Ducky's Forge-folio

Psychoduck

Round Objects™
Staff member
Dec 23, 2012
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#1
It seems that these threads are all the rage these days. I've been hesitant to write one myself, due to the sheer amount of time it would take to adequately cover my forging history. In the end, I decided that this would be worth doing, if for no reason other than for me to take a retrospective look at something which I've been doing for a few years now. Hopefully some of you will find this interesting and actually read enough of this for it to be in some way helpful. I'll try to keep everything to-the-point, but there is still a lot to cover.

Part 1: Halo 3
I started forging in Halo 3 before I owned the game. I would just make goofy variants of maps like Guardian and Valhalla, before Foundry was even released. Throughout this write-up, I'm going to be skipping a lot of maps that didn't mark any real sort of milestone, otherwise this would take ages to write.

Catwalks: This was the first true competitive map I made. Built on Foundry, Catwalks was an inversely symmetrical arena map which sported some rather extreme height variation. There were lots of jumps, and the grav lifts that could be acquired on the ground floor were very important. The map was rather open, and the ground floor was quite flat. Much of the map was segmented by distance (keep in mind, this was before the days of the DMR) rather than by line of sight. Sadly, this map never received adequate testing due to me not being active within the community at the time and only playing with friends.

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Such verticality, much broken, wow.

Leaning Tower/Geometric: Leaning Tower was a map with an interesting premise. The map took place within a tower slanted at 45 degrees, allowing players to walk up the walls. from a design standpoint, the map was a nightmare for anything but small FFA games, but it was an interesting premise. King Arthur 11 helped me remake the map as Geometric in what would be my only co-forge in Halo 3. We used ghost-merging to make the map as visually seamless and clean as possible.

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Did anyone order a case of motion sickness?

Desert Fortress and Desolate: These maps were my first forage into BTB forging. Inspired somewhat by maps like Utah Mambo, i set out to create classic style BTB maps on Sandbox. Both maps were, like most forged BTB maps back then, rather flat with structures scattering the main level of Sandbox. These were maps akin to some of the mediocre, flat BTB maps that are attempted today on Forge Island. Still, the warthog was something that had caught my interest ever since playing Standoff for the first time, and this would prove to be an area I would return to quite a lot in the future.

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That's right, I made bad BTB maps before bad BTB maps were cool.

U-Turn: In many ways, U-Turn was probably the best map i made in Halo 3 (that's not saying too much, though). This map set to create a unique playground for vehicles in Sandbox's skybox. The layout was simple, with two adjacent horse shoe tracks for vehicles with bases on the end and an island in the middle. This map came to be the basis for S in Halo: Reach. Despite being a registered member at ForgeHub, i was still not very active within the community and this map did not receive adequate testing as a result.

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It's half of a backwards S!

Heresy: Inspired by the structure that the Halo 2 campaign missions The Arbiter and The Oracle were set on, Heresy was a BTB map built around a large spider-like Forerunner structure. The map attempted to solve the flatness issue which came with building on the main level of Sandbox by breaking up lines of sight and incorporating more verticality. If I remember correctly, i actually got a test on this one with 10 players or so and got some feedback. I never got around to making all the changes that i should have after receiving the feedback, however. There was still some potential here. This map really wanted to be like Noxiw's Multicog.

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This could have actually been cool had I kept with it.

Omega: This was an asymmetrical Sandbox map inspired by the likes of Prismer (which was in turn inspired by Prisoner and Hang 'Em High, i forget who made it). This was the kind of vertical 2v2 map that would become all the rage about a year later in Reach. This was certainly the best use of verticality that any of my maps had yet seen, but the map still had its share of design problems. Still, it was visually the most impressive map of mine thus far, as it used ghost merging to great effect. This was also my first taste of some real feedback on a map, as I submitted the map to ForgeHubs Review Hub. Noxiw, a forger who I had a lot of respect for at the time, gave me some solid feedback.

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Hey, this one doesn't look too bad.

The following maps are less notable, but still interesting.

Awesome Town:
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Awesome town, bad map.

Rig:
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This was a creative use of Blackout if nothing else.

Traxus:
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It's a pun, geddit?

Blacktrack:
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inb4 racism.

Battlebox:
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See, it's a box that you battle in.

Hierarch:
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Why yes, there is a sniper rifle placed atop that sniper tower!

Temple:
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2spooky4me.

This is all i'm sharing from Halo 3. There were loads of other maps that i made, including two racetracks, two or three Guardian/Lockout inspired maps, an Infection map, a few more failed BTB concepts, and numerous bad Foundry maps. None of them were particularly important to my overall story, and I don't remember the details for many of the maps anyway. Halo 3 had given me yet another reason to love the Halo series, and I couldn't wait for Reach. I knew my way around Halo 3's clunky forge rather well, and I was starting to get a bit better at designing. This put me in a pretty cool place for Reach.

