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 bungie.net. 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.