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Posts from the ‘Halo Wars’ Category

14
Mar

Paul Bettner of NewToy says Ensemble demise due to company culture

News is spreading around that Paul Bettner an ex Ensemble programmer has had a bit of a “rant” at the GDC explaining that Ensemble Studios should not of blamed Microsoft for the studios closure and should instead look at failings with the company culture at Ensemble Studios. In what has proven to be such a shock read from an ex-Ensemble employee which certainly damages the excellent working environment Ensemble was credited for he says:

“The reality is that every single game we shipped took twice as long as we said it was going to take, and cost twice as much to make.

“Microsoft is a public company, they answer to their shareholders, and we were simply too expensive.”

Ouch.

But wait, theres more:

“Ensemble had a company culture where everyone was a workaholic, developers worked late and slept at the office, and were addicted to the rush of success of the Age of Empires series.

I watched this happen and I did almost nothing to stop it. As an employee, and later as a manager, I didn’t take a stand. I just kept hoping for that next high”

“This is a horrible vicious cycle. We burn out all our best people. We destroy these precious artists, we wreck their families and we sacrifice their youth. So they leave, and they take all their experience with them.”

Some pretty shocking comments there which resulted in huge applause from the GDC audience, perhaps with other developers agreeing that there is way too much pressure in the industry with these “crunching” hours.

This is the first time we have had an Ensemble Studios employee almost attack the way the company was managed but we must remember on the other end of the scale that alot of people stuck with Ensemble once the studio was told it would be closed down and ironically Dave and Paul Bettner were one of the first employees to leave and start NewToy before Halo Wars was completed.

These are one mans comments and do not reflect the thoughts of the whole studio. 45 employees followed Tony Goodman to start up Robot Entertainment so there must of been confidence in the highest management. Perhaps lessons have been learnt about crunching hours and the new Ensemble startups are paying closer attention to how staff are looked after and how studios are run to ensure talent does not leave whilst at the same time balancing budget and hitting milestones. Now with studios like Robot and Bonfire being fully independent there may be less pressure to meet publisher demands, hopefully.

Source: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/crunch-culture-killed-ensemble-studios

Sidenote:

It should also be noted that Robot Entertainment sponsor the International Game Developers Association and therefore stands by the values and principles behind the IGDA “Quality of Life” white paper. If there were any issues at Ensemble these should now have been addressed with the management at Robot Entertainment. Robot Chief Operating Officer, Patrick Hudson comments on the IGDA website:

Robot Entertainment is proud to support the IGDA in its ongoing mission to make the game development community a better environment for all of us.

This comment is not related or a response to the Paul Bettner discussion and has been present on the IGDA website for quite some time prior.

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12
Mar

Robot Entertainment confirm working on two projects

One of the recent blogs on the Robot Entertainment website by community manager Duncan Stanley talks about Robot Entertainment one year on from its conception. You may remember it was this time last year Robot Entertainment said “Hello world“. Although there has been no announcements exactly what projects Robot has been working on, we have known that there is at least one project based on new IP going by the initial company press release:

Robot Entertainment is working with Microsoft Game Studios to develop additional content for Halo Wars and support online gaming and community for both Age of Empires and Halo Wars. Additionally, Robot is developing its own original IP.

While there has been much speculation on various forums that Robot may have been working on more than one project it is only now we have a qoute from Robot confirming the existence of two projects.

After a year, I can say that it definitely is a great place to work.  We’ve worked hard on our two unannounced projects, had some really awesome parties, and only a couple of late nights.  Those late nights were offset by the completely out-of-character-for-Dallas snow days.  We’ve got another awesome year set in front of us and we can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on.

We know one project is based on new IP, but what about the second? Could this be based of already existing IP such as Age of Empires or Age of Mythology or is it also another game based on new IP again?

With Robot Entertainment no longer supporting the operations of Halo Wars and 343 Industries confirming that no new installments of Halo Wars are currently planned for the near future, it would seem if any existing IP were to be worked on the Age series would make the most sense. With Microsoft as the publisher for at least one of Robot’s projects this could be a perfect fit.

But when will we know for sure? Hopefully not too long. The recent job openings for additional community managers and web development staff indicate a plan to launch a brand new community website for at least one project.

For now, its food for thought but you may want to check out the full blog from Duncan which talks about the first day at Robot Entertainment.

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9
Mar

Halo Wars community unhappy with Waypoint migration

Since Halo Waypoint’s take over of the Halo Wars community from March 1st there has been a large dissatisfaction with the new moderation team.

The overall feel of the community can be summed up from this screenshot taken on the 9th March 2010.

