D1006 T1024 Y2010Bungie Ties The Leader

“Death for you, Gunslingers…”

That was both the threat and the invitation to dance. In recounting the events of a Humpday Challenge against the Forum Ninjas from Bungie.net, it was Urk that held palaver with us in a place of bones and predicted our fortunes. His grim prognosis was nothing short of prophetic.

Behold the uniform of Team Onyx. They are an imposing sight. Aren’t they? If they cross your path, you will need to bring your very best game to survive their attack. As a team, these gamers passionately enforce the notion that Bungie makes games that they want to play – and play well. Last night, the TTL Gunslingers met their defeat in battle against the finest killers from the ranks of the creators of Halo Reach.

Game: Invasion Slayer
Map: Spire
Outcome: Bungie Wins 100-89

We were robbed of our humanity [and our pride] for the first bout of the night, forced to inhabit the hunched form of the Elite invaders. Our opponents controlled the vertical high-ground and rained fire down from above. Bungie taught a harsh lesson in resource management as well, controlling the territories and the reinforcements that they yield. On too many occassions, we allowed them to steal our own spoils of war and use them against us…

Game: Capture the Flag
Map: Hemorrhage
Outcome: Stalemate – Bungie wins by Kill Count

A classic standard of Halo gameplay was selected out of foolish sentimentality by this gamerblogger. The Gunslingers were unable to breach the iron-clad defenses of the Onyx base. Waves after waves of strike teams crashed upon their shields, surrendering the kills that would end up earning Bungie the bragging rights for victory in a second consecutive round…

Game: Team Slayer
Map: Boardwalk
Outcome: Tied the Leader wins [barely] 100-99

With the match decided, there was nothing left for us to defend but our dignity. Team Onyx kept their forces tightly knit into a deadly web of crossfire. They seemed to have an uncanny knack for luring us into their killzone, and then tightening the noose around the bravest [or most foolhearty] of us. After giving up a dangerous lead in the first half of the match, the Gunslingers adapted – choosing to exchange fire over longer sightlines instead of marching into the slaughter like lambs…

Previsouly, the Gunslingers emerged victorious from a Humpday Challenge against Bungie. That was in a different game – a different time. On Reach, everyone plays for keeps. Our record against The Maker is now even. One win. One loss. Last night, Bungie tied the leader.

It must be said that the statistical outcome of these matches is less important than the fact that they happen at all. These Humpday Challenges are a prime example of what makes Bungie so special as a development house. Their gesture of sharing a friendly match with the people who play their games is a catalyst that sparks to life the blue flame of community. They are curious about us. It makes us curious about each other. From there, Reach is what we make of it together.

As always, and even in defeat, it was our pleasure to sample the gameplay of the very people who wrought it from code. The TTL Gunslingers say thankya for the chance to be schooled by the masters of their own domain. What do we say now? There is only one thing to say…

Good Game.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 13

D0715 T2212 Y2007Open Letter to our Challengers


Thanks for kicking our asses. No, really. Upholding your Roman tradition, you came, you saw, and you conquered. Veni, Vidi, Vici, indeed!

It was a good time. The Gunslingers are not above a solid thrashing. Truth be told, it was refreshing. Steamrolling over unranked, mismatched opponents in Big Team Battles had made us soft. We needed a fierce wake up call, and you rang our bells. You reminded us of how a formidable opponent plays. We were thrilled to simply have you all stay in the game to the end. That was real nice, for a change. Conceding to you the win – again and again – was a small price to pay for good games against good gamers.

We posted a recap, so everyone who came to check out the Gunslingers would know that you sent us running for cover with our hats on our backs. The closest we could come to holding our own against you that night was to Tie a match on Coagulation. I know what you are thinking: “A tie on Coag?” Believe it, people! Otherwise, you outslayed us, controlled that hill, and blew our base to kingdom come. Cheers.

Win, Lose, or Tie, we were grateful to answer your challenge. It is, after all, our favorite way to game. Matchmaking rarely sends us people with character of your caliber with whom to butt heads. We’ll be seeing you. Check your six!

8Bit Brigaders!

Thanks for the rematch. We like you cats. It’s not just because we seem to win when we play.

Don’t get me wrong. Winning is fun, but its not why the TTL Gunslingers are in business. We wanted to seek out the finest citizens of the Halo Nation – and kill them.

A challenge issued by the 8Bit Brigade is a sure thing in a world full of unsafe bets. It’s a good time had by all. Always. We learn a few things about honor and sportsmanship every time we game with you. You are gentlemen – just the sort of digital sportsmen that we hoped to lure to our forum when we built it.

