broken mechanics like sprint despite evidence that it neither works or is wanted by the community. I think we all have to accept that halo will never return to the game we all grew up with and move onto greener pastures; aka other games where the developers actually respect the soul and identity of their product and have faith that they can sell titles by honouring this instead of shamelessly ripping off what's trending in other titles.

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During the days of Reach, I'd often see people argue that a good Halo game = a competitive Halo game. I've always held the belief that this was bullshit. In order for 343i to make a good Halo game, they need to first make a Halo game. Then the competitive fluff is a bonus multiplier to the game's replayability (just remember that if the game's replayability is zero, multiplying it by anything results in zero nonetheless). I would take Halo 1 online, without fancy ranks, leaderboards, spectator mode, or developer-hosted tournaments, over Halo 5.

 

Besides, Sprint honestly isn't really a skill-gap issue nor is it imbalanced. I mean you can argue it excuses bad plays, but it doesn't turn bad plays into good plays (like armour lock, for instance). A good player will beat a bad player with Sprint 100% of the time. The match'll just take longer and take place on a bloated map.

 

Tl;dr: in order to for Halo to be competitive again, it first must be Halo again

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During the days of Reach, I'd often see people argue that a good Halo game = a competitive Halo game. I've always held the belief that this was bullshit. In order for 343i to make a good Halo game, they need to first make a Halo game. Then the competitive fluff is a bonus multiplier to the game's replayability (just remember that if the game's replayability is zero, multiplying it by anything results in zero nonetheless). I would take Halo 1 online, without fancy ranks, leaderboards, spectator mode, or developer-hosted tournaments, over Halo 5.

 

Besides, Sprint honestly isn't really a skill-gap issue nor is it imbalanced. I mean you can argue it excuses bad plays, but it doesn't turn bad plays into good plays (like armour lock, for instance). A good player will beat a bad player with Sprint 100% of the time. The match'll just take longer and take place on a bloated map.

 

Tl;dr: in order to for Halo to be competitive again, it first must be Halo again

Yeah I'd definitely rather take Halo 1 without ranks and all that stuff over Halo 5 with ranks and spectator mode. Having a good Halo game at the core should be a priority. Halo 5 almost makes me think that 343 believes we don't care what game Halo plays like as long as it's competitive.

 

As for sprint, I'd argue that it definitely has an impact on skill-gap. A good player will still beat a bad player, sure, but they'll have a harder time doing so due to the way sprint acts as a crutch when the bad player makes bad decisions. Though when a good player plays another good player, and one of them out-performs the other by a small margin, then sprint makes it more likely that this player wont be rewarded. Each skill-gap reducing feature closes the gap in such a way that players of almost equal skill will be made to be more equal in terms of success in the game.

So even though sprint doesn't necessarily turn the tables in the way that armour lock can, and even though it basically just prolongs the inevitable, it still results in a lower skill-gap because good players wont be beating bad players by as large of a margin. Without sprint, little Timmy the CoD convert might lose 12-3 against try-hard Tony. With sprint, little Timmy is more likely to go 9-3 against the same player.

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For halo to get back into the competitive spotlight.

All we need is a good game that works at launch and spectator mode and we have that with halo 5.For Halo MCC to grow competitively their needs to be a spectator mode.Cause watching the HCS online tournaments looks amateurish having to go to different streams to watch different povs.The halo channel is stupid it only shows twitch channels using the integrated xbox one streaming.

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I feel like MCC's absolute failure of a launch was the last straw with me and Halo. Only reason I own Xbox now is because of Gears, but that game now has a new developer. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself with Black Tusk...

 

I obviously can't back up these words with any concrete proof, but I don't think you have much to worry about with Black Tusk. In the short time they've owned the Gears IP, they have been hugely interactive with the community, hosting tons of online GoW3 tournaments and even PLAYING in them (they got pretty far, too). They communicate constantly and the devs even join Twitch streams to hang out and talk Gears. They even just hired Falloutt, arguably one of the best competitive Gears players out there to make sure it feels good and competitive.

 

It remains to be seen if they "get" Gears, but with Rod at the helm and their huge amount of community involvement, I think it's in good hands. 

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Halo has been finished financially big tournament competitively since Reach.  I have never seen a single game developer or publisher actually reverse major decisions gameplay wise in my entire lifetime playing video games.  Halo is no exception, when a top executive says that the game is going a certain route to try to appease casual gamers, that's what is going to happen and stay that way.  If Halo doesn't make profit then they will just cancel Halo.  They aren't going to waste the time and resources to revert back to an old formula.  Especially if that old formula has constantly shown through other games such as Quake, UT, Shootmania, Nexiuz, and other arena shooters that these games are no longer popular or even profitable.

If the competitive community wants to live on, it's going to have to accept that they will personally need to fund smaller grassroot tournaments and also the "pro's" need to accept the reality that they aren't entitled to make a living playing Halo.  Everyone is going to have to make sacrifices to their real lives to keep competitive Halo alive. And I doubt this community is really willing to do what FGC members have been doing since the 80s.

The belief that Halo players are entitled to make a living playing this game is probably the biggest thing holding the community back at this point. Too many people are expecting compensation when going to tournaments.  You go to tournaments and spend the money because you love the game, not because you expect something back.