In an attempt to pull some meaning out of all of this, I have a few important things to say about my time forging in Halo 3. I had never built up a group of "Halo friends" during this time who were interesting in testing maps. For much of the game's life, I was relatively cut-off from the greater Halo community (which is to say ForgeHub). I never got much testing done on my maps, so my ideas tended to be half-baked, coming to life in maps that no one would ever play. My design knowledge was woefully limited, but I did have a few breakthroughs (particularly with U-Turn). Every map I made in Halo 3 really ended up being a learning experience for my future forge endeavors.

I'll be filling this in with more screenshots and continuing on to Reach soon. Let me know what you guys think, I can always include some different points in these posts if you guys have any ideas. it'll be much easier to provide more detail on things like time spent on a map as we get more recent. This post is merely the foundation, and the Reach post will likely be much more interesting. If you've actually read this entire post, I am impressed. Have a cookie.
 

Psychoduck

Round Objects™
Staff member
Dec 23, 2012
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#7
Part 2: Halo Reach
Reach was really the golden age of forging, not just for me but for the community at large. There's a lot to cover here.

The Early Days (from launch to roughly December 2010)
I started forging in Reach leaving off from where I had been in Halo 3. I was a fairly unknown member at ForgeHub, but I had a few friends to play with. I knew a bit about map design, but not much. I had loads of interesting ideas, and the first few months of Reach largely involved trying these ideas out. Reach's new forge palette took a bit of a toll on my forge style, with the use of the clunky, glass-covered, oddly-shaped objects making most of my maps look quite silly at first. I fell into the habit of using most of these objects as they were intended to be used, which resulted in some clunky geometry on my maps which hadn't been there with halo 3's largely block-based object palette. In short, I had taken a bit of a step backwards with the new Forge.

Viceroy: A reimagination of my Halo 3 map Omega, Viceroy was my first map in Reach. Using feedback I had been given on Omega, I attempted to make Viceroy a better map. Instead, I achieved quite the opposite. The map relied far too heavily on bridges and tight hallways, with some very uninteresting geometry created as a result. The map was also rather larger than the original, which was unnecessary. Still, this map gave me an opportunity to begin to learn the ropes of Reach's forge. The map received effectively no testing, and was quickly forgotten.

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Oracle: Just as Viceroy did, Oracle sought to improve upon one of my Halo 3 maps. Luckily, Oracle was a bit more successful. The idea was to take a structure similar to the one seen in Heresy and build it up off the ground, with falcons replacing warthogs as the primary vehicle. The map again suffered from my tendency to use some of the more awkward forge objects. The geometry was rather clunky, but at least the overall design was better this time around. The map did successfully balance the falcon, which had not yet been done. This map really got me to start thinking more about weapon placement. Each weapon had a purpose, with the sniper rifles, grenade launchers, plasma pistol, and neutral rockets all being placed strategically to counter the vehicles. The map actually received a bit of testing which allowed me to make improvements, and the final product wasn't half bad in comparison to other forge maps at the time. I now played customs fairly regularly with MattKestrel (a friend I had made in Halo 3) and Stevo along with other Hubbers.

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Asteroid Base: This map was actually built before Oracle. However, the original version received little to no testing, so I took the opportunity to actually test it with my new group of customs friends I had made while working on Oracle. The concept was interesting, an all-interior map set within an asteroid space station. Te theme was rather difficult to execute on Forge World, but I managed decently well. This map benefited significantly from testing and again had much more thought put into its layout and weapon placement than my Halo 3 maps had had. There was still some clunky geometry, but I was getting better. The map blended tight spaces with more open ones which, combined with interesting angular geometry, actually made for some fairly interesting encounters. It wasn't great, but I was getting better.

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Focal: Focal was a rather straightforward symmetrical arena map built on Tempest. I had shelved my current project (Cargo Port) to create this map when I saw that the Tempest laser beam could be incorporated into a map. The map had a simple layout, but it wasn't too bad for 2v2 games. The map received a decent amount of testing and got a good bit of praise for incorporating the beam. The map also had much smoother geometry than my previous Reach maps, I was finally getting the hang of the object palette. The map also saw more thought put into weapon placement than my previous maps. I was starting to build up a bit of a reputation on ForgeHub for making decent maps at this point.

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The Cargo Port Days (late winter and spring 2011)
Now that I had gotten my bearings in Reach's forge, I was finally ready to bust out onto the forge scene in full force. I now had a decent amount of friends who I played customs with fairly regularly and I was a somewhat known active member of ForgeHub. I had been in the Testers Guild for a bit now, and was becoming better at testing maps and providing feedback. Don't get me wrong, I still had no idea what the hell I was doing by today's standards, but this was fairly early in Reach's lifespan.