We posted a recap of our matches with you as well. It’s not up there to glorify the scoreboard, but rather to let everyone know where to go calling in search of a good game – after they have challenged us, of course!

The TTL Gunslingers can only hope that this sort of action will keep rocking steady until late September. With a whole staff of Challenge Captains within our ranks, we can only wonder who else is out there – still playing the game as a team. Our doors are still open to the gamers who continue to call Halo 2 their battleground of choice.

Is there anyone else? Tied the Leader is calling you out, one final time. In the twilight days of Halo 2, we need to stick together – now more than ever. Please consult our forum for all of your gaming needs! Suit up and throw down your gauntlet.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Challengers? 7

D0708 T1623 Y2007Do you know where your Xbox has been?

If you are up on your gizmo gossip, you might have heard the one about the gamer who bought a used Xbox 360, only to find out that it was forever banned as a viable portal for Xbox Live. The backlash is so obvious; you don’t even need to read the whole article. There go the binary bullies at big, bad Microsoft; doing everything they can to crush the dreams of the little guy! Again!

Microsoft is an easy target for the pedestrian hater. When you go to shoot those guns of non-conformism, you aim high. It’s usually the industry leader who gets shot in the back, after all; since they are the ones out in front of the pack.

This bloggergamer would like to take a moment to salute the manufacturers of the Xbox for executing bolder maneuvers in the interest of making the world safe for the respectable gamer. Since its earliest inception on a stock Blogger.com template, ‘Tied the Leader’ has sought to unify the voices of gamers who play the game for love of the game. Despite our boldest efforts, we continue to be a vocal minority. There is, however, hope for the war effort.

Anyone who has played more than three games of Halo 2 on Xbox Live knows all too well the sort of behavior that results in an Xbox becoming forever banished from the realms of Halo 2 – and other “fine” games. Prior to the implementation of these more drastic measures, the practice of combatting the scum of Xbox Live was about as successful as pulling weeds or busting your friendly neighborhood smack dealer on their corner of choice. No sooner was a gamertag banned, than a new one grew back in its place.

With a gaming market flooded with free vouchers to try Xbox Live, we enjoyed these personalities three months at a time. It was all too easy for a new head to grow back on the victim that was hounded from our midst. The Community of Grief seemed to enjoy a seemingly endless population of replacement soldiers.

Banning one gamertag was obviously too small a penalty. The worst case scenario behind that tactic was the loss of a $50 value. To the people who perpetrated that destruction, trashing the online multiplayer experience for the fans of Halo 2 was apparently a pastime that was worth $50 – numerous times over, even.

That war has escalated, friends. You want to eliminate crime from the streets of Turf? You gotta go straight to the source. What are you prepared to do? They pull a modded map? You pull a banhammer. They send one of yours to the blue screen? You send one of theirs to Best Buy. That’s the Chicago Way. And that’s how you get Capone!

In making this move, Microsoft stands a good chance of completely alienating a viable segment of their market. The same business entity that is often described as a soulless juggernaut has decided to risk some diminished financial returns in search of something called “quality”. In this case, we are talking about quality of community. They know who their loyal consumers are, and they are smart enough to know that they are not the spoiled little brats that abuse a gadget until it is replaced for them.

The only thing that will sustain the health of an online community is enforced accountability. Gamers will only be so concerned about their Xbox Live Reputation. If they are the sort that is not concerned about reputation in real life, you can’t very well assume that they will give a rat’s ass that you are cursing their assumed name in the upload screen. There must be consequences. You know what you get in a society without consequences? You get Anarchy. It’s punk rock to think Anarchy is cool. It’s also Punk Rock to choke on your own vomit before you are 30. Hint: Both of those things are bad.

For those gamers that are irate over the purchase of an impotent Xbox 360, we can only advise that you should have bought your Xbox fresh. There are some things in this life that you just do not buy used. If it’s worth owning, it is worth owning clean and new! This includes handguns, napkins, chewing gum, undergarments, toothbrushes, handguns, bandages, produce, shoe inserts, all forms of contraception, beverages, matresses, snorkeling equipment, batteries, orthodontia, plungers, lightbulbs, artificial organs, cigarettes, cotton swabs, pre-fabbed sexual partners, movie tickets, roll-on toiletries, handguns, and yes… your very own Xbox Gaming System. Don’t get me wrong. I think Al Gore is a swell guy, but there are some things that you just don’t recycle.

