The Upper Echelon (TUE) is a group on Bungie.net solely for Halo 3 players who are at grade 4 in their current rank or have earned three or more gold commendations in Halo Reach. It's a safe haven from the flaming and rank bashing which can flare up on the main forums; regardless of whether a person has Gold Bars or Five Stars they'll be encouraged to join in friendly discussions and conversations within the forums. Founded by N1CK5TER on November 24, 2008 and currently administrated by BrenGT2, TUE has approximately 450 members however many of these members could said to be "silent supporters" as they tend to be inactive in the group.
The Upper Echelon's motto is "Gold Bars and Five Stars!" and also has a presence on both Halocharts and Facebook. TUE frequently has organised game nights such as TUEsday in which the active members play custom games on Tuesday evenings with group specific awards (as well as building community spirit) and frequently meet up in Halo 3's matchmaking in order to show everyone that gold bars are not bars of shame and that folks with 5 stars simply shouldn't be messed with. The general consensus would be that active members in TUE prefer Big Team Battle when it comes to kicking back with some buddies. Members also have interest in some other games such as Infinity Ward's popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Ensemble Studios' Halo Wars.
The Upper Echelon's history is one full of events. The original idea for the group was created by N1CK5TER and xTxVx Casualty. This soon led to the group being formed on November 24, 2008. The group grew quickly, reaching 100 members by late February 2009. By this time, some prominent community members including Bryan Simon had become members of the group. Consistent successful recruitment saw the group reach 200 members on March 20, 2009. In the summer of 2009, both N1CK5TER and xTxVx Casualty left the group and focused on new projects, leaving the administration roles in the hands of BrenGT2 who also appointed MR DROZ as a co-administrator. Group growth stagnated somewhat at around 350 members until October 2009 when The Upper Echelon was featured on Bungie Favorites and BrenGT2 and MR DROZ were interviewed on the Community Spotlight. This feature saw the group membership soar to over 420 members in just over two weeks. With the age of Halo 3, growth has begun to slow again, and the group is currently considering options as to how to incorporate Halo: Reach into the entrance requirements.
The Upper Echelon currently only accepts members who have achieved the grade four level of their respective ranks, be it Master Sergeant, Staff Captain, Field Major, Strike Commander, or Force Colonel. An exception was made for Brigadier Generals and Five Star Generals, allowing potential members to enter the group if they were within 100 EXP of achieving their respective ranks. This was done due to the large EXP requirement for these two ranks. Those who can accept new members are BrenGT2, ev1l tr1t0n, Rodzilla, and BBZak. With the release of Halo Reach, the requirement of earning three or more gold commendations was added as an entrance requirement. The two requirements are not related, and entrance is granted if a player meets one of the criteria but not the other.
The first major event and main event in the group is TUEsday. Originally created by BrenGT2 under the name TUE Tuesday, it was meant to be a great way for the relatively new group to form stronger member bonds in a series of custom games in Halo 3. Tuesday was chosen since the first three letters in "Tuesday" are also the three letters of the abbreviated name of the group. The name was modified after SpartanO87Kelly took over hosting the weekly event. TUEsday is actually pronounced "Tee You Eesday" with the first three letters pronounced phonetically, rather than being pronounced like the day name.
TUEsday was one of the major ways that The Upper Echelon supported Bungie's Haiti relief effort, with nearly 25 members participating in the event at different times during the evening. The event was also extended to Wednesday evening to further support the relief efforts. All members were required to wear the distinctive heart emblem in order to gain entrance into the event.
bs angel of the popular gaming blog "Hawty McBloggy" was a featured guest during a TUE Tuesday event. This event was extremely popular and saw about 20 different members participate at different times in the evening. As per custom when playing with a prominent community member, one of the first games played MR DROZ's creation "Drunken King" on a modified version of Guardian. The same was done when a number of TUE group members played with Rooster Teeth Comic illustrator Luke McKay.
TUE Tuesdays have also been the primary events where The Upper Echelon's group photos have been taken. The second group photo, consisting of eleven of the most active members of the group was taken on a map by RHCP182 and features a TUE logo as the backdrop. A number of the members were riding in vehicles, signifying the group's overall liking of the Big Team Battle gametype in matchmaking.
