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MCC Development Update - February 2020

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With the end of another month comes another MCC Development Update blog! This one is a biggin, so be sure to grab some snacks, drinks, and cozy up in your favorite reading spot as we dig into MCC and several topics that are top of mind for the community.

This month’s blog is broken up into four key areas. First, we will recap all things Flighting for February, then have an extensive design discussion relating to key decisions being made and why, followed by a comprehensive audio-focused interview that will be music to your ears. Lastly, we’ll move into an update on feature work and close it out with some helpful links where you can share your feedback, submit issues, and keep up with weekly progress in between these monthly development blogs.

Before we dive in, please direct your eyes to the image below. This is a quick tease of the new MCC main menu which will be coming to Xbox One and PC players in the future.

It’s truly beautiful what happens across all disciplines when creating games. Speaking of creating them, let’s dive on into a recap of all things flighting for MCC this month!

February Flighting

Flighting for February took off on the 13th of this month for just over 100,000 players on PC via the Halo Insider Program. On the 20th, we updated the flight build and invited an additional 50,000 Insiders to participate. Then on the 25th, we released an additional flight update and extended it so that it would wrap up today. An overview of the Feb. 20th build update and resolved community issues can be found in the Weekly Development & Flighting Update from last Friday. To stay up-to-date on these, make sure to bookmark aka.ms/MCCWeeklyUpdates. Let’s look closer at some of what has been addressed over the duration of this flight.

Resolved Issues

Over the course of this flight, the Known Issues List has been updated in sync with new build releases. This includes adding new resolved, known, and previously active known issues. Many of the items noted below will be recognizable to flight participants as these were the very same topics reported through the Insider Support site. Please note, this isn’t a 100% exhaustive list. The issues listed below include bugs resolved on February 20th and incorporated into the most recent build (1.1377.0.0) released on February 25th.

Global Resolved Issues

  • 2/25 - When signing out the title will often crash.
  • 2/25 - A bug was causing uncapped to be capped at 200 frames per second.
  • 2/25 – Restoring to Default does not affect Zoom In & Zoom Out on Keyboard & Mouse.
  • 2/25 – You will lose functionality while using a Gamepad if you sign out with the Message of the Day open.
  • 2/20 – When using Keyboard & Mouse, you will see Xbox button prompts instead of the correct keys on the character customization screens.
  • 2/20 – Ranks will be displayed when connecting to a ranked match for all players.
  • 2/20 – Debug text is present in the Gameplay Settings menus when set to Non-English languages.
  • 2/20 – Halo 4 loadouts were present in the customization options.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Resolved Issues

  • 2/25 – In matchmaking, some game variants do not spawn players with starting grenades.
  • 2/25 – Input delay has been improved across all game modes.
  • 2/25 – Auto Look Centering while in Vehicles is too strong.
  • 2/25 – Various weapon and vehicle sound in Multiplayer use remastered sound effects.
  • 2/25 – In Campaign, a prompt appears to skip cutscenes on the Pillar of Autumn.
  • 2/25 – There are missing animations and UI elements when leaving a Matchmaking game.
  • 2/25 – The gamepad and mouse & keyboard binding menus default to Halo: Reach while in Halo: CEA gameplay.
  • 2/20 - When opening the character customization screen, Halo: Reach's options appeared briefly.
  • 2/20 - Service IDs are not displayed on the scoreboard appropriately.
  • 2/20 - Classic Team Slayer settings and CE Team Slayer are flip flopped for custom games settings.
  • 2/20 - Customization preview model proportions are inconsistent with the in-game model.
  • 2/20 - Respawn beep sound effects have a lower pitch compared to legacy.
  • 2/20 - Swapping weapons after reaching the 10x zoom with the sniper rifle can cause zoom to not function on other weapons and cause them to not render.
  • 2/20 - When using Mouse & Keyboard, the vehicle function 3 key binding (Space Bar) is not respected when rebound.
  • 2/20 - When using Mouse & Keyboard, any action that is rebound to Vehicle Function 1 (mouse click 2) is not usable.
  • 2/20 - Gamertags will sometimes appear in the Score column instead of the Name column on the scoreboard.
  • 2/20 - After completing the Campaign mission “343 Guilty Spark” a black image will be displayed on the loading screen instead of the proper image.
  • 2/20 - When set to unlocked framerate while using a controller, the hold time for Hybrid Zoom was too short.
  • 2/20 - While viewing the character customization screen, the Spartan's hands appeared to display at low quality.
  • 2/20 - While using a gamepad, upon releasing the zoom button from 10x zoom with the sniper rifle, you would zoom all the way out instead of returning to 2x zoom.
  • 2/20 - The incorrect icon would appear when an action needed the user to use a mouse's scroll wheel.

