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Recreating Halo Matchmaking: Halo Lobbies

GeekPlaya December 25, 2015 User blog:GeekPlaya

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The clock struck 12, and the papers went flying up in the air. A chorus of *Zip*'s as we all packed our books, threw on our backpacks, and kicked open the double doors to freedom: middle school was officially over.

My friend and I B-lined it to his mother's minivan, and tried to make plans for the 9 hours left in the day. Little did I know that the next 9 hours would change my life...

After grabbing some Wendy's and tossing the pigskin, as athletic people like to call it, we headed downstairs to play together on his brand new Xbox 360. He kept talking about some weird game with aliens and some bird called a "mongoose" that I had frankly never heard of. It was all mumbo-jumbo until he inserted the disk, and the beautiful, HD, Bungie logo was projected up on his 72" screen.

The classic Halo song began to play, as the menu booted up.

With just a few button presses, he placed me into my first match of Halo: Sandtrap, BTB. Little did I know that I would be playing the same franchise 8 years later, and loving it just as much as I did then.

During my Halo 3 days, I played over 1,500 custom games with my friends, and most of which were gametypes I had invented. Their interest in Forge was lesser than mine, so I was the one in th bunch who would design concepts that they might have. I would throw them up on my fileshare for them to download for when I wasn't around, and we would all have a blast 5 hours a day during the summer, every day.

Unfortunately, over time the number of friends playing Halo began to dwindle. As high school progressed, more people invested themselves into extracurriculars and lacked the time to invest in gaming. From nights were I would play with 10 friends, I found myself playing with 8, then 5, then 3.

Now these days it tends to be 1 or 2. 3 at best.

No longer are there gaming parties, no longer do all my friends have the same console, and no longer do all my friends appreciate Halo as much as they used to. And it's not that Halo is a bad game now, because I love Halo 5 to death, it's because people's interests change.

But me, I stick to my roots.

Halo 5 started out as being an enjoyable and  unique 60 FPS shooter with a fun campaign. But when Forge was released, it changed the tone of everything.

Immediately once I loaded up a session of Forge, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. My first instinct was to begin recreating a popular gamemode I made for my friends back in 2009 called Evacuation. A monster would spawn between the closed doors on Standoff, and someone would have to open the gates. The fast, invisible, and incredibly powerful monster would pursue his targets, trying to eliminate each one until none remained. If he was stopped, the player who killed him would be the champion.

After getting 90% of the way through in Halo 5's version, I realized that even once I finish it, I did not have enough people to play with. Even if I gathered up all of friends on One, I would have maybe 4 people tops that could play custom games with me.

It was then, that I decided to create Halo Lobbies .

Starting December 18th, I began coding away for hours each day, creating what I felt would be the optimal web-based matchmaking experience for Halo 5 Custom Games. Currently, the only way to find people is through some other LFG sites which lacked personality and character, and also an audience. Frankly, I didn't even know they existed until this week.

Releasing the site on the 24th after many hours of work, I was incredibly pleased to discover that Reddit's community, /r/halo, was thrilled to try it out. And so I saw my site begin to fill up with lobbies and began to read success stories on how people were finding other people to play with. I noticed other people in the same position as me, finally connecting with others who share the same interests with them on the best Xbox One shooter there is.

Quickly I began to gather feedback and make changes, but despite the over 1,500 upvotes and 100 comments I received on Reddit, I noticed the site traffic dwindling quickly.

I was so perplexed... Everyone seemed so thrilled and eager to try it out, and they did, and they said that they loved it. People had been asking for a service like this for years, and now that they had it, they seemed to forget 24 hours later?

I realized that although the site was a success that day, posting it on a website that promotes content for about 12-24 hours max would only gain me temporary attention, and if I let the attention die out completely, I will reach a point of no return.

Starting today, December 25th, I am going to do my best to get this service out there and established, and make it so that people always have someone to play with, whether it be official matchmaking or custom games. I want content creators to be able to show off their content. I want Halo to be the experience it was when I was in middle school. I wanted the community to come together not in discussion boards, but in the actual game that they were speaking about.

Can I make it happen? Only one way to find out...

- GeekPlaya, creator of Halo Lobbies

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