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MCC Development Update – November 2020

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Hey Friends,

Postums here for another MCC Development update! 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! It’s safe to say that it has been a wild ride getting this all done, not the least of which is because we shipped most of these titles while working from home.

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.

To start off this month’s adventure we are going step through Halo 4’s launch and game changing update, then we’ll look at some upcoming XP events, dig into the community mailbag, and close it out with an update on what work we have left to do and share some ideas for things we are planning to do in the coming year. Time to dive on in!

Halo 4 now available on pc!

Halo 4 is out now for PC and is purchasable on both Steam and the Microsoft Store. If you have Xbox Game Pass for PC, you also have access to the game now, so make sure to check out 343 Industries’ first Halo game and introduce yourself to a new enemy in the Halo universe.

Halo 4’s launch also included new pieces of content in the form of bug fixes, features, and upgrades to existing ones. Below are a few new features that were added as part of our latest game update:

  • Multiplayer Crossplay
  • Upgraded Halo 4 Forge
  • Xbox Series X and Series S enhancements
  • Season 4
  • Server Region Selection for Matchmaking
  • Per-Title Video Settings
  • Input-Based Matchmaking

This is just a few bits and pieces, to find the full suite of improvements, check out the launch blog HERE. You can also check out the full list of Patch Notes and Known Issues to stay informed from this update.

If you haven’t yet picked up Halo: The Master Chief Collection, there are now more ways than ever to experience the iconic classics of Halo. The game is playable on all Xbox One consoles and is even enhanced for the Xbox Series X|S. If you prefer playing on PC, you have the options of playing it through Xbox Game Pass for PC or purchasing it on the Microsoft Store or Steam. For a full breakdown of purchase options, head over to HERE and pick it up now!

Updating Games

With the launch of Halo 4, we have been monitoring incoming tickets, online feedback, and of course also playing it ourselves. With each launch there are bugs that do slip through and we make sure to track them down and make game updates on issues pertinent to the community. With the most recent update, we have seen that some players have had issues with textures not loading properly, some skins missing their lighting, and a couple of areas where regressions have happened with performance.

While we don’t have the exact details of our patch lined up just quite yet as we are still working on fixing items the community has called out, we are working to get one out mid-December to address some of the most vocal areas flagged by the community. As discussed in the 11/20 Friday Development Update, items such as Text chat filtering opt-in and missing lighting on skins are a couple of key fixes we are looking to get in for the next upcoming patch.

If there are issues you would like to see fixed, please make sure to head to the Halo Support site and file a ticket on the technical issue. Each week the development team receives a stack ranked report that shows community-reported issues by volume. These tickets help inform patch focus prioritizations, so make sure your voice is heard and please report issues you encounter.

XTRA XP Events

If you are on the grind and looking to rank up quickly, this section is for you! We started some increased XP events with the launch of Halo 4 onto PC, but still have more planned in the following weeks.

  • 11/16 10am – 11/23 10am: Double Medal XP
  • 11/25 10am – 12/2 10am: Double Weekly Challenge XP
  • 12/8 10am – 1/4 10am: Double Medal XP

To be clear, these events are for both Xbox and PC players, so this really is for everyone.

During double medal XP, any medals earned in MCC will grant twice as much XP as they traditionally do. So, make sure to channel your inner beast and earn as many multi-kills as you can during those weeks. For the double weekly Challenge XP period, make sure to complete as many of those challenges to secure the bag on those large XP drops. These events will be limited in time, so work hard to maximize your gains. We hope you have fun and enjoy these increased XP events in the coming weeks!

Community Mailbag

Last month, the community got a special treat with ske7ch digging into and answering the plethora of questions y’all had. This month we are continuing this by once again digging into some topics that folks have been curious about.

Xavier Lang: Will we see more rewards for playing ranked playlists? I think it's a great incentive to encourage players to explore other playlists. Have you thought about nameplates and emblems for reaching 50s?

