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About Me

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  1. What is Mythic? Mythic is a new Halo 5 playlist which features Battle Rifle starts, with no radar and limited abilities. The Mythic playlist has been a long time in the making. It’s journey to matchmaking was ultimately a collaborative effort between members of the Halo 5 Forge community and members of the 343 Industries sustain team, as they sought to create a fresh, classic style Halo experience. In addition to the new settings, the Mythic playlist features all new maps, built and refined by the community, with support from 343. These brand new arenas have been tailored for the settings, with layouts and aesthetics inspired by Bungie's legacy. Mythic is, in essence, a love letter to the older Halo games. Many, many people have contributed to the making and refining of Mythic Maps and Settings, and ultimately to its implementation into Matchmaking, beginning today. The primary driving forces behind the scenes have been Hex Reapers (the brains behind the settings), Sgt x Slaphead (map design and development lead), and Whos Blaze (343 sustain team advocate). We’re eager to share their thoughts and stories about the Mythic Journey to Matchmaking, so let’s dive right in. Slayer on Frontier Mythic Settings Mythic settings differ greatly from default Halo 5 to the extent that it can almost be considered a different game. Aside from the already mentioned Battle Rifle starts and no radar, there are numerous changes that have been made from what you may expect when loading up a Halo 5 playlist. To learn more about the Mythic settings, we touched base with the man behind them - Hex Reapers. Hex, we know that there have been multiple variants of ‘classic’ settings during Halo 5’s lifetime. Were the Mythic Settings based off of some pre-existing settings? Mythic is the amalgamation of everything that we have learned over the three years of making classic settings inside of Halo 5. After about four separate attempts seen throughout the game’s lifespan (Gold Pro, Old School, Evolved, and Halo 3 Throwback), I think it’s safe to say the biggest challenge is finding the best way to deal with the sandbox. Gold Pro and Evolved buffed the Magnum and reduced the sandbox to a limited number of pick-ups. Old School tuned player movement to reflect the speed of Sprint and the reach of Clamber. Halo 3 Throwback disregarded everything and simply focused on recreating the feel of Halo 3. Unfortunately, each of these methods came with significant drawbacks. Gold Pro and Evolved plant themselves in a niche area where combat is almost always utility versus utility. Forgers have very little to work with when placing pick-ups on their maps. Along with this, the Magnum is the biggest victim to Halo 5’s shot registration and aiming mechanics. Prolonged use of the Magnum in a classic environment made these issues extremely noticeable and caused a lot of frustration among players. Old School seemingly nailed the balance between player empowerment and sandbox variety. However, the weapon tuning Title Update nerfed its starting weapons, the standard Battle Rifle and the Gunfighter Magnum, to a degree that rendered them unusable. Another major downside was how its movement was modified to only work on maps that were designed with Sprint and Clamber in mind. Halo 3 Throwback ignored addressing the sandbox and opted to label itself as a more casual offering. Because of this, obvious issues played out accordingly. The movement was too slow to deal with weapons that were designed around Sprint and Thruster Pack. Taking all of this into account, Slap (Sgt x Slaphead) and I were unsatisfied with what we had available to us. We really wanted to craft a new classic-style experience that addressed a lot of these issues while taking full advantage of Forge. Was your intent to duplicate a type of play from a previous game? Yes and no. Slap and I definitely sought to replicate the feeling of the older titles, but also wanted to include new features that would make Mythic stand out on its own. We initially did not utilize any Spartan Abilities, so I would say it used to play like something along the lines of Halo 2 Anniversary. When taking our settings and sandbox usage into consideration, Mythic is an entirely original experience that will still resonate with many classic fans. Not having to rely on Sprint and Clamber to move around maps is an integral part of the mode’s identity. Our modified Thruster Pack and Stabilizer are not nearly as potent as their vanilla counterparts, but instead become little multipurpose tools in the player’s back pocket. Slayer on Vengeance As has already been mentioned, Mythic settings weren’t made overnight. What kinds of changes were made to the settings over time, and why were those changes implemented? Our base trait adjustments were tuned as testing progressed for a variety of reasons. Most of the stuff we tweaked was small, but added up towards making a noticeable difference. These changes range from vitality recharge speeds to grenade effectiveness. How quickly should a player enter or disengage from fights? How fast should a player be able to use their grenades? Does the explosion radius pair well with our increased movement speeds? While we are on that topic, is the strafe speed fast enough to deal with certain weapons? Is it slow enough to keep close quarters engagements from getting too messy? These are just a few of the questions we constantly had to keep in mind when creating the settings. Two big goals we aimed to accomplish with the settings involved settling on a starting weapon and prioritizing sandbox variety. We opted to design the settings (and maps) around the Halo 2 Battle Rifle. When the standard Battle Rifle received its nerfs, Slap and I were devastated. It held the perfect balance of skill and effectiveness best seen during the days of Old School. The Magnum was our next option, but after using it for so long we had grown to hate it with a passion. The weapon’s inconsistencies drove us to look for something more straightforward. The Halo 2 Battle Rifle became the most logical solution. Despite its infamous ease of use, It proved to be both consistent and strong enough to fight against the rest of the sandbox. Our increased strafe acceleration coupled with the modified Thruster Pack ended up making fights with the Halo 2 Battle Rifle way more interesting than we first thought. With the introduction of Mythic into matchmaking, a lot of new players are going to be introduced to it. What are some of the differences these players should be aware of? Thruster Pack and Stabilizer in Mythic are very different from vanilla Halo 5. The speed and distance of Thruster Pack closely matches that of normal strafing. Rather than acting as the be-all-end-all in the majority of gunfights, players will see themselves using their Thruster Pack more often as a means of mid-air redirection. Stabilizer only lasts about as long as it takes to perfectly four-shot someone with their Battle Rifle. This means players must time their activation more consciously to engage at unconventional angles. Chaining these abilities can help players gain advantages when moving and fighting, though they’re not detrimental to previously established mechanics. It was extremely important for us to return major emphasis to things like strafing and crouch jumping. Thruster Pack and Stabilizer were included as a means of counteracting aspects of the sandbox and adding a little extra depth to traditional gameplay. One of the other differences is the 3-hit melee, which was implemented to address the absurdly high melee lunge and magnetism seen in Halo 5. We felt it was way too easy to double-melee and two-shot-melee players in Mythic. As such, we decided to create a melee system that combines aspects of Halo 2 and 3. It will take three melees or three full bursts followed by a melee to kill a player. King of the Hill on Cryptic Recapping some of the Key differences Mythic, compared to Vanilla Halo 5: Faster Base Movement - Movement speed, strafe acceleration, and jump height are all increased. This increase in base movement speed, combined with traditional map scaling, makes player movement feel fast and responsive. Limited Spartan Abilities - Limited spartan abilities include only thruster pack and stabilize, both re-balanced for the maps and settings. Thruster pack speed and distance is balanced more closely to standard strafing with it's recharge time increased. Stabilize duration is slightly decreased. Sprint and clamber are disabled. 3-Hit Melee System - During the course of testing Mythic settings, it became apparent that Halo 5's melee lunge range is too powerful on classic-scaled maps. A 3-Hit Melee system has been found to work best, preventing cheap panic melees, and bringing more depth to close range engagements. Melee is still an effective too, as combos such as 3 shot beatdown or 1 melee followed by 1 headshot will still end a close quarters fight very quickly. GAME MODES The Mythic Playlist consists of a variety of traditional 4v4 modes, including the returning ‘King of the Hill’. The following modes are compatible with all official Mythic maps: Mythic Ball (Oddball) Mythic Bomb (Assault) Mythic Flag (Capture the Flag) Mythic King (King of the Hill) Mythic Slayer (Slayer) The Mythic Maps A good gameplay experience always requires that the gameplay mechanics, gametypes, and levels all work together in harmony. The map development for Mythic was very much a community effort, with multiple designers contributing to the design and art of the maps, and even more supporting through playtesting and feedback. The Mythic Map pool is the result of repeated iteration and fine tuning. Map List Abyss Cryptic Vengeance Goliath Oracle Frontier All Mythic Arena maps are shown here, in the order of the bulleted list above Slap, designing an entire pack of maps for custom settings sounds like quite an undertaking. What was your general thought process on how to approach this? The initial conversations about Mythic took place over a year ago at this point so It’s certainly been a lengthy process! Each map was built as part of a cohesive vision and I want to talk briefly about the vision guiding Mythic. Our focus had always been about capturing the ‘Halo feels’. What that means exactly will vary from person to person but knowing we also wanted a 4v4 arena experience specifically helped narrow down what Mythic would be. It’s not possible to capture the entirety of Halo multiplayer in just 6 maps but using competitive 4v4 as the focus, we prioritised some of the most beloved arenas from the past as inspiration. Maps like Lockout, Midship, and Warlock immediately stood out and the idea came about that each Mythic map could serve as a call back to several classic maps at once, combining their best elements while having its own unique spin on them. Every map had to serve a specific role as part of a larger map pack which would overall satisfy a range of game modes including the returning King of the Hill. Making the maps distinct yet work as a set meant a cohesive art style. Though Halo 5 Forge is a powerful tool, it’s not always possible to create highly detailed maps without running into performance issues. The Mythic maps therefore