Forums / Games / Halo 5: Guardians

[Locked] Communication and Deception

OP Meek Meek Meek

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Before I delve into details, I would like to give a shout out to community member and moderator Viper Skills who has provided some guidelines as to how the following material (which may be volatile in nature) should be discussed.

Viper mentioned that he might have to make a warning in this thread, and here is one just in case : This thread is not meant to be a "Bash [Insert Name] thread."

If you lack the attention span, then you can jump right to the bottom of the post where a short TL;DR has been provided. However, you would then be missing out on potentially interesting info.

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Over the years, 343 has been rather translucent with their statements, information, and responses issued to the community. This is problematic as the community is often left in the dark which results in not knowing what to expect, or to be let down by failed expectations. I suppose this may partially be a result of a strict non disclosure agreement enforced by Microsoft, and if so, then changes and additions to community responses must be adjusted appropriately.

  • If such a strict NDA exists and 343i simply is not authorized to reveal concrete info, then the simple "yes" or "no" for community inquiries would suffice in most cases. These simple answers would help to eliminate confusion and more questions about 343's ongoing plans for the game, and even the franchise as a whole.
  • In the case their NDA is more lenient, then intricate and clear interaction is always welcome, especially with the currently divided state of the community. Having a strong bond between the developer and the community only brings benefits which can improve the game down the road in more ways than one. This would allow the community to be more aware of what to expect in future updates, and maybe even help shape their direction.
I understand that 343 has its 'Community Feedback' program, but in its current state it does not seem to have much of an impact, especially when many are not informed of its existence, and with how infrequently the polls are conducted.

Recent events that unfolded over at Team Beyond have displayed 343's ambiguity when it comes to community interaction. Someone mentioned that many participating pros in the HWC showed interest in the removal of Breakout from the roster of gametypes.

Here is what Josh Holmes had to say :
Quote:
Shortly after, Snakebite (A Pro) from Counter Logic Gaming (Team in 2nd place) descended from the Heavens with this rebuttal :
Quote:

Clearly, there is a conflict of statements going on. Which one is correct? You decide - Hint : Breakout was removed not long after the discord. If you are a fan of funny responses and gifs, you can scroll through the thread if you like. To quote a member of Beyond, "this is where 343 makes some vague generic statement with no substance and nothing but promises" effectively outlines the severity of the situation and topic of discussion.

Bear in mind, that this does not make Josh Holmes an inherent liar, as the information might have been passed down to him from another employee. Regardless, it perfectly showcases the ongoing discrepancy of 343's statements.

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Eventually, Saucey, an Admin ranked member of Beyond, conducted a poll of 3 questions from only pro players on the current HWC/HCS settings in which the votes were kept anonymous. As expected, the first and foremost question was whether Breakout should remain in the roster.

Here are the results :
Spoiler:
Show

Evidently, the majority were in favor of removing breakout from the Championship, further negating Holmes previous statement. Subsequently, Breakout was removed from future HCS events, and Arena Breakout was removed from the Team Arena playlist. Click here if you would like to read a more in depth discussion of the poll, but do not discuss the odd results of the 2nd and 3rd question, as that is a topic for another day.

This is not the only example of 343's cloudy and "half-truth" communication. Shout out to I Dr Halsey I of Waypoint, who presented a hefty article not long ago which aimed to amass 343's misleading statements leading up to the launch of Halo 5. It even has quite a fitting name - A Compendium of Lies

Now, for the elephant in the room that is Waypoint. The events outlined above, all occurred over at Beyond; a 3rd party website run by community members. So what is the issue one may ask? The issue is quite clearly the fact that other websites, predominantly Beyond and Reddit receive more developer interaction than Waypoint; a website specifically designed and constructed by 343/Microsoft for feedback on the games and franchise. Rarely have I seen an actual studio member post here, and when they have, the posts carried little depth and any concerns were left unanswered.

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To bring things to a close, it would be highly appreciated and beneficial if 343 was more transparent and active with the community, predominantly so here on Waypoint. The countless threads and issues that go by unnoticed and unanswered daily only help to add more fuel to the already burning fire at the heart of the community.

Improved developer interaction and community guidance may be the key to saving the fractured community, and reverse the downward path on the spire of Halo's success.

TL;DR
  • 343 needs to be less ambiguous and more transparent with their communication
  • 343 needs to be more involved with the community, especially on Waypoint
  • 343 needs to use community guidance to create future content that is requested by the community. (AKA less useless REQ's)
  • Profit?
Yes. In regards to the links the OP has provided, this thread is not to descend into trash talking from either side of the table. Essentially, this thread is a discussion about the communication of 343i.
There have been plenty of times when (in my opinion) 343/ some of their employees have straight out lied to us
after the H5 beta josh Holmes said that we would be getting selectable data centres in the games final release much like the ones titanfall has
to date we have received no word as to what happened and why they were not included in the games final release
some game journalists (game informer) actually reported that H5 still falls back on p2p servers at times which for my money is why selectable servers weren't added into the game and why we won't ever see them added

the outright lies and over all shady business practices with the MCC as well are well documented

When ever we do get any information from 343 I barely pay attention to it anymore because the info they give us is so vague and ambiguous it can hardly be considered reliable (see their report on how H5 had the best player retention since H2)

i dont know how to feel about them as a company anymore because their practices over all seem seedy and shady
I see you mentioned the player retention report, and I must agree. From what I remember, no details were present on how those values were calculated. Is it daily peak population? Is it daily unique users? Weekly? Monthly?

