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MCC Development Update - May 2019

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The Recap of Our MCC Journey


Welcome friends to the MCC Development Update – May 2019! To kick things off, we are going to briefly recap the journey we are on together and, if you are joining us for the first time, show you where you can catch up on all the info.

Last month’s MCC Development Update shared a look behind the curtain at what 343 Industries’ Publishing Team and one of our partner studios, Splash Damage, have been up to since our announcement to bring Reach to MCC and MCC to PC. This month’s update aims to continue this journey and answer more than a baker’s dozen of prominent community questions. Additional questions were also answered during ske7ch’s AMA on /r/gaming back in March if you want to get all those details too.

Ultimate TL;DR

Today, ske7ch, Max, and IK Grubb went on stream to play and talk all about the project and where things are. They covered a lot of information around this blog and if you want to skip the reading and watch what was discussed - please check out the video directly below.

Lesser TL;DR

In this month’s blog, we are going to jump webbed-feet-first into this lake of information with our Duck TalesTM section and discuss what Multiplayer, Firefight, and Customs will look like for Halo: Reach when it joins the Master Chief Collection. From there, we jet set across the pond to our partner studio, Ruffian Games, who is working on bringing Reach to MCC and hear how things are going. Once we get back stateside from that, it'll be time for a snack break as that is roughly the halfway mark for this blog.

Post snacks, we are taking two Scoops this time to answer a broad range of community-generated questions with the engineers from 343’s Publishing Team. After that, the home stretch of the blog contains just a few more details regarding a breakdown on MCC’s new progression system, info about the11th game engine being added to MCC, and some updates on Halo Insider. Just some minor tidbits to go over.

Are you ready? I know I am! Let’s stretch our wings and quack this egg open so we can waddle over to the opening portion. We have all hands-on duck for this next piece one and will be sure not to fowl it up. Enjoy!

-Postums

Duck TalesTM

For those who enjoy puns and have paid close attention to MCC playlist updates and online investigations, you’ve probably seen or heard of “Duck.” But for those who haven’t, Dana “The_Psycho_Duck” Jerpbak, is a Sustainment Designer on the Publishing Team who works on various design and technical implementation aspects associated with MCC. He’s also a good friend of mine who helps gather details from the Publishing Team for all of you. He helps on a lot of the behind scenes changes to playlists and matchmaking through data investigations, following design philosophies and principles, and listening to the community’s feedback.

One of his most recent tasks has been to help coordinate the day one experience for matchmaking in Halo: Reach when it joins MCC in the future. Sit back, relax, and let’s have Dana take a quack at it!

Halo: Reach Matchmaking

Adding an entire Halo title to MCC creates a lot of new ground to cover and a lot of challenges. Matchmaking is a key component of this as it is the primary destination for repeatable multiplayer experiences. Players have diverse expectations for what Halo: Reach matchmaking means to them, as individuals and as subcommunities. These expectations from different groups are often at odds with one another and thus provide a unique set of challenges to tackle which we’ll cover below. First, let’s look at our goals for the introduction of Reach matchmaking to MCC.

  • Provide a robust playlist lineup for Reach players on day one
  • Highlight the most unique and definitive Reach game modes and maps
  • Respect legacy where possible, but intelligently diverge from legacy behavior where necessary to provide best experience for modern audience
  • Build a strong foundation for future matchmaking updates in sustain

The first two goals are simple (on paper, anyway): deliver a well-rounded experience out-of-the-box and include all the key experiences which make Reach Reach. The third goal is complicated, so we’ll break it down in more detail below. The fourth goal is another key one. We frequently produce matchmaking sustain updates for MCC which highlight different maps and modes, tweak experiences, and introduce new ones. This will apply to Reach in the same way it does to current titles in MCC.

So, what’s complicated about Reach? Like Halo 2 and Halo 4, Reach saw the release of a Title Update (TU) relatively late in its lifespan. This TU reduced reticule bloom, added melee shield bleed through, and tweaked Armor Ability behavior. Unlike H2 and H4, however, Reach’s TU was not applied globally. This meant that game variants in Reach were split between TU and “vanilla settings” in custom games and matchmaking. This split meant that Team Slayer used vanilla settings while Big Team Battle used TU settings. The difference in bloom alone was jarring across playlists with otherwise comparable game types and maps.