take Halo CE and 2 as inspiration with a clean old school art style. I’m curious about how you took this general vision and used it to create specific experiences. Can you give us a short breakdown of each level, and how share how you saw it fitting into Mythic as a whole? Abyss Because of Abyss’ linear nature and deadly middle hallway intended for fast paced action, it provided the perfect conditions for Neutral Bomb Assault, as both the map and mode work well with tug of war style gameplay. Almost every match on this map in testing has been incredibly intense because Abyss leaves little room for flanking and avoiding fights, placing emphasis on team pushes. Cryptic The original version was first released in late 2013 for Halo 4, making the design around 6 years old now. I wanted to remake it since it always proved to be a strong King of the Hill map as each room offers a unique hill location and setup. With KotH returning as our ‘new’ standout gamemode for Mythic, I felt this map would highlight the mode well. Frontier Anyone who has played Lockout will know that matches on it often result in a standoff between the two main towers. I wanted a map of a similar style except with far less camping by adding more danger to the higher levels to keep players moving. The big difference from Lockout is that Frontier uses a third main tower as a neutral power position which encourages movement away from the other two towers. Two teleporters also allow players to quickly cross from one side of the map to the other. All these factors combined make for a free-flowing map where recreating the sometimes stagnant situations found on Lockout become near impossible. Goliath An appropriate name for a map revolving around its large interior atrium. Players familiar with Prisoner from Halo CE will see the inspiration here with Goliath as well as thematic influence from Halo 2’s Colossus. Originally designed by Whos Blaze, my challenge with this latest iteration was to have it ‘slapified’ to fit within the Mythic style. Taking on such a complex map and making the space feel intuitive and readable was the main challenge. Cutting away areas which felt unnecessary and using coloured lighting to highlight key areas helped massively in the end. Oracle 4-way symmetrical arenas filled a special role in Halo CE/2 and have not reappeared much since. With 4v4 arena being the focus for Mythic, it was important to include staple symmetrical arena archetypes from the past to compliment some of the more complex asymmetrical layouts. Halo CE’s Wizard and later Halo 2’s Warlock were fundamental to the competitive experience in each respective game. Derelict/Desolation while not technically a ‘4-way sym’, had a similar arena layout. The goal of Oracle was ultimately to combine elements of both Warlock and Desolation into a new design. Vengeance As mentioned with Oracle, fulfilling staple arena archetypes was important to Mythic and there is perhaps no map more fundamental to the competitive Halo experience than Halo 2’s Midship. It’s seen countless adaptations as well as inspiring Zealot from Halo Reach. Vengeance was the first map made for Mythic as we needed a solid reliable design with which we could test game mode settings and resolve scaling standards. The maps and settings were co-developed and most of that development took place on Vengeance. Mythic Matchmaking The story of Mythic could have ended there...but it didn’t. Of the hundreds or thousands of community made game types, Mythic is one of the very few that has found itself in the rarefied air we call ‘Matchmaking’. How and why did this happen? Whos Blaze from the 343 Sustain Team is here to tell us all about it. Blaze, as you know there are many, many community built custom gametypes. What is it about Mythic that made it stand out from other similar endeavors? The community had been testing iterations of similar gametypes for some time, even before I had joined the 343 Sustain Team and I have enjoyed just about every version. Though, it wasn’t until maybe October of last year that I really started seeing magic spark in the community which showed me that this isn’t just my ideal Halo experience but truly something special. Going back a little bit; for a couple months, I dedicated my Monday mornings to hosting lobbies where we could test community maps and modes in an attempt to bring people together and discover some new awesome content. I would test just about whatever we could find players to support. This included some of the gametypes that eventually became Mythic. As Mythic came together, it was becoming less and less of a struggle to fill lobbies, people were pre-emptively building their own maps to hopefully play with the Mythic settings, and overall, people were excited to jump on and play for hours. Soon after Mondays were renamed to be “Mythic Mondays”. I can’t say for sure when exactly we began pursuing it as an official sustain beat but I’ve been involved on a personal level for a bit over a year now. It’s a pretty blurred line, if I think about it because I’ve pretty much wanted to do a playlist, if I had the opportunity, since the moment it started to come together. Oddball on Goliath Was there an interest internally within 343 to have a more 'classic' playlist? Or was this driven more from the community? There is always a demand for classic style Halo content within the community but that isn’t exactly what drove us to these settings. Luckily, we get a lot of trust as designers; while the appeal of classic may not be as large as the appeal for something like super fiesta within H5’s audience, that trust allows us to explore a lot of different playlist opportunities. And in my opinion, I think it’s good to have a balance of experiences to explore, especially with the game being 4 years in now. With the endless possibilities of H5’s forge, it would be a shame not to try to get a wide range of playlists for returning players to try out. The variety in just the last of 2019 is a great example of that. Since July we’ve added new content to Actionsack and Big Team Super Fiesta, brought 2v2 competitive in to align with our tournaments, a new off-core slayer experience called ODST Slayer, the long awaited return of Ranked Snipers, Husky raid! And now Mythic Arena. I may even be missing some but my point is that it’s neither directly influencing it, but both at the same time. We only want to provide new and exciting content for everyone. I'm curious, were any major changes required to get the playlist into matchmaking? No major changes were made that didn’t involve many in-depth discussions amongst the community developers and us on the sustain team. We ultimately came to an agreement on what we think is best for the scenario for every major change considered. Even when either side felt passionate about their stance, we all recognise that there are pros and cons, and further implications on the goals each person wanted to achieve. One example that I can give which may seem like a very simple task was the name for the settings. We were initially concerned that Mythic may be confusing to some players because of the association with pre-existing playlists like, Mythic Shotty Snipers and Mythic Warzone Firefight, both of which have Mythic in a different context. Early on, before it was being officially considered for an upcoming playlist, we talked about this and what other names might be appropriate for them, if the situation would arise. As you can see, we eventually ended up sticking with Mythic despite these concerns due to the increasing awareness and popularity of the settings within the custom and forging community, among other things. The Mythic Journey Continues The Mythic Playlist is LIVE and waiting for you, so load it up and give it a shot. Interested in creating your own maps for Mythic Settings, or downloading the Maps and Settings to play in Custom Games? Add or look up the gamertag "H5 Mythic" and you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Bookmarks. Or you can use these links to download them directly: Download Maps Download Settings
  2. Sgt Slaphead


    Abyss - Forged by Sgt x Slaphead Recommended Modes - Assault - Capture the Flag - Slayer Static Weapons - Sniper Rifle (x2) - 120s - Plasma Caster (x2) - 180s *Static weapons spawn at regular intervals regardless of when they are picked up. About Abyss During the initial blockout, this map went by the placeholder name ‘Hallway of Death’. The reason for such a blunt approach being that its original design was intended for the Extermination forge contest back in 2017. Extermination is a 4v4 elimination mode where the goal is to wipe out the enemy team in a short space of time, so maps designed for it must be compact and straightforward enough to keep fights fast and minimize hiding. Because of Abyss’ linear nature and deadly middle hallway intended for fast paced action, it later provided the perfect conditions for Neutral Bomb Assault as both the map and mode work well with tug of war style gameplay. Almost every match on this map in testing has been incredibly intense because Abyss leaves little room for flanking and avoiding fights, placing emphasis on team pushes. Forerunner architecture lends itself well to creating a striking hallway with its angular arches, so I stole the shape of the large doorways from Halo CE’s Assault the Control Room and used them as the basis for the map’s geometry. Such a simple layout needed an interesting setting so placing the map underwater with a Halo 2 Delta Halo theme brought a lot more to the space. Map Overview Gameplay Video Action Shots Download Abyss
  3. Sgt Slaphead


    Cryptic - Forged by Sgt x Slaphead Recommended Modes - King of the Hill - Oddball - Slayer Static Weapons - Scattershot - 120s - Railgun - 180s *Static weapons spawn at regular intervals regardless of when they are picked up. About Cryptic Cryptic was built out of an appreciation for the interior forerunner architecture seen in The Silent Cartographer from Halo CE and The Ark from Halo 3. Because I’d just joined the community at the time and was learning so much from others, Cryptic evolved a lot throughout its building process with seven drastically different iterations. It was largely a process of trial and error, testing different room designs and experimenting with how they would fit together. The map finally came together once I decided on the maps defining long sightline framed by its precession of arches. This focal point is what unites the rooms around it, and keeps fights easy to find. The original version was first released in late 2013 for Halo 4 making the design around 6 years old now. I wanted to remake it since it always proved to be a strong King of the Hill map as each room offers a unique hill location and setup. With KotH returning as our ‘new’ standout gamemode for Mythic, I felt this map would highlight the mode well. Map Overview Gameplay Video Action Shots Download Cryptic
  4. Sgt Slaphead