Think about it. Take any of those aforementioned products and insert it into the following sentence:

“Hey, check it out, I picked myself up a used ___________ !”

The response would be laced with shock and revulsion.

“Do you know who used that ________ last?”

To make a long story short [too late], the moral is this…
You don’t want to inherit someone else’s problems.

The other moral to the story is that Microsoft puts the good guys first. You can always tell who they are. They are ones who say “Good Game!”

Even if it wasn’t.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 17

D0429 T2357 Y2007TTL Salutes the Best Thing On Television

What did you do last night, fair gamer?

Did you watch television? Or play Halo?

This gamer played Halo. Again. Over two years since I first spun the disc in a tray, I sought out good games in Halo 2 on Xbox Live.

People are always asking me how often I play Halo. This question comes most often from the uninitiated. [Your fellow gamers, after all, are the ones who ask “When the f&%k are you going to play Halo again?”] The ungamed imagination is staggered by the idea that someone would devote hours out of a week to playing the same game – time and time again. The same overplayed scenarios on the same scorched maps. For all they know, the Halo Nation Experience is like being locked up in prison, with nothing but a dusty Pong box to help pass the hours.

Rote. Repetition. Replay. Respawn.

Those of us in the know can attest that this is not the way of things. On this day, there were over 200,000 of us. We are not couch potatoes. We are active participants in the best experience that can be had in front of the television.

The curious parties are the same ones who log even more hours riding the couch, soaking up prime time programming. As if it was an ooze of liquid crystal corn syrup, they slurp what gets slopped, and then come back for thirds. Television is not called The Idiot Box for nothing.

They get lost on an island where withholding crucial plot elements passes for “mystery”. They follow the cartoonish travels of murderous slobs through backalley deals that deprive honest people of the money they need to settle up debts incurred at the track. They watch an average jack torture his way through yet another day that amounts to the sum of our national security fears. They immerse themselves [vicariously] in contests that employ an entire galaxy of balls that sport a seemingly unending variety of coverings. They cheer a parade of citizens who sacrifice their own realities for a shot at everything from a job working for an asshole to a record contract to a wad of cash pilfered from a lucky briefcase. They collect any number of serial dramas about doctors, lawyers, or cops. They entertain a sea of talking heads so vast, that everyone can be told exactly what they want to hear by at least one of them. Most recently, they won’t shut up about cheerleaders and the heroes who save them.

This gamer has not even given that last variety a day in court, and he knows he is about to catch hell for hating on it. No matter. This gamer plays Halo. That’s what makes me a gamer.

For those of you about to game, we salute you – for, as a gamer, you choose your own adventure. You write the story. You serve as the director, assembling your cast of characters from a list of friends. You don’t like one of the characters in your ensemble? Show them the boot, or mute them like a crooked news anchor who thinks that celebrity tragedy amounts to current events.

If the main character in your Halo Experience is an idiot… Well, that can only be your fault. That’s easier to fix than a last-minute rewrite of a season finale.

The gamers in the Army of the Halo Nation are the best thing on this gamer’s television. Lucky for me, you people don’t seem to be in any danger of getting cancelled any time soon. Your ratings are just too high.

These are great days we’re living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with guns.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Gamers 16

D0328 T2040 Y2007TTL Salute to the Ghostbuster

These marauding packs of hovercraft pilots comprise the Biker Gangs of the Halo Nation, waving to each other as they pass on the streets of Headlong or Terminal. They are the stunt fighters of any respectable mechanized-infantry. They boost a blue-streak through the warzone, riding on dual-contrails of pimpin’ energy. While anyone can assume the controls of a Ghost, it is the Ghostbuster that belongs on the stick of that craft before all other gamers in their raiding party.

If you can hear that undulating engine approaching, it may already be too late for you, friend. That big, fat, red blip on the six of your motion tracker is a monster, come to devour you for lunch like a flying purple people eater. You can bob. You can weave. Hold onto that blue key all you want, Jack. The Ghostbuster is harder to rope than a Unicorn.

The Ghost, in and of itself, is easy to underestimate. It’s light. It’s fragile – easy to counter with a well placed plasma grenade. In the right hands, however, that little chariot can become the most dangerous craft in the fracas. Strafing a vicious circle around ‘Hog Teams and Tanks of all variety and origin, a Ghostbuster can take down larger vehicles like the cheetah that hamstrings the elephant.

