Squally DaBeanz Forge-Folio

Squally DaBeanz

Big Jerk
Jan 9, 2013
Part 1

I'm a little late to the party, but I thought it'd be cool to create a Forge timeline or portfolio (a Forge-Folio, if you will). My "forging career" has been quite the journey, spanning nearly four years now with no sign of slowing down. Well, except for Halo 5 maybe. Because I have such a large number of maps (119 and counting) I'm not going to cover every single one in this post. I will, however, go through the different "eras" of my forging career along with some notable maps from each.

The Beginning: Halo Reach

Like most everyone, I started out simply making "cool stuff" in Forge, not really knowing anything about map design or gameplay. Since I used to build with Legos from the time I was three all the way through my teenage years, aesthetics were, and still are, very important to me. Many of my earliest maps were much more about creating a unique and beautiful environment than a well playing one.

Forerunner, my largest and stupidest map.

Refraction, a cool looking space with very little depth.

Labyrinthian, a large map based on the Skyrim location of the same name.

Just Getting Started: Halo Reach

This pattern of "I like this map because it's cool" continued for a very long time. I didn't know a lot of people that were as invested in Forge as I was, so I had to rely on recruiting random players from matchmaking to test my maps. Over time, I slowly started recognizing patterns in gameplay. What worked and what didn't. What sort of geometry and design choices were most often abused. I began teaching myself how to build better playing maps, how to think more like an actual map designer. Little did I know, there was a whole community of talented and gifted forgers out there with more skill and knowledge than myself.

Dominion, a map inspired by Turf from Halo 2.

Omen, a map that suffered such obvious flaws in hindsight.

Elegance, a map that struggled to live up to the name.

Others Like Me: Halo Reach

After nearly a year of pumping out maps, some began to be noticed by other "nobody" forgers like myself. I began meeting others like me, forgers with no one to share their creations or collaborate with. Each of us had unique styles, and we began to learn from each other, sharing gameplay ideas and reimagining each others maps. We began to better understand what it meant to make a good map, to make something that was balanced and couldn't be abused. We were learning, but we were still disconnected from the majority of the community. We still needed to recruit people from matchmaking to help us test. But sometimes, you get lucky.

Crossfire, a map I reimagined based on a friends design.

Synergy, the map where I started understanding core gameplay concepts.

Cerberus, where I discovered my talent for reimagining existing maps from other forgers or other games entirely.

Deus Ex Machina: Halo Reach

It was amazing luck. I was going through the usual routine of inviting recent players from matchmaking, hoping I could get a lobby together to play some maps, when I get an enthusiastic reply from someone wanting to see what kind of things I've done in Forge. Spades N AZ. I had stumbled upon one of the most well connected people in the Halo community. This guy knew everybody; THFE, the best race and infection forgers, every major forge channel on youtube, professional players, even some developers! I gave him and some of his friends a tour of some of my "best" work, and they gave me advice on how to improve things in each map. It's because of Spades that I got to meet some of the best of the best in the forging community.

Solstice, one of those happy accidents where everything just seemed to work.

Clockwork, predestined to be remade as my first Halo 4 map.

Blindspot, my last hurrah in Reach and another map reimagined from another game.

Squally DaBeanz

Big Jerk
Jan 9, 2013
Part 2

New Game, New People: Halo 4

It didn't take long for things to quickly escalate due to Spades. I guess he liked what he saw in Reach, and said he was going to make sure I made a name for myself in forging. Soon after the Launch of Halo 4, I was introduced to several notable members of the Forging community. Psycho Duck, Flying Shoe, Mocknizzle, Redemption1272, Master Debaytes, Hushed Behemoth, Mr Pokephile, AgentPaperCraft, SaltyKoalaBear, Warholic, and so on. He knew them all, and now I was being invited to test maps with the best of the best. This naturally led to an increased speed at which I learned about map design. Just hearing all these guys talk about each others' maps on such a high level opened my eyes. I began to understand what I was doing wrong the past two years, and made it a goal of mine to improve and study map design. This goal began to be realized with one map in particular.
Stigma, the map that accumulated all the research I had done on map design during Halo 4.

