Frank O’Connor, franchise development director at 343 Industries, wrote a long post on the persistent multiplayer issues behind the Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the fixes necessary for the Xbox One X version to both the Halo subreddit and the game’s official forum.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched for the Xbox One in November 2014 and contained the entirety of the four main games – Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4 – onto one disc. The plan had been to just give Halo 2 an anniversary update with updated graphics and features, just like the original game.
“But we kept talking about it – and the conversation inevitably led to the ‘problem’ of a franchise existing over multiple generations of hardware,” O’Connor wrote. “This was built for Xbox One – and prior games were spread across 360 and OG Xbox. So we figured, why not finally put the whole Chief saga on one console?”
343 Industries threw “a ton of resources” at the ambitious project on a new console with different hardware architecture, but ran into problems during matchmaking testing. Since the internal testing “ultimately weren’t reflective of the real retail environment,” it led to problems of long wait times, splitting up parties, and network incompatibility at launch. O’Connor noted there were other bugs, but the matchmaking problem made the smaller issues worse.
“The fixes and patches we’d applied were pretty delicate and we ended up in a precarious situation where there was no way to make more fixes without potentially breaking something else or making things worse. We weren’t happy with that situation, but we were stuck between a rock and a hard place – most users were (by this time) able to play properly and find matches, and further tinkering might put that at risk.”
O’Connor said the team decided to stop the updates, despite some players still being impacted by the bigger issues in the game. In some ways, it made the situation worse and led to threats by the community. Still, the team investigated lingering bugs and discussed fixes.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was “essentially six pretty different game engines strapped together and interlinked with highly complex and highly delicate new systems,” O’Connor wrote. With the upcoming Xbox One X launch, the team saw a way to incorporate these fixes due to “a series of changes to the Xbox architecture, some of them related to Xbox One X – and others just a series of ongoing improvements to the OS and back end networking systems.”
These fixes will be applied to “both regular Xbox One version and the Xbox One X enhancements.” 343 Industries will also introduce a flighting program into the game for players to test upcoming patches and other updates, coming in spring 2018.
The studio initially announced the fixes on Wednesday, with head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross saying in a livestream the team was soliciting fan feedback and was confident the new hardware would help improve the game.
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