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Hello 343i.org and other readers. Welcome back to the latest interview with a big star in the Halo Community: Matclan. Matclan is the admin of bigteambattle.net and I decided to do this interview as part of the Community Spotlight this week surrounding the site he works for. Enjoy: DD: "You've told me before, but could you explain the origin of bigteambattle.net for the readers?" MC: "I believe it all started with a few BTB themed private groups on Bungie.net back in the heyday of Halo 3. After much drama and various leadership changes between then and the launch of Halo: Reach a player who goes by ANUBIS x MT of team Master Theory decided to move the community offsite. So he bought the bigteambattle.net domain and had it set up. After initially getting bigteambattle.net set up Anubis began to drift away from Halo as Reach wasn't (somewhat understandably) to his liking. Initial staff members were overwhelmingly Anubis' team mates. This spawned the meme of "MTbias", implying that everything from forum moderation to map/gametype decisions and settings were in someway biased in favour of us. Fastforward a bit and Anubis passed the site on to Molly aka a400poundwhale who, although friends with a lot of MT members, had no direct skin in the game as she was neither a competitor nor a member of any team or clan. This was by far our most well organised period. And so everything was good until Halo 4 came along. We managed to galvanise interest in a game that was struggling to retain players and pull them back in for a short while; unfortunately what could have been our greatest moment fell foul of miscommunication and personal issues leading to a community revolt in the face of a significantly delayed cash payout. Eventually everyone got paid, however the damage was done and the site was closed with important members of staff no longer considering it worth their time or effort to deal with. Some time later TsengMao then went on to purchase the site and revive it in anticipation of The Master Chief Collection, which as wel all know was a swing and a miss, especially with regards to the stability of custom game lobbies with 16 players at the time. And eventually Halo 5 rolls around, and since the launch of Forge I've been working on getting settings ready to play. The right push came around and we (quite successfully) ran our first H5 event at the end of July. The bigteambattle.net community still feels like it's in hibernation, but we did attract upwards of 160 players of all skill levels to our Summer Shootout tournament which shows that the desire to participate and compete in our events is still very much alive, and so our goal moving forward will be to become the best possible platform for competitive BTB events in Halo's Anglosphere. For anyone just jumping into one of our gametypes there should be a healthy mix of familiarity with Halo 5's default and HCS tournament-ready settings and a little bit of new hotness to adjust to in the form of maps, either completely new thanks to the Forge community, or tweaked slightly in order to improve gameplay flow and tournament viability." DD: "Lots of history with the site. It's an older community than I anticipated. It's a shame that things went downhill with a lot of places after Halo 4. It did well for a period of time but ultimately died and deepened the cracks in the Halo Community. Where do you enter into this story?" MC: "Towards the end of 2010 I ran into Mao and Audley in BTB matchmaking. I don't recall the exact circumstances but that was my in with the BTB community and by the end of the year I applied to join their team and got accepted. The team itself isn't really a thing any more thanks to so many people moving on from Halo or with real life. The community itself goes back much further to the days of Halo 2 and its built-in clan feature. You'd have to ask someone who has been around more than I have to get any info from those days." DD: "So you've been involved for some time now. Do you feel that competitive Big Team is put on the backburner? Like not getting the spotlight as much as other gametypes featured in tournaments and leagues." MC: "Well, in a way I'd say that. But I also don't think it's ever really deserved that kind of focus. Throughout Halo 2 and 3, yeah, people played Ranked/Clan Match and would always get competitive running into other big parties they recognised, but ultimately, and I know some would strongly disagree with me here, the settings were never particularly great. From game to game either the gametypes were too easy to tie, the maps could be escaped/exploited, the vehicle balance was tilted too far in favour of the vehicles (no longer the case, although it's slanted a little heavily against the Warthog in Halo 5 which sort of interrupts some of the infantry-vehicle fluidity that the 'Hog usually bridges). Until Reach did away with ranks for BTB completely people were quite happy just searching the playlist for their BTB fix. Between that and the gameplay issues of Reach people finally were willing to look to custom games in an attempt to fix or alleviate their problems with the game itself. We jumped on this opportunity and found it to be fairly successful, despite reaching out to the wider community feeling like an uphill battle at times. Looking back I think the thing we most closely take after would be the more restrained Squad Battle experience in Halo 3. I try to make use of the sandbox to allow for cool, fun, and competitively sound matches while staying away from the flat out crazy and overpowered stuff that BTB has been easy to associate with in the past. I guess you could say that our approach to Halo 5 has been "8v8 Squad Battle", which I think has worked very well with the sandbox for this game. So far with Halo 5 this approach seems to have been working as we've managed to be spotlighted in 343's own Weekly Community Update and the official @@halo Twitter account has helped spread the word of our event. Next step? Maybe we can try to wrangle a playlist or something. Currently I'm looking forward to an announcement coming soon (depending on when this gets posted). I guess this is an announcement of an announcement saying to keep your eyes on bigteambattle.net's homepage and Twitter account @OfficialBTB" DD: "And yea that's something I was going to mention. The $1000 Summer Shootout Tournament turned out to be a great success. 