Cargo Port: I began work on Cargo Port before starting on Focal. This was sometime in November of 2010. The concept here was to take an area from campaign and turn it into a multiplayer space. I knew that i couldn't just copy and paste the area from campaign and expect it to play well as a multiplayer map, so I made some fairly clever alterations to the layout while maintaining the same basic geometry. Upon seeing Tempest's forge potential, I shelved the project. A month or two later, I showed what i had built so far to MattKestrel. We decided to revive the project and began working on the map again. The map's layout was about as asymmetrical as it gets, and the map also incorporated more verticality than is often seen in Halo maps. The map supported 4v4 Invasion as well as every other game mode in reach with the exception of Race. At the time, everyone thought it was incredible. I remember testing the map every day after school for over a month. I would host lobbies and all anyone would want to play was Cargo Port. During this time, I came into contact with pretty much every other active member of ForgeHub. The map's popularity was unbelievable, and it did go to our heads a bit. Despite the undreds of hours spent testing the map, it was still so flawed in so many ways, but these flaws were overlooked by everyone. When the map was released, it won ForgeHub Favorites by a landslide and was featured on the site not long after. Everyone thought it was great, and indeed the map had done some very cool things. During testing, I met loads of cool people, notably MockKnizzle who has become quite the bro over the years since. The map introduced some cool risk vs reward mechanics and also started the trend of the inclusion of cranes on forge maps (sorry guys). This also was the first use of the hidden cone, that I had seen, at least. The map had a cool theme, it had interesting gameplay elements, it played Invasion (which no one really understood at the time), but in reality the map really sucked. As people started to realize this as much as six months to a year later (and of course I was one of the last t admit it) I received a lot of flak from better designers than myself. Still, for the time being, I had created something truly special and all eyes were on Matt and I to create the next big thing.

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Download Cargo Port

Javelin Base: This was the first of many failed attempts to follow up to Cargo Port. MattKestrel and I decided to follow the same formula and adapt a campaign space to multiplayer with a focus on Invasion. Of course, there weren't any other campaign spaces that lent themselves to multiplayer adaptation as well as the cargo port from Exodus had. This map, based off of the mining outpost from Tip of the Spear, ended up failing due to how clunky and linear the geometry was. This one wasn't going anywhere.

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Peep Town: One of the many silly things that had come out of Cargo Port was the creation of "The Peeps". The Peeps was this random little exclusive group that i had created which included myself and a few of the friends I had made while testing Cargo Port. We decided that we would have a 1v1 tournament among ourselves (there were six of us). Of course the tournament never happened, but i still made a map for it. Peep Town was a symmetrical circular arena map which was not particularly good. There were some interesting risk vs reward elements going on with weapon placement, and the circular nature of the map made for some interesting encounters. All in all, the map wasn't terrible for 2v2s, but the platform in top mid was just way too controlling. Luckily, this wasn't a map that i spent too much time on.

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Illium: Another attempt to continue Cargo Port's legacy, Illium was a competitive/invasion crossover map set on Tempest. This map was never officially completed, but was in many ways the best map I had yet built. Invasion was still silly on here because I still had no clue what i was doing on that front (I imagine that Able and Yardbird were starting to experiment with the game mode at this point, but no one I had come into contact with at this point knew anything about invasion design, I was falsely marked as "the invasion expert" at the time). Still, the map was far ahead of my previous efforts both in design and aesthetics. At this stage, I was discouraged from making any vehicle-centric maps because Erupt and Longshot (the remnants of The peeps) were primarily 2v2 forgers who didn't like vehicle gameplay. Still, Illium was my first map in Halo Reach to feature warthogs. I had, until this point, more or less forgotten about my love of the warthog that I had found in halo 3, but some small part of me was beginning to gravitate towards BTB. Illium mixed the natural terrain of a section of Tempest with multi-level structures and, despite some long sightlines, played rather nicely as a BTB map compared to the current offering (very, very few people were making BTB maps in Reach at this stage).

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The BTB Experimentation Days (spring and early summer 2011)
Illium had finally re-awoken the part of me that wanted to be a BTB forger. Looking through the ForgeHub featured maps section one day, I came to realize that no one was really making any quality BTB maps and I set out to change that. At this stage, much of the forging fame that I had garnered from creating cargo Port had worn off a bit. People were getting better at designing maps, and those people rightly disapproved of Cargo Port and how much attention it had gotten. Still, I had an easy time getting tests on my maps and still had a good following of people who were interested in the maps I made. I was finally ready to pull my head out of my ass and listen to feedback in order to start improving my forging again. This is exactly how I met Flying Shoe ILR who gave me some well-needed feedback and Cargo Port and quickly became a good friend. This was the first of my two main experimenting phases in Reach, and none of the maps created during this time except for Frontier were ever officially completed.

