News

MCC Development Retrospective – December 2020

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Postums here welcoming you to the latest and greatest MCC Development Update. Our December 2020 blog will be talking about the Great Journey of bringing MCC to PC. With it, we wanted to take some time looking back on the year, talk about tomorrow’s game update, and hear some of the team’s personal reflections on the development road we’ve all been on. Also, we want to shed some light on what blogs, streams, and communications will look like next year for MCC. Let’s get into it!

MCC December 2020 update

Tomorrow morning at 10am, MCC will be receiving an update with our last patch of the year. This will be over 26 GB on the Microsoft Store, approx. 22GB on Xbox, and will be roughly 6 GB on Steam. This update is groundwork for the next season coming in 2021, along with the usual collection of bug fixes, and general housekeeping items.

Season 5 content

In preparation for MCC’s next season, new cosmetic content is being added to the game in this patch. These items will not be available for unlock and use yet, but you will be able to see their preview image and text description. These various new armor sets are for Season 5. This content is being added ahead of time to coincide with today’s planned patch in order to avoid an additional update early next year. We are not announcing our final go-live date for Season 5 quite yet, but we’ll let you know in the new year.

Chat filtration toggle

With this update we are also bringing a new option online that allows you to enable and disable text chat filtering that you see from other players in game. By default, this will be set to enabled. Disabling text chat filtering will only impact what you see from other players’ communications sent to you. Messages you send will continue to appear filtered so you know what part of your message other players will see and to understand what is getting caught. Keep in mind, you won’t know whether the other players you're communicating with have filtering enabled or not. The hope is that by understanding what the filter is hiding that you are able to more accurately communicate with your team, especially those players who have text chat filtering enabled.

Update Issues

Anytime we perform a game update with bug fixes, certain things in-game like settings, customization, campaign saves, stats, and films may return to defaults, be reset, or not load. With this update there are a few areas that will be impacted on both Xbox and PC. Below is a detailed list of areas impacted by this update.

Films saved from the in-game theater will be corrupted and not watchable in games outlined below. As well, mid-mission campaign saves will no longer load due to content rebuilds. You will be able to restart the mission, however. Some player customization may also not be saved and need to be re-applied again (see the list below).

Xbox One, Steam, and Microsoft Store

  • Halo: Reach: Campaign mid-mission saves
  • Halo 3: Player Customization, Campaign mid-mission saves, and Films.
  • Halo 3: ODST: Campaign mid-mission saves
  • Halo 4: Campaign mid-mission saves

We apologize for this inconvenience, but it is something that is required as we continue to make updates to the game. We hope you enjoy the bug fixes and additional content updates we are making!

Patch Notes & Known Issues

For the full list of patch notes and Known Issues, please make sure to head on over to the Halo Support site for the latest details. Below is a list for the Patch Notes and Known Issues lists.

Please note that the latest and greatest information will not be live until the update is live tomorrow morning aorund 10am Pacific. 

If you encounter any sort of technical issue, please make sure to review the Known Issues. If it’s not on the list, please make sure to submit a ticket and let us know what you are encountering. We prioritize fixing issues that players are reporting.

Thank you everyone, and we will see y’all online tomorrow morning!

We're Just Getting Started

It has been 12 months and a couple days since Halo: Reach joined the ranks in MCC. Along with it being added to the collection, it was the first Halo title to make its way to PC and marked the beginning of the Great Journey for all of MCC to come to PC. A lot has happened since that day. Over the past year we aimed to have community participation interwoven with our development and we have loved to see it flourish into such a vibrant result.

See, it wasn’t just our efforts that made this past year possible, you were there each step of the way providing everything from feedback in flights, to talking about so many new features you wanted added in. Over this past year the scope of work was so large that we had to bring more people in on the project to handle the additional load. Internally, that was called our “2nd workstream,” and consisted of additional bug fixes and as well as features like Crossplay, Regional Server Selection, Input Based Matchmaking, and much, much more.

We wanted to stop and look at what not only we have delivered, but what you, the players, have done with us on this journey. This graphic is a look back at some cool data from 2020 as well as a celebration of our collaboration!


Click the image for full resolution!

Our journey together in one image, including the Pizzapocalypse, for your viewing pleasure. We want to give a huge shoutout to everyone that has participated in our flights, surveys, posting in our forums, submitting tickets on the Halo Support and Halo Insider Support sites, talking with us on Reddit threads, and interacting with us on Twitter, Discord, and more.