160+ players of mainly high skill levels duked it out for some awesome J!NX HCS apparel and part of that $1000 prize pool. Is it alright to ask about what may be in store for the future or should we just stick to your word and keep our eyes peeled for announcements? Feel free to keep it disclosed." MC: "It would be best to wait for the announcement as we've still got a few things to set in stone before we want to make any definitive statements." DD: "I make sure to add that to our Community Calendar each week so you're covered there. Let's talk about another contest you're currently involved in. Judging for the most recent Meet Your Maker Forge Contest is upon us. You're obviously an expert on Big Team Battle and that's why you're a judge. How'd you and Psychoduck develop this idea for the latest MYM?" MC: "I think I just got asked if I'd like to judge. Likely some time after consulting with Duck and Fated on their map, Artemis. The contest itself isn't something I'm involved in organising." DD: "Yeah so it's not mentioned but you've had a fair deal of influence on Artemis, one of my current favorite BTB maps that I hope comes to matchmaking. You've also modified other maps to adapt to Pistol/AR starts. Can you tell us what other maps you changed?" MC: "After discussing things with the original forgers I've made adjustments to Guillotine (often with Duck; it's always better to have to convince someone else of why a change should be made rather than just doing it on a whim), Fracture, Scavenger, and wait for it... Torque! Yes, that Torque!. At least, those were the five maps we played in our tournament last weekend. However the event revealed a few issues with all of them except Artemis so I've gone back into Forge to apply further adjustments to the other four. Download any of them with the understanding that they're back to being works in progress. That said, I'm hoping to increase the map count for the next tournament (oops, did I let that slip?) so there are a few other maps that will be doing the rounds in my testing lobbies. Additionally I'm expecting the Meet Your Maker contest to unearth a few hidden gems that might be usable for my purposes, so we'll just have to wait and see what becomes of that." DD: "We'll see if anyone catches that . I actually do enjoy BTB Torque and I love when people say things like, "Who thought BTB Torque would be a good idea?" There's some pretty good stuff going on in the BTB scene in general right now and you seem to play a part in just about all of it. As for the Forging however, have you always been involved in Forging maps?" MC: "I've always loved the concept of Forge since Halo 3. Initially I was introduced to the game with endlessly silly Forge fun-fests with school friends; spawning the most ridiculous items we could and killing each other in weird and wonderful ways. Once I started playing the game more seriously I used it mostly as a tool for learning spawns - you have no idea how much I suffered with Halo 5 until Forge launched with Cartographer's Gift and I could finally go and memorise spawn locations. Since Halo: Reach I've taken to Forge primarily as an editing tool rather than a creation tool. I have one reasonably popular map under my belt called Fortress, and I considered remaking it for Halo 5 but after building the bases I realised that the difference in height that a player could attain from a basic jump - let alone a Spartan Ability assisted one - simply broke the flow of the map. As an editor though I thoroughly appreciate Forge; especially in Halo 5 where the more great content the Forge team pushes out for creators the more little options I have access too, such as the recent additions of a good chunk of the REQ sandbox. Can I just take this time to state how much I love the Recon DMR? And all of the different loadout weapon options, really - they give me a much finer amount of control over how I can approach balancing any particular part of a map. I enjoy refining maps because it's a constant back and forth of experimentation until eventually you hit the sweet spot that a lot of map creators simply don't quite reach at the time of their map being released simply because they have a lot more to think about and gather feedback for, whereas I tend to be able to pull in higher level players and review a ton of film to come up with solutions to problems that may go completely unnoticed during initial testing sessions. For example: our Summer Shootout tournament brought several issues to light on Guillotine and Scavenger that despite months of testing with varied lobbies of players simply never showed up previously. Similarly early pre-tournament scrims revealed a nasty spawn trap on Artemis and a host of ways to escape the map boundaries on several maps, all of which we were able to fix prior to these affecting any games that actually mattered." DD: "One of the great things about Forge and custom games is the fact that you can play maps over and over and see what is right and what is wrong. Different players of all skillsets will reveal different issues on the map and give different feedback as you've mentioned. I think your BTB lobbies are a great way to help enhance the maps you choose to play on. So with all that said I think we're going to bring this to a wrap Matclan. Do you have anything you want to say to the readers and/or the Halo Community in general?" MC: "First of all I'd like to thank anyone who participated in or watched the BTBnet Summer Shootout tournament last weekend. Keep your eyes open for more events from us because they will be coming. If you want to get in on testing maps I run a lobby at 9pm EST on most Saturdays to help work out what is and isn't tournament worthy. All players are welcome; all we ask is that you treat the matches somewhat seriously. Finally, thanks for the interview. It's always nice being able to get a bit more exposure for our competitive BTB scene." Thank you Matclan for participating in this! It's been a pleasure working with you on various projects lately and attending your lobbies. Hope you readers liked this and look forward to more soon. Hail peeps
BigTeamBattle.net (BTBnet) is a forum dedicated to competitive large-scale team play in Halo. Dating back to Halo 3, BTBnet was created by previous owner Anubis x MT and has since undergone many leadership changes. Currently, admin and owner TsengMao of eLevate Gaming runs the site in hopes to put competitive Big Team back on the map. He bought it in wake of Master Chief Collection dropping which did not turn out to well however Halo 5 has proven to be quite successful. I recently found my way there to support Matclan, whom I met on the Meet Your Maker Big Team Battle Forge Contest judging panel, on his site's then-upcoming tournament. Summer Shootout The success of $1000 Summer Shootout Tournament brought life back to the forums of BTB.net with 160+ members registering to be in their tournament where winners would receive J!NX shirts, caps, jerseys, and part of a $1000 prize pool funded by Dave Easily. These guys, especially Mao, certainly have connections. Check out the stream where Matclan and I tried our best at some commentating in the spoiler (go easy on us, it was our first time). Forums BTBnet has news for Halo and itself on its pages. It gives registered members forums to write in, a chat box, team registrar, and streams for players to enjoy. Bigteambattle.net runs on phpbb which should seem familiar to the much older members here or people who frequent the Podtacular forums. The Chatbox allows players to quickly post lobby announcements and even posts official announcements from admins automatically: Chatbox BTBnet is a good place to meet skilled competitive players for large lobbies. Check it out some time and take a look at what Matclan had to say in our interview. Look for more Community Spotlights in the future. -Driz