Sandbox Toolkit
Posted by urk at 2/10/2009 2:40 PM PST
With last week's reveal that there was *gasp* a second limit relevant in Forge play, we thought we'd bring a designer and an engineer in to talk a little bit more about the specifics of what these limits are, why they're built-in in the first place, and what they ultimately mean for those Forgers who will try to squeeze every last piece of scenery they can into Sandbox.  Tyson Green and Jon Cable answered the call of the internet and created the short question and answer you see below.  Read on to learn everything you never knew you wanted to know about Forge and keep on scrolling for a look at what you can expect to see in Sandbox's Scenery palette.

Limit Break


Q. What is the object limit and why does it exist?


Tyson Green: There are three limits in Forge.

The first is the inventory limit. This is per object type, and is what limits you to placing (for example) two Scorpions, or eight Warthogs. This limit exists because some object types are disproportionately expensive (in terms of memory or CPU performance) and the game would break down if you sold everything else and then bought as many of these as possible.

The second is the global budget. This is the combined cost of all objects on the map, and the limit placed on that cost. This limit exists to keep object memory and performance in line with the innate complexity of a map. A bug allows this limit to be worked around, which works alright with small numbers of players, but the budgets were selected based on more aggressive scenarios with near maximum numbers of players and splitscreen. The goal was to keep performance acceptably high even in those scenarios.

The third limit is a hard limit, imposed by the data format of the map variants. This limit is around 640, and every object initially placed (by Bungie’s designers) counts against this limit. On most maps this is around 200-300 objects, which leaves 300-400 object slots free for players to create and place new objects. There is no workaround for this limit, only judicious use of objects.

Jon Cable
: The object limit is an internal "budget" the code has for slots for objects in the map variant. Every map variant has this number of slots, whether they are in use or not (but of course unused slots take up less memory on disk!). The objects that were originally placed on the map in its default configuration have certain slots reserved for them, and they can't be replaced by other objects.

Q. Is this some new mechanic that was added just for Sandbox?

TG: Nope. This has been around since launch. In fact, all three limits are described in the original Forge How-to document, posted around a week before Halo 3 was available in stores:

http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=h3forgeobjects

JC: We picked this number thinking that no one would ever reach it. And indeed, unless you're doing some underhanded trickery, it's near impossible to reach it on all of our other maps because the limits on individual object types and total budget will stop you first. The fact is, there are *so* many objects you can place on sandbox that the extreme map makers out there will be bumping up against this limit. Part of the problem is also that there are more objects placed on Sandbox in its default configuration (see above), so if you delete them all and then start adding your own, you're wasting that space in the map variant.

Q. So, if it’s been there all along, why not just fix it, and why are you just now getting around to letting folks know about it?

JC: We haven't let folks know about it yet because it hasn't been a problem on any of the other maps. Sandbox's ridiculous number of placeable objects and its large number of objects in the default configuration suddenly make this problem relevant. As for "fixing" it, it's not really possible for a number of reasons. The main issue is that networking views objects slightly differently if they were part of the default map configuration, so it's not possible to remove the restriction that those objects have reserved slots in the map variant. Furthermore, there has to be *some* kind of limit - even with the current budget limits in place it's possible to pile objects together or do other things that generally makes the performance of the game suck. And even if you had infinite performance, there's not infinite memory on the machine, or bandwidth on a network. In general the fixed objects like building blocks don't take up any bandwidth during a game, but they do cause network traffic for someone joining in progress on a forge session. They're also not free to render, or free to store in memory. We have to balance all the use cases against each other.

Most people will never have to worry about the total object limit. You're going to be able to do things in Sandbox that you could only dream of before, even in Foundry. For those elite few, we know you know how to work under restrictions already. And if you re-use the objects from the default configuration, you'll be able to push that boundary a little further. But alas, it will always be there.

TG: “Just fixing it” would unfortunately require significant changes to many parts of the game, and this is generally not something we would be willing to do unless it was a defect having a very severely negative impact on the community. The possibility of new bugs creeping in is too high.

In addition, most existing map variants would likely be invalidated by such a change, eliminating a vast body of cool work.

The reason it is particularly relevant now is because Sandbox dwarfs even Foundry in how open it is to user Forging. It has a high budget and players are likely to encounter all three of these limits while working on the map.

Q. Should players attempt to devise ways to get around the limitation, what are some of the problems they could run into?

TG: A map may run well locally, with 1-2 players on it, but may then break down when 8-16 players are on the map, or someone is running in splitscreen. And our players tend to think large, devising maps and games for big groups where this can become a real issue.

On top of poor framerate, network performance can be hampered by excessive object counts and poor performance on the host. We want user authored map variants to work as well as Bungie authored variants, so that nobody feels like they might be making a mistake by downloading one for an evening of games.

JC: The worst thing that could happen is the game crashing. The least is bad performance. I don't believe it will be possible, but who knows? You're sailing into uncharted waters, and we don't have a map.

