“From a personal perspective, the MCC launch was one of my lowest ebbs, professionally.”
Halo: The Master Chief Collection had initially launched in 2014 and had contained an entirety of 4 games from the series, including a remastered version of Halo 2. However, the launch itself was problematic with various bugs, matchmaking issues and more.
343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor has now posted in the Halo series’ subreddit his explanation for why things went wrong and what measures were being taken to fix these. The problem seems to have been that the team was testing in a controlled environment that wasn’t reflective of how real world situations worked, thereby resulting in the matchmaking problems.
O’Connor explains the situation as follows, “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. I have not spent a single day since the night the game fell down in matchmaking where I didn’t think about it. The hardest messages to deal with were the ones driven by disbelief. “How could you not know that matchmaking was going to break?” – fundamentally it was because we were testing it in an environment that we had set up incorrectly and with some (as we discovered later) faulty assumptions. And unlike some of our other normal testing cycles, we weren’t testing for gameplay balance and stuff that the original releases already contained so our test process was radically different, and we made mistakes in some of the scenarios we asked for.”
“We had, with the best intentions, created a massive and ambitious project that almost read like a Halo fan’s wishlist. As a player, I was incredibly excited. And as an employee, I was proud of the work and effort the team had poured into making this thing so big.”
“In our matchmaking testing we were seeing results that ultimately weren’t reflective of the real retail environment, and our test sessions never got to the kind of scale where we’d see some of the looping issues I’ll describe below. So we genuinely didn’t know until the day it released, how bad the matchmaking in particular was going to get. I’m not going to ignore the other bugs, they were real, and important, but 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.”
“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. With Xbox One X on the horizon, it was obvious that we could simultaneously update the game to take advantage of the new hardware for folks that have it and use that as an opportunity to finally rearchitect and update some of the foundational issues and networking/matchmaking methods.”
“And to be clear, these solutions were simply not possible until quite recently. The platform team has made numerous improvements over the last year or so, and we’ve internally done a bunch of research, and so our timing has been reliant on a number of systems and solutions converging rather than one single element. But these weren’t easy fixes we were simply sitting on. That’s honestly not a thing, even. 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.”
“As I said at the start of this explanation, it doesn’t answer all your questions. 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. That’s what we owe you – that and a game we can both finally be satisfied with.”
You can read Frank’s full explanation here. Other than fixing such issues with the game, the team also said that they will be working on Xbox One X enhancements for the game such as support for 4K resolution. You can expect the fixes and updates for the game to start rolling out by 2018, with players also getting to test these in Spring of the same year.