“MCC was essentially six pretty different game engines strapped together.”
Halo developer 343 Industries is updating Halo: The Master Chief Collection to resolve lingering issues with the game’s matchmaking system and improve game performance on Xbox One and Xbox One X.
In a post on Halo Waypoint, franchise development director Frank O’Connor discussed the development history of The Master Chief Collection (MCC), highlighting areas where the developer made mistakes and detailing their plans to make it right.
The MCC has had matchmaking issues since it launched in November of 2014, and 343 acknowledges those issues were due in large part to the way the collection was developed. “It may sound simplistic, but MCC was essentially six pretty different game engines strapped together and interlinked with highly complex and highly delicate new systems,” O’Connor explained.
Recent updates, along with the release of the Xbox One X, have provided the team with an opportunity to resolve long-standing issues. 343 plans to take advantage of the new hardware and use that opportunity to “rearchitect” and update the game’s networking and matchmaking methodology. Improvements will affect all Xbox One platforms, with special visual enhancements for Xbox One X.
O’Connor states that these updates were not possible until recently, due to a number of improvements the platform team made over the last year. Since their work has been reliant on a number of different systems instead of just one issue, estimating the timing of the update has been difficult until now.
Some problems arose from the way testing occurred at 343. Due to smaller test sizes, the studio never experienced the issues that would pop up once the game was released. “We genuinely didn’t know until the day it released, how bad the matchmaking in particular was going to get.”
While there were other issues, matchmaking seems to have been the core of the problem. “The way the UI and matchmaking protocols interacted with each other exacerbated many of the smaller items and amplified a couple of them in unpredictable ways.”
The way the Xbox One was built also had a profound effect on the way the game systems interacted. “The short version was that for Xbox One we built some of the underlying systems to work on a brand-new platform, which was fundamentally, quite different to both the original consoles the games were designed for” O’Connor said.
Updates to the Xbox One online system have changed the game for 343, and the team can now resolve these issues by reworking the foundation of MCC.
O’Connor acknowledged his own struggles with MCC’s development issues, and said he understands player frustration. “From a personal perspective, the MCC launch was one of my lowest ebbs, professionally. Every angry mail I received, I took to heart. I felt like I had personally let our fans down.” He continues, “I also understand that silence can be frustrating. You have complaints or questions, and we try to answer them as best we can, but sometimes bad information is worse.”
343 is aware this may not answer every question players have, and promises to provide an update in the future. “I’m going to follow up next year after we have better detail on the fixes and the Xbox One X update, to follow through with an even more detailed technical breakdown of what broke, why and how we fixed it,” O’Connor said. “That’s what we owe you – that and a game we can both finally be satisfied with.”
Brian Barnett is an IGN Freelancer. He has been a fan of The Chief since Day 1, and he’s looking forward to playing the Collection in its full glory on Xbox One X. You can follow him on Twitter @Ribnax.