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Q: What is Halo CE? A: Halo Custom Edition is an optional, unsupported download that is free for all users of Halo PC, which will allow you to play multiplayer games on custom maps that will be created by Halo fans. It is now available from Gearbox; see their forums at http://gbxforums.gearboxsoftware.com/ubbthreads.php for download locations. Q: What is the HEK? A: The Halo Editing Kit is an optional add-on to Halo CE which allows the creation of the custom maps that Halo CE can play. It contains some of the tools that Bungie made to create the original multiplayer levels for Halo. Q: Is Halo CE an official Bungie release of Halo PC? A: No, the changes in Halo CE were created by Gearbox, and will be supported via their web forums at http://gbxforums.gearboxsoftware.com/ubbthreads.php . This release has been tested in-house by Gearbox while Bungie’s test team focuses on Halo 2, so they’ll be the ones to answer all questions about Halo CE and the HEK. Of course, Microsoft Product Support will still be available for the retail version of Halo PC. Q: Where can I find the official FAQ? A: There are several good FAQ compilations on the Gearbox website and their forums. This one will just fill in a few answers from the Bungie side. There’s a good (fan-compiled) FAQ compilation at http://gbxforums.gearboxsoftware.com//showflat.php?Cat=&Board=Halo& amp;Number=175999&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpa rt=1 Q: Why a separate release? A: One of the side-effects of adding support for user-created maps was that the map file format had to change. This made the new version too large to download as an auto-update, so we separated this build, so that enthusiasts can enjoy the new Halo CE features while 1.04 remains available for those who are happy with it. Q: Why has this release taken so long? A: Gearbox's custom-map-capable build is rich in features and so it's a complicated beast. The scope of the Halo CE release is far beyond a traditional game auto-update so Bungie and Gearbox teams had to work together on a system for releasing the build, while also providing a means to release future updates and content. The upside of the wait is that the bundle can now also include new features, and Gearbox has had time to address more bug-fixes. Since Gearbox provided the testing on this release, they will be the ones best able to address any questions you might have and will gladly tend to that stuff through their forums. Q: What about future patches? A: Since Gearbox and Bungie are both happy with the review process we’ve followed over the past couple weeks, we’ll probably follow this path for future non-critical updates to Halo PC: If Gearbox has features to add, we’ll give it a really quick look-over and hand it back to be made available as an auto-update from Halo CE. Of course, any critical updates (like Halo PC 1.04) will continue to be made available for the retail game. Q: Will the new Halo CE shader system be made available for single-player (retail version) at some point? A: In-game frame rates depend on several things; most generally: your hardware, your settings, and the area of the game you're in. Here in the test labs where I have compiled the Halo CE version of the single-player maps, I have been able to run "timedemo" to get a repeatable benchmark that represents framerate in a specific set of single-player scenes which are fairly graphics-intensive. Testing was focused on the high-end, since performance tuning is most interesting to our fans with high-end systems to begin with. My test system was a P4 2.53 GHz with 1 GB of RAM. On an Nvidia GeForce FX 5900 Ultra with all game settings "High" and resolutions of 1024, 1280, and 1600, Halo CE timedemo was roughly 5-10% slower than Halo (retail) 1.04. On an ATI Radeon 9800 in the same modes, Halo CE results were just fractionally slower than 1.04, but not to a statistically significant degree. The new shader system primarily benefits lower resolution modes; at 640x480, Halo CE was faster than Retail, by about 14%. Just as there are some game scenarios that are slower, there will also be those that are faster, but since we can't guarantee that this shader system will be a pure improvement for users, we are not currently planning to roll out this version of the shaders for the retail game. Read the original at http://www.bungie.net/Forums/posts.aspx?postID=51694
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