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MCC Development Update - October 2020

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Welcome back to our latest monthly helping of updates and insights straight from the MCC development trenches! It’s been a busy stretch since we last spoke, with Halo 4 flighting fully underway and our teams working hard towards launching the sixth and final title on PC in the near future. Further, our own Postums is out on a leave (don’t worry, he’s back next week!) so yours truly is back at the helm hoping I can measure up to the high bars and tomes of information of months’ past. Thankfully, our friends on the 343 Publishing Team are here and ready to share updates and insights (so much so that you'll find the vast majority of this update is actually written by them).  

For our October development blog we’re going to start things off with an update on Halo 4 flighting, talk about newly announced next-gen enhancements coming to Xbox Series X|S, dig into our ‘community mail bag’ and answer some of your most pressing questions, cover a few design items, and get a state of the game report from Farns. Let’s dive in, shall we?

FLIGHT CHECK

Our latest flight for MCC on Xbox and PC has been up and running for about a week now. Earlier today, an update was released for the flight build on all platforms that includes a variety of fixes and additions. If you're currently a participant in the flight, you should automatically get the patch the next time you log in. Active flight participants can view the updated patch notes and details HERE and be sure to check out the latest known issues HERE (note only registered players in the current flight will be able to access this link). 

Additionally, to help ensure these new changes get adequate time in the wild, the flight itself has been extended and is now targeted to conclude on Friday, November 6. You'll also find an updated playtimes schedule that runs through the remainder of the flight which includes alternating modes and focus areas daily between 10AM-1PM and 5PM-9PM PT. Of course, you're free to play and provide feedback and file tickets on anything in the flight build but given some of the new matchmaking-related features coming to MCC, we're really hoping to have a healthy population moving through different Halo 4 MP modes on all platforms.

To talk a bit more about this current flight, today's patch, and the process in general, please welcome Publishing Team Associate Producer Chris Case! 

Chris, welcome! Seeing as this is your very first appearance in an MCC development blog, let’s start with a quick intro and a bit of background. Clearly, your name is Chris, but what’s your day to day role as an Associate Producer on the Publishing Team? You’ve been involved with MCC for quite some time now even before this role – what’s the path that brought you to us today?

Chris: Thanks Brian! MCC has been a consistent landmark in my background working with games. My first job was a contract tester on MCC back in 2014, and later as test engineer when we began our work reviving the collection in 2017. I’ve worked on a few other Microsoft titles in the meanwhile, but I’ve found myself back at MCC multiple times now and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to see MCC through so many different stages.

Generally, my day to day involves planning with our production team, working with Support and Community teams to help give up-to-date information on our project, working with Test to ensure they’re unblocked and have the information they need to find bugs, and running our nightly Triage sessions where we discuss project status and work remaining. Ultimately, I aim to spend most of my time listening to folks on our team and helping find solutions to daily problems. Lately, most of those efforts have been put into supporting our flight and launch processes.

So we’re just over a week into this latest flight - How’s it going out there? What are some of the key learnings and takeaways the team has found so far? Anything truly surprising or unexpected pop up?

There’s always a little anxiety prior to launching a flight, for us this time it was around PC to Xbox crossplay, Input-based Matchmaking, and the Server Region Selection. These have been hotly requested features, so we’re pleased to see the positive feedback around these items from folks! Our biggest reports from Halo Support (which we monitor daily) have been around giant white squares on Pitfall, crashes while alt-tab’d out, and a binding issue with the Sprint key - all of which were prioritized for fixing in today's Flight Patch and upcoming retail patch. I think our biggest learning from this is usually the same as all our flights – often our biggest concerns going in usually aren’t the biggest issues we hear about from Flighting, and that’s a great thing. While we’re listening on all fronts, the reports we get through Support really help our team prioritize bugs that are impacting the community the most. The alt-tab crash is a good example of this: a known bug we planned to file for launch, but was given further priority and upgrade as a ship blocker after a majority of our support tickets came through with PC users encountering issues with this.

 Another issue we’ve have reported ties to a progression blocker on the mission Reclaimer. Interestingly, issues on this mission have dated back to the original legacy 360 version (specifically around bits of the level failing to load). Improvements here have been on our backlog for some time, but we’ve often found that there are some other gremlins that show up around this. Support recently pulled one we haven’t seen before that involves some non-regulation jetpack usage.

