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  1. #1
    girls say I have a Web Designer
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    Community Maps Killed Halo: Reach

    Community maps are the worst thing to happen to Halo since Armour lock. They are the reason I avoid the Team Slayer playlist, and the reason I grow weary of Reach in a much shorter period of time compared to other Halo games. Let's face the facts here, Reach is by far the worst game in the Halo franchise. Now before you jump to your keyboards with flames in your eyes remember: We are talking about the HALO franchise here, Reach is still head and shoulders above most games out there but compared to Halo 1-3 and ODST it doesn't stand up. It's kind of like having 5 beautiful women in front of you, sure they are all beautiful but one of them probably looks a little worse than the other 4. So what made Reach turn out worse than its predecessors? Well I think it is a combination of factors:

    Reach was pushed out on a tight development cycle
    It was made in order to meet the demands of a contractual obligation Bungie had to Microsoft
    It was never planned

    So my first point is that Reach was rushed, this is evident in a number of places the most obvious being the choice to use in game environments as multiplayer maps. Sure Reach has some solid multiplayer maps (sword base, anyone?) but using them in the game was done to cut corners, plain and simple. I think a lot of things in Reach were done (or half done) so that it could be pushed out quick, which brings me to my next point: Reach was the end of a contract, created to satisfy the demands of Microsoft and not much else.

    If the Halo games were a work week then Halo:CE would be Monday, the day where you are most rested from the weekend and you do your best work. Halo 2 is Tuesday, you might be a little tired but the week is young and you are having a good time. Halo 3 is Wednesday, hump day, you might not want to be there but darn it you will still put in your best effort. ODST is Thursday, you probably don’t feel like working to hard because Friday is right around the corner, you do some quick work but you head home early. Finally Friday roles around, all you want to do is go home so you lazily through something together and drop it on your bosses desk as you head out the door towards the weekend! Now hold on sailor, I know Bungie is the creator, the lord, and the holy spirit but we all know they were getting pretty sick of the big donut by year 10. Most of the studio wanted to move on to bigger, and....better? No different, that is a better word, different things. Who could blame them, working on the same series for 10 years has to be draining, I know that. This is not me bashing Bungie, I am just looking at things realistically, not saying what they did is good or bad, I am just saying I understand the motivation.

    Finally lets get to the Elephant in the room: to a certain extent Reach was not planned. Now I know what you are going to say “but minoooolta, the Halo trilogy wasn’t planned either!” and that is true, kind of. Halo was an unexpected hit but after the first one was so huge the trilogy was planned out as best as it could be. However the plans stopped after Halo 3, Reach was a nice little prologue but it wasn’t meant to be much more than that. So you mix all these ingredients together and what do you get? A studio that is rushing out a game the majority of its employees do not care about in order to meet a contractual agreement with a partner it is divorcing in the near future. If your ex-wife asked you to clean up the house after you move all your stuff out, would you do a good job? I didn’t think so.

    Alright so what does all this have to do with custom maps? Well remember up there when I said that Reach was full of cut corners, well custom maps are the biggest corner of them all! On the surface it is a great idea, have community members create maps and put them into the rotation for everyone to enjoy, what could be better? Plus that means Bungie doesn’t have to create nearly as many maps to satisfy the communities thirst for variety. This seems like a good idea but there are two major problems with this:

    The community does not consist of professional map makers
    Forge world pieces are boring

    The main problem with most community maps is that they just do not play like ones created by Bungie or Certain Affinity. Sure they go through play testing and get revised and improved but at the end of the day they are still not the same. They play poorly and they do not stand the test of time, they might be fun once or twice when you first get on them but the thrill wains pretty quickly. The only forge maps I have seen that stand up even remotely well compared to the official maps are Uncaged and Asylum, and they are Bungie made forge maps!

    My second issue is with the forge itself, Bungie made leaps and bounds with the Forge and Forge World in Reach, but it isn’t quiet enough. There is zero variation visually in community made forge maps because every forge map is made with the same pieces. Occasionally a map comes along that looks interesting or unique, but it doesn't take long to see past that to the same boring blue and grey pieces from every other map. Plus every forge map is on Forge World so every outdoor environment looks exactly the same! Here is what 343 has to add to the forge in Halo 4 so community maps wont be so terrible in the future:

