D0314 T2000 Y2011Affinity for Defiance

Have you become Defiant yet? If you haven’t, you gotta go and get yourself some new maps. Remembering Reach is as fun now as it was when it first fell. With the new vistas of carnage live for download, the action is at the ready. Click below to behold a recon scouting report by TTL Hoovaloov.

Tied the Leader’s affinity for these new battlegrounds is certain. The developers behind this offering have defended their perfect record for giving our favorite games a shot in the arm. Halo 2. Left for Dead. World at War. Reach. Black Ops. The Gunslingers have played them all, and we have enjoyed the third-party contributions to every one of them. We say thankya for the new toys!

Certain Affinity is a unique beast in the parade of coders that craft the environments that serve as vessels for our imagination. They pick up where The Maker leaves off. They extend the life of a killer application that begs to be played into the very ground that is pounded by our boots. The ability of these cartographers to translate their skills to augment so many unique worlds is really quite impressive.

As for the Defiant Maps? Each of them is as different to each other as they are to the arenas that came before them.

Condemned boasts the most tragic view of the planet below to date. Think of the illegitimate child of Orbital and Anchor 9, only on a really bad day. The experiment gone awry at the core of the map will provide some nasty combat surprises.

Highlands explores more of Reach’s craggy terrain. You can have a vehicle, but you will need to be nimble to negotiate the nooks and crannies of the unforgiving landscape. Flag plants are on high, so prepare for an uphill battle to claim the banner of your opponent.

Unearthed, if played correctly, is the most fun that you might ever have in a Warthog. Your combat wagon can achieve top speed on this excavated pan. Let slip the rockets of war. Enemies are in endless supply, and so is the ammunition.

See you in the fray. Get some.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 5

D0916 T1307 Y2010Keep Your Friends Close

With week one of the fall of Reach behind us, all we can say at Tied the Leader is “good game”. Great game, in fact. There is no place like home. The TTL Gunslingers have wasted no time getting familiar with our new space.

Everything is upgraded. The array of options is bigger. The maps are bigger. The ‘splosions are bigger. The armored shoulders are bigger. Even the Halo Nation itself is bigger – already bigger than it ever was upon launch of previous titles.

Our borders have opened up to many new combatants. Fortunately, our virtual society does not shun its immigrants. Fresh meat for the grinder is always welcome. Some of you are future friends. The rest of you are necessary fodder for our cannons.

If you are playing your first multiplayer games in a Halo title, we offer you a warm welcome. Sincerely. Thanks for joining the fray. We only have one rule for you new people. Everyone fights. No one quits. This delicious medium for entertainment requires that we create action for each other. We are all moving parts in a chaotic system. When we fail to finish the fight, that system breaks down.

There are times when you won’t want to see a match to its logical conclusion. We can admit to that – each of us. There will be times when the riot mob corners you, scared and alone. Sooner or later, we all end up like this poor fellow…

That was TTL Demag0gue, a Gunslinger and author of the Reclaimer webcomic. Even a gamer with 90 sworn clanmates ventures off the reservation for an odd pickup game from time to time. Just like the lone wolf heroes of far-flung war stories, everyone is confronted by that scenario in which the only objective is to survive.

You are not alone, new guy. There are many players on the grid who would watch your back, if only you would put the effort into finding them. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that those gamers with the matching gamertags don’t want to meet you. Odds are, they are desperately trying to marshall enough allies onto the battlefield to sustain their respective movements.

Make some friends. Keep them close. Register for the forums of anyone that amuses you from the front page at H.B.O. Post a Classified Ad on the Bungie forums. Complaining about quitters won’t change a thing. Human nature is read only. There will always be cowards found on the battlefield. Seeking out the gamers that wont quit? That will be a challenge, but it will change your entire experience. If you want to play a good game, you have to get tactical.

Take it from us. We have seen lone wolves adopted by loyal packs hundreds of times over. You might think that you are not serious enough about all of this to introduce yourself under an assumed name on [gasp] The Internet. Yet, here you are – reading the last paragraphs of a blog article about a video game. If you have come this far, perhaps you can come a little further.

And, for those of you that drop your weapon and run away as soon as the scoreboard takes a turn that you didn’t choreograph? Your probation is waiting. The time-out corner beckons. The Quitter Ban is real! We have seen your protestations on the Bungie Forums. They are beautiful.