How has overall participation been so far? Am I correct that this is probably our biggest flight to date in terms of the total # of invites that were sent out? While there’s been a lot of excitement for Halo 4’s arrival, this is also our 6th title and… checks notes… our 1,000th flight? Seriously, I’ve lost track, but it sure feels like we’ve been flighting for years now, I’m curious if interest and participation has endured?

Yeap! We’ve been expanding our flight audience over the last few releases (which also helped us test out our invite flow with each expansion). Since our focus this time was on crossplay, we wanted to get as many folks in as possible to test out that flow and ensure players are joining matches consistently. Between PC and Xbox, I believe we’ve sent out ~500,000 invites for this flight alone and that’s helped us get a good test case for adding both Xbox and PC users into the mix simultaneously.

With ODST, we saw a bit of a lower turnout then we expected. While we were able to get feedback from those who participated (helping us bring the H3 hit registration improvements into retail fully), we tracked a lower participation overall compared to our previous flights. We polled a segment of these Insiders after ODST’s flight ended to get a better understanding of why folks decided to not participate. Unsurprisingly, that survey didn’t get many responses, but from folks who did we found that there was a segment of people generally excited to be invited and participate, but couldn’t due to being busy or who missed the invite until after the flight ended. Considering that’s only a small segment of users, I think that “flight fatigue” could very well be a factor (not just for participants, but for our team as well who’ve been working hard getting these builds out!) To be clear: flighting isn’t stopping anytime soon. It’s been absolutely invaluable to our launch process and we’ve really appreciated everyone helping us out by providing feedback and filing bugs to Support. After we launch H4, we’ll be looking at ways to improve this process all up (both from an engagement and time-investment perspective).

I'm curious what this flighting process looks like now, nearly a year after this PC journey began. Does it get easier over time? Are there things you and the team know now that you wish you could go back and tell yourselves last year before the very first Reach PC flight kicked off?

 At it’s core, the flighting process hasn’t changed from the initial outline we set with Reach – that being the “Rings” and “Ring Blocker” process. I think one of our biggest changes came shortly after the launch of H2 on PC and in advance of H3’s flighting, where we decided to run a build in Ring 1 prior to our reduced scope of content and for significantly longer then we had ever before. There were a few reasons for this, one of which being the WFH order had hit Test the hardest and we wanted to give more coverage time to this group prior to launching Ring 3 or a full CU. This led to a refinement of what bugs were flagged as “Ring 1 Blocker”, including significant blockers in areas that we wouldn’t want to have in Ring 3, but didn’t directly impact the path Ring 1 needed to take to give feedback on the areas of focus. While this exposed a lot more bugs to Ring 1, it helped us smooth out the process to Ring 3 and has now been established as a best practice for our team with subsequent launches (our H4 flight included).  

I mentioned “flight anxiety” above. I think that’s something that’s improved a lot since we first started flighting with Reach, but that initial preparedness helped us catch generally terrible bugs and seasoned us a bit on where the truly blocking and critical items were. We wouldn’t have been able to take the approach above without getting through the Reach, H1, and H2 flights. We’ve grown a bit and have hardened our processes to a point where we can work a bit quicker and smarter, but there’s still more we can improve. 

One key feature of this current flight is the long awaited addition of input-based matchmaking, regional server selection, and crossplay! How have these features generally performed so far during the flight and what kind of data and feedback are you seeing?

Generally, feedback’s been pretty positive around these features! Our Ring 1 audience had a moment where they realized they were some of the very first users in retail to successfully join a matchmaking game with a PC and Xbox player and defined it as a historical moment for Halo. We had a similar realization a few minutes after going live in our call when our on-hand Xbox and Steam players joined each other as the first group of flight Insiders started to trickle in. For the most part, the feedback we’ve gotten through Halo Support has been around UI improvement and various bugs. Server region selection has a few navigational quirks and was missing some messaging to better explain how it works, and we had a few reports of Xbox players getting stuck with mouse and keyboard as their preferred input. We’re hoping today's flight patch resolves a good deal of these, and would hugely appreciate folks filing tickets to Halo Support if you find new or repeat bugs.

At the time of this writing, the current flight is being extended to at least November 6th and a patch was just released. Can you talk to us some about what’s in this patch and what Halo Insiders can expect? 