MCC has become so much more than what it once was, and we definitely aren’t done yet. There’s a lot of things we are working on in 2021, and we are excited to know we have such a passionate community behind us as we keep bringing you fun and new ways to play the games we all know and love. So, give yourselves a huge pat on the back. Thank you to all y’all for everything you do – from myself and everyone here at 343 that has been working on the project. Happy Halodays friends!

Treasuring Toros

Over the past year with each new game added to the collection on PC, you may recall that a new main menu video was added that was based on the latest release. To help craft these incredible assets, we reached out to an old friend. Today, we are going to take some time to talk with our dear friend, Toros Kose, the man responsible for bringing these scenes to life with help from the Publishing Team’s Art Director, Horia Dociu, and Artist, Matthew Jordan. You can find his work on his website, toroskose.com, his Instagram, or his Artstation.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today! Let’s dive right in and get the basics out of the way. I know who you are, but can you introduce yourself to our community and tell us what it is that you do for a profession?

Toros: My name is Toros Kose and I work as a designer for commercials, films, and video games.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I’ve been doing this for about eight years now. Starting off I was mainly a 2D animator but have since then done a lot of 3D animation and transitioned into being more of a designer and art director.

What are some other things you have done we may know about?

One of the biggest milestones in my career was the work I did for Blade Runner 2049, creating the opening studio logo sequence and main title card for film.

Another was the very first Halo project I did which was to design the UI and holographic interfaces for Halo Wars 2 that were used in the cinematic cutscenes.

This is a big question across the community we all have to answer at least once, but out of all the games, which Halo is your favorite?

I haven’t owned an Xbox since Xbox 360 so the last Halo game I actually played was Reach, which I loved. But my favorite is probably Halo 3.

Well if you have a PC, we have you covered now! So what has it looked like in your process of working with 343?

It’s been really great and fun. I’ve had a lot of creative freedom while still having a clear brief, which created a perfect balance of direction and free reigns.                           

I know that you’ve worked very closely with our internal art team, what has been your favorite part?

Probably the many jokes of the great Horia Dociu (art director) :). Seriously though, the team has been super nice and easy to work with. I feel like we’ve all had similar visions and taste which definitely streamlines the process.

I’ve heard likewise things from them when talking about you. They’ve wanted me to get an interview with you on the books for a while. Over the past year, what has been the most fun memory you have of working on this project?

I think the most fun has been the earlier part of making each video. Exploring camera angles, lighting, composition - that part is really fun and inspiring. It’s also been exciting to learn more about the software that I use, which helped me one-up myself for each video. Especially learning new things about lighting has been amazing.

We all know being creative isn’t always roses. What are some challenges you encountered along the way?

I would say the main challenge especially in the beginning was to figure out how to texture the models, but I figured out ways to do this in the very first video (Reach) and stuck with the method throughout the series. I work a fair amount in 3D but I would definitely call myself a generalist, and a generalist in the motion graphics sense, doing a lot of abstract work and much less of this type which requires knowledge of shading, texturing, UV mapping. Thankfully the pieces are more or less moving still life scenes which allowed me to focus on making beautiful imagery and compositions, rather than struggling with technicalities.

You’ve made a new video for each of the games that have released on PC. Out of all of them, which was the most fun or is your favorite video you’ve worked on?

I think it’s a tie between ODST and Halo 4. I was really happy with the mood I managed to hit in ODST but loved playing so much with atmosphere and lasers in Halo 4 :)

To back up a bit, what really got you into working on video games in the first place? Like how did you break in or start working on them?

Working on video game content specifically started for me a handful of years ago with Halo Wars 2, through Blur Studio, a design and VFX studio in California, and I was asked to create visual concepts for the holographic elements and UI screens in the cutscenes. It was a lot of fun and led to many successful designs that were used in the game’s cinematics. From there I kept collaborating with Blur Studio on a couple more game related projects, until I was reached out to directly by 343 Industries to create the main menu backgrounds for MCC.

Well a big thank you for stopping by and answering my questions Toros, it has been a pleasure. To close this one out, I want to ask you if you could share some tips you have for folks who would like to work in the industry or break into the creative side of video making.

Thanks so much for having me! To keep it short and simple I would say study people and the works you admire. Learn at least one or two tools really well so you’re not held back technically too much. Work on building a good portfolio and do personal projects that show your strengths and passions as a designer. These projects can definitely be game related but don’t have to I’d say. Always be creative.

Dev Team Diaries

In this section, I got a chance to hear some of the fun stories from members of the Publishing Team here at 343 Industries. They are the group directly responsible for overseeing and developing Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Instead of an interview, I asked them to write about some of their favorite memories over the past year.

These are their stories (DUN DUN DUN).

