Why FORGE is the best Halo has to offer....

I love to build, I love to tinker. I love being able to create from ‘scratch’ a design of my own making. Since Halo CE, I always pondered at the notion of being a game designer. Making a multiplayer map I wanted to play. Remaking or reusing ideas from other games/ consoles and making them also work for a series I love to death, Halo.

With the advent of Forge in Halo 3 and the much much better Forge that shipped with Reach, we have been able to see some of our designs, our fantasy imaginations come to life. We’ve breathed new life into multiplayer and LAN parties. We’ve completely turned our idea of gaming upside down with ridiculously fun mini games and game types and that’s all due to custom game options and being able to build with Forge.

Every Halo game ships with maps. Sometimes they ship with brand new maps, and sometimes they have re-invisioned or remakes of our favorites. Some would say that Bungie, and 343 now, shouldn’t waste time with remakes because they could be using that time creating more intellectually compelling and complicated maps. There was a time when I disagreed with that notion. I love remakes, because I hate missing my favorite maps from the past. But I’ve changed my mind on this.

I totally believe that 343 should never remake a map again. Why? It’s simply because they don’t have to. If they keep ramping up and making Forge better and stronger with each iteration/ generation then the community can do it. Forge 3.0, if done correctly, will allow for everyone to be happy. The programmers can keep their focus on new maps with new visions, while leaving their adoring community to spend countless hours perfecting their remakes until the point that the remakes are identical to the original.

We need to have a blank canvas.
We need to be able to create walls, mountains, and streams from scratch.
We need more color palettes.

Thank you.

A fresh Forge-related topic; very nice.

However, I doubt H4’s Forge will allow the creation of map remakes to the level of quality you’re referring to. I think that level of quality would require dev tools, which I doubt would work on any console. We may get some limited freedom (limited terrain and weather editing, for example), but we’ll never have complete 100% control. For example, even Far Cry 2’s editor doesn’t allow you to create terrain from scratch. It’s a simplified system that lets you generate quick terrain; it’s nothing like creating terrain from scratch in a 3D development package, where you need to create each vertex by hand (no simple clicking and dragging to create terrain there).

The problem first of all is hardware. I seriously doubt the 360, or even likely the next Xbox, will be able to integrate a map editor capable of making maps that are equal in quality to a map made by the actual devs (and not just because the devs are professionals; they also have the tools). 3D development packages generally have very, very high system requirements (game devs are usually creating their games on systems way more powerful than what they will be run on in the end).

The other problem is one of the limited interface of a console compared to a PC. With a console, you’re limited to how many buttons you have on a controller, whereas a keyboard has far more buttons (and thus more control options) over a keyboard, and an analogue stick would never be able to replace a mouse or better yet a drawing tablet for control. Dev tools would simply never work on a console, because the user interfaces are just too complex (unless you want a console controller with hundreds of buttons).

Basically, in order to be given 100% complete freedom over terrain, weather, and objects, you’d have to find some way to condense all of the features of a pro-level 3D package (something like 3D Studio Max or Maya, or whatever tools the devs use) down to a console-friendly interface, and that’s assuming the hardware could even support it. That’s not likely any time soon, if ever.

Such 3D packages generally cost upwards of thousands of dollars, so I doubt anyone would be willing to make a $60 version of one for a console. They also have very steep learning curves. Even if it were possible, it would mean that each map would take months to create (probably more, given that we do it in our freetime, as opposed to it being our full-time job), since making everything from scratch would mean countless hours for each object (whether it’s a tree or a building), crafting all the vertices that make up the 3D models.

I’m not saying all of this to be negative. It’s just that I see some people expecting total and complete creative freedom, and I just don’t think it’s possible, at least not at that level. The devs are always going to be at least a step ahead of us when it comes to the quality of maps they can create.

However, I do think we can be given more freedom in H4’s Forge than what preceded it. The more I think about it, the more I would like to see customizable terrain & weather ala Far Cry 2. Hopefully we’ll have changeable texture skins for objects as well (with different themes; maybe we could even buy DLC to add new texture theme packs).