Halo: Reach Resolved Issue

  • 2/25 - Animations and help bar are missing when exiting a Multiplayer match in Halo: Reach.
  • 2/20 - Occasionally, inputs from a controller on the Pause Menu will not be reflected in Halo: Reach Multiplayer and Campaign.
  • 2/20 - Audio is silent or too quiet during intro cinematics when playing from mission to mission.

Gathering Your Thoughts

Over the course of each flight, we have several groups within our studio that listen, read, and reach out to better understand what players are talking about and gather critical insights. This ranges from feedback discussed on social media or forums, reviewing technical issues players have reported through the Insider Halo Support site, or through surveys that have been crafted by folks from both the Development and User Research Teams.

These sources individually are only pieces of the puzzle. But when collectively put together, they help us stay informed and better answer that important question: “Is this experience fun?” By viewing the entire picture, we better understand what players are happy with and identify aspects which are not to our community’s standards. This helps us put those aspects into perspective as we evaluate them further.

As with previous flights, we sent a survey to a subsection of players participating in the flight to help us gain clarity and learn more about their experience. This survey was anonymous, and questions focused on game controls, participant satisfaction, and new features in the flight. Overall feedback has been generally positive!

Below is a graphical representation of some of this February flighting feedback provided by our User Research Team.

This image is a representation of the percentage of players in agreement with the statements on the left associated with the February Flight.

Being a part of Microsoft, 343 Industries has access to industry leading tools that empower us to sift through and evaluate the large volume of sentiment provided to us. There are many ways we visualize and assess survey feedback, and these responses do inform our decisions. These tools also give insights to help us ask more relevant questions about the future and help flag areas of opportunity that players want us to focus on.

Speaking of opportunities -we received feedback for Halo: Reach from players using keyboard and mouse that the legacy crouch/movement behavior wasn’t a good experience on PC. The team took this feedback and developed a solution which was included for testing in this month’s flight. Below is a word cloud of the most common feedback relating to the updated crouch behavior.

 

All these different avenues of feedback help push us to be better at partnering with our community and is an ever-evolving process. Next month, we will be back again in our development blog discussing more areas of opportunity revealed via community inputs. We want to assure you that your voices are heard and when you talk to us, we are indeed listening – even if we can’t realistically act on every request or get to each item in a timeframe you’d like.

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. We value it greatly and want to continue incorporating it into our processes to make the games we all know and love. Keep in mind that this process doesn’t stop when a game ships either – the team will be continuing to address opportunities and areas of feedback in prior titles even while looking ahead to the next (see the current work on Halo: Reach in parallel with Halo: CEA). Please make sure leave us feedback in our pinned threads for MCC (PC & Xbox).

Now that we have landed our February flighting recap and some of what y’all have been talking about, let’s head into this month’s Design Update to talk about some areas the team is actively working on.

Design Update

Each month we like to take some time and sit down with team members across various disciplines and gain insight into ongoing work and decisions being made for MCC. Today we welcome back Max Szlagor, 343 Industries’ Design Director for MCC, to share upcoming feature work, changes, and goodies. Go ahead and take it away Max!

