Creating New Games in Defined Spaces

I know a lot of you know the Halo series. The Halo series (and the entire universe, because as a huge Halo fan, I’ve read all the books and comics and tried to find out as much as I can about it) is one of my favorite game series, not just because of the story or the gameplay, but also because as of Halo 3 Bungie (the game’s developer) added a creativity aspect to it.

They called it Forge. And not even Bungie knew how it would redefine Halo multiplayer.

At first, people used Forge to simply create new maps for the preset gametypes built into Halo. Then something amazing happened. People came up with their own game types. I remember the first time I loaded up a race track map and thinking “This is amazing!” The game was never meant to support a game like that but the players added it themselves.

This happened to some extent with Halo 2; players created their own “zombies” gametype that Bungie actually added as a game preset in Halo 3. However, this is not nearly on the same scale as Forge which lets players not only the game settings (spawn, lives, team traits, etc.) but also the map itself (spawn, items, weapons, basically everything but terrain).

One of the biggest Forge games is Grifball, a game created by the guys over at Rooster Teeth (creators of the popular Red vs. Blue machinima) as a joke (Grifball is referenced a few times in the series) by modifying game settings and a map to be what they needed. The game took off, and Bungie made it a playlist in Halo 3 and then a built-in gametype in Halo: Reach.

Speaking of Halo: Reach, Bungie outdid themselves with Forge; Forge 2.0, as they call it, takes a lot of features the community “hacked” around (improvising ways to get items to mesh together is just one example of something the community did that ended up as a feature in Forge 2.0).

Something that I’ve been watching for a few months now is called Achievement HORSE (run by the guys at Achievement Hunter, one of the parts of Rooster Teeth) and is the main point of this post.

Achievement HORSE started as a goofy idea between 2 of the guys in the office; what if they both made a few maps with some well-defined goals (make a mine explode after driving along a treacherous track, for example) and played HORSE (like the basketball game). The result was a highly entertaining and creative video featuring two of the guys in the office (Geoff and Jack) that immediately gained a following on their site; within a week they were getting emails from people who created maps for them to use in making the competition videos (Jack and Geoff always filmed the games so they could post them online) and now they have so many submissions that there’s an enormous lag between submitting and them even looking at your map.

This game is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen done with a video game. They took a concept not even remotely built into the game or related to Halo and, with the Forge tools, created their own gametype that is taking off on the internet. The Forge tool in general is amazing just from its map-editing standpoint; I love loading up their huge Forge World map and just building something, whether it’s an actual game space or just something pointless but fun. Things like Achievement HORSE elevate Forge even more! I can guarantee that Bungie never expected people to be playing Horse in Halo (like they didn’t expect people to make art or Rube Goldberg machines), yet people DID. That’s what’s so great about Forge and the Forge community: they took a tool the developer gave them and did things nobody expected.

I love Forge and am proud to be a part of the Forge and Halo communities. It’s a great and unconventional way to express yourself in the Halo universe and game setting.

Two Great Videos about Education and Motivation

When we were discussing Ender’s Game in class last week, my team touched upon the idea that Ender completely rethought everything about the game.  He didn’t say “what new formations can I create”, he said “formations are stupid” and analyzed every aspect about the game, discarding ideas that other people took for granted.  In applying this to education, it occurred to me that we should do this with education: why do we set up a classroom the way we do?  Why do we use powerpoints and lectures and tests?

I’m housing an exchange student from Austria this semester (a cultural education in itself), and he introduced me to RSA Animate, which animates lectures by the RSA, and are completely addicting.  I found two I thought were relevant to what we’ve been talking about.

The first is about reforming education, and talks about how schools seem more like a factory these days, the increase of the diagnoses of ADHD, and how culture plays a role in our education.

The second focuses on how people are motivated.