Archive for May, 2009

MVAA Forums Newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 1

May 31st, 2009
ODST Sarge dropped in to announce the first newsletter of the Machinima Voice Acting Association - it's a 750k PDF file, available from their forums. It contains machinima reviews and interviews with folks making machinima (or machinima accessories), along with general gaming news and industry speculation. Check it out!(Louis Wu 22:21:58 UTC)

THX Halo PC server up and running. Tips.

May 31st, 2009

Find a few good servers and stay there

Our Halo PC dedicated server is online and running. We are getting smooth 66ms pings which will be great for gaming online.

The server is called "hushedcasket.com" in the game browser. You can join by entering "hpc.hushedcasket.com" as the IP of the server.

Tips on playing:

On XBOX Live, you hop online, you play a few games, and once you sign off that micro-community you just participated in dies.  There’s no guarantee that those good games you just had will be there the next time you join up.

By frequenting the same dedicated servers that you like, you’ll eventually notice that others frequent those servers.  A community emerges and you will have assurance that good games are to be had when you sign online.

Take some time. Find some good servers and stick in them.  THX has setup a server with classic THX gametypes on good maps. 

Over time, after enough players have been through the server, a community will form and the server will be populated with players who like to play the same gametypes and maps we do.  That is, you won’t have to play all those heavy weapons only gametypes that are flooding online Halo PC svr population.

See who is in the THX HPC server

Go here and you can see who is in the THX svr right now:  http://carnage.bungie.org/halo/HaloQuery.cgi?address=hpc.hushedcasket.com&port=2302&refresh=30 

Bookmark that link.

Create a desktop shortcut for a direct connection to the THX HPC svr

Add –connect hpc.hushedcasket.com to the end of your Target field in your shortcut’s properties so that it looks something like this like:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Halo\halo.exe" -connect hpc.hushedcasket.com

Use a microphone and join up to our voice server

Go to Mikeulus’ cool website voicemic.com and follow instructions.

Download the Mumble software: downloaded the Mumble software.

Then click this link: mumble://voicemic.com.

In the Mumble software, go to Channel > Send Message to post text messages to the group.

Also, in the Halo game, use Team (Y) and Server Chat (T) to type messages to everyone.

Turn off mouse acceleration

Some people may prefer to play Halo without any mouse acceleration.  The best way to in sure you are doing this is to open Notepad and create a file titled “mouse.cfg”. In the body of that file, type “mouse_acceleration 0” without the quotes and save the file in your halo.exe directory.

Then edit your Halo shortcut to include the following command “-exec mouse.cfg”.

So, you shortcut could end up looking something like this:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Halo\halo.exe" -console -nojoystick -novideo -screenshot -connect hpc.hushedcasket.com -exec mouse.cfg

  • -nojoystick keeps HPC from looking for a joystick. A slight performance boost.
  • -novideo prevents the opening videos from being played.

Choosing the right Pixel Shader

Getting the most performance out of older computers is a trial and error process.  The first step is to run a Pixel Shader version that runs best on your computer.  By default, Halo PC runs on Pixel Shader 2.0 technology.  Some older video cards may not support this technology very well.  So, you can force Halo to run in Pixel Shader 1.4, 1.1, or no Pixel Shaders at all.  To do this, right-click your Halo shortcut, go to Properties, go to Target. At the of the target line add –use14, or –use11, or –useff for PS1.4, or PS1.1, or no PS respectively.  For example:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Halo\halo.exe" –use11

or

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Halo\halo.exe" –useff

Note that –use11 is just about as good as Pixel Shader 2.0 so using –use14 may not be that great for you.  -useff will make your Halo game look like you are playing through a dirty Coke bottle.