Halo: MCC Season Update

First, I would like to say thank you to everyone who is participating and providing feedback on our first MCC progression season. We have seen a lot of people talking about it, asking when the next one will begin and wondering what the future looks like after our initial Halo: Reach-focused season. To help share our plans, we do not have an ETA for when the next season will go live but it won’t be at the time of Halo: CE Anniversary’s release. Each new title release being added to MCC on PC will not necessarily correspond to a new season or unlocks for that specific game and some seasons may incorporate multiple game unlocks.

The goal for us is to ensure each future season has content that is meaningful, of the right variety, and includes new elements for each season. We also want to provide more choices in how you can both earn season points and how you can unlock.

As a reminder, there is no “end” to the ability to unlock content from a previous season. When a new season rolls out you are not locked out from earning previous seasonal content you have not finished unlocking everything.

Double XP Event

Starting today, we will be running a double XP event from Friday, February 28th until Monday, March 9th. All medals and XP caps will be doubled from their current values in all game modes where XP can be earned. This is a great opportunity to earn those unlocks you may have been eyeing in Halo: Reach.

As a reminder, we will be actively monitoring player behavior during this time. Idling and methods of harvesting XP in ways which can be detrimental to the multiplayer experience will result in bans.

Also, like previous XP weekends, updated XP values will likely roll out over time on Friday. We recommend restarting and reloading the game once the update goes live to expedite the XP bonus flow.

New Features for Halo: CE Anniversary on both Console and PC

As we release new titles on PC, our goal is to also include new content and features for players to enjoy and elevate the experience beyond what is currently in MCC on Xbox One. There are several key updates to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (H:CEA). One is a complete overhaul of the H:CEA customization interface and the other is bringing the community requested classic Halo: Combat Evolved (H:CE) sound back into multiplayer in MCC. This last feature will be a toggle for you to enable either the classic H:CE sounds or the newer H:CEA sounds in your settings.

We also aim to provide updates and value to Halo: MCC players wherever they play. We want to get things right for each platform, and with the launch of Halo: CE on PC, we need just a little more time to deliver an Xbox update which will bring in the new Halo: CE features (detailed above) along with Halo: Reach bug fixes. The Halo: CE you play and enjoy today will continue to work across all games modes until this update comes out. Because of the number of updates and bug fixes to Halo: CE, Halo: Reach, and some other bug fixes to other titles, the download size can be up to 60 GB if a player has all the games installed. To minimize the size of the download, please use the Intelligent Install feature of Halo: MCC to unselect any games or content you may not want to update.

Halo: CE Customization Update

At launch for PC, Halo: CE Anniversary will use the new 3d character model render to allow players to preview their multiplayer customization options. In Halo: MCC today, you can make Halo: CE customization choices but cannot easily visualize what your player might look like in-game. Going forward, we will continue making investments into customization and look for ways to enhance the options and presentation available in each game going forward for both platforms.

-WIP screenshot of new character customization preview for Halo: CE Anniversary-

Forge and Theater Update

When Halo: Reach launched on PC, we did not include Forge and Theater because we knew there was more work to do in order to create an experience, controls, and UI that felt PC native. Some of the awesome modders in the Halo community found a way to unlock Forge in the current release, but the mod support is limited to controller and the original HUDs and UI. We are making good progress on building a Forge and Theater experience that includes solid support for mouse and keyboard, remappable bindings, and more intuitive controls and HUDs when using inputs that are not a controller.

In addition to adding PC native features, we are also including a larger Forge update that will improve the Forge experience on PC and console via our “Thorage” update. This update will include a lot of cool new features that go beyond what is available in any retail release of Halo: Reach today. We can’t wait to see what cool new things the community creates when this update goes live later this year.

Input Latency Testing Focus

One of the areas in which our team has increased test effort for the Halo: CE PC launch is input latency. A report is generated on a variety of gameplay scenarios with associated latency measurements using special hardware and a high-speed camera. The report is reviewed multiple times per week and the team digs into changes or unexpected results in the numbers. We have heard the feedback on input latency in Halo: Reach and have made a greater effort to assess input latency throughout the development of Halo: CE. Our goal is to have the lowest input latency we can deliver for each game, and the results may vary by game given that each one runs a different engine. As we develop and flight each game for Halo: MCC PC, we look forward to your feedback and results from your tests. And as always, this is an area the team will continue to track and iterate on beyond a title’s release where warranted.

