A better Halo

343 are obsessed with re-defining Halo gameplay. They lurch from one playstyle to another like drunks on a fairground ride.
Let us suppose that 343 had instead kept ‘traditional’ gameplay - lets say similar to H3 + new equipment types and maybe 1 new mechanic (thruster?).

Then they concentrate on providing;

  • An epic, engaging OG style campaign with a BA chief. (with splitscreen!) - A fully functioning theatre with additional options/functionality to H3/Reach instead of nerfed. - An offline+online PvE mode with expanded options (flood/promethians/expanded modes/matchmaking) - A great forge with full fileshare. - Expanded community involvement - featured forge playlists/daily+weekly challenges/somebody that would actually engage with us on waypoint. - A UI that is at least as friendly and useful as Reach. - Decent matchmaking, with plenty of gametypes + options for prioritising the things that are important to the player (good connection/fast search times/JIP/matching equivalent teams/social+ranked playlists). Custom game browser. And lots of maps. - Making sure the above list is all present **AT LAUNCH.**Wouldn’t that lot be better than anything 343 have managed to come up with so far?

343 are simply not focused on the correct areas and following the latest gameplay fads is not going to win them a significant new fanbase because it is not innovative or unique enough to be memorable and the deficiencies in the above areas outweigh the novelty value of some new ‘abilities’ that half the fanbase don’t want anyway.

Warzone is an example of the right kind of innovation. (And maybe even REQs). (Not sayings it’s perfect but it is a new gamemode and who can object to that? Needs more maps)

While some new things did indeed work (like clamber or hidden legendary weapons) ultimately, they were missing some key features at launch, which is quite disappointing.
Also, the menus could use some tweaking to be more basic and user friendly, similar to Reach’s like you mentioned, which a lot of people seem to not talk about.

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> Wouldn’t that lot be better than anything 343 have managed to come up with so far?

I’m not a game developer and don’t have to answer to publishers and shareholders so not really sure why they omit some things other Halo have had but I don’t really question it too much personally.

As long as they keep delivering a Halo game that I enjoy I keep buying it and playing it.

Feedback from the community is definitely good and criticism can be healthy if it’s constructive but at the end of the day it’s their (and the powers that be) game so I just roll with it.

I think the big problem with this game didn’t stem from the desire for new improvements, but rather from 343’s focus on graphics rather than content. As a result, content both in multiplayer and campaign suffered dramatically.

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> I think the big problem with this game didn’t stem from the desire for new improvements, but rather from 343’s focus on graphics rather than content. As a result, content both in multiplayer and campaign suffered dramatically.

They focused too much on new gameplay (including the 4 player team in campaign), and the variable resolution engine to keep the 60 fps.

I seriously doubt that the addition of more than one new mechanic was enough to bite into their ability to address the concerns you list. (A list with which I agree, to be clear.) Those mechanics shouldn’t be too hard to implement using their game engine (aside from clamber, they’re basic alterations to movement vectors). Balancing them takes up time, of course, but they had what I’m assuming was constant play-testing, and even had a beta, to make that easier. Animation and rendering takes time as well, but again, I don’t see this significantly affecting the resources available for addressing the issues you list.

I’ve been meaning to make a thread on the lack-of-content issues in H5, but it would probably become a flamewar two posts in, with accusations that I’m a 343 apologist who is blindly supporting their decisions and execution. (both untrue). But, I think what I’m about to say is relevant to your post, and I’ve been wanting to put this out there, so here it goes… (I’d apologize in advance if this causes a flame-war, but with the state of the H5 forums right now, it’s probably gonna happen anyway)

(Disclaimer: I’m not an industry insider. I’ve done my best to not make claims that are outside my scope of knowledge. If someone with more knowledge cares to chime-in, I’d happily welcome it.)

I think the lack-of-content issues with Halo 5 can at least partially be explained by the changing logistics of AAA games in general. Upgraded hardware leads people to expect better graphics, better AI, more content, better network infrastructure, and truly enhanced and innovative gameplay. This is completely reasonable. However, improved hardware doesn’t do much, if anything, towards making programs less complex. Better hardware allows for faster processing and more memory to run more complex programs. That’s it.

