Back in the Saddle

Has it really been two months since our last update? For shame! We’ll have to get back into the swing of things and correct that. Expect a Late to the Party review of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood soon (TM), as well as the eventual return of Week in Miscellanea and the other stuff you love.

In the meantime, here’s some interesting Halo: Reach news. As we discussed a while back, Bungie won’t be making any more Halo games for the foreseeable future, moving on as they are to a new IP with their new publishing pal, Activision. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t planning to support their swan-song to the Halo series, however – and they’re turning to the community to help them.

First up, the recently-concluded Forgetacular contest, in which players were invited to create maps and submit them for inclusion in Reach‘s official playlists: 3,000 entries later, the winners have been announced and they (along with the top-tier runners-up) will soon be available in matchmaking. A couple of the top entries are below, and you can see all the winners here.

Atonement (CTF)

Abridged (BTB)

On top of that, several of the more involved and active community members have been empowered to seek out new maps and bring them to the attention of Bungie for possible inclusion in future playlist updates. Personally, I think it’s enormously clever of Bungie to leverage the the player base in this way. Forge is a very powerful tool and giving people this kind of incentive is sure to generate all sorts of exciting results.

In related news, the Bungie.net player viewer has finally updated. No longer is your in-game persona represented by a default Noble Six – your individual style is now reflected for all to see. Check out the in-game avatars of some of our O514 regulars:

Tanith 6227

 

Moxidas

  

Dakalos

Molotov 00

 

Aww yeah – we make this look good.

(If you haven’t logged in for a while, do so to update your Bungie.net profile.)

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New Map for Halo Reach: Sky Temple

Tanith’s inspirational Promontory got me thinking about building my own map for Halo: Reach. After a couple of weeks of evenings-and-weekends work, I present my first ever attempt at level design: Sky Temple.

It’s built high on the wall in the Lagoon area of Forge World, right between the two waterfalls. Here’s the layout:

The idea is that it’s a Sangheili temple, built out of the rock face. Two landing platforms accommodate the worshippers, who then make their way along the open plaza, past a pulpit, and through the forest of pillars to the inner sanctum and the altar. That’s where the sacrifices take place.

We played one round of playtesting today with the BBC team. We were 13 players – too many, as I’d designed the map for 4-on-4. I’d like to try it again with fewer people, so we can appreciate how it really works. My next map will have to accommodate more players. Watch your step, too – there are a LOT of places you can fall through. Our one playthrough had 30 deaths by falling. I have to admit, that *was* kind of the idea with this map – be careful or you’ll fall to your death. But that’s possibly too high to be amusing. If it’s annoying I’ll have to do something about that.

The weapons placement is obviously beta – everything needs adjusting.

Other points:
1 – Blue team spawns near a tower with the plasma launcher, Red team spawns near a tower with the focus rifle. All other weapons are placed symmetrically.

2 – The grav hammers are on platforms under the main level, where their names are written.  The platforms are just close enough together that an elite can jump across, if he crouch-jumps and the timing is perfect. Spartans fall to their death.

3 – The sniper rifle spawns ON TOP of the pillar marked on the map. You need to fly there with a jetpack, or use the grav lift on Blue side. It involves some jumping.

4 – The Banshees are crippled on this map by the fact that the sky is finite. I didn’t know this when I started, but players are actually physically restrained from flying much higher than the altitude the banshees spawn at. The map is too high up the cliff, and Banshees can’t actually gain any altitude. It’s a shame, but I might have to remove them.

5 – There are actually THREE grav hammers on this map. One of them is in a secret location that only a person with a jetpack can get out of.

All of your thoughts and comments are most welcome. If everyone could tell me one thing they like and one thing they don’t like, that would be super super useful!

Forge 2.0: Forge Harder

Halo: Reach hits stores on September 14th, and in addition to a new campaign and more of the frantic multiplayer action we’ve come to expect, Bungie is also building on the Forge map editor that they introduced in Halo 3. We here at O514 haven’t done much Forging, but we might just have to give it a try now that there are improved controls and better tools.

 The new Forge isn’t just easier to use; it also includes an expanded palette of parts and pieces for map builders to play with.

 In classic Halo style, there will be a few remakes of old favourites, and Bungie knew just where to start:

 But what do they mean, “outside the canyon”? It turns out that in addition to all the multiplayer maps that will be available for editing, Bungie has also created a truly massive sandbox area for people to build and play in. The canyon represents about 20% of this ForgeWorld.

 The big reveal was at SDCC:

ForgeWorld started out as several distinct and separate areas that were eventually put together to create a single enormous world for people to build and play in. The five original maps have become marquee areas of ForgeWorld, such as the Rock (the island in the background is another marquee area, big enough for “Sidewinder” or “Avalanche”-type maps):

 

 It may not look like much right now, but with a bit of plywood and a fresh coat of paint, I bet we could turn it into something great.

 Look familiar?

Of course, you won’t be limited to only building in the marquee spots. You’ll be able to create maps anywhere you like. Thanks to new tools, you can fix objects in space or ‘phase’ them into each other. Want to channel Tribes and make all your structures float 500 feet in the air? No problem. Would you prefer a series of platforms jutting out of a cliff face? You can do that, too. And unlike “Foundry” and “Sandbox” (the current ‘blank slate’ maps) it’s no longer necessary to carefully box in your play area to keep people from getting to places they shouldn’t be: ForgeWorld allows you to define the boundaries of your map; players that wander out of bounds can either be given 10 seconds to get back to the play area, or be killed outright.

 One of the Bungie guys is trying his hand at ForgeWorld and is chronicling his progress. Check out the evolution of his map, “Riptide” over several days:

The glowing red dudes are spawn points and demonstrate the size of a Spartan on the map.

Maybe this is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to finally recreate some maps of ages past: “Prisoner”, “Boarding Action”, “Hang ‘Em High”?

Prepare your troops for a ground attack.

So, Halo 3 Forge mode + the new Avalanche map + hours of hard work + a love of Star Wars =

That armour's too thick for blasters!

Maximum firepower!

Click here for more screenshots and details on how it came together.