    FRONTIER - Forged by Sgt x Slaphead Recommended Modes - King of the Hill - Oddball - Slayer Static Weapons - Sniper Rifle - 120s - Energy Sword - 180s - Shotgun - 180s *Static weapons spawn at regular intervals regardless of when they are picked up. About Frontier Halo CE Hang ‘Em High meets Halo 2 Lockout is the easiest way to describe Frontier. Frontier is based heavily on my previous map Final Frontier, which used architecture inspired by Hang ‘Em High set in a space environment, influenced by the Halo CE 1.5 map Imminent. Anyone who has played Lockout will know that matches on it often result in a standoff between the two main towers. I wanted a map of a similar style except with far less camping by adding more danger to the higher levels to keep players moving. The big difference from Lockout is that Frontier uses a third main tower as a neutral power position which encourages movement away from the other two towers. Two teleporters also allow players to quickly cross from one side of the map to the other. All these factors combined make for a free-flowing map where recreating the sometimes stagnant situations found on Lockout become near impossible. Risk and reward is very clearly applied as a method of encouraging this flow but nowhere is this more apparent than with the maps central ladder. Climbing the ladder is extremely dangerous however if used successfully players can quickly make it to the top of the map and surprise the enemy team. Players can also fall off the map at any time if not careful, especially on the higher levels where there are less railings. Frontier is a map where nowhere feels safe for too long and players want to stay on their toes, making it best played for intense Oddball matches. Map Overview Gameplay Video Action Shots Download Frontier
  5. Sgt Slaphead


    GOLIATH - Forged by Whos Blaze and Sgt x Slaphead Recommended Modes - King of the Hill - Oddball - Slayer Static Weapons - Binary Rifle - 120s - Rocket Launcher - 180s *Static weapons spawn at regular intervals regardless of when they are picked up. About Goliath An appropriate name for a map revolving around its large interior atrium. Players familiar with Prisoner from Halo CE will see the inspiration here with Goliath as well as thematic influence from Halo 2’s Colossus. Originally designed by Whos Blaze, my challenge with this latest iteration was to have it ‘slapified’ to fit within the Mythic style. Goliath has been the most challenging map for players to learn during testing due to the complex layout with various levels, plenty of verticality, and not too many ways to the top of the map at first glance. Taking on such a complex busy map and making the space feel intuitive and readable was the main challenge. Cutting away areas which felt unnecessary and using coloured lighting to highlight key areas helped massively in the end. Players who appreciate some of the more abstract and asymmetrical designs of Halo CE (like Prisoner and Damnation) which can come with quite a learning curve, will hopefully have a lot of fun learning the intricacies of Goliath. Players can expect to expect to discover plenty of new jumps too over time. This map will play well for a range of modes including KotH, Oddball and Slayer. Map Overview Gameplay Video Action Shots Download Goliath
  6. Sgt Slaphead


    ORACLE - Forged by o S0UL FLAME o, Sgt x Slaphead, Cheapbox v2, Hairy McClairy and Mags Dies Recommended Modes - Assault - Capture the Flag - Slayer Static Weapons - Gravity Hammer - 120s - Shotgun (x2) - 180s *Static weapons spawn at regular intervals regardless of when they are picked up. About Oracle 4-way symmetrical arenas filled a special role in Halo CE/2 and have not reappeared much since. With 4v4 arena being the focus for Mythic, it was important to include staple symmetrical arena archetypes from the past to compliment some of the more complex asymmetrical layouts. Halo CE’s Wizard and later Halo 2’s Warlock were fundamental to the competitive experience in each respective game. Derelict/Desolation while not technically a ‘4-way sym’, had a similar arena layout. The goal of Oracle was ultimately to combine elements of both Warlock and Desolation into a new design. Something I miss most about the early Halo games was the use of alternatives to conventional movement options on maps such as gravity lifts, teleporters, and ladders. Like Warlock, Oracle was a good opportunity to take full advantage of teleporters and gravity lifts as a way of keeping players moving. Rotationally symmetrical maps often present the problem of player orientation. Colour coding is one method of assisting here though done carefully to avoid making the map look like a rainbow. The asymmetrical skybox also goes a long way to helping navigation while making for a very classic ancient forerunner environment. Map Overview Gameplay Video Action Shots Download Oracle
  7. VENGEANCE - Forged by Cheapbox v2 and Sgt x Slaphead Recommended Modes - Capture the Flag - King of the Hill - Slayer Static Weapons - Beam Rifle - 120s - Rocket Launcher - 180s *Static weapons spawn at regular intervals regardless of when they are picked up. About Vengeance Fulfilling staple arena archetypes was important to Mythic and there is perhaps no map more fundamental to the competitive Halo experience than Halo 2’s Midship. It’s seen countless adaptations as well as inspiring Zealot from Halo Reach. Vengeance was the first map made for Mythic as we needed a solid reliable design with which we could test game mode settings and resolve scaling standards. The maps and settings were co-developed and most of that development took place on Vengeance. The layout began with Cheapbox v2 creating a blockout based on the Halo Reach MLG map Nexus. King of the Hill maps were a top priority with it being the returning mode and Nexus was an excellent competitive KotH map for reference. Going off this blockout, Cheap and I adapted the layout into a covenant arena which would pay respects to both Midship and Zealot. Ultimately the map would act as a precedent for all other Mythic maps, setting the standard for quality, gameplay and art style. Vengeance is a highly versatile map supporting essentially all modes. Both CTF and KotH have proved very fun here. It offers something different while hopefully honouring its legacy of competitive style covenant arenas before it. Map Overview Gameplay Video Action Shots Download Vengeance
  8. A work in progress for Halo 5 2v2 competition, nearing completion - this thread will be home to pictures, videos, and concept art as they become available.
  9. After 2 Years of Development in my off time, MAAR DÚN is finally complete, and it is available to play now in Halo 5 Guardians! In the ancient wraith city of MAAR DÚN, an ancient evil slumbers. Only the accursed may enter its gates. If you traverse this realm, you may become a demon yourself. TRAILER DOWNLOAD AND DETAILS AVAILABLE ON MY PORTFOLIO WEBSITE CREDITS J A C O B S T E G M E I E R | LEVEL DESIGNER @Jake Stegmeier | MartianMallCop LEVEL DESIGN | LEVEL SCRIPTING | UX | LIGHTING | ASSET CREATION C H R I S T I A N F I L I P | LIGHTING ARTIST @MultiLockOn LIGHTING | ASSET CREATION W E S T I N K O E S S E L | ASSET MODELER @Westin ASSET CREATION PODCAST COMMENTARY
  10. Tribunal is a 2v2 map that was inspired by map made by a peer of mine, xamplez map "Node to Joy". You can get very creative with the teleporters because of how they interact. There are lots of cool details on the map you can find by exploring around.The art on the map was inspired by a blend of Hispanica culture and TES Morrowind. Huge thank you to @Ryley for forging the beast face in the thumbnail. Huge thank you to @ExTerrestr1al for scripting the power up light sources. You guys are both awesome
  11. Built specifically for Forgehubs H2A 4v4 competition. Space junk aims to empower a well coordinated team of 4 with opportunities to pinch and push the enemy team.Built with CTF in mind, the fastest route between flags is a single catwalk that towers over the map. In order to capture the enemy flag, the carrier will inevitably have to expose themselves to various lines of sight. This allows the enemy team the ability to counter-cap even while their flag is at the enemy teams base.Rockets 3minOS 2minBrute Shot 1min
  12. Last BastionMonuments of Men ~ Design & Art ~ Soldat DuChrist ~ Scripting ~ExTerrestr1al ~ Pick-Ups ~Sniper (1 shot, 2 clips) // 180 seconds, 3 MinutesRockets (1 shot, 1 clip) // 120 seconds, 2 Minutes Damage Boost // 60 seconds ~ Notes ~ Last Bastion is a love letter to a dying community who have quite literally have been the only reason to come back to H5 time and time again. I started making this map back in march, after having played through Dark Souls 1 & 3 I wanted to recreate that grandiose sense of scale and winding paths that make the level design so enticing. This is what created that over-scaled feeling you get when playing the map, while it does not negatively effect the pacing in any way, cross map sight lines you will come to find out have no aim assist. Last Bastion is also noticeably more vertical than my other maps, and puzzle like in the way you navigate the map which is also a result of DS influence, which i would say turned out quite beautifully. The teleporter on the map takes the shape of a lightning strike on the receiving end, this coupled with player momentum create a nice cinematic effect and really make the map I would say. Initially you will find this to be visually noisy, but i promise given enough time you will become de-sensitized to the effect. The lightning strike will kill anyone standing on the receiving platform if someone else lands soon after the previous user, this is by design. The spawns have been rough throughout development, I'll continue to balance and fix any exploits we find along the way but for now they seem to be working pretty well! Both the weapon pads use custom variants of the Sniper & Rocket Launcher which limit 1 shot before your next reload creating a more balanced experience. Both teams spawn nearby each of the pads, this actually creates some very interesting starts as i'll explain. While they are relatively easy to grab uncontested off the initial spawns, it is NOT without consequence. Keeping in mind that time is a commodity, sending one body to the weapon pad off the start may prove unfruitful if the enemy team decides to double rush the home spawn right off the start, which can happen really quickly once you realize how close the initials are. Experiment with different strategies, you will come to find Last Bastion to be one of the best core experiences custom games has to offer
  13. Bloodlet Throne"Let the Bloodletting Begin" ~ Design & Art ~Soldat Du Christ~ Scripting ~ExTerrestr1al ~ Pick-Ups ~ OS // 120 secondsDB // 60 seconds Light rifle // 60 seconds // 0 clips // x2 Splinter // 30 seconds // x2 ~ Respects ~All Glory and praise to the most high God, in the name of the son; Jesus Christ. The grand architect of the universe, and from whom we all derive our artistic, and logistical inspiration from. A huge thanks to @ExTerrestr1al for his perseverance through trial and error. All of which was my fault, lol. He got the scripts right the first time but i'm a dope and starting editing a different file. Thank you brother in Christ! Lots of respect and appreciation to @MultiLockOn, for pioneering the "control the Key" concept. Creating a perfect example of a Key map for all of us to follow after. Here is a link to his map Arcanum The same goes out to @MartianMallCop and @Captain Punch for pioneering the scripting for the game type. Without these talented scripters, this mode may never have been fully realized.