A Ghostbuster who has honed their craft is essential to any Big Team load-out. They are the Scouts. They are the Rocket Shoppers. They are first into the fray, fearless and dangerous and secure in their skills. A daredevil Ghostbuster is the designated Sniper Hunter for any team. The message is clear: “You want to no-scope something, you long-barreled camper? Take a shot at my oversized nose – all the better to splatter you with. Catch me if you can, because here I come for you.”

For the battle-hardened Ghostbuster, the Splatter Medal is the prize of choice. The Ghost itself is fronted by an anti-personnel battering ram to be feared by all. The guns on the front are best employed to make targets dance like the drunk in the saloon. Splatter-thirsty pilots will spray your feet with plasma bolts, just hoping that it panics you into the nice, lazy arc of a jump. It is at that moment that you become their quarry. You provide the bump and the set. They provide the spike. Your final mistake on that particular spawn concludes with a solid punting of your ragdoll to the other side of the map. Thank you for flying the unfriendly skies.

Let’s hear it for the Ghostbuster, Halo Nation! Who you gonna call?

Take a bow, Mister!

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 6

D0217 T0047 Y2007TTL Salutes the Tail-Gunner

The Halo Nation is sheathed in a rich tapestry of vivid characters that play a role in their own grand war story. Each night, tens of thousands of us descend upon the grid in search of our own personal moments of glory. For every gamer who deals themselves into the game through the random chaos of Matchmaking on Xbox Live, there is that perfect hand that they all crave. Each of us hopes to be dealt a full-house with our favorite map, favorite objective, and [maybe, just maybe] our favorite weapon.

In a series of articles to begin now and continue indefinitely, Tied the Leader would like to take a moment to salute those master craftsman of mayhem who make a name for themselves by embracing their own combat specialty. These are the heroes of the virtual battlefield. They are the career snipers, wheelmen, defenders, demolitions experts, riflemen, fragmentation junkies, scouts, tankers, pilots, and rocketeers. When the game is afoot and the clock starts ticking, you will know where to find them. They are committed to their lesson and they say it true.

To launch the parade, this gamer has selected his very favorite breed: The Tail-Gunner. Specifically, Tied the Leader salutes the specialist rated above his peers for use on the M12 LRV Light Anti-Aircraft Gun as fitted to the standard issue Warthog. The Tail-Gunner is the arm-chair trooper that you want pulling revolutions on your turret platform – Chainhog or Gauss, take your pick. They pack the gear to kill while you steer.

With the exception of the occasional splatter, any Warthog Team is only as effective as its Tail-Gunner. No Master will get very far trying to run Bartertown without a Blaster. The Gunner is the fearless marksman who hops on board when its time to roll. While the other teammates are waving a Hog Pilot off with “Go away, I am sniping…” the Tail-Gunner is calling for pickup and dust-off. Hog pilots seek them out by player’s icon. They ask for them by ‘tag when the family car respawns magically and triumphantly in the garage.

These daredevil dead-eyes rule the battlefield when they find their zone. They wield the heaviest weapon in any theatre of combat served up by Halo 2. A true Tail-Gunner can pick an enemy combatant on the bounce out of the air with a bolt of charged particles. Masters of the craft take hapless noobs off their feet while they fumble to reload the rocket launcher. They keep their head on a swivel, picking out targets with mortal accuracy. When there are no targets to be found, they instinctively look off the nose of the ‘Hog, blazing the trail with a steady sweep of hellfire.

During a combat scenario in the Vietnam War, the life expectancy of the door-gunner in a helicopter was slight – 9 to 22 seconds, depending on which source you consult. While the length of time is in question, a seasoned Tail-Gunner from the realms of Halo 2 knows that breed of peril. They are the bullet-magnets that draw the flack when the chariot rolls through the badlands. Between the two gamers commanding the Hog, everyone trains their cross-hairs on the one dishing out the punishment. Far too often, the Tail-Gunner takes one for the team, so that the Hog may rush again – say thankya.

While the Pilot may chart the course, any Tail-Gunner worth his subscription fee is the Captain. Calling out targets as they rear their ugly helmets, the gunner describes the threat-matrix of the landscape. Among the TTL Gunslingers, there is one golden rule for this rare breed of hero: in a worst-case scenario, the Tail-Gunner dies with the ‘Hog. This is altogether fitting and appropriate. After all, any self-respecting Captain goes down with the ship.

Join us, fair gamer, in our salute to the Tail-Gunner. If you know a Halophile on your list who fits this description, leave a shout-out for them. Pin a medal on their chest with a comment below.

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Tail-Gunners 11