Q. Talk a little about the evolution of Forge. Are you surprised by its current state of functionality?

JC: Hell yes!  I've seen some maps that must have taken days and weeks to get every little detail right. Things like the doors controlled by fusion coil "switches" just blow my mind. And it's even more impressive because it works within the relatively limited system that is Forge. And while things like "object interlocking" weren't intentional, it's pretty cool to see people using tools like that to make their maps even better. I do wish we had a better system for getting really great content out to the masses. Sites like forgehub.com are doing a pretty good job of it themselves, and Shishka is starting to roll fan-made maps into matchmaking so hopefully we will start to see more of what people can do.

TG: Very little about the Forge itself surprises me—I wrote the specs, and other than a bug or three, it does what we planned for it to do.

What continually surprises and amazes me is what people actually do with it. I’m looking forward to the release of Sandbox in particular, to see what some of our brilliant community Forgers do with it. It is so much more flexible than even Foundry was, and I’m sure we’re going to see some things we would have never even thought of.

The Breakdown

The Three Forge Limits
  • Inventory - Per object.  Limits the total number of any given item (i.e. Double Box, Spawn Point, Battle Rifle, et cetera)
  • Global - The "cost" of all objects placed on the map, represented in dollar form.
  • Hard Limit - Regulates the total number of objects that can be placed on all maps, regardless of type or cost.

Budget "Glitches" and You

  • Performance - The limits exists to guarantee solid performance.  While subverting them may not ruin your smaller scale games, larger player counts, or gametypes that use too many costly objects, could result in framerate inconsistency, increased latency, or even crashes.
  • Matchmaking - "Glitched" maps are not allowed in Matchmaking for the reason outlined above.

The "Quick" Fix

  • Majority Rules - Most players will never have to worry about being hindered by the Hard Limit.
  • Consequences - Addressing the Hard Limit issues outlined above could result in more bugs and possibly the "invalidation" of existing player content.

The Final Word
  • Use it or Lose It - You have 640 total objects at your disposal, including the objects Bungie's designers have placed on the map in it's default layout.
  • Don't Canvas - Instead of making a blank slate by deleting all the objects, simply move them to the side while you build and you'll be in control of the full 640 objects.


Technical logistics taken care of by our dynamic duo, let's turn our attention to the palette you'll be using to make the things we've never thought of.  Scroll down to take in Sandbox's scenery.


Tools of the Trade


SCENERY

40 WALL $5
20 WALL, HALF $5
20 WALL, QUARTER $5
20 WALL, CORNER $5
20 WALL, SLIT $5
20 WALL, T $5
40 WALL, DOUBLE $5
20 WEDGE, SMALL $5
20 WEDGE, LONG $5
40  BLOCK, LARGE $5
40 BLOCK, DOUBLE $5
30 BLOCK, TALL $5
30 BLOCK, HUGE $5
40 WEDGE, HUGE $5
30 RAMP, LARGE $5
20 WEDGE, LARGE $5
40 WEDGE, CORNER $5
20 TUBE PIECE $5
20 TUBE Y-INTERSECTIONS $5
20 TUBE CORNER $5

20 TUBE RAMP $5
20 COLUMN, STONE SMALL $5
20 COLUMN, DAMAGED SMALL $5
20 COLUMN, BLUE SMALL $5
20 COLUMN, RED SMALL $5
20 COLUMN, LARGE $5
20 COLUMN, STONE LARGE $5
20 BLOCK, TINY $5
20 BLOCK, SMALL $5
20 BLOCK, FLAT $5
20 BLOCK, ANGLED $5
20 CORNER, SMALL $5
20 CORNER, LARGE $5
20 STONE BRIDGE $5
20 OBELISK $5
20 FIN $5
20 RAMP, SHORT $5

20 RAMP, WIDE $5
20 RAMP, THICK $5
30 STONE PLATFORM $5
20 ARCH $5
20 SCAFFOLDING $5
20 WOOD BRIDGE, LARGE $5
20 WOOD BRIDGE, THIN $5
16 BARRICADE $4
16 RADIO ANTENNAE $5
32 FUSION COIL $5
16 PALLET $5
4 GRAV LIFT $10
8 CANNON, MAN $15
8 SHIELD DOOR, LARGE $15
8 WEAPON HOLDER $5
1 FX, NOVA $15
1 FX, PEN AND INK $15
1 FX, OLD TIMEY $15
1 FX, COLORBLIND $15
1 FX, GLOOMY $15
1 FX, JUICY $15
2 BLUE LIGHT $20

2 RED LIGHT $20
4 KILL BALL $4*
8 7-WOOD $2**
18 TIN CUP $2**
9 GOLF BALL $4**

WEAPONS

16 ASSAULT RIFLE $2
16 BATTLE RIFLE $2
8 SHOTGUN $2
8 SNIPER RIFLE $2
16 SMG $2
16 SPIKER $2
16 MAGNUM $2
8 PLASMA PISTOL $2
16 PLASMA RIFLE $2
8 NEEDLER $2
8 BRUTE SHOT $2
8 ROCKET LAUNCHER $2
8 SPARTAN LASER $2
8 ENERGY SWORD $2
4 PLASMA CANNON $6
8 GRAVITY HAMMER $2