Your frames per second

In the in-game Video Options, you can set the framerate in which your game will try to run:

  • 30FPS will attempt to the run the game at 30FPS, just like Halo on the XBOX.
  • VSYNC will play the frames as fast as it can but never faster than your monitor can support (usually 60, or 75, or 80 MHz).
  • Recommned: NO VSYNC will run the game as fast as your video card can support. It may show more frames per second (well over 100) even if your monitor can’t support that refresh rate. NO VSYNC will cause “video tearing” in some games and for some video cards, but is the best option to use if you don’t experience the tearing and can afford the performance.

In-game press CTRL + F12 to see a real-time framerate graph

Tips:

  • Make sure you have the latest video and audio card drivers installed
  • Go to the Network Settings menu and input the connection speed you have.
  • If you want to be able to administrate the Hushed Casket server, then you need to add –console to the end of the target line in the Halo shortcut.
  • A lower in-game screen resolution will give you better graphical performance and which will lead to better hitbox connections.
  • Play around with the in-game video and audio settings to get further performance increases if you need it.  Audio settings will need to be adjusted if you’ve got old audio cards with outdated drivers.
  • Install FRAPS from http://fraps.com to record video and take screenshots in-game by pressing the F9 or F10 buttons.
  • Customize the keyboard layout. Move Halo action commands to where they make sense for you. For instance, I moved my crouch button to (C) and put Melee and Reload on my 5-button mouse.
  • Play with a laser mouse and ball mice have imperfections that inject bumps into your scan with the mouse.
  • Play with headphones to hear sounds in Halo that you’ve never heard before through even high performance speaker systems.
  • Turn off background applications that eat up CPU and GPU time from the game.
  • Create a shortcut on your desktop that will automatically connect you to the THX HPC server on launch.  Add –ip x.x.x.x to your shortcut’s target where x.x.x.x is the IP of the server you wish to join.

Parameters and Descriptions

-? Display a list of all parameters.

-nosound

Turn off all sound.

This can be used to diagnose an error or an issue if an error or an issue is related to the generation of sound. If you use this parameter and it resolves your issue, it is best to update your sound drivers or your hardware.

-novideo

Disables video playback.

This can be used to diagnose an error or an issue if an error or an issue is related to the playback of movies. If you use this parameter and it resolves your issue, it is best to update your video and sound drivers to make sure that you can play back the opening content.

-nojoystick

Disables joysticks, gamepads and other gaming input devices. This may be used to slightly increase performance because Halo will not be polling or actively looking for game controller input. This can also be used to diagnose an error or an issue if an error or an issue is related to the connection of gaming devices. If you use this parameter and it resolves your issue, it is best to update your gaming device drivers.

-nogamma

Disables adjustment of gamma.

Gamma can be adjusted in game to make the display either darker or lighter. If you cannot correctly see the screen after you make an adjustment, you can use this parameter to start the game in a state that you can return gamma to a usable level.

-noSSE

Disables SSE and 3DNow! Optimizations.

Note This will severely decrease performance for some computers.

This can be used to diagnose an error or an issue if an error or an issue is related to the advanced instruction set of your CPU. If you use this parameter and it resolves your issue, you may want to consider having your PC serviced by your manufacturer.

-useff

Forces the game to run as if the computer’s video solution is a “fixed function” card.

A fixed function card does not support Pixel Shaders and graphics typically will be simpler and blockier.

Examples of fixed function chipset include but are not limited to the following:

