You already know about Halo: Reach. It's an experience that's been crafted by loving hands very carefully for a long time. It's not surprising that they made something worth buying and playing for hours on end. What is surprising, at least to me, is how much fun I'm having in Forge.
Halo 3 had a map builder, and it was certainly called Forge, but these two pieces of software shouldn't be confused with one another.
First, there's Forge World, which is, like, an entire world devoted to Forging. Enormous open spaces with tunnels and caves and water and trees - a sense of nature and realism that was totally absent in the charred hellscape of Halo 3's sandbox. The game gives you these places and says "Enjoy."
Second, the mechanics make placing geometry and buildings and such something an actual human person is capable of. Prototyping ideas for maps is pretty easy, and once you have the basic idea in place you can start refining. This is the process of Making Cool Shit (create, review, revise) at its core, and I think that's why I find it so appealing.
Yes, there are those frustrating bullshit moments when you just can't get a piece to rotate the right way or you accidentally delete a perfectly-placed object (there's no undo button), but it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.
Something I had a particularly hard time with was making my maps compatible with Capture the Flag, Assault, or game types other than Slayer. Here's how you do it:
- While in the Forge Lobby, change your game type from Basic Editing to Assault (or Capture the Flag, Invasion, or whatever). You can do this after creating your map in Basic Editing. Just save it, go back to the lobby, and open it in the desired game type.
- Load up your map.
- In the Objectives category, place the objective object (baseplate, flag stand). Hit 'X' for Object Options.
- In the Advanced settings, there's something called Game Type Label. Label the object appropriately. (This takes some testing to get right. For CTF, you have to set the Flag Stand to ctf_flag_return, not ctf. I don't know why, or what the other labels do.)
Mostly, I'm excited to be seeing the game in a different light. Instead of being just a passive participant in every game I play, I can actively notice things that I like/despise about weapon placement, object orientation, spawn points, teleporter locations, etc.
Oh, and the campaign is pretty fun, too.