“Bloom” applies an implicit, rather than explicit, enforcement on rate of fire. This is to say that it tells players not to fire too fast or they’ll suffer an accuracy penalty rather than imposing a hard limit on their fire rate. This approach to rate of fire and accuracy was one of the more contentious aspects of Reach to begin with and constantly switching back and forth between two different implicit rates of fire between playlists is an experiential issue we wish to avoid in MCC.

This creates the need for a standard for the bulk of Reach’s playlists in MCC. This does not mean clobbering specific or niche experiences which players enjoyed from Reach, but it does mean a more unified approach to settings. The bulk of player feedback we see, which we agree with internally, is that the TU settings are the preferred standard. These settings were initially developed in response to negative feedback towards vanilla settings in Reach and provide players more reliable control in long range precision engagements.

Reach will fit into the existing lineup of game categories in MCC’s social Match Composer. The Slayer category will include DMR (high weight) and AR/Pistol (low weight) variants. Flag & Bomb will include Stockpile in addition to Multi/One Flag CTF and Multi/Neutral/One Bomb Assault. Zone Control will include KotH and Territories. Asset Denial will include Headhunter in addition to Oddball. Action Sack will include modes like Elite Slayer, Dino Blasters, Bro Slayer, Flag Slayer, and Speedpile in addition to Fiesta. Matchmaking will take advantage of the full suite of maps from Reach including those delivered through the Noble, Defiant, and Anniversary map packs. In the case of Anniversary, the current plan is to use the remixed map variants (as opposed to the classic ones) paired with the standard TU settings.

TU settings will be the standard for MCC Social Matchmaking. This includes the core categories (Slayer, Flag & Bomb, Zone Control, and Asset Denial) and the secondary categories (SWAT, Snipers, and Action Sack). Grifball and Infection are the sorts of niche experiences with unique settings which we don’t want to clobber. We may experiment with TU Infection settings internally and in flights but Grifball settings will remain unchanged.

Outside of the more unified social experience, we currently plan to launch with two ranked playlists for Reach. The first is a ranked hardcore playlist with a format which will be familiar to fans of the existing H3 and H2C Hardcore playlists. Reach Hardcore will feature zero-bloom-no-sprint (ZBNS) settings across a collection of MLG V7 map and game variants. Our internal Pro Team is aiding us in locking down the final lineup here.

The other competitive playlist will be Invasion. Invasion was perhaps the most unique and defining mode for Reach and featured a delicate balance between Spartans and Elites. To preserve this balance, we will not be applying TU settings to Invasion. This playlist should scratch the itch for a ranked big team experience where teams must develop strategies around the unique objective and fireteam setup. As such, matchmaking will focus more on group size than individual player skill. Reach’s original Invasion playlist suffered from a lack of maps with only two at launch and a third (Breakpoint) gated by DLC ownership. To remedy this, the Invasion Slayer (and later Invasion Skirmish) modes were also included. These modes don’t fit into a competitive experience and have analogues better suited to the 8v8 player count in Social Games. We do not have plans to include Invasion Slayer/Skirmish in this playlist. All three core Invasion maps will hold equal weight with the forge variants adding additional map variety at a lower weight.

While matchmaking will focus on TU settings, both TU and vanilla variants will be built-in and selectable from the Custom Game lobby. Anniversary map and game variants will also be available to players.

Firefight Matchmaking

One other unique addition to matchmaking for Reach will be Firefight. There will be a small collection of Firefight playlists available which provide the key experiences the mode has to offer. These playlists will benefit from ongoing updates and rotations just like our current PVP playlists do. Firefight matchmaking will be hosted on dedicated servers and use a new asynchronous network model. Co-op Campaigns and Firefight have always run on a synchronous model where clients have to wait for the host to simulate their actions and send them back before they can be observed by the client. This can result in a sense of sluggishness for off-host players. Reach Firefight in MCC will use an async model which should result in a much smoother and more consistent online experience.

Campaign Playlists

In addition to matchmaking, we’ll also extend the campaign metagame experience through Campaign Playlists. Like other titles in MCC, Reach will support playlists which serve up missions (and specific parts of missions) as themed experiences. The standard per-difficulty and LASO playlists will be on offer here as well as more specific scenarios centered around infantry engagements, vehicle engagements, and more.

