Halo series developer 343 Industries has given their April update for their progress on porting the Halo: Master Chief Collection to PC. 343 has not given any launch window updates but says they are working closely with partner studio Splash Damage to make the Halo: Master Chief Collection port high quality and polished.
The blog notes that the team working on the PC port is called the Publishing Team, which is a smaller team working full time with partnered studios on the Halo: Master Chief Collection. They have been the ones behind the updates to Halo: Master Chief Collection on Xbox and Halo Wars 2 in the past, but are now focusing on the MCC port. Because of that, updates to those previous titles will be slowed down. They are also not the team working on the upcoming Halo Infinite.
Wright noted that they’ve been working with the original source code for the eight games they’re porting, which presents challenges as they were specifically tailored to Xbox hardware, contain older development practices, and lack PC-centric features. He also notes that “lot of the tools used to build each title no longer exist, so we need to reconstruct, and repair these systems to make them function correctly.”
These challenges are likely part of the reason why the PC version of Halo: Master Chief Collection will not see a public flighting this month, as we reported earlier today. At this time, Splash Damage Senior Producer George Wright said that Halo: Reach was currently “in a playable state. However, we have a very high bar for where the game needs to be, so have a lot more work to do before it’s ready to ship.”
This is one snippet of the source code 343 posted. See that swapping_to_native_endian_format near the top? Endianness is how a computer stores numbers. The original Xbox, PC, and Xbox One are x86 based, and use a format called Little Endian. However, the Xbox 360 is PowerPC based, which uses Big Endian format. When porting, many things like this must be considered.
Wright repeated throughout the interview how vital it was to make a good port, with the ability to map actions to different keys, low input latency, updating the UI, FOV changes, supporting 4K, different resolutions, and higher frame rates. For the development team, they consider this to be one of the main pillars of the game, which they call PC Native.
The second and third pillars are called Legacy and Engaging & Evolving. The Legacy pillar is defined by wanting to respect the history of the games and how they were originally programmed. “[W]e do not change the core gameplay of Halo unless we are fixing bugs or making small, modern quality of life adjustments that can benefit both mouse and keyboard players as well as controller players.” However, sometimes there is a necessity to change something, and the blog gives an example of how moving and crouching work. Their internal playtest feedback noted that as a weak point, something that is done better in more modern shooters.
That leads to the final pillar of Engaging & Evolving. 343 notes that adding features such as increased FOV and higher frame rate will naturally have issues when first rolled out and noted that something like FOV range may need to be restricted to a more narrow value at first. This is done so that they can get major and commonly used features working first, then moving on to lesser known or niche features.
Wright said a current milestone they’re looking forward to is a new progression system, to track experience and unlock rewards. He says that it is something they hope will engage the Halo community.