Postums: The short answer is Yes. We talked a little bit about some of these ideas back in the MCC Development Update for September about some of the planned incentives for players reaching higher ranks. I also have been having discussions with the team for potential opportunities here in the future. The team plans to continue having incentives and rewards for players who reach certain ranks in Ranked multiplayer. Players who have put in the time and effort to reach higher ranks do deserve to stand out amongst other Halo players for their achievements. As we make plans for future ranked rewards and unique content for those rewards, we will make sure to discuss and share them with the community.

Dana: With MCC, we’re getting to a place where we have a lot of rewards. We’re committed to keeping the bulk of these rewards available to all players without time restrictions. The vast majority of our rewards are present within seasons which remain available even after the subsequent season rotates in. Allowing players to earn the season points to unlock these rewards in the Halo game(s) and mode(s) they prefer and to do so at their own pace is important to us. However, we also have a (much smaller) subset of rewards which are more contextual. These are generally time-bound and include anything from the Cartographer nameplate (for creating a forge map which enters matchmaking rotation) to Season 3’s Endure challenge rewards, to ranked rewards. It’s important that we provide a balance of unique rewards for players to strive for in addition to the core rewards that are much easier to obtain.

Using Season 4 as an example, we set out 16 Halo 4 weapon skins to include within the season tiers. Then we created two additional skins to tie to the featured ranked playlist. These rewards weren’t taken away from the core season but rather were purely additional. These skins serve to provide bragging rights for players who reach tiered milestones in the Squad Battle playlist and create an incentive for players to dip their toes in a part of the game they might not otherwise try. If you give it a shot and determine it’s not for you, no problem – there are many other unlocks to pursue as described above. Ranked playlists have tighter restrictions on the team size and skill level of who you match against which can lead to long search times. The extra incentives provide a boost to the playlist’s population which helps to mitigate this. Rewarding players’ accomplishments across MCC is important and ranked is certainly no exception. We’ll continue to refine both our approach to unlocks, and to ranked matchmaking in general, in the future.

Moot: Will 4 player campaign co-op be considered for Halo 1 & 2? That can bring new life to it.

Postums: I absolutely love this idea, but in the grand scope of body of work in the teams backlog of need to do and want to do, this one is further down the list. Cracking open the old games to make this an official feature is about as big of a 10 as possible on the complexity scale. Now, that’s not saying it can’t be done, but in terms of effort to impact ratio, I think it’s not as far up there as updating the old co-op netcode, or bringing long lost content to the games, or even making other global upgrades with collection wide updates. In the future however, I would not be surprised in the least bit if players are able to mod the game content to make this a reality on PC. In the future when major development support for MCC ends up winding down, the modding community will be where MCC lives on. I know this to be true as we have seen many games on PC take on new forms and longer lifetimes for decades now through communities that mod.

Scoops: H1 Remastered’s co-op code is very much hard coded around there only being up to 2 players (or at least the networking parts of it). So to allow for 3 or 4 co-op players, that would have to be solved for and debugged first.

Then you have to solve for the content changes. If I recall, the 2nd player spawns in the cryotube to right of the 1st player. But where would the others? Who are these two new mysterious Spartans? Flash clones of John 117? So more player spawn points would have to be added and verified. Plus other scripting related updates. Which runs the risk of inadvertently impacting existing behavior. Speaking of existing behavior, there’s also the design question of what that means for difficulty. H1 was built with 2 players in mind, but what happens with more? Is the game now easier? Are there enough resources for all players? Eg, sniper rifle ammo on T&R. What about vehicles? AoTCR has that over turned Warthog, but that sits three people.

H2’s existing code is probably more at-the-ready for possibly going to 4 co-op players. However, you still have the same content changes/issues as H1.

Both H1 and H2 probably also have load time issues to work out if two additional players (and machines) were added to the mix.

MrTekhnical: Did 343i add the GRD Helmet and other cut armor into Halo Reach in today's update?

Postums: No unfortunately, we did not. While it was something, we had originally planned to release with the Halo 4 update, it was not yet ready. There are a number of things that have just taken more time to bake and have work completed on them to bring it into MCC. We are currently planning for it to come into MCC in a future update and will make sure to sound the alarm when it is something players can work towards unlocking.