Feedback Loops

As a hybrid designer and technical community support specialist, I spend a lot of time each day scouring qualitative feedback and analyzing data (quit rates, average match length, stickiness, etc.). The proposed matchmaking contents you see here are the direct result of combining current player trends and feedback from MCC, community wishlists, internal design insight, and several hundred hours of personal Reach playtime. Of course, this is just the beginning. Reach's matchmaking, like the rest of MCC's, will continue to evolve up until launch and beyond through flighting, playtesting, and your feedback. Thank you for coming along with us on this journey. A great matchmaking experience is within reach.

-Dana

Ruffian Games Interview

Last month we talked with our partner developer, Splash Damage, who is focused on bringing MCC to PC. This month we got some time to chat with our other partner studio, Ruffian Games, who is bringing Reach into MCC on Xbox. Without further ado, let’s get this Q&A started!

Postums: So, I’ve heard your team is heads down on making Reach! How are things going at the studio?

Ruffian: Really well, overall. It’s great to be working on The Master Chief Collection again - Reach is something we’ve been keen to get our hands on for years now (since we rolled out ODST) so we’re stoked we’re doing it now.

We saw some fun comments in the code for MCC all up, but we are curious what, if any, interesting tidbits you have found in the code that surprised you? Doesn’t have to be comments.

There have certainly been many surprises that we’ve found - some of the comments maybe shouldn’t be repeated though. But the main surprise is that Reach is just very, very different in structure, tone and intent from all the other Halo titles we’ve worked on. To Yoda it - we’ve had to unlearn what we’ve learned - and think quite creatively at times.

During development of Reach for MCC, what are some of the technical hurdles you must overcome? What bits have been the most unique in trying to bring a much older game to life on new hardware with different features?

Reach was originally developed with a specific visual style, partly accomplished by having a deliberate motion blur rendering solution built in. It served its purpose back in the day on Xbox 360, but in today’s world of 4k and HDR that works against what we’re trying to accomplish. Defining the solution that stays true to the original artistic intent, whilst taking advantage of the huge fidelity gains on offer today - finding that balance has been a bit of a challenge and sparked a fair amount of debate. However, Reach looks far crisper, smoother and more dynamic than it ever has - especially on Xbox One X - so we think it’s a challenge we’ve overcome well.

What is the team’s priority and focus on?

The finish line for the console version is very much in sight for us - it’s maybe a boring answer but clearing our bug list and hitting the very high-quality bar we’ve set really is the focus. But also - Firefight!

What is your latest accomplishment or milestone?

Character Customization is coming for Reach - in a way not seen in MCC before. Building that future-proof system has been a lot of effort, and we’re now starting to see those rewards on screen - and we’re excited by what we’re seeing.

Looking ahead, what is your next big milestone or deliverable that the team focusing on?

There’s a lot of long-term architectural work we’re now undertaking to optimize MCC - reducing file sizes and improving load times whilst not compromising quality at all. That’s hard-gritty work, but it’s work we’re very well placed to tackle.

What does it mean to work at Ruffian? What does your studio’s day to day look like?

Ha. That depends on who you ask! Ruffian is a bit of a unique beast - although the company itself is a little over 10 years old - some of us have been working closely together in various forms for well over 20 years. Some more than 30, and some working relationships in the office go back nearly 40 (although I don’t think they’ll thank me for reminding them of that). There’s a huge amount of experience across the company - but there’s also new talent here that challenges that experience and makes them think in ways they haven’t had to before. Ruffians aren’t afraid to speak their mind - they’re often encouraged to do just that.

A huge thank you to the team at Ruffian for all of your work on Halo: Reach as well as taking the time to answer all of these questions! I can’t wait to touch back in the future and see the results of this hard work.

Proper Hydration and Snacks

We have finally reached the near halfway mark of the blog. Hopefully we have been answering the questions you have and are helping you form even more! With so much still left to go through, we would like to give you the opportunity to grab a snack.

If you didn’t bring adequate snacks and hydration, I strongly suggest going and getting some now. I’ve heard that the community enjoys pizza, but I am with John and prefer some fresh Blueberries.

 Alright – hopefully you have returned, snacks and drinks in hand. Let’s get nerdy and deep dive into a section that includes two engineers from 343’s Publishing Team!

Two Scoops This Time

So very early in May I tweeted out a question to the community on what y’all want to know about the MCC PC project. I also spent time digging through Reddit and other social media sites to try and get top question answered. To say there were a lot of questions regarding various features we have discussed would be a massive understatement. Taking the most commonly raised topics helped me narrow this list down. What follows are the big ones: uncapped framerate, FOV sliders, centered reticules, bullet magnetism, auto-aim, Xbox Live integration on Steam, and many more.