Titan, where I finally started to understand what I was doing wrong with BTB all through Reach.

Atlas, where I started to dive into the intricacies of the spawning system.

Bottled Lightning: Halo 4
Stigma. This name is probably burned into the minds of many of you by now. Never before had I put so much time and effort into perfecting a map. Even now, two years later, I'm still working on the design and perfecting it. This is the map that got my name out there. It got the attention of the more established forgers in the community and got me my first THFE feature, which was a pretty big deal. It also lead to a lot of friendships being made within the forging community, which in turn has taught me even more about map design. Unfortunately, Stigma proved a happy accident. I couldn't recreate its success. Many of my maps proved to be failures, even in my own eyes. I don't know if it was the sudden boost in map design knowledge, or trying to spread too many ideas across too many maps. Whatever it was, something had to change.
Equinox, the next iteration of another map from another game.

Eclipse, my feeble attempt to incorporate a Banshee in a 4V4.

Verdict, yet another design from another game.

New Canvas, New Ideas: Halo 4
The release of Forge Island ended up being one of the best things to happen for my personal style of forging. My desire to make things pretty could finally go hand in hand with all the new knowledge I was gaining on good map design. The Forge Island palette allowed us all to merge pieces in ways that would have looked horrible in any other canvas and experiment with some new designs and shapes. We could think outside of the box that had been established by previous forge styles carried over from Halo Reach. Maps were becoming beautiful. People were making more unique structures than ever. No longer did a good map have to be a bland boxed in arena. Personally, this breathed new life into my imagination and allowed me to focus on the map design itself rather than aesthetics. The quality of maps I was making reached a new high, and I finally achieved the goal so many forgers look toward.
Chronos, where I first realized the potential the Forge Island canvas held.

Warden V2, the streamlined and beautified upgrade to Stigmas little brother.

Inheritor, the map that finally got a place alongside other official maps in the game.

Nowhere To Go But Up: Halo 4
I had finally done it. I got a map into Matchmaking. Not only that, but it was because of a contest. The only other map of mine to be in the top three of a big contest was Stigma, so I knew I was doing something right with Inheritor: research. Stigma and Inheritor are the two maps that I spent a lot of time thinking about before even touching forge. This was the key; having a clear idea of what the map is supposed to be and what it will accomplish with gameplay. After this, I started to slow down the rate at which I produced maps, but that's not saying much compared to most peoples' speed. I started to take my time with most of my designs, to truly understand what needed to be done to make it successful; what it needed to catch peoples' attention and keep them playing. Of course there were flops along the way, and my want to constantly be building something new never truly went away, but now I understood what it took to make a map last longer than just the testing phase.
Oracle, my very first attempt at one of the most commonly imitated design styles.

After nearly two years of small tweaks, Stigma got a major facelift and several areas were redesigned.

Ronin, another first time imitating a design style.

Out Of The Darkness: Halo 2 Anniversary
After two years of the community dying around us, what was left of the Halo players (and Forgers in particular) saw a light at the end of the tunnel: The Master Chief Collection, and with it, a new forge for a better and more balanced sandbox. By now, I had learned enough about gameplay mechanics, balance, and map design to see Halo 4 for what it was: inferior. It was hard to go back to forge when a new (ish) and better game was so close, but the allure of simply building things couldn't be ignored. I started designing and building maps I knew I could look back to and recreate in Halo 2 Anniversary if I really wanted to. I went back and revisited some old designs, and continued to reimagine maps and design styles from other games. Some of the last few maps I made in Halo 4 never got proper testing, and some never saw a single match played on them.
Stockade, the fourth iteration of a design originally brought into Reach from Mass Effect 3.

Overwatch, a map loosely inspired by the ruined structures of Earth in Destiny.

Blindside, yet another reiteration of an old Reach design borrowed from another game.

And here we are. The Master Chief Collection is out, and we're all experimenting with a new forge. Old successes are being brought over, and new possibilities are being explored. I plan on releasing my fair share (maybe a little more) of maps, and can't wait to see what comes out of this growing community.

For a full look at my forging history, check out the video below:
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