Frontier: Co-forged with a high school friend, frontier was a classic style BTB map set on the Alaska area of Forge World. The map was often described as mini-Hemorrhage, which was a rather apt description. The map played far better than hemorrhage did, but still suffered from some of the same issues. There was too much open space, and the rolling hills and rocky outcrops weren't enough to segment the map when players spawned with DMRs. Still, this was a fun map for some classic BTB games and made for a good foundation for me to build my BTB experimentation off of.

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Pioneer: This was a massive "Montaska" map, meaning that it incorporated a bridge spanning the distance between Alaska and Montana on Forge World. The map was much more experimental than frontier, and suffered from several issues as a result. The map's geometry was inspired by the homesteads found in Reach's first campaign mission, but the geometry made for some incredibly long sightlines. The curvature of the bridge wasn't enough to segment the map, and it was ultimately scrapped after only one test game. I had plans to make improvements, but Montaska maps have a history of being epic failures. Still, this was another important step.

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Rollcage: I'm not sure how aware I was at the time of the segmentation issues that I had on many of my maps, so I think that it was mostly by chance that I improved on that front with Rollcage. This was an inversely pseudo symmetrical map built in the canyon. The map was essentially divided down the middle with some elbows connecting the two halves of the map along with the connections through the center. Despite the map being divided up into more defined areas, there were still some rather long sightlines. The bases and vehicle garages were also incredibly silly, and the map ultimately was scrapped after a few tests. At this stage, there still still almost no forged BTB maps to look at for reference. This gave me more freedom to experiment with unique concepts, but also meant that it was going to be a while before I made anything really good. I still wasn't thinking enough about things like segmentation, power positions, etc.

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Download Rollcage

Scimitar: Co-forged with Erupt, Scimitar was my take on a sword base style map. My goal for the map was to create a bottom-to-top style One Flag map which functioned similarly to how Sword Base had in the Halo reach beta. As a result, the map ended up playing One Flag rather well, but suffered in other areas. Erupt and I were an odd forger combination. He focused on forging smaller maps for Slayer while I focused on forging larger ones for objective modes. We had plans to rebuild this map with a design that would lend itself better to Slayer, but Erupt soon lost interest.

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Download Scimitar

Roundtown: Looking back on it today, this was arguably my best playing map thus far. Roundtown was another co-forge with Erupt and was much more successful than Scimitar. The map was heavily inspired by Ghost Town, set in an abandoned city with very permeable structures. The map was meant to be another competitive-invasion crossover, but the Invasion setup was quickly scrapped. As a 6v6 map with a neutral ghost, the map actually functioned quite well, however. Sightlines weren't bad, the structures were interesting to fight in, the map had a cool theme, etc. This was a good one at the time, I'm not sure why we never released it. It wasn't long after this that Erupt decided that he didn't like me much and more or less disassociated himself from me, so that may have been why.

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Download Roundtown

That's it for right now. Stay tuned for the last three Reach sections tonight or tomorrow.
 
Last edited:
Jan 20, 2013
953
484
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Ohio
#10
Wow, I give up forging, I realize I really suck at it. Nice work and I love the gradual improvements with every map you created. Carry on the good work
If we were just to look at Duck's new maps, I'd would also be discouraged. However, my belief that persistence is key is reinforced ever more by these forge portfolios. Look how many maps Duck made before he created ones that are "up to par" with what we consider as a good map. Even though there's a lot of intelligence and creativity required to forge, there's also a lot of effort.
 

Skyward Shoe

Platinum in Destiny
Dec 24, 2012
864
988
211
Redmond, Washington
#11
If we were just to look at Duck's new maps, I'd would also be discouraged. However, my belief that persistence is key is reinforced ever more by these forge portfolios. Look how many maps Duck made before he created ones that are "up to par" with what we consider as a good map. Even though there's a lot of intelligence and creativity required to forge, there's also a lot of effort.
Exactly. It takes a lot of gradual improvement to start making high quality map, just like it takes a lot of tried to get good at anything. There are probably 20-30 maps that could have been on this list that were never finished, there were just the best ones or the most prominent ones. The only way to improve is to just keep at it.
 

Psychoduck

Round Objects™
Staff member
Dec 23, 2012
1,593
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#12
The "Summer of BTB" (Summer and Fall 2011)
After experimenting with map designs for a few months, it was time for me to make what would become my first officially completed map since Cargo Port. BTB forging was an area of forging which had, until this point. remained mostly unexplored in Reach. There were very few maps to look at for reference, both in terms of dev maps and Forged ones. This is why the period of experimentation was so important. I was working on a reimagination of U-Turn which was to be set in the hull of a massive ship wehn I really started talking to Shoe. He showed me the pre-forge of what would become Embarcadero one night, leading me to scrap my current project for a few reasons. Luckily a bit of a brain wave hit me a few days later.

