News

MCC September Update

By 343 Industries -

Today, September 20, we are updating MCC with more improvements, fixes, and additional changes including many items that are based largely on player feedback. In general, we are continuing to aim for Wednesday mornings around the 10 AM PDT timeslot as MCC’s official update window, but this week we landed on Thursday due to a last minute bug that needed squashing.

This latest update is our continued commitment to improve the MCC experience and address feedback from the community. Not everything in this patch necessarily maps to the highest priority requests from players, but keep in mind that not all bugs/fixes are created equally and the team still has an ongoing list of work items they want to tackle in addition to new things the community brings to their attention. If one of your personal issues isn't addressed in today's patch, fear not - there's still more work to be done and more updates to come. If you're just joining us, be sure to check out all the details from last month's major update which brought significant improvements, fixes, and several new features to MCC. 

The bulk of today's update is several high-impact bug fixes expressed by you (regional matchmaking, exploit fixes, quality of life), updates to game settings in matchmaking you wanted, and adding in new nameplates. Below is a full explanation to walk you through these changes piece by piece. We’re excited to get this update out, but the team isn’t done - please keep the feedback coming!

Halo: CE Checkpoints

This update includes numerous fixes across MCC with many big fixes aimed specifically at Halo: CE. Due to the scope of these changes, this patch will unfortunately invalidate mid-mission checkpoints for the Halo: CE Campaign. This means that after the update, you'll still have access to the missions you have currently unlocked but you'll lose your checkpoint save from mid-mission progress. We know this isn’t ideal but given the scope and impact of the bug fixes included in this patch, we felt it was an acceptable trade-off.

Patch Notes

Global

  • Updated Matchmaking logic to help players in less populated regions find matches
  • Current Highest Rank on a Player Detail’s page no longer fails to load
  • Fixed an issue with Server list not refreshing properly when switching between LAN mode & Xbox Live
  • Idle players will no longer re-queue into Matchmaking
  • General stability improvements in various network scenarios
  • Improved chat behavior in lobbies between Matchmaking games
  • Fixed rival data population issue on Playlist Leaderboards
  • General Leaderboard improvements
  • Fixed several issues that prevented hosts from earning various Achievements when clients were correctly given progress
  • Fixed an issue where players who disconnected were awarded wins during matchmade games
  • Quit ban code has been added and will be monitored to determine how they are enabled soon

Halo: CE

  • Added the Blind Skull to allow screenshots to be taken without HUD elements as well as for players seeking higher scores with campaign scoring
  • Fixed issue with Rocket Launcher rounds firing slightly offset from reticle
  • Resolved Gamertag persistence over player with Active Camo
  • Improvements to targeted player enemy name HUD location
  • Improvements to networking code for shot registration
  • Improvements to AR registration resolving inability to shoot powerups and players
  • Improvements to Shotgun hit registration at close-range
  • Improvements to kill feed & respawn countdown timer
  • Adjusted text for Custom Game “Kill Penalty” option header to now read “No Kill Penalty”

Halo 2

  • Improved stability during split screen after players unexpectedly lose network connectivity
  • Improved behavior in scenarios where Xbox One X & other Xbox models are playing Live Co-op together
  • Fixed issue where Cortana appeared partially rendered during Great Journey in classic graphics

Halo 3

  • Fixed an issue where a dedicated server would not be allocated to host a matchmade game in certain networking scenarios
  • Fixed a crash which could occur when accessing terminals with the text language set to French
  • Fixed Golf Club reticle
  • Golf Ball now appears in its intended glistening white
  • Fixed insertion points for The Ark on playlist Tanks, Tanks, Tanks

Halo 4

  • Fixed a crash which could occur in Spartan Ops
  • Fixed a rare issue with HUD elements duplicating/overlapping during Lightning Flag gametypes
  • Improved texture LOD (level of detail) throughout Halo 4 Campaign
  • Fixed ordering of movement speed options in Custom Games
  • General fixes to Skull names & descriptions in SPOPs

ODST

  • Fixed an issue where the player is not brought to the PGCR after the last mission in a Playlist
  • Players who do not have ODST installed are now brought to the Game Install screen when they join a party intending to play ODST together
  • Fixed checkpoint issue when progressing to Data Hive on Street Smart playlist
  • Fixed an issue preventing players from immediately accessing ODST after switching Xbox profiles

