By B is for Bravo -
Over the past few weeks, the sun has slowly began to make its way back over to the greater Seattle area, indicating that things like summer, sunshine, and warm-weather expeditions are all on the way. One particular annual warm-weather journey is that of E3, and I do believe many of us are already on board a variety of fast-moving hype trains, most of which are not equipped with brakes. The warmer weather and early morning sunshine have also provided me with an opportunity to catch up on the Hunt The Truth podcast each Monday morning on my walk to work, which has been an incredibly appropriate and therapeutic start to the work week. Also, I know many Waypointers can relate when I say that each episode feels far too brief, and has left me wanting more each week. Rather than listening to the episodes early, or sneaking a peek at the review copies of the script in my inbox, I’ve listened with you, and found that the story has me diving head first back into the story of our beloved hero, much in part due to my good friend Grim’s Canon Fodder blog, which highlights characters and storylines that have collided with Ben Giraud each week. Whether you’re a master of the universe, or haven’t yet sunk your teeth into the various campaigns, books, or comics, Hunt The Truth is a quick, episodic, super-accessible-mobile-friendly way to not only learn about pivotal discoveries in the history of The Master Chief, but also to prepare for what’s to come in Halo 5: Guardians.
To check out the latest Canon Fodder, head here - and beware of spoilers if you’re not caught up on the hunt. Grim also discusses a recent puzzle you’ve solved. Earlier this week, exactly 117 pieces were distributed to fans across the world, and we watched - in no surprise at all - as you came together to assemble each and every piece. The result, of course, was the Halo 5: Guardians cover art, which you can find in desktop wallpaper size below:
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Our most recent update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection brought with it some big improvements to things like Halo 3 Forge and audio, improvements to the ranking system, and improved tracking of quits and betrayals - more on that in a bit. Also, with your help, we’ve discovered a bug that affected party joinability - it is limited to joining parties with players that have a large number of people on their Xbox Live Friends List, and we know it’s making partying up difficult for some of you. Over the past week, our team here has worked with the Xbox Live team to identify and create a hotfix for this issue, and we are currently planning to release the hotfix next week, after some additional testing. We’ll be sure to provide an update once the hotfix is live.
After the latest CU, we read your feedback that skill ranking windows were a bit large, so we tightened them across all ranked playlists, and you should be seeing matches with players that are around the same level as you. If you’re searching with a party, and any members of your party have a significantly higher level (a level 4 searching with their friend who is a mighty level 26, for example), the game will recognize this, and your search will be opened up to the range of the max player, so you may encounter some players in the 20s and low-mid 30s). Overall, we received and read feedback that indicates that the tightened skill matching has yielded positive results, and ask that you please keep us updated with your findings (here is a rather good place) so we can continue to make adjustments if necessary. Additionally, the team is looking to make adjustments to team and party matching to ensure that parties are matched up with other parties.
Next up, there have been some questions around quitting, betrayals, ranking, and reputation, so I spoke with our team here to get the latest on how each of these systems work.
Quitting and Ranking
In ranked playlists, quitting is treated the same as a loss. If you quit a match, your ranking will be impacted, and this may result in dropping a level. We’re getting feedback and looking into how we can improve the ranking system all-up in upcoming updates. For now, we’re aware that some players are attempting to utilize quitting to exploit these systems. While we continue to evaluate potential updates to the system, players who attempt to exploit the ranking system will face reputation penalties. Overall, you should be confident that we’re monitoring behavior, and that those who are acting up will see the aforementioned actions taken against their account.
Reputation, Quitting, and Betrayals
As of our latest content update, Halo: The Master Chief Collection utilizes the Xbox One reputation system for automatic tracking of quitting and betrayals. In addition, players can choose to report players manually using the built-in tools from the Xbox One dashboard when viewing another player’s gamertag. Details on the Xbox One reputation system can be found here: http://enforcement.xbox.com.
In the Xbox One reputation system, there are four reputation states a player can have:
To get a breakdown of how these reputation levels may be impacted by behavior in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, read on.
Reputation Reporting and Tracking
Players are reported for quitting and betrayals. Here’s how:
- All quits are automatically tracked and recorded. It’s worth noting that we’re monitoring the state of games and evaluating additional parameters to determine the severity of the quit, including how many players have already quit the match, etc. Additionally, we understand that on rare occasions, you may need to leave a game, run out of the house for an emergency, or your internet may drop, amongst other unforeseen events. Fear not, upstanding citizen – a small number of quits over long a time period will not negatively impact your score enough to cause you to drop reputation levels.
- Any player who betrays their teammates more than what is considered accidental behavior will also receive an automatic report, and may be kicked out by the host or betrayed player. Similar to the above, a poorly placed Plasma Grenade every once in a while will not place you on the naughty list.