“No Spread” Update for Ranked Gameplay

Earlier this month we flighted H:CEA and made a requested change from the competitive community. This update will come to players when H:CEA joins MCC on PC. Xbox players will receive this change in an update planned for shortly after the PC launch.

This change has been added to our Halo: CE Ranked Team Doubles playlist which disables the “bullet spread” on the Magnum and Sniper Rifle. These settings should feel familiar to some hardcore Halo: CE players. Because this is a big change to the playlist and to facilitate players’ ability to quickly find matches for testing, we reset the skill rank in this playlist in the flight. Note that this has no effect on players’ ranks in the full MCC game on either platform. In flights, resets of skill and progression ranks, game saves, and stats may occur to test certain content or pipelines.

Sustaining Halo: Reach and Halo: MCC Overall

In addition to bringing Halo: CE to PC and updating Halo: CE for Xbox, it is our intention to improve and add value to each game and the overall experience in Halo: MCC throughout the year. When we launched Halo: Reach, we heard feedback that there were some areas specific to Reach that needed improvements. The ability to easily transition between crouch and move on mouse and keyboard is one of those areas. We tested out a variety of solutions and recently flighted a change that should make this feel better. Feedback from that flight has led us to believe we should release this update alongside the launch of Halo: CE.

Other areas of concern for players in Halo: Reach include audio and the ability to adjust the view model position.  We are actively working on improving audio and due to the nature of the way audio was created for Halo: Reach, we will need a bit more time to get this right. Postums has some great information for you about this endeavor in the next section below. For the view model, adjustments are coming along and internally we have a way to adjust the hand/gun position for different classes of weapons along with the ability to tweak these at a more granular level in a config file. We still have additional UI work to do for this feature and we need feedback on what kind of limits we may want to put in place for matchmaking view model adjustments. We will playtest and work on this feature more as a team and then roll out a solution to flighting for additional community feedback in the future.

Finally, we continue to update the overall interface of Halo: MCC. On PC, we are adding in the Message of the Day feature along with the ability to see your ping to the various dedicated servers under the Network tab of settings. Xbox users currently have these features, but PC players do not. Going forward, we will be making more updates to the interface and expanding settings and overall usability in ways that improve the experience for both Xbox and PC users.

Halo: CE Classic Multiplayer Sound

One of the top requested features from our community for Halo: CE that we wanted to investigate is the following: “Classic MP audio is not used in MP.” This option for Campaign audio was one that already existed in MCC on Xbox as shown below, but players only had the option for the updated audio for Halo: CE Anniversary in Multiplayer.

We are happy to announce that we are now putting the final polish on bringing the classic Halo: CE multiplayer sounds to the Halo: CE PC launch. Initial playtest feedback is that players are happy to have the original audio in place, which brings the overall Halo: CE multiplayer another step closer to the way we all remember it on the original Xbox. For those who would like to use the Anniversary sounds in MP, a toggle to swap between the classic and anniversary sounds has been included in our February flight and will be available when the title releases.

Beyond sound, we are looking into additional community requests and bugs on differences between the current version of Halo: CE multiplayer in Halo: MCC and how we can close the gap between those experiences. Stay tuned for more info in future updates.

-Max

Thanks Max for breaking down all those cool new features and updates coming to MCC in the future! Before we transition to other areas of coolness, we want to take some time and dive deeper into one of the topics Max called out above, specifically audio. I think this next section will be music to everyone’s ears. I would tell you to listen in, but since you will be reading, just make sure you have that Halo music blasting in the background. Have those tracks turned up? Sweet, let’s get after it!

Adding ALL the Audio

If you ask any player or fan of Halo, I believe players would say one of the most iconic and integral parts of all Halo titles is the audio. From the first time you heard the monks chanting in Halo: Combat Evolved, to mid-mission hearing Cortana say, “This is not a natural formation,” or the sounds of combat across all of the games; audio is something that makes Halo, well, Halo.