  • GeForce (256) SDR
  • GeForce (256) DDR
  • GeForce (256) Ultra
  • GeForce (256) Quadro
  • GeForce2 MX
  • GeForce2 MX 200
  • GeForce2 MX 400
  • GeForce2 Go 100
  • GeForce2 Go 200
  • GeForce2 Go Quadro2 MXR / EX / Go
  • GeForce2 GTS
  • GeForce2 Pro
  • GeForce2 Ti
  • GeForce2 Ultra
  • GeForce2 GL Quadro2 Pro
  • GeForce4 MX 420
  • GeForce4 MX 420 -8x
  • GeForce4 MX 440
  • GeForce4 MX 440 SE
  • GeForce4 MX 440 -8x
  • GeForce4 MX 440SE -8x
  • GeForce4 MX 460
  • GeForce4 410 Go
  • GeForce4 420 Go
  • GeForce4 420 Go 32M
  • GeForce4 440 Go 64M
  • GeForce4 Quadro 200/400
  • GeForce4 Quadro 500XGL
  • GeForce4 Quadro 550XGL
  • nForce 220
  • nForce 420
  • nForce2
  • Radeon 7500
  • All in Wonder Radeon 7500
  • Mobility Radeon 7500
  • Mobility Radeon 7500 GL
  • Radeon 7200
  • Radeon 64 DDR
  • Radeon 32 DDR
  • Radeon LE
  • Radeon 7200
  • All in Wonder Radeon

Note Because of the limitations, fixed function cards typically have lower performance in Halo: Combat Evolved than cards that support pixel shaders.

Note Forcing the game to run at an earlier shader version that your display adapter can support may increase performance while reducing visual quality.

Trying to force the game to run at a later shader version than your display adapter can support causes the game to default to the highest shader level that your hardware supports.

-use11

Forces the game to run as if the computer’s video solution is a Shader 1.1 card.

Vertex and pixel shaders are used to create the complex objects and characters that can be displayed in Halo: Combat Evolved. If a card supports shaders it will generally be faster to use them instead of using fixed functions. Halo: Combat Evolved will automatically select the best shader level for your system depending on your hardware and drivers.

Examples of Shader 1.1 capable chipsets include but are not limited to the following:

  • GeForce3
  • GeForce3 Ti 200
  • GeForce3 Ti 500
  • GeForce3 Quadro
  • GeForce4 Ti 4600
  • GeForce4 Ti 4400
  • GeForce4 Ti 4200
  • GeForce4 Quadro 900XGL
  • GeForce4 Quadro 750XGL
  • GeForce4 Quadro 700XGL
  • GeForce4 Ti 4800
  • GeForce4 Ti 4200 -8x
  • GeForce4 Ti 4800SE
  • GeForce4 Quadro 980XGL
  • GeForce4 Quadro 780XGL
  • GeForce4 4200 Go

Note Forcing the game to run at an earlier shader version that your display adapter can support may increase performance while reducing visual quality. Trying to force the game to run at a later shader version than your display adapter can support will cause the game to default to the latest shader level that your hardware supports.

-use14

Forces the game to run as if the computers video solution is a Shader 1.4 card.

Examples of Shader 1.4 capable chipsets include but are not limited to the following:

  • Radeon 9200 PRO -8x
  • Radeon 9200 -8x
  • Radeon 9100 IGP
  • Radeon 9000 PRO
  • Radeon 9000
  • Mobility Radeon 9000
  • Mobility Radeon 9000 GL
  • Radeon 8500
  • Radeon 8500 LE
  • Radeon 8500 DV

Note Forcing the game to run at an earliest shader version that your display adapter can support may increase performance while reducing visual quality.

Trying to force the game to run at a later shader version than your display adapter can support will cause the game to default to the latest shader version that your hardware supports.

-use20

Forces the game to run as a Shader 2.0 card.

Examples of Shader 2.0 capable chipsets include but are not limited to the following:

  • GeForce FX 5800 Ultra
  • GeForce FX 5800
  • Quadro FX 3000
  • Quadro FX 2000
  • Quadro FX 1000
  • GeForce FX 5600 Ultra
  • GeForce FX 5600
  • GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
  • GeForce FX 5900
  • GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
  • GeForce FX 5200
  • Radeon 9800 PRO
  • Radeon 9800
  • Radeon 9700 PRO
  • Radeon 9700
  • Radeon 9600 PRO
  • Radeon 9600
  • Radeon 9500 PRO
  • Radeon 9500

Note Forcing the game to run at an earlier shader version that your display adapter can support may increase performance while reducing visual quality.