S: One night after lying down for bed, I became interested in a certain map idea. The concept was to take the horseshoe layout seen on Sidewinder/Avalanche and U-Turn and effectively double it. I nfantry would have quick routes from the bases to the center while vehicles would have to loop around the long way. There were to be two roads, with cut-throughs strategically placed along them. Some cut-throughs would only be open to infantry, while others would be accessible to warthogs as well. Initially, the center of the map was to be raised up and one road was to be perhaps 0.5 units higher than the other, but I ended up vetoing both of these ideas while building. I knew that I wanted the flags to spawn in front of the bases to leave the bases for safe spawning, I knew that I wanted either a laser of a gravity hammer in the center, and I knew I wanted there to be four warthogs. With all of this decided over the course of fifteen minutes or so, i was ready to begin forging the next day. The original build was rather simplistic with no elevated outposts and no bridge over the center. The idea was to streamline the BTB experience in order to focus entirely on one concept: the interaction between warthogs and infantry. I knew that this design was better than any of my recent efforts, but I still saw it as an experiment and was prepared for the design to fail as my other recent projects ultimately had. Luckily, it didn't. The following two months of testing involved watching the vehicle balance very closely and making very small tweaks to respawn times, clip counters, and placement of anti-vehicle ordnance on the map. Throughout the summer, the map was tested alongside Shoe's Embarcadero. Upon introducing Shoe and Mock, we added Mock's Metropolis to the rotation with plans of releasing all three maps (along with Soul Slasher's map which was never finished) as a map pack. The three of us would get 6v6 lobbies together night after night to test the maps and these months were some of the best times I've ever had playing Halo.

During all of S's testing, Shoe and I also experimented with Invasion designs and I worked on another project with Mock. With the end of the summer approaching, it was almost time for me to begin my first year of college. In a fit of meddlesome overbearingness, my parents made the executive decision that i would not be bringing my Xbox to college. This put quite a damper on my forging, but I was determined to release S before the summer was out. A few days before leaving for school, I contacted several forgers to see about getting any last-minute feedback on S. Everything was quite well balanced (just as it had been on Cargo Port) and I was ready to call the map complete. Frustratingly enough, a few of the forgers I had contacted had some rather important feedback which they hadn't bothered sharing with me until I finally forced it out of them. This is the feedback that led me to rebuild the map almost from scratch; adding the banks on the sides of the roads, the elevated outposts, and the bridge in top mid. Unfortunately, these changes were added to the ma in Google Sketchup for the time being and wouldn't see the light of day for a month or two. This was when i finally realized that balance didn't count for much if the "balance threshold" was in the wrong place. When i finally got my Xbox down to my dorm, I quickly rebuilt the map and resumed testing. This new version was far better than the old one, and after a few weeks of testing the map was finally ready for release.

Before:
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After:

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Download S

Port Authority: At one point during the Summer of BTB, Mock showed me a map he had begun working on. The idea was to combine design elements from his map Metropolis with some of those from S. The result was an asymmetrical urban themed BTB map with an "S" shaped driving circuit. After I contributed a few ideas of my own, the map became a co-forge. The map blended tight indoor combat, wide-open street fights, and vehicle combat together perfectly and had some fun gimmicks like the Headlong-inspired warthog billboard and the stationary warthog. It took a lot of tweaking to get the flag placement just right for One Flag, but the final product was a map that played better than either Metropolis or S ever had. This map set quite the standard to live up to with future BTB designs.

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Download Port Authority

That's the end of another section. It shouldn't be too much longer until the Reach is finished.
 

REMkings

BIOC Leader, Flood Guru
Jan 1, 2013
773
492
220
26
#13
Great write up once again. It's just so interesting to see other forgers getting evolved in the forging scene over time, even more so because it's such a recognizable process.
I still remember your feedback on Deadborough when you were in the Testers Guild. It was very thoughtful and it really helped me fix some issues in the map. Thanks again for the help!
 
Jan 15, 2013
45
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#14
I remember following you since Awesome Town. You have seen much change and it's really cool to be witness to that. Your Reach map Focal inspired me to start making 2v2 maps back then. Thanks for that.
 

