Aug 30, 2014

We've moved to!

In anticipation of Halo Master Chief Collection and Halo 5, I have decided to bring all my blogs under a single web site with the domain name

Aug 12, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 21 - Approach Considerations

The invaders' approach to the Tier 1 Objectives should include cover and encouraging choices to the forward position and then to the Objectives themselves. But it also needs to include cover from cross map fire and be free of flanking from the Defender Spawns.

Jun 21, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 20 - Observing the Approach

One of the more interesting features of Invasion is how the Defenders can observe the Invaders' movements off their initial spawns. As mentioned before, Tier 1 is much like a duck shoot where the incentive to move out of the initial Spawn Hive is created by the Defenders' Line Of Sight to those Hives. But it is the elevation that I want to discuss here and how it is used to permit the observation of the Invaders' initial movements to setup for a coordinated defense.

May 3, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 19 - Invasion Maps Are Large

Invasion maps are large out of necessity. There are twelve players total, and they need the necessary space to be treated as 6 individual teams. The space that a map must yield is twice that of a normal map, because a full Game Play occurs in one half of the map for Tier 1 and then the other half of the map for Tiers 2 and 3.

Apr 17, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 18 - Forging Forge Objects

Each Play List Map has Alpha Objectives to the left of Elites and to the right of Spartans, regardless of which Species is Defender. However, contrary to what the forger would expect, the Alpha Objective is always the last of the two Objectives to be forged for any given Tier. And the monikers Alpha Team and Bravo Teams are purely Game Play centric relative to the Objectives, and have no relationship to the forge objects' Spawn Sequence values.

Apr 3, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 17 - Aesthetics

Invasion, a Campaign, is a Story. The Story comes alive against the backdrop created by the Aesthetics - the aggregate of the Artistic Elements of the forge work. Aesthetics are used to draw the Players into the Game Play by creating an engaging atmosphere. A uniform theme, ambiance, and architecture running through out the map is critical to making a believable and immersing Story. And the architectural structures in combination with the Objectives make the progression of the Objectives flow logically to form the premise of the Campaign.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 16 - Respawn Zones

Like any Reach Game Type, the player waiting to respawn can view the game play through switching of camera views. But unlike most Game Types, the selection of camera view has everything to do with where they will spawn next and not just studying the action taking place. The current view of the Respawn Camera is the currently selected respawn location, and this mechanism can be used in interesting ways.

Mar 30, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 15 - Bro Spawning

Bro Spawning is a fundamental Game Element in Invasion, so naturally an Invasion map needs to make effective use of this feature. An Invasion map should promote Bro Spawning with significant value to most any offensive strategy. An Invasion map should reward Invader Teams that regularly use Bro Spawning, and reward Defender Teams that regularly prevent and interefer with Invader Teams trying to utilize Bro Spawning in the Forward Position.

Mar 29, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 14 - Power Weapons

Tier 2 introduces Power Weapons for both Species. Power Weapons do not distract players as much as vehicles can, but they do present risks for Invaders. And Defenders' power weapons can sometimes be located near the Objectives, easily turning them into Secondary Objectives.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 13 - Vehicles

Tier 2 introduces vehicles for both Species. The presence of vehicles can create a distraction for players to deviate from pushing into or defending Territories, or prying the Core from the Defenders' strong hold. And when forged correctly, Defenders' vehicles can represent secondary Objectives for the Invaders.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 12 - Tier 1 Forward Positions

The Forward Position is any area that is significantly forward from the Invaders' Spawns that can be used as an ad-hoc staging area from which to make an offensive push. Invaders pushing the Objectives can fall back to the Forward Position for safety. The Forward Position can be designed to discourage Defenders from pursuing the Invaders lest they abandon and risk losing their Objective. Forward Positions offer a forward spawning zone through the use of Bro Spawning, a forward area in the battle field to recharge their shields in and re-evaluate the battle field conditions from, and a forward staging area from which to await reinforcements.

Mar 28, 2012

Forging Invasion: Lesson 11 - Tier 1 From The Spawn

Tier 1 presents the most Invasion unique game play of all, because it lacks power weapons, relying instead upon the Invader Middle Team outwitting the Defender Middle Team in a Dual Territory Tier. Straight out of the spawn, the Middle Team is fully equipped to operate in their role as the wild card team to help either the Alpha Team or Bravo Team.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 10 - Total Situational Awareness

As we discussed earlier, it is dangerous for a Defender to make a decision - to abandon one Objective to save the other. This is the decision that the Invader wants to force the Defender into making when there is no time to think through the consequences. But how can the Defender know what decision is best?