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H2A is a chore to watch (for many reasons)

 

 

so if h5 isn't good it's all over 

I agree, for some reason halo 2 Anni just isn't that much fun for me to sit and watch.

 

I could watch halo 2 and halo 3 being played all day.

 

I mean it's really fun to play though.

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They even just hired Falloutt, arguably one of the best competitive Gears players out there to make sure it feels good and competitive.

 

 

Halo has 4 of them and we got halo 5/halo 2a that.

 

The pro player hire PR stunt means nothing

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Halo has 4 of them and we got halo 5/halo 2a that.

 

The pro player hire PR stunt means nothing

if GoW sucks I am selling my xbox straight up

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H2A is boring to watch.

 

HR and H4 were horrendous to watch, sprinting and abilities ruin tension...tension is what makes watching anything exciting. So watching halo 5 will most likely be horrible, I had no interest in watching those green skull videos for anything beyond a mild curiosity, the game is just boring to watch when players can just run away easily and it turns into a giant cluster fuck of random people sliding around. No tension, boring.

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The pro player hire PR stunt means nothing

I'm still not sure whether or not you're a troll. You have absolutely idea how much it costs to have a salaried employee, even if they're just testers. The cost of having the 4 will be in 6 figures on a yearly basis. That's quite a bit of money, when just occasionally stating that they work there will not be the key reason that many people buy the game.
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I'm still not sure whether or not you're a troll. You have absolutely idea how much it costs to have a salaried employee, even if they're just testers. The cost of having the 4 will be in 6 figures on a yearly basis. That's quite a bit of money, when just occasionally stating that they work there will not be the key reason that many people buy the game.

Wut.

 

You need QA testers. They fill that role, whilst also getting some positive PR to hype up the launch, such as when the pros at 343 were hired. 

 

"Halo 5 cant fail now" they said, this is a good PR move for them whilst filling (the most part) an entry level role. Im not saying he wont do anything important, but of all places, people should know by now that "dev studio hires pro player" does not equal amazing competitive game.

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Besides, Sprint honestly isn't really a skill-gap issue nor is it imbalanced. I mean you can argue it excuses bad plays, but it doesn't turn bad plays into good plays (like armour lock, for instance). A good player will beat a bad player with Sprint 100% of the time. The match'll just take longer and take place on a bloated map.

 

Sprint is bad and you should feel bad.

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To be honest I think the series is done, sure future releases will no doubt sell well but that's because they are riding the coat tails of a once great trilogy and are not quality titles in their own right (example H4), so I once again expect mass exodus after a week or two when the gameplay cracks appear (halo4popchart.jpeg).

This in turn will bode poorly for halo's competitive community as the player base won't be there to support it; I agree with you and honestly don't think halo will ever get back to the height of the MLG days.

 

Anyone holding their breath for a return to a 'traditional halo' experience is kidding themselves sadly, 343 have shown us their vision for halo and are continuing to add broken mechanics like sprint despite evidence that it neither works or is wanted by the community. I think we all have to accept that halo will never return to the game we all grew up with and move onto greener pastures; aka other games where the developers actually respect the soul and identity of their product and have faith that they can sell titles by honouring this instead of shamelessly ripping off what's trending in other titles.

This might sound daft, but there has been too much juice that has been spilled on this expensive carpet (Halo 2 all the way to 4) and I just don't think we have the tools to clean it up. And even if we did, it would still leave a stain that would last forever.

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MCC killed all of my hype for Halo. I still have a hell of a time when I play the game with my buds, but I am not obsessed with the series any more. I don't want to become a pro, I don't particularly enjoy watching it anymore, and I don't exactly like playing it solo. When you get older you have to choose your free time much more wisely. There are so many other games that get 'most' of it right, to wait for this game to work.

 

Before MCC, I was one of those people worried about a 1 year lifespan. I wanted it to be longer. But now, I wish Halo 5 really was coming out in December.  

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You have absolutely idea how much it costs to have a salaried employee, even if they're just testers. The cost of having the 4 will be in 6 figures on a yearly basis. That's quite a bit of money, when just occasionally stating that they work there will not be the key reason that many people buy the game.

 

The "pros" they hired cost exactly $0.00 more per year than any of the other testers.

 

That's not a lot of money for being able to say you have 1337 pros working on your game.

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 You go to tournaments and spend the money because you love the game, not because you expect something back.

 

Uh, you realize why Halo died in the first place, right? 

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Halo has 4 of them and we got halo 5/halo 2a that.

 

The pro player hire PR stunt means nothing

I can see your point, but what I'm saying is that I feel Black Tusk has a different design methodology than 343 based on how they've been reacting to and communicating with the Gears fanbase from day 1. Falloutt was moderately critical of Epic's design decisions afaik (mantling, retro lancer OP, etc.), so they could have chosen a more brown-nosing player if they wanted to. BT appears to be more interested in what the players are expecting, at least for now, than they are interested in how they can change it to make sure we all know that it's their game now and not Epics (read: 343 and Halo 4)

 

It is still too early to tell anything, of course. But if the convos that Jack Felling have had with the community are any indication, then they have ears to the fanbase far more than 343 ever has--and far sooner. Also, Rod Ferguson is on board. He was the brains of the original 3 Gears along with Cliffy.

 

EDIT: Dug up a fantastic article on why I believe Gears 4 will be great: http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/1/5958879/gears-of-war-black-tusk-rod-fergusson

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