Dana: The AKIS and Mariner helmets which players know from some infamous screenshots of the Defiant Map Pack were not included in Season 4. To implement this content, we had to resurrect some old art pipelines to create and implement these assets in Halo: Reach. This process was complicated given that Halo: Reach was released over ten years ago and this work required use of some old versions of various tools. Due to these complexities, these armors did not meet our quality bar in time for the launch of Halo 4. However, we’ve made some great progress internally and are happy to confirm that they will be coming in Season 5! You’ll likely hear more about Season 5 soon.

Lollo big1915: Mind anyone explaining how this crossplay works? all playlist or no? Only infection?

Postums: Crossplay is a new feature that has been added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection for both players that are using a Xbox One console or are playing on PC. Regardless of where you have purchased the game or are receiving it via a subscription, you can log in and play with players on any platform in multiplayer games. This includes Matchmaking, Custom game lobbies, Forge, and Firefight.

Campaign game modes are not currently supported for crossplay, but it is something the team is interested in and will continue to investigate potential ways to make that happen. But this is by no means a confirmation that it could happen. Digging into the code we have found some things that just cannot be done with current architecture of these games that are nearly 20 years old. But even that said, we tend to look down the rabbit holes to see if we can.

Dana: As of Halo 4’s PC launch, crossplay between Xbox and PC is available for Multiplayer, Firefight, and Forge across MCC. Crossplay is open to anyone, regardless of whether you’re on Steam, Windows Store, or any type of Xbox console. You may not even realize it, but you’ve likely played a number of matches with players on mixed platforms since it was added.

By default, you’ll matchmake with anyone else regardless of platform or input device. However, some playlists allow you to further restrict your search preference to others on the same platform and / or using the same input device. These are indicated by the “User Input / Platform Restrictions” field in the Playlist Stats pane before and while searching. You can set your preference on whether to match only on the same platform and / or only with the same input device in the Network Settings menu.

Crossplay is not currently supported in Campaign (including Campaign Playlists) and Spartan Ops. This is due to these modes using a synchronous network model which is significantly less forgiving to disparities in hardware between users. We’ll continue to investigate the potential of campaign crossplay in the future, but don’t have anything to confirm at this time.

KMIC88: Does anybody know if there are any plans to allow the machinima controls to come to PC? I'd love to be able to create some machinimas or get better footage for my videos, but it just doesn't seem that accessible unless I get a new controller.

Postums: This is something I’ve seen pop up as a question from time to time. This generally accompanies requests for all armors to be unlocked for guests so it is easier to make machinimas as well. It is something that has been considered and I believe is in the team’s backlog, but not something we are currently working on. Maybe at some point further down the road, but currently it is not a planned addition.

Dana: We don’t currently have plans to support Machinima controls on mouse & keyboard given the complexities of supporting rebindable keys across seven game engines. Theater is the primary destination for this sort of thing in the games which support it. However, that isn’t to say that we couldn’t revisit Machinima controls down the road if enough people want it. Updating MCC is a constant balancing act which requires us to prioritize work which the most players will benefit from and enjoy. Investing resources in one area can preclude doing so in another. Thank you for bringing it up!

u/SkeleToasty: After updating MCC on steam and finally booting up the now completed Halo Collection I noticed that no matter what I do the text chat and voice chat does not work. The buttons I have set up will not do anything and neither will the defaults. Anyone else? This is really bad.

Postums: There seems to be a lot of confusion around this as some things with settings for text chat and voice chat defaults. Previously when entering the game these were both on by default. With the most recent update, the setting has been changed so these are more limited by default.

To change these, you will need to go into your settings and make some adjustments. You will need to go through the following menus to make the necessary changes.

Voice Settings:

  1. Open “Options & Career”
  2. Open “Settings”
  3. Tab over to “Audio”
  4. Set your Voice Chat Channel & Push to Talk Voice Chat settings

Chat Settings:

  1. Open “Options & Career”
  2. Open “Settings”
  3. Tab over to “Accessibility”
  4. Set your Text Chat Availability settings

For these settings, it will determine who you can talk to and hear for both text and voice. Setting it to “Squad” means the players in your fireteam are the only ones. Setting it to “Team” means players on your team are the ones you can communicate with. By setting it to all means everyone in the lobby and game you are connected to.