Every fights. No one quits.

Get some.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 15

D0913 T1419 Y2010Hounds: Released

And so it was that Reach fell. And millions of gamers saw that it was good.

Never has a society of people been so desperate to witness the total destruction of a planet. With the usual foreplay phase at the hands of the Bungie marketing machine behind us, we can commence blowin stuff up.

On our world, safely rooted in reality and tucked away from Covenant incursions, signs of life are starting to wink into existence. The midnight release sent many gamers home with their quarry in hand. As the sun rose on Day One of the fall of Reach, many gamers devoted themselves to being first to fight.

Earlier in the week, it was proselytized that value of Microsoft stock might actually get a bounce from Noble Team. That is all well and good for The Maker, but what about the rest of our fragile recession economy? At Tied the Leader, we make no apologies about the fact that we cater to adults that still play video games. These are people with careers, and look at how many of them failed to show up to work!

What you are looking at below is a snapshot from the custom-built Xbox Live Status Report that we use to track the virtual whereabouts of registered members on our forum. Look at all the slackers. That’s a lot of sick time! And, it is only the population of MidWorld that we are talking about. We are just one little corner of the Halo Nation.

Loss of global productivity aside, this is the best thing about the launch of a new Halo title. Nothing unifies our community like fresh orders from the UNSC. Beholding a friends list completely dominated by one title is a rush. It’s like showing up at a banging night club and realizing that you know everyone there. Plus, they all have guns and infinite lives. Quite a party.

Cry havok, and let slip the dogs of war.

Get in there and get some, people!

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 13

D0822 T1615 Y2010The Great Journey

In less than one month, warring citizens of the Halo Nation will drop their tired old Battle Rifles in the mud of Valhalla and make tracks to the shiny new virtual warzones that await us all in Halo: Reach. For the individual gamer [that lone gunman on the grassy knoll – if you will] this journey poses interesting new challenges. For the leader of a gaming clan, the experience is far more complex.

For a virtual community that unites gamers on a team, updates to a franchise are more than just a new list of acheivements or a menu of new armor abilities. When that game launches, new frontiers are revealed for them to seize. The border opens. The wagon trains are mobilized. Entire civilizations are migrated en masse. Launch Day for Halo: Reach will be nothing short of a virtual land rush, as the members of various states in the Halo Nation blitz inland to control territories similar to their holdings in the previous title.

The road to the new game is pocked with danger and risk. Harmonious relationships that band a team together are thrown into total disarray. The landscape changes. The engagement changes. The entire dynamic of their shared interaction changes. All bets are off on the brave new land.

Along with the tweaked control scheme, the gamers who populate a clan must become reacquainted with one another. Fighting on the new battlegrounds, that time-honored deadeye sniper may morph into a crazy-brave combat pilot. In the fog that leads to these discoveries, certain portions of a clan’s membership base will become lost. Attrition is inevitable when a team leaves its comfort zone.

The benefit of this migration to new action, of course, greatly outweighs any of the risk. For a gaming community, a new game is like a stimulus package. Players become reinvested. Absentee warriors return to work, driven by the call to solve new and interesting problems. The bore of sleep-walking through rote-learned tactics for conquering familiar places is replaced with the delicious chaos of an unknown combat scenario in an alien environment.

The Good Game Network relishes this challenge as much as we understand the risk. Since the inception of our alliance in the playing of Halo 3, we have followed one another through several games now. Longevity is our quest. Survival is our charge. With the launch of a new Halo title, we are eager to return home to the game that inspired the creation of our online society.

Don’t take it from me. A GGN Representative from each Affiliate Clan has sounded off about what Reach means to them – and theirs…

ATF AnTi PRO: Overlord/Founder
Arm the Flag
“One word comes to mind when I think of what Reach means to us: Unification. With Halo 3 dying down and new games coming out in the past year or so we have all been scattered across many virtual battlefields. With Reach we shall once again fight side by side as it was meant to be.”

