For those not keeping score, the latest game I worked on, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is having a tough time right now in the gaming public. Many of the online components of the game, namely the matchmaking part is broken for many people who bought the game. Many gamers are very angry and upset. Some people have expressed this as the worst “Halo game launch ever”. When such problems arise for such a high-profile title, there’s just so much talk about it on the Internet, social media, and even word of mouth.
If you look at the Halo Reddit community, there are dozens upon dozens of posts expressing disappointment at the state of the game. As an example, here’s one post with some strong feelings towards 343 Industries, who are the development studio responsible for shepherding Halo in all its forms.
As I somewhat expected, at least one review has been amended to take into consideration the broken parts of the game. Polygon, who originally game the title a 9.5, has knocked it down to an 8 now. Depending on what you value most in the game, some think that’s an acceptable hit, while others (those who probably only wanted to play online) definitely would score it lower.
In response, 343 has been trying to be as transparent and forthcoming as they can (to a certain extent). The official Halo forum contains several posts from 343 attempting to inform the public on what they are doing to fix the problem. When the gaming public is angry, silence is the not the way to go. So even if it’s to tell people they’re investigating, it’s better than nothing.
From a personal point of view, I have several different thoughts. From what I’ve seen on social media, this is truly the biggest game I’ve been a (small) part of. So many people have bought this game since Tuesday. That is indeed very cool. On the other hand, it’s very unfortunate the game is receiving so much attention for the wrong reasons. I wonder what reactions I’d get if I told random people that I had worked on the game. I also wonder if I could have somehow made the game better during development. To be very clear, I didn’t write any of the matchmaking code that seems to the main problem right now. I was, however, involved with writing some of the other features that a few gamers have complained about. Could I have made those features better? It’s difficult to say because a lot of that stuff was dependent on Microsoft specific APIs and there was no way around that. If the API wasn’t working, then the feature didn’t work. Am I throwing Microsoft under the bus? I feel like to answer that question adequately would require me to get into many details I’m just not comfortable getting into on a public forum such as this. I guess the point is, of course I think about what I could have done better.
Finally, I do have to give props to Microsoft and 343 for taking the full brunt of the massive wave of anger from the gaming public, at least publicly. In all their communication to the gamers, they’ve yet to blame the many other studios that were involved in making this game. Now behind closed doors, I don’t know what type of blame game is being played, if any. Since I don’t work at UFG anymore, I’m no longer privy to any of the development e-mails. I have much sympathy for my former co-workers who are still on the project, trying to fix all these issues. I can almost feel the pressure that 343 is feeling and is probably passing down to all the other studios involved. This going to sound very selfish but I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with that right now.
It is my very sincere hope all these issues get resolved quickly, so gamers can enjoy the game the way they deserve to play it. In the end, everyone should be happy, happy to be playing the game and happy to have made the game.