Psychoduck

Round Objects™
Staff member
Dec 23, 2012
1,593
1,787
248
25
Greater Seattle Area
#15
Invasion, THFE, and Other Stuff (winter 2011 to November 5th 2012)
Where we left off, I had finally succeeded in creating some very solid BTB maps. I had a new group of forge compatriots, and all was well in forge-ville. What i didn't mention was that Shoe and I had begun experimenting with Invasion in mid-summer. The plan was to create an Elite defense invasion map, and we went through loads of concepts to make this a reality. There were no maps we knew of to use for reference aside from Bungie's invasion maps. Shoe and I had each had our own invasion maps in the past, but we were looking to make something much more serious this time around. The only invasion map that had earned any respect at ForgeHub was Summit which was made by one MetaWaddleDee. This map had several problems and didn't follow the usual blueprint for an invasion map. Unfortunately, there was at this point more or less an embargo on all opinions that disagreed with those of ForgeHub staff or their friends. Speaking out against them was becoming increasingly difficult, and I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the site as a result. One day, after being personally insulted by several staff members and their friends for giving perfectly valid feedback on a map of theirs I became particularly dissatisfied. I began looking for other community forge groups with fewer heads lodged so firmly within rectums.

Around this time, I came into contact with AbleSir Thomas who was a big help with Invasion forging. He explained a few of his theories to Shoe and I and showed us a few different Invasion maps which demonstrated them. One night, Able showed me Oakley's Floodgate (then called The Docks). Oakley, who I'd never had any contact with before joined us and we began talking about a few things. Apparently, Darth Human had been pressuring Oakley to feature Cargo Port on THFE for a few months now. Next, Darth himself joined and told us all about the most amazing new BTB map he had been playing. He wasn't sure who'd made it, but he knew it was called S. One thing led to another, and it was decided that I would try my hand at featuring competitive maps for THFE. With the current state of ForgeHub, this seemed like a great outlet. I knew I wasn't the most qualified person in the world for the job, but no one else we knew of had as varied experience as I did (I could comfortably cover competitive maps for all player counts) and that was a big part of it. I eased myself in with featuring BTB maps expanded to other player counts as I became more comfortable with the position.

Meteora: This was the invasion map that we finally came up with after all of our experimenting. Start to finish, the project took eleven months. For a month of that time I didn't have my Xbox, and much of it wasn't spent very well. Still, this was a long project. We went through a bunch of concepts with goofy names, trying builds in the canyon, on the island, on Montana, on Alaska, etc. Finally, we figured out what we were doing with Able and Oakley's help. The map went through a ton of testing and at least two major rebuilds even after this. Invasion was hard enough to forge for and we were trying to do something decidedly more ambitious than most maps. We more or less had to construct our own terrain, and cutting down on objects to make the map playable in two-player splitscreen was quite a challenge. Sadly, the map was not ready for the first Invasion matchmaking task. We pioneered the Elite defense formula that most of the second wave of Invasion forge maps followed, but a second Invasion task never came. For Shoe and I, creating a great invasion map was a better reward than getting a map in matchmaking so this wasn't too much of a disappointment.

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Download Meteora

Jurassic Apple Jacks: Once Meteora was complete, i began a second round of map experimentation. I hadn't fully begun to feel the strain of focusing more on the forge projects of others than on my own which inevitably came from my position at THFE, but I was still rather uninspired for a while again. I wanted to create an incredibly unique BTB map, but I kept starting on projects which were never fully realized due to various restrictions. Jurassic Apple Jacks was one of these attempts. it was to be a rather large asymmetrical map which incorporated Covenant geometry. Sadly, the terrain i chose to use (the Island and the Shoreline) was getting in the way and my inspiration was rather weak. nothing ever came of this one.

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Download Jurassic Apple Jacks

Ducklands: This was an opportunity for me to use some of the architecture I had created on Jurassic Apple Jacks. I made the map in a single sitting as a joke with a friend. This was a mostly symmetrical minimalist arena with Covenant architecture for smaller player counts. The map used about $2000 budget and was more of a joke than anything. It must have been around this time that i made Full life Consequences with Shoe which was possibly the best troll map of all time.

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Pancake Dressing Waffle Sauce: Several failed BTB concepts later, and I created Waffle Sauce (it was originally called Pancake Dressing, but then I had my traumatizing experience with a Pancake and changed the name). This map was set around a river running through an urban metropolis. The river running through the map made more some interesting movement options, but this map was seriously lacking in segmentation and was far too open. In order to fix this without a bunch of lazy cover I would have had to sacrifice my urban theme, and even then I don't think it would have been worth it.

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Download Waffle Sauce

Bunker Hill: After all of my failed attempts to create a new map, one just sort of showed up out of nowhere. Oakley showed me a cool bunker he had been working on and asked me if I thought we could make a competitive map out of it. We set about creating a very unique asymmetrical map which drew some inspiration from High Ground but was ultimately its own beast. combat was focused in and around the bunker, but the amount of entrances into it made for some very interesting objective play. teams had to be creative and coordinate to an extreme to effectively enter the bunker, taking control of it piece by piece. Defenders were kept on their toes keeping attackers out. The map promoted teamwork in a way that wasn't usually seen while providing teams with tons of options on how to play. This map was incredibly fun and refreshing to design and build, and it became the definitive experience for asymmetrical game modes.