Sure! Right now our team is working toward finalizing our H4 Launch build, so a lot of the fixes coming in with this patch will be close to what we see with our next update. We’ve resolved a few crash issues around loadouts, added terminals for H4 on Xbox, and fixed a few UI issues that were listed on our known issues. The big inclusion with this flight is adding Halo: Reach as another title to test additional video settings and crossplay features. Notably though, Reach now features improved interpolation work on PC that was done as part of the work to support 120Hz on Series X/S hardware. This new Reach content also features a hotly requested bug fix – player emblems on armor! Your spartan should now represent the player emblem of your choice in gameplay (so long, smiley face…).

Lastly, I know these flights have been an invaluable and critical component of the work to update MCC and then bring it to PC. We get tremendous amounts of data but also super helpful player feedback. What advice would you pass along to a Halo Insider who wanted to make sure they were doing all they can to help you and the team do your best work on MCC?

In one of our recent triages with the Support team, an observation was made that a lot of Insiders will only sign into Support once to file a ticket, then never return. While we’ve beat the drum around asking for participation, something that really helps our team is both follow up and count tracking. While Support recommends not filing Known Issues, filing bugs that you don’t see on the list as individual tickets is incredibly helpful – as we often use report count to help us prioritize where our bug fixes should come in. Encourage your friends in the flight to file their own issues, or recommend it to folks you hear on Reddit or Twitter that are talking about bugs. The support agents work to both help serve your issues, as well as track and collect bugs for our team that we can review. Often the questions they ask come from our engineers as they are hunting down problems, and we hugely appreciate any follow ups you may have around improved fixes or changed behavior over time.

Thanks so much for sharing all this insight, Chris!

While we are nearing the release of the final title for MCC on PC, as was noted above, this does not mean flighting is coming to an end. In fact, as you're likely aware, the team has plenty more features, improvements, and content heading to MCC beyond the release of Halo 4 (more on some of these details below!). There's no time like the present to sign-up and opt-in to the Halo Insider program if you'd like opportunities to participate in future flighting activities and more. Head to haloinsider.com to sign- up (and please be sure to complete your profile and verify your email address or we won't be able to send you an invite when the time comes!). 

Next up we're joined by another member of the publishing team to talk about the recently announced Xbox Series X|S upgrades coming to MCC next month. But first, how about a gorgeous Halo 4 screenshot from the PC build?

Halo 4 is looking better than ever! Coming soon to MCC on PC. 

Next Gen Enhancements

Earlier this month our friends at Xbox shared the exciting news about new enhancements coming to MCC for Xbox Series S and X owners next month via a free update. 

To talk a bit more about the work that was done and what players can expect, we’ve got Senior Producer Matt Hohl on deck to answer a few questions in his Halo Waypoint blog debut! 

Hello Matt! Welcome to the October MCC Development Update! Before we jump into the work you’ve been driving, let’s take a minute to officially introduce you to our community! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role on the publishing team? 

Matt: Thanks, happy to be here and I’m super excited to be working on Halo. I’ve been in game production for 15 years working on console platforms, PC, and mobile. Halo was one of the first games that showed me that I could take a chance on game production as a career. As someone that grew up in a small, Alaskan town, I saw that games were being created here in the Pacific Northwest and it lit the spark in me.

We’re stoked to have you on the team, Matt! Starting with a new team and jumping right into a project as complex as MCC can’t be easy – especially during a global pandemic! How have your first months with 343 and the Publishing Team gone? 

The team has been great. Of course, it’s challenging to start in the middle of a pandemic but onboarding someone and helping them learn and contribute is a ton of work. I’m grateful to my teammates for their efforts here. And yeah, MCC is a beast, man. The amount of content and different engines, all weaved together with new features and improvements are intense. What this team has done over the years to get MCC to where it is on console and PC is phenomenal. 

One area you’ve been specifically driving is next-gen compatibility and updates to MCC. Last week a small patch was released for MCC as a precursor to the launch of Xbox Series X|S. What did that entail? What kind of work goes into testing and assuring that MCC will run great on these brand new consoles? 

My first opportunity to work across the Xbox organization was with the compatibility team who have been focused on making sure everyone’s games play great on the new platforms. For us at Halo Publishing, that means all of our legacy titles will be ready for the new hardware launching next month and patch you mention was to make sure players can play together across Xbox generations and have a great experience in any MCC mode. One of the side-effects of the new consoles is that loading is so much faster now that we have to make sure it doesn't disrupt matchmaking. As a new-hire it was great to collaborate with the compatibility team on this effort.

