By GrimBrother One -
Halo Wars 2 is nigh upon us, once again ushering in a very unique way to experience the Halo universe. With the Real Time Strategy genre comes not only a different approach to playing the game, but also a different approach to improving your performance. Halo fans of all skill levels are certainly no strangers to self-evaluation, whether it’s giving a quick check at their PGCR in between matches, or spending an inordinate amount of time examining and analyzing their stats online looking for an extra edge.
Sitting not too far away from yours truly is a small, but scrappy team of feature freaks – engineers who daily unleash their particular brand of genius in a tireless pursuit to deliver helpful and powerful web and application-based tools for players to enhance their Halo experience. In order to evangelize on behalf of their all-too-humble efforts, I caught up with these elusive statistic savants to help paint a picture of some of the new features awaiting players on Waypoint and the Halo app when Halo Wars 2 launches on Feb. 21.
Your Service Record information is shared between both Halo Waypoint and the Halo app, and is a great way to get a nice overview of your Halo Wars 2 experience and accomplishments, including high-level competitive stats, and progress on Campaign completion, Challenges, and Achievements.
Your Game History will allow you to revisit the post-game carnage report of your past 20 games.
The big feature here is the ability to examine and evaluate your Blitz Card Library in a lovely, easy-to-use format. Check out what cards you’ve got, which ones you need, and which combinations will prove to be your next go-to lineup. In fact, you can edit and customize your decks right there in your Waypoint profile, and have it instantly ready to go the moment you are ready to get back in the game.
To get a bit more information on what to expect – and the thoughts behind it all – we grabbed some details directly from the folks responsible. Let’s see what 343’s own KP (Program Manager), Rob Johnson (Ecosystem Director), Simon Gordon (Software Engineer), and Tyson Matanich (Engineer) had to say…
Q: As an overview, tell us a little bit about your goals when setting out to support Halo Wars 2 on Waypoint and the Halo app.
A: Both Waypoint and the Halo app provide players with the opportunity to interact with Halo while they’re away from their console or gaming PC. Our goal is always to build complimentary features to the game, and with Halo Wars 2 we saw clear potential in Blitz. Deck building and the ability to share decks with others is a niche the web is perfectly suited to fit. Beyond that we wanted to connect players to their Service Record, Challenges, Campaign Progress and Game History on both web and app.
Q: For deck-building, is that a pretty 1:1 experience compared to editing your decks in-game? What are some of the highlights or advantages of using Waypoint to go through that process?
A: The entire Blitz experience is synchronized between the web and game. If you create and save a deck on web, you will see that deck the next time you navigate to the leader in-game. Same goes for the Card Library, any pack that you open in the game is reflected on the web and vice versa. In both cases, you’ll need to ‘refresh’ your screen; if you are in-game, this may require backing out to the Blitz menu.
The only tangible benefit to using the web to edit your deck is that you can do it from most phones, tablets and computers. Which is actually pretty cool.
Q: Most Halo fans and players are familiar with a certain type of stat experience coming from the shooter genre. However, what can they expect from an experience like Halo Wars 2? What type of stat categories are focused on for an RTS?
A: Release yourself from the tyrannical grasp of KD and feel a calming breeze wash over you. Halo’s FPS stats are historically geared towards measuring a player’s lethality in a given scenario. You also see a lot of sports-influenced career totals and averages in FPS because individual players map 1:1 with in-game avatars.
Contrast that to an RTS where the player can control a huge range of units spread across multiple factions and leaders, most individual performance metrics become less meaningful. So RTS stats are zoomed out to the macro level to give you information on production, resources, population, and so on. Information at that level is more useful for identifying patterns and deriving opponent strategies.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the process of developing features like this overall? What is the general process for taking things that happen in the game and translating that info to features that the players can end up using and enjoying on an app or website?
A: Feature development on web and app is a collaborative effort between the web/app team, several internal 343 teams and in this case, Creative Assembly. Most feature-sets like this start with a big list of ideas that are delicately molded into a shippable product that all teams can support and ship on time.
Game integration requires a lot of communication across the studio to enable the web and app to interface with game services. Stats in particular have always been a moving target because of the sheer number of variables that can change over the course of game development. A lot of work goes into each stat that we present, but I have empirical data that shows you appreciate it, so it’s okay.
Q: Can we expect these experiences to evolve over time? What’s on tap for the future?
A: We are weirdly passionate about the post-game carnage report and plan to expand our investment there to provide more actionable information. That means more stats across all game modes, charts to illustrate that data over time, and unit build orders that provide strategic insights. Of course, we are always listening to community feedback as well, so let us know what you want to see!
We hope you are as excited as the rest of us to dive feet-first into Halo Wars 2 when it arrives on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC on Feb. 21 (Feb. 17 for Ultimate Edition owners!), and hope you enjoy the experience enhancements provided by both Halo Waypoint and the Halo app. See you on the battlefield…