H2A Multiplayer

  • Fixed an issue that caused shadows to not render properly when playing in 4K
  • Fixed Assault Rifle ammo counter displaying incorrect number of rounds
  • Fixed inconsistent button mapping for Banshee Tricks on Universal Bump & Jump layout
  • Fixed issue with displaying Infection medals & kill feed in games with more than 12 players

Campaign General

  • ODST & Halo 3 level completion stats are no longer lumped together on the Playlists Main Menu
  • Fixed an issue where Campaign progress could appear blank after launching the title
  • Improved some inaccuracies with Playlist leaderboard entries
  • Improved accuracy of icons in campaign scoring PGCR
  • Pause Menu UI no longer disappears when viewing Skull & Difficulty details

Matchmaking General

  • Improved Profile Switching behavior in the Matchmaking Find Game flow

Custom Games General

  • Reverting gametype settings now individually reverts to the previously saved version’s configuration, rather than the default template

Forge & Films

  • Players who have not purchased ODST are now redirected appropriately when attempting to access ODST Films
  • Players can now save screenshots when the Xbox is not connected to Xbox Live

Settings

  • “Set For All Games” option no longer appears available when selecting non-universal control schemes
  • Impulse Triggers are now re-enabled after selecting Restore Default Settings
  • Subtitles options now appear under Audio Settings submenu for convenience
  • Fixed issue where Roster session Leader is unable to access Network Settings after all members have left the Squad

Playlist Changes

Through player feedback we are constantly evolving the offerings in Matchmaking. Below is a list of key improvements being made to playlists based on your direct feedback. These gametypes will be updated in Matchmaking shortly after the patch goes live.

Halo CE Team Doubles

  • Kill Penalty in settings has been turned off

Halo CE Team Arena

  • Added new Slayer variant that is up to 100 kills to replace all 50 kill Slayer variants
  • Kill Penalty in settings has been turned off
  • Adding updated Oddball variant on Chill Out, Derelict, Wizard, and Prisoner
  • Adding Reverse Tag variant on Damnation
  • Adding updated CTF variant for Wizard
  • Adding updated CTF variant for Derelict
  • Adding updated CTF variant for Blood Gulch
  • Adding updated CTF variant for Battle Creek
  • Adding King of the Hill variant for use with Battle Creek, Rat Race, Derelict, Damnation, Hang Em’ High, Chill Out, and Wizard
  • Adding updated Sniper variant for Hang Em’ High set to 100 kills
  • Adding updated Sniper variant for Boarding Action and Blood Gulch set to 50 kills

Halo 2 Classic Team Arena

  • Update for all Sniper variants: Magnum secondary, starting grenades, and grenades on map removed

Halo 2 Classic Team Hardcore

  • Update to correct settings for Midship, Warlock, and Sanctuary CTF gametypes
  • Update to Sanctuary map to reflect having correct weapons on map

Halo 3 Team Arena

  • King of the Hill variants updated to have the hill move in order instead of random
  • Update for all Sniper variants: Magnum secondary, starting grenades, and grenades on map removed
  • Slayer variant name appears in-game as “Team Slayer BR” now instead of “TEAM SLAYER BR”

Halo 3 Team Hardcore

  • All game variants: Updated to correct respawn settings with betrayal and suicide penalties off
  • Slayer variants updated to reflect -1 points for suicides and betrayals

Halo 3 Team Doubles

  • King of the Hill variants updated to have the hill move in order instead of random
  • Oddball and CTF variants updated to require two melees when carrying the flag or ball

Social Big Team Battle

  • Halo CE BTB Slayer variants have been updated to 100 kills
  • Turned Kill Penalty off
  • Added CTF variant for Battle Creek

As a reminder, these may not be available immediately to those who download the update quickly. We will be making these updates just as soon as we can once the patch has gone live.

Trello Issues Status Update

To help keep players informed and up-to-date on the status of issues of importance to the MCC community, we have a public facing Trello board. Below you’ll find an update on some of these key issues the team has been investigating and working on.

Regional Matchmaking Issues

With MCC’s move to full-time dedicated servers for Matchmaking, we heard that players in various less-populated regions have had a difficult time matchmaking. Since the August update, the team has made a few configuration changes that have helped some players, but not everyone.