Of course, compatibility is only part of the story – just this week we also announced a few specific upgrades that Xbox Series X|S owners will get via an update on November 17. Can you speak a bit more about what new functionality and experiences are coming to the next generation consoles? 

Absolutely. Players will see some cool improvements when playing MCC on Xbox Series X|S when we release a free update on November 17th. First, there is a raw performance improvement across the board. Players with compatible displays will be able to experience up to 120fps at 4k on Series X and 1080p on Series S. This was a big engineering effort as each game within MCC has unique performance challenges. While there are similarities to the efforts on the PC versions of each game, the work to do this on Series X|S is not always the same and included some unique challenges.

Regardless of whether players have a display setup for 120 fps, we have also included some graphic enhancements to the game such as increased draw distances within levels and improved split screen experiences in Campaign and Multiplayer. And I can't wait until everyone gets to experience these loading times. A personal favorite for me is the added FOV slider. These improvements along with MCC update items Chris mentioned above really make the whole experience feel new and fresh. 

Players across the community have been talking about the possibilities of Ray Tracing being added to MCC someday for next gen hardware – is that something the team has explored? Beyond the items noted above, are you looking into additional opportunities to tap into these new consoles with MCC down the road?

I’m personally excited to see what we can do with the power of this new hardware in the future. The complexity and scope of MCC poses unique challenges that I am still learning about, but I love the opportunities it offers for how we can roll out new features and enhancements in the future. One thing I have already learned here is that this team listens to the community as a crucial element to our planning. I love that and am excited to see what we can do together in the future! 

Thanks Matt! I’m excited to bring MCC over to my Series X in a few weeks and can’t wait to see what else the team has in store for these new next gen consoles.

What say you, community? What would you like to see with MCC on your Series X or Series S in the future? Also, heads up that Fahrny and I are slated to make an appearance on the Xbox Launch Celebration stream on Nov. 10 to talk a bit more about the updates coming to MCC. 

Next up, we’re going to shift gears a bit and try out a brand-new feature here that we’re creatively and originally dubbing “Community Mailbag.” But first, another Halo 4 screenshot!

Did we mention how good Halo 4 is looking these days? (note image scaled down for blog purposes but trust me, it's glorious in 4K 60)

Community Mailbag

Every month our teams come together to share insights and details on nearly every facet of MCC’s ongoing development. Additionally, we post regular Halo Insider updates every Friday to share news specific to flighting and interim development details. And even further, you’ll often find us on social media or forums answering questions and providing additional information. 

Still, despite all of this outreach and all of these words, there’s no shortage of questions to be found across the community. So, to help fill in some of these gaps and speak to areas that don’t already get covered by Farns or others, I took a spin around the Halo subreddit and rounded up a handful of questions and passed them along to Design Director Max Szlagor and Game Designer Dana Jerpbak for some responses. 

Gashnor: If the DLC armor for Halo 4 is finally making it in, is the dev team also finally going to patch them into the Spartan Ops missions? I remember in the past this not being doable because the players would have to essentially download all of Halo 4 as a patch, but with MCC this would be the perfect time to allow us to use Mark V in Spartan Ops. 

 Max: This is a great suggestion! We will investigate how we can continue to offer customization options in more game modes in the future.  

Dana: While the DLC armor for Halo 4 isn’t available just yet, all of the new weapon skins coming with Halo 4’s PC launch are usable in Spartan Ops. This includes the Champions Bundle skins (which weren’t previously usable there) as well as two never-released skins. As we look at the DLC armor in the future, we’d like to do the same there. 

The "Champions Bundle" weapon skins are coming to Halo 4

Ehunstein: You've enabled double XP with past content releases, but there was not any with the release of Halo 3 and ODST on PC... are double XP periods still something we can expect in the future? 

 Max: We are absolutely going to continue running bonus xp periods. Please keep an eye out for several of these in the near future.  

Tophat Dynamite: What are the teams' goals for the short term and long term after Halo 4 is released? 

