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Thread: Halo MCC might be getting Custom Map support

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    Junior Member
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    May 2018
    forces7 is on a distinguished road

    Halo MCC might be getting Custom Map support

    Although, he went as kornman00 back then – in meetings these days we usually have to use his human name: Sean Cooper. Let’s meet him!
    SEAN: Typically I wake up around 0730, make myself presentable to the world, then ruck march for about 10 minutes to get to 343 HQ. From there it is all about MCC, although I’m also within earshot of the Halo Wars 2 and community crews. My main focus right now is on Halo: CE and Halo 2 in MCC. Whether it is fixing bugs (not all introduced in MCC, mind you!), updating how they interact with the Universal UI, improving game/network functionality, or adding better UGC support. Then of course there’s time spent interfacing with design/production/art on changes, along with collaborating with our external partners on the project.

    What’s really nice is that the MS building right next door to us has a very affordable café with food options that change day to day. This means I only spend about ~10mins acquiring nutrition before I’m back and able to continue work. There’s only so many hours in the day, so I’m glad to waste very little of it on finding food.

    GRIM: How very efficient of you! Other than streamlined sustenance, has 343 life been everything you imagined it to be? What’s it been like working on the Legacy team?

    SEAN: Frankly, I didn’t have a good picture of what life would be like here before I started. Nothing is ever real to me until I can interface with it, and I try not to let my imagination get carried away with things I can’t control. With that said, I think anything I did imagine about life here has been surpassed. The location, the building, the people in it, the work we do: it’s all awesome. Getting to playtest other projects and see behind the scenes too? What more could a Halo fan ask for?

    GRIM: Oh I’m sure there’s more.

    SEAN: That’s true, and seeing as I’m a Halo fan and a Halo engine connoisseur, I guess I’d ask to get to mess with the classic Halo games. Oh wait, I am! And I’m paid to do it. There’s nothing more that I could ask for, except for maybe to play the Halo2 E3 2003 demo…

    I know, I know. Working on the Legacy team has been a real treat, as many of the onsite developers have firsthand experience with the Halo FPS (and RTS) games, even before the former was rolled up into MCC. So, I get to hear and learn about stories in their development. Why things were done or not done a certain way. I’m also free to look into issues that I care about, so I’m not just some cog in a machine that only moves in one direction. The people on the Legacy team really care about MCC and making it a game all Halo players, new and old, want to play.

    GRIM: I’d imagine that’s pretty comforting for a lot of folks to hear, to be honest. And in talking about your role, what do you enjoy the most about it so far? What has been the biggest challenge(s) thus far? Any wacky stories or specific standout moments you’d like to share?

    SEAN: Getting to work in the source code of these engines, which beforehand I could only disassemble, is great. In general game development, it is straight up silly to use an engine that you don’t have the source code for. It limits your ability to debug problems and makes it near impossible to fix them once you do. Being able to use this Halo source access to correct problems is even greater. So, I think the thing I enjoy most is no longer being on the outside, peeking under the engine’s hood, and wishing I could contribute.

    That’s not to say everything is sunshine and unicorns.

    GRIM: Whaaaaaat??

    SEAN: Shocking, I know. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with the code that makes the remastered bits of Halo: CE and Halo 2 work. For better or worse, a lot of time spent by others and myself is solidifying these systems. It also means that these two games have two different game engines with two different pipelines. You may also think the Saber3D engine in Halo: CE is the roughly the same as the one used in Halo 2 – you would be wrong, though. So really, the MCC on your Xbox is basically running nine different game engines (assuming you have ODST). Working on MCC is no cake walk. But it is very rewarding.
    • Blue Screen – Sean has done some work to bring back to the Halo 2 network transition screen (the bluescreen that pops up saying “Connecting to game…” and when there’s a wait for a player to join or when a host migration occurs). Turns out that original code was ‘commented out’ during MCC development which resulted in H2 network games just having black screens or just a scoreboard which isn’t informative for players (nor historically correct!).
    • Classic Controls - Sean managed to squeeze in a few fixes addressing some MCC-era Halo 2 control scheme inconsistencies.
    • Custom Edition – Another area Sean has been tinkering with on the side is working on the pipeline and process to bring Halo Custom Edition maps into MCC. This is longer lead proof-of-concept work that isn’t part of the near-term scope but he’s shared some exciting progress successfully loading a Halo Custom Edition map into MCC. There’s a lot of rough edges and plenty of work to still do on this front - and to be honest this feature work isn't currently even tied to an official milestone - but it’s a really tantalizing and exciting prospect to think about further down the road.
    • Spawning – Sean has been working on adjustments to restore the Halo 2 spawning code back to how it worked in the original game. Originally, in MCC, Halo 2 spawning was modified to heavily weight players to respawn by teammates / at team spawns, which is something a portion of the community (particularly the Halo 2 Vista community) has given a lot of feedback around. While it seems minor, it’s just another example of the focus the team has on trying to get all of MCC’s titles to play and feel as close to the original console games as possible.
    • Tickrates – A single update of a game simulation is known as a "tick." The rate at which the simulation is run on a server is referred often to as the server's tickrate; this is essentially the server equivalent of a client's frame rate, absent any rendering system. When the Vista port was created for Halo 2, the “tickrate” was updated from 30 to 60, which resulted in the fire rate of some weapons inadvertently changing. There are also some similar oddities that have been discovered with AI fire rates that appears to be linked to the shift from 30hz to 60hz. Sean has been working on digging into this and identifying areas where this can be adjusted to more accurately replicate the original Xbox experience. This is ongoing but eventually is an area where the team will definitely want community feedback once this work hits a public flight build.
    Which Halo: Custom Edition maps would you want to see added to MCC?
    Last edited by forces7; May 21st, 2018 at 01:45 AM.
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