Another event that was ran by one of our members was a campaign challenge. It started with a version in Halo 3 in May of 2009 and was ran by onyx spartan. It ran for nine weeks with a new level being put up each week, with the new level brought about new challenges in order to complete the level. Shortly after Reach was released, the challenge was started up once again; this time however, it was cancelled after only three levels due to not enough time to maintain the challenge and a low turn out. There are currently no plans being made of this event returning at a later date.
In July of 2009, TUE had its first racing league. This event was a short lived one however as it was cancelled after major flaws in organization and lack of participation from members. The event was originally designed to last until the release of ODST where the campaign challenge would resume. Neither was the case though, the event was cancelled after three weeks and the ODST campaign challenge never came to fruition.
TUE vs BKP:Edit
On December 22, 2010, TUE participated in a friendly match with members of the Bungie Kids Podcast group. A total of three games were played, Classic Slayer on Powerhouse, Oddball on Anchor 9, and CTF on Tempest. The Bungie Kids Podcast group won two games and TUE won one. As a result, the winners of the match were the Bungie Kids Podcast. There may be more matches between the two groups in the future as many members of BKP are in The Upper Echelon.
Group Ranks and RolesEdit
The Upper Echelon consists of a normal semi-linear rank progression system which is primarily based on participation in the group forums and Xbox LIVE events. A new member simply has the role of "Member" and the highest non-admin role is "Mythic Member." Promotions are generally given out en masse, however, individual promotions are given out from time to time.
The current member ranks are as follows from lowest to highest:
Forgotten One: A member who has left the group or has been kicked.
Member: Basic title given to all new members.
Graduate Member: Increased trust and good forum proficiency. Generally, all members who post even semi-regularly achieve this role.
Hardened Member: High forum proficiency and moderate level of trust members who receive this role tend to have been active for around three to four months and have participated in TUE Tuesday events.
Is Not Forgotten: Given to members who rank up and lose their "gold bars." Once they regain their gold bars, they receive an automatic promotion above the role they had before they get this one.
Veteran Member: High levels of trust, forum proficiency, and long-time membership to the group.
Mr. 100: Given to MR DROZ when he reached his 100 recruit.
Heroic Member: Very few members have achieved this level, though a few more are currently in the works for being promoted.
Legendary Member: Only two members are currently of this rank in the group. Only those who have been members since the beginning have been able to be considered for this level.
Mythic Member: After a recent group of promotions, only two members hold this title. It is also the highest rank one can achieve before serving as a moderator for the group.
Recruitment Officer: Currently, BBZak is the only holder of this rank. SpartanO87Kelly had this rank but due to other commitments, requested that this role be removed temporarily.
TUE HCV Man: A special title reserved for Rodzilla, the founder of The Upper Echelon's HaloCharts destination.
Moderatorus Maximus: The main moderator role for the group. Currently, this role is held by ev1l tr1t0n. A second moderator position will be made available once the group surpasses the 500-member mark.
TUE Overlord: Full control group administrator. This role is held by BrenGT2. MR DROZ formerly held this role but requested that it be removed.
Specialty roles are something that The Upper Echelon has done for rewarding group members for excellent performance, either in the group or in other aspects of the Bungie and Halo community. They have also been given out as humorous titles in response to a witty forum post or just for fun. Generally, the name of the group administrator changes and the name is determined by members through a vote. Often they are a play on words based on popular movies or shows, such as "TUE stooges" (from the Three Stooges) and the TUEs Brothers (From the Blues Brothers). At least one of the 15 available roles is saved for one of these special titles and is always changing. Some of the many other past special titles are listed below:
Goat Snatcher: Given to ev1l tr1t0n when he achieved his Brigadier General rank. It stems from a video of an eagle swooping down and carrying off a goat to eat. Since then, this has also become a nickname of his online.
Community Organizer: Given to BrenGT2 prior to his promotion to group administrator for his work organizing TUE Tuesday and other TUE community events.
