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Monitor's Bounty : Forge Preview

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It would be quite the understatement to simply say that Forge is getting updated with the release of Monitor's Bounty. While there are a number of sweet new weapons, vehicles, assassinations, armor, and more – along with great new features – the enhancements and additions being made specifically to Forge dwarfs everything else in this ambitious free update to Halo 5. In fact the Forge-specific bounty is so dense and so overflowing with awesomeness that we have to break it out for a dedicated blog all its own here on Waypoint. So just how BIG are we talking? According to 343 UGC Director Tom French, this update includes over 650 new objects on top of entirely new systems and functionality!

Get comfy – we're going to dive in to the deepest depths of Monitor's Bounty and all the Forge goodness within.

Tom French & Ske7ch'S Forge Walkthrough

First things first – seeing is believing and a picture is worth a thousand words so that makes this video walkthrough of some of the new Forge features at least a billion of the most believable words imaginable. I asked Tom to join me on a guided tour of some of his favorite new additions and thankfully our 343 video team was there to capture it all for our community. You can see for yourself below (and/or scroll down for a more traditional text-rendition of the Forge update):

If you prefer good old-fashioned text to fancy videos or perhaps just want even more insights, read on for a blowout of many of the finer details of the Monitor's Bounty Forge update with some additional insights from Tom French on how/why/what it all means.

this update was a labor of love by a team passionate about empowering the community to create whatever they want to make the legacy of halo 5 their own.

Tom French, UGC Director, 343 Industries

Q&A With Tom French, 343 UGC Director

ske7ch: What was your overall objective when you set out to start work on the Monitor's Bounty Update? What did you want to accomplish?

Tom French: We wanted to give the community tools to build all the modes they possibly wanted to build whether re-creating classics or making whatever crazy idea they have in their head come to life. With Halo 5 our team had to rebuild the game modes to accommodate changes to the engine – changes that were made to ultimately make more possible – but that meant everything needed to get touched. The reality is to do that it takes time and the MP Team didn’t have that time necessary to build all the game types again to a level they were comfortable with. That's where Forge comes in. There’s lots of additional benefits to doing this through script. If the community doesn’t like something, they can change it. They can find new ways to build off of what we’re giving them and make it even more personal. It’s your Halo now.

ske7ch: How did fan feedback and requests factor into your plans for Monitor's Bounty? Are there things that are a direct result of community input?

Tom French: We look at fan feedback to help gauge the importance of things we’re working on, sometimes bubbling things up front or even at times pushing things off if no one seems to be talking about it. The success of what we do is directly tied to the community's happiness with our tools. We directly asked the community for suggestions of Covenant and Sanghelli assets we should put in Forge. We didn’t get them all but we got most of the ones they cared the most about. Sometimes it’s also not even direct suggestions but more watching what hacky things they do and finding ways to do that thing better. Like the new physics hinges and joints were inspired by the amazing Mitake Machine. To get those hinges and joints he must have gone through some serious frustration and burn some unnecessary objects to make it work. With these new objects it’s relatively easy and that creates more interesting opportunities for not just this getting updated but others to take them and do something unexpected with them.

ske7ch: What's the most surprising thing to date that you've seen the community do with Forge in Halo 5?

Tom French: It’s kinda constant. There were big moments like Flapjack Frenzy, Clogged Toilet, and Mitake Machine that came really out of left field but we’re honestly constantly blown away. They make so many cool things we are always passing things around the team to check out. Really it’s the best part of my job. Almost every day I get to see some sort of new creation  map, mode, glitch exploit, etc. that makes me go, “Woah, they did that with our little toy!?" Definitely makes the long days and weekend work pay off. Lately we keep having moments where it hits us that the community is going to do bonkers stuff with all of this new functionality.

ske7ch: Is there anything in this update that you previously believed to be impossible yet you managed to pull off anyways?

Tom FrenchHonestly there isn’t any one single thing, it’s really the culmination of all the parts coming together at the same time. I honestly didn’t even expect to do ½ of what we did in this update inside of H5 and I didn’t expect to see SO MUCH really driven towards the same ideas at the same time in sustain. It was a lot of work from multiple groups. The Forge team pushed really hard to react to design changes/requests to make it all work. The Arena team pitched in to build the core mode, fix bugs, and even add scripting features to help support us. Our online experiences team stepped up and went well above and beyond the call of duty to get our active Game Browser stuff up and functioning which really ties all of this stuff up in a bow. We even had a community member volunteer weeks of his time to come in and help us onsite prep, polish, and fix maps to get them ready to release with the update. It was a herculean effort and its humbling to see how much we did. I love it!