In the latest update we are altering our networking code so players who are located near low-population servers will now have access to a designated high-population server with the best available connection. To read all of the fine print, please take a look at this post here.

We’re eager to hear how these changes help players who are still encountering regional matchmaking issues. Please let us know! Please note that if you’ve got a spotty connection or a high ping, you’ll be able to connect to a dedicated server but your overall game experience may still be less than optimal depending on the amount of latency between your console and the server.

Idle Players in Games

With this update, we are adding a feature to stop idle players from automatically queueing back into Matchmaking again. If players are not active, they will not be removed from a game, but instead be removed from matchmaking searches by no longer queueing up for additional matches.

Ranking Exploit

A bug was found by the community after the August update where players could lose network connection and continue to rank up in Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4. This has been fixed in this update.

Matchmaking Peer-to-Peer Bug/Exploit

With the update in late August we changed how hosting worked in Matchmaking from peer-to-peer to dedicated servers. However, a bug was found where, in very rare cases or through an exploit, the system would cause a matchmade game to fall back to a peer-to-peer model. We have isolated the code and altered it so if a player is unable to connect to a dedicated server you no longer have any option to start a matchmade game in a peer-to-peer situation for host.

Aim Sensitivity / "Feel"

We are continuing our efforts to investigate what players have been talking about regarding aiming, aim sensitivity, and how it feels in game. This particular issue is uniquely challenging because it is so subjective – while some players state that aiming/movement feels “off”, others have given feedback that it feels “better than ever.” As far as the code is concerned, there’s nothing in there that would explain why the version in MCC feels better/worse than it did in the original title. The team has really been focused on making the MCC games as close to their original counterparts as possible and they’ve made a lot of great progress in this area.

Beyond the game code itself, there are multiple factors that can contribute to how the game “feels” to players:

  1. Each Halo game is fundamentally different, and each has its own unique nuances with regards to how it “feels.” In some cases, players may just not remember that Halo 3 always felt a little different (and uses a different hit detection model, for example). Moving between different Halo titles within MCC can make it feel extra noticeable when one or more games feel different (even more so if you’re point of reference is something newer like Halo 4 or even Halo 5)
  2. Your internet connection can have a big impact on how the game feels when playing online. Spotty wi-fi and high latency connections to dedicated servers can definitely have a negative impact on your accuracy, timing, and overall "feel" of the game. 
  3. Some players are now playing these games with HDR enabled for the first time. Many TVs and monitors can experience higher than normal input latency with HDR enabled. We’ve spoken with a few players who adjusted their TV settings (most have a “game” mode that tends to reduce this latency) and reported things feeling much better.
  4. The game code may be nearly identical to the original but the hardware is definitely not. The console, and more importantly the controller, has many subtle (and not so subtle) differences between the different generations. The Xbox One controllers don’t behave exactly the same as the Xbox 360 version did – particularly when it comes to the “dead zones” that games have to account for.

We’re not dismissing player reports around the control and feel of the games – but we did want to expand upon the complexities involved. Some have suggested we should just “add Halo 4’s controller code to Halo 3” but it’s far from that simple. We want to maintain the original integrity of the title, not completely change it, but also there are plenty of players who do think it feels fine as-is, and wouldn’t want a drastic change like that.

Instead, the team would ideally like to offer even greater player customization options for control settings. The team has some prototypes already in our internal builds and they're exploring options for adding a finer level of calibration and customization. Such a feature would give players the ability to have more control over sensitivity and aim acceleration in a future update. As we learn more we will continue to update on this topic.

Team Hardcore Suicide/Betrayal Penalties

The game variant settings for the Team Hardcore Playlist for Suicide and Betrayals has been updated in this patch. Once the build is live, we will update the playlist to use these corrected gametypes. 

“Blood Shots” in Halo 2/3

Weapon/Projectile effects are largely client-side. Shots are executed on a server level and don’t always mirror what is done client side. Had a shot from a sniper rifle executed on the server exactly as it did on a client, what you see is what would happen. However, this isn’t always the case and when it doesn’t match, blood shots come into play. Things diverge with network conditions and clients using a different random seed than the host, which causes the calculated random error angle to be different and makes a precise sniper shot not be so precise when computed by the server. We are continuing to investigate this and identify areas of improvement to reduce blood shots.

