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Subject:And then, "Fun With Dirt!"
Time:08:04 pm
I've always had trouble figuring out how to respond to detractors of Halo (and now Halo 2). On the one hand, it's sold a crapload of copies. On the other hand, it's hard to find a post on any forum about Halo that does not have its share of anti-fans.

Anti-halo folk tend to have a PC gaming background, usually hardcore. Debating the value of Halo is akin to arguing about the validity of Wicca to an evangelical Christian. There's just no common frame of reference to have a meaningful discussion.

One thing Halo does better than most PC games is optimize the user experience for the average player: the kind of player that has a limited in-game lifetime (i.e., they die every so often). Hey, that's just like me!

Firstly, the checkpoint system encourages all levels of skill to keep playing. It takes only 4-6 seconds to restore the last checkpoint;.5-1.5 if you invoke the pause screen and restore explicitly. That means you do not have to switch mental modes in order to continue playing after dying; it just happens. Even if you die every 5 seconds, you're still always back in action right away. (Personally, I'd much rather play a game than manage a game; that's just me.)

Secondly, we made sure to optimize the single player experience for a straight playthrough. If you play Halo 2 all the way through, you should never see a long interruptive loading screen. (You will see the Loading... done text, but that's unavoidable for the size and complexity of levels.) Even Halo 1 only had 9 significant loading screens, and those were at appropriate points in the game (i.e., at the end of a level), not in the midst of gameplay. That directly translates into a minimal amount of dead time waiting for the game to start, and a maximal amount of time available to play the game. If you happen to die a lot, who cares? You'll never have to wait for the game to reload your checkpoint; you can get right back into the game.

The immediacy of gameplay is one aspect many just don't understand. Or rather, many that disagree with the success of Halo don't understand. (In my opinion.) My theory is the combination of PC gamer and hardcore gamer results in a type of gamer that doesn't experience what I consider to be the least polished areas of most games: player death. And as such, they don't experience the excruciating experience of restarting gameplay.

Then again, maybe it's all the marketing hype. No, probably not. :)
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Time:2004-11-10 12:38 am (UTC)
It's a growing trend in the PC gaming circle, which has been spreading to the console crowds, too: Dissing/hating on the better games is "cool". It's hardly exclusive to gaming, too. Some baseball fans chant "Yankees suck" even though the New York Yankees are quite a successful team. Corporations get a lot of hate, too.

It seems to me that the generations below Baby Boomers are growing up with a skewed idea of the American Dream and that the underdogs should always win. (If that were the case, we shouldn't be the superpower that we are today.) This type of jealousy is breeding insecurity about your likes being "approved" by peer pressure, so it's become more of a defense mechanism. As in, "well, my favorite game can't suck, but I'm going to crap on yours first!"

It's sad, because people nowadays won't simply stop tacking on baggage to anything. First it was, "no! Microsoft can't buy Bungie! I must have Marathon 2 for my Mac!" Then it was, "They're making Halo for the XBox, not the PC? SUXX0RS!!11!!" Then it was, "We got it for PC, but it's been all consolized! I hate you! RAHHHRR!"

And now, of course is the next step of garbage spewed that you're currently experiencing on forums. Some of them act like they're sipping wine and adjusting their monocles to pronounce their judgment of a game they're biased against, for fear of their passions being diminished in any way. Insecurity at its best.

My advice is to just blow off the forums. There are so many stupid people out there who think they have a right to disregard any redeeming qualities a fine game like your company has made. I don't have much faith in the future unless people start realizing that negativity just breeds more and brings everybody down. Misery may love company, but it's hardly enjoyable for those who want to make good product for society.

Albeit the lack of co-op play via Live, I really enjoy Halo 2. It deserves every penny of the $50+ I spent on it, and thank you for the enjoyment. I've played it for roughly 12 hours now (8 SP and 4 MP) and it just might be my favorite of all time. It's certainly growing on me.
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Time:2004-11-10 07:00 am (UTC)
What makes the situation far worse is that the fans of the popular games are often labeled as "fanboys."

Which can be easily taken as one hell of an insult depending on how it's used (such as: "Oh, you're just a fanboy" = Your opinion doesn't count because you like the game or agree with the majority). It's quite sad, really.
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