Max: We have lots of plans for updating Halo: MCC in the future. We will continue bug fixing and delivering quality of life improvements while bringing in new season content, features, customization abilities, and new ways to play across campaign and multiplayer. We welcome feedback and will have more details to share on upcoming features in the coming months as we finish up current features such as file share and custom game browser. 

Strictcleave12: Is Spartan Ops with Matchmaking going to be included with Halo 4's PC release or worked on in the future? This was a OG 360 feature that still has not returned yet to the MCC... 

Max: We want to include more ways for players to find games across a variety of game modes in Halo: MCC in 2021. 

Cizlin: With Halo 4 coming soon to MCC, how will weapon skins work? Will they still be tied to loadouts as they currently are, or will there be an option to use them in the same way as the Halo: CE and Halo 3 skins (i.e. picking up a weapon applies your personal skin to it)? 

 Max: We are making an update to how skins work when Halo 4 releases. When players apply a weapon skin in Halo 4 it will show up across loadouts in Halo 4, similar to the other games in Halo: MCC. 

Dana: We’ve made some upgrades to how weapon skins work in Halo 4 when it launches on PC. These changes retain all of the existing functionality while adding additional flexibility. Players will be able to select their Halo 4 weapon skins universally from a single list. This will conveniently apply the selected skin to all instances of the applicable weapon across every loadout but will also apply the skin when spawning with the weapon in game variants which don’t support player-created loadouts. Players will retain the ability to override the “universal” skin within a given loadout as well. 

The above adds more convenience and flexibility and also expands the number of situations where you’ll get to use your weapon skins in game. Skins will persist on a weapon when dropped and picked up by other players (like they always have in Halo 4) unlike the new skins in Halo: CE and Halo 3. This is largely due to some fundamental technical differences in how skins are implemented across these games.

 

Another offering from the "Champions Bundle" weapon skins coming to Halo 4

Cizlin: What has been the most satisfying bug to fix or feature to implement while working with the MCC? 

Max: For me personally, the Match Composer has been the most satisfying feature to implement while working on Halo: MCC. One of our original goals was to offer players a way to jump between games in a seamless fashion. This goal drove the design of campaign playlists, cross-game multiplayer playlists, universal controls, and eventually the Match Composer. Millions of players have enjoyed setting their preferences and jumping between a variety of game types, titles, and maps through the Match Composer. 

II Nin: Can you address the bad performance for HCEA and H2A campaigns when playing with Anniversary graphics on Xbox One X since December of last year? Last time I checked there was a small team in August that was tasked with improving performance, but in the last monthly update there was no mention of them, unless I've missed something. 

Max: We continue to evaluate the performance of all titles. With the launch of Xbox Series S and Xbox Series S, we needed to review everything across Halo: MCC while adding the ability to tune the FOV setting along with adding 120 fps support for the new consoles. We will continue bug fixing and performance work on Halo: MCC into 2021. 

Unperfect One: Are limited-time unlocks like the acrophobia skull, golden weapon skins and yappening nameplate going to return in the future? I'm sure there are plenty of people who missed out and would love an opportunity to get them again. 

Max: The Acrophobia skull should now be available for all players. Other limited content may indeed return in the future. Please keep an eye out for events and special challenges in the future. 

Irish R3bel: Is there any news or plans to include the subtitles for the dialogue during the campaign gameplay specifically in Halo 2, 3, ODST and Reach? Halo CEA and Halo 4 are the only two games in MCC to have the subtitles during the gameplay rather than strictly cutscene only (Halo 5 and both Halo Wars also have that feature too outside MCC) 

Max: We are indeed looking to see what we can do for improving subtitle support across the games in the future. Given the number of games and languages supported in Halo: MCC, we are unsure of the time frame for future improvements to this area. 

Can we be expecting Halo 2 to be receiving expanded customization options similar to CE and 3 any time soon? Hearing that Halo 3 and Halo Reach are the focus for season 4 has me curious about Halo 2's status. 

Max: We do not currently have plans to add additional customization to Halo 2, but we are planning future season content and will evaluate all games as we look to bring new items in. 

Halo 3 will get some new skins with the release of Season 4, including this corrosive boi

LoveArrowShooto: One of the things 343 has not mentioned in the MCC Dev blogs regarding the server browser is if 343 will be providing some sort of headless server tool that would allow players to host their own dedicated servers? This is something that already exists in Halo Custom Edition, H2V, and Eldewrito. 