Massive Scripting Update!

For starters, the functionality and possibilities for scripting with Forge are receiving a massive boost. Players will be able to do more than they ever have before and as a result, create some truly unique and innovative game experiences that we hope will permeate across the entire Halo 5 community. When asked about his personal favorite new additions to Forge, Tom has scripting at the top of his list:

Tom French: Minigame/scripting is probably the biggest and most important part of the Forge update to me. Particularly what we call the “Action Target” system which is how you select and filter down the list of what objects the script action will execute on. It’s super powerful, flexible, and really is the meat of a lot of what we’ve been able to do. It took some iteration to get it to where it is but our lead dev Kai and I are often in awe of how easy/broad it makes some things to do. It’s basically a list of modifiers that adds, removes, or filters the current list to produce a list of targets to action on. It sounds simple (and it pretty much is) but the amount of possibilities this creates from counting, damaging, moving, changing colors… really, anything you can do to them in script is so powerful.

From the patch notes, here's a run down of some of the new enhancments to Forge's scripting systems:

  • Action Target - This poweful new system lets actions modify up to 64 other objects at once!! SIXTY-FOUR! Actions can be performed on other objects and even players and filters can be actioned on exaclty the object you want like team, spawn order, object variable, boundary contenst, and more. You can even select one or more nearest, furthest or random objects on the list. Action targets are availalbe in most original and new script actions and to retain backwards compatiblity with existing actions it will default to "THIS" object.
  • Multiple Actions - scripts can now have four actions per condition!
  • Script Options - For each script there are options that change their behavior.
  • Script Disabling - Forgers now have the abilty to disable scripting at three different levels: Map level, object level, and script level.
  • Enhanced Scripts - Enhancements made to previously existing script actions. For example, force "On/Off" for spawn, turn on/off the position of object(s) being reset, some animated objects such as variants of the pistons can be told to animate to a position, and now you can move one object to another.
  • New Conditions - Multiple new and necessary scripting conditions have been added such as triggering events off of score changes, triggering events at specific times in a round and, finally, checking when players or objects enter, exit, or remain inside the boundary on an object.
  • New Actions - Lots of new tools have been added for manipulating objects, scoring, and more.

You can dive into the full patch notes when they're posted on Thursday, Dec. 8 here on Waypoint.

MiniGames!

One of the most exciting outcomes of all these awesome new improvements and additions to Forge's scripting systems is an expanded ability to create all-new game modes in Halo 5. Here's Tom explaining the genesis behind "minigames":

Tom French: It’s something we talked about wanting to do even before we shipped Forge last year because we wanted to create our own modes that wouldn’t necessarily fit into what Arena was doing. Through social media we’ve seen lots of people asking for ways to score so we felt we were on the right track. With Arena not having enough time to build everything the community wanted (which is everything) it worked out in our favor to leverage both teams to push Minigame even further than the Forge team could have done by itself. The idea really seemed to click with everyone and the teams were really motivated to keep building and refining the functionality.

How do "minigames" in the Monitor's Bounty update differ from scripting already offered with Forge? Again, Tom explains:

Tom French: For time we didn’t rebuild the whole thing from scratch, instead we built on top of what’s there. We added the ability to have up to four actions per script condition, options to enable/disable scripts behaviors (runs when dead, resets on round, can be interrupted if condition re-triggers), added some functionality to existing actions, and the ability for actions not just change the object they are on but instead be triggered on one object but manipulate up to 64 other objects (which is SUPER powerful). We added a handful of new conditions and over a dozen new script actions which are new things to think about. Building modes with the scripting added some other useful tools like the ability to disable scripting on the map, an object, and even on a per script level because the way we built some of the scripted modes like King of the Hill; by enabling/disabling specific objects in the custom game settings, you can completely change the behavior of the mode. So for now if you’re comfortable with what was already there, you’ll be really excited to see these new enhancements. If it’s intimidating already, it’s likely still not for you but we’re looking to help lower that barrier of entry at some point or another.