(click to enlarge)

Notice how after 2.5 days the post still has not been removed by Halo Waypoint. There are many other similar threads.

So far the migration to Waypoint has only demonstrated a lack of commitment from Microsoft about the Halo Wars Community. If Waypoint is not equipped to deal with the Halo Wars Community then arrangements should of been made for Robot Entertainment to continue the support under the community leadership of Duncan “Aloysius” Stanley who has been moderating the forum for over a year at Robot and longer in his role as “Lethe” at Ensemble Studios.

Hopefully Waypoint will react to the posts and start properly moderating soon.

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28
Feb

343 Industries takes over Halo Wars Community support

 

As of March 1st 2010 343 Industries’ Halo Waypoint team will take over support of both Halo Wars and the Halo Wars Community at HaloWars.com. Community Manager Jon Goff from 343 has made his introductions in the general discussion.

Hey everyone,
 
As most of you know, Halo Wars and HaloWars.com are transitioning more closely into the Halo Waypoint family.
 
As of this weekend, Halo Waypoint will oversee both Halo Wars’ matchmaking and stat tracking servers, as well as HaloWars.com as we continue to bring the Halo universe together as never before.
 
Before I continue, the Waypoint team would like to thank the amazing group at Robot Entertainment, who have spent the past year working closely with the Halo Wars community, helping to build a vibrant, dedicated fan base, and we look forward to supporting the Halo Wars community as the Halo universe continues to expand and evolve.

Jon then continues to expand on some of the most frequently asked community questions – whether or not there will be a Halo Wars sequel of even any additional DLC. The response is as expected – no.

Will there be a Halo Wars 2?

There is currently no information to share about the possibly of future Halo Wars games. We understand the desire from the Halo Wars community for another installment of Halo Wars, but for now the focus in regard to Halo game titles is squarely on supporting Bungie as they prepare to launch Halo: Reach this Fall.

Will there be more Halo Wars DLC?

Likewise, there is currently no new information on additional Halo Wars DLC. 

The transition from Robot Entertainment to Halo Waypoint indicates Microsoft’s reduced commitment to the title for the near future as Halo Wars loses its developer. It is currently unclear whether some small bugs outstanding from the last title update will be resolved. Two of these include the issue that units can use the Y-Ability across the entire map and secondly there are missing cut scenes in the Halo Wars game menu. Robot Entertainment has advised that these issues are now the responsibility of Halo Waypoint.

Whats next for Robot Entertainment?

Losing Robot Entertainment in the Halo Wars community is a sad thing. No one is better placed to support the game and its community than the games developer and Robot had the majority of people from Ensemble Studios working on the titles support. However, this is not the end of Robot’s community presence on other games. Robot will continue to provide support for both Age of Empires and the Age of Empires Community. Also expect Robot to be hard at work on a brand new community for thier upcoming video game project. Robot are expanding thier community team to no doubt make the future community as, or even more vibrant and exciting than ever before. Stay tuned.

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28
Feb

(Quick update) 343 Industries takes over Halo Wars community

 

*very* quick posting from me to let fans know that 343 Industries are now on site at HaloWars.com. New moderator Glyph has made his first introduction posting here:

http://www.halowars.com/forums/thread/823883.aspx

I’ll post more information soon with details. Meanwhile take a look and join in the discussion.

 

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5
Feb

Robot Entertainment to hand over HaloWars.com to Waypoint

Hot of the press from HaloWars.com. Today an announcement was made by Robot Entertainment Community Manager, Duncan “Aloysius” Stanley talking about the end of Robot’s primary involvement with the Halo Wars Community. The announcement reads as follows:

On February 28th, 2010, Halo Waypoint will be begin to officially support both Halo Wars and HaloWars.com. Waypoint staff will transition in over the next month to support operations of HaloWars.com and the Halo Wars matchmaking and stats servers. Over the past year, Robot was very proud to roll out 4 Title Updates for Halo Wars, provide technical support on the forums and provide a place for volumes of fan fiction. Robot was proud to be a part of this community for the past year, and we hope we served you well.

Along with supporting operations, Halo Waypoint has exciting plans for Halo Wars. Look for announcements in the near future.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

This was quite an unexpected announcement as in most cases the developer is responsible for the games communities. For example, Rare looks after Banjo and Lionhead looks after the Fable communities. However, it seems Microsoft is not so keen to continue having Robot watch over the Halo Wars community. Presumably, now a year on from Ensemble’s closure the agreement struck between Robot and Microsoft to look after the Halo Wars community has expired and possibly as a result of cost cutting Microsoft are bringing the management of the website in house.

