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Recreating the LAN Party Online: The Networking and Social Infrastructure of Halo 2
Price $5.95
Stock Unlimited
Weight 0 lb, 0 oz
SKU GDC-05-135
Recreating the LAN Party Online: The Networking and Social Infrastructure of Halo 2,

Programming, Lecture

Bart House
Development Lead, Microsoft

Chris Butcher
Development Lead, Microsoft
Players of Halo around the world love to get together and play LAN games with their friends. In contrast, most Internet gaming is a solitary activity for hardcore gamers, where isolated players navigate through server listings to find a game with “a good ping”. For Halo 2, we wanted to bring a relaxed social atmosphere to Xbox Live, by seamlessly bringing groups of friends together and keeping them together through an extended gaming session. To do this we had to hide the complexity of the Internet, which involved a number of design and engineering problems. Our multiplayer game is client-server based without any central hosting, so our servers are subject to the whims of the player who might at any moment decide to leave the game or power cycle their Xbox. Home users have greatly varying Internet connectivity, bandwidth limitations and NAT devices, which can be difficult to measure and respond to. In this lecture we will present the layers of code components that we developed to provide the abstraction of always-on connectivity, and the game protocols built on top of this that provide distributed physics, world simulation and host migration. In addition to these technical problems, our multiplayer model must allow players to find both friends and strangers, forming into games that are well matched in skill level and network distance. This led to the design of our new social model, the “Party System”, and the matchmaking system that is built on top of it. We will present the various approaches taken, the trade-offs we have made, the problems we encountered and lessons learned both before and after Halo 2’s release.

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