    MULTIPLE FORGE WORLDS - This is the most obvious thing, we need at least 4 forge worlds: desert, mountains, city, forest (ideally I would like to see some alien/forerunner stuff too, but I am going basic here). On top of that we need 5 variation options for each world: snow, rain, dusk, day, night. This would create 20 unique outdoor environments for people to use. The difference between playing a map in the mountains at dusk, and playing a map in the mountains during a blizzard would be HUGE.
    DIFFERENT PIECE SETS - Each of the worlds needs interesting and unique piece sets that adapt and change based on the variation of the world. Mountain pieces during the blizzard are coated in snow and ice, during the rain they are wet and shiny. On top of that each piece should have at least 5 different selectable textures with a variety of colors to choose from. My biggest problem with forge maps is they are so freaking grey!
    EXPANDED ENVIRONMENT EDITING - Need a mountain? Build one! Want to make a map with sections that have no gravity? Use this field. How about animating certain objects to move at set intervals? No problem. Everything about the forge needs to grow and advance from the way we interact with the map itself to the different effects and options we have for pieces. You want the community to really get creative with that Godzilla monster they built? Give them the ability to make it walk around the map!

    Adding just a few of my suggestions would really make the forge shine, and give community maps the edge they need to take over match making. We already know that 343 is not rushing out Halo 4 they have been working on it for awhile. Plus they are planning a whole new trilogy of games that is going to be incredible. The staff are all loyal Halo fans who love the games and want to keep making them. They aren’t going to cut corners or let stuff fall through the cracks. I just hope that they add a few of the suggestions I talked about here to the forge so that Halo 4s community maps aren’t as awful as Reachs.

    Should probably say this is obviously all my opinion and should be taken as such, if I got some stuff wrong let me know.

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  3. #2
    The Real Pacific Ocean Premium Member
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    Yeah, I actually agree a bit. It gets tiring seeing the same Forge world maps over and over. I just kinda wanted to see new map packs is all. Don't get me wrong, the others were great and the Anniversary pack was sploosh-tastic, but when I play with my friend who does not have these packs, the community maps just wear me down.
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  4. #3
    I do agree with most of what you said, however, my biggest issue with the game is how different it is compared to the trilogy and ODST. It doesn't feel like Halo anymore, it feels more like generic space shooter.

    Also, I disagree with your statement about community maps being worse than Bungie maps, but only sort of. Taking a look at the Halo 3 community maps that made it into MM rotation, specifically within MLG, were far superior of most of Bungie's maps, or at least I think they are. In addition to that, MLG took the original maps and changed spawns, weapons, and *some* items, to improve upon what Bungie had started with (and let's be honest, Bungie tends to crowd maps with power weapons, just look at default Guardian).

    Lastly, I don't mind that every Forge World maps looks the same, since, in my opinion, aesthetics should be the lowest priority on a map. Working to create a good flow and a balanced weapon/ability set is much, much more important. However, I'd argue that, ever though Reach has more Forge tools, the overall map quality is vastly worse than that of Halo 3's simple Forge system. And I believe that it is the expanded tool set that is the problem. In Halo 3, if you wanted to make a really awesome map, it took a lot of skill and patience (aesthetic was not important), so fewer people were making maps on a consistent basis. Whereas Reach, if you want to make an awesome map, you have to come up with a *mostly* unique design, since your map will get lost in the sea of maps if it doesn't look nice. Aesthetics are what sell maps in Reach, not the gameplay.
    JK Designs: Website. DeviantART.

  5. #4
    I agree on all your points. Yes, Reach is so far the worst of them all. I think the biggest problem with the Community maps is that they out number the Bungie made maps. Usually when voting 2 out of 3 maps are usually Forgeworld maps. Most are a drag, I find myself griping when one gets voted. I would like to see certain gametypes that have only or vast majority of Community (They use to have a game type like that right?). Then the rest only Bungie made maps(Including Forgeworld Bungie maps). As for Forging. I agree on all you points, But is only Forge mode not Map Maker. I would like to see them turn forge into a from scratch map maker. It would be awesome if they add a map creator like the one in Farcary (2?)!

  6. #5
    girls say I have a Web Designer
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Unirocerous View Post
    I do agree with most of what you said, however, my biggest issue with the game is how different it is compared to the trilogy and ODST. It doesn't feel like Halo anymore, it feels more like generic space shooter.

    Also, I disagree with your statement about community maps being worse than Bungie maps, but only sort of. Taking a look at the Halo 3 community maps that made it into MM rotation, specifically within MLG, were far superior of most of Bungie's maps, or at least I think they are. In addition to that, MLG took the original maps and changed spawns, weapons, and *some* items, to improve upon what Bungie had started with (and let's be honest, Bungie tends to crowd maps with power weapons, just look at default Guardian).