As we have talked about previously, MCC is one of the most unique game collections in the world where each title within is made up of, in some cases, multiple unique game engines spanning two previous generations of consoles. Working to bring MCC to the Xbox One and now PC came with some unique technical challenges which are actively being worked on to ensure the best experience possible for all. This includes ongoing efforts to further improve audio in Halo: Reach and Halo: CE Anniversary.

In the previous section Max touched on the fact that we are bringing the original multiplayer sounds to MCC H:CE, a top community request since Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary released originally in 2014.In addition, we are going to touch on ongoing audio work for Halo: Reach and other titles within MCC. There’s a lot to dig into on the topic of audio – the current status of work, how audio is handled by the overall code and individual engines, and the unique processes to play back audio with different hardware architecture.

All with the goal of making the games sound right on both the Xbox One and PC.

Since being introduced to one of partners working on MCC and hearing more about what is being done, pun intended, I am super pumped to discuss the partnership that 343 Industries has formed with the world-renowned audio postproduction studio, Formosa Group! One fun detail is they are not only partnering with us on updating H:CEA’s and Halo: Reach’s audio, but many other titles in the collection for both Xbox One and PC!

Well, enough from me let’s look at what’s going into this epic auditory transformation from Paul Lipson.

Postums: Hi! Thank you for taking some time to talk with me Paul. Some people might recognize your name in the Halo community, but for those who don’t, let’s start with the basics. Who are you and what do you do?

Paul Lipson: Great to be here, and hello Halo community! I'm Paul Lipson, Senior Vice President at Formosa Group - the leading audio post production team headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. We work across all screens, from large feature films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Blade Runner 2049, Deadpool 1&2, John Wick series to broadcast favorites like Game of Thrones, Family Guy, Better Call Saul, and leading video game franchises like the Last of Us Part II, Call of Duty, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, God of War - and of course, Halo! Before joining the team at Formosa Group, I was the Senior Audio Director - Publishing at 343 Industries and at the Central Media Team with Xbox Game Studios. 

So not your first rodeo is what I’m hearing. With having that much exposure and creative industries being worked on, what does life look like at the studio? How many people in the studio are long time Halo fans? Any heated rivalries during playtests?

PL: There is never a dull moment at our studios (laughs). We are mixing hours of cinematics, recording all kinds of weapons and vehicles, crafting bespoke sound design, recording and capturing amazing voice and stunt performances, and recording the world's most elite orchestras to make music that drives emotion to the core. We have a bunch of hardcore Halo fans on our team, so everyone loves to take a break and test out new MP features or do their own Q/A on campaign levels. Our love of Halo shines as fans, so we are striving to get the best results in lockstep with the community. It is a dream job to love what you make and make what you love. 

I know you mentioned earlier that your teams work across many different mediums, but what has the studio been up to recently that is not Halo related? What are some of the other video game related projects your teams have worked on lately?

PL: Our teams here at Formosa Group have been quite busy, and we have enjoyed some big wins over the past year. Players have loved our recent work on God of War, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Days Gone, Borderlands 3, Concrete Genie, and are excited to experience our upcoming work on Ori and the Will of the Wisp, and The Last of Us Part 2. We have been thrilled to return to Halo and support the launch or Halo: Reach and the upcoming MCC titles, it’s like coming back to the holy grail! 

That’s an impressive resumé with some amazing games on it! With your long relationship with Halo, 343 Industries, and Microsoft, what do you personally do? What are some of the games you have worked on in the Halo Universe?

PL: I've been involved with Halo audio for many years now, both internally at 343 and externally.  Being a day-one Halo fan has kept me glued to the franchise, and it has been exciting to contribute to 343i's earliest franchise efforts, way back with the animated content for Halo Waypoint in 2008. You might remember the story projects like Mona Lisa, The Return, and Headhunters, which I functioned as Audio Director and Composer. I then went on to Music Director and Audio Director roles for Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary and then subsequently joined the team at Microsoft as Senior Audio Director. I was happy to work on The Master Chief Collection, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo Wars 2, Halo Spartan Assault, Halo Spartan Strike, Halo Fall of Reach, The Halo Channel, Halo Online, and a host of internal initiatives and projects. I continue to support 343i and Halo in any way I can, now with our broad teams in Los Angeles at Formosa Group.

