Halo 5 recently launched, and it’s historic. While the fifth entry in the Halo franchise might not be the first in the series to hit the Xbox One, it’s the first to debut on Microsoft’s current Xbox One. Released on Oct. 27, 2015, Halo 5 currently holds a score of 86.35% on GameRankings, 86/100 on Metacritic, 9/10 from IGN, and 8/10 from GameSpot. It’s fair to say 343 Industries’ latest project is faring pretty well.
Like any AAA video game release, there’s a slew of groundbreaking features, from gameplay to graphics. However, the social aspects of Halo 5, and their implementation are even more fascinating than the eye candy and captivating mechanics. eSports are nothing new; from the early days of Quake LAN parties to Counter-Strike 1.6, and World of Warcraft, players have been collaborating and facing off. Microsoft, in conjunction with the Major League Gaming (MLG), has promoted various online tournaments.
With Halo 5, multiplayer includes a neat feature: companies. These can be found on Halo: Spartan Companies, which hosts a multitude of factions. Essentially, it’s a massive social media platform. Dive into one of the companies, and you can view favorite games, visit company and individual social media accounts (Twitch, Twitter, Facebook YouTube, etc.), and party members.
Considering the extensive Halo community, it’s a massive undertaking. So how is Halo: Spartan Companies being managed? Azure DocumentDB apparently. In a post from the Microsoft Azure blog, Product Manager Aravind Ramachandran and Halo Software Engineer Bing Huan Chio revealed that Azure DocumentDB is handling scalability, and aiding iterative development.
In order to handle the scalability needs of their data-tier, and to support iterative rapid development of new features, they chose Azure DocumentDB.
The article further revealed that the three main data points required were: companies, company invites, and members. Thus, priorities included real-time querying, company updates (achievements, state, etc.). Azure DocumentDB features such as auto indexing, speed, and flexibility convinced the dev team to opt for Azure over other options, like NoSQL.
It’s a pretty neat use case, and really highlights the social gaming applications of Azure. With the advent of the internet, social gaming has exploded, bolstered recently by services like Twitch and Disco Melee. Notably Microsoft recently acquired the Havok Physics Engine from Intel. Armed with tools like Havok and Azure, Microsoft has all the resources in-house to create an awesome experience for Xbox One and Windows players.