Angry Robot

Forge and Foundry

I spent a good couple hours messing around with Foundry yesterday and I have to say: that shit is fun. And empowering, and makes you really appreciate level designers.

I started with a low wall through the centre of the map, and a whole heapload of man cannons (men cannon?) that could fire people over the wall, thinking of a team slayer match where the teams spawn on either sides of the wall. But given my propensity for climbing and jumping gameplay, it was only a matter of time before I had added some high points on either side and then of course you need the means to get up there… But then you need some cover or the maps become snipey deathtraps. A couple hours go by, and lo and behold the map is transformed into a jumpin’ platformer. I haven’t gotten to weapon placement, and I want to liberally sprinkle exploding barrels everywhere before it’s done, but this shit is pretty time consuming.

At this point I’d wager I’ve spent more time in the Forge than in multiplayer matchmaking. I’ve two other creations to my name, a simple exploding barrel-heavy version of Guardian, and a vehicle combat version of Valhalla based on a custom game we used to play in Halo 2, “Smashy Smashy”. What’s notable is that the slightest adjustment can completely transform a map, so heaping plasma cores all over Guardian changes the gameplay from the usual run n’ gun to a situation where the overriding consideration is your proximity to one of many exploding barrels. So having the blank canvas of Foundry really blows that process up many times over. Like so many plasma cores (aaah, runaway metaphor!).

I’ve mentioned a couple times on the podcast that I didn’t consider Halo 3 “Game of the Year” material, basically because it’s a big high budget space opera, and you don’t give Star Wars the Oscar for best picture. But games are different yada yada, and a lot of the strength of Halo 3 lies not in its story but in the support materials, like Forge, the “Saved Films” feature and the new And their strength is in the way they give power to the player – you know, that hideous phrase “user-generated content” that has been sweeping the web. Halo 3.0 is the Web 2.0 of video games, allowing people to actually make things with it, and that has got to amount to something. Give a man a game and he plays for a day, but teach a man to spawn exploding barrels over man cannons every ten seconds… something something.

2 comments on "Forge and Foundry"

  1. Nadine says:

    So the modding community for PC peeps has been around…well since games started, right? Do you think that for super console players like us (me) Bungie’s gift giving like saved films, forge and foundry are the grandchildren of that community?

    And that as late as we are to the party, the world of “user generated” content is simply the future of the game industry? What I mean by that is will future games be judged and played based on how much a person can tweak and add to the game after they have completed it in its original form? Will the new age of gaming belong to those who not only play games in their spare time but can understand the game making process so much so that part of the playing experience also includes creation and enhancement?

    Or, will the modding community remain as it is now, off the beaten path and not exactly “mainstream”?

  2. D says:

    Oh, totally. Forge and Anvil were originally modding tools included with Marathon: Infinity. Saved films were more or less included with Myth. PC modding has a long history, and Halo 3’s version of Forge is pretty limited compared to anything PC modders do.

    But then again, it’s easy to use. You don’t need to be a programmer to make a level in Forge / Foundry. And here’s where an interesting parallel comes in: ease of use in terms of content creation and the computer software market in general. The example would be Apple. None of their innovations were about new tech – there was document editing before WYSIWYG, interfaces before the Mac GUI, music production before GarageBand, editing before iMovie – just that you needed a lot of specialized knowledge to do those things before apple rolled in, cause they weren’t easy to use. And with Web 2.0 nonsense – old web dudes like myself get a little grumbly about the whole concept because we were posting photo albums, creating ‘notes’ and sending messages long before MySpace, Facebook and Flickr & friends rolled along. But of course, we had to know some HTML and server stuff in order to do it. You can’t have web 2.0 without it being easy to use.

    So the Halo 3 ‘innovations’ are such because they’re easy to use, and yes on a console that’s what it’s all about, and there’s no other console game that I know of with that level of lite modding available.

    I’m not sure that user-generated stuff is the future of the game industry, but it certainly is a hell of a significant movement on the web and with computers in general, so it’s nice to see it coming to games too. That said, I’m guessing a pretty small percentage of Halo players are remotely interested in making a map. Still, I’m sure only a fraction of Mac owners open GarageBand, but for those that do, it’s revolutionary, and that makes it worthwhile.

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