Firstly, Thank you for talking with us here on You Know You're A Spartan..
Thanks for having me!
You've been one of the most creative Halo forgers for sometime now, Can you recall the first map you ever made?
I can’t resist giving a little background for these kinds of questions:
I’ve been playing Halo since the first game was released in 2001, so I experimented with Forge when it was first featured in Halo 3. I’ve never been a very competitive player, so the ability to finely tune spawn placement and weapon balance—the original reason Forge was created—wasn’t something I found myself being interested in.
Instead, the first time Forge really caught my attention was when the first Forge-focused map, Foundry, was released for Halo 3 in 2008. That changed everything, actually turning Forge into a true map editor.
So, the first map I remember making in Forge was a SWAT map on Foundry, where one team spawned inside a large tractor trailer and had to defend it from the other team’s attacks. Yeah, that sounds pretty weird—but Foundry had this truck object that inspired some strange things.
That first map of mine was awful, both in concept and execution, and I eventually deleted it. You have to remember that there were no phased physics in Forge in Halo 3, and even the interlocking technique hadn’t been discovered yet. There was no coordinate editing or rotational snap, so walls were crooked and didn’t fit together. Forging in Halo 3 was a completely different experience from what it is today. Forge was difficult and unpolished back then, but the community loved it anyway. We found unexpected ways to do new things, and pioneered Forge’s current feature set through rudimentary and time-consuming techniques.
Another early memorable map of mine was called Platforms. It was an Infection map built in the cave on Avalanche that featured traditional Infection gameplay.
Then I started to get the creative itch. I later built an Infection map called Wizards Tower—but this time, the Infected players were invulnerable. The only way the humans could survive was to prevent the Infected players from reaching them at the top of the tower by triggering traps. For example, some platforms had fusion coils on them that would knock an Infected player off if it was shot at the right moment.
Being lucky enough to help test some of your maps, I know you're quite the perfectionist, On an average, How much time goes into creating your maps?
It varies a lot.
One of the last maps I created in Halo: Reach was Guitar Halo. I probably spent at least 4 months working on Guitar Halo—I would build a prototype, find a crippling flaw, and then have to go back to the drawing board. I would get tired of working on the map and would then work on something else for a few weeks, just to come back and try another prototype, only to have that one fail as well. I was determined to make it work, and eventually I was able to, but it took a very, very long time.
On the other hand, I created Knockin’ Zombs in Halo 3 in 30 minutes right before a customs night. And people loved it! To this day, those people still play my original Knockin’ Zombs map when they play Halo 3 customs.
But in general, if I know what I want to build and I don’t run into any problems during construction, I can finish a Forge map in a day or two—or even in a single sitting:
At what point did you notice you were being noticed for your creations?
After my awful SWAT map on Foundry and playing around with Infection for a while, I created the Flaming Ninja Challenge obstacle course. I was surprised to see that people were talking about it at message boards I had never visited, and that's when I first started getting noticed on occasion. I continued to create more Flaming Ninja Challenge obstacle courses throughout Halo 3 and Halo: Reach. I even had one featured in Achievement HORSE.
But I didn't really start to get a lot of recognition until Halo Waypoint debuted Forge with Pete, which is a Forge-focused show I created in 2012. It’s been great to have Halo Waypoint’s support when it comes to promoting Forge, so that’s been a great experience, and I hope people enjoy the show!
With Forge Island fresh off release, I assume you've enjoyed exploring new possibilities, Do you have any secrets up your sleeve. Any classic map remakes? Anything you can share with us? We won't tell a soul...promise!
One of my personal favorites you've created has to be one of your latest maps, PARADUX. Testing this map was alot of fun, And your attention to detail shows tenfold. But has there ever been a map variant that just hasn't worked, Despite numerous tweaks and adjustments?
I don’t normally create traditional multiplayer maps, so Paradux was a fun experiment for me. The map evolved a lot, especially thanks to the feedback of several great Forgers. The original concept was asymmetrical and had mancannons that launched players over deadly expanses of space. I quickly discovered that mancannons don’t have a predictable path—depending on how you enter them, you’ll land in different locations. So if players didn’t walk into a mancannon just right, they would miss the landing pad and fall to their death.
I started to bulk up the map, trying to compensate for the issues with the mancannons..
Eventually I realized that half of the map was much more interesting and enjoyable than the other… so I cut the map in half and mirrored it, making it symmetrical. I think it turned out pretty good!
So, some maps, like Paradux and Guitar Halo, just needed some tweaking. Eventually they came together and worked.
But absolutely, I’ve had some maps that just haven’t worked. Since I tend to focus on unusual gameplay, I’ve seen players get confused and frustrated by less-than-obvious gameplay on maps that I have created. If a map or game type isn’t intuitive, I tend to scrap it. My personal goal is that I should never have to explain how a map or game type works in the pregame lobby—people should be able to easily and quickly understand it on their own. I’m not always successful in that, but that’s what I try to do.
You have been working on our competition map variant the XBLG Arena, (thanks so much for that!) When the community get to play on it, what can they expect?
The map is in my File Share right now! So anyone can download it and give it a try. My gamertag is petetheduck.
The XBLG Arena I built is a simple round arena with a variety of partially-destroyed structures scattered throughout. The structures are intended to do more than simply block line of sight: most feature two stories and even permit players to get onto the roof to add some variety to combat.
I've actually been playing on it a lot lately with a FFA Fiesta game type, and it has worked great for that.
In regards of your Halo career/hobby, What has been your highlight to date?
I had the incredible opportunity to visit 343 Industries studio in Kirkland, Washington with a few other Community Cartographers a few days before Halo 4 launched. I’m still not sure how I managed to be so fortunate, but the entire trip was full of amazing moments, like meeting Burnie Burns, Mike Krahulik,and Louis Wu—but what I remember the most was how open and friendly everyone was.
I’m sure signing an NDA helped, but 343 Industries employees answered every question I had, and their community manager, Jessica Shea, even sat down with me one-on-one to address some of my questions. It was an incredibly positive experience and absolutely the highlight of my Halo hobby. You can read more about my trip here: PeteTheDuck.com/Trip-To-343-Industries.
Do you have any hints or tips for someone starting off in the world of forge?
Get involved in a Forge community.
Post your maps there and listen to the feedback you get—It has been very, very rare that I’ve received feedback that wasn’t worth listening to, both positive and negative. Look at other people’s maps and learn from them—Forgers should inspire each other. There is no better way to improve and enjoy Forging than being involved in a Forge community.
I've also been working to compile some Forge resources in a Q&A Thread at Halo Waypoint which might be useful for new Forgers to check out: (which can be found here)
And almost everything on my website is related to Forge in some way, with an emphasis on trying to be informative and helpful: petetheduck.com