Max: The custom game browser will require a minimum number of players to run and all games will be public at game launch. There is a lot of additional work to be done to allow for flexible game creation on dedicated servers and we will be updating the feature over time based on community feedback. 

Stamminator: Are you able to comment at this time on Halo Custom Edition maps making their way to MCC? If I’m one day able to play Yoyorast Island via matchmaking or the custom games browser, I will die a happy man.

Max: We would love to find ways to allow more modded content to run in Halo: MCC. We will have more updates on modding in the coming months. 

Thank you Max and Dana for tackling our first edition of the MCC Community Mailbag. Seeing as this seemed to work out pretty good, I think we’ll try and make a habit of this. If you’ve got burning questions about MCC, keep them top of mind and we’ll put out a call as we start to work on the blog for next month. 

And before you run off guys, how’s about we quickly touch base on a few miscellaneous design topics?

Design Round-Up

We've already touched on a number of topics above, and Farns is going to cover even more below (sorry in advance to Farns because we may be stealing some thunder here), but I did want to get your perspective on a few specific items.

First up, how’s work on the Custom Game Browser coming along? This highly anticipated feature was announced a long time ago and is something I and many others have been eagerly awaiting. How’s it shaping up? And has a final call been made as to whether this is going to launch with Halo 4?

Max: Custom game browser is making progress and we can now host and join games on our internal development builds. From there, we plan to launch this feature into a future flight for community feedback. We are looking to bring this feature online in the coming months. 

Giving players the option to manually select a specific regional datacenter has been high atop the wish list of players and is nearing release. How is this feature shaping up and what should we expect?

Max: With the release of Halo 4, we will be launching the region server selection feature. Here is how the feature works: players must select a minimum of 2 choices from their top 5 ping regions. Players may also choose to include any number of additional regions to consider in the matchmaking search. We want to provide maximum flexibility while preventing players from putting themselves into too small of a matchmaking pool, which could lead to long queue times. Flight testing has been positive so far and we will be monitoring the performance of this feature in the post launch period of Halo 4 to ensure players are finding a good number of matches in a reasonable time. If players find themselves in a situation where they are unhappy with match times, they can adjust the regions included in matchmaking at any time or restore them to the defaults. 

The new region selection offerings coming soon to MCC's Network Settings

With some of these upcoming new features like input-based matchmaking, regional server selection, crossplay, and the eventual Custom Game Browser, how are you thinking about overall matchmaking health?

Max: As we look forward to 2021, we will be evaluating the matchmaking system and hoppers (playlists). With features like the Custom Game Browser and the server region selection coming online, some combinations of regions, hoppers, games, and time of day can stretch out matchmaking queues. We also have ideas on how to tie featured game modes and seasons more closely together in the future. Next year, we may reduce the total number of matchmaking hoppers and we would like to hear community feedback on the current social and ranked systems as well as key playlists and features players would like to see going forward. 

Dana: This is a serious consideration for us when developing new features like crossplay and input-based matchmaking. With crossplay, the potential pool of players to match with is significantly larger than before. Players aren’t split off into separate queues based on these settings but are rather matched based on intersectionality. The minimum commonality for two players to be a match depends on their settings, but this is an efficient way of matching which we’ve already proven and observed with the social match composer. We’ve also built a few knobs into these features we can tune under the hood to continue to ensure matchmaking health. 

Ranked matchmaking playlists are one area where we do see some population issues currently. We’ve recently made some consolidation efforts here and begun offering incentives for participating in some of these playlists. We’ll continue to consolidate and evolve systems to improve the ranked experience and address population concerns here.

Input-based matchmaking will be supported in MCC with the upcoming release of Halo 4

Another feature we’ve previously discussed as potentially being ready for Halo 4 release timing is the PC file share. What’s the latest on that front? 

Max: File share development on PC continues and we plan to bring this feature online in the coming months as we iron out the remaining tooling needs. 

When Halo 4 launches it’s going to feature some additional ‘advanced graphics settings’ which the community has been requesting. What will that entail?

Max: With the release of Halo 4, we are adding several new graphics settings on PC such as the ability to adjust UI gamma and detail independently of game gamma and detail. We will also be adding tweakable settings for in-game graphics quality, shadow quality, effects quality, details quality, and anisotropic filtering. Players will be able to choose from standard, performance, and enhanced settings for each of these. For the release of Halo 4, these settings will apply to all games and in a future update, we will allow players to tweak these on a per-game basis.  