To help answer these, I sat down with a couple of the Publishing Team’s engineers, Andrew Schnickel and Sean “Scoops” Cooper, to discuss how the technical side of work has been going regarding implementation of these features. Are you ready? I hope you listened to me about that snack. It’s time to get nerdy my friends.

Postums: Hello gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me today to discuss how things are going for our May Development blog.

Andrew Schnickel: Happy to be here.

Sean Cooper: Thanks for inviting us.

To kick things off, since our April Development Blog people want to know more about features such as Uncapped Framerate. Can you dive into how work is going on it?

Andrew: Definitely. Things are going well. There are a lot of challenges, but we’re making good progress. We know it’s a highly requested feature, so there’s been a lot of focus on it.

When you say challenges, what sort of things have you run into that are making this difficult? I mean, isn’t it just copy paste or save file as?

Sean: I totally forgot about that trick. Let me save as > Uncapped.fps and we will be good to go.

Andrew: Hahaha. It would be nice if it were that simple.

Actually, there was already an “infinite framerate” flag in the code. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rendering artifacts when it’s enabled; its purpose was to render frames as quickly as possible for performance profiling rather than being a shippable feature. But it has been a good starting point!

One of the big challenges with these titles is that many systems were designed to update on tick intervals, not time intervals, and those tick intervals were implied to be 1/30th of a second. When those ticks get shorter, things end up playing too fast. We generally addressed these issues while moving from 30 fps to 60 fps, but there were a number of cases where the most expedient fix at that time was to make the systems treat the update interval as 1/60th of a second, rather than make them able to accommodate arbitrary length update intervals. To support uncapped framerates, we’re now needing to make more extensive changes to handle arbitrary update intervals in more cases.

A related issue is in sampling and interpolation for VFX and animations. Many effects sample from input functions to drive their behavior. Depending on what that function is, sampling more frequently can result in different patterns. For example, if you sample a sine wave every half period, it’s not actually going to look like a wave – you’ll always get zero. But if you sample twice as frequently, then you’ll get oscillation between 1 and -1. So, we’ve had to change some input functions to make the behavior look consistent regardless of how frequently they’re sampled. Similarly, for animations, you can get weird interpenetration and other artifacts when rendering interpolated frames that don’t exist at lower framerates.

As you can see, there are systemic changes we can make, but it’s also a matter of having to go through a bunch of different areas and individual assets and identify problems. We’re focused on things that we expect will have the most impact for players.

The community has had a lot of questions around FOV Sliders, Centered Reticules, Bullet Magnetism, Auto-Aim, and how these pieces are all being handled for both PC and what will be brought back to console. I know the decisions on these features are design questions, but I was curious how implementation has been going and what has been investigated to potentially carry over to console at this point?

Andrew: It’s something that’s been on our mind, but it’s not something we’ve really spent time investigating. We’re focused on getting these features done for PC, and then we’ll work with Design to see what makes sense to bring back to console.

As the line gets blurred between console and PC, with Xbox One supporting numerous resolutions, FreeSync support, keyboard and mouse, etc., it’s reasonable to consider these features on console. At the same time, we’re mindful that these things affect performance, gameplay, and competitive balance in ways that haven’t historically applied to consoles. We want to ensure we have the right systems in place to meet player expectations.

When you say investigate these features, are there any you have already dug into that have posed challenges on PC and would be even more problematic on console?

Andrew: Field of View is one that comes to mind.

Sean: Each Halo game, including the remastered visuals, had their first person render models tailored or otherwise tested for specific FOVs. These FOVs are not the same from game to game for various reasons (design, technical, or a mix). Each Halo has had slight differences even within them from Multiplayer, Campaign, and even split screen being they were built within these constraints.

Example of FOV Turned up to 120 and left arm displaying as a floating arm when throwing a grenade.

But since they were made with only a given FOV in mind, the original authors most likely never caught that at higher FOVs your view clips through some larger weapon’s geometry. You can already see this in H1's remastered visuals. Pick up a Rocket Launcher, then look all the way down. You should end up seeing partially inside the remastered Rocket Launcher model. This is due to an update we pushed last year which increased the FOV (it was a bug I worked on, and IIRC, SP did not match MP, so we were trying to fix that).