Unfortunately, improvements in software design pale in comparison to improvements in hardware (for now). So a AAA game developer is left having to write longer and more complex code, which has a direct impact on the number of test cases that must be run in debugging, and the amount of time fixing said bugs. This isn’t to say there aren’t good programming practices to keep these issues at a minimum, but that minimum is still going to be fairly high, and these practices are both slow to improve, and are limited by basic mathematical constraints. Rushed games, games that lack content, games that get delayed by months-years, day-1 launch bugs, all of these are symptomatic of this program complexity issue.

The rising cost and diminishing returns of making these games also does nothing but exacerbate the problems mentioned above. I’m not naive to the psychological tricks used by F2P models, microtransactions in general, or the practice of withholding content to release as paid DLC down the line. I’m generally pretty vocal in my distaste for these practices. However, I have a hard time believing that these new strategies of monetization aren’t also related to the behemoth levels that AAA games have reached, and which gamers now expect. (The race to out-advertise competing games is another issue). Honestly, I’m not sure it’s even a sustainable business model, but now I’m getting out of my element.

Anyway, I’m not saying we should accept a lack of content. And I’m not saying 343 used their resources wisely (I have no way of knowing that either way). But I am saying that this issue shouldn’t be reduced to the all-too-common cries of “343 is inept, lazy, and doesn’t care because they already have my money.” By all means, people should continue to voice their concerns and give constructive feedback, but I think some perspective regarding the counter-intuitive effect of better hardware on a developer’s workload might be beneficial to all this as well.

Edit: To the OP, that final paragraph isn’t meant to imply that you’re one of the people who participates in the “343 is blah blah unproductive criticism blah.” Just want to make sure that’s clear.

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> I seriously doubt that the addition of more than one new mechanic was enough to bite into their ability to address the concerns you list. (A list with which I agree, to be clear.) Those mechanics shouldn’t be too hard to implement using their game engine (aside from clamber, they’re basic alterations to movement vectors). Balancing them takes up time, of course, but they had what I’m assuming was constant play-testing, and even had a beta, to make that easier. Animation and rendering takes time as well, but again, I don’t see this significantly affecting the resources available for addressing the issues you list.

New gameplay is 343’s major focus. Not just the multiplayer movement options but also the traditional Halo campaign gameplay. Then everything has to be balanced/redesigned around it. What else have they been doing for three years? It sure wasn’t working on all those important things I talked about in the OP.

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> …I think the lack-of-content issues with Halo 5 can at least partially be explained by the changing logistics of AAA games in general. Upgraded hardware leads people to expect better graphics, better AI, more content, better network infrastructure, and truly enhanced and innovative gameplay. This is completely reasonable. However, improved hardware doesn’t do much, if anything, towards making programs less complex. Better hardware allows for faster processing and more memory to run more complex programs. That’s it.

Better graphics: Has been debated - but I’m going to say that the improvement is only marginal in H5. - perhaps 343 were not concentrating enough on this?
Better AI: Ho-hum for H5 AI - (facetious I know, but again, the AI need to be integrated with the new gameplay styles)
Better network infrastructure: See the “dedicated servers EU” thread. As I said in OP, 343 should have put more focus on the matchmaking functionality.
Truly enhanced and innovative gameplay: Well that’s my point isn’t it? - 343 focused on this too much instead of making a game that was fun to use and play based off the original and well loved formula.
In Summary :- Many people have complained about the next gen Halo delivering less than the old gen Halo.

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> "…By all means, people should continue to voice their concerns and give constructive feedback, but I think some perspective regarding the counter-intuitive effect of better hardware on a developer’s workload might be beneficial to all this as well.

If the hardware is more complex to work with 343 should focus more on the areas I listed in the OP.

The game release features shortcomings aside… hasn’t 343 been THE most responsive with regards to community feedback implementation more so than any other Dev? That’s a massive +1 in my book

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> New gameplay is 343’s major focus. Not just the multiplayer movement options but also the traditional Halo campaign gameplay. Then everything has to be balanced/redesigned around it. What else have they been doing for three years? It sure wasn’t working on all those important things I talked about in the OP.
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> Better graphics: Has been debated - but I’m going to say that the improvement is only marginal in H5. - perhaps 343 were not concentrating enough on this?
> Better AI: Ho-hum for H5 AI - (facetious I know, but again, the AI need to be integrated with the new gameplay styles)
> Better network infrastructure: See the “dedicated servers EU” thread. As I said in OP, 343 should have put more focus on the matchmaking functionality.
> Truly enhanced and innovative gameplay: Well that’s my point isn’t it? - 343 focused on this too much instead of making a game that was fun to use and play based off the original and well loved formula.
> In Summary :- Many people have complained about the next gen Halo delivering less than the old gen Halo.
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> If the hardware is more complex to work with 343 should focus more on the areas I listed in the OP.