Elites not Dual Wielding

These specific issues require a large code change, content data migration, and data to be rebuilt to update. This means the fix isn’t trivial - a large update is required to address this. We have it on our radar and are looking to schedule it in at some point where this work can align with other fixes that require the same assets to be rebuilt and not force multiple large updates.

Party and Ranked Matchmaking

We are continuing to investigate instances where players appear to be matching groups that are outside of their team sizes as well as players outside of the rank bounds set forth in ranked Matchmaking. We will update this in the future when we have a targeted fix for this issue.

Nameplates

Nameplates are a great way to show off what you have accomplished in-game and help you rep to others what you are all about in MCC. We are making some changes by adding in additional nameplates as well as adjusting a few that were previously granted to all. The two changes to be aware of are that the “MVP” nameplate is being replaced by our new “Fronk” nameplate and the “HCS Pro” nameplate is being replaced by the “HCS Silver” nameplate. Below is a list of some of the new nameplates which includes those for MCC Insiders (being granted in the coming weeks) and others that will be obtainable by different means.

"Fronk" : This replaces the previous "MVP" nameplate

 

HCS Silver: Replaces the current "HCS Pro" nameplate

 

Cartographer: Manually granted to players whose content makes it into Matchmaking

 

343 Fire: Granted to players who appear in the 343 Community Spotlight

 

343 Ice: Granted to players who play with or against 343 during an official event

 

Community MVP: A very special and rare nameplate granted on a case-by-case basis

 

HCS Pro: Granted to HCS Pros

 

MCC Insider Participant: A nameplate for those who played in MCC Insider

 

MCC Insider Plus: A nameplate for those in the MCC Insider Program who played a LOT of MCC Insider

 

As mentioned before, these new nameplates are being added in this update. However, they are not automatically granted. Sometime soon (the next few weeks) we will be assigning the MCC Insider nameplates out to those who participated in the Insider Program. Please be patient with us and don't bombard us on social. :) We'll let you know when they start rolling out. 

Looking Ahead

As excited as we are to get this latest patch into your hands, rest assured that the team is far from done working on MCC. As we’ve mentioned previously, more fixes, improvements, and even new features are still on the docket for future updates. In addition to some of the items noted up above like expanded controller setting options, the team is still working on bringing a robust custom game browser to MCC, updating the Post Game Carnage Report, UI updates, and more. Additionally, based on player suggestions, the team is also exploring what a “mix-tape” Matchmaking spec might entail for MCC that lets players pick and choose the maps and modes they want to play. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to monitor the game closely and reading through all of the feedback players are giving to identify additional bugs and areas of improvement.

Eventually, the “Public Test Realm” will re-open for business and we’ll enable an “Insider” type build for MCC that lets players help us test these features as they’re being developed and iterated on. Stay tuned to @Halo and Halo Waypoint for more information in the coming weeks.

Xbox Game Pass

As you likely know, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is included with Xbox Game Pass as of September 1st. Since this release, we’ve seen a large influx of new players and we’re extremely excited to roll out the red carpet for many folks who are experiencing the original Halo saga for the very first time.

If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, remember that there are three official quests available for MCC that, when completed, can net you some cool prizes like a $5 credit voucher (which would pair perfectly with the ODST add-on) and a grand prize of a sweet Halo-themed custom Xbox One X. You’ve only got until Sept. 30th to complete those Quests so get in there and get to it! 

The ScoopTM

MCC Insiders who’ve been with us since this update work began are already familiar with Sean “The Scoop” Cooper – an engineer on the MCC team who was plucked straight from the community and has been hard at work deep within the code base. Sean’s technical insights and development updates came to be known as “The Scoop” and we’re excited to share the latest with you here today:

Blinded by its Majesty

Back in the Spring (if you live in the northern hemisphere), I spent an evening prototyping adding more of the existing skulls from later games into Halo 1. This stemmed from Grim mentioning “it would be cool if Halo 1 supported the Blind Skull.” First, I was like “wait, it doesn’t?” Then I was like “well, should be simple enough”.

Were it so easy. While I had laid the groundwork for all but three new-old skulls (three are not applicable in Halo 1 for one reason or another), there were still some unanswered questions.