Dante Campana – Software Test Engineer II

A lot of things involving the community and their steadfast meme generation stick out from my time on the project, but for me nothing matches the “Halo: Reach, Except It's Pizza Time” video.

It is hard to forget how the announcements of Reach being added to MCC and the PC port of the whole collection triggered a huge reaction from the community and an onslaught of pizza deliveries to 343i for an extended period of time. But around 3-4 weeks after these announcements took place, a video from a community member appeared on YouTube that floated around the testing bay for a long time. It was gameplay from Reach where all of the textures were replaced with pepperoni pizza texture, the music was overdubbed with a truly exceptional rendition of “Funiculi, Funicula” (standard pizza shop repertoire, of course), voice over saying “Pizza Time” replaced all of the SFX, and all of the text elements in the UI were altered to read “pizza time!”

For some, the video quickly became a source of much laughter and inner-office memes, but for others it quickly became the bane of their existence….. which was then weaponized by the first group for further shenanigans. The memes our community develops and the speed at which they are made can yield some truly hilarious moments for the team and often times helped get us through the big mountain of work that it took releasing 6 Halo titles to PC over the span of a year.

Kyle – Software Test Engineer

H2 launched with a bad issue of being able to kill people just by looking down at the ground. This was unfortunate and a low point for the project. However, we were able to get the issue fixed and got a time slated to launch the update. On the day we were updating, /u/Suilean had posted on Reddit stating that they would drink 12 Raw eggs on camera if the update came out in the next 26 hours. Our launch window just so happened to be the same day as that post. As we logged on getting ready to make sure everything went live properly, we were also refreshing Reddit constantly waiting for people to notice the update and see the response. It was a good laugh and a great morale boost for the team. This was also our first launch while working from home so it was great to see that we could make a great impact even under these circumstances.

/u/Suilean ended up following through on this promise:

 https://www.reddit.com/r/halo/comments/gov21w/343i_released_the_halo_2_hotfix_before_friday_so/

There has been a lot of crazy bugs on this project, but one that was really weird was when the environment assets of H2A Anniversary maps became enlarged and took up most of the maps. Playing on Shrine was like going through a dense jungle. The interesting thing about this was that some machines would see it on a map while others wouldn’t, and then the next map it would be flipped. This made it really hard to find the cause of this bug, but it was a great laugh trying to land a shot through all the plants.

Eric Ferdinand – Studios Quality, Halo Publishing

We live in a world where we can celebrate the Collection being complete and available on PC, but there have been plenty of reasons to celebrate along the way as well. Here are some of my favorite moments on the road to bringing MCC to PC.

This Tweet

The Announcement to the Reclaimers

If you know, you know. I was given the honor of making the announcement of our plans to our external taskforce known as the Reclaimers, a group of Halo community members that partner with us directly to help assess and improve MCC. That may have been the biggest rush of adrenaline I had ever felt. I was terrified, and to this day, I’ve never seen 50 people spam a chat quite like that.

The week-long Pizza Party!

We knew in the days leading up to the announcement that it was going to be insane. Nothing could have prepared us for the literal non-stop flow of pizza deliveries that the Halo community sent to our office in the days that followed.

Halo: Outpost Discovery (Chicago)

As a Chicago native, I was looking forward to the event regardless of the happenings. But seeing the Halo: Reach demo being played on PC and being enjoyed by so many people at once was breathtaking. I knew all of the long hours and hard work were paying off.




Oh yea, that’s also where I met my lovely girlfriend, Max. We just celebrated our 1st year together, and look forward to many many more! A major thanks to everyone who helped make this dream a reality, both at 343 and beyond!

Max Szlagor - Design Director, Publishing Team

What can we do to celebrate Halo 2’s anniversary? Is there a way to offer an even bigger anniversary experience than what we did for Halo: CE? Those were some of the initial questions we sought to answer when we first began the journey of working on Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I was not yet part of 343 at the time Halo: CE Anniversary was made. Playing through it, I was impressed with the ability to switch between classic and remastered graphics at the push of a button, the all new campaign skulls, and brand new Halo: CE inspired maps for Halo: Reach multiplayer.

When the team started discussing a release that included not just Halo 2: Anniversary, but all of Halo 1 through 4, we considered what we could do that would be unique and special about including everything within a single unified framework. We wanted to respect the legacy experience while building in new reasons to replay and seamlessly move between games. From these seeds, we rallied around the ideas of a unified UI, unified controls, cross-game playlists, all new campaign scoring and speedrunning features, campaign leaderboards, and hundreds of achievements celebrating easter eggs scattered throughout the games. There was even a design for a developer’s commentary mode that never made it in.

