Forums / Community / Matchmaking Feedback & Discussion

Getting EU/Americas/Australian MM right for Halo 6

OP Thorulfr

The following is a set of suggestions to address the problems regional players have been facing around the launch and lifecycle of Halo 5 with suggestions for how to improve the experience for Halo 6 when the population will likely spike and provide a great opportunity.

The Problem
Regional areas have a lower player count, and those players can't connect to foreign servers without incurring significant latency - this latency ruins the game and makes it frustrating. There are other problems as well, namely that with lower population, if there are too many playlists, or if you try and search during an off-peak time, a regional player simply can't find matches - search times are beyond acceptable limits.

The Solution
Halo 6 needs to launch with regional server selection. We should be able to choose our best server. Similar to how Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Gears of War 4 and Titanfall 1 and 2 work. The gameplay experience is improved MASSIVELY by having a local connection to the server. An example of the patch notes for this function in Heroes of the Storm back in 2015. This function essentially sets the default server for a player to be their lowest ping connection to the nearest data centre. Local players need to match local players.

There are those who don't mind trading low search times; or the ability to search during off peak hours; or the ability to play with foreign friends, for laggy games. For these people an opt-in 'global' option needs to exist.

Why
This will have a series of positive impacts, including much improved player retention. Halo 5 launched with a series of regional matchmaking problems which were later corrected, but the damage was done, the regional population has never recovered. Balanced, Focused and Expanded are a similar solution, and indeed are currently implemented, however since the ability to opt into local only servers by searching Focused isn't a default option, the population is already so small, and only those who are left are the ones who don't mind playing on laggy servers (everyone who values a low latency environment long since left because of the problems) - it doesn't work. The people who are left don't care about Focused, or at least there's not enough of them to provide a match.

While the population is highest during Halo 6's launched, there should be no reason to not have the default setting for regional players be their local connection, as well as an opt in setting for those who don't mind playing overseas.

Keeping population high and providing low ping environments is even more important when you think about how the player base will be further split with Halo 6 likely releasing on both Xbox and PC - In addition, PC players will be even more critical and uncompromising when it comes to latency than console players.

Additional Suggestions
Because all of these problems stem from one problem - low population in the region, I also believe there are a number of other strategies that 343i could implement to drastically improve the game experience for regional players in Halo 6.
Condensed Playlists - many playlists with low population means that the playlists aren't populated healthily.
Combined Ranked/Social playlists - an idea first proposed by Josh Menke, Lead Engagement Designer in his weekly Matchmaking threads, this could also be a way to condense playlists and keep hopper population high.
Different playlist selection for different regions - It makes sense for the US to have 10-12 playlists, but in a region where there isn't the population to support that many, maybe it makes more sense to have a different, smaller set of playlists.
The ability to see our ping to the server - This greatly helps identify and troubleshoot network problems and if the connection is acceptable.
Population indicators - Could be a powerful tool for a regional player to search in the most populated playlists.
Matchtime indicators - In the same vein, could be a useful tool for helping people understand and manage their expectations when it comes to search times.
Persistent Matchmaker - What if the matchmaker could be looking for potential matches from a pool of people much larger than those who are just searching the playlist, and include all those in menus, in other playlists, and most importantly already in games. Could expand the available population for matchmaking a game significantly and provide useful popups about when a new game is likely to be available.

Thanks for reading
This is a critical issue for the success of regional Halo 6. This affects players from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Perú, Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Scotland, England and more. It's amazing how much effort goes into making all this magic work behind the scenes and the more I look into it the more of an impressive endeavour it seems. I just want want 343i and Microsoft to have the right info to be able to deliver the best experience for us regional players.
If anyone has more questions I can go into more detail.