State of the Game with Farns

We did it, all the games are out this year and what a wild ride this has been for our team! Time to pack it up and go home……I kid. 😉

We’re all very excited everyone seems to be enjoying the final game release and the additional features we snuck in as part of it. Looking back at earlier in the year, we all thought Halo 4 at the end was going to be the easiest release but due to timing of other features, the Xbox Series X|S launch, and the pandemic, this turned out to be one of the most difficult for our team.

Field of View adjustment for Xbox Series X|S consoles

As we approach the end of the year, we will be turning down the volume a bit for our team so that people can get some much-needed rest and enjoy the holidays. We will have much more to share with all of you next year as we look forward with major improvements around modding, season content, and some surprises……more on all of this later, I promise.

We are working to get one smaller update out before the end of the year to fix some bugs and also tee up Season 5 for January. We would also like to get a flight out with some Custom Game Browser goodness, but I can’t promise that will happen just yet.

GLOBAL FEATURES AND DEVELOPMENT STATUS

Actively In Development

  • UI/UX Improvements around navigation, roster, customization, and many more areas of the game 
    • This will be an ongoing effort, going to remove this one going forward and rely on our release notes into next year to call out specifics unless we have something large to discuss
  • View Model Adjustment for all games
    • These will be moving into next year at this point. We hope to have these in flight early in 2021
  • Steam Account Linking 
    • This will be in on of our releases next year
  • In Game FPS Cap/Adjustments 
    • We will have an initial implementation in with some presets for H4’s launch. We intend to improve this feature and give more options over time
  • PC File Share
    • We are planning to have this in flight in early 2021
  • Additional Video Settings/Options
    • You’ve now seen some of this alongside Halo 4, continued improvements on a per game basis will be coming in 2021
  • Custom Game Browser
    • We are hoping to have a flight up for this before the end of the year
  • Input-based Matchmaking
    • It’s out! We will continue to monitor community feedback and address bugs as they’re reported
  • Regional Server Selection
    • It’s out! We will continue to monitor community feedback and address bugs as they’re reported
  • Cross-Play between Xbox & PC
    • It’s out! We will continue to monitor community feedback and address bugs as they’re reported
  • Double Key Binds for all games
    • This should be in flights in early 2021
  • Per Game Audio Options
    • This should be in flights in early 2021
  • Additional season content (Season 4+)
    • The team is now working full steam ahead on Seasons 5 & 6
  • Text Chat Improvements 
    • We are in the process of reviewing community feedback and will continue to improve this system. This will include areas like adjusting the opt-out/opt-in functionality
  • VFR Improvements to Reach & H2A 
    • Enjoy! We will continue to monitor for bugs and make improvements where needed.
  • Bringing PC Features to Console (Like FOV Sliders)  
    • I know many people want this for all consoles and our hope is that we will be able to do that over time. We will continue to try and improve the performance issues into 2021

In Design Iteration 

  • Additional Mod Support   
  • Additional Accessibility Support  
  • HDR Support on PC (Added)

In Backlog Pending Further Discussions 

  • Idle System Improvements   
  • Split Screen 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.    

-farn  

Closing Time

This blog closes out our journey to bring MCC to PC, but it does not mean that we are done. As seen above, we still have a lot of things we want to do for the collection, including resolving bugs and bringing both new features and content to our community.

It has been both a joy and a privilege to collaborate with the community on this adventure. From working directly with players in our forums, on Reddit, Twitter, Halo Support, Discord, and other social media mediums. Listening to your thoughts, your wants, and everything in between; these are all influences that have helped our team stay active and move forward with helping shape what MCC is today.

Thank you all for accompanying us in this year long journey of bringing MCC to PC. Although all of the games are now in the collection on PC, this is not the end. In fact, I think we are just getting started!

Thank you for stopping in and as always, we will see y’all online!

Cheers,

Postums

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