Trying to force the game to run at a later shader version than your display adapter can support will cause the game to default to the latest shader level that your hardware supports.

-safemode

Disables as many advanced graphics and sound features as possible.

This can be used to diagnose an issue that is hardware related. You may also enter Safe Mode by starting the game by pressing the CTRL key, and then clicking the Continue in 'Safe Mode' button when you are prompted to. The -safemode parameter is a combination of the following individual parameters:

  • -nosound
  • -novideo
  • -nojoystick
  • -nogamma
  • -useff
  • -width640

-window

Runs the game in a window.

-width640

Forces the game to run at 640x480. This command may improve performance at the cost of visuals.

-vidmode w,h,r

Forces the game to run at width, height, update.

This command can be used to reset the game to a width, height, and update rate that your computer and monitor can work with if you set them incorrectly in the game. The following are two example uses of this parameter:

–vidmode 800,600,60

–vidmode 800,600,85

-adapter x

Forces the game to run full-screen on a particular display adaptor in a multiple monitor setup.

This can be used to send the game to a particular card and monitor combination if you have a multi-monitor setup.

-port x

Server port address used when hosting games.

This can be used to create a custom shortcut for a particular server.

-cport x

Client port address used when joining games.

This can be used to create a custom shortcut for a particular server.

-ip x.x.x.x

Server IP address used when you have multiple IP addresses.

This can be used to create a custom shortcut for a particular server.

-timedemo

Runs four movies and writes out timedemo.txt in the folder where Halo is installed. Note This command will overwrite your current Campaign save.

While the Timedemo.txt file may be used to measure performance it is not a true representation of the frame rates that you will see in the game. The –timedemo command was designed as a development tool and not as a benchmark for Retail Product Performance.

Arby ‘n’ the Chief S3E13: "King"

May 31st, 2009
King of the Hill!

Halo Graphic Novel Review

May 31st, 2009
The online magazine Suit101.com has published a review of the Halo Graphic Novel (the one released in 2006 - yeah, they're jumping in a little late); they weren't really happy with it. Their impression: this book will appeal to hard-core Halo fans, but not to anyone not immersed in the videogame's lore. Give it a read, see if you agree!(Louis Wu 16:20:56 UTC)

Blue Dawn

May 31st, 2009
Leviathan and UNSC Trooper have teamed up again for more graphic storytelling - this time, it's called 'Blue Dawn', and it deals with the origins of the UNSC. Nice work!(Louis Wu 14:42:36 UTC)

Avatar’s tech – pretty Halo-like

May 31st, 2009
A few days ago, Azrael pointed out some new concept art from James Cameron's latest project, 'Avatar' - and the flying craft definitely bears a resemblance to Halo's Hornet. (The mech also bears a passing resemblance to Halo Wars' Cyclops, but that's a little more tenuous.) I didn't post this because life was crazy, and because sci-fi is sci-fi, right? More and more people are pointing it out, though, both via email and on our forum, so I guess I should acknowledge it. See what you think!(Louis Wu 14:38:14 UTC)

Halo 3 ODST booth?

May 31st, 2009

Halo 3 ODST

A game journalist from Spike TV TwitPic'd this image from an upcoming E3 promo trailer. This may be at least part of the cast of the upcoming Halo 3 ODST game.

Recon – and a very cool print… just for you!

May 31st, 2009
Bungie is running a special screenshot contest this weekend - not only do you have a shot at winning Recon armor, but you can win a printed version of your shot from the new Haloscreenshots.com service. Read all the details in the Bungie.net post - and get cracking! You've only got until midnight Sunday (PST). (Pay attention to the rules! Bungie's gonna get so many submissions that any excuse they have to toss your entry will be appreciated by the voters - don't give 'em one.)(Louis Wu 00:52:02 UTC)

The Legend of Halo: Quest for Recon

May 31st, 2009
CrazedOne1988 posted three links showing off his nearly half-hour-long mashup of Nintendo's Legend of Zelda and Bungie's Halo 3 - if you played a lot of Zelda when you were younger, this will bring back memories! (Louis Wu 00:41:51 UTC)

Halo: Reach?