Further Reading
What exactly is ping and what affects it?
Titanfall 2: How MultiPlay-fuelled servers will work in Australia and New Zealand
Reddit thread where someone asked for something similar over a year ago
Halo 5 is having online issues in Australia - An insight into the problems we faced earlier in the game's lifecycle.
A search on this site or any other Halo related forum will return hundreds of results of frustrated regional players. Many of whom don't really understand the issue but just want to play Halo 5 in a fair environment.
You already posted this topic in a different subforum before. In the future, do not duplicate topics across different subforums. This is considered a form of spam. If your topic doesn't get any hits, that doesn't mean you get to bump it or make it somewhere else.
Chimera30 wrote:
You already posted this topic in a different subforum before. In the future, do not duplicate topics across different subforums. This is considered a form of spam. If your topic doesn't get any hits, that doesn't mean you get to bump it or make it somewhere else.
My apologies, I meant to originally post it here. Could you please delete the other - I have also updated the content significantly - thank you.
Op while I agree totally with what your saying here. It doesn't only effect regional players it also effects players anywhere for that matter. Even US players. It does no player in the US living on the east coast playing on a server on the west coast. Just like it does you no good playing on a server out of your country. But if your country doesn't even have a server for the game your issue even becomes more problematic. Because you then have to hope they add more server options for you. This can be easily done but the problem with H5 and 343i is that its owned by MS studios. And Microsoft hasn't shown any sign of using anything but there data centers. Those other games you have listed above. The reason those games have a selection like they do is because they don't use just MS data centers like Halo does. And thats because those game developers aren't owned by MS. So they do what they want to make there games play well. That is why they have much better success at this then 343i. The number one problem with H5 is what you have stated. This also reflects to why H5s population is where it is today. It isn't that it isn't a good game. Its the fact the game plays poor for a lot of players in general. Not many stick around long when this happens. If H6 follows the similar path as H5 it will be right back to what we have now. If H6 launches with server selection and proper data centers and performs well for more players then H6 will grow in population and not shrink.. I would love to have server selection that showed ping. Most games today have this option. But honestly 343i has shown very little interest in this at all.. They have said we thought about it.. But that's it.. Only time will tell. But really all we have is hopes and dreams..
Your Titanfall examples, especially the combination of

Data Centre selection
and
Population Counter by Playlist within the Server Group

highlight a tremendous curiosity I've always had when searching. Chase the Population or wait for Good Connection (but there's no one there)? Trying specific playlists in Australia is a difficult process and requires Extending the search parameters as far as possible to achieve even getting a match. Having information and choice is valuable here.

My only other reflection is that where you have chosen a specific server instead of going to the Global Pool it restricts total player count inadvertently.

Went back and played H3 (now that it is backwards compatible) and have seen some truly challenging amounts of lag. H5 has fixed a lot of networking by comparison and I do not see such game breaking host problems (at least to the extent of H3). A decade makes a difference.

Thanks for the post
Op while I agree totally with what your saying here. It doesn't only effect regional players it also effects players anywhere for that matter. Even US players. It does no player in the US living on the east coast playing on a server on the west coast. Just like it does you no good playing on a server out of your country. But if your country doesn't even have a server for the game your issue even becomes more problematic. Because you then have to hope they add more server options for you. This can be easily done but the problem with H5 and 343i is that its owned by MS studios. And Microsoft hasn't shown any sign of using anything but there data centers. Those other games you have listed above. The reason those games have a selection like they do is because they don't use just MS data centers like Halo does. And thats because those game developers aren't owned by MS. So they do what they want to make there games play well. That is why they have much better success at this then 343i. The number one problem with H5 is what you have stated. This also reflects to why H5s population is where it is today. It isn't that it isn't a good game. Its the fact the game plays poor for a lot of players in general. Not many stick around long when this happens. If H6 follows the similar path as H5 it will be right back to what we have now. If H6 launches with server selection and proper data centers and performs well for more players then H6 will grow in population and not shrink.. I would love to have server selection that showed ping. Most games today have this option. But honestly 343i has shown very little interest in this at all.. They have said we thought about it.. But that's it.. Only time will tell. But really all we have is hopes and dreams..
Yeah that's a great point, I'm sure US East Coast players would hate the extra latency from playing on a US West Coast server as well, especially when the population of both regions is probably high enough to provide a healthy set of hoppers. The game plays completely differently between 20ms and 100ms, 170ms and 250+ms.

