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MCC Development Update - September 2019

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Fall has come in strong here in the Pacific Northwest where 343 Industries is located. With it has come cooler temperatures, a decent amount of rain, and lots of hoodies to stay warm while people in the studio are working hard on both Halo Infinite and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

In today’s update we will have a mini-update on the state of the project, we'll go in and make a slight correction for the legacy maps & migration plans, explain ways to earn a nameplate in MCC on Xbox during the month of October, touch on customization, provide the latest status on flighting, discuss  Easy Anti-Cheat, and share some graphics card related details for Halo: Reach when it becomes available on PC.

Let’s drop on into this thing and talk about what is going on in the world of MCC coming to PC and Halo: Reach coming to MCC.

Project Update

Since announce of the project earlier this year, a lot of work from many fine folks all around the globe has been put into bringing Halo: Reach to MCC and MCC to PC. All this hard work has been coming together nicely: we've shared our progress with event goers (E3 and gamescom), had a couple of flights (with two more on the horizon), and have even gone on social streams showing off content when it has been ready. Overall, the team is rapidly approaching some very key milestones specifically for Halo: Reach getting ready to join the fold in MCC.

Currently, the focus of the team is split between feature work for the project and bug fixing. With most features being complete most of the team is focused on polish and bug fixing as we progress through development. Some of these issues have been ones identified in our Ring 1 flight that happened over the weekend and others have been those identified by our internal Quality Assurance (QA) teams here at the studio and our partner QA teams. A couple bugs that have been found and fixed recently including the following issues:

  • Crashes on entering and exiting matchmade games
  • A fix to a few weapons that were firing and overheating twice as fast as intended
  • Crashes when opening and exiting settings menus frequently
  • Missing voice lines when using any non-English language during the ending cinematic for Lone Wolf
  • A soft lock when accepting Game Options before starting a mission

All teams are very heavily focused on ensuring the highest quality standards while development ensues as we bring MCC to PC and Halo: Reach to MCC. These teams will continue to chip away at bugs that have been found in development day in and day out! We can’t wait to get the best game possible out to everyone once all work is complete.

Alrighty then, let’s share some great news for those who made maps and game types in the legacy titles Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4.

Legacy Maps & Migration

As we've mentioned a few times before now, the team has copied over 6.6 million maps and 2.6 million game types from players' file shares on Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4 and is preparing them for implementation in MCC. While this is old news to some, we did want to clear up some confusion on how to bring your maps and game types to MCC PC when the time comes. We had previously stated that it would require a player to sign in on an Xbox One to access content from this migration, but we are happy to report that this is no longer the case. The only reason a player would need an Xbox One would be to bring your maps from their current console build of MCC, as these files haven't been copied over yet, to our future version of MCC on Xbox and PC.

Since it usually helps me break it down by where each file was stored, I thought it may help clear up things up for you too.

  • Xbox 360 Maps & Modes in File Share: They have been copied to our database and are ready to join MCC after the MCC update and release of Halo: Reach for Xbox and PC. When this happens, they will appear in your File Share on both platforms.
  • Xbox 360 Maps & Modes not on File Share: These files were not copied and won't be transferred to MCC. If your legacy content was not in your file share at the time the one-time process was initiated, that content will not be migrated.
  • Xbox MCC Maps & Modes in File Share: These current files will stay in your File Share after the MCC update for Xbox and will require you to boot up MCC on your Xbox to have them available on PC after the game update including these changes.
  • Xbox MCC Maps & Modes not on File Share: These Private Files will be copied to your local storage on your Xbox as Local Files after the MCC update for Xbox. They will only be available on the first Xbox you launch after the game update occurs. If you do not launch on an Xbox, this process will not be performed. To share these files across platform or to another console, you will need to download the MCC update on Xbox, launch the title on that Xbox, and then once the copy operation is completed you will need to upload it to your file share. Only once they are uploaded to your file share will you be able to access this content cross-platform.

We are happy that this content is going to make its way to you once Halo: Reach comes out on both PC and Xbox. As a reminder for PC players, Forge and Theater will not be available at launch and this content will be a great place for you to gain access to new content over time until these features are completed and make their way onto PC. Hopefully, this helps address your concerns, but please feel free to reach out to me if you'd like additional clarification.

In October, We Eat Brains!

All Hallows’ Eve is rapidly approaching, and with it, the return of Infection, the place to get your spooky sword slashing on in Halo. From October 1st through October 31st you will have the chance to earn this awesome nameplate for participating in 10 games of Infection in Social Matchmaking.