  14. Recently through the mysterious and tenuous connections of social media, I was asked a few questions about the game design of Halo multiplayer. Yes, the first Halo. Combat Evolved. Yes, I know that game came out when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, but there are still a few things about the development process that might be interesting to designers. One question in particular caught my attention: “Was quick-camo intentional?” Paraphrased, I read the question this way: "When the player picks up the Active Camo powerup, they turn invisible. If they shoot while they're invisible, they become visible for a while. But some weapons seem to make the player fade in and then back out of view faster than others. Was that intentional?" The answer is related to one of my Universal Truths of Game Design. The Universal Truths are rules that I have figured out throughout my career in game development. I know they're true, because I have followed these rules and succeeded, and I've ignored them (or just been ignorant of them) and failed. In this case, the answer comes from; UNIVERSAL TRUTH #3: You must create a mental model That means that, as a designer you must create a theoretical model that describes how the systems in the game should act with each other. Game data design and balancing is an incredibly complex task. As anyone who has ever opened up a set of modern game tools knows, there are an overwhelming number of places where a designer can change numbers that can affect how the in-game systems behave. Here’s an example picture of an open game toolset that I grabbed off the web: It’s a pretty typical screenshot of a set of development tools. There are windows that allow the designer to place objects in 3D space, and along the right side of the screen there are a bunch of folders that hold different types of data that you can fiddle with. And adjusting any of the numbers will change what happens in the game. I’ve seen it happen many times, a good game designer is tasked with making the game more fun and, faced with the complexity of that job, gets overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to change to make the gameplay better. At best, a designer stuck in that situation is ineffective. At worst, the game sucks because of them. In my process, I make a mental model of how I think the system should work. It gives me a place to start figuring out what numbers to change, and in what ways I need to change them. From there, I adjust the data values to suit that model. And the more rigorous I am with my mental model, the more confidence I have when I'm adjusting the sea of numbers in front of me. Let me give you an example. As we were working on Halo, the team lead’s first choice was to make the guns work the exact same way in single player and multiplayer. The responsibility for balancing all those numbers had been given to a senior designer on the project, but the general feeling was that his changes were not making the game more fun (see above). I talked things over with Jason Jones (the creative genius at the core of Bungie) and he and I agreed that somebody with more experience in game balance needed to take over the job. Initially, Jason volunteered to handle it all himself. As the man behind the game balance of Myth, and the Marathon series of shooters he was more than capable of the job. But I pointed out that multiplayer would have very different needs for the guns than the single player team. Weapons in the hands of dumb AI bad guys need to provide fun challenges for the player to overcome, but weapons in the hands of a player are a different matter. As a quick demonstration, think about the gunfights in Halo. In most cases, encounters have multiple bad guys shooting at you at one time. Each gun can be adjusted to be a little bit weaker in enemy hands so that player (the hero of the story) doesn't get overwhelmed. But in multiplayer, most decisive fights are one on one. Guns needed to be unique and powerful. I also pointed out that if we just used one set of data, as I was changing the gun data for multiplayer I might be damaging the overall balance of the single player game. Jason agreed, and we decided to "branch" the data and create two versions of the numbers, one for single player and the other for multiplayer. So starting out, I had a handful of guns with some data already attached to them based on the single player game. I had the freedom to change whatever I wanted. All I needed to do was figure out how to make the fighting fun. I needed a roadmap to follow. A mental model. But where to start? Follow this link to read this section of the article: But just making the Halo multiplayer weapons respect their roles in the matrix really wasn’t enough. That’s kind of “first-person shooter design 101.” In a first-person shooter, weapons are the stars of the show. They need to look good, and sound good. They need awesome animations. They need to be effective in their roles and they have to make the player feel powerful and competent. But perhaps most importantly, they need to reward player mastery. To accomplish that, the design needed depth. Universal Truth Number Three (Part 2) I characterize depth as game systems or balance details that are included to enrich the experience of the player, but that are not necessarily explained or documented. They’re meant to be discovered and exploited as players’ expertise with the game grows. There are lots of great examples of what I’m talking about in all types of games, but I will offer up a couple of made-up examples for illustration: Example Game 1 is Wizard Warts, a fantasy role-playing game about a cabal of magical toads set deep in a haunted swamp. Pollywogs evolve into acolytes - able to hop, swim, wear armor and use weapons. But once they grow strong enough in the shallow waters around their home, they can quest deep into the swamp to find and eat one of the legendary magic Dragon-Flies. Four different types of Dragon-Fly swarms live in the swamp: Fire, Ice, Poison/Acid and Love. Once a toad gobbles one of them up, the acolyte evolves into a Toadzard, and can thereafter belch spells powered by the type of bug-dragon they gobbled. It’s important to note that an acolyte toad can only gobble one type of magic Dragon-Fly in their life, and the choice (and the evolution into Toadzard) is irreversible. The swamp is filled with a variety of magical monsters. They are all dangerous and hostile, but we can use the data of the game to add more depth to the gameplay. For example there are Plant type monsters are more vulnerable to Fire magic and take x3 damage from any source with that description, while Undead creatures are immune to Poison spells. Notice that one of the Dragon-Flies has two “type” descriptions – Poison/Acid. I chose to include the "acid" description as part of that spell group because of the depth that I wanted to include in the design. Acquiring spell powers and evolving into a Toadzard would be a big part of the fun in the game. But if the player chooses "poison" spells and finds that they are literally useless against undead monsters, and "poison" was the only type of damage in that spell category, it could leave an entire class of Toadzard useless in some situations. That’s a very un-fun outcome to players who chose to build that type of character, and it might make the game unexpectedly difficult. Consider the example of player who decided to make their Toadzard Poison/Acid and then had to take on a tough mission against Undead bad guys. A player running into that situation might have so much difficulty that they abandon the game, and who could blame them? Dropping some "acid" in helps solve these problems. "Acid" spells could still damage undead, leaving us the freedom to make "poison" spells useless against them. At this point you might reasonably ask; "Why fight so hard to preserve that part of the design at all?" The answer is that there is a lot of potential drama in the design that occasionally makes spells useless. It aggressively forces the player to adapt their comfortable play patterns, and it might encourage players to explore more of the content in the game. Imagine the player who finds themselves in a scary predicament when the spells and strategies that they've previously counted on suddenly stop working entirely. But, as they dig into the fullness of the spell systems they find that there is a way for them to adapt to the game situation without having to start over from the beginning. A less aggressive way to achieve a similar effect would be to extend the Fire example above, and only give the monsters vulnerability to some types of spells. So for example we could include Hate type monsters that were vulnerable to Love magic and Lava type monsters that were vulnerable to Ice magic. Anyone familiar with the Pokemon series of games will recognize this precise design. It doesn't penalize players as harshly as the proposed design above, but it's also not as dramatic in the player's experience. Follow this link to read this section of the article: The interesting, and sometimes wildly frustrating thing about depth in a design is that some players never become aware of the underlying nuances. In fact there are countless examples where depth is built into games, but players don’t understand it or take advantage of it. Multiplayer games suffer the most from this kind of mismatch in player expertise, because the parts of their community that grasp the deeper elements of the design and use them often have a significant advantage over the less-knowledgeable. This can lead to all sorts of hard feelings. (if you’re a League of Legends fan, last hitting creeps should spring immediately to mind) As I mentioned earlier, depth in the game balance can exist without being documented anywhere else. Players will feel the effects as they play and hopefully they’ll pick up on the subtleties and learn how to exploit the design. But for that to work well the design needs to make some kind of intuitive sense to the player. In the Wizard Warts example, the player would glean that Fire is extra dangerous to plants. That's a common trope in games and of course; wood burns. But the underlying logic that "poison" wouldn’t have an effect on the Undead since they don’t have a working nervous system or circulatory system is less obvious, and so might never make sense to the player base. If the game is popular enough, the players will learn how the numbers work and "play around" them, but they're liable to think there's some kind of a bug in the game. So to recap: We need a mental model with an underlying design for depth which is (hopefully) intuitive to the player. Which brings me back to the multiplayer weapons design process for Halo. I’ll explain how it all connects in my next post! Universal Truth Number Three (Part 3) I wanted the Halo weapons to have depth, so I began thinking about all the guns that were in the matrix. I needed to understand what they were, and how they fit into the design. The Human weapons were easy to understand. I’m a Human, and I know what we use guns for. But the weapons used by the aliens of the Covenant were another matter. The easiest place to start would be to simply say that the alien guns were simply analogs to the Human weapons on the matrix. The pistols, assault rifles etc. could be basically the same, only with different visual presentation. Easy, yes. But that seemed like a huge missed opportunity to add depth and richness to the game. So I started thinking why would the Covenant choose these particular weapons in the first place? We (Humans) have guns. And once guns were developed, Humans developed systems to protect people from bullets (bullet proof vests, riot shields etc.) And then in the relentless march of progress, people