At the end of each game, players who quit, or commit enough betrayals will be automatically reported, but the actual reputation penalties will not be immediate, as we’re currently monitoring to make sure everything is behaving correctly, and applying penalties to confirmed offenders. For example, if you were to quit a large number of matches in a row, you will not see an immediate drop in reputation, but once your behavior is verified, penalties will be applied, and you may see your reputation lowered. When a player’s reputation falls far enough, they will only be able to play matchmaking with other low-reputation players. Players can win back reputation points by finishing games without being reported.
It’s worth noting that the Xbox One reputation system is Xbox Live-wide, meaning that this reputation system is not limited to Halo: The Master Chief Collection. If a player has a low reputation due to poor behavior on other titles, this will impact their matchmaking within Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and vice versa.
Lastly, we’ll be closely monitoring data and community feedback on these systems, and will be making necessary adjustments based on this intel. In the meantime, if you finish your games and don’t betray your teammates just to steal their Sniper Rifle, you’ve got nothing to worry about. We hope the above changes improve your matchmaking experience, and look forward to hearing feedback.
Let's talk playlists
Since the dawn of time, er Halo 2, playlist feedback has been key to shaping matchmaking experiences, and MCC is no different. If anything, your playlist feedback is actually more important than it has ever been. Allow me to explain why, and shed some light on playlist theory from the team - where we started, where we’re at now, and what’s to come.
Before MCC launched, I had the privilege of sitting in with the playlist team during their initial design stages. Make no mistake: everyone in the room was aware that designing a limited number of playlists to contain all that Halo: CE, Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4 have to offer was a challenging task. How do you curate so many experiences into a sustainable number of playlists? How do you ensure that each player has something they love when they head into matchmaking? As I recall, it started something like this:
What are the necessary experiences? For fans of previous titles who are jumping into MCC for the first time, what might they want to play? This one was easy:
- Halo: CE
- Halo 2 Classic
- Halo 3
- Halo 4
And thus, the first four playlists were born. But - the inclusion of these playlists also takes up a great deal of real estate, unlike any Halo game before it. In previous titles, this was of course not an option, and these are four playlist spots that would otherwise be available. While we’re excited to include all of these together in the same bundle, for the playlist team, it does mean four playlist spots that would otherwise go to other experiences.
So, what was next?
- Team Slayer
- Big Team Battle
These were no-brainer cross-game playlists. We need a place for people who love pure Team Slayer, and a place for people who love BTB. Next up, we wanted to allow players to get a taste of the newest title: Halo 2: Anniversary, so we added:
- Halo 2: Anniversary (Team)
- Halo 2: Anniversary Rumble (This would later expand into a larger Rumble Pit playlist)
Lastly, for fans of hardcore, motion-tracker free, BR-start tournament game types, we added a classic playlist, plus one that offers a training ground for today’s HCS game types.
- Team Hardcore
- Halo Championship Series
Lastly, while we were already at 10 playlists (what we’ve found to be a healthy maximum), we knew we needed a place for playlists that had become standard in previous games, and this is where we really started to feel the results of having all of the game-specific playlists (H1 through H4, plus H2A) in the lineup. SWAT and Team Doubles, specifically - fan favorite playlists - have been featured as a rotational, and have been unsurprisingly popular than the others. Which leads us to the following: what’s next?
Playlists: Where We’re Headed
To get back to our original point, your feedback has made it clear that you want these playlists to stick around, so we’re looking at the best ways and timing to make the most popular aforementioned playlists permanent. We’ll have more details as we get closer to future updates, but you should rest assured knowing that your feedback has been heard loud and clear, and that we’re also looking to increase the variety of rotational playlists. Some of the things we’re thinking about include Action Sack, Infection, and more. Next up will be Team Objective, which will feature game types like Battle Creek CTF, BR-start 1-Flag CTF on Burial Mounds, and other classic 4v4 game objective game types. On paper, Team Objective is another great candidate for a permanent playlist, but I will note that the playlist has historically been less popular than most other playlists in previous titles, so if you do like it, make sure you hop in.
Additionally, we’re continuing to make adjustments to things like voting options and weighting of each, such as improving the mix of BR-starts in Team Doubles when it returns, adding Halo: CE FFA game types to Rumble Pit, dropping H2A’s player count to 4v4 (the deployment of this change was temporarily put on hold to allow all teams to focus on the upcoming party joinability hotfix) and much more. If you have playlist feedback, we’d love to read it - please feel free to drop it in this handy thread, and the playlist team will be sure to review it.
Lastly, our May CU remains on track for this month, and we hope you’re excited for Relic, ODST, and more. We’ll be providing additional details about what’s to come as that update draws nearer.
That’ll do for this week - I hope we could provide some valuable insight into what to expect, what’s on our mind, and a tiny look at just how important what’s on your mind is to us.
Until next week,