Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lockout for Halo 3

Straight from Bungie.net :

Last week we revealed the second map from the Legendary Map pack (due April 15th), Avalanche. That map is a reimagination of Halo: Combat Evolved map Sidewinder. This week, we're showing the final map from the Legendary Map Pack, Blackout. As its name suggests, Blackout is a remake of the Halo 2 classic Lockout, a cold series of interconnected platforms and walkways. Where Avalanche was retuned, reworked and massaged into something both familiar and unfamiliar, Blackout is a remake in a pretty strict sense of the word.

Producer Allen Murray, Designer Dan Miller and artists Paul Russel and Blake Low answered a handful of questions about Blackout. But who are we kidding, you just want to see the screenshots anyway (keep checking the Gallery as the hi-res versions will be there shortly).

What did each of you do on Blackout?

Allen Murray: I am the Producer for all of the Halo 3 DLC, which means I helped plan which maps were going to be made, when we’d ship them and who was working on them and generally kept them on track. So I was one of the guys early on who said we need to remake Lockout and then managed the process to make it happen. I didn’t actually ‘make’ any of it, but Luke is taking pity on me and included me in the interview process. Thanks, Luke. Also, if any of you have any issues with other DLC maps, you can talk to me directly. My email address is frankie@bungie.com.

Paul Russel: I was the primary environment artist for blackout from concept to completion. I also invented the grommet.

Dan Miller
: Designing odds and ends, I kept stewardship over the level and fixed bugs. There wasn't really a whole lot to do design-wise after the weapons and gametypes were placed. We tried to keep it as close to Halo 2 as possible and let the community Forge it up how they wish.

Blake Low: I was responsible for adding all the little details to the level that made the area seem functional. Things like power boxes, wires, pipes and more.

What’s the fictional setting for Blackout this time? Its predecessor, Lockout, was set on a Forerunner installation.

PR: The setting is a UNSC Antarctic weather station with the completely arbitrary and stupid number z/41, it means nothing. Until the fans write some fictional significance into it and we eventually have to reverse engineer it into our canon. Thanks a lot, fans.

Venezuela is very nice this time of year.

BL: Its predecessor, Lockout, was set on a Forerunner installation. This time around we thought it would be cool to see what a human version of this same map would look like. So we created the fiction of it being a human weather station in the middle of frozen nowhere.

: It’s a UNSC research station set in the Arctic, and I am pretty sure that this is also where all of the R&D on military grade Otter Pop rations took place. Early on I thought it was going to be an oil derrick, but that changed over time. We have some cool racks of glacier core samples, Doppler radar and other pieces of research gear strewn about, which makes for a nice touch – and when you look up to see them make sure you notice the beautiful Aurora Borealis in the sky. There were other, more outlandish settings done in the concept phase, but we’ll keep those secret as you never know when we’ll dig into that bag and pull it out for a future project.

How was the setting for Blackout determined?

PR: Since I got lumped with the 'Forerunner Guy' label and sixty percent of the environments I've built have been Forerunner, I've made a bold pronouncement to never do Forerunner again. That's why it's a human weather station. I wish there were a more interesting story than that.

AM: From my perspective the determination was an organic process based on the direction that Paul just started taking it. He had a really solid idea and it was easy for the other artists to understand it and help make it awesome. We also set the time to be the middle of the night, so it’s dark, but the full moon and ambient light from the facility make the map visible enough that it plays just like Lockout. And that took a lot of tweaking – there were weeks when the map was just too damn dark to do anything, or too light that everything looked washed out and you lost the cool midnight setting. In the end Paul and his cohorts found a really great balance to the aesthetic.

In addition to the aesthetic changes, how has the map changed functionally? It’s a strict port, but there are differences, detail them:

PR: There's equipment now, which changes the dynamic quite a bit, I hear. The original model was a chaotic mess to work in, so I rebuilt it from scratch, keeping only the buildings, which I also promptly gutted and rebuilt. As a result it's probably completely different and you'll all hate it, me and Bungie as a result. Mission accomplished.

Kidding, you'll love it. The kids love Lockout, it's bigger than the Beatles, but with more grenades.

DM: Mainly equipment. We tried our best to keep the weapon layout, gametypes and spawns as accurate as we could to Halo 2. There are a couple of jumps that are easier in this version, but that wasn't by design- they just kind of fell out of how we made this level.

AM: Most of the jumps, even the crazy ones from Halo 2, are there. However a few are tweaked or removed and there is one spot that was altered that makes it less easy to lock down a specific quadrant of the map. Also, the small platforms next to the air vent are at slightly different elevations.

What’s changed between Halo 2 and Halo 3 that affected the remake process?

: Equipment, field of view tweaks, higher resolution, widescreen, Forge and I, Paul Freakin' Russel, am the primary artist. El Dios bendice Venezuela!