Tom and the 343 team created a few minigames during the course of development that ended up not only being great proof-of-concepts but also stupidly fun in their own right. The result is that yes, "Race" and "King" are basically back in Halo 5! And even though it's not (yet) a "classic" Halo game mode, "Battle Golf" has all the makings to be the Next Great Thing for Halo multiplayer shenanigans.

Spartans face off in "Battle Golf," the new Forge minigame added with Monitor's Bounty

"Race" is back in Halo! With the updates to Forge, players have all the tools to build "Race" and much, much more

Longtime fan favorite "King" makes a return thanks to the new capabilities of "minigames" in the Monitor's Bounty release for Halo 5

These three game types are fantastic fun but believe it or not, Tom had even more in mind that he didn't have time to get to:

Tom French: Yeeeeaaaaah, we had a few games we were working on but didn’t get time to finish. I’m keeping them a bit tight to my chest at the moment because I want to make them and release them still. One is fairly competitive but has a cool “co-op” team nature to it. The other is a recreation of one of my old favorite community game modes from a game I loved. I’ve been wanting to rebuild it in H5 for over a year and a half but just need the time to dig back in and work through some of the kinks. I’ve got part of both of them already running but they’re a bit more complicated and the classics took priority and ate up all my time.

I'm really excited to have the community make their already-running modes, that are kind of built in "hacky" ways, remove honor rules and make them something we can actually put in a playlist like Action Sack. We want more Battle Golf! It’s the kind of Halo I love  goofy, super social, but still competitive. We need a playlist with 18 maps each with five rounds of escalating gameplay people! NEED I SAY, "NEED!" Mainly go nuts! Make new things! Blow our minds!!! Like I said, make it your Halo.

You'll be able to find and play the 343 team's versions of Battle Golf, King of the Hill, and Race in the Halo 5 Action Sack playlist starting on Dec. 8. Even better, in the near future Tom and team will be releasing their internal documentation for how each game type was built to help kick-start iteration and get the community's creative juices flowing. We can't wait to see what the community comes up with next!

Here's a little bit of Battle Golf gameplay from Uny's perspective from a recent Forge playtest:

we want more battle golf! it's the kind of halo i love - goofy, super social, but still competitive.

Tom

Minigames Design Docs (Updated 12.8.16)

As promised, Tom French has shared his internal design documentation used to develop King of the Hill, Race, Alpine Race and Battle Golf. Tom was adamant about making this information publicly avaialble as an invaluable resource to help fans approach their own minigame design and development. These documents provide fantastic insights into the thought processes that went into architecting these modes as well as all of the detailed settings and strings used within Forge.

You can download a .zip file of all four Word documents here:  Minigame Design Docs.zip (22MB)

New forge canvases

Having new tools and objects is great but you also need a new canvases on which to paint your new masterpieces and thankfully the team has you covered. Two new great environments have been built for maximum Forge-ability.

Barrens

"Barrens" is a large, open, pretty much flat desert canvas for building on and is probably one of the most community-requested canvases. It includes three different lighting themes.

Depths

"Depths" is another open and flat canvas except this one is UNDER WATER! This means Forgers will no longer have to break out of Fathom to build their underwater Spartan fantasies. Thankfully Spartans don't seem to be allergic to the water in Depths for some reason.

New filters & FX

A few new filters have been added that go perfeclty with these two new canvases (along with the existing stock of Forge playgrounds). Add some ambiance and mood to your maps with "Heat Distortion," "Under Water," and "Infected Flood" filters. And what better way to liven up your underwater Forge experience on Depths than brand-new "Bubbles" screen FX!?

Enhancements, Tweaks, and changes, Oh My!

Plenty of under-the-hood improvements have been made that may not be as headline grabbing as "Battle Golf" or "660+ new objects!" but will nonetheless be hugely welcomed by players and make work going forward easier and smoother than before. Here are a few of the notable highlights:

  • File Recovery - The "Recovery" feature from Halo 5: Forge PC has been brought into the Xbox One! This creates an auto-save of your map when disconnected from the server and, when starting a Forge session, you'll be presented with an option to work on the most recent manually saved version or pick-up with the auto-saved server version.
  • Machinima Mode - This has now been enabled within Forge which should be great for taking those sexy screenshots of your level or prefabs without having to use a camera or go into Theater mode.
  • Material Overlays - Three different material overlays have been added to change the look of your objects: Shellac, Emissive, and Blend Control.
  • {RESET MAP STATE} Map Option - Restores object states, clears, variables, etc.
  • Custom Games - Added new enchancements to the Custom Game settings such as "Spawn in Vehicle," "All weapons in Loadouts," "Max Players," "Allow Observers," "Privacy," and "Minigame"  a simple mode for building your own custom game modes in.