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Download Bunker Hill

That about wraps it up for Reach. Oakley and i did a lot of preparation for Halo 4 with regards to THFE, and I also designed a map prior to Halo 4's release that i would wait until Halo 4's release to Build. I'll cover all of that next time.
 
Jan 29, 2013
195
99
48
#16
I will admit i am impressed that you were so involved forging sandbox ...

especially awesome town... that looks like it was state of the art forging back then...


kudos...
 

Psychoduck

Round Objects™
Staff member
Dec 23, 2012
1,593
1,787
248
25
Greater Seattle Area
#19
Part 3: Halo 4
Prior to Halo 4's release, I was rather skeptical (and with good reason, as it turns out). Things like random drops, Infinity Ordnance, and personal loadouts sounded like a bad move to me from the get-go and I wasn't exactly thrilled by the idea of a company other than Bungie continuing Master Chief's story which was already complete in my eyes. Still, the concept of having a new game to forge for was exciting. Impact looked like a very interesting canvas (I did predict how bad space tubes maps would be and how limiting Erosion's terrain would be, though) and Oakley and I were putting plans in place for when the game shipped. This was the first (and hopefully last) midnight release I ever went to for a game, and after returning home with my copy I immediately began working on some forge videos (oh the joys of being a YouTuber). As soon as i could, though, I began working on my first Halo 4 forge project.

The First Wave (November 6th, 2012 to January 2013)
The organization of the Halo 4 sections is a bit less interesting than that of Reach. This section is basically just the first wave of maps I created in the game.

Panic Station:To say that i began working on my first Halo 4 forge project after the game's release wouldn’t be entirely accurate. I actually designed Panic Station in Google Sketchup before Halo 4 was released. I took a pretty big gamble with doing this, but I couldn't have built the map in Reach's forge anyway. I was counting on Halo 4's forge having fewer limitations than Reach's, and the station corridors turned out to be a big help. As it was, i was lucky not to have framerate issues from forging such a large map on Impact. The idea was to combine concepts from smaller maps into a BTB map. I wanted to make something resembling a room-based 2v2 map on a larger scale with vehicles. This didn't quite happen, but Panic Station ended up being very interesting nonetheless. The map allowed vehicles to go everywhere, giving warthogs at least two ways to go from any given point. The map also incorporated some serious elements of risk vs reward involving the height difference between the upper and lower levels and how players had to drop down in order to grab the rockets and get in cover. The map played CTF and the new Extraction mode very well, and incorporated more verticality and more dynamic vehicle play than any BTB map had before. However, the switch to Halo 4 had thrown me off a bit and the scaling was rather awkward on Panic Station. The map was far larger than it needed to be, and some of the geometry was constructed in odd ways. Still, this map let me learn the ropes of Halo 4's forge, and learn how broken many of the new game elements were while testing.

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View Panic Station's map post

Skydock: My second map project in Halo 4 was a reimagination of Cargo Port. I had already done this in Reach with a map called Exchange (I’ll lump all of these maps that didn’t make the main write-ups into a little follow-up thingy). This time, I changed the layout pretty significantly. The map was still based around a vertical urban setting, and some of Cargo Port’s geometry was ported over but the map was quite different overall. This is a good thing given Cargo Port’s flaws, but Skydock had some problems of its own. Some sightlines were rather long and stale, and the inclusion of the banshee was rather unnecessary. The map attempted to support all gametypes again, and like with Cargo Port suffered for it a bit. Still, the map was solid for One Flag and the setting the map occupied was pretty cool. This concept is one I wouldn’t mind revisiting yet again in the future.

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View Skydock's map post

Explorer: Here was another BTB map on Impact, this one set within an urban setting. The map was large and asymmetrical and incorporated some of Impact’s terrain in interesting ways. One base was built atop a bluff, incorporating a lightpost into a massive overhanging structure. Unfortunately, creating another base to rival this one proved to be very difficult. The map ended up with a layout which wasn’t too different from Panic Station’s. However, this map offered an asymmetrical vehicle setup with a wraith on one side and a rocket hog on the other. Unfortunately, the map’s central structure didn’t work too well and space concerns left me doubtful as to fixing it. The base under the ”lighthouse” also proved to be too dominant in One Flag matches. In the end, this map merely made for another cool experiment.