Forging Invasion: Lesson 9 - Escalating To A Climax

Tier 1 begins a campaign with no vehicles and no power weapons. At best, you tend to see a couple of precision weapons (Needle Rifle, DMR), but that is about it. Tier 1 is essentially a grunt's job of walking the long mile, a duck shoot, an in-your-face CQC melee in the trenches of the Objectives' Zones. It is during Tier 1 that the forger need not worry much about vertical travel, such as Falcon, Banshee, or Jet Packs - walls and barriers do not need to stretch very high to be effective.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 8 - Maintaining Cohesion

Following the discussion from the last lesson, the barriers naturally found within the canvases themselves (e.g., Breakpoint's backbone and gorge, Boneyard's ship, and Spire's rise and crest) bring the concept of a barrier alive to the players. Players intuitively feel the presence of Tier 2 as they run around Tier 1, seeing just enough of it so that they are kept unconsciously aware there is more to the map. The barriers actually build cohesion between Tier 1 and Tier 2.  Their mere presence prepares the players for what is to come next. They in effect foreshadow the other half of the map.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 7 - The Barrier

Both Spire and Boneyard use electronic barriers to prevent players from entering the Tier 2 areas. Breakpoint has a different type of barrier, obviously for variety sake; but the key point to catch here is that it has a barrier - because a barrier is a fundamental Game Element of Invasion.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 6 - One Map

There has always been a running debate as to whether Invasion maps should expand or progress - whether the map should grow in size and retain the original play area, or move across the canvas and effectively play the Round across multiple maps. But the fact is that the map is simply one map and does not expand nor progress. Instead, the Game Experience grows.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 5 - The Core Tier

The Core Tier plays like CTF. But unlike an abstract Flag, the Core actually has Story value and brings the Game alive. In real life, a Flag has no value, and would therefore break cohesion with any campaign. But a Core brings realism to a campaign as a realistic target of interest.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 4 - The Assault Tier

Assault Tiers play differently from Territory Tiers. Instead of dividing the Defenders between two Objectives, the Defenders quite often are more interested in the lone, mobile threat - the Bomb. Once they find it, they camp it until it resets.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 3 - The Territory Tier

For Territory Tiers, the Game Type defines, and the Play List Maps all utilize, both an Alpha Objective and a Bravo Objective. As mentioned in the previous lesson, combined with six Teams, Dual Territory Objectives facilitates for the Invaders' divide and conquer strategies to overcome a superior defensive position with a numerical advantage. The success of this strategy is dependent upon outwitting the Defender Middle Team by getting them to move toward the wrong Objective.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 2 - Fire Teams

Perhaps the most fundamental Element of the Game Type (not the map) is the conflict between the Spartans and Elites - a conflict between Species rather than Teams. Supporting this is another fundamental Element of the Game Type, the Fire Team. Within each Species are three teams known as Fire Teams. Both the Species and the Fire Teams are core constructs of the Game Type which are heavily exploited by the Play List maps.

Forging Invasion: Lesson 1 - Introduction

Invasion is a campaign. Like any campaign, Invasion has phases to its campaign that must be accomplished in linear sequence. The Invasion Play List Maps consistently present a realistic campaign scenairo along three phases of Game Play. Tier 1: the landing of the invasion forces to breach the outer barrier to the enemy strong hold; Tier 2: the breaching of the enemy strong hold to expose the data Core; and Tier 3: the theft of the data Core from the enemy strong hold to a neutral location for friendly extraction. It is a strong Story of a campaign that makes Invasion unique among its peers.

Dec 3, 2011

Conditional Respawn Zones

This article will discuss the conditional elements that turn on and off Respawn Zones in the Reach game play for bomb and flag game types. This is an article that I had been meaning to write for some time, but haven't found much need. There are very few maps that actually use the feature in community forged maps, but that seems to be changing lately.

Nov 29, 2011

Satellite Views

I have begun to put together this collection of high altitude views of some of the canvases. I will add more to this post as I create them (as I need them); and I will add processed images of these snapshots as I make them. You are more than welcome to use these yourself.

Sep 25, 2011

Forging Contrast on Reach

I recently read No More Wrong Turns, an article that discusses how to help players navigate your level with less confusion and errors. I thought about how GodlyPerfection's lessons on level design talked about some of the same things, and then I began to realize that some of the things mentioned can be very difficult on Reach Forge. I got to thinking that I should write a blog post about all of this, but it was when I forged with ToxicJesterVII that I knew it was time.