Heroic Photographer: Given to anyone who submitted a photo to BrenGT2's Flickr photostream from the TUEsday for Haiti event. After one month, they all received a promotion beyond this special role.
Community VIP: An early role given to non-grade four members who were given admittance to the group for their outstanding efforts in the greater Halo community.
SpamMeWithRickRolls: Given to the member who found the Rick Roll hidden by MR DROZ somewhere in the forums. SpartanO87Kelly eventually won this role.
is a Friggen BEAST!: Given to FoMan 123 when he achieved his General rank in Halo 3.
Did a Barrel Roll: Given to a member who posted a witty remark in the forums.
Gold Bar Cadence: Given to T3h Knight for his cadence dedicated to TUE.
News You Can Use: The news specialist role. Retired because news has been submitted by various other sources.
On October 14, 2009 TUE was featured for two weeks on Bungie Favorites. The interview with BrenGT2 and MR DROZ can be seen here.
During the second week, Haloassassin92 and Skitzo yo were interviewed for their map, Sand Gulch. The interview can be seen here.
N1CK5TER, BrenGT2 and MR DROZ were primarily responsible for selecting the 40 files which were featured. A special group called "Cosmic Muffins" was created to put together the final selections and send them off to urk. Files were from varied members, however, more active members were given some priority. The first week of being featured generally garnered good support with the files totaling 2 999 983 downloads. The second and final week saw fewer downloads with a total of 2 720 100. By the end of the two weeks, TUE's files had been downloaded a total of 5 720 083 times. This exposure was also the cause for the single largest jump in group membership in the group's history. Nearly 100 new members joined the group's ranks in these two weeks. A large number of them remain active to this day.
Forums and ModerationEdit
In general, the forums in The Upper Echelon span a range of topics that go beyond Halo 3 or Bungie. Major threads that have seen a large response include the topic "What have you accomplished today?" This topic was a discussion thread designed to let people share accomplishments that they had achieved, ranging from getting a difficult achievement in a game to buying a new car. The TUEsday thread and it's predecessor, the TUE Tuesday thread both have seen great popularity. Both threads were designed to be a place where news about upcoming events, responses to previous events, recaps of events and discussions about custom games included in the events could be posted. One of the most popular threads, which only recently saw its end was the venerable "War Stories Thread." This thread is a place where people can talk about Halo 3 matchmaking accomplishments and recap good games that they had. Often, members will post links to the games they are discussing as well as any files they created.
By far the most popular thread in the group's history is the "Echelon Lounge." It is the main "off topic" thread where nearly anything can be posted and shared. The original Lounge, posted on December 2, 2008, saw a staggering 5037 replies over its ten month lifespan. The thread became so large that some people reported having trouble loading the current page. As a result, on September 1, 2009, the original thread was shut down. A new system, one that creates a new version of the lounge every month, has been the solution to this problem. Even on a monthly basis, the lounge consistently sees 300 to 400 replies, and remains the most active thread in The Upper Echelon.
The Upper Echelon currently is moderated by ev1l tr1t0n and BrenGT2, however, very few incidents requiring moderators have occurred. In the 1.5 years the group has been active, there have only been two major incidents which have led to members being permanently banned, and only seven occasions where members have received a three day ban. This relatively incident-free nature has led to the 1:250 rule, basically, one moderator for every 250 members. So far, it has proven to be the most efficient mix for the number of members and the level of activity in the group.
The Upper Echelon is known for interviewing prominent members of the community thanks to the efforts of MR DROZ. He has interviewed a number of the moderators on Bungie.net and may soon be interviewing firestream, the creator of HaloCharts. All the questions asked in the interview come from the members of the group. Members are encouraged to post general questions in a thread specifically set up for the interview. Once a sufficient number of questions have been amassed, MR DROZ takes these questions to the interviewee and has them answer. Often, interviewees have had to answer over fifty questions, and so far, all have stepped up to the challenge.
TUE Paparazzi was created to interview members of The Upper Echelon, allowing others to better know their fellow member. Created and run by Queens Knights, TUE Paparazzi has interviewed a number of members and has many more interviews in the works.