As someone who enjoys playing old school game compilations, I wanted to make sure we provided a best in class game collection with a seamless and unified way to launch a campaign experience, party up with friends, and jump into multiplayer sessions without having to reload or navigate multiple different interfaces. For any given multiplayer game, players prefer specific modes and maps but rebuilding maps in each future game is a substantial amount of work. I always wondered if there would ever be a game that allowed players to enjoy the greatest maps of all time in one place, and Halo: MCC provided the opportunity to deliver on that inspiration via our cross-game “best hits” style matchmaking playlists. Further into our live development, adding the match composer for social games provided even more ways for players to curate their own best hits collection.

Putting all this content into one place has been both challenging and awesome. We’ve learned a lot throughout the journey of developing Halo: MCC. When we laid out our initial plan, we wouldn’t have imagined that we would eventually include Halo 3: ODST campaign and Firefight and all of Halo: Reach, or that we would bring the whole collection to PC with support for a ton of new PC options and settings. We evolved from a single Halo 2 style multiplayer ranking system to include match xp and account levels, challenges, and multiple seasons of all new customization content across games in the collection. We added yet another engine to bring the full 3d Spartan customization we envisioned at the start of the project. We are always reviewing community feedback, discussing our wishlishts, sharing playtest notes, and looking at ways to improve the experience across the board. We just keep making the experience bigger, and we even have an expression for the this on the team whenever we look at adding things  – “So many Halos. All the Halos.” (to be clear, we won’t actually be including them all, though there is indeed a lot of stuff in MCC).

And we still have a lot more planned. I’m excited about the progress we are making on custom game browser, new customization features and content, modding, and many quality of life improvements. For those of you on this journey with us, thank you so much. We appreciate all the games you have played and the feedback you have shared with us. Your passion fuels our motivation to continue refining and expanding on Halo: MCC. We look forward to sharing another excellent year of updates for Halo: MCC in 2021.

Tyler Jeffers – Franchise

I definitely had a few moments during the most recent MCC development that were impactful for me.

Waves development – being able to work with the same audio developers that created the DSPs used in Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST and Halo Reach was a great experience. Knowing that the work being done not only was going to solve an ongoing issue from the community, but that the solution had the support of the original audio development partner was incredible. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. It was a lot of work and it involved a lot of folks from across multiple teams within 343 and Xbox as well as partners like Formosa Interactive and Waves. But it was obviously worth it.

Halo 2 Anniversary – I had not watched the Halo 2 Anniversary cinematics I worked with Blur Studio on since we launched back in 2014. In anticipation of the relaunch on PC, I sat down and watched all the content we developed (darn near over an hour total!) and it reminded me of all the hard work, late nights and incredibly talented people we were able to partner with to make everything on that screen happen.

I mean Tartarus, I love that freakin’ Space Bear! That project was so massive, I still don’t think any of us really knew what we were in for when we made the decision to pursue pre-rendered cinematics with Blur. I am so proud of that work and it still stands up pretty well (despite the backwards flying Phantom 😉), given that it is technically 6 years old. 😊

ONI Archive – We just launched the final Halo 4 ONI archive video in November, which is bittersweet. While we wrapped up what we aimed to do nearly a year ago, the project itself was so fun that I am already missing working on it and with the people involved. That content was something Jeff Easterling and I pitched as a way to bring new players onboard for each MCC title. Our emphasis was to provide a high level intro to the game that was about to release and/or recap the events leading up to it.

You can check them out below:

In addition, we also wanted to ensure that we were able to develop new content that would provide something for all of our core/lore loving fans that already knew most of the story around each game. Each episode hit its own stride in regards to content, production, release and fan reaction. And we were so fortunate to have the ability of pulling in a variety of voice talent to help us continue to flesh out the narrative Jeff had crafted. It was really great to see how this content found its audience and how well the team worked to develop these pieces. Especially given the circumstances we were all working under.

State of the Game with Farns

Happy Holidays, Spartans!

Before I get into the juicy bits below, I just wanted to take a moment again to thank you all for coming along with us on this journey bringing MCC to PC and adding so many new features to all platforms. It’s truly been a difficult, but amazing journey for our team and partners as we transitioned to working from home with a slate full of very lofty goals. In the end, we did have some features slip out of the year – looking at you Custom Game Browser and File Share on PC. 😉 Don’t worry, they’re coming.

Now for the fun stuff, what can Santa Farn pull out of his bag and tell you about next year? Mods? Seasons? New shiny features? Yep, all of that! 😉

We will be going a bit more in depth next year on what our plans are but for now I’ll give you a few juicy bits to chew on as our team takes a much-needed break for the rest of the year:

Seasons

  • Not a hard one to guess but more seasons are coming next year and are planned to be on a regular 2-month cadence starting with Season 5. The current plan will take us to Season 10 and from there we’ll determine if more will come.