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> If the hardware is more complex to work with 343 should focus more on the areas I listed in the OP.

I’m not sure how this follows. Anyway, I think we might be talking past each other here. For example.

> In Summary :- Many people have complained about the next gen Halo delivering less than the old gen Halo.

Yes, I’m aware of this. It’s an integral part of my argument. The argument I’m making is that the reason for this is, in part, because it’s a next gen game.

So, let me try to clear this up. I’m not saying the hardware is more complex to work with. I’m saying that the expectations brought by new hardware - meaning major improvements in every aspect of new games - do not take into account that software development strategies/capabilities do not grow at anywhere near the pace of hardware improvements. This means that more complex code must be written to meet the expectations brought by the new hardware. I’ll try to better summarize this than I did in my first response: Better hardware, with its improved processing and memory, allows a system to run more complex programs. It does not have any significant effect on reducing the complexity of the programs themselves.

> What else have they been doing for three years?

Well, if you believe 343, at least part of it was spent building a “brand new” game engine. I think “brand new” is a misnomer (at best), but it was certainly upgraded to a significant degree. I can’t find any official dates regarding when this overhaul started (I doubt anybody outside microsoft or 343 has concrete data on this), but I’m inclined to assume it was at or near the beginning of Halo 5’s production (around when an adequate level of knowledge about the X1 architecture, capabilities, or even SDK could be known). Either way, creating an engine is a major part, the major part, of writing newer, more complex code to take advantage of the hardware. (Unless they used a bunch of middleware. But they have claimed the new engine was proprietary. Given that they want the Halo franchise to be a console-pushing staple for the forseeable future, which would mean they want to have as much say in what their engine can do, I’m inclined to believe this as well.)

As I stated in my original post, I have no way of knowing if 343 used their resources wisely. According to them they designed their next-gen engine to include improvements to graphical fidelity, framerate, networking infrastructure*, AI**, and physics. That is a lot of code, doesn’t even include the GUI for the engine itself, and again, it has to be more complex, and therefore requires the creation of more test cases and debugging.

Regarding Network Issues* I’ve seen mixed reports from the UK/European side of things regarding the reliability of MP. Though I’ve heard horrible things regarding Brazil’s reliability (it’s reliably non-existent). Certainly there should have been the option to search for matches by region. If that is missing because of the way they designed their network infrastructure (I’m talking about the software portion of the infrastructure) then it’s a clear case of 343 bungling what should be a given in a global market. If it’s missing but they have the capability, well… that might be even worse. However, without trying to be a “North America, F*!^ Yeah!” dingus, the matchmaking and online experience for me has been the best I’ve ever seen. So, it’s not like they completely dropped the ball. (again, not saying they shouldn’t be providing the same levels of service to those who aren’t state-side or living in a giant province up north).

On the AI** I’ll be the first to agree that the companion AI flat-out sucks. I mean, it’s beyond atrocious. I’m not ready to say the same thing about the enemy AI. I’ve only played through the solo campaign on hardened. I would like to try it with 4-player co-op on legendary before I form an opinion on that.

One more point on software/game engines. Developing games for new systems has always been a bumpier process when the system is early in its life-span. Graphics improve over time, taking full advantage of the nuances of the hardware takes time, and major redesigns of game engines take time. This is the first Halo on the XBone, and there is basically an unspoken acknowledgment that IPs on new consoles are partially beta tests for the developer’s new engines. This has been true for a while now.

Okay. I’ll wrap this up.

> New gameplay is 343’s major focus. Not just the multiplayer movement options but also the traditional Halo campaign gameplay. Then everything has to be balanced/redesigned around it.