Just a slight background working on Halo it sounds like. How has development work been going on MCC?

PL: Development is going well considering the size, scope, and depth of the MCC. We are working diligently to upgrade the audio profile of all titles and it is a large coordinated effort from content experts, coders, producers and franchise leads to make it happen. The code side requires a heavy focus as we advance the experiences to PC; we want fans to feel the same joy as the original release of the games and feel good about the optimization and fidelity gains available to us today. Fixing bugs is never easy, but we are confident on how things should sound and appreciate the feedback and insight from the community of Halo faithful.

Each title presents challenges and we have some exciting things to rollout now and in the near future that will certainly delight fans. We are taking all the community feedback seriously and engaging point by point on the areas we know we can improve. One challenge is to present both the original audio content and the new Anniversary content side by side and in an organic way that gives players the options they crave. Bringing back original sounds options to multiplayer sessions has been a high-priority and we are thrilled to be delivering that back to the community.

I may have seen several hundred or so conversations on social media overflowing with joy of having the option to hear those original Multiplayer sounds brought back in our recent work-in-progress flight of H:CEA. What has it been like going back into H:CEA and creating the ways to bring the original classic sounds back?

PL: Bringing the original audio back to H:CEA Multiplayer is a primary request from our players, and we are glad we can answer that call. Being able to choose audio sets for MP is an exciting feature and has required some deep code-work to make it happen. We have learned much over the years supporting MCC and this addition brings us closer to our ideal experience and provides more choice for players who crave MP in its original format.

I know for me personally it was very nostalgic hearing them in MCC again. As far as bringing them into MCC, what areas has your team had to dive deep into for updating and implementing the original audio? How complex is the whole process?

PL: The good news is we already have two identical sound sets for H:CEA, the original and the Anniversary updated content. The trick has been to have these two sound trees live side by side, and then create a user-selectable option that loads one or the other on-demand. This is more complicated than it sounds but it is something we are delivering.

In terms of the process used of new codecs, formats, etc., what liberties have been taken to preserve the audio quality from Halo: CE to make it sounds as close to if not exactly as it did in the original game released nearly 20 years ago?

PL: We have needed a very detailed strategy to preserve and advance these landmark titles to our new platforms. We are looking at thousands and thousands of sounds that all have iconic status, so we have an almost forensic approach to the audio archives. A few key details involve the original sound source content, and its legacy .aif file format. We cleaned up some of the older files and brought them forward to an optimized .wav source format. We have also advanced the underlying plumbing and audio code architecture to modern audio engine solutions that interface efficiently with the overall updated code-base. The end results are a cleaner and tighter legacy experience and a side-by-side anniversary update that takes advantage of our modern hardware. Some of these sounds are over twenty years old now, so this work is equal parts preservation and equal parts pure gameplay goodness for fans.

Well I know it’s beyond that even. I think it’s time to get into a question that the community really wants to know more about. Halo: Reach audio has been a hot topic since its release into MCC. People within the studio are apprised to what’s going on, but what has been the team’s focus in restoring it and having it sound more like the original audio?

PL: Reach has some challenging technical hurdles - the foremost being the update and transfer of the audio signal path and processing scheme from the original release on Xbox 360. Since the underlying hardware architecture of the Xbox 360 is fundamentally different than our current Xbox One and PC platforms, our first internal pass involved an approximation of the PowerPC audio code and DSP. 

We need to push farther, and so we have a special announcement! We are pleased to reveal a renewed partnership with Waves Audio, the leading audio DSP plugin manufacturer, who provided the original DSP plugins used in the original Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, and Halo Reach releases. 