 

Each week on Friday, we will take a look at everyone who completed at least 10 matches of Infection during the month of October (and didn’t quit out of them). Those who meet that criteria will be granted the nameplates accordingly. So, if you want to wear these cuddly little guys with pride, be sure to get into 10 Infection games during the month of October while the getting is good!

Halo: Reach Customization

This month I was able to talk a little bit with Max Szlagor, the Design Director on the Publishing Team here at 343 Industries, about a handful of things relating to armor customization. Implementation in-game has come a long way since the last time we shared screenshots of renders in the newly added UE4 and customization screens. To start this section of the blog, let’s look at these renders from an Xbox One build this past week before diving into our Q&A with Max. As a reminder, all images below are previews of armors that may be available at the launch of Halo: Reach. The team is still finalizing the list of content and unlock criteria and will have more to announce in the future. Please keep those developer goggles on and keep in mind that these works in progress may change between now and release. That PSA aside, here is some Elite love.

Postums: Hey Max, so firstly I must ask, what is your favorite customized armor set piece by piece? What is your Spartan going to look like in Reach?

Max Szlagor: Well it would be a Spartan, but for each piece let’s go through the list.

  • Helmet – Commando UA/FC-I[2]
  • Shoulders – Sniper
  • Chest – Collar/Breacher [R]
  • Wrist – Tactical/UGPS
  • Utility – Tactical/Hard Case
  • Visor Color – Blue
  • Knee Guards – FJ/Para
  • Armor Effect – Eternal

What did the overall process entail of getting armors ready to go and be used in the UE4 Engine?

It was quite an effort to get armors working with Unreal in MCC. We had to go back to the original armor source files, created in long lost versions of our 3d art modeling packages. From there, we had to restore the tools and pipeline needed to export those models to Unreal, which required combing through a lot of old documentation and reaching out to people about how things worked circa 2010. Once we could display these assets in Unreal, there was a lot of additional texture, lighting, effects, and animation work to further polish and tweak these armors to look great in the Unreal renderer. But we are happy with how things are looking right now and where they have come from over the past several months of work.

A lot of people have asked about various DLC armors that came out during Halo: Reach, are we planning for them to be available?

Yes. If an armor has been included in retail Halo: Reach at any point, we are looking to include it.

I’ve worked with you for a little over 3 years now and know that this specific feature is something you have wanted to get into the game for some time. Just how excited are you to finally bring proper armor customization to MCC for Reach?

Super excited! It’s been a challenge to bring full 3d customization into the MCC UI, and seeing the results live in game makes the investment feel worthwhile. The Reach armors have never looked better.

I couldn’t agree more! For those who have not read previous blogs where we discussed bringing Unreal Engine into MCC, we have previously discussed this HERE in the May Development Update for MCC. Below is a snippet from that blog that discusses some of the factors in adding an 11th game engine to MCC.

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 still 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.”

Before we move over onto a flighting update, I’m going to drop some of the Male Spartan customization pics here to close out this section.

Flighting Update

The team is heads down fixing remaining Ring 3 blockers in the build for the upcoming Xbox One flight. Over this past weekend we did go out to Ring 1 and found a few new issues around crashes entering and exiting matches. In good news though, fixes for this have already been ingested into the build and we are planning to get this back out to Ring 1 tonight.

Official invitations to a select group of Halo Insiders will be sent out as soon as we have a final verified flight build. If you’ve opted in for Halo Insider Xbox flighting, please take a moment and make sure you’re setup and ready to go in case you do receive an invitation:

  • Install the Xbox Insider App. To participate in the upcoming Halo Insider flight, you will need to download the “Xbox Insider” app from the Store on Xbox. This is the location where Xbox builds will become available for selected participants.
  • Delete existing Halo Insider builds. If you have participated in previous Xbox One flights using the Xbox Insider Program, you must delete any old “MCC Insider” builds on your console before installing the new flight build. We’ve seen issues arise and consoles get into bad states when these older builds are present - it will prevent you from being able to play in Halo: Reach flights. Make sure to not delete "Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” That is the actual game for MCC. You will want to make sure to delete the "Halo: MCC Insider" build specifically.  Seriously. Do it. Please. These deprecated “MCC Insider” flight builds serve no further purpose and will impede your ability to play in new flights.
  • Unenroll from old Flight Rings. If you previously participated in public flights on the Xbox One and you have deleted your old builds, please make sure to remove yourself from all flight rings you have participated in. If this step is not followed, when you attempt to install the newest flight build it is possible for you to re-install the previous build. Please be sure to select the “unenroll” option for “Halo: MCC Insider” build in the Xbox Insider application.