This clipping is a very specific edge case (who looks down at their feet with a RL, unless they are going to launch themselves to Hades?) so we felt it not a big issue.

Example of FOV turned up to 120 while sprinting showcasing poor visual representation.

Now fast forward to PC FOV and I assume we have a whole new set of technical challenges to overcome with this change?

Sean: True. Due to design constraints and how the titles were scoped depending on the FOV you pick, you will run into design limitation issues. What does this mean for competitive space? Players no longer make a trade off picking up the Spartan Laser which obstructs their view normally. Models don’t appear appropriately and can even cause things to start looking… Weird. We are working through various scenarios while design is defining what default scope they would like the FOV to be capped for certain activities, but also to leave the door open for those who want to explore even wider views. This will likely be a setting in a .ini file as well where a warning appears saying, “if you got past here – things will break.” This way those who want to see what Halo looks like in the extremes can, but users who just want to play within the confines of it looking acceptable can enjoy some of these adjustments.

Thank you for the info, I know people will appreciate the openness on this. My last question of the day to engineering that was brought up in the community was regarding how Xbox Live integration is being handled and just how it’s going with Steam?

Andrew: Overall, it’s going well. It’s the same Xbox Live system we’ve been using on console, so we really haven’t needed to make many changes. Most things just worked. It’s one of the reasons we chose to leverage Xbox Live on PC. Matchmaking, dedicated servers, achievements, stats, progress – all those things are already in place. The biggest challenge has been reconciling the social experience between Steam and Xbox Live. We want to make it easy for players coming from Steam, who have Steam friends but may not have Xbox Live friends, to find each other and play together easily. So, there’s still work going on there. But, in terms of overall implementation, it’s been pretty straightforward.

Halo MCC’s Progression System

Hey Friends, the following section has several screenshots that are of a work-in-progress progression system that is subject to change. This is us wanting to share with you where we are at, what we have done so far, and what our goals are. This section has been put together by 343 Publishing Team’s Design Director, Max Szlagor, for you to get a first look of what the new progression system for MCC is intended to look like and what it entails. Please note, season content contains placeholder art, names, descriptions, and unlock values and does not represent actual Halo: Reach unlockables. Please remember this is all still being worked on and that changes can/will be made before it ultimately ships. Please enjoy!

Example of what an updated main menu could look like with season progression elements represented in the player nameplate and via UI widgets on the right side of the screen.

Progression in MCC

When we first started planning the addition of Halo: Reach to MCC, we knew there was an opportunity to improve the MCC engagement and customization experiences. As outlined in our last blog, we wanted to build up our legacy and engagement pillars. Halo: Reach featured a compelling progression system and a series of interesting unlockables to strive for.

We set out to include the same customization options in MCC while looking to modernize the progression system that existed in Halo: Reach. Here are the details of that system.

Halo: Reach Progression Legacy

When we talk about modernizing the Halo: Reach system, one of our main goals was to separate the way levels and credits are so closely tied together. Credits were used as the marker of level and XP progression and were also used to purchase unlockables.

We wanted to preserve the idea of earning in-game currency for playing and performing well while making the distinction between level XP and currency clearer for players. We also wanted to offer the Halo: Reach unlockables as a goal to chase in our new take on this progression system. 

Example of what the post-match progression screen may look like with placeholder XP values, level, and medal rewards.

Account Level Progression

Starting with the release of Halo: Reach, all matches played on dedicated servers will award profile XP. This includes matchmade PVP multiplayer and matchmade PVE Firefight experiences. XP will be earned regardless of which specific Halo title is played.

XP will be awarded based on medals earned in the match under the banner of two categories – performance and teamwork. At the end of the match, the category and XP value for each medal earned will be displayed.

Great games of Halo are the result of a well-functioning teams coordinating and succeeding together. We want to make the actions that fall under performance and teamwork clear by associating them with tracked medals and encourage players to be strong team players in addition to individual performers.

There will also be a bonus for completing matches. XP will be capped in each match to encourage repeated and active play within each game.

Why dedicated server matches only? Security. We want to ensure players legitimately earn the rewards that are on offer. In the future, we will look for additional ways to ensure players in a wider range of scenarios have a path to earning rewards.

Once players have earned enough XP, the player’s level, rank, and title will change.

Example of several tiers of season unlocks with placeholder content, name, date, and descriptions.