Honestly the current system works well, Azure data centres are located in the most logical areas, the game will put you in a local game if it can - if they could supplement these with Amazon Web Services servers to cover in between kind of areas as well it could only be positive and as you mentioned, other games do this.

It's all a bit of a balancing act between capturing large enough population areas within a server's "catchment" to have healthy hoppers but also keeping the same catchment areas small enough that the people on the fringes don't have horrendous ping options. Perth in Australia's West Coast is as far from the servers in Sydney as California is from New York and doesn't have a big population - it would make sense for Perth folk to connect to the Sydney servers or perhaps the Singapore server.

I guess the point is that people need to be able to choose their server and have games on that server, with information (ping) so they can help to curate their own experience. Only if there's no options for a local game at all should it look elsewhere (which is the problem regional players face at the moment in Halo 5). Halo 6 however is a big opportunity to get this right from day 1 which will have a huge impact on how well the game does.
Your Titanfall examples, especially the combination of

Data Centre selection
and
Population Counter by Playlist within the Server Group

highlight a tremendous curiosity I've always had when searching. Chase the Population or wait for Good Connection (but there's no one there)? Trying specific playlists in Australia is a difficult process and requires Extending the search parameters as far as possible to achieve even getting a match. Having information and choice is valuable here.

My only other reflection is that where you have chosen a specific server instead of going to the Global Pool it restricts total player count inadvertently.Went back and played H3 (now that it is backwards compatible) and have seen some truly challenging amounts of lag. H5 has fixed a lot of networking by comparison and I do not see such game breaking host problems (at least to the extent of H3). A decade makes a difference.

Thanks for the post
Information empowers the player, for sure.

Bolded part - Very poignant as the population naturally wanes there needs to be a strategy for keeping people finding games, but I think with more information the players can help to take care of this as well.

H3 BC lag - Yeah I know right! Makes you think, was it always this bad? How did we put up with this? I guess it was just the norm haha. I was a yellow bar warrior back in the day which is why over the last 4-5 years I've been campaigning for dedicated servers in Australia and better networking etc. Does make you appreciate how good the hit detection and dedicated servers are in H5 even if it feels a little generous sometimes. A decade sure does.
Nice post agree with what your saying mostly but I wouldn't assume Halo 6 will be on PC, especially not at launch. I'd be surprised actually if it was on PC at all.
Nice post agree with what your saying mostly but I wouldn't assume Halo 6 will be on PC, especially not at launch. I'd surprised actually if it was on PC at all.
You might be right - I was just basing that comment off the fact Phil Spencer has said that all future titles will be released on PC and Xbox with the play anywhere initiative so it's pretty likely.
Thanks for the post, I'm in Perth Western Australia and the lag issues are horrendous, extremely dissapointing as I'm addicted to Halo and would like to stick with it rather than finding an alternative MP game that plays well that you can be competative in. I really hope this changes...
Thorulfr wrote:
Your Titanfall examples, especially the combination of

Data Centre selection
and
Population Counter by Playlist within the Server Group

highlight a tremendous curiosity I've always had when searching. Chase the Population or wait for Good Connection (but there's no one there)? Trying specific playlists in Australia is a difficult process and requires Extending the search parameters as far as possible to achieve even getting a match. Having information and choice is valuable here.

My only other reflection is that where you have chosen a specific server instead of going to the Global Pool it restricts total player count inadvertently.Went back and played H3 (now that it is backwards compatible) and have seen some truly challenging amounts of lag. H5 has fixed a lot of networking by comparison and I do not see such game breaking host problems (at least to the extent of H3). A decade makes a difference.

Thanks for the post
Information empowers the player, for sure.