invented ways to kill other people inside of their body armor (armor piercing bullets etc.) Remember that at the time there wasn't a lot of settled "lore" about the game story. I decided that in my model, Human Spartan armor was created as a desperate response to the Covenant attacks. It had similar functions, like a personal shield, but was based on different technology. So how about the Covenant? There were some notes about the bad guys and their guns, but the honest truth was that the aliens shot light-up bolts of energy because they looked a lot more visually impressive coming towards the player on screen. If the bad guys shot nearly invisible bullets and you couldn't see them coming at you, it would be a total drag every time you died. But just knowing that they were colored lights wasn't going to help me balance my combat data. Clearly they had guns. And they had an equivalent to our body armor – personal energy shields. I could imagine Covenant warriors facing off against enemies across the universe with their plasma weapons blazing. Or more specifically, their Plasma Rifles. As an poor man's analog to the Human pistol, the Plasma Pistol was a pretty dull thing, only useful as a desperation choice for one of the two gun slots you were limited to. I stared at the various data fields in the Halo toolset for quite a while, trying to imagine what to do with the Plasma Pistol to make it cool. And then a question occurred to me: What if the Covenant had to fight an enemy with shields like their own? Or what if they had to fight themselves? They’d need their own armor-piercing capability. In the Halo tools, every projectile had a “shield damage” value. Most were set so that they would damage shields at a rate that matched the damage that their bullets would do to the player's health bar. None of the projectiles were really aggressively balanced against shields. And you know how I feel about data balance in a matrix! I started to experiment with making Plasma Pistol bullets designed to specifically shred shields. It was a snap to make a projectile that blew them off quickly, but then it seemed overpowered to also make those bullets do good levels of “body” damage as well. Then it occurred to me: maybe the shield-shredding effect could be assigned to a different bullet. The one assigned to the secondary fire-mode for the gun – the overcharge. This proved to be very fun. In my early playtests, I'd grab the Plasma Pistol and use the overcharge specifically to blow up the shields on enemies that I ran across. But it was frustrating when I missed the overcharged shot (full disclosure: I am a much better designer than I am a player) So to compensate, I gave the shield-busting projectile a terrifying amount of magnetism so that it would track towards whatever I shot it at. I loved it – I could overcharge the Plasma Pistol and let the shot fly, and it would whip around corners and blast targets, stripping off their shields just as I came running in behind and mowed 'em down! In the short term, I won a lot of playtest games. Unfortunately, once this tactic became known to other players, battles essentially started with “overcharged salvos” of tracking shots whipping across the battlefield. The only thing you could do was hunker down in cover and wait as the first round of supercharged shots came whipping overhead before you started moving. It was interesting to see how these data adjustments changed player behavior during our playtests, but a bunch of auto-tracking missiles wasn’t very true to the spirit of the Halo combat model which rewards player skill, fire and movement. So alas, the “super tracker” overcharged shots had to go. But I did keep some tracking, to help reduce the frustration of a player using the overcharge trick but missing the shot entirely. So my mental model of bullets/armor/armor piercing was working to create fun combat. But what else could it do for the game? Follow this link to read this section of the article: I made one other change under the hood of the Human weapons, which many people don't even realize exists at all. Jason Jones had designed the Human pistol to be the weapon of choice for players at medium/long range. The accuracy, high damage and the limited sniper zoom on the pistol made it a powerful choice for dropping enemies right at the edge of their "AI awareness" bubble, enabling players to pick off one or two targets as the enemies startled into their alert state and then came charging into battle. But it was strong. Damn strong. Frankly, it was too strong for multiplayer. I toyed with damage settings that made the multiplayer pistol weaker than it's single player counterpart. But to be honest, once it was "nerfed" it became a pale shadow of it's single player cousin and using the pistol became a lot less fun. Still, I felt that turning the full power of the pistol loose on the Halo multiplayer "sandbox" unaltered would be opening the door to endless criticism, so I decided to made a subtle change. The single player version of the pistol is "autofire" - meaning that if you hold the trigger down the weapon will repeatedly fire at the precise point you're aiming at. But... that's not true with the multiplayer version of the pistol. I wanted to at least challenge the skill level of players a little more. So the multiplayer version of the Pistol has shot spread. What that means is that, if you simply hold the trigger down and let the pistol automatically fire over and over, each bullet will deviate from the point that you're aiming at. And the amount of deviation will increase with every bullet. I wanted to make it so that players could still use the badass pistol, and it could retain the fun feeling that it had in single the single player game, but only if the player could master the technique of actually pulling the trigger with each individual shot. I still believe that this was a "righteous fix" - meaning that it was justified and the solution was (in my humble opinion) elegant within the restrictions of the established game play. Unfortunately, I lost my nerve a little bit. After all, this was a huge change from the behavior of the single player version of the Pistol. I was worried that players might have to re-train themselves to use the multiplayer version of the gun, which again might lead to huge volumes of outrage from players. So I didn't make the pistol deviate enough while auto-firing. Oh, the shots will spread if you hold the trigger down, but not so much so that you might not still get the head shot that you were aiming at. To this day, not adjusting the spread rate of auto-fire on the multiplayer pistol is one of my regrets. I wasn't aggressive enough! But hey, people still seemed to like the game. One of the things that I’m proudest of is how my mental model for Human and Covenant technologies had profound impacts on the single-player game. For example, the high camouflage ping rate of the Human weapons meant that, even late in the campaign, Human guns were ideal for exposing Covenant bad guys that were cloaked in Active Camouflage shields. A second impact was on the AI development of the game. When the mighty Chris Butcher (AI programmer for Oni and Halo) saw the changes to the Plasma Pistol, it gave him the idea to have the Jackals use the Plasma Pistol in it’s overcharged mode, along with their shields, to greatly differentiate them from the Grunts wielding Plasma Pistols and grenades. I’d like to take a moment here to talk about why I keep using the term “mental model”. You might ask “Shouldn’t the design document cover all of this?” And my answer would be that my design documents have never captured all the details of the game. I find documents valuable in helping me codify my own thinking, and they can occasionally be good tools for communicating a design to the people that are responsible for implementing it. But I've never encountered a game development team that religiously read every document produced by the game designers. And when you're actually knee-deep in making the game, you rarely have the time to fiddle around with keeping all your design documents up-to-date. So my own process has evolved to be very fluid and organic. I start with some clearly stated intentions as to what I want to accomplish with a design, and then start to build it. But along the way, I watch the design evolve and continually evaluate that process. As things happen I’m constantly deciding, “How is thing coming together? Are we going in the right direction, or should we be going another way?” So my paper specs get me started, but beyond that my mental model is constantly evolving. I once read a quote from Tim Schaffer, that I'm going to have to paraphrase heavily because I can't seem to find the original quote. He described the process of making a video game as building a puzzle out of pieces falling in slow motion. But the pieces fall at different speeds and the shape of the puzzle changes, depending on which pieces you get, and which fit. That is a very poetic and accurate description of what my process looks like: I like to toss the pieces up, and every day take a look to see what’s coming together, what’s falling behind and what shape the final form is going to take. (I apologize, but I can't find the quote out there on the web. If you find it please add it to the comments section and I'll edit this post!) So that brings us full circle, back to the one-sentence blurb question that I got via Twitter: was quick camo intentional? Yes; entirely intentional. All of the camouflage behaviors are a product of my mental model for Human and Covenant weapons, and my desire to add depth to the gameplay model for players to discover and exploit. Did it work? As I said before: often players will never know all the details included to add depth to a game. The fact that a person on Twitter was asking about that feature proves that, although my mental model was thorough and effective, it wasn’t so intuitive that players completely understood it, even after a decade of playing the game. But here’s the thing: even if an audience doesn’t understand all of the influences that shape their experience with a work of art, those influences still resonate in their mind at some level. That’s called subtext. When I watch a performance of Cirque du Soleil, I don’t know exactly what’s happening in the overall story of the performance. But I know there is a story. And my experience as an audience member is all the richer for it. There are large sections of the above article omitted here. We strongly recommend you read the articles in full via these links: Follow Hardy Youtube: Twitter: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  15. Buddy Jumps


    S A C R A L "Once home to many this sacral complex now is but vast and forgotten | 4-8 players" Sacral is another project I've completed where I designed the art for a blockout by purely fat. As you can most likely tell by the pictures, Sacral is heavily inspired by Dark Souls. I made the teleporters look like the famous fog gates through which the players are able to traverse the map more quickly. The tone of the map is kind of greyed out, as if something great once happened here, but now it is all forgotten through time. The sun provides hope with its rays over the surrounding mountains and trees, the misty fog acts as a counterpart and darkens the hope. I really like the colour tone of this level. Another designer liked it so much that he even copied it for his map; that, to me, is the biggest compliment someone could give. I could imagine making more designs with these greyed out and cold, yet somewhat earthy colours. I am mostly satisfied with the art being an openly lightened one and therefore having less options budget-wise. The lighting serves its purpose and the continuity to me is very believable. Unfortunately, I was not able to erase a framerate problem when looking into the map from the snipe spawn... I had to remove some cool aesthetical stuff for it to be somewhat bearable. At least, it's only limited to one spot (5x5x5 meters). The architecture is not as brilliant as I would like it to be. That is why some structures like the bridge arches and small door frames are not round. Something, I'd hope for Halo 6 to give us way more efficient options... However, I am pretty proud of the big tower with a small playable spiral staircase within: Now from the visuals onto the core design of the map, a few words from purely fat: And with that, thanks for reading and thanks to anyone, who tested Sacral! Currently, there haven't been many 4v4 playtests. We do know that 2v2 is more methodical and slower paced, so 3v3 might actually be the perfect matchup, who knows? By the way, the pictures are a bit tricky. The fog on this map constantly changes, just so you know. Download Sacral