Sep 12, 2011

Symmetry Settings

When a forger wishes for some objects to appear on the map for only some game types and not others, he has two tools available for his use - the object's SYMMETRY property and the object's GAME TYPE property. This article will explore how these two properties could be leveraged to make optimal spawning of objects.

Sep 11, 2011

Kill Boundary Case Study

So I was recently working on an infection map and getting feedback on it. It was the map that I submitted to the Forgetacular contest some time back. The initial feedback that I received was that there were some areas along the edge of the play area that a human could hide. At first I didn't think this might be the case, save in one or maybe two locations. But to my surprise, from Alaska, there are quite a number of such ledges just below the top of Alaska's ridge lines. The question was, how do I prevent humans from hiding on these spots (to become a survivor)?

Sep 9, 2011

Jet Pack Abuse and Soft Kill Ceilings

Ever since the introduction of armor abilities with Halo: Reach, there has been a steady flow of criticism regarding Bungie's decision to include the jet pack perhaps more than any other armor ability. This article will begin to explore the issues that the jet pack has raised, some exclusively unique among the armor abilities, and what they mean for the forger. We will explore the issues so that you, the forger, can make a more informed decision as to how you want to proceed with your own forge works.

Aug 3, 2011

Working With The Spawn Engine

Quite a bit of information has been provided to forgers by Bungie on how the spawn engine functions, even so much as to explain some of the under the hood mechanics that are involved. And despite many maps that demonstrate sheer talent in design, a number of forgers continue to demonstrate a basic lack of understanding on how the tools for the spawn engine work. And some continue to use the various Respawn Zones (Weak, Anti, and Strong) to work against the spawn engine rather than with it.

Jul 22, 2011

Known Bugs With The Spawn Engine

This article will list known bugs with the spawn engine in Halo: Reach. This article is a complementary article to the Respawn Zone Tutorial and the Respawn Zone Anomalies articles.

Jun 23, 2011

Forging The Forerunner

Some time back, I wrote an article about forging an illusion - how to use perception to hide the blocks behind a theme or structure. But then GodlyPerfection[1] came along with his new map Affinity, and changed my view of how best to use the Forge World palette.

Jun 21, 2011

Tips, Tricks, & Trivia

I came across a thread that had one post with interesting tips & tricks that I wanted to save for myself. But instead of keeping it on my desktop, I thought I would post it here for all of you to enjoy as well. If anyone wants to send me additional ideas to post in this article, I would be glad to look over what you have and include it if it seems unusual enough.

Jun 19, 2011

Coliseum Wall Flooring Issues

(Again Updated!)

If you ever tried to make a floor out of the Coliseum walls, you undoubtedly came across the issue where the walls get off angle slightly when you reload the map in forge or customs. This phenomena is a product of the game engine and cannot be prevented. In this article, I hope to explain the root problem and work around solutions.

Jun 15, 2011

Safe Boundaries and Kill Boundaries

The question arose if a kill boundary could be used as a wall, and if it could be removed during game play. From my answer I thought this was a very good question to explore while discussing how Safe Boundaries and Kill Boundaries are used in forging Reach.

Jun 6, 2011

Designing For Predictability

Predictability is a critical key to any design. If a map requires a specific behavior, then the forger must be capable of guaranteeing that behavior, lest the map eventually break during game play. Predictability is the ability to know what rules apply and what results are guaranteed for each set of circumstances.

Feb 22, 2011

Forging An Illusion

Creating a theme for your map may require creating an illusion from the blocks available in the Forge World palette - an illusion created by bending perception by the way you use those blocks to hide the blocks behind a well known structure.

Respawn Zone Tutorial

With the misinformation about Respawn Zones present in the forging community today, this article is a refreshing look at the Respawn Zone from a simple perspective, based upon the scientific approach of asserting official documentation.

Respawn Points Tutorial

This article will discuss the use of spawn points when forging Reach. It covers both initial spawn points and respawn points, and provides a number of in depth discussions on the topic of how to use spawn points effectively.

Respawn Zone Anomalies

In an earlier article on Respawn Zones, I discussed the Halo: Reach spawn engine model as it was presented to us by Bungie. However, there are some issues that interfere with the published model that the forger must understand so that they are not surprised or confused when they see the spawning behavior appear to break.

Invasion Spawn Tutorial

A look at setting up a spawn system to provide a unique experience with Invasion, to support the story line, to promote team work, and cover the basics of Invasion, Invasion Slayer, and Bro Slayer. (Updated with the Invasion Mini Lessons.)