Xbox Selection Emails

In the very near future, an email should be going out to the significantly larger pool of Halo Insiders that have been selected for the next public flight. Definitely keep an eye out (remember to check those spam folders) within the next few days!

Goals for this Flight

The primary goals for this next flight are quite simple. First and foremost, we are looking to test Player vs. Player (PvP) matchmaking at scale on Xbox One. The team has spent a significant amount of time getting the backend setup and have tested it at smaller scale for PvP, but it is time to stress test everything further. The other key goal is to gather feedback from players on the game experience. We want to know how the game feels, plays, and what your input is on the map, mode, and offerings provided for the overall PvP experience. This feedback will help us make any necessary changes leading up to the release of Halo: Reach into MCC when it’s ready.

While you are waiting on this next flight to come out, you can check out last week’s social stream HERE where I got to sit down with Sean Swidersky for a first ever preview of Halo: Reach MCC multiplayer from a pre-release flight  build. Hopefully this helps tide you over until takeoff!

Easy Anti-cheat

We are back at it again with Max Szlagor, the Design Director for the Publishing Team here at 343 Industries. This time I was able to ask him a handful of questions regarding Easy Anti-Cheat, the technology that we are leveraging in Halo: The Master Chief Collection when it comes to PC. Shall we?

Postums: Hey Max, thanks for answering some more questions about the project and our security solutions. To start off, I wanted to ask you what was the driving force behind selecting Easy Anti-Cheat as our official cheat detection solution?

Max Szlagor: When we were going through our process of evaluating which solution we wanted to use, there were many thoughts about selection criteria. The main goal is to create and maintain a safe gameplay environment. We have had this for quite some time on console as we are able to leverage the great work done by the hardware and platform teams. In the world of PC gaming, we felt that we could benefit from additional expertise and software to tackle the large variety of PC configurations out there. 

What will this do to help us in protecting our customers?

Easy Anti-cheat allows us to detect when users are modifying game content or trying to manipulate the game to their advantage. We want to ensure a fair competitive environment for all players while allowing users playing by themselves or with friends to change the game to their heart’s content.

Easy Anti-cheat gives us the ability to maintain a balance between the needs of these different user groups and to help us maintain the integrity of the play experience for matchmaking.

So last month we conducted the FireFlight which had Easy Anti-Cheat in the build and each participant was required to install it to participate. What did we learn about it from that flight?

There is a lot of software out there that is flagged by anti-cheat software, and it’s important for users to help us understand what kinds of software they run and what triggers the anti-cheat warnings. We have already seen instances of anti-virus software being flagged when trying to play in our flights, and the more we flight, the better we can filter the types of programs allowed when running Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

What are some of your favorite parts about working with Easy Anti-Cheat?

Creating a great multiplayer experience encompasses so much more than just building great content and a solid matchmaking system. Adding new accessibility options and anti-cheat software enables us to create a safer, more inclusive environment for all users, which helps us produce an even better overall player experience.

Thank you again Max for swinging in and talking shop about what the team is working on to help protect players and keep things fair in Matchmaking and more! Let’s move on over to the final section of this blog where we will discuss Dual Graphics cards setups and support.

Dual Graphics Card Setups

This section is more of a PSA for folks that have some serious setups on PC. Rather than wait to mention it, we wanted to be upfront and keep you informed. A key part of getting ready to close out a project is a process of identifying what video cards and various setups will work and be supported. In this process we have been in talks with several video card makers to ensure we have as many cards as possible being supported for MCC on PC through both our efforts and theirs. At this time, we want to let PC users know that Nvidia SLI and AMD Crossfire graphics card configurations will not be officially supported in MCC on PC. During our work back and forth with the card manufacturers it was determined that the performance offered by single card setups was high enough that SLI and Crossfire configurations would not be needed. For the users that do have dual card setups, you will still be able to run the title without any issues.

Closing Time

Thank you everyone for taking the time to stop in and see how things are going on the project. We very much look forward to getting these features into your hands when they are ready. Keep your eyes peeled for more news and I’ll be sure to see what details I can pull together to share in the future.

If there are ever questions that you have about MCC coming to PC or Halo: Reach coming to MCC, don’t hesitate to ask here in our forums. Also, here is some additional reading you can check out to stay up to date on all things as it relates to MCC!

It’s been real!

Cheers,

Postums

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