Xbox One Development Update
It is no secret that adding Reach, new features, and all the bells and whistles that the team has been working on, into the Xbox One MCC build has been challenging. We have previously discussed the memory limitation issues we have been hitting while getting ready to add in Reach. The team has been making progress on this, but it is no easy task. I spent some time with Senior Producer, Michael Fahrny, from the Publishing Team discussing how things are going and where the team is currently at in the interview below.
Postums: When you are looking at the project as a whole, what do you think the most challenging thing left to do?
Michael Fahrny: Getting MCC Console to run within memory constraints with the addition of UE4 and our additional feature set. We’ve been working at this for a long time now and are making good progress but there’s no magic bullet. It’s a unique problem that just takes a lot of trial and error, figuring out what worked, what didn’t work, and continuing to iterate. We are tweaking these games in ways that they were not designed or architected for.
Beyond that, we have a lot of additional UI screens that have been added in Unreal due to PC centric features. UI in most games can be delicate and we’ve found this is especially true in MCC. Getting UE & Scaleform to play nice has its challenges and when you add the general complexity of all the UI flows, player options, screen states, M&K and controller support, etc. it’s a great recipe for a ton of bugs – which we’re currently working through.
Has this issue been mostly a problem on the Xbox One or is it an issue with the Xbox One X as well?
MF: Memory is a problem all up, but we do have the game running on both and our test team is currently running what we call a “pulse” on the builds to get a good understanding of where our total bug count lies, what regressions may have been caused by some of our recent memory work, etc. It’s a work in progress, but steadily moving in the right direction. While the bug count here isn’t large compared to say UI, these are the complex issues that take time to solve.
On top of this, we must ensure each title fits within memory, not just Reach. In most cases there is not a universal solution to these problems.
It sounds like what your saying is, that the team has a lot more work going on than just bringing Halo: Reach into the collection?
MF: Yes. I can approach this from a couple of fronts. For memory constraints side on console, we are doing all that work now. As we bring each new title online for PC, we will need to revisit each game on console to ensure our memory constraints are still in line. There will always be work to do there and room to improve as time goes on.
In addition to Reach, we’re also getting most of the new PC front end and subsystems up and running as well as additional features. These are things like M&K support, gameplay feel, new settings, uncapped framerate, resolution support, progression, customization, etc. There is a huge amount of work here that needs to get done that I think a lot of people overlook.
Once all of that work is done and we move onto other games in the collection, we will revisit as we can to update additional UI, features, revisit bugs, and continuously make the collection even better. Post Reach our new challenge will be to split our development streams so that we can support a live game service model as well as the future game releases.
What has been the best part of the project for you?
MF: I think it’s been surprising to me how quickly we were able to get Reach up and running and feeling pretty good. Then getting it out to flighting and receiving a lot of positive feedback on how it feels on PC. We’ve been consistently receiving positive feedback around the feel of the title. It was something I and everyone have worried about. You can take a game and slap updated UI onto it and drop adjust memory constraints and put out a game onto PC. That’s not a very hard thing to do. If it doesn’t feel good, then your player base will not be happy and can be a bust. Proving it out for PC and being able to hit that mark of feel good repeatedly with those who have tried it, has been a very good feeling and a win amongst the team.
We have received a lot of positive feedback from the events and flighting around how great the game feels on PC. Going into this project and from previous experience making “ports”, this is always one of the most challenging aspects. It’s been a great lighthouse along this journey to remind me that we’re moving in the right direction.
The other area that’s been extremely humbling to me on a personal level are the fans. I don’t often have time to participate the many events, but I did participate in our E3 presence this year. Everyone that waited in our very long line was so excited to be there and just very thankful for what we’re trying to accomplish bringing MCC to PC. Couple that with the feedback I’ve seen coming out of events like Outpost Discovery, Reddit (yes, I lurk), and other outlets it’s been amazing.
Support from all of you does really make a huge difference to everyone working on this so from me to you -THANK YOU
Thank you Fahrny for taking some time to sit down and talk through development on the project all up! Next up, Dana ‘PsychoDuck’ Jerpbak has some words he has put to paper and is coming at you with some insider info in this month’s Duck Tales!