Additional Graphics settings are coming to MCC on PC with the release of Halo 4

Of course, in addition to the launch of Halo 4 and a number of new features, this next release will also include Season 4 for MCC! Can you give us any additional insights into what we can expect content-wise in Season 4?

Max: With the release of Halo 4, we are once again expanding the customization system in Halo: MCC. In Halo 4, players will now be able to customize individual armor pieces and preview them in 3D in the menus. In addition, we are bringing over the Halo 4 Champions Bundle weapon skins for the first time in MCC. Players will be able to earn these skins as part of the season 4 progression path. In the future, we are looking to bring over the Halo 4 Champions bundle armors. 

 

Halo 4 will support per-piece armor customization selections, including visors!

 

Mix and match your favorite pieces to create a brand new look once Halo 4 is released on PC!

Thank you, Max! Always appreciate the updates and there’s a lot of goodness on the horizon – Halo 4 launch can’t come soon enough! 

And with that, I’ll pass the keyboard over to Farns for our regularly scheduled State of the Game update. 

State of the Game with Farns

Well, with all that great info above, I’m going to keep my update this month shorter and to the point. I hope that everyone is enjoying the H4 flight and the interpolation improvements we’ve been able to bring into that engine, you’ll be seeing the benefit of that work in other games engines as part of H4’s launch as well. 

I will start with a bit of unpleasant news though: We have decided to remove the Halo: Reach customization pieces from H4’s launch. Don’t worry, they're still coming - if all goes well we're currently targeting next season. The reasoning behind this is that we hit difficulties standing up the content pipeline needed to fully ingest these pieces into Halo: Reach and it just needs more dev time. We had to make a tough call here, but to mitigate risk for this upcoming launch it was the right call to make. We have a ton of new content coming in Season 4 so while I know this will disappoint many of you, there will be plenty to enjoy. One day you’ll get that GRD, one day...

In other news, I have a final draft of the EULA (a key foundational piece as we look to expand modding capabilitiese) being circulated around to our stakeholders – it’s ALMOST done!

GLOBAL FEATURES AND DEVELOPMENT STATUS   

Actively in Development 

  • UI/UX Improvements around navigation, roster, customization, and many more areas of the game 
    • Some of this work will make it into H4’s launch, some will be held back. These are smaller improvements that should mostly be called out in the release notes alongside H4
  • View Model Adjustment for all games 
    • We have many bugs here that we’re still working through. This has turned into a much deeper set of work than anticipated
    • Will not be ready for Halo 4 release
  • Steam Account Linking 
    • This is now complete, but the feature is turned off until we can give it proper test time prior to release
    • Will not be ready for Halo 4 release
  • 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 
    • This is officially not in for H4’s launch and we are assessing how we can phase this feature into smaller chunks to get it into your hands sooner.
  • Additional Video Settings/Options
    • We’ve made good progress here and some of this will come alongside H4’s launch. We will continue to improve this system on a per game basis over time.
    • An important note here is that not all games will have the same settings as not everything will work or universally apply to all games/engines. We’ve done a ton of testing here and some of these settings showed no benefit and have been removed.
  • Custom Game Browser
    • This is officially not in for H4’s launch and we are assessing how we can phase this feature into smaller chunks to get it into your hands sooner.
  • Input-based Matchmaking
    • Flighting has been going well and this is currently locked in for H4’s launch unless we find any catastrophic bugs.
  • Regional Server Selection
    • Flighting has been going well and this is currently locked in for H4’s launch unless we find any catastrophic bugs.
    • We will continue to improve this feature over time based on feedback and telemetry we receive once this is in the wild.
  • Cross-Play between Xbox & PC
    • Flighting has been going well and this is currently locked in for H4’s launch unless we find any catastrophic bugs.
    • We will continue to improve this feature over time based on feedback and telemetry we receive once this is in the wild. 
  • Double Key Binds for all games
    • So many bugs remain here and it is doubtful this will make H4’s launch but we are trying.
  • Per Game Audio Options
    • Work is starting to come in for this now, we should be transitioning to testing soon
  • Additional season content (season 4+)
    • Looking really good, I think you all will be excited 
  • Text Chat Improvements (added)
    • More on what we’re planning here in a later update
  • VFR Improvements to Reach & H2A 
    • Coming with H4!
  • Bringing PC Features to Console (Like FOV Sliders)  
    • As part of our support for the new consoles, we moved the timeline up for this and I think many of you saw these in the current flight.
    • An important note here is that while we did flight this for all consoles, this feature is not quite ready for release on all console models. We have seen several performance issues and need to take that into consideration before pushing this out to everything.
    • For H4’s launch, this feature will only be available on Xbox Series X & S consoles and of course will be on PC as it has been for some time now.