16 COVENANT CARBINE $2
8 MAULER $2
4 FUEL ROD GUN $6
8 BEAM RIFLE $2
8 SENTINEL BEAM $2
4 MACHINE GUN TURRET $6
1 FLAMETHROWER $10
3 MISSILE POD $6

VEHICLES

4 BANSHEE $20
4 CHOPPER $20
2 HORNET $20
8 GHOST $15
4 PROWLER $20
8 MONGOOSE $10
2 SCORPION $40
4 WARTHOG $20
2 WARTHOG, GAUSS $20
2 WRAITH $40
2 HORNET, TRANSPORT $20


Sandbox Sampler Platter

*Earlier updates indicated that there would only be two Kill Balls present simultaneously on Sandbox at any given time. Turns out we sold ourselves short. You get four to play with. Go nuts.

**Aesthetic silliness only. No scoring. Just like the soccer ball.
Maption Sack Double EXP Weekend Live! 

Posted by urk at 9/10/2010 9:09 AM PDT

Oh, we're not done yet!

A 4v4 mix of Double EXP Slayer and Objective gametypes on a whole mess of your own community created maps.

Category: Double EXP Weekend
Max Party: 8
Max Team Size: 4
Heroic/Mythic Map Packs Required
Updated 12/03/2009

Gametypes

  • Team Slayer (33.3%) - First team to 50 kills wins. 12 minute match time limit.
  • Team BRs (21.6%) - First team to 50 kills wins. Players spawn with Battle Rifles and Assault Rifle secondary weapons. 12 minute match time limit.
  • One Flag CTF (11.8%) - Round based Capture the Flag, one team has a flag while the other attempt to capture it. Most captures after four rounds wins. Four minute round time limit.
  • Multi-Flag CTF (21.6%) - Both teams are attempting to capture the other team's flag. First to three captures wins. 20 minute match time limit.
  • Multi-Flag CTF BRs (11.8%) - Both teams are attempting to capture the other team's flag. Battle Rifle starts. First to three captures wins. 20 minute match time limit.

Maps

  • Actuality-Break (Foundry)
  • Apex (Sandbox)
  • Backdraft (Sandbox)
  • Battle Dome (Sandbox)
  • Ber Ber Creek (Sandbox)
  • Borderline (Sandbox)
  • Breakdown (Sandbox)
  • Bridgeo's (Sandbox)
  • Chimera (Sandbox)
  • Colonnade (Foundry)
  • Conduction (Sandbox)
  • Coup d'Etat (Sandbox)
  • Cryptic (Sandbox)
  • Cryptic Fate (Sandbox)
  • Deity (Sandbox)
  • Eighty Grit (Sandbox)
  • Elysium (Sandbox)
  • Emperor (Sandbox)
  • Exhibition (Sandbox)
  • Fortress (Sandbox)
  • Fracture (Sandbox)
  • Gauntlet (Sandbox)
  • Haven (Sandbox)
  • IZ9 Courtyard (Sandbox)
  • The Kingdom (Sandbox)
  • Lotus (Sandbox)
  • Neosho (Sandbox)
  • Nocticulent (Sandbox)
  • Onyx (Sandbox)
  • Pantheon (Sandbox)
  • Paranoia (Sandbox)
  • Pilaster (Sandbox)
  • Pivotal (Sandbox)
  • Rat Trap (Sandbox)
  • Ravinia (Sandbox)
  • Reflux (Sandbox)
  • Regicide (Foundry)
  • Reminiscent (Sandbox)
  • Renovation (Sandbox)
  • Requiem (Sandbox)
  • Salvation (Sandbox)
  • Sand Towers (Sandbox)
  • Sentiment (Sandbox)
  • Skystation (Sandbox)
  • Solarium (Sandbox)
  • Static (Sandbox)
  • Stonehenge (Sandbox)
  • Subversive (Sandbox)
  • Synapse (Sandbox)
  • Tartarus (Sandbox)
  • Topple (Sandbox)
  • Transgression (Foundry)
  • Tribal War (Sandbox)
  • Undulation (Sandbox)
  • Vengeance (Sandbox)
  • Workplace Bravo (Sandbox)

Tags: Halo 3

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Where's Mah Dooble EXP?! 

Posted by urk at 9/2/2010 5:52 PM PDT

Fix your -blam!-, Bungle!

So, yeah, This week's Double EXP Weekend is running a little behind. I blame Ninja 0n Fire. (He tells me that some fairly large updates are being deployed and as a result, we'll likely not see the Double EXP Weekend go live until tomorrow, or, *gulp* "later").

When it is ready to go, we'll let you know.

'Under Fire' - ubald Render 

Posted by urk at 9/2/2010