BSG Surgeon: Community Leader
Buddy System Gaming
“The thought of having my group unified under a single title again is awesome. Knowing that this is Bungie’s last Halo hurrah and they will make it unbelievably swell is awesome. When I first popped Halo 3 into my tray I had 30 friends all playing the same thing and online. I’m hoping to see that number blown away this time. That too will be awesome!”

wastedWOLF: Overlord
Fallen Unity
“To FU reach means a reunion with some of our poeple that refuse to play Call of Duty. Not only with our players but other clans as well the people in this community and others. New challenges new maps new drinks wow so much to learn. There is some people in FU that are tired of Red Dead Redemption, COD, and others so a new halois a breath of freash air.”

A Mad Bloke: CdGOverlord
Cirque D’Geezer
“The Cirques are virtual soldiers and ultimately Spartans. We are on the Modern Warfare battlefield but Halo: Reach will reunify and acquaint us with friends, old and new. We are far from hardcore, but our teamwork and camaraderie rivals any group.”

Pete VenkmanPHD: Resident Ghostbuster
Halo Charts
“HC is buzzing with excitement. Our teams are gearing up and teeming with activity. It will be very rejuvenating to have a new game, and new maps in which to take on some challenges. September 14th cannot come fast enough for the Halocharts teams and community!”

ConsumedFever: Council Member
H 3 Wheelmen
“To the Wheelmen Reach is a new begining filled with old friends. We are seeing countless new faces arrive, and many old friends find their way home to us.”

Godlywayz: Lead Ambassador
Ironworks Gaming Crew
“When we think of enjoying our time together, Halo is a game we all think about. That’s what Reach means to us. Reach, as every Halo iteration, means that the good times can keep on rolling. Thanks, Bungie. We’re looking forward to it.”

ANUBIS x MT: Overlord
Master Theory
“For MT, Reach means bringing back the passion for competitive game play, that slowly fizzled out in the last days of Halo 3. New maps and Armor Abilities mean we have lots of work to do as a team, creating strategy’s, hours of watching game films, and figuring out roles. Those challenges light a fire, inspire, and rally us, all at the same time. I’m looking forward of another 2 or 3 years of Halo, and MT will be ready to converge as a respectable and united force, right from the start.”

OcR Envy: Overlord
Outcast Reborn
“To OcR, Reach means “Rebirth” HA. Seriously though, each new Halo or CoD game means equal playing field to our member base. We clean out all of our competitive team rosters and start fresh. Every single member is looked at as the same skill level until they prove they are the best of the best. It really rejuvenates everyone who wants to play competitively to try their hardest. We will lose some, we always do. But the majority will return even those who have been missing for some time.”

Compton OTAH: Overlord
Clan O7AH
“Sweet sassy molassee Reach is going to be great for O7AH. Everyone and I mean everyone is psyched for it. We are all getting together for the release to bring it in right. The best thing about it for out group is that there is really something for everyone in the box. Forge for creative people, Firefight for those of us who want to team up but not against other people (although we can do that too if we wish), Campaign for some sweet Halo cannon action complete with credit earning to draw us back again and again, and finally the sweet sweet multiplayer which is where the game shows it legs. Halo reach = Sexy time for O7AH once again folks.”

kilaM0Mjaro: Overlord
“To the PraetoriaGuard it means reuniting us all in one game. Our members are very close on forum but lately there are small groups that play several different games. We are looking forward to long hours of playing ourselves into a frenzy of laughter. We also began as a Halo Machinima group so with our film guy having HD now and REACH’s forgeworld…we are looking forward to Episode 8.”

NEC VAYDER: Community Leader
NorthEast Core
“To the NEC, REACH means a reunification of gamers that are right now scattered all over the virtual map. Camaraderie that has been somewhat missing because of the vast number of great 360 titles that have drawn us away from what originally brought us all together. I cant wait until 09/14/10. Bring it.”

SSG Jayman: Founder/Overlord
Sword and Shield
“With Sword & Shield Gaming squarely divided between CoD and Halo (nearly all Knights play both games from time to time) I see Halo: Reach as the game that will unify our clan (and community) back to a single game. Modders, cheaters, and matchmaking follies has left most of our MW2 fans wanting something else. I see Halo: Reach as the life boat they are looking for, it is a blend of CoD and Halo gameplay. CoD: Black Ops will no doubt attract people back to the CoD franchise but I feel that by that time, Reach will have hooked and unified everyone.”

TTL Stuicide: Overlord/Minister of Personnel
TTL Gunslingers
“Reach will mean a lot to the Gunslingers, as any new Bungie title does. It will provide a fresh place that will bring all of the members back to one title, if only for a few months. It will allow us to find a common ground to get competitive on, and to just spark that place inside everyone when an exciting new game is out. However, now Halo has to compete with other titles, even in it’s own release year. Other games will capture our imagination, but Reach should be one of the few tentpoles that will stand over the next several years.”

WCF Ganzuelo: Overlord
Will Clan 4 Food
“COD was addictive and it changed the face of our clan. Our members got out of the mind frame of hanging out and having fun and replaced it with Prestiging. Reach will bring back those COD guys and appeal to even the most hardcore players. With Reach a month away we are seeing a steady stream of new members and old members coming into our lobbies and having a great time. With all the goodies Halo Reach has I think this will make a lasting impact on us all as Halo 2 once did.”

CzarCastic: Captain
8-Bit Brigade
“I think the release of Halo Reach will bring us back together, if only for for a short time. The landscape has changed since Halo 2 was first released. At the time, Halo 2 was the multiplayer game. It brought us together. It helped shape the direction of our community. In a way, Halo Reach will do the same thing. However, we won’t be creating our path this time around. We’ll be redirecting it. With so many multiplayer choices across all of the various consoles, it’s hard to say that Reach will be enough to reunite us for more than a few months. If that’s the case, then we’ll have to adapt. We’ll certainly take the time that we can get, but I think ultimately, this will merely be an opportunity to decide how we’re going to shape the future of our community in a video game world where gamers have so many choices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to seeing friends that I haven’t played with in years. More importantly, though, I think I’m looking forward to figuring out how to make sure it’s not another few years before I play with these friends again.”

The race is on. Are you running alone? Bad move, player. If you played Halo 3 all by your lonesome, it’s time to leave that lone wolf stuff behind. Many clans are planning the great journey. They would be glad for your skillset. Don’t make the same mistakes of isolation in Halo: Reach.

The clan system is portable, and it is being transported to a whole new world. Service guarantees citizenship, and teamwork insures victory. We will see you on the beach, be you on our team or not. A good game awaits us all.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 18

D0617 T1913 Y2010Fighting for a Cause

Amidst the fragging and celebration that was ChicagoL4Nd, the Gunslingers and their honorable guests raised $1,400 for the Tied the Leader Foundation. Our mission remains as it has been since its inception in 2006. We seek to recognize the sacrifices made by real military servicepeople – the very individuals whose culture we emulate so casually on a nightly basis.

Many virtual communities of gamers find themselves motivated to leverage their combined strength to effect a positive impact on the real world. This idea is not exclusive to us. For every charitable endeavor, there is a unique strategy. There are many ways to pass the hat. For every unique strategy, there seems to be a specific challenge. There are many rules and laws that govern the space where altruism meets cold, hard cash – and rightfully so.

In recent months, Tied the Leader has employed social networking as our weapon of choice. In its current form, our Foundation exists as a portal made possible by Causes.com. In conjunction with Facebook, they operate the Network For Good.

Donations made online are forwarded directly [and in total] to our designated beneficiary. As the arms and legs of our agenda, Azalea Charities interfaces directly with the combat wounded veterans who receive the aid that we intend to provide through our contributions. We raise the funds. They put them into practice. Causes.com is the vehicle that brings us all into concert on the same goal.

This requires that less hands touch the proceeds before they reach their final destination. This allows the donor to instantly obtain a receipt that qualifies them for a tax deduction. This means that middle-men are never taxed for managing cashflow. This prevents third-party transactors – like PayPal, for instance – from collecting a cut for themselves. No one should ever profit from charity. Under this mode of operation, no one does.

Of all the scenarios that we have employed in pursuing this charitable objective, this one is the cleanest, most efficient, and most transparent. Leveraging this online application enables us to meet our goals without having to operate as a Non-Profit entity with tax-exempt status. This same scenario would work for anyone that wanted to aggregate donations to a chosen entity that possessed a 501-c3 number.

At our most recent LAN Party, we employed merchandising tactics as a fundraiser. Our goal has always been to offer something in exchange for contributions to our charity – be it an experience, a keepsake, or a prize. We are extremely fortunate in that our membership is willing to dontate the wares that provided the incentive for people to participate. One of our members – a veteran himself – produced a mother load of branded gear that would enable gamers to express their enthusiasm about their membership in Tied the Leaders’s official gaming clan.

Another member hand-crafted a wooden resupply container filled with bottles of home-grown beer. We called it the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ package. That’s right. The Gunslingers have their own vintage now. It’s nice – a hint of oranges in a weiss brew.

The ease in proliferating this phenomenon reaches well beyond the hosting of an occassional party. With high-visibility in a virtual setting like Facebook, anyone who witnesses our progress can get involved. The impact becomes viral. In recent weeks, friends of our community have cited their own birthdays as a reason to give. Other allies have made donations as a tribute to the tournaments that Tied the Leader hosts for their amusement in cyberspace.

Whatever the occassion, the transactions are clean. Aside from tickets purchased to attend an event, no one is giving money to Tied the Leader. A charitable donation goes directly to charity. We do not need anyone’s help to run a website for gamers. The money donated is intended to benefit people who come from actual wars with actual hardships which they must overcome. Through these structures, we are able to help foster their rehabilitation, and raise awareness for their needs.

To all of the people that have made our cause your own, we offer our sincerest thanks. To those people who benefit from our humble efforts, we can only hope that our small measure of thanks provide a recognizable fraction of what is needed to restore you to a normal quality of life.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 3

D0606 T1441 Y2010“Should’a Hadda Beta”

Some regard gaming a useless hobby or a hermetic time waster. At Tied the Leader, we see gaming as a discipline. It is equal parts art, craft, science, and sport. To walk the path of a gamer, one must be adaptable. To long endure in the practice of this discipline, one must be flexible enough to maintain a posture at the forefront of evolution. The landscape is ever-changing. The rules are in a constant state of flux. In the interest of remaining a once and future citizen of the Halo Nation, these concepts could not be more true.

Before the Beta Test for Halo: Reach was upon us, we were challenged to forget everything we knew about playing Halo 3. The new trial in the franchise was heralded as ‘combat redefined’. Reveal trailers implored us to leave behind that which we had toiled to learn in the virtual trenches. New control schemes dashed years of controller-twitching body memory on the rocks. Favorite weapons were swapped out in favor of a shiny new arsenal. Familiar physics were morphed. Virtual physicalities were redesigned.

The backlash was predictable. Gamers don’t like change. The more a gamer plays a game – and the better they become – the less likely they are to enjoy a shakeup of their native arena. By comparison, a decorated black belt would not welcome an alteration to their discipline that eliminated their favorite maneuver. The choice then becomes one of either abandonment or adaptation.

When the doors to the Reach Beta swung wide, a very vocal minority of loyal servants from the ranks of the UNSC took to the streets with lit torches, fit to riot. The laundry list of wishes was the same almost everywhere you looked for them. Grenades were too powerful. Assault Rifles were not powerful enough. Jumps were too low. Needler damage was too high. Armchair developers tossed about terms like “overpowered” or “weapon balance” to reinforce their respective complaints.

For this gamerblogger, the disorienting experience of submitting to the Halo: Reach Beta was best summarized by Tied the Leader’s faithful Webmaster in Chief and Gravemind, who fights under the tag Sunburned Goose:

I was frustrated by the Beta for my first fifty games or so. After that point was when I stopped playing Halo 3, and started playing Halo: Reach.

Right on, Goose. Forget everything you know. Learning to crawl again is all part of the discipline. Busting ourselves down to FNGs keeps the experience fresh. When the game changes, we are served up new riddles to solve. We are given new stories to write for ourselves. We are served up new worlds to conquer.

The last time the TTL Gunslingers infiltrated a new battleground en masse, it was that of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The leaders of our clan all but required our most steadfast Halo Loyalists give the new title a dance. Primarily, we didn’t want to deprive them of our company. Secondarily, we wanted to challenge them with learning a new aspect of our shared discipline. As a hidden tertiary motive, we wanted to force them to miss Halo enough that they would attack Halo: Reach with renewed fervor.

And, miss Halo they did. In waiting for the street date for Modern Warfare 2, there was no Beta Test to amuse us. We found this puzzling. Infinity Ward conducted a Beta for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Why not put the sequel through similar paces?

The answer to this question became apparent when we finally played the game. To our chagrin, Modern Warfare 2 had been shipped with the very same almost-good-enough multiplayer mechanics that had been featured in its predecessor. Thus, the need for a Beta seemed less, provided you could ignore a steady parade of cheater glitches that rivaled the wild west yesteryear of Halo 2 on Xbox Live.

In combating the outlaws that trolled Infinity Ward’s killer application, we arrived at a new catch phrase: “Should have had a beta!” we would say. Among some of our more patient and forgiving Gunslingers, these words provoked annoyance and protest. Nevertheless, the meme put down roots. Speed-glitching flag carriers? “Should have had a beta!” Crashing party lobbies? “Should have had a beta!” Experience Point vampiring hackers? “Should have had a beta!” And so on…

Recycled code notwithstanding, the need for a MW2 Beta seemed obvious. Not conducting one was seen as a mistake. Over time, an interesting theory emerged. Why Beta Test your game prior to launch, when you can just patch it later? Why tip your hand? Modern Warfare 2 was destined to be a slam dunk – a guaranteed blockbusting record breaker. Eminem had gamers lined up at their local retailers to snatch the release like a neutral bomb at midnight. A Beta might only give them a reason NOT to spend that sixty bucks. Why take the chance? Why compromise the marketing machine with a hands-on sneak preview?

Of course, it could very well be that no one at Infinity Ward was quite so sinister. The mysterious absence of a Beta for Modern Warfare 2 could just as easily have been forced by an aggressive development deadline for a game that was being coded for play on three distinct platforms. Yet, in sampling some of the more unsatisfied feedback about the Halo: Reach Beta, that little conspiracy theory creapt back into mind.

As was the case with Halo 3, now that the super awesome Beta is behind us, our new challenge is to forget everything we know about playing Reach. All bets are off. The work is, as they say, in progress.

Developer anecdotes have revealed the fact that the build we tested was already old when we got our hands on it. We think we know what Reach will be, but our information is out of date. Bungie is a fast-moving target – outpacing our crosshairs. If you listened to the Mayish Podcast, you know that the following fixes are already in:

Movement is faster.
Jumps are higher.
Headshots are fixed.
Melee attacks are slower.
Reticules are brighter.
Vehicles are stronger.
Grenades are weaker.
DMR magazines are deeper.
Magnum are slower.
Assault Rifle is more deadly.
Plasma Launcher is less “comedic”.

…and that is just for starters. There is still a long, hot summer of crunch-time to perfect the details that will govern our fighting and dying. To put it bluntly, if you played the Beta, you don’t know jack about Reach. At least, not at a granular level of experience. If you have read this far, that is obviously the space you inhabit.

It is for these reasons that development houses like Bungie conduct a test phase. They aim to hit the target the first time. They strive for excellence, and nothing less. This wasn’t a free trial. This wasn’t a sales demo. This wasn’t a final dress rehearsal. This was a test. This was only a test. Had this been an actual emergency, you would still be riding the contrails of your jetpacks and dealing death from above, oorah.

In our many travels, we Gunslingers have seen gamers miss out on amazing experiences, simply because they passed their final judgements about a game during the several hours they spent helping to test it. We invite each of you not to become one of those sad statistics. It’s a distinct privilege to be invited to collaborate in the creation of a game, but the work does not stop there. As fans of the franchise, the only thing that we owe Bungie [aside from the cost of purchasing the next evolution] is a little faith that they will get it right – like they always have.

For everyone else? Well, they should have had a beta.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 8

D0328 T1303 Y2010Wheelman Commendations

Last week, we watched as the curtain was raised on a new system to be included in Halo Reach that will keep players invested in pursuing their own campaign against the virutal combatents that fight in the Battle of the Halo Nation. The new focus will be on the specialist that finds their niche and elevates a single facet of the game to the level of art. The aim will be to reinforce those behaviors.

In the words of lukems “There are guys [who] just want to drive people around.” Submitted for your approval – and entertainment – are a cadre of such guys. Halo3Wheelemen.com has collected some of the best moments played by the dedicated Warthog pilots from Affiliated Clans in the Good Game Network. The theme of this highlight reel is similar to Bungie’s impending Commendation system – to discover who is the best of the best.