May 31st, 2009
A very astute Bungie.net denizen pointed out a new forum at Bungie.net - devoted to a game called 'Halo: Reach', apparently. His post (and the new forum) were removed posthaste... but in these days of Google caches, it's hard to make ANYTHING go ALL the way away. Cocopjojo pointed out that the cached version of the deleted post is here - and a screenshot (assuming it wasn't faked) showing the new forum is here. More speculation can be found in our forum... (Louis Wu 00:36:22 UTC)

Grind Rider: The Preview

May 31st, 2009
z0mbyjr pointed out that Grind Rider: The Preview was posted last month. (Last we heard about this machinima, it was summer 2008 - and THAT was 5 months after the time before.) Check it out - decide for yourself how Just Another Fan is doing! (Louis Wu 00:32:10 UTC)

ODST Speculation Runs Wild

May 31st, 2009
Halopedia's CaptainTony was the first to notice that the a cast photo for Halo 3: ODST was visible on the set of the GameTrailers TV vid (shown Thursday night) - and the first to point out another pic that showed the last ODST off to the left. (Kotaku picked up on this on Saturday evening, almost 36 hours later... but they were just grabbing the pretty shot from Geoff Keighley's Twitter feed.) Interesting speculation in the thread about who's who... I'm guessing we'll know more, for sure, this week!(Louis Wu 00:29:45 UTC)

Arby ‘n’ the Chief S3E13

May 31st, 2009
Fragclone noticed that Arby 'n' the Chief S3E13 is now up on YouTube. Commentary on machinima fanbois, and machinima in general. Long. (18 minutes long.)(Louis Wu 00:29:09 UTC)

RT: Money Shot #2

May 31st, 2009
Thank goodness for Google. You can find ANYTHING there!

Haloscreenshots.com "Best of the Best" Recon Contest

May 30th, 2009
Score some Recon and turn your winning screenshot into a masterpiece.

Halo 3 – for REALLY Cheap

May 30th, 2009
Not sure how widespread this deal is - but if you need a new copy of Halo 3, this might be the cheapest way (ever) to get one: according to a posting at FatWallet.com, some FYE stores are offering Halo 3 for $29.99... with a $25 mail-in rebate. That leaves you with a final price of about $5, plus a little tax and a stamp!(Louis Wu 15:55:06 UTC)

Dopey’s Feeling Bashful.

May 30th, 2009
Stuntmutt read the news about the new screenshot printing service offered by haloscreenshots.com in last night's Weekly Update, and was moved to send us a his thoughts in the form of a One One Se7en comic. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.(Louis Wu 15:54:35 UTC)

urk’s drinking old-fashioneds on the porch

May 30th, 2009
The Bungie Weekly Update is live - and it's a rambling, almost ramshackle affair... sort of like a sprawling 1-story ranch that's been abandoned for a while. Wind is whistling through the hallways, and it's picking up some interesting tidbits from the tattered carpet. (There are also some fun stats based on how we present ourselves in Xbox LIVE Matchmaking.) Give it a look-see! (You can, as always, read it in our Weekly Update Archive, if you choose.) You just KNOW they're ramping up for E3... Update: if you visited the Weekly Update when it was first posted... you might want to revisit. There's a new section (in the middle) that's definitely worth reading. As in... definitely.(Louis Wu 23:56:23 UTC)

Bungie Weekly Update: 05/29/09

May 30th, 2009
Way too many words, more than enough stats, and an awesome new screenshot feature.

AH: Community Video- Star Trek: Legacy

May 29th, 2009
Ze bringin' you the news for what may be the last time in a while... unless I ever actually get around to making some vidjos again. Which I'd like to. Anywhoooo.... Iceman4264 is my pick for the day with a lesson in how to die efficiently; bringing us...