Things I Don't Like About Bungie's Halo2 RSS Feeds

Just in case you weren't aware, Bungie has RSS feeds that contains information on a gamer's recent games (mine for example is here). Overall, I'm happy that Bungie provides this data, and they have a ton of individual game data online (the RSS feed provides links to each game). Furthermore, I hope other XBox games follow suit and provide game data through RSS. However, I feel like they have some serious shortcomings with the feeds.

First, there's no way to easily get another gamer's RSS feed. For example, my link is this: "http://www.bungie.net/stats/halo2rss.ashx?i=175030&k=1441562344". What would make a lot more sense (in my mind) is to have something like this: "http://www.bungie.net/stats/halo2rss.ashx?gamerTag=ViktorJB". This would make it brain-dead simple to figure out what a gamer's RSS feed was. Bungie states (in section 6.6) that "in Bungie.Net, you will only be able to view your own RSS feed. However, we encourage you to share this link with others so that they too can watch your Halo 2 career." But why didn't they make it easier for people to share their gaming data? On other sites that host multiple RSS feeds for their users, you can make an intelligent guess as to what an individual's feed URL will be (e.g. ASP.NET - just stick the username after the URL). Bungie could have done this as well [1].

Next, the feeds have been buggy. For the first two weeks I saw game data of games that I did not participate in. Recently it appears that they might have changed the format. The 2.6 of the Halo2 RSS Excel Workbook was choking on new game data, but 2.6.1 handles it. Furthermore, I noticed (as did others) that I had a game with two players, Hello and Goodbye (in fact, this is the link to my "None on Unknown" game, although it doesn't work anymore), on 1/12/2005. Before that, I was getting items with no game summary data (which is probably what was screwing up the Excel speadsheet).

Another issue is the game data contained within the feed. Granted, all they're doing in the <description> tag is putting in a summary view of the game data, like this:

<description>
Team game played at Tue, 18 Jan 2005 04:11:43 GMT<br/><br/>
Playlist: Team Skirmish<br/>
Neutral Bomb on Coagulation<br/><br/>
<b>Gamertag (Team): Score, Kills, Deaths, Assists</b><br/>
BobDoleExp (1): 2, 6, 8, 3<br/>
ViktorJB (1): 1, 6, 8, 3<br/>
Smalls89 (0): 0, 3, 5, 0<br/>
CaptMurphy2021 (0): 0, 7, 5, 0<br/>
shackel9 (1): 0, 4, 10, 0<br/>
HellHawk (0): 0, 12, 5, 3<br/>
THIRSTY GRUNT (0): 0, 8, 7, 4<br/>
DualBrain (1): 0, 4, 4, 3<br/>
</description> 

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to parse this data. Again, I realize this is just a description of the summary that's meant to be viewed in a RSS reader. But trying to do analysis on this data could be much easier.

Finally, there's no way to get detailed gaming data for a given game. All you get is a summary. You could use the game link provided in the <link> node under the <item> node, but at that point you're going to be stuck parsing HTML, and we all know that's not fun! What I think would be a better option is a Web Service interface to complement the RSS data. The service would provide all sorts of searching capabilities so developers could do all kinds of crazy things to the Halo2 gaming data. You could search for a gamer, get the gamer's recent gaming data, get detailed information on a particular game, get information on a clan...etc., etc. I want to know how many medals I had, who killed me the most and who was my beeyoch, what my shot percentage was...c'mon, I want it all, damnit! ;)

What Bungie has done with their gaming data is a good step, but it needs polish and shine. I hope other game development shops looks at what Bungie has done and pushes the availability of gaming data to better levels.

[1] I'm sure there's some relation to the i and k query string values to a gamer tag. If it's somehow derived from the gamer tag, then one could figure out what the feed URL is. What that relation is, I have no idea, and for all I know it could be two autoincrementing values stored on Bungie's server somewhere (although I highly doubt that).

* Posted at 01.18.2005 12:37:50 PM CST | Link *

Blog History