Behold the future Onyx Wheelmen of the Halo Nation. They are poised on the border of the Reach Beta, ready to strike with steering wheels in hand and nerves of steel. Keep an eye out for them. On May 3rd, they will be hunting for you.

As always, these offerings are best experienced in High Definition.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 4

D0324 T1151 Y2010Giving cRedit

Proclaiming one’s loyalty to a specific gaming franchise can be a temporary state of being for a gamer. By the very nature of the industry, those franchises have a way of evolving. Those evolutions are not always in a direction that is parallel to our expectations as the Users.

All too often, gamers outgrow the games that they love. Sometimes it is the other way around. When gamers find a comfort zone for their preferred stance in virtual combat, they can be hesitant to embrace anything that changes the landscape. Anyone that witnessed the bastardization of Unreal Tounament into a third-person arcade exhibition understands this.

When a new new offering for a beloved franchise approaches its street date, the gamers that call Tied the Leader home hold their collective breath. The air becomes thick with questions spoken and unspoken. Will we be able to migrate to this new title? Will the developers change the game so dramatically – for seemingly no other reason than the sake of change – that we will no longer want to play it?

Gladly, the news emerging from the industrial gravemind has all been favorable. Today’s revelation is no different…

Xbox 360 GamesE3 2010Halo: Reach

This investment system reinforces what the TTL Gunslingers have always known and held dear. Even when fighting from behind perfectly-matched avatars, a gamer has to adopt a specialty if they are to serve effectively on a team. Offense + Defense + Pilot + Sniper = Win. We have always broken down our clan into squads that insure that the right gamers would fulfill each crucial role.

“There are guys [who] just want to drive people around. We haven’t done a great job of reinforcing that kind of behavior in the past.” ~lukems

While this statement might be true in terms of recognition by the software, the gameplay found in a multiplayer match of Halo is all the reinforcement that some of us need. This gamerblogger is the founding member [and Captain Emeritus] of the Roadkill Squadron. That’s the mobile infantry and combat motorpool of the Gunslingers. What lukems refers to as “driving people around”, we refer to as “rescuing flag-carriers from hostile territory and dusting off while our tailgunner deals insult to injury over the rear bumper of our Warthog!” Those moments are rewards in and of themselves.

This is not to say that the new player investment system is superfluous. Nay! Please, give us a more profound measure of our intended prowess than a pile of old Wheelman Medals that collect dust. If anything, today’s announcement is a signpost that Halo Reach is well on track to deliver the same in-game experience that has inspired us to maintain a foothold in the Halo Nation for years.

Luke Smith has been one of those gamers to grace my passenger seat with the banner of his enemy – as have been several of his partners in crime on the development side. Bungie knows what makes Halo great, and we all say thankya. Oftentimes, the artist is too close to their own work to understand the experience it creates for an audience. With emerging details like these being brought to light, it is very easy to say that this is not the case for Halo Reach.

They make the games they want to play. We are thrilled to agree.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 11

D0304 T0931 Y2010Game Changer

The time has come for you to forget everything that you know about playing Halo on Xbox Live. Time to let go of that coveted Battle Rifle. Time to learn a new control scheme. Time to embrace new hazzards and master new weapons. Time to map out some new stomping grounds. All bets are off. No one is safe.

Tied the Leader’s most prolific machinimaker, TTL Hoovaloov, knows this. His attention to the details of a game are as razor sharp as his skill with a video editor. For a full tactical briefing on the bomb that was dropped on our comfort zone, click below. Don’t watch it here, fare gamer. Get thee to YouTube. Hoov went to all the trouble to provide this analysis in high resolution, after all.

Gaming is a discipline. To keep things interesting, that discipline is a moving target. Just when you thought you were the most dangerous kid on your block, the game changes. Will you adapt? Will you overcome? Will you be willing to bust yourself back down to Apprentice and undergo boot camp all over again?

Don’t be left behind, ye citizens of the Halo Nation. Abandon your posts in Halo 3, and prepare to get some in the new arena. You have two months to say goodbye to the instinctive memory that has been encoded into your controller-wielding hands. On 03 May 2010, combat will evolve again.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 105

D0214 T1836 Y2010Calling All Lone Wolves

POP QUIZ: What is the most dangerous weapon at your disposal in the playing of Halo 3 on Xbox Live?