Mods

    • I feel like we’ve been talking lightly about Mods forever with little to no real information but that is about to change. Mod support will be the main focus for our team and partners going into and throughout next year. What does this mean? What games? What about tool support? When can I get my hands on this? We will be going more in depth on what exactly Mod support means for MCC next year but the goal with this line of work is to empower the community to continue to support MCC for as long as there is a desire to – and yes, that does include tools.
    • The EULA is complete, and we will begin sharing more information about our plans to release this publicly prior to the first set of Mod work releasing next year.

Forge

    • New Forge items you say? 😉

Quality of Life and Bug Fixes

    • We will continue to have a team dedicated to fixing as many bugs as we can. This does include fixing legacy issues where we can and yes we will be prioritizing performance issues across the board.

There’s a ton more that I’m not going to share quite yet but we have a full slate of work that will be releasing throughout 2021.  We will continue to flight features prior to release so please do make sure you keep your profile up to date!

I hope everyone can take some time this holiday season to play some games and relax a bit, that’s my plan 😊 Stay tuned for January!

Global Features and Development Status

Actively In Development

  • View Model Adjustment for all games: On track for early 2021
  • Steam Account Linking: On track for early 2021
  • In Game FPS Cap/Adjustments: More options coming in 2021
  • PC File Share: On track for early 2021
  • Additional Video Settings/Options: More options coming in 2021
  • Custom Game Browser: On track for early 2021
  • Double Key Binds for all games: On track for early 2021
  • Per Game Audio Options: This should be in flights in early 2021
  • Bringing PC Features to Console (Like FOV Sliders): We will communicate more on this next year, no hard timeline for when these features could be making their way to console

In Design Iteration

  • Additional Mod Support   
  • Additional Accessibility Support  
  • HDR Support on PC 
  • New Season Content (ADDED)
  • New Forge Items (ADDED)
  • All the super-secret features I’m not ready to talk about just yet (ADDED)

In Backlog, Pending Further Discussions

  • Idle System Improvements
  • Splitscreen on PC

As always, there are likely some things we’ve neglected to mention in here. Please reach out to us through the various forms of social outlets and let us know your thoughts to help us build our topics for the next development blog.    

Oh – also, here’s a pretty picture for next season’s content!

-farn

Community Commitments in 2021

Although we aren’t sharing all the new and cool things, we have planned in 2021 with content for MCC, we can say a little bit about our communication playbook and what sort of content we expect to share next year. These long-form development blogs with in-depth breakdowns are going to be scaled back a little bit to happen less frequently. This is because we will be working on game updates only and core development to bring new games PC as part of MCC is no longer a thing.

What we will be doing is working to align blogs with new seasons and future flights for MCC. We are also going to continue having fun showcasing these changes via playdate streams and potentially explore alternative news delivery methods. Our goal is to share the cool content our teams have been working on and get you just as excited as we are. 

For those of you who haven’t participated in a community play date before, it’s pretty much what you would expect. Members of 343 hop into a game (in this case MCC) and spend some time chatting about what’s been going on while enjoying some multiplayer. Players who match us and complete the match during our live stream will earn the Ice Unicorn nameplate and some bragging rights should you beat us. Be sure to follow the @Halo Twitter account to see when these get scheduled in the new year!

This past year has been full of many great moments, milestones that we have accomplished in close partnership with the community. But we’re not done yet.  There is a lot of fun to share with you in 2021, so we’re really just getting started.

Happy Holidays friends. See you again in the New Year, and as always, we will see y’all online!

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MCC Development Update – November 2020

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It’s crazy to think that this time last year, we were on the eve of Halo: Reach joining MCC and helping bring the first game in the collection to PC. What a year it has been, 12 months and six games later, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do! This month’s update is going to be a bit smaller than previous ones with the launch of Halo 4 earlier this month and then the holidays, but there’s still a lot of goodness to be shared, so let’s take a look at what we are going to cover in this update.

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Wake Up, John: Halo 4 Has Arrived on PC

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Today's the day. After a tremendous amount of work, we're thrilled to announce that the final title to join MCC on PC, Halo 4 is officially arriving today - joining Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach.

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MCC Development Update - October 2020

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Welcome back to another MCC Development Update! This month we're closing in on the release of Halo 4 for PC and talking about our current Halo Insider flight, upcoming next-gen enhancements, new upcoming features and content, and more.