There were concerns about updating the Skulls selection screen. I had already looked into this, not wanting to do any work if this was a thing because I hadn’t done much work with Scaleform. The answer to that was “it’s a one line change per skull, in data, not code”. Some bits of each game that are represented on the main menu are driven by some config files. Which skulls a game supports, and thus could be selected, was one for those things. Sweet.

Another concern was more so from a design perspective. If we support these new skulls, what does this mean for playlists or a level’s par-scores? We don’t want to make playlists all of a sudden N times harder or par-scores too easy. Well, playlists already have curated skulls so there’s no additional work for saying LASO is everything but XYZ skulls in Halo 1 now. And, in my opinion, par-scores should be left as-is.

One major and final concern was testing all of this. At the time, a bunch of other work was being iterated on and QA had a lot on their plate. So, it would have been a heavy ask for them to take on work of testing an array of new Halo 1 skulls, for me to respond to feedback/bugs, and for them to rinse repeat. All while both of us were doing our normal duties. So, I shelved the work, to come back to it one day in the future.

Fast forward many months later, and our new update is out. Having received positive feedback from players on the update, and with QA available to test things, I decided to re-open the case of adding the Blind Skull to Halo 1 again (other skulls would have to wait).

Most of the Blind skull changes I prototyped were based on how it is implemented in Halo 2. However, Halo 2 changed a number of systems that needed to run differently with Blind (most notably, the HUD) and Halo 1 itself ended up having a handful of edge cases that needed to be accounted for. Some examples:

  • The timer on The Maw was implemented in code specific to Halo 1 and I had not accounted for it in the original prototype.
  • The overlays you see when you’re zoomed in with a pistol/sniper/etc required checks unique to Halo 1.
  • HUD sounds, like your shields beeping from being too low or recharging, were not playing in the original prototype due to one of the Halo 2 checks not being “simple enough” for Halo 1.
  • Help text and objectives, while still part of the HUD, required checks unique to Halo 1.

After addressing all of that, QA gave it the thumbs up. Now, soon, you too will be able to give it thumbs up and take pretty, HUD-less, first-person-weapon-less, screenshots in Halo 1. 

Halo 4 Blindness

Somewhat related, while our Transmedia team was creating our MCC Xbox Game Pass trailer, they ran into an issue in Halo 4. Specifically, co-op partner navpoints still get rendered even with the Blind Skull enabled. This interfered with capturing a purely HUD-less session. Therefore, I had to make a one-off build of Halo 4 for them that would inhibit “targeted draw” cases of the player navpoint. “Targeted draw” refers to you aiming near/at another player. In player-vs-player cases, this generally relates to triggering the rendering of the target’s name above their head, however I don’t believe the problem in co-op included the name, just the navpoint icon on screen. I checked this change in the event we ever need to make a video using Halo 4 co-op again, albeit the Blind skull check is completely disabled (so we’d have to manually make a one off build, but at least we know what to change). It’s not really something we could ship because I have no idea everything this ends up breaking (but most likely something in SPOPs).

Pesky Behavior

Back to Halo 1…more recently I addressed some outstanding issues relating to certain undesirable gameplay behaviors in multiplayer. This includes some obscure issues like “bullet redirection” (http://halobugs.com/#?b=124 ) and Rockets misbehaving (http://halobugs.com/#?b=154). While I can’t go into exact details, some changes had been made many moons ago in an attempt to improve Halo 1’s networking experience. For those of you not in the know, MCC’s Halo 1 networking is based on Halo PC’s which is in no way based on what’s used in Halo 2 and onward. So it doesn’t really hold up to the tests of time and is not something we can simply address by integrating some changes from a later Halo game.

The aforementioned bugs plus a handful of others ended up being downstream problems from some systemic changes, which with some new fixes in place no longer exist or are not exercised. While we’re not claiming Halo 1’s multiplayer is all of a sudden going to feel golden-everything-is-fixed-pack-it-up-we-can-go-home, we feel pretty confident (based on lab and in-the-wild testing) that the overall experience will feel better and more consistent.

Additional Resources

For more information on the state of MCC, past updates, known issues, player feedback, and more - please check out the following resources:

Thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you online! 

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