Seasons and Unlockables

In the future, MCC will include the concept of game seasons, each with a unique theme. In addition to an overarching account level system, players will have the opportunity to unlock seasonal based rewards. Attaining certain account levels or completing challenges will award in-game seasonal points, which can be spent to unlock rewards, such as armor pieces, Halo: Reach Firefight voices, and nameplates.

Seasonal points are an in-game award. There will be many tiers of seasonal unlocks, and each tier can include several items. Tiers are unlocked by spending seasonal points and each tier must be unlocked before the next tier is available.

We will not be applying this progression system retroactively to lock content that exists in MCC today. Anything that is unlocked in MCC today will be unlocked in the same way – either available by default or via an achievement unlock.

We are interested to hear from our community if any of the existing achievement unlocks would be interesting to include as challenge or XP unlock, but if we move forward on this it will be additive – meaning you could earn it the old way or the new way. In addition, anything that is unlocked on Xbox will be unlocked for players using the same profile on PC and vice versa.

Seasonal unlocks and any unspent season points will not disappear when the season rotates. Players will be able to go back and unlock items from a previous season, though they must be unlocked in order. The first season and its unlockables will all be centered on Halo: Reach, though as mentioned, players will be able to earn season points and XP by playing other games in MCC as well.

Future seasons will focus on the other games in MCC and will include new content.

On the matchmaking side of things, we also want to make reaching high levels of competitive ranks a seasonal goal. Competitive playlists will be configured for each season and all players will start at rank 1 at the beginning of the season. When a season ends, competitive playlists will be reassessed, and ranks will reset along with the playlists. We are thinking about ways to honor players who achieve significant skill ranks in each season. Social playlists will rotate more frequently and will not necessarily be tied to season rollouts.

Challenges

In addition to XP, levels, unlockables, and seasons, we are looking to bring a challenge system into MCC. The timeline for when this feature will arrive is still in discussion, though a lot of design and thinking has gone into the system.

The goal is to offer rotating daily and weekly challenges that can award season points in a variety of game modes. Please stay tuned for more information on this part of our progression system.

Another important note – the progression system and seasons in MCC will be included for all players and earning XP and season points does not require a specific game purchase. In order to play with the appropriate unlockables, players will need to own those titles, but XP and season points can be earned in any MCC game.

Example of what a season unlock prompt may look like where players spend season points to unlock tiered rewards in order.

That’s a preview of our current plans for the MCC progression system. We hope you are as excited as we are to bring new goals and unlockables into the game. We look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions, and feedback. We will have more to share in the future about customization, season content, and level details. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

-Max

Engines Evolved

The Master Chief Collection is a massive undertaking which accounts for the first of many things in the Halo Franchise. Currently, the entire collection accounts for nine different engines to make everything possible. It’s not uncommon for a game to have two or sometimes even three, but MCC is in another ballpark. When Reach comes it will grow even more with the addition of two more into that list for a grand total of eleven.

All 11 Engines

  • Legacy UUI
  • Halo: CE legacy engine
  • Halo: CE remastered engine
  • Halo 2: legacy engine
  • Halo 2: remastered engine
  • Halo 3
  • ODST
  • Halo 4
  • Halo 2: Anniversary MP
  • Halo: Reach
  • UE4

What is the Unreal Engine being used for?

The short answer TL;DR version is, “Various UI elements across the entire collection.”

Long form, currently a lot of the UI elements in the game were built using a different solution for the game’s UI. However, that original solution is no longer going to be supported with updates which will make it challenging for us to continue building and making changes in the future. Our ability to visualize and execute on future work would be more limited with older technology, with Unreal Engine we are not facing those same restrictions. 

Since bringing it in, we have conducted a major update behind the scenes to allow for it to bridge both the new systems as well as the places where old implementation is strill needed. There are some interesting flows that remind me of the movie Inception such as a UI inside of a UI inside of a UI inside of a UI. My head hurts just thinking about it.

An additional perk of this new tool is that we can do much more complex UI visualizations in real time to support both armor customization options and our progression system for MCC.

What has been the hardest part of making Unreal Engine work on both PC and Xbox?

MCC on Console is a very fun challenge to overcome, especially when memory already plays such a key piece of the puzzle. When adding more content, engines, and features – you must account for its memory footprint. Adding two new engines to the existing game along with all the other additional pieces is an exercise in streamlining. It requires us to go through and essentially trim the fat in areas where possible and utilize tools, such as the unreal engine, to fit our changes within the constraints of our project and supported hardware.