The Battle Rifle? The Sniper Rifle? The Spartan Laser? In the right hands, each of these impliments of war can certainly be deadly factors in the outcome of a match.

At Tied the Leader, we would submit that none of these are the ultimate power weapon. In our experience, Teamwork is that which wins battles. The Headset and the Friends List are mightier than the Sword, or the Rocket Launcher. The wingman off your shoulder is more reliable than the weapon in your hand.

When a squad of gamers agrees to cooperate as members of a unified team, something magical happens. Their respective skills are amplified to a higher degree. When the individual functions as something larger than themselves, they become more formidable than they could be on their own.

I am talking, of course, about Clans. Now, it is no mystery that Clans are often reviled by the general population of gamers that inhabit Xbox Live. There are some that suspect them to be bully cliques that thrive on shaming newcomers into a submissive posture. There are poor sports who bemoan the tactical advantage that they create for their members. In response, some gaming bodies eschew the very notion of the word “Clan”, due to the bad static assigned to the term.

The Clan System has long been a backbone of the Halo Nation. In the playing of Halo 2, our rosters and command structures were built right into the game. As the title that launched our mission goes the way of the Forerunner, it is up to us to sustain the momentum that was put into motion for us on the plains of a place called Coagulation.

Enter the Good Game Network. Throughout our campaign against randomly matched warring parties in Halo 3, we have banded together to keep our home fires burning. At the time of this posting, 16 venerable clans still share war stories and create action for one another in the games that we love to play. We are also assisting one another with recruitment. That is where you, the reader, comes into the picture. Long-time-reader, no-time-poster? Well screw that. Ante up and Get Some.

It has been said that the Halo Nation is in a state of recession. Those loyalists who still play Halo 3 week in and week out may detect a thinning in the ranks of willing SPARTANS at the ready on their Friends Lists. This is a failing of no one. It is simply the way of things. Attention spans shorten. New options lure XP-hungry gamers to devour fresh gamerscore every season. Virtual warriors migrate to new and unstained battlefields. The world moves on…

When a population of gamers shrinks, what you end up with is a group of people playing a game because they truly want to; not because it is the only option in the marketplace. The fat is burned off the body politic – the awesome boiled down in a crucible. We have weathered these long winters before at Tied the Leader. In the twilight months of Halo 2, we took on gamers from various other clans that had succumbed to their own intertia. We padded our rosters with ringers and new friends like the spoils from a war of attrition.

In the opinion of this gamerblogger, there is nothing more rewarding than being a member of a Clan. The finest moments of my imaginary career in the service of the United Nations Space Command deal not with personal glory or imaginary medals. They are memories of flawless performances on the part of a real team working together to execute a maneuver cultivated in their very real playbook. Over time, the Clan stops being the means to an end, and starts being the reason why you play.

If you are a “mature” gamer over the age of 21, you are invited to join this party. This is a time ripe for consolidation. Now is for getting organized to sustain the Oo-Rah. Perhaps you have always thought that joining a clan was for other people. Yet, here you are… reading a blog about a video game. That must have taken at least two of three curious jumps. If your interests took you this far, perhaps you can come a little further.

Consider the MidWorld Forum your placement agency in the middle of a pretended warzone. We are in the Nation building business every day, finding good homes for the solitary soldier in search of an army. In a time of stark opportunity, we are hiring… so long as you speak your lesson and say it true.

Staffers from over a dozen Good Game Network Affiliates are standing by, anxious to make your acquaintance. New clans waging their upstarts in our house need boots on the line for inspection. Some are casually recreational. Others are fiercely competitive. Some are brand new. Others were matching their players icons when you were asking “What’s this Halo thing that people always talk about?” There is a flavor on our menu to suit the tastes of anyone who plays a good game. You need only knock on the door.

As Bungie dropped the curtain between us and their next killer application, an unmistakable challenge was issued: “You can leave that Lone Wolf stuff behind.” The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the street-date of the next bout to take the first step in that direction. The following question can be answered now:

When we Fall into Reach, and all of the citizens who fled the Halo Nation to answer a different Call come back to roost, who will be covering your six?

[click to answer]

Posted by XerxdeeJ

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