Come February 28th a new moderation team will be drafted in from Microsoft’s, 343 Industries – the “Waypoint” team. Its been a bumpy road for Halo Wars fans having to go through another major change in the way the game is supported. First the closure of the original developer Ensemble, then the removal of the second developers community presence. Microsoft do not seem to be treating the strategy version of the Halo IP very well!

Although the announcement states “exciting plans for Halo Wars” are in the works, one must wonder how “exciting” these plans can be without a developer attached to the game anymore.

Hopefully there will be more details to follow about this announcement in due course.

What about Age Community?

Some good news is that the Age of Empires community will still be looked after by Robot Entertainment as before.

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29
Jan

Halo Wars now available on Games on Demand

Halo Wars is now available on the Xbox Marketplace under Games on Demand. Gamers who have yet to try Halo Wars can download the game today from the Xbox Live. The games box art also shows a new header with the game now bearing a “Platinum hits” graphic. Good news all round! Here are the details you need to get more information:

Content: Halo Wars
Price: Check pricing for your region
Availability: Asia, Canada and US
Dash Text: (Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB) This game supports English. Download the manual for this game by locating the game on http://marketplace.xbox.com and selecting “See Game Manual”. Halo Wars is a strategy game based on the legendary Halo® universe. Command entire armies of Spartans, Warthogs and more into combat as you join the crew of the “Spirit of Fire” to battle the alien Covenant. Designed from the ground up for the Xbox 360, Halo Wars let you effortlessly command powerful armies in epic battles. There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts.

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19
Jan

Halo Wars runner up in Kotaku’s best cut scenes of 2009

 

The awesome cut scenes in Ensemble’s Halo Wars have received a runners up place in Kotaku’s best cut scenes of 2009. There is no question that the quality of the cut scenes in Halo Wars are the best yet in any Halo game, rendered fully in outstanding CGI. A YouTube video with all the 30 minutes worth of cut scenes can be found below and also at the Kotaku website where you can read about the Halo Wars runners up award and other games with great cut scenes.

Link to article: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/01/best-video-game-cut-scenes-of-2009/


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17
Dec

Halo Wars title update 4 announced. Meanwhile, Halo Wars wins best strategy game at IGN

halowars

Today is a great day for Halo Wars fans kicking off with Robot’s announcement that the fourth title update for Halo Wars will be going live tomorrow on the 18th December. This patch implements many of the proposed fixes as discussed before, these being:

Balance:
Grunts now do more damage to air units
The Scarab now has 25% more health and does 25% more damage
Gremlins now requires 2 reactors to be built
The Arbiter now takes 25% more damage while raging
Hunters now focus their Assault Beam much faster
Brute Chopper is more effective vs. air

Bug Fixes:
The Cryo/Reactor Glitch has been fixed
The Multiplayer Lobby should now work better for people with misaligned controllers
Y-Abilities should no longer have their cooldowns reset erroneously
Profiles that had problems accruing points in Multiplayer should now be able to gain points properly

Meanwhile over at IGN Halo Wars was awarded the “Best Strategy” game of 2009 on the Xbox 360 platform saying that:

“PC diehards may cry foul at the idea of a real-time strategy game on a console. Halo Wars is enough to silence them. It strips away some of the depth and excessive management required out of a PC game and boils the formula down to quick strategy and exciting confrontations”

Harter Ryan, Executive Producer on Halo Wars at Ensemble Studios who now works at Robot Entertainment had this to say on the official Halo Wars community website:

“We’re proud of Halo Wars and its reception by both the Halo and Xbox 360 communities. Winning IGN’s Strategy Game of the Year is a great honor and is a fine reflection of all the effort that went into creating the game at Ensemble Studios and Microsoft Game Studios.”

Indeed! Congratulations all Ensemblites!

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14
Nov

New Halo Wars rank numbers revealed!

halowars

Robot Entertainment Community Manager, Duncan Stanley has quickly updated the Halo Wars community with the proposed ranking changes for Halo Wars. Previously the ranking system stood as follows:

Rank Score Needed New Points
Recruit Play 1 Game Play 1 Game
Lieutenant 25,000 15,000
Captain 60,000 30,000
Major 140,000 60,000
Commander 310,000 120,000
Colonel 700,000 240,000
Brigadier 1,500,000 480,000
General 2,400,000 960,000

The idea behind this change is to help make the General achievement easier to attain whilst still being relatively difficult. Rest assured, in order to achieve this top achievement players will still need to play alot of Halo Wars. Feedback about this proposed change can be made in the official Halo Wars community forum. -  head over there and check out the discussion!

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