  16. I want to talk about some problems with player versus player games. In abstract, these problems are difficult to describe, so I want to talk about them through two matches of Halo multiplayer. These are matches where I played with a group of friends against unknown opponents through Halo’s matchmaking system. The specifics of these matches bring the problems of PvP into focus. Derelict Our first match was on “Derelict,” a two-tier octagonal map with a central tower and walkways connecting to an outer ring. Together, the tower and walkways occlude the lower floor into quadrants. The only routes up are through teleports, which deposit the player 45 degrees offset from their entrance, relative to the center. The teleport entrances and exits are in the open, with the best cover being the teleport itself. Green lines indicate teleport paths In the Team Slayer mode where kills equal points, all of the powerups spawn on the top floor. The overshield in the top center is the most important, and also the easiest to contest since the walls around it allow players on the bottom floor to bank grenades. Players who rush the teleports to the top floor have long sightlines down the walkways and past the overshield to the far side. In a coordinated attack, anyone by the overshield is doomed. View from the top floor Most of the player respawn points are on the bottom floor, and Halo’s respawn system favors being near allies rather than away from enemies. This system means that once a team is all on the top floor, dead allies will respawn on the top floor. However, if anyone on a team is on the bottom floor, dead allies are likely to spawn there. With the combination of the item placement and the respawn mechanics, the dominant strategy of “Derelict” is to control the top floor and kill the enemy players as they rush the teleports. Even in Team Slayer, “Derelict” plays like King of the Hill. View View from the bottom floor A final note before I get into the match’s specifics: in Halo, players spawn with an ineffective assault rifle equipped and have to switch to their secondary weapon, the pistol, to have a chance in a fight. This weapon swap means more than a second of vulnerability where the newly-spawned player can’t pressure an attacker to back off. Altogether, these systems turn Team Slayer on “Derelict” into a grinding slog. Match 1 In this specific match on “Derelict,” two of our four opponents dropped from the game within the first minute. By that time, my friends and I had started to control the top floor and the powerups. With only two opponents remaining, this imbalance guaranteed our map control, but this also slowed my team’s score per minute and drew out our inevitable win. After this match, we looked up our opponents’ stats and saw that they were new players with only a few matches of experience. My team’s attempt to efficiently end the match (and get on to something better) may have spoiled Halo 1 to these players. But because there are no easy systems for communicating across teams in Halo, the entire experience was an anonymous cruelty. When players are outnumbered in these situations, some choose to give up the match or “deny” it by preventing the other team from having fun. These players may set the controller down and walk away until the game ends as a passive rejection of the match. Or, in a more active rejection, they may kill their allies, jump off the map, or frag themselves on spawn. This behavior extends the game time, since it slows the rate at which the stronger team can score points, but it is a way for the losing team to control the pace of the game and reject the systems that put them there. Some of the behavior we commonly label toxic play or poor sportsmanship may stem from bad systems design. Even on Halo’s best maps, 4v2 matches are common. In The Master Chief Collection, the queue for Team Slayer lets players vote on a random map from each game in the Halo trilogy, and the original Halo is divisive. Unlike Halo 2 and 3, Halo: CE’s levels are difficult to learn, which adds to the gap between experienced and new players. There are no maps like “Derelict” in Halo’s sequels. As soon as this skill and knowledge difference between the teams becomes apparent, the players on the losing team are stuck in a bad situation. If they leave too many games, they will face an automatic deserter penalty and may also face Xbox Live’s player reporting systems for desertion or bad sportsmanship. As a player, it isn’t clear what many of these systems do. As a designer, it seems to me that the blame should fall on the systems that insisted a 4v2 match play to its end. Even before the match became a 4v2, the blame should fall on the matchmaking instead of the less experienced players. But there’s only so much that matchmaking algorithms can do on a small player population without dividing player parties. In designing these systems, we should ask ourselves who these systems are supposed to serve. Longest After this lopsided victory, our next match went to “Longest”, a small map with two parallel hallways and elevated rooms to either side. There are no rocket launchers or sniper rifles on “Longest”, but the standard grenades and pistols are more effective in the narrow gameplay space. The green lines indicate jump routes between platforms on the second floor At either end of the hallways are a red and blue base, a health pack, and an enclosed ramp up to the second floor. These bases are where the players spawn. Aside from walking the long halls, the only other route is jumping across platforms on the second floor. Up here in the middle there is a powerup on either side, swapping between overshield and active camo after each use. This jump route is outside the lethal range of grenades on the floor below, but Halo’s floaty jump makes these players exposed to pistol fire. A view from blue base down the hall toward red. The overshield is in the top center platform As a result of this structure, the map plays like a teeter-totter of balance swaps. At the start, both teams fight down the long hallways and push toward the far side. The team that wins the fight in the halls can continue the push into the enemy base, and if they kill all of their opponents there, the spawns will swap so that red team now spawns in blue base and blue now spawns in red. This spawn swap resets the fight, giving both teams a chance at a new push. This spawn-swapping property, which emerges as an interaction of the level design and the respawn system, makes “Longest” more forgiving than a map like “Derelict”. Even after a bad start, the losing team on “Longest” has a chance to recover. The limited items also reduce how far ahead the winning team can be. The grenades and health items on the map are only useful to recover to the starting amount. Match 2 Even though “Longest” is a more balanced map, our second match started much like our match on “Derelict”. Within the first minute, two of our opponents left. However, instead of another frustrating victory, I persuaded my teammates to stop shooting and to only use grenades and melee. The grenades are still effective, but players are limited to four, and must then find more grenades in the dangerous midfield, or must charge the enemies in melee combat. There is also friendly-fire, so our over-use of grenades turned the map into a hilarious chaos. Red base, and an exploding grenade, for scale Despite our numbers advantage, by applying our own rule modifier, the opposing team was in the lead until the last few kills at which point we resumed standard play. Our opponents also appeared to join in on our grenade-happy shenanigans, with one of them scoring 10 grenade kills in the match. Most importantly, the opposing players remained active despite the odds, rather than turning to fun-denying strategies. However, across the silent gulf of Xbox Live, I don’t know what our opponents thought, or if they recognized that we had changed the rules of the game to keep it fun. On our side, a few of my teammates saw the rule adaptation as a way to humiliate instead of merely win; perhaps this is how our opponents felt. Without means to communicate across teams, it is unclear whether our rule modification improved the situation. Problems Those with power in a match define its pace. Power here may mean having a numbers advantage, not just being the more skilled group of players. The responsibility falls on the dominant group to adapt their play for everyone’s enjoyment. Reinforcing feedback loops or “snowballing” in level design, where the team that takes the lead can easily maintain it. Rigid PvP systems that don’t match the players’ goals. Rigid multiplayer that lacks communication tools for players to negotiate their goals and restructure the match. Real World PvP With each of these problems, we should compare the situation to real world player versus player games. That is, if we played this matchmade game on the greens of a public park, would we play the game to its end without modification? If not, then this is a case where the rigidity of a digital game’s multiplayer systems does not serve the players’ needs. With these specific examples from Halo, imagine instead if the 8 of us were playing a game of soccer and two players had to leave. In the real world, the game is a servant to its players and will flex to accommodate their needs. The moment two players leave, the remaining 6 can decide if they want to continue with the game, and how they want to restructure the team if so. Or, if the match was more serious, the players can negotiate a rematch for the future. In digital games, the rules are too often inflexible. There aren’t systems in Halo to negotiate a rule change part way through a match. This negotiation could include a mode change, or a team restructure. In both of the 4v2 matches above, Halo could have prompted a vote to make the game free for all, to scramble the teams, to end the match early, or to seek players to join in progress. Existing Solutions? Match join-in-progress. Depending on how quick the enemy team’s numbers can be refilled, and how much of a lead the winning team can take on the map, this solution may come too late to fix the problem. This approach works best where the server persists across multiple matches. Player-controlled voting. In Counter-Strike’s casual servers, players can vote on a map change, on a team scramble, and on player kicking at any point. Most MOBAs let players vote to surrender. However, players can abuse these systems, whether or not the vote-calls are anonymous. Other Solutions? Discourage competitive motivations through the game mode design? Make the match about the kind of play that emerges in player versus player games instead of about winning. Treat PvP as a kind of cooperative