In Design Iteration

  • Additional Mod Support   
  • Additional Accessibility Support  

In Backlog Pending Further Discussions 

  • Idle System Improvements   
  • Split Screen on PC 
  • HDR Support 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  

The Final Countdown

Thank you Farns! And a big thanks to Chris, Matt, Max, and Dana as well for taking the time to talk MCC and share some insights on current and future work. It's hard to believe we are now truly in the final stretch nearing the release of Halo 4 and the final title to join MCC on PC. I know we say this often, but we really wouldn't be here without you - our community and Halo Insiders. Your passion, participation, and feedback has fueled and inspired the team and has been immensely helpful towards driving the best experiences possible. And, we've also said this a lot, but it's worth reiterating yet again - we're not done. Halo 4 will mark the final full game to join the collection on PC but as you've read today and in prior updates, there's no shortage of good things still to come. Let me just also say that I'm sure news of GRD slipping out of the next release is going to be disappointing to some, particularly given the amount of hype and fanfare we saw when it was revealed. We're bummed too, but after ten years we feel it's best to take a bit more time to ensure it all works out perfectly and lives up to expectations. It shouldn't be too much longer - if all goes according to plan, it'll come next season - and in the meantime, there's a lot of other great customization updates and content coming with Halo 4's release! 

Seeing as Postums will be back at the helm for our next development update, I also wanted to take a moment to personally reflect on this journey. It was actually three years ago this month when Bonnie Ross and I sat down for a "fire side" chat live stream to talk about our renewed commitment to MCC and the work the studio would embark on to bring these experiences up to the bar our community expected and deserved. Here we are now, six years since MCC originally launched and three years after our publishing team went back under the hood and boy, what a ride it's been, and boy, look how far we've come. It's even more exciting to me to think where we'll be one, three, or six years from now as MCC evolves even further and we hopefully see the community modding and making MCC its own.

I thank the community often and it's for good reason - not only would I have a hard time having a career in 'community management' with no community - but the support and yes, even the complaints, from Halo fans around the world really do fuel our teams, drive our priorities, and push everyone to hit the highest bar possible. If the community had given up on MCC all those years ago and stopped believing, stopped pushing, and stopped holding folks accountable (in a respectful manner) then who knows how this path would've unfolded. But you stuck with us and together, thanks to years of input and support from Halo Insiders and a tremendous amount of work by the 343 Publishing Team and our partners, we're about to have the entirety of MCC on PC (Steam no less!) with signficant improvements and enhancements across the board. With the advent of Xbox Game Pass, xCloud, and soon the start of a new console generation, I'm more excited than ever to welcome a new generation of Halo players to experience this saga for the first time while we continue to surprise and delight MCC veterans. And, I'll say it again - we're not done. The team has more work planned, more features, more seasonal content, more suprises and yes, this Custom Game Browser WILL become a reality. :)

We've flighted a lot of builds, filed a lot of bug tickets, shared a few facepalms over some hiccups, and eaten a lot of pizza... and while it's been bumpy at times, this journey is something I will always look back on fondly as a shining example of what a dedicated development team and a passionate community can do together. So thank you Halo community, thank you Halo Insiders, thank you Publishing Team colleagues, and thank you to all the folks across multiple partners over the years who have worked to help us make this all possible. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I do believe there are some sweet new flighting updates to check out and it would just be wrong to not enjoy some pizza while I'm at it. 

See you online, fam! 
-ske7ch

Related


Halo: The Master Chief Collection

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By Andy Salisbury -

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

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

MCC Development Update - September 2020

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Join us for our latest MCC Development Update for a closer look at what you can expect with Halo 4 and our next Insider flight, updates on new content and features on the horizon, and the latest status of key community feedback items. Buckle up and prepare to drop!

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MCC Development Update – November 2020

By Postums -

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