DM: I would guess the main change would be that jumping has changed and it made certain jumps easier to make. I wonder if the Assault Rifle's influence also changed how the level plays vs the smg. I think the level plays a little more mid-range because of the Assault rifle.

AM: The general pacing in MP changed between Halo 2 and 3, and the sandbox changed drastically, so that affects all remakes, but for Blackout specifically we wanted to keep things as close as possible to what was built in Halo 2. That means that the biggest changes come from actually gameplay as the way weapons and equipment interact on the map make a game on Blackout so much more different than a Halo 2 game on Lockout.

How is equipment placed on Blackout?

DM: We've decided to go with a 'less is more' attitude with Blackout after some playing around with a bunch of different placements, we've settled on one regenerator, one bubble shield and one power drain.

AM: With such verticality to the map and the narrows spaces, the Bubble Shield is terribly effective for just shutting down certain lines of sight. It’s also fun to toss a Power Drain onto the helipad while everyone is fighting in the middle and just clean up.

What gametypes work best on Blackout?

PR: I don't know. I loathe playing video games.

DM: I enjoy assault, KOTH and team slayer on Blackout.

BL: King of the hill in the red room of death :)

AM: For me, this is just a straight up Slayer map, FFA or Team. The objective games are fun, but this is all about short to mid-range combat and the Assault Rifle is perfect as a starting weapon on this map.

What’s some stuff we don’t know about Blackout’s creation? What was the toughest part to “get right?”

: This is the first time I believe we've tried a full-blown nighttime multiplayer map. Originally I wanted it to take place on the back of a giant llama. I'm still bitter about this.

Maintaining some of the little things that expert players liked to exploit. Those are all gone, now, your pets are dead, go home and cry.

Kidding, we did our best to keep it all in.

I have to go now; I have a busy schedule as I am also the President of Venezuela. Vaya con queso!

BL: Making an environment look cold and unbearable is always a challenge.

AM: We almost didn’t do it because we already have Guardian, which was similar and ‘inspired by’ Lockout. But when I started up the DLC project we gathered a ton of data from the community, looked at the most played maps on Live and did some very unscientific polls on Bungie.Net and other community websites and Lockout was leaps and bounds ahead of every other map in terms of games played and the public demand. It also fits a need in our overall map portfolio to help round out the small maps that are available in Halo 3 and was a great artistic exercise.

The toughest part of making it was trying to be as faithful to the original as possible while also accommodating the inherent gameplay changes between Halo 2 and 3. The second toughest was getting Paul and the gang to fix their bugs on time and making sure lightmaps weren’t screwed all of the time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Call of Duty glitch contest - Win cash!!!

Se7ensins.com is hosting a video contest which has been extended to all games for CASH!!!!

Here are the current entries:




Venomous Fire (me):


Saturday, March 22, 2008



This site has great gaming news, great articles, and a nice forum, go check it out!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


National Pancake Day is February 12th. Starts from 7am to 10pm. IHOP is giving away a short stack of buttermilk pancakes for free! All they ask is for a small donation to Children's miracle Network or other charities.

For more details visit here: IHOP National Pancake Day - February 12, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Standing up for your rights as an employee

Indeed, the employer has ownership of capital, stocks and other important assets of a business, but without the employees, these capital, stocks and assets would not be turned into new consumer goods or products.

Unless an employer is handling a relatively small business, wherein he or she also has a share in the important aspects of the production or services, it is the employees who has a major contributing factor in doubling, even multiplying the capital and turn it into profits.

Thus, the employee has an inherent right to demand the implementation of particular legal protections from his/her employer. These rights may depend on the capacity of the employer, the state that governs the workplace and the employee's profession in the business.

Here are several examples of basic employees' rights:

- right to be protected from discrimination because of race, nationality, skin color, origin, gender, religious beliefs, pregnancy, age, and disability (in some cases, also involves, marital status and sexual orientation)

- right to work in a place free of harassment

- right to receive minimum wages, overtime payment for work exceeding 40 hours in a week or eight hours in a day.

- right to humane conditions at work and safe and secure workplace

- right to avail leave in case of sickness or to care for a loved one's serious illness or after the birth or adoption of a child

These are among the basic employee rights that must be implemented in every workplace, whether big or small, labor-intensive or not.

However if you think that one or more of these legal rights are being violated by your employer, then you must learn to assert these rights. Not standing up to resolve conditions, which trample your rights as workers, would easily make an employer be more confident in implementing other policies violating employee rights and unfair labor practices.

Here are several ways in handling a conflict to assert your employees' rights with your employer.

• Talking with your employer – having an intelligent and reasonable discussion with your employer can be a big step in resolving the wrongs you think are occurring. Companies usually would want to stay on the boundaries of the law and as much as possible, avoid any legal complications.

Tips on presenting your concerns:

- Research and know your rights in the workplace. This will help you in presenting your agenda with your employer, confidently and clearly.

- It helps to stick to the significant facts of the matter and not stray on trivial issues. Before the set meeting, write down the problems you are encountering and the recommendations you think is effective in order to resolve them.

Let someone look up your lists in order to offer more objective and concrete overview of the things you have listed.

- Do not divulge on emotional outbursts and unfounded accusations since it would not help you in getting your agenda across

- Make sure to come up with certain agreements on the next events to happen regarding the case you presented.

• Following up your initial discussion – check out the progress of your initial agreements during the first meeting and set up another meeting as soon as possible to discuss them.

• Documenting the problem – if talking it out with the employer or representative did not help to resolve your problems or concerns, and your employment status seem to be deteriorating then start documenting your case.

Collate important things that you think would help your claims.

• Do not forget deadlines of legal nature – be sure to know the deadlines of legal actions that is connected with your particular case. Once you have filed a claim or lawsuit, remember all the important dates and deadlines by constantly keeping in touch with your employment lawyer and / or paralegal advocate.

Know more about your employee rights and benefits through the LA employment lawyers of Los Angeles Lawyers website.

Age discrimination: what to do

Employment discrimination based on age is a reality in the workplace. Hence, workers and employees with the age of 40 and above are protected against discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The law says that an employer may not fire, refuse to hire, and treat you differently than other employees because of your age.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to the following:
• Workers and applicants aged 40 and over

• The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees.

• This includes local and state governments and the federal government. It also includes employment agencies and labor unions.

• It excludes independent contractors or elected officials. It does not usually cover police and fire workers, certain federal employees in air traffic control or law enforcement, or certain highly paid executives. While persons in these positions could be retired on a mandatory basis, they cannot be denied a promotion or training base on age.

• There are exceptions to the ADEA when age is a necessary part of a job. For example, an employer can hire a young person to play the role of a 12-year-old in a play. Most states have anti-age discrimination laws that apply to employers with fewer than 20 employees.

Here are some of the instances where age discrimination is committed:

• The employer wanted a younger-looking person to do the job so you were not hired.
• You were not allowed to take training courses and got a low mark on the evaluation.
• You were fired to give way to other younger workers or applicants who are paid less.
• The employer gave you an undeserved evaluation and used this record to justify firing or demoting you.
• The employer turned down your promotion, and instead hired someone who is younger

What to Do

If you feel like you are being discriminated in your workplace, talk to your employer immediately to see if you can resolve the matter. Otherwise, if the situation goes out of hand, you will have to file a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to seek redress.

To file a charge, you will have to abide by the strict time requirements of the agency. You must file your charge within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination. You have to gather evidence yourself and file them personally. Litigation will also take a great deal of time, money and effort.

Who Can Help You

For better results, an employment lawyer specializing in age discrimination cases can help you address the issue. His skills, knowledge, and experience in his area of law practice can give you a better chance of seeking justice that you deserved.

Know more information about what to do in case of age discrimination with the help of an age discrimination attorney

How to ease out after being fired

If you think you have been fired illegally from work, you may file a wrongful termination claim against your former employers. To do this, you may have to hire a lawyer who has the skills and resources to pursue your claim.

When does termination become “wrongful”?

In legal terms, wrongful termination happens when an employer fires an employee for illegal reasons, which include:

• In violation of federal and state anti-discrimination law
• As a form of sexual harassment
• In violation of oral and written employment agreements
• In violation of labor laws, including collective bargaining laws
• In retaliation for the employee’s having filed a complaint against his employer

These violations entail statutory penalties and could result in the payment of damages to you based on computed lost wages and other expenses. Some violations may also result in punitive damages against the company.

How to Improve Your Position

Recovering from the loss of a job is difficult. The following steps may help you improve your position after being fired:

• Do not think negatively or badly about your employer.
• Consult an employment lawyer for advice and representation.
• Review your employment contract and the provisions of the agreement.
• Know the reasons and causes of your termination.
• Request to view your personal file.
• Try to request and negotiate for severance package.
• Confirm agreements of your termination and severance in writing.
• Turn-over company property and follow post-employment procedures.

If you decide to negotiate for a severance package, instead of pursuing legal claims, the following advice may help and further relieve you of burden:

• Receive the news of your termination calmly.
• Take time to think about the offer from your employer.
• Confirm the employer’s terms in writing.
• Negotiate for the continued dental and medical coverage while you are receiving your severance pay.
• Try to stay on the payroll as long as long as possible.
• Ensure that the severance package is not contingent on new employment.

Legal Help

An employer is not required to give severance package to a dismissed employee unless expressed in the employment contract or the employees’ manual. However, an employee may negotiate a severance package in exchange for a promise to waive legal claims against his employer.

In this case, you will need the help of an attorney who can explain your options and which option to take. An employment lawyer who specializes in wrongful termination cases can help you fight for your right to severance pay, damages, or unemployment compensation. His skills and experience will increase your chances of compensation for your illegal termination.

Become more informed about how to react after a wrongful termination with the help of wrongful termination attorneys