Bolded part - Very poignant as the population naturally wanes there needs to be a strategy for keeping people finding games, but I think with more information the players can help to take care of this as well.

H3 BC lag - Yeah I know right! Makes you think, was it always this bad? How did we put up with this? I guess it was just the norm haha. I was a yellow bar warrior back in the day which is why over the last 4-5 years I've been campaigning for dedicated servers in Australia and better networking etc. Does make you appreciate how good the hit detection and dedicated servers are in H5 even if it feels a little generous sometimes. A decade sure does.
Please do not double post. Edit your previous post instead.
I like your suggestions OP,make this for Halo 6 AT LAUNCH 343:)
Thorulfr wrote:
Op while I agree totally with what your saying here. It doesn't only effect regional players it also effects players anywhere for that matter. Even US players. It does no player in the US living on the east coast playing on a server on the west coast. Just like it does you no good playing on a server out of your country. But if your country doesn't even have a server for the game your issue even becomes more problematic. Because you then have to hope they add more server options for you. This can be easily done but the problem with H5 and 343i is that its owned by MS studios. And Microsoft hasn't shown any sign of using anything but there data centers. Those other games you have listed above. The reason those games have a selection like they do is because they don't use just MS data centers like Halo does. And thats because those game developers aren't owned by MS. So they do what they want to make there games play well. That is why they have much better success at this then 343i. The number one problem with H5 is what you have stated. This also reflects to why H5s population is where it is today. It isn't that it isn't a good game. Its the fact the game plays poor for a lot of players in general. Not many stick around long when this happens. If H6 follows the similar path as H5 it will be right back to what we have now. If H6 launches with server selection and proper data centers and performs well for more players then H6 will grow in population and not shrink.. I would love to have server selection that showed ping. Most games today have this option. But honestly 343i has shown very little interest in this at all.. They have said we thought about it.. But that's it.. Only time will tell. But really all we have is hopes and dreams..
Yeah that's a great point, I'm sure US East Coast players would hate the extra latency from playing on a US West Coast server as well, especially when the population of both regions is probably high enough to provide a healthy set of hoppers. The game plays completely differently between 20ms and 100ms, 170ms and 250+ms.

Honestly the current system works well, Azure data centres are located in the most logical areas, the game will put you in a local game if it can - if they could supplement these with Amazon Web Services servers to cover in between kind of areas as well it could only be positive and as you mentioned, other games do this.

It's all a bit of a balancing act between capturing large enough population areas within a server's "catchment" to have healthy hoppers but also keeping the same catchment areas small enough that the people on the fringes don't have horrendous ping options. Perth in Australia's West Coast is as far from the servers in Sydney as California is from New York and doesn't have a big population - it would make sense for Perth folk to connect to the Sydney servers or perhaps the Singapore server.

I guess the point is that people need to be able to choose their server and have games on that server, with information (ping) so they can help to curate their own experience. Only if there's no options for a local game at all should it look elsewhere (which is the problem regional players face at the moment in Halo 5). Halo 6 however is a big opportunity to get this right from day 1 which will have a huge impact on how well the game does.
I totally agree. Players should have the option to pick the server they want to play on. It should be the power of the players not some system that we really have no control over or even know what the heck its doing for that matter. Sure we can just take 343i word that we are being put on the closest server. But lets be honest we have been burned before from them. And really having the option to select a server would keep everyone honest. Not some hidden system that we have now. Another thing I find very strange is how poor this game plays for being on dedicated servers. And I'm a guy that has decent pings to a couple of there servers. I have never seen so many players complain about issues with this game. From disconnects to everything in between. I mean really I can see why we don't have a solid population. Just to many things have hurt this game it seems. Another thing we have to ask ourselves is why do we have to hard reset our Xboxes so much just for Halo? Idk about you but I don't think that's normal. I know some of what I'm saying may sound harsh against 343 but its not meant too. What I'm saying is I just don't think they have the right personal in the right areas that truly are well seasoned. And just because they are a part of MS studios really means nothing imo.