The community has heard the same word from 343 since Halo 4, where they claim the made 'mistakes' and 'promise' to improve next time. MCC's massive non fulfillment only helped to ward off those skeptical of 343 and their business. To this day MCC holds many issues that are not resolved, and is being "swept under the rug" as some say.

Considering they are a AAA studio formed to develop for a AAA franchise, more professionalism and clarity would go a long way. If anything, Halo 5's lack of content is nothing short of insulting, especially when so little information was released prior to launch and the whole marketing campaign ended up being a facade.

If 343 wants to repair their relationship with the community and regain trust, then my proposal in the OP is the first step of many.
I'm just so surprised that a AAA game developer can get away with the shady stuff that 343i is doing. They release Halo 4, it bombed, the community criticized many aspects of the game, and 343i promised to change.

They release the Master Chief Collection, it massively bombed, most of the community left, the ones who stayed hoped that 343i would fix their mistake. 343i promises to fix the Master Chief Collection, then patches it just enough to limp along to Holiday 2015, when they release Halo 5 and drop support for the Master Chief Collection.

They release Halo 5, which is missing many features that were in previous games since Halo 3, it is bombing, most of the community is again leaving, the ones who stay are criticizing 343i's decisions about the game, and 343i promises to support and patch in the missing content until June, or some such date.

I honestly have no faith in them as a developer anymore, and I feel that Microsoft should reduce their oversight of the Halo franchise to basically cataloging and writing the expanded universe. Or at least have a second developer that builds the game while 343i creates the story and concept art, which I'm still not in favor of.
I'm just so surprised that a AAA game developer can get away with the shady stuff that 343i is doing. They release Halo 4, it bombed, the community criticized many aspects of the game, and 343i promised to change.

They release Halo 5, which is missing many features that were in previous games since Halo 3, it is bombing, most of the community is again leaving, the ones who stay are criticizing 343i's decisions about the game, and 343i promises to support and patch in the missing content until June, or some such date.

Their business practices are odd at best. The current 'sustain' system of releasing monthly updates seem counter intuitive to maintaining a healthy population when most of the future updates will be used to release content that has existed in previous installments along with a bundle of mostly useless REQ's. Enhanced communication would help to ease the strain between 343 and the community, and might have even caused less harsh backlash at the time of release.
I'm just so surprised that a AAA game developer can get away with the shady stuff that 343i is doing. They release Halo 4, it bombed, the community criticized many aspects of the game, and 343i promised to change.

They release Halo 5, which is missing many features that were in previous games since Halo 3, it is bombing, most of the community is again leaving, the ones who stay are criticizing 343i's decisions about the game, and 343i promises to support and patch in the missing content until June, or some such date.

Their business practices are odd at best. The current 'sustain' system of releasing monthly updates seem counter intuitive to maintaining a healthy population when most of the future updates will be used to release content that has existed in previous installments along with a bundle of mostly useless REQ's. Enhanced communication would help to ease the strain between 343 and the community, and might have even caused less harsh backlash at the time of release.
The sustain system would have worked only if the content was actually new. Since they are releasing content that is was in previous games, that is why there is a backlash against this system from a lot of people. That's how I see it.
My main issue with how they marketed these updates is how they were free

"FREE UPDATES"
"FREE DLC'

Can we really call forge and BtB "free dlc" more importantly, should we be calling it free DLC?

Why was something that's been there since day one for the past decade (I'm looking at you gravity hammer) now being given away as "FREE DLC" and we are expected (if you were to listen to some of the peoples on waypoint) to be grateful and lap it up and be happy we got something for "free"

This isn't "new" content and to date they've wasted four months of the "free updates" giving us back things they intentionally removed to begin with
It's basically a game of catch up at this point. Everything being added in until June will supposedly be old features, coupled with a map and some REQ's from what I can assume.

If stronger communication was present, then maybe the updates could be community driven, rather than thought up without any community involvement.
I'd presume this is quite important. Is this really so far off from common complaints that no one has any interest in this? Last I checked people were tired not hearing from 343.
I think that there are also a few key things that need to be addressed. As a community, I feel that outright lies need to stop being told to us. Frankie saying Cortana is dead, for example, isn't that harmful and was done in an attempt to try and keep the story under wraps. While I feel there are better ways to go about it, it's a lot better than the following:

- "Master Chief Collection has gone gold!"
- "We polled the pros about Breakout..." (what the OP has pointed out)
- "Blue Team has more lines of dialogue in Halo 5 than any of the books."

These are 3 examples of outright lies. The first one being shameless and flat out harmful to people's wallets and time.