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Download Explorer here

Mombasa: Around the time I was building Explorer (or perhaps a bit before, I can’t remember), Mock and I started working on a project called “By Seat of Pants-cept”. As the name would suggest, this map didn’t get anywhere. Instead, we made Mombasa. Mock began with a cool plaza hanging off the side of Ravine and I built a cool base nearby. From there, we built an asymmetrical map in the area. The map had some cool elements including the base, a jump, and a curved highway/bridge thingy (which has been shamelessly ripped off in maps such as Xinshu’s Andromeda). However, the map also had a lot of flat “Narnia” space in the center. The map did bring some verticality into the vehicle gameplay (something I have strove to do starting with Panic Station), but the bottom level was pretty bad. It’s a shame too, because the map had a lot of cool elements. Mombasa was inspired by Port Authority, but didn't come close to living up to its inspiration.

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View Mombasa's map post

Conversion and Stuff (January to July 2013)
Among Halo 4’s long list of faults is the complete removal of one-sided objective modes. Shoe had cobbled together a way to make One Flag work, but with auto-pickup and the logistics of hiding one team’s flag to create the mode, it was less than ideal. Oakley and I had become interested in the possibility of creating something Invasion-esque using the Extraction mode shortly after Halo 4’s release. We had begun experimenting with possibilities, with me taking the wheel in terms of designing the mode. Oakley, who’s interest in Halo 4 was quickly waning (and with good reason) quickly lost interest in the project after a number of setbacks. We were hoping to be able to tie objective drops, vehicle pads, and respawn points directly to the currently active extraction site but none of this was possible. We put the project on hold indefinitely. A month or so later, Halo 4’s receding population made me determined to do something to hold people’s interest, so I contacted Shoe about picking up Conversion. Shoe quickly came up with a way to create progressive weapon spawning and player spawning. From there, we just had to simultaneously design a game mode and maps to play it on which were more complicated than anything else in Halo aside from Invasion.

Fast-forward five months to the game mode’s release and it is rather clear that I ultimately failed at what I set out to do with the game mode. The mode did not take off in custom lobbies because it was complicated to play and there were only two maps for it. It did not take off in the forge community because it was incredibly complex to design maps for. Combine this with the small group of people who attempted to complain that Conversion was merely a carbon copy of one-site extraction and that the maps did not make it any different, and you’ll see that this was quite a flop. Still, this project had some highlights and designing an all-new competitive gametype was pretty cool.

Firebase: This was the first of the two Conversion maps Shoe and I built. Simultaneously designing a new game mode and a map to play it on was a challenge, and testing provided interesting results. At times, it was difficult to tell if problems in testing were coming from the map or our game settings, but we pulled through in the end. Firebase managed to use Ravine’s terrain quite well and made for a perfect example of how a smaller Conversion map could play. The rocket ‘hog acted as a mobile support platform, and watching strategies develop within our mode was a joy for Shoe and I. We ended up rebuilding our Charlie objective platform at least three times, but in the end the map turned out rather well.

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View Firebase's map post

Colony: This map was supposed to explore the opposite end of the Conversion spectrum. We began work on this map after Firebase had been in testing for a bit, so it was built upon a more stable foundation. This map offered a larger, more vehicle-friendly experience with the defeders receiving a mantis. Impact gave us more space to work with, allowing us to avoid trying a million ways to cram in a Charlie structure as we had on Firebase. This map was solid, but is certainly lacking in character compared to Firebase.

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View Colony's map post

2: Around the time we were working on Conversion, Shoe and I also set out to create some definitive classic BTB settings. The inclusion of plasma pistols and plasma grenades off spawn fundamentally breaks vehicle balance in Halo, so we wanted to fix that. After creating refined versions of several developer maps to be played with these refined settings with Shoe, I also set out to remake S. The name “2” was chosen because the map is not only a sequel to S, but because several unintelligent people had attempted to claim that a “2” and a backwards “S” were the same thing (if you can’t see why that isn’t the case, turn your brain on). This map was pretty much a piece-for-piece remake, with one side opened up visually to provide for better player orientation.

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View 2's map post

I Com Ober Da Hows: This was my attempt at a Dominion map in Halo 4. Being one of my first maps on Forge Island, I wanted to make sure to avoid the flatness problems which plagued most large Forge Island maps at the time (and still many today). Unfortunately, I didn’t do an adequate job of this because my focus was on other aspects of the map: namely creating a good Dominion experience and balancing the scorpion. The map initially drew some inspiration from Outcast, but turned into a rather uninteresting symmetrical map much to my dismay. Still, there was some interesting geometry, particularly in the Bravo base once it had been rebuilt. However, this was not my best work and I eventually lost interest once Dominion was removed from matchmaking given the game mode’s subsequent decline in popularity.

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Download I Com Ober Da Hows here

That’ll about do it for this section. Stay tuned for one more section.
 

Skyward Shoe

Platinum in Destiny
Dec 24, 2012
864
988
211
Redmond, Washington
#20
Man, we need to play some Conversion again, it's been too long and I'd be interested to play it now that we can look back on it with less bias. Maybe we will have to throw together a lobby of some kind after all.
 
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