Remember the good old days of the original Xbox Live. If you do, the one game that most of you remember should be Halo 2. For my friends and people immediately surrounding me, this game was more than just a hardcore first person shooter, it was an online experience. Many of my friends got the game just so they could hang out after school and play some of the custom games. However, this experience has changed with the advent of xbox live party chat.
We played hold the base, cops and robbers, and most memorably zombies! These games were not competitive but really just a social gathering for people to get together around the common interest of gaming and Halo 2.
But what made this system of custom games work? No party chat. Halo 2 invented the current online experience that 360 uses, a persistent friends list and good matching. I could start a custom game of zombies, one friend might join, some of his friends would join and before long the game would be full of people that I didn’t even know. I would then make new friends because I was in the open chat channel. Zombies had one channel and Humans had the other.
Also matchmaking was an opportunity to make new friends. Back then everyone had a mic and everyone used it. You would join a game and get matched with some randoms, whom you would talk with and plan the game and this would lead to new friend requests among players.
This does not happen in today’s xbox live culture. If people play online games by themselves most of the time they play with their mic unplugged so they don’t have to talk to other people. On the other hand if you play with a group than you play in party chat and don’t often get a chance to talk to the randoms on a team. I have played a quite a few games of CTF with a four person team and had a random guy as our fifth whom we did not talk to because of party chats exclusiveness.
This is just a realization of the fun that I had during the original Xbox’s online structure and the differences that the Xbox 360 has. I would like to see more custom games played in Halo 4, I honestly think that we can do a better job than 343i on Flood. But this is not something that the game creator can implement, it is a thing that must occur with the players.