Halo: Master Chief Collection's PC Delay Explained
Not a simple copy/paste job.
Microsoft had originally planned to release the first beta test for Halo: The Master Chief Collection's PC version in April, but that's no longer happening. Now, developer 343 Industries has explained why the delay was necessary.
Right up top it's important to note that the PC version is being made by Splash Damage and Ruffian Games with the support for 343. "Great progress" has been made toward launching the first beta test, or "flight," for Halo: Reach, but it's just not completely ready yet.
"There are still a number of items to work through before we feel we're ready for the first public flight," 343 said. "While flights are obviously work-in-progress builds, they do require a certain level of polish and functionality to ensure that players can have a successful, enjoyable session and that the team is able to get the data they need to validate the flight."
343's own "Pro Team" are currently testing Halo: MCC for PC with the specific focus of considering how the game feels with mouse and keyboard controls. These tests are happening as the technical work continues on the development side.
In regards to what's specifically holding up the first beta test, 343 said it's finalizing the process of the technical ability for Steam users to acquire the flight. "This also includes being able to add specific content in a build while cleanly removing content that isn't needed (this helps keep the overall build size down and keep players focused on the specific areas/activities tied to the goals for the flight)," 343 said.
Additionally, work is being done on Halo: MCC for PC in the areas of security, the PC-specific UI, and telemetry.
You can sign up for the free Halo Insider program for a chance to get into the beta tests. The tests will start small before expanding to additional users over time.
The full Halo Waypoint blog post offers a ridiculously in-depth breakdown of how 343, Splash Damage, and Ruffian are going about trying to make Halo: MCC for PC a "best-in-class PC shooter."
Halo: MCC begins its release on PC with Halo: Reach (which is also coming to Xbox One) before continuing in chronological order thereafter--Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4. Splash Damage senior producer George Wright said many of the challenges in bringing Halo: MCC to PC is the scale and age of the individual games. Not only that, but the games are made with multiple different engines, some of which are not specific to Halo. Not only that, but the engines have different programming styles.
"Each game was also developed for a very specific set of hardware and software requirements, and we need to harmonize the games so that they’re performant on contemporary PC setups, and then start adding the features that players have come to know on PC," Wright said. "A 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. The games were built using older development techniques, so it’s been an interesting challenge for a lot of us used to modern AAA development to go back to the old ways--a bit like the difference between building a skyscraper and restoring the Sistine Chapel."
Wright added that development is "going well," noting that Halo: Reach is already playable. "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," he said.
Overall, 343 stressed that bringing Halo: MCC to PC is not just a simple copy/paste job--not by a long shot.
"Some out there may think it's 'just a lot of copy and paste' to get things to work but making games at the quality level players expect is most definitely not that simple," 343 said. "A project can have hundreds, or even thousands, of people working towards one central goal: creating fun! It is a beautiful and unique process that each studio handles with finesse and flair that helps create a unique brand of magic."
Go to Halo Waypoint to read the full blog post.
While all this work is going on, Microsoft also continues to work on the next mainline Halo game, Halo Infinite, which is coming to PC and Xbox One. That game is being made by a separate team at 343 Industries. The game is expected to be shown off during Microsoft's E3 2019 briefing in June.