    Lastly, I don't mind that every Forge World maps looks the same, since, in my opinion, aesthetics should be the lowest priority on a map. Working to create a good flow and a balanced weapon/ability set is much, much more important. However, I'd argue that, ever though Reach has more Forge tools, the overall map quality is vastly worse than that of Halo 3's simple Forge system. And I believe that it is the expanded tool set that is the problem. In Halo 3, if you wanted to make a really awesome map, it took a lot of skill and patience (aesthetic was not important), so fewer people were making maps on a consistent basis. Whereas Reach, if you want to make an awesome map, you have to come up with a *mostly* unique design, since your map will get lost in the sea of maps if it doesn't look nice. Aesthetics are what sell maps in Reach, not the gameplay.

    Halo 3 community maps were better, I think a fitting description of them would be "art from adversity" right? The Halo 3 forge was weak so it forced people to get interesting and creative. However you have to remember that, at least initially, the Bungie employees who approved Halo 3 community maps are the same people who approved Reach community maps. Plus the people who made maps for Halo 3 probably kept making them in Reach. So if we have the same community, the same moderators, why do the maps not feel the same? One of two options either A: Bungie became a lot more relaxed about their map approval policies because they wanted to round out Reach's multiplayer experience with a sufficient amount of maps with the least amount of work, or B: The community got drastically worse at creating maps overnight. I am inclined to lean towards A, I think Bungie phoned in everything to do with Reach and that includes the multiplayer maps they "approved" with only minimal tweaks/testing.

    I agree, gameplay is definitely the most important thing to consider when talking about maps, thats why I mentioned some forge maps that rise above it (Asylum or Uncaged, for example). Those maps play great and because of that I don't mind that they are all blue and grey and boring. However you cannot count out aesthetics entirely, creating an interesting and unique play space should be important and can add that extra "wow" factor to a map. That is where Bungie/343/Certain Affinity maps really shine, they play great and they have the ability to make interesting and unique environments. For example look at the remake of Hang 'em High, with the huge tornado thing in the background (I believe it is a forerunner portal that has been open, but I might be wrong). The map would play exactly the same if that wasnt there, but having it in the background makes the it at least 10x more awesome. Striking a balance between good gameplay and unique visual design is the, in my opinion, the true mark of a great map.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ghosty View Post
    I agree on all your points. Yes, Reach is so far the worst of them all. I think the biggest problem with the Community maps is that they out number the Bungie made maps. Usually when voting 2 out of 3 maps are usually Forgeworld maps. Most are a drag, I find myself griping when one gets voted. I would like to see certain gametypes that have only or vast majority of Community (They use to have a game type like that right?). Then the rest only Bungie made maps(Including Forgeworld Bungie maps). As for Forging. I agree on all you points, But is only Forge mode not Map Maker. I would like to see them turn forge into a from scratch map maker. It would be awesome if they add a map creator like the one in Farcary (2?)!
    Wouldn't it be great if Halo 4 included a "Map Profile" option, kind of like the Psych Profile in Reach? Allowing you to choose which maps you like and do not like. Then that profile could be used to match you up with similar players that want to play the same maps as you? Imagine being able to turn off the maps you do not like and never having to play them again?

    Also it would be cool if they allowed a full on terrain builder like farcry, but I feel like that is a huge step who knows it would be great!

  7. #6
    Agreed. Great map + great aesthetics = incredible map. However, I was merely commenting on the community maps, not the Bungie made ones (which have much more ability to have better visuals). Nonetheless, you're right.
    JK Designs: Website. DeviantART.

  8. #7
    Who ever said that the Halo 3 community maps are where its at is absolutely correct.

    Also, I spent real $$$$ on map packs, but it seems since I don't own the Anniversary Pack I never get to play the others. This makes me sad and feel a little ripped off.

    This sentence marks the end to my contribution to the ranting going on around here.
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  9. #8
    Im sorry, but you CAN NOT speak for Bungie and Microsoft, nor the opinion of others. Not only that, you are stereotyping 343i being capable of creating FOUR ForgeWorlds and letting you create global scenery? Are you kidding me? YOU are the ones that are going to ruin Halo 4 by over-hyping it, and expecting a new company filled with amateur employees who can't even create an app or function without a huge exploit or glitches.

  10. #9
    I have to disagree with this. So many were unimpressed by the default maps available upon release & the lack of good DLC maps has only increased the use of Forged maps in MM and Customs. There are entire communities built around this like ForgeHub, and site I work for BigTeamBattle.net. The lack of good competitive maps available in the default maps has lead to massive upsurge in quality maps. Are they all perfect and amazing? Of course not, but they are by and large better than what we were given out of the box.

  11. #10
    I would suggest reposting this on 343's official forums to get the most attention. The community manager is pretty active and reads a lot of forum posts. Lots of good ideas get picked up on there and yours regarding multiple forge worlds is something ive wanted for a while. Also it would be nice to see the immediate halo community's opinion on all this. You have some fair points and while 4 forge worlds is a bit over reaching more than 1 would be nice.

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