Real World

Halo Infinite Development Update - August

Halo Infinite Development Update - August is a video documentary on Halo Infinite's development as of August 2021. It was released on August 20, 2021.[1]


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  • John Unyshek: Hey everyone, it's Unyshek here, and welcome to a Halo Infinite development update. Today, we're gonna be talking about the recent tech preview with our live producer Sam Hanshaw and then we're gonna be jumping on board with Sketch and Joseph Staten to hear more about the road to launch. Before we dive into it though, I want to preface that we won't have any new gameplay but we will have a ton of good information to talk about. So, with that housekeeping out of the way, uh, Sam, how's it going?
  • Sam Hanshaw: You know, uh, pretty well to be honest. Um, really excited to talk about what we learned during the tech preview. I think that fans were pretty excited to get their hands on the game, and so quite equally excited to find out what we learned from them getting their hands on the game.
  • John Unyshek: So, tech preview went out, we thought it was pretty darn successful. From your perspective, how'd it go?
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah, it was a success. We had some problems along the way getting there but it's important to have those kinds of problems because those are the things that we want to address now rather than have them crop up as a surprise at launch.
  • John Unyshek: Yeah, and that's kind of why we started testing at such a large scale already, so early.
  • Sam Hanshaw: So this was obviously our first big scale flight we've done. It was a global release to hundreds of thousands of people and those people did over a million bot matches; and they also participated in weapon drills over two million time, and probably most importantly, for me, is they filed thousands of support tickets.
  • John Unyshek: Yeah, and that's good to hear because we want player feedback, not only about the game, but also on the state of the game, so that we can continue to improve and iterate on the road to launch.
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah, absolutely.
  • John Unyshek: And, kind of speaking about those learnings, right, that we're getting from those tickets: Overall, what were some of the key learnings from the flight?
  • Sam Hanshaw: Sure, so, we know we had a lot of pain around getting into the flight, initially. So, we know we had some issues on the Halo Insider site, that we're working on. We also had some problems getting into through the Xbox Insider hub on console, and we've been working in close partnership with the Xbox Insider hub team, and we're working on some solutions to that, and ways that we can mitigate that for the future.
  • John Unyshek: So, on top of Waypoint, uh, and Xbox Insider, we also got a lot of feedback around the PC and Console kind of optimization and how it ran on those machines. You have any info you can share there?
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah, so, starting off with PC. This was our first time flighting to so many different hardware configurations, and we uncovered some issues. One of the things that was, um, pretty painful for everyone was we had like a misconfiguration in, uh, how the EXE was running and that was resulting in about a 20% performance drop. Um, that's been addressed on our side, and so for the next release you can expect at least a 20% improvement in performance. Um, we also had specific problems with, um, GTX 900 series graphics cards. You know, these are things that come out when we have more people participating in the flights and things, and we get to see a lot more of the hardware configurations so that's something that PC teams working on actively; and as with all things with both PC and console, we're going to see a lot of performance boosts over the next couple of months, and a quick reminder to everyone that this build that we flighted for tech people was about two months old, and so, stepping back to kind of the trunk of development, it's like going in a time machine.
  • John Unyshek: And since it was a two month old build, right, we've already addressed numerous things with stability and loading issues right? I know loading issues were a common thing in this flight.
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah, they were. Um, we know that, in addition to getting into the flight, getting into matches was a bit of a- a bit of a struggle. So match loading had some inconsistencies, some folks would drop out of matchmaking every now and again, some folks dropped out consistently, and while it did cause a lot of pain for folks, it also helped us get a lot of data so that we could address those issues; and going back to the main dev branch, we've had folks working on it and now people are getting into matches super consistently.
  • John Unyshek: So, much, much better already. Yeah.
  • Sam Hanshaw: Right.
  • John Unyshek: And we also have a new loading screen, I heard. Right?
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah, that's true! There's nothing worse than getting kicked out of matchmaking, except getting kicked out of matchmaking when all you've had to look at is a black screen with three dots. So, now we've got some nice new loading screens for people to look at, though they should be seeing for a lot less time than they saw the black screen too.
  • John Unyshek: So, nice new loading screen but less time to actually see it.
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah.
  • John Unyshek: So once people got in, past the loading screen, we had bot matches for them and weapon drills for them, with a little bit of PVP for two hours. Uh, what was the reasoning behind choosing bots and weapons drills?
  • Sam Hanshaw: So, the bots and the weapon drills are two key pieces of our new player onboarding, and so having players experience that for the first time, in our first kind of public flight like this was really important, because we get that initial feedback of what it's like to pick up this game and learn it through the weapon drills and through bot play. One other thing that we get from flighting using the bot matches is we only have four people in each match, so we have to spin up a dedicated server for every four people who are on. So essentially by doing this, we doubled our server strain for this audience size. So this increases our confidence for shipping and releasing to larger and larger audiemces, so we know with the hundreds of thousands of people who we invited for this tech preview when we did it with bots, the week can handle twice that many people at least with PVP.
  • John Unyshek: That's really cool, actually. Uh, I remember, uh, people were talking about, "why bots, why weapon drills?". So thank you for diving into that.
  • Sam Hanshaw: Oh, no problem. Yeah. And I think that the bots, kind of, showed up well, you know? I know we got a lot of good comments and good feedback on how the bots behave; and a lot of the feedback that people gave, you know, that's being incorporated too.
  • John Unyshek: Yeah. People were intimidated by the bots, which is really cool to see. Uh, up next we also had a few people talk about the Halo Support Site kind of closing down at the- at the very end of the flight, right? Right as we cut off the flight, we also closed off the Halo Support Site, uh, and I know that's something we're looking to change, moving forward.
  • Sam Hanshaw: Yeah, I mean, that's one of those things where like, in hindsight, it makes total sense. Everyone wants to play until the last minute of the flight, and when it closes down, they're gonna head on over to- to file the bugs. They don't want to waste their flight time filing bugs. So, now we're going to be keeping that support site open past the end of the flight so that the people who were dedicated and playing the entire time, not one to dip out of any of the Halo action, they can file their bugs at the end. We do recommend that, you know, you keep a notebook, so that you've got- you've got your bugs fresh when they happen, because there's nothing worse than hitting some game breaking bug and then forgetting about it two hours later because you've had too much fun playing Halo.
  • John Unyshek: Chuckles Too much fun playing Halo.