As most of you already know, several weeks ago the long awaited Halo PC editing kit (HEK) was released to the world. In addition to the suite of tools that allow you to create custom content and maps,
also released "HaloCE" (Halo Custom Edition). This new version of Halo contains several fixes and enhancements but more importantly, allows players to enjoy custom created content in the game.
Since the release, the Halo community has been on fire as teams and dedicated individuals have released new maps, fun game tweaks and even found ways to do things that were once thought to be impossible within the scope of the HEK. There's been so much happening out there that quite frankly we just haven't been able to keep up with it all. So, in the wee hours of the morning following a large post-E3 Halo LAN party, we cornered a somewhat intoxicated and vulnerable Cunbelin and used our mind powers to make him do our bidding and become our brand new field reporter for all things HaloCE/HEK related. Check back with Bungie.net in the weeks ahead as Cunbelin will continue to update and titilate us all with the latest tidbits and tools from the world of Halo editing.
Hello, some of you may know me already, I'm a long time community member, and I've been waiting to edit Halo as long as anyone, arguably longer. A few weeks ago the waiting stopped, and I plunged headlong into the editing kit. My time with the kit was short-lived as I was pulled away to attend E3. A week later I awoke from a gin induced haze to find myself face down in front of my house, a dew-soaked pamphlet entitled "
So You're Going To Be The Bungie.net Halo Custom Edition Czar
" tightly grasped in my hand. I dare not relate the insanity contained therein, but suffice to say, I am going to be the one who will offend you with my weekly ramblings on the world of Halo Custom Edition. So rather than bore you with more meanderings through my history let's cut to the chase.
What is Halo Custom Edition? It is the FUTURE! A future where cars fly, where pistols fire friendly monkeys who clean crumbs out of your beard, where Covenant and Humans live together in harmony! HaloCE is a new multiplayer patch that all the cool kids already have. The patch adds several enhancements to the Halo engine. Chief among them is the ability to download and play user created content. For more information on HaloCE and the Halo Editing Kit check out the
as well as the
Gearbox Editing FAQ.
So now you know how unbelievably cool HaloCE is, and you STILL haven't downloaded it ?!! Ok I'll look the other way while you go and download it.
Here's a mirror site
. Go on, go, I'll wait.
A Whole New World
Back already? This is probably old news to many of you out there, so rather than ramble on about how HaloCE will make your life better, let's talk about that user created content you've heard so much about. Later on I'll give you a quick tour of the tools needed to make your own maps, but for now let's take a look at some of the maps already out there, that can enhance your HaloCE experience immediately.
, as you may have guessed, is set at night, features two bases and lots of room and makes for intense CTF matches.
Lots of custom textures used here make a nice change from the standard Halo shaders.
is set on a network of several small islands, the high ceiling makes this a great map for banshee fights, and there is a certain satisfaction seeing the watery explosions that are common in this level.
is a simple map similar in feel to Longest, but in a more natural setting. Submarine warthogs make for interesting possibilities, and the slightly cramped quarters create intense action.
Of course these are just a few of the maps out there; a good place to start looking into new maps is right here in this
on the Gearbox forum.
If you still aren't satisfied with your choices, the good news is that you can try to do one better. Along with the release of HaloCE the Halo Editing Kit was released, the editing kit contains all the tools you need to bring geometry from 3D Studio Max into the Halo engine. If you haven't gotten the HEK already, you can grab it here:
If you are finding yourself a little lost on where to get started still, the HEK includes a tutorial along with an example map, it should be installed in the HaloCE directory in a folder called HEK_Tutorial. For those of you who are interested in a more active demonstration you can check out a great set of video tutorials available here:
And while you're there you might want to check out several of the more advanced video tutorials available:
Geometry Makes the Map
Sure the HEK is all well and good, and it's got lots of cool things to look at, and do, but a key part of making a new map is new geometry, and 3D Studio Max doesn't come cheap. The good news is that you aren't limited to using 3D Studio Max, for instance you might want to try out the free game oriented alternative to full-priced 3D Studio Max called gMax. This free software allows you to work in the 3D Studio Max environment with the slight limitations of no renderer and a closed file format. Of course some ingenious folks have come up with a way to output gMax content into HaloCE. I'd check out this
thread on the Gearbox forum
for more information.
Of course you could also try using the trial version of 3D Studio Max 6, it's good for 30 days, and is fully-featured, it includes the ability to import from a variety of formats, including formats that some free or more reasonably priced 3D modelers use.
So now that you have a plethora of tools to use, let's take a quick look at some applications that simplify the map making process, namely by putting a GUI over the aptly named tool... uh 'Tool.' Tool is a general purpose application that takes care of several odds and ends to get your map ready for playing. All the options in tool are beyond the scope of this article, but if you want more information you might want to check out a little extended documentation by BOLL here:
A personal tip to using Tool I'd like to add is that you can copy the cmd.exe from your system folder into the HaloCE folder. This will allow you to directly access the directory and customize the look of the command prompt. Of course for those of you who have an acute fear of command lines, there are already several GUI alternatives.
There is Orangutan, you can read about it here:
Also a tool called HEKter available here:
And due to the alleged unreliabilty of that site, you can try here:
And another one you might want to try is Tool Runner:
Alright well I could go on forever about this but I'm guessing half of you have glazed over or devolved into a slobbering gelatinous mass. Next week I expect I'll have some exciting news to report, and I'll be taking a look at some advanced features of the engine. I want to leave you with a set of links to some useful sources for HaloCE.
Additional HaloCE / HEK Resources
A great source for news on all things Halo, includes a forum for HaloCE and editing, also has some file listings.
A whole set of forums dedicated to HaloCE, a great place to ask editing questions, and find out about maps in progress.
A nice file archive, with good download speeds, has a forum and news as well.
Includes a file archive, news, forums and several hosted sites.
An older modding site than most, it includes news, a forum and lots of files.
Home of The Silent Cartographers, been unironically silent of late but the forum is well monitored, and a great place to ask questions.
Got a question or want to talk about HaloCE or the HEK? Stop by
, our forum dedicated to Halo PC/Mac. If you have a question for Cunbelin, send him a message and it might be included in a future installment. Please note, Cunbelin does this out of his own free time so cut him some slack if he doesn't have time to reply to you immediately. =)