There's a substantial list of additional fixes and improvements ranging from "script timers" to making "team blockers" work vs. "infected" to new label types. The complete list will be avaiable in the comprehensive Monitor's Bounty patch notes on Waypoint on Dec. 8.

New Objects!

The Monitor's Bounty update is the biggest one yet and at over 650 new objects represents more assets in one release than any previous Halo game in the entirety of its Forge offerings! If you like big numbers you'll be happy to know that the total number of objects in Halo 5: Forge now exceed 3,800 items and that isn't including some different rotations and variations of base objects.

With so much being added to Forge I was curious what Tom's personal favorite new additions are...

Tom French: On the object side I think a lot of the pieces really service what the community needs/wants to build all of their favorite Halo things. Those are kinda our bread and butter in Forge. I’m excited for things like the open Phantom because being able to actually use the inside for gameplay space is really exciting and new. For me, I like the wacky stuff; the toys that break outside the Halo box and offer new potentials. I’m really excited about the physics hinges/joints. They’re maybe a bit abusive on our physics system and a bit experimental but the possibilities with them are crazy and allow for some gameplay things you haven’t really seen a lot of inside of H5. An example is on Freight, which is a fantastic map we pulled from the community for a variation of King of the Hill we call Diminishing. We added some additional cargo containers on cranes over the water that are held together with a physics joint. If someone jumps in there to grab the Active Camo, you can shoot it to make the crate swing/spin and make it difficult for them to get out with the Power-Up. Stuff like that is neat and creates a lot of immersive moments in our sandbox that feel fresh and new.

If you haven't watched the video at the top of this article yet, I encourage you to do so. Tom spends some quality time showcasing a few dozen of his personal favorite objects. With such a massive list of new Forge objects it's a bit overwhelming to list them all here BUT they will be painstakingly detailed in the Monitor's Bounty patch notes on Waypoint. To hold you over, Tom's team did send over a few screenshots of a random assortment of just some of the new objects that await you on Dec. 8.

The landmine is back along with a new crustacean friend 

Forgers will have access to new destructible objects brought over from the campaign

The Master Chief Unicorn van is now avaialble in Forge along with brand-new billboards

A wide assortment of new plants have been added because who doesn't love plants?

There is one unique new object coming to Forge that has a special story behind it. Tom explains:

Tom French: The development of this special object as part of the ongoing relationship between 343 and Make-A-Wish Foundation was a really fun experience. Wade and his friend Zack sat down with us and we came up with some ideas for Forge objects. The one that bubbled to the top for time and feasibility (mainly because it was something the Forge team could control) was what became known as the Wernecke Wrecker (Wade’s last name is Wernecke). Our lead artist Ryan really put a lot of love and time into it, learning new systems from our Sandbox team to tune it and make it work like Wade discussed. These types of objects are what I feel are most in the spirit of how I think about Forge: fun, sometimes silly, but with inherent but simple gameplay that can get combined with other things. I’m excited to see what Wade/Zack do with it on top of the community as a whole.

All of the Forge goodness noted above will be unleashed upon the world with the release of Monitor's Bounty on Dec. 8 for both Xbox One and Windows PC. That's right, don't forget about the totally free Halo 5: Forge client for Windows 10 which, along with the addition of the join-in-progress Custom Games Browser, is about to get exponentially more functional and powerful. That's a whole lot of Forging AND Halo 5 multiplayer (at up to 4K resolutions!) for the amazing price of zero.

We can't wait to see what our creative community cooks up and look forward to a flood of new maps and game types to share and play together. Tom and team have handed over the tools, now it's up to you to help define the next chapter of Halo 5: Guardians and we couldn't be more excited about the prospects.

I'll see you all in the Action Sack on Dec. 8 for some fierce games of Battle Golf, King of the Hill, and Race and can't wait to share in what you create. Forge on, my friends. Forge on.

-ske7ch

Additional REading

Be sure to check out the rest of our Halo 5: Guardians Monitor's Bounty coverage here on Waypoint!

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