Of course gameplay is their major focus, and making sure that all game-modes have an overall unified “feel” is extremely important. It’s more important than most of the things on your list, assuming they want to move units. Framerate also seems to have been a pretty major focus, and it has become a dealbreaker for many gamers. Your contention that “traditional” gameplay would have allowed them to focus on making a “more epic” campaign is without merit (and is subjective too). No matter how traditional or radical the changes were (and they weren’t that radical), they’d still have to design the campaign from the ground up, simply because this is the first game in this generation. That’s not even taking into account the “give me something new” mentality that next-gen brings.

Just so I don’t come off as a 343 apologist, which is not my intent, let me reiterate. When it comes to your list, I agree. When it comes to how much direct blame 343 deserves, and what type of blame they deserve, I think it’s more complicated than people are making it out to be. They certainly need to be held to task for the obvious screw-ups (better network infrastructure and in-game network options, better UI, lack of social playlist, even if it is just ranked without ranks), but the constraints of time and resources shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

I wish you developed Halo 5, OP.

It really is crazy how many posts are about how this Halo sucks and they should go back to H3. I don’t disagree with them, but you’d think 343 would get the hint. I get people are going to complain, and the first response to this post will probably be about how every game has been ‘worse’ than the last (although this is somewhat true), but you just don’t see this on any other game forum. Battlefield, Destiny, CoD, etc, you just don’t see THIS many threads saying how the company completely ruined the game. There’s some merit to these posts if they occupy nearly 50% of all threads on the forum.

The SS thread guys, as well as some others had a great idea.

Halo 5: Blue Team.

Basically a classic version of Halo 5. All Chief and blue team. Classic gameplay, maps, and SS and LAN as a side game that corrects all the problems with Halo 5 without the commitment to returning to classic gameplay for Halo 6 until you get to see how it would measure up sales and population wise.

It would be like ODST. A side game that is an experiment and labour of love for the franchise and a fanbase fantasy come to life. And if it doesn’t sell well, well it was a side game and they can do whatever the hell they want with Halo 6.

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> The game release features shortcomings aside… hasn’t 343 been THE most responsive with regards to community feedback implementation more so than any other Dev? That’s a massive +1 in my book

The problem is that much of the community’s criticisms are directly regarding said lack of features (features that most assumed would be present). So, it comes off as damage control or disingenuous when they apologize for this and promise their ‘eventual’ inclusion (I’m not saying they’re necessarily being disingenuous, just that it’s perceived this way).

Also, they’ve been responsive, but not to the degree with which you’re implying. (Lab Zero Games, an indie developer, is probably the most responsive dev team I’ve ever seen. Bigger devs like Gearbox are also much better than 343 at interacting and answering questions through social media channels). There are a lot of things that they have remained completely silent about. Last I checked they still hadn’t said anything regarding S. Americans’ inability to get into any MP game (issue since launch), or regional matchmaking in general. I don’t think they’ve yet addressed the missing, and sorely missed, “off-beat” game modes (griffball, infected, etc…). A social playlist is coming, but so far they have indicated that it will be identical to Arena, just without ranks. I am almost positive that they haven’t addressed in-game Spartan Company integration as well.

So, yeah, they respond, and (like I stated up-thread) the community seems to mostly ignore anything that might have forced 343 into the low-feature release, but let’s not cut them too much slack. :slight_smile:

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> I wish you developed Halo 5, OP.

Thanks man :slight_smile:

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Dude, Thanks for a really well written and coherent reply!
Anyone else reading this should read it.

Do you mind if I TL:DR it though? :slight_smile:
“New xb1 architecture is complicated. People’s expectations were too high for the new console. 343 had to make a new engine so perhaps didn’t have time for all the other good stuff in OP”
Is that fair enough?

My response to that is that certain affinity could make a 60 fps H2A engine (That runs in parallel to an emulation of the original H2 engine for instant switching when playing)
343 could have used that with minor modification and concentrated on the areas I set out in OP.

343 are determined that they will create ‘The greatest next gen shooter’. I have to admire their chutzpah. After the changes to our beloved Halo gameplay style in H4 got such a caning they just double down and go for ADS and Sprint and SA’s in H5. Wow.

343’s lack of focus on the important areas I talk about in the OP is an inevitable result of their determination to re-invent the gameplay, not an accidental by product of the complicated x1 achicture.

And they should not have re-invented the gameplay again. It just annoys the fanbase for no good reason than the hope that the fans will recover from their attachment to the OG style and love the new instead. But they mostly don’t. Again.