Waves Audio is working hard with our teams to recompile and update their world-famous audio plugins and preserve the exact audio profile we know and love. It is a commendable effort from our Microsoft teams and partners - and we are excited to extend this level of detail and commitment to preserving the original experiences in their purest form.

When working on MCC and the rich history of audio contained within it, what would you say is the most unique thing the teams have had to do to bring some of the older audio recordings to today’s standards?

PL:  There are so many experiences to highlight when making Halo, but two things really stand out - the first being recording actual tanks, large-caliber guns, and all sorts of military vehicles for both Halo 2 Anniversary and Halo Wars 2, and the other is recording the best orchestral musicians in the world for the Halo Combat Evolved and Halo 2 Anniversary Score.  It is such a treat to bring back people like Steve Vai and Misha Mansoor for shredding guitar, or elite vocal ensembles like Chanticleer to sing the famed monk chants. Nothing is as iconic as that!

With all this discussion about audio for games it only makes sense to ask the question; what is it like to work on game audio as a professional? What is a tip you have for aspiring game developers out there who want to break into audio production?

PL: After 21 years working in games - I'm still figuring it out day by day (laughs). Interactive Audio is challenging in that sound adapts and changes over time as players move through the narrative - Halo has always blazed the trail as far as iconic audio quality is concerned. The best way to start is to study music, record lots of sound, and understand interactive systems and tools - play with everything you can get your hands on. Find a game you love and ask yourself "what makes this so special and how can I recreate this style of audio in my own unique way?" Audio is 50% of the experience for any great game, so jump in and make your mark!

Thank you so much for taking the time to have this interview. Also, a huge thank you for partnering with us to ensure the legacy of Halo sounds the best it can on the platforms MCC is on and heading to! Before we go though, I have one last question. Of all the sounds across all of Halo – what is your favorite in game audio you have been a part of?

PL:  There have been many amazing Halo audio moments for me over the years, but the absolute jaw-dropping holy-c$4p moment was the one-buttons mode switch in Halo 2 Anniversary. It is insane to be spooling up a Plasma Pistol or be mid-fire with the AR or thrusting with a Ghost and be able to switch from original audio to updated audio (along with the graphics) 1:1 on the fly. There is not a single hiccup, it just changes back and forth mid-stream. I have never seen anything like it. My colleagues Brian Fieser, Paul Stoughton, Robert Ridihalgh and I are super proud of the content fidelity and it is a code triumph to have two entire sound-trees running in parallel and in perfect sync. I still can’t believe it (laughs). The response from the fans has been awesome, and I still get high-fives from game teams when they ask about it.

Thank you again so much for taking the time to go in-depth into what the Formosa Group is cooking up for MCC and its future! Now let’s dive on into all the other goodness being worked on for MCC. This next section is directly from the Senior Producer on the Publishing Team, Michael Fahrny. Take it away brother!

State of the Game - Farns

February has been a very busy month. Work on the next title to join MCC on PC, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, has been our primary focus for this month in addition to planned updates to all titles in MCC on the Xbox One and Halo: Reach on PC. Work is continuing with big steps taken across them all. But instead of saying we’re doing things; please look below for everything we’ve done this month on the project all up.

Ban Hammer

Before we dive into the details of work, we wanted to remind folks that we ban players for bad behaviors that we have outlined as not okay in our titles. We have been and will continue issuing them for bad actors amongst the community to improve the experience for all players. In case you didn’t know we do this, please consider this a reminder. Our ban rules can always be found HERE.

AFK & Macros  

  • This has been and will remain a bannable offense.   

Sword Lining  

  • This is a bannable offense and falls under category of unsociable and unsportsmanlike behavior.   

Firefight Suicides once Max XP is gained  

  • This is a bannable offense and falls under the category of unsociable and unsportsmanlike conduct.

If you ever feel you are falsely banned, please submit a support ticket and we will investigate people on a case by case basis. We have been doing this for the people who’ve submitted tickets after the recent round of bans. https://support.halowaypoint.com/hc/en-us.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s get into the thick of it.