play. (Regardless of how the game communicates this, competition is still a motivation players will bring to the game. There may be only so far we can push this solution.) Matchmake by player intent, rather than skill? If a player signals that they don’t care about winning, prioritize matches with others in that category of play-motivation. (Depending on implementation, some players will find ways to abuse this.) Add systems for nonverbal communication between teams? The first step of a negotiation between teams should be to identify and agree upon the problem. Acting upon that problem, such as a calling a vote, should follow from negotiation. Let players leave casual matches without punishment. If too many games are ruined as a result of players leaving, then there are problems in other systems that we need to fix. As a closing note, there is an experiment I want to run. In a game that is otherwise traditional PvP, I want to create an environment with no explicit goals or teams but provide tools and toys for various forms of play. This environment would have bases and flags, hills to be king over, as well as toys like exploding barrels and jump pads. This environment would allow players to set their character color mid-match to form teams. This environment would share voice chat across the entire group, allow the easy formation and dissolution of “team” communication channels, or use proximity-based communication. Better still, this environment would offer tools for players to communicate without relying on the disclosure of voice chat. My hypothesis around this experiment is that we would see healthier player interaction, and we would see player needs rise in priority above competition. Ideally, this experiment would reduce the toxicity that drives players away from PvP gaming. However, it may also be that denying players’ competitive motivations through these systems reduces player engagement and retention. This is an area I hope to investigate further in the future. Thanks for reading! Source: *Note: This article is posted in full on Next Level Design with permission from the author Follow Andrew Website: Twitter: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: .galleria, .galleria-container { height:480px !important }
  17. Can't say I'm 100% committed to this, but I've given some initial thought to a potential 2v2 Map for the Forgehub Contest. We'll see where this leads... Vision Two very different settings combined into one. This is to be an abandoned Alien Exile Island...a prison of sorts. The interior will be stark, lonely, dead. The exterior will be warm, inviting, alive Setting Interior: large, imposing buildings Bare and blocky on the inside Black, with misty white light seeping through from outside Ledges over voids Exterior: Bright, Warm, Alive Limited amount of traversible rolling terrain wrapping around towering building/s Narrative You've awoken to find yourself in a strange abandoned building, made of materials unfamiliar to you. As you look around and catch your bearings, the silence and solitude weigh on you. You glance to the side and notice that your partner in crime is on the floor next to you, just coming to his senses. And then... What's this!?! Two strangely clad figures approach at a steady trot, guns raised - pointed directly. At. You. There will be no avoiding this fight, but it's okay - you and your partner were trained for this, and your instincts are kicking in already. You'll figure out how to get out of this god forsaken place later. For now, let's have some fun! Gameplay Goals Medium paced Focused on Control Point Unique Movement options to overtake controll points? Gravity lines, Teles, Jump Pads, Other Moderate elevations Most or all Pickups found outside Challenges Time - Even 5 months is a tight time frame for me at this point Not familiar enough with the pieces, textures, lighting, spawning, weapon sets, or scaling in H5, which will slow me down. How to blend the two different atmosphere's in a way that's natural and believable Layout To be determined - I only have a very vague idea of what it will be at this point. Reference Images Throwing a bunch of possibly conflicting images in here since I don't know what will work best until I start testing in Forge.
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  18. In a wide-spanning and deeply insightful interview held by our friends at ForgeHub, Hardy Lebel discusses the explicit simplicity in the original CE multiplayer levels and answers questions like "why do your maps suck" and "why does the sandbox and mechanics have to carry your maps?"Though humorous in nature, Hardy answers these questions with a serious and respectful discussion of iterative learning and the essential link between level and game design - he had to learn 3ds Max for the multiplayer portion of the game, and having never modelled in the program before, had to very carefully and explicitly lay out levels that would be both feasible for his level of technical skill, and enjoyable for players within the CE sandbox, which he explains was something akin to a "party game with guns". Hardy was able to implement a solid design process in order to accomplish this goal: game design and level design need to reflect and support each other, like a good marriage. The game mechanics have to be securely in mind - a single, minuscule change to the sandbox can profoundly effect the rest of the game's design! The success and reverberation of Halo: CE throughout the industry should speak volumes for the wisdom of such an approach, so we're grateful to be able to have him on record presenting the reasoning behind his design. Please check out some of Hardy's other work, and give him a follow if you enjoyed the interview.- icyhot Follow HardyYoutube: Follow ForgehubWebsite:
  19. This is my approach to map design, it is not the ultimate view of halo map design, there are many different approaches to take, and this is one of the many that has been shown to work.During the early days of forge I contributed many things to our development and understanding of asymmetrical map design. Some of this work dates back 6 years. All of my post and articles were recently lost when MLG deleted the Halo 3 forge forums post. I am posting a compilation of my work on asymmetrical map design that has been edited and expanded. This post is an accumulation of a large chunk of my knowledge of map design, to which I want to share with the rest of the community.Some of this information is now common knowledge, but I think it is important to have it set and well defined. This also helps newer designers and forgers understand and develop their concept of map design. I hope that this will be of help to new and old forgers alike. It is a long and extensive read, so be ready to set some time aside for this. All together it is 8 full pages on a Microsoft Word document.Thank you and Enjoy,John “Darkling Ninja”Section 1: FlowA. Defining FlowFlow is basically the way in which player(s) move through a map during the course of a game. As stated by Bungie flow is very hard to define and talk about being that it is an abstract concept. Here are two articles from professionals that talk about flow and explain it better then I can.Bungie: Games: Circular FlowA circular flow is a common and great way to create successful flow throughout a map. That does not mean that players should be running around in a circle the entire time they play your map. Instead of thinking about this idea geometrically think of it in terms of conceptual movement. Conceptually a circle is a consistent, easily repeated, and natural pattern of movement.A good analogy for this would be rocks moving around in circulating water. The rocks move around in a circular motion within the water, occasionally they will run into another rock or two. This run in will cause those rocks to be set off course with the circular flow of the water. The rocks might end up moving through the center of the circular flowing water or go outside of it. Even though those rocks where set off course they will eventually be drawn back into that circular movement, flowing around inside the water. This process would repeat itself over and over.Although this might sound odd, think of the rocks as players and the circulated water as the map they are playing on. Players are going to be set off course of your maps flow over and over, your job as the designer is to make sure the player can once again be easily drawn back into the flow of your map.As a designer creating this within your map takes time, thought and testing. When designing a map, you want to make sure that the flow of your map extends to all areas. A majority of the time, the reason why an area on a map is underused is because there is no flow into that area. Paying attention to flow of your map will help contribute to the overall game play of your design.Section 2: ConnectionsA. IntroConnections are basically the way in which a player transitions from one part of the map to another. There are many ways to create connections in your map design. In the end these connections are what determine the flow of your map. There are many different ways to create and use connections. In the end the connections on your map will be its life line. How you use connections will determine whether or not your map plays well.B. Types of Connections and TransitionsThere are many different types of connections and transitions. So I will just list them in a simple way.Types of Connections:1. Hard Connection - Hard connections are basically routes from one place to another that do not involve the player to do anything but move through it. They do not involve jumping, or going out of the way in any fashion, it is just a straight walk from one point to another. Examples of this would be a bridge, floor, ramp ect…2. Soft connections - Soft connections are routes to a location that involves the player actively doing something in order to use. In most scenarios this type of connection involves jumping, thus the term “jump ups”. Lifts and drop downs are also forms of soft connections.3. Direct Connections and Indirect Connections - A direct connection is one that takes a player directly to where they want to go without having to go out of the way to get there. An indirect connection usually involves the player having to go out of their way in order to get to an area. An example of these types of connection would be bottom middle of guardian. If I am bottom middle on guardian and I want to approach Snipe tower I can either take the direction connection through S1 or take the indirect connect through Green and L.4. Controlled and Uncontrolled Connections - Most connections are controlled connections, meaning the player has full control of what they are doing.An uncontrolled connection is a connection that when used a player does not have control over their movement. In Halo there are really only three ways to create uncontrolled connections, and that is a Lift, Teleporters and drop down. In all three cases the player does not have control of what they are doing while they use the connection.C. Designing ConnectionsEach type of connection has its own advantages and disadvantages. Balancing out these advantages and disadvantages is very important. Halo 3 Construct is a good example of connection usage. The lifts are direct, soft, uncontrolled connections. The speed of the lifts allows the player to quickly reach the top most powerful part of the map. In return the player cannot control themselves until after they have used this connection, making it a risky connection to use.Players also have the option of taking the gold ramps up to open street, this is an indirect, hard, controlled connection. The ramps allow a safer transition to the top then the lifts, but the