This is the longest thing I have ever written on my phone. Stopping now. :stuck_out_tongue:

What’s more important than balanced and immersive exciting gameplay? Content isn’t more important than that. 343 focused on what was important.

And, they’ll learn just like Bungie did. Focus on more content with crappy game modes and let gameplay suffer, as well as let the community make everything for you once Forge and settings are made. Hopefully, 343 can bring both worlds eventually.

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> What’s more important than balanced and immersive exciting gameplay? Content isn’t more important than that. 343 focused on what was important.
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> And, they’ll learn just like Bungie did. Focus on more content with crappy game modes and let gameplay suffer, as well as let the community make everything for you once Forge and settings are made. Hopefully, 343 can bring both worlds eventually.

343 focussed on re-inventing the balanced and immersive exciting gameplay that already existed !

That would have made a much better Halo than what 343 has given us so far. Funny thing is, Bungie had the Halo formula nearly perfected. All 343 had to do was build off of that and continue to improve on it if absolutely necessary.

Instead, they decided to reinvent Halos gameplay in a way that tries to mimic other games horribly, and that conflicts with the gameplay we came to be familiar with.

To be honest, Halos gameplay didn’t need to be touched much at all. Just add/improve more features and game modes/gametypes and that would’ve been great along with an awesome campaign starring Master Chief as the main playable character, or at least a 50/50 split with him and a new character.

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> That would have made a much better Halo than what 343 has given us so far. Funny thing is, Bungie had the Halo formula nearly perfected. All 343 had to do was build off of that and continue to improve on it if absolutely necessary.
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> Instead, they decided to reinvent Halos gameplay in a way that tries to mimic other games horribly, and that conflicts with the gameplay we came to be familiar with.
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> To be honest, Halos gameplay didn’t need to be touched much at all. Just add/improve more features and game modes/gametypes and that would’ve been great along with an awesome campaign starring Master Chief as the main playable character, or at least a 50/50 split with him and a new character.

They didn’t reinvent anything, unless you mean the part where 343 made a balanced “Halo” game out of the box rather than the competitive scene trying to “fix” everything. Then, they added in the movement and map dynamics that skillful games have had for a while but was always missing from the ever-so nooby Halo. But hey you could always get back in there the wide and random spreads and annoyingly slow-paced equipment and AR starts from Halos’ past. It can only get better too because they set the standards low ( but interestingly enough higher than Halo 3 in regards to gameplay )

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> > That would have made a much better Halo than what 343 has given us so far. Funny thing is, Bungie had the Halo formula nearly perfected. All 343 had to do was build off of that and continue to improve on it if absolutely necessary.
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> > Instead, they decided to reinvent Halos gameplay in a way that tries to mimic other games horribly, and that conflicts with the gameplay we came to be familiar with.
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> > To be honest, Halos gameplay didn’t need to be touched much at all. Just add/improve more features and game modes/gametypes and that would’ve been great along with an awesome campaign starring Master Chief as the main playable character, or at least a 50/50 split with him and a new character.
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> They didn’t reinvent anything, unless you mean the part where 343 made a balanced “Halo” game out of the box rather than the competitive scene trying to “fix” everything. Then, they added in the movement and map dynamics that skillful games have had for a while but was always missing from the ever-so nooby Halo. But hey you could always get back in there the wide and random spreads and annoyingly slow-paced equipment and AR starts from Halos’ past. It can only get better too because they set the standards low ( but interestingly enough higher than Halo 3 in regards to gameplay )

Do you really believe H5 is more competitive than H1, H2, or even 3?

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> > I think the big problem with this game didn’t stem from the desire for new improvements, but rather from 343’s focus on graphics rather than content. As a result, content both in multiplayer and campaign suffered dramatically.
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> They focused too much on new gameplay (including the 4 player team in campaign), and the variable resolution engine to keep the 60 fps.

To be fair, looking back at the H4 forums, 60fps was greatly debated. It was a hot button topic. 343i noticed and made that a priority. Was it worth sacrificing some of the other features to achieve? I can’t say. But if I was a betting man, my guess is that they spent a lot of time in development trying not to sacrifice things like split-screen. Ultimately, this may have burned too much calendar time. This developmental rabbit hole may have eaten time allotted for developing other features which are not present. Just a guess.