Transparency goes SO FAR with people. Now, I get it... 343 probably can't always tell us what's going on, but there's a line between that and straight up lies.
I think that there are also a few key things that need to be addressed. As a community, I feel that outright lies need to stop being told to us. Frankie saying Cortana is dead, for example, isn't that harmful and was done in an attempt to try and keep the story under wraps. While I feel there are better ways to go about it, it's a lot better than the following:

- "Master Chief Collection has gone gold!"
- "We polled the pros about Breakout..." (what the OP has pointed out)
- "Blue Team has more lines of dialogue in Halo 5 than any of the books."

These are 3 examples of outright lies. The first one being shameless and flat out harmful to people's wallets and time.

Transparency goes SO FAR with people. Now, I get it... 343 probably can't always tell us what's going on, but there's a line between that and straight up lies.
Thanks for pointing those out. The last one is included in the Compendium of Lies article, but I did not go into detail about it. Despite the many concerns, the one thread that Frank posted in, he spoke about pizza. It would be advantageous if the employees occasionally stayed and answered questions about legitimate issues.
You really have to wonder what goes down at their offices.

Also, I am a bit curious as to how much of this stuff is 343 actually being stupid, and how much of it is Microsoft being a bunch of nerfherders.

I'm really hoping for someone at 353 to lose control and go online and say "It was them!" And tell us how cool H5 was supposed to be.
You really have to wonder what goes down at their offices.

Also, I am a bit curious as to how much of this stuff is 343 actually being stupid, and how much of it is Microsoft being a bunch of nerfherders.
I think a lot of it has to do with non-disclosure agreements they have going with Microsoft. I don't remember where, but I believe Frankie has said something along those lines.

But I don't think that entirely explains their misleading Halo 5 marketing campaign that ended up meaning ultimately nothing in the actual game.
I think a lot of it has to do with non-disclosure agreements they have going with Microsoft. I don't remember where, but I believe Frankie has said something along those lines.

But I don't think that entirely explains their misleading Halo 5 marketing campaign that ended up meaning ultimately nothing in the actual game.
Yes, it was quite a shame what H5's campaign turned out to be after the massive build up from the Hunt the Truth campaign. Bonnie Ross also mentioned 'epic worlds' and 'epic scale', yet nothing felt revolutionary. The Kraken battle was not nearly as interactive or fun as the Scarab battles in H3.
Honestly, they would do well to take a page from Old Bungie's playbook. Not just with the games, I mean with Waypoint, or Halo Channel.
Bungie regularly released articles detailing things they had changed, things they wanted player feedback on, and so on and so forth. These days, Bungie is taking flak on Destiny for being vague and telling lies or half-truths. It seems to be the corporate way.
They have great outlets like these forums, this site, facebook, twitter, etc. In this age of instant communication there really is no excuse for a lack thereof.
343i could totally do better in this area. I'd like to see them expand the feedback program, and raise fan awareness of it's existence as well. More polls, too. The site could be littered in mini-polls and you wouldn't see me complaining, I'd vote on each one. Just little things like "Favorite weapon?" or "Keep This?" They don't have to use all the data but it would help some of the fan trust issues if they at least acknowledged that they were gathering and analyzing that data.
It'd also be great, like I said, if they just kept a weekly article rolling. Give out little things, ask questions, make it feel like you're participating.
There are plenty of companies out there that just want money, and most of us know who they are.
But don't say things or do things to deliberately sound like you care about fans and then lie, or keep the fans in the dark. It's bad business, and Microsoft does seem awfully worried about their business.
Thanks for the reply.

I don't member too much from Bungie.net, but I recall that there was never a shortage of material or news on their front page. Bungie also seemed to have more frequent community interaction, especially on the forums.

Sadly as soon as they made the deal with Activision, they changed for the worse. Some of the people that made Bungie great are no longer even there; great examples are Marty and Joseph.

Bungie literally went from the claws of one company (Microsoft) to another (Activision), which is in my opinion, a worse net outcome
I am new here. Started Halo in March with MCC. I love it. The books, the games, and the YouTubers. However, I find myself worrying if 343soft Studios will handle the series well (combined names as I do think that many times it is the publishers who screw devs over). I think that 343 really does need to communicate better, or explain why they can't. It is a big problem in the gaming industry, and many other shady actions are taken by publishers. Not to say that the devs are guilt free.
I just worry Halo might not be a thing anymore in a couple of years. Not with all this deception.
Thanks for the reply.

I don't member too much from Bungie.net, but I recall that there was never a shortage of material or news on their front page. Bungie also seemed to have more frequent community interaction, especially on the forums.

Sadly as soon as they made the deal with Activision, they changed for the worse. Some of the people that made Bungie great are no longer even there; great examples are Marty and Joseph.

Bungie literally went from the claws of one company (Microsoft) to another (Activivision), which is in my opinion, a worse net outcome
Any time.
And yeah, It's a downward trend. Microsoft is better than Activision, but not by a whole lot, and that's just what we know. I suspect Microsoft to be squeezing the life out of 343. The game is likely not an artistic passion of the developers anymore if they are being hounded constantly about deadlines and all these spinoff mini-games and such. I also worry that these H5 updates will interfere with the development process of H6, potentially leading to more deception and disappointment.
This is a great write up, thanks for this.
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