amount of time it takes gives the enemy team a chance to set up.The ramps up to sword room give the player a third option of approach creating a direct, soft, controlled connection. A player must go out of there way, and do something just to use this, but it results in a direct path to the top of the map and a possible flank.Putting to much emphasis on one type of connection can make it over powered or useless. Making a route to indirect can make it take so long to use that its pointless to give the other that much time to set up, so by they time you get there you just get destroyed. Having a route be direct can result it the route being over powered and over used, restricted the flow of your map to that section.As one can see designing the connections on your map can be a real pain, and take a lot of thought, but it is a vital part of your design.Section 3: VerticalityA. Intro to VerticalityVerticality, one of the hardest things to pull off right, but important in every map design except for a griff ball court. Many terms and phrases are used to describe verticality, “height variation or changes”. “Different Levels”, we all have a term or way to describe this. The ubiquitous nature of verticality shows its importance to map design. Without verticality all you have is a flat map like most griff ball courts. For most forgers verticality is a wall that we all must climb over in our development as designers.This section on verticality explored the properties, and usage of verticality in map design. Many new forgers do not take proper consideration into the vertical space that their map occupies. A map can have the same width and depth of the original guardian, but the vertical height of the map can make it 5 times larger then guardian. Realizing this, the application and usage of verticality in your design has a huge impact on your map.B. Properties and Functions of VerticalityThis section is short and sweet, I am just going to list some of the main properties or functions that verticality can have. If I miss some, please comment and I will do my best to add them in.1. Dynamic and Versatile - Verticality creates dynamic and versatile game play in a map. The height variations prevent stale and repetitive game play.2. Divisions - Verticality creates divisions between the difference levels of your map. This can be for better or for worse. Divisions can be used to promote movement and create dynamic game play. They can also cause your map to be sectioned off and disconnected. You can prevent this from happening by proper use of connections.3. Advantages - Verticality can create advantages for players. Verticality can provide control over a fight, superior angles, height advantage, Cover and many other things.4. Disadvantages - Verticality can also create disadvantages for players. Being high up and out in the open can result in a player becoming an easy target or a swift death.5. Flow - Verticality has a clear impact on the flow of the map. Instinctively players will travel to the highest point of the map, thus verticality can make the lower part of your maps underused or even ignored.C. Usage and Application of VerticalityThe primary concern when using vertically is how you make the connections from one level to the other. Making sure there is adequate and balanced connections is what will make or break the verticality on your map. A player should be able to move from varies level changes smoothly. A good way to create this is using Drop Downs and Lifts. Lifts and drop downs allow for instantaneous vertical movement up and down. In the best map throughout the halo series lifts and drops downs are common place. Wizard, Pirate, Midship, Lockout, Foundation, Ivory Tower, Construct, Guardian, The Pit, Narrows all had lifts and drop downs.Making sure there is also a diversity of all the connections that balance out with one and other is key in creating successful vertically. In order to make sure the lower portions of your map are used, a good trick is to give them an ample supply of connections that are greater then their higher up adversaries. When designing the vertically make sure to take everything into account.Section 4: Asymmetrical Map DesignA. An Intro to Pie MethodNow after all that reading we finally get to the bread and butter, Asymmetrical Map Design. There are multiple ways to approach Asymmetrical Map Design. Asymmetrical Maps are maps that are inherently are not balanced. Thus when creating an asymmetrical map you are creating an unbalanced map. That does not mean the map will not work, that means that you have to find a way to create a form of balance or asymmetrical balance. This does not mean making the two uneven sides equal in power, that usually results in standoffish game play.Pie method is a layout that Bungie was very fond of using in their maps. I am sure they have a more technical name for it, but until they tell us what it is pie method will do. I posted pie method 6 years ago as a way to layout out a functioning asymmetrical map. This was during a time when forgers where struggling to find a way to create a proper asymmetrical design and find a way to make asymmetry work.Note that pie method is not the only way to layout an asymmetrical map, but for those who want to learn how to design asymmetrical maps or better their asymmetrical design it is a successful ad easy to use template.B. TerminologyControl points: Control points are areas on the map that offer rewards for controlling. The rewards can range from controlling other areas of the map to shooting angles, power weapons and/or connections.Dominate control points: This refers to the parts of the map that have the most power or rewardsSecondary Control points: These parts of the map are usually checked by one of the dominate control points on the map, and are controlled by the team in control of the dominate control point that checks it.Checks: Checks refer to areas on the map that counter another area of the map, or put them into check.C. Pie MethodPie method lays out 4 sections of the map, dividing it into two dominate areas, which both have control over a different secondary control point on the map. Pie Method Layout:• Red is the most dominate control point, the most powerful area of the map• Blue is the sub-dominate control point, the second most powerful area on the map.• The shooting angles on Red allow it to check Green, making it Green Red’s secondary control point.• The shooting angles on Blue allow it to check Gold, making it Gold Blue’s secondary control point.• Red checks both Green and Blue, and has a slight advantage on Gold but not enough to check or control Gold.• Blue checks both Gold and Red, and has a slight advantage in Green but not enough to check or control Green• Green and Gold check each otherExample:A team’s objective is to control the Dominate Control Point, due to the fact that it offers the best rewards and advantages to control.Red team will be in control of The dominate point, while blue team is in control of the Sub-dominate control point. Blues teams objective is to take control of the dominate control point, While Red teams objective will be to keep control of the dominate point.By being in control of a dominate control point, a team also controls a secondary control point that is not as powerful as a primary control point, but allows players to move about the map more, and have more shooting angles.As players fight for control of the different areas of the map the flow around it shifting control of different areas, and flowing around the map like a circle. You can easily shift up where the control points are on the map, making Gold dominate and Blue a secondary, or do the same with Red and Green or both.D. Power weapons and Balance"Your map should not support your power weapons, Your power weapons should support your Map." - Darkling NInjaBasically what this quote means is that an area of your map should not be designed around a power weapon. The power weapons that are placed on your map should reinforce the structure and flow of your map. No area on your map should rely on power weapon support to function properly. The best way to avoid doing this in a design is to not even think about power weapons on your map until after it has been completely forged.I personally do not even begin to place or think about power weapons until after I have placed the spawns and set up all game types. This is so that I can gear the spawns and game types in the way that will play best with the structure of my maps. The power weapons go last, because they allow me to place weapons that reinforce not just my maps geometry but also every game type and player spawn.When balancing out the many different areas on your map, you do not need to rely on power weapon spawns to create flow and movement. Instead use Flow, connections and verticality to strengthen the core of your map design. Flow, connections and verticality will give you more then enough ways to balance out your asymmetrical map. Instead of relying on gimmicks like power weapons use your knowledge and tools as a designer to create harmony within your map.That doesn't mean that a map is not good if it has an area that relies on a power weapon to function properly. My personal opinion is to avoid it though.E. ConclusionPie method can be seen in multiple asymmetrical maps throughout the Halo series, including Chill out, Hang'em High, Lockout, Guardian, Prisoner, Headlong, Damnation, and Ivory Tower.Pie method is not the only way to approach and design an asymmetrical map, but it is a reliable and easy method that works. For those of you just starting off or veterans who are struggling with an asymmetrical map design, Pie Method can be a valuable asset.For those trying to learn asymmetrical map design, creating a map using pie method can teach you a lot about making an asymmetrical map. It can be a great tool that will help you understand and learn how to make successful asymmetrical maps.I hope You all enjoyed the read!Source:
  20. In this article, which was originally a 2-part series, Jaime offers his view on balancing resources in games. The goal is to create a fair and enjoyable environment for players. Perception is Reality Jaime's perspective is that the actual measurable's don't matter when it comes to balance. All that matters is the perspective of the player/s. If something is balanced on paper, but the community views it as unbalanced, you have yourself a balance problem. The Tooth Fairy is Overpowered Taking the 'perception equals reality' concept to another level, Jaime suggests we re-evaluate our own perspective on 'overpowered' items. Perhaps game designers very often take the wrong approach by seeking to nerf powerful items in an attempt to create a balanced experience? Too Powerful, or All-Powerful? Continuing in the same line of thought, we dive deeper into the discussion of how to solve balance issues. Jaime's feeling is that items often become unbalanced not because of poor planning, but because of poor execution...they're use has extended beyond it's intended role. So how do go about re-adjusting these items? Tank Beats Everything Is perfect balance ideal? Perhaps not... Jaime feels that it's sometime beneficial to give players a temporary 'reward', which give them a sense of great power, alleviating the feeling that they must always perform at their peak, and 'cleansing their palate', so to speak. In a Corner What to do when an overpowered item doesn't fit into any of the categories listed so far? What if there's an actual (rather than just a perceived) imbalance, there's no obvious way of limiting the items use, and it doesn't really fit as a temporary 'intentionally overpowered' item? What other options do we have? Jaime uses Halo's Needler as his case study. Sources: JaimeWebsite: