Q&A The Head Has Been Slapped

front-page-staff-q&a.png

As some of you have most likely noticed by now, a certain wannabe baldy has been hiding away in isolation for the past few months, waiting for that moment when Halo would be great again, waiting for the moment where all of his motivation and excitement would come rushing back, and that moment is now.

slaphead.png

With all the recent news and awesome content we have witnessed I was just about ready to get back into the swing of Halo but then 343 revealed something that had been buried in my mind this whole time... Forge!
As soon as I saw that Forge reveal everything just clicked for me and I am sure you are all equally as excited. I am still impressed with all of you that pulled through Halo 4 and gave us such an overwhelming amount of fantastic content along the way. For the past couple of months of Halo 4 my motivation to support Halo was being lost and other interests were dragging my attention away from the series on a whole. The Master Chief Collection seems to be blowing everything else out of the water right now and the enthusiasm throughout the community is impossible to ignore. I too am feeling that enthusiasm and it is about time I get more involved with this outstanding community once again.

You may remember quite some time ago that a Q&A took place. You guys provided the Q's however it seems that my A's got lost in the mail. My inactivity led to a few things I want to share with you guys:

- Where the heck have I been?
- Where is that damn Q&A?
- What will I be bringing to HaloCustoms in the near future and beyond?

All of these will be covered throughout this article but without further ado it is about time I finally give you some long overdue answers, you certainly deserve them by now and I can assure you that I don't plan on disappearing from the face of HaloCustoms this time!

  1. Care to explain the Slaphead in your name?
  2. Any future forges we can look forward to from you?
  3. Will you educate me in the art of British insults?
1. As soon as I heard the name I fell in love with it. It may be rather disrespectful to bald people but I found the name rather amusing all the same.

2. I only really finished two maps in Halo 4 and both of them barely manage any more than six players. I have already got the basic design down for a BTB map to compliment them but there is still a lot of work to be done.

3. Only a total dipstick would ask such a question. Don't be a plonker all your life you bloody wally!

1. Why HC, why now, and how long were you here before you were promoted?
2. What's something most foreigners don't know about living in the UK?
3. U wot m8?
1. I had been around on HaloCustoms for about a year before becoming a staff member. As for why I joined HaloCustoms in the first place, I like how the site is managed and how there is a strong connection between the forging community and people that just want to play some customs. The community is just awesome in general. As I say a lot, any community that pulled through Halo 4 and stood strong the whole time must have something pretty good going for them.

2. I have a few interesting facts about the UK:

- The English drink more tea than anyone else in the world.
- Nasty, Ugley, Crackpot, Pratt's Bottom, The Bog, Boghead, Apes Dale, Brown Willy and Cockup Bottom are real places in Britain. (You can find them all on Google Earth)
- Chickens outnumber humans in England.
- Another interesting fact I found was that the shortest war against England was with Zanzibar in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.

3.
U-WOT-M8.jpg


1. When is the appropriate time to use "plonker" in a conversation?
2. From any game, what is your proudest forge to date?
3. y did u steel staff frum me? i desserved that spot ;(
1. The Urban Dictionary helped me out here:

The term plonker started out as a reference to someone who was forever drunk on cheap wine (cheap wine is nicknamed plonk) this person was usualy a homeless person, or poor person.

Today the term plonker is a very light hearted insult. Its not even seen as an insult, its like calling someone a wally. Its in no way ment maliciously. you call someone a plonker when they say or do something stupid.
bob - why didnt my food cook ?
john - you never turned on the oven, you plonker.

2. While I currently find Checkmate more fun to play, I would have to say Cryptic simply because it took four months of idea development to finish whereas the layout for Checkmate was done in a week. I pretty much learned how to forge on Cryptic since the first version was pretty awful compared to the final version. You can see for yourself how much I learnt from start to finish:


Thanks to FighterX72 for this video. He helped me believe in Cryptic and the experience I was attempting to create. I might not have gone further with the map otherwise.


Thanks of course to Duck for this feature as it really helped motivate me towards creating the next map.

3. Sorry about that. I am sure you would make a great orange one day.

1. What was your game you played (being video game)
2. Do you intend on making maps other than slayer small team (CTF, BTB, Oddball)
3. Who or what influenced you to spat your head? (just random, but still curious)
1. Aside from Halo one of my old favorites would have to be Spyro a Hero's Tail. I loved that game!

2. I made a couple of mini games back in Reach, believe it or not, so there is always a chance that I will go outside of just working on core maps. I will probably attempt infection sooner or later.

3. Spitting out my own head would be quite tricky so it would take a great power to influence me to even try.

1. What's your favourite forge block? (Any Game, Any Category)
2. Thoughts on Scottish independence? </3
3. Shaken, or Stirred?
1. Those shiny gold columns from Halo 3's Sandbox made me happy.

2. When people talk politics my mind switches off. Ideally it would be great if the whole world could just work together with no problems whatsoever but I honestly wouldn't have anything intelligent to say on the matter.

3. Shaken of course!

  1. Can you beat Psychoduck in a 1v1?
  2. What kind of Plonker are you?
  3. Will you get the other Oranges to Revolt against the Apples?
1. As long as I get the Banshee.

2. A very tall and skinny one.

3. I have no plans to arrange a revolt as of now.

1. Did you mean to slap your head, or did you want to palm your face?
2. Opinion on Irn Bru and Galaxie bars? (I was recently in the UK and I loved the stuff, but never asked anyone if they liked it)
3. Any forge plans that you are saving for Halo: MCC or Halo 5?
1. Oh slapping my head was very intentional.

2. Never tried Irn Bru but I used to be addicted to Galaxy Bars until I lost a tooth.

3. Always got some weird idea in the back of my head, it will depend on what is possible although from what I have seen the future of Forge is looking very promising indeed.

  1. How long have you been forging for?
  2. What's your favourite on-disc map and gametype to play at once?
  3. Do you lift?
1. I messed around with Forge since Halo 3 but I never took it too seriously until around a year after the release of Reach.

2. That's a tough one. If you are talking about Halo 4 then I can't say but from all Halo's I kind of have an odd favorite which would be Halo CE Team Oddball on Rat Race.

3. I tried once and then sat down again.

1. If you could revive any historical figure, who would it be?
2. Rugby, Football,or Cricket?
3.If you could be reincarnated, what would you be?
1. I would go with Gandhi since he seemed like a cool guy to chill with.

2. Not really massively into any of these. I used to enjoy playing Cricket though. I was never really any good at most sports although I love Squash! Fencing is awesome too.

3. A Sloth. I am one lazy boy.

1. What will you do with your new power?
2. Why isn't the gravity lift working?
3. If you could remove one sort of people (tryhards, 12 year olds, hackers, forgers, casuals, beavers, basically any kind of people who play Halo) from playing Halo. Which sort of people would it be?
1. I will work on fixing the error in your name. Aside from that one of my focuses is to get the good work of less well known forgers noticed. The community makes so many amazing maps and too many of these get far less attention than they deserve.

2. It bloody should be working by now!

3. Those are some nasty categories you mentioned there but everyone knows that the beavers are the real threat.

Hey there, now I got a couple of questions if you don't mine :):

1.Where you excited when you heard that you were joining the Staff crew?
2.Which Halo game are you most likely be forging on in TMCC?
3.In speaking of TMCC, what do you think about the Gungoose?

1. I was excited and honored to have to opportunity back then and I am once again more than ever.

2. Halo 2 Anniversary and I am unlikely to use any of the previous Forge engines after seeing what Halo 2 offers.

3. Awesome is the only word I need to describe the idea as long as we also keep the standard Mongoose.

1. How do you forge 3 v 3 maps without putting hogs on them? I tried once and I failed miserably, ended up with 4 hogs.

2. Give us your best silly walk.

3. What do you enjoy most about forging, what makes you keep wanting to make new maps?
1. I too have tried but the nature of a 3v3 doesn't lend itself too well to vehicles unfortunately although I am trying to work a Ghost into a small map at the moment. I wanted Hogs on Checkmate but it just didn't happen. It supports Mongooses well though in Checkrace.

2. Ah I am glad to see you appreciate this too!


I am afraid I don't have the recording equipment to show my own silly walks but all the best silly walks I know are right there and done better than I probably could.

3. I enjoy the challenge of trying to create unique experiences and finding ways to surprise the player with new and interesting situations to deal with. This is especially challenging in Halo 4. The forging community is constantly evolving and coming out with crazy new ideas. This encourages me to keep up and discover crazy ideas of my own.

  1. Care to explain the x in your name?
  2. How many years' experience have you had in being a sgt?
  3. What kind of heads do you prefer slapping? Bald and slappy, or hairy and gross?
1. Sgt Slaphead was taken and I didn't want a load of random numbers at the end.

2. I have always been a sgt and I always will. Apparently you have to pay Microsoft to go up in the ranks.

3. Bald and slappy just because of the satisfying noise.

1. Do you still believe in 343 Industries ?
2. What do you expect from the HMCC regarding the multiplayer and forge ?
3. What is your *most* favourite and enjoyable competitive map ever ?
1. TMCC is awesome but Halo 5 will be 343's chance to prove that they can bring something new to Halo that works.

2. I expect the multiplayer to respect what makes Halo great and for the Forge to severely improve upon the last which it seems to be doing quite well.

3. I really can't pin down a single favorite but I am a big Damnation fan.

1. What would you want in Halo 5's Multiplayer?
2. Will Destiny top Halo when it releases?
3. What's the craziest kill in Halo that you've ever seen or done?
1. I think it would be great to see the multiplayer evolve beyond what we like about classic Halo but they need to do it in a way that works. I don't want anything too crazy, I just want a balanced multiplayer and some good maps.

2. Had I answered this earlier I may have said yes but now it seems like Halo is on the rise whereas Destiny is in a pretty sad state.

3. I pushed a street cone off a high ledge that hit an extremely low health player and it killed them them giving me a splatter medal. This happened on Countdown back in Halo Reach. Nobody apart from those in the game believe me though.

1. What did it feel like when your member status changed to staff status?
2. What is your favourite non-FPS game?
3. If you could perform a single omnipotent action, but that action's inverse and opposite action also happens alongside it, (Example: If you give yourself an object, you lose an object of equal value) what action would you perform?
1. Orange

2. A racing game I had for the PS2 called Wipeout Fusion. I am not a big fan of racing games but that one was awesome. It had really cool music too.

3.

1. Have you ever considered making Flood maps, minigames, or racetracks? Practically anything other than competitive maps.
2. When the next SvC comes around, can you please not be on the staff side?
3. Where's all my underwear that I left in your house?
1. I made a bulldog map in Reach so anything is possible for the future.

2. Quiet BK!

3. Still on my pillow feeling nice and toasty.

  1. The Halo community is an interesting animal. As someone recently placed in a position to be more involved in it than you may have previously been, what about the community or the franchise in general motivates you to contribute to it
  2. If there was one thing about Halo 4's matchmaking suite that you could change, what would it be and in what way would you change it?
  3. Could you guide us through your map building process from inception to completion? I'm interested to learn what your preferences are in how you go about finding inspiration, pre-planning, building, testing, etc.
1. Well as you know I am a mad forger who thinks he can just send people spiraling through a series of boxes and call that a map done. I had been quite isolated from the greater forging community until about half a year into the lifespan of Halo 4 (at least I think that was when I joined) and I didn't really know anyone else interested in map design until I came across HaloCustoms thanks to one of your videos I believe. Most of my friends had given up on Halo and I wanted to get involved with a community that I could share my interest in forging with. Thanks to HaloCustoms I have met so many talented map designers and just generally awesome people and that is what motivates me to get involved, this community that somehow managed to stand strong throughout the worst of Halo. What amazes me about the forging community is how we all inspire each other, it is a special thing and it inspires me to learn from what has been done and then using what I have learnt from others, create something that is hopefully unique. At heart I am a designer and the creativity of this community always sparks my interest.

2. I would change f*cking everything! But seriously if I was to focus on one aspect it would have been the correct separation of casual and competitive modes. I think the ranked and social format worked well in Halo 3 and I would have pushed for something similar.

3. Oh no I could go on forever until I die on the subject so I may post a thread on this sometime however I will try and summarize my process here. I will use my last two maps as examples to help explain. So firstly I take a good long look at the maps we already know and love and then I try to identify a gap in the list, establish what we have and what is missing. With Cryptic it was a case of identifying the fact that, to my knowledge, there were no solid all interior competitive maps, due to the issues of dynamic lighting, that attempted to carry over that classic CE vibe.

Story time!

As you probably know I love old-school map design and beyond game play, I try to explore how a map creates feeling. This is hard to put into words but when you play a level like The Silent Cartographer, you get feelings that can't quite be explained. There is something special about the atmosphere and the vibe you get when traversing through those ancient interior spaces. Interestingly I was researching ancient architecture at the time for my college project. The bold geometric forms you see in this kind of architecture fascinated me. Most of the shapes are quite simple yet they create a strong impression.
At college I was working on this model at the time:
AAM.gif


This was just a card model covered in plaster that I was still painting at the time. But as you can see I had been exploring that ancient style while getting a little inspired from other places along the way. I couldn't help but steal from some of the beautiful forerunner architecture seen in Halo 3's Sandtrap as it was based on similar styles to what I was researching.

Sandtrap.jpg


OK so now you are seeing how I let my design work and my forging inspire each other but the point is I like to do a bit of research when possible into the architectural theme I am investigating and experimenting with. It just so happened that my college work influenced my map design and vice versa.

Never be happy with your first version though is a lesson I always took seriously. Cryptic went through at least seven major redesigns because it was clear that I still had a lot to learn when I first built it. So my design process starts with digging deep into the heart of what I am trying to create and understanding what I want from the design and then slowly testing the solutions to how I will achieve that goal. I think of a good design as something that can take all the elements of what works and make them effectively coexist in a way that makes sense to us. A simple example of an element of this ancient architecture was the use of bold geometric columns and arches. From my research and investigation into the subject I could identify this as a design element that I liked and had chose to make use of.

Cryptic.jpg


This didn't only serve aesthetic purposes but it tied the map together in a way that made sense to the player and strengthened the connection to the original theme of that ancient forerunner vibe. Once I had the series of archways figured out I could then use them as my focal point for the map and make sure the other rooms maintained the same style. Through the process of designing Cryptic I began exploring the idea of focal points on a map and the connection between them. It is important to give the player points of interest within a space that offer unique purposes from one another whilst also maintaining a consistency that unifies the entire map. After using this horizontal series of arches to tie Cryptic together, I realized I could do the same thing again but with versatility instead. This led to Checkmate.

Now with Checkmate I had been looking at the design of maps from games such as Quake where drop-downs, jumps, teleporters and some of the simple geometry I had explored with Cryptic were all relevant. From investigating maps of this style I found so many maps that surprised me with layouts that were so unique to the typical maps we see in Halo. We often see circular flow and power positions placed directly in the center of a map. The concept of putting the player flow into the form of a spiral interested me but giving players reasons to break this otherwise linear flow to the top was the real challenge.

It pretty much started with a tic-tac-toe grid. Then I filled in the corners and I had the central atrium of a map. Then I started drawing some more pathways and rooms revolving around the atrium and it led to this drawing.
100_3512.JPG


The middle was just a simple square so I just went with the basic shapes and kept that format for all the rooms for the sense of consistency and made sure that everything on the map had relevance to the focal point that was the atrium in the middle. One of the original ideas was to go for a crazy map like Chiron- tl34 that would use many teleporters within a small space but I refined this down to two separate two-way systems. One pair for changing sides and the other pair for changing level. Another important lesson I had learnt about map design is that every feature should have a clear purpose and that every pathway around a map should have a specific reason to be chosen that makes it distinct from choosing another pathway. Only keep the necessary connections. Because of this it was important to me that the teleporters were just as viable as a solid connection on this map.

I don't necessarily have a strict design process but one final lesson I would like to share is that you should never be too precious with your initial ideas. The drawing below would appear to be the scribbles of a careless child (which they sort of are) but it is through those spontaneous drawings and quick ideas that I find original layouts can begin to take shape. We all have our weird ways of coming up with ideas and this is one of mine. Once you have your messy idea then you can refine the details and work on the real layout.

100_3513.JPG


It doesn't get more technical than that!

1. Are you a baldy?
2a. If answer to question one was "Yes", can I fry an egg on your head?
2b. If answer to question one was "No", can I fry an egg on your head anyway?
3a. Would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?
3b. Would you marry a duck named Mary?
1. Not yet but it means I will save a bit of cash since I wont have to change my name when I am tea bagging noobs at the age of 80.

2b. I would rather not have an egg fried on my head thanks. Hairy eggs are overrated.

3a. I would put everything on the line for a chocolate biscuit.
3b. As long as she is a pretty duck.

1) If I made you a new avatar, would you use it?

2) I made you a new avatar, will you use it?



3) Do you think this avatar is more manly than Debbie's?
1. Let me scroll down first...

2. ...OK.

3. Absolutely. Thank you very much!

1. When did you start playing Halo?
2. Do you remember what it was like when you first played halo, if so tell me about it.
3. Do you like cake?
1. My first Halo game was Halo 3 and I started playing it back in 2008.

2. Yes and very well. I was a big COD 4 fan at the time so the campaign was extremely odd to me at first especially when I saw the Grunts. When I first saw a Grunt I was wondering what the hell I had got myself into but I did enjoy the campaign a lot. Now with me being a COD fan at the time I lost it when I fired an entire Assault Rifle magazine at someone for them to not go down. I thought the multiplayer was silly and it just wasn't for me so I went back to COD. Now MW2 came about and I started realizing how the series was just the same cheap sh*t over and over. Halo Reach was announced and I gave Halo another try. As so as I started playing Halo 3 again I got really hooked and have stayed with Halo ever since. It is unfortunate that I never played Halo back in the early days but TMCC should fix that!

3. Depends on the cake. In general though cake answers a lot of problems.

1. What started your influence to forge, and make such damn good maps?
2. Why are you so hosty Slap?
3. In the next SvC, can you stay on the community side LIKE YOU ALWAYS HAVE!
1. I always loved design but also because 90% of on-disc maps sucked after Halo 3. Goes back to old memories of me as a child obsessed with rearranging the furniture in the living room I suppose. As soon as I began playing crazy community maps that manipulated how we experience a game I was very interested in the potential of Forge. I will always enjoy seeing how people react to my maps with both positive and negative responses. Hearing the Simplex/Dispatch fans complain about Checkmate warmed my heart.

2. Because there is no skill in this world. Only lag.

3. We will see what happens although you know I hate being put on a team that is fighting against my hostiest of friends.

1. Why do you blame all of your badness on lag?
2. How do you manage to maintain such a high standard of bk?
3. How did you manage to fix the teleporters on Cryptic?
1. Because every mistake I have ever made in life was clearly the hosts fault.

2. From playing Destiny.

3. They are still broken according to half of the testers.


Now as for what to expect from me in the future:

- Noteworthy Maps: Some will remember that I tried a few front page articles that gave community maps a chance to be in the spotlight. Expect these to return following the release of TMCC and on a regular basis.

- More Forge Contests: This has always been a great way to dig up the best of the communities wide variety of maps.

- Map Feedback: I plan on running more map testing lobbies and getting detailed feedback to the creators of these maps as soon as possible.

Well that just about wraps up this article. I want to apologize for my recent inactivity and for how long I took in getting around to answering those questions. At this point I am quite done with Halo 4 but it looks like this community is getting one hell of a reboot. We are so close to the release of The Master Chief Collection and I can't thank this community enough for being so awesome over the past two years. I am excited to see what you guys do next!
 
Last edited:

Comments