It is something we have spent a lot of time investigating and are actively working on to ensure the title runs smoothly. One of our key pillars amongst our team is Community. To us,  that means everything we do needs to not only meet the standards of ourselves, but it must include the standards of those who play our games. It is not the easiest thing we’ve done, to say the least, and will be something we tune and adjust as we move towards the release of Halo: Reach into MCC. But, we are excited about the prospects of this new UI system and the types of new experiences it will enable us to deliver down the road.

Now let's take a look at some inside information from Ske7ch who has an update on flighting for Halo Insider.

Update on Halo Insider

Hello Halo Insiders! (you are an Insider, right? If not, what’re you waiting for? SIGN UP!) As you know, development on Halo: Reach and MCC for PC is well underway but our plans to kick off flighting last month didn’t quite land where we’d projected. You can read more in our last blog HERE and in the Insider forum HERE but suffice it to say that the game itself is a complex project but so is the act of delivering builds to flight participants via Steam. The good news is that since the last blog, the team has made great progress on a number of the blocking factors we’ve discussed previously and we’re getting really close to kicking things off.

Recently, the team checked off a pivotal milestone with the first pre-flight release of a PC build to a small private test group. The purpose of this ‘flight’ was strictly to verify the process of preparing a build, creating a whitelist and player entitlements, delivering the build content to participants, and verifying that some preliminary in-game telemetry was working as intended. With all of that in the rearview, the team is now on the cusp of moving into the next stage which will be activating our first public Insider flight which we expect to begin in June.  

While that is all progressing and we get closer to Insider flighting, I did want to take a moment to talk about some plans we’re working on for the upcoming E3 expo. As you no doubt know, E3 is a pivotal industry event where Xbox and others go to show off and talk about new games and exciting updates coming down the road. Finding a way to bring a slice of the Halo: Reach PC experience to E3 is important to the team, the studio, and our partners across the company. To that end, the team has been working on a demo experience of Halo: Reach that we’re currently readying for the show floor at the Microsoft Theater in LA. Admittedly, none of us in the studio love the idea of bringing Halo: Reach PC content to E3 before we’ve kicked off Insider flighting. We know the community is incredibly eager and anxious and much more time has passed since we initially announced the Insider program than we wanted or anticipated.

I want to be clear that the work that went into creating this one-off experience for E3 has NOT caused delays in flighting nor have we intentionally held back flighting for marketing purposes. Truth is, a lot of the challenging issues the team has been working through to get flight ready – things like security and build fulfillment and entitlements – don’t apply to the build being readied for E3. In fact, this small E3 build is the same build that was used for the pre-flight milestone I mentioned above. It was important to the team to not do “throw away” work nor negatively impact the overall flighting or development schedule. According to lead producer Michael Fahrny, this E3 build served as the “goal post” the team worked towards to get ready for broader fighting.

If you caught our social stream, you already have an idea of what this build entails – it’s a single campaign mission, “Tip of the Spear”, running on a PC with mouse and keyboard controls and a built in 10 minute timer to help promote throughput in a busy expo environment. This build is very much work-in-progress with a number of features in various states of development while others are still missing entirely. This build was isolated a while back specifically for the purposes of E3, meanwhile the team is still moving forward with new build updates every day, meaning the current state of the project is already much further along than what we had to commit to for E3. In fact, even the build we showed on today’s live stream is over a week old and not indicative of what we’ll have on the show floor (more PC UI is still coming in, among other bits of polish).

As the team here gets ready to activate the first wave of Insider flighting (which, as a reminder, will only include a subset of registered Insiders and is expected to grow over time), a few of us will be down at E3 offering hands-on with a work-in-progress Halo: Reach experience and gathering feedback from players. If you’re going to be at E3, we hope you’ll stop by and say hello and take “Tip of the Spear” for a test drive! In addition to being one of the first to get hands-on, you can also score some swag (which I’m told includes collectible pins for everyone and a chance to get Halo: Reach mouse pads and posters).

Thank you for your support and patience – we’re excited to kick off the first round of Halo Insider flighting on Steam very soon!

Farewell Friends

That was a lot of words so I’m going to keep this brief. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your continued questions, and we hope you have enjoyed this month’s development update. See you next time y’all!

Cheers,

Postums

 

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