Top Community Reported Issues  

Below is a status update to the top Known Issues which we’ve previously discussed  prior MCC Development Updates (December and January). As updates are made between blogs, please review the Known issues for PC and Xbox One on the Halo Support site.  

Audio Issues: Lots of work happening here, we’ve gone into a lot more detail in the audio section of the blog above. No ETA to share on when these changes will be in for Halo: Reach but work is well underway.  

Stuttering Issue: No new updates on this issue from the last blog

Menu Performance: No new updates on this issue from the last blog. 

Screen Tearing/V=Sync: We have bugs logged and are working them into our development roadmap to address.

Co-Op Latency: No updates on this one. There is no active development happening around improving/re-writing the network code around this area of the game.   

EAC Error messages: We are continuing to investigate logs.

Key Bindings:

  • Push to talk rebind was flighted in February and feedback was positive.
  • Double key binds are still in progress.

Mouse Input: We have seen a small percentage of players reporting this as an issue, please continue to submit support tickets if you experience input delay problems. This is an area of the game that we will continue to monitor and improve upon where we can.

View Model: As discussed in December’s Development Update Blog, an initial implementation is in iterative development which will allow players to make changes to the view model along the X and Y axis (horizontal and vertical). This work is still in progress and the latest information can be found above in Max’s design discussions.

Crouch While Moving: This is in the current flight. Please take some time to provide feedback on this in the Halo Insider MCC Flight Four on PC Feedback thread.

Idle Stops matchmaking: This is still on our list but nothing new to share on this one as we try to tackle higher priority issues.

Aim Assist: No updates on this at this time.

Achievement Issues & Support Tickets: We have made progress on some bugs around Steam Achievements and hope to have fixes out in an upcoming update. 

Global Features and Development Status  

Like last month, we have a list of features below in varying stages of development. Some are in active development (implementation, testing, or iteration), are currently being designed, or are in the development backlog. Please see the breakdown of top requested features and what stage they are at in our development cycle.  

There are other areas of MCC the team is discussing to improve the overall experience for players. As we finish work, re-prioritize, or move items through development phases we will let the community know what is moving up on the list.  

Actively in Development  

  • Message of the Day on PC (FLIGHTED) 
  • Server ping list on PC (FLIGHTED) 
  • Push to talk: Adding an option for open mic and support for controllers (FLIGHTED) 
  • Stability Improvements and bug fixing (FLIGHTED) 
  • Zoom Improvements (FLIGHTED)   
  • Progression System improvements including Challenges  
  • UI/UX Improvements around navigation, Roster, customization and many more areas of the game  
  • Text Chat Improvements  
  • Double Key binds  

In Design Iteration  

  • Additional Mod Support  
  • Additional Video Settings/Options  
  • In Game FPS Cap/Adjustments  

In Backlog Pending Further Discussions  

  • Input based Matchmaking  
  • Regional server selection  
  • Cross-Play between Xbox & PC  
  • Steam account linking  
  • VFR Improvements  
  • Idle System Improvements  
  • Customization Improvements
  • Better ways to report players  
  • Bringing PC features to Console (Like FOV Sliders)  
  • Additional accessibility support  
  • Custom Game Browser  

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.   

-farn 

Closing Time

Now that we have reached the end of the blog, I hope you have found something that resonates positively with you. Whether it catching up on news about our recent flights, learning about topics that are in the design update, catching up on my interview with Paul Lipson from Formosa Group, or checking the latest on key features in MCC’s development cycle – there was a lot to take in. Don’t hesitate to stop by our game forums and let us know what you would like us to iterate on for MCC on PC or Xbox. We’re always trying to make the games you love better!

Check out the below threads to submit feedback, report issues, or read up on our weekly updates for the latest and greatest in between blogs.

Lastly, for a chance to participate in future flights, please make sure to register for the Halo Insider Program. If you already have, make sure you to check on it from time to time and keep that information up-to-date. With that, we are going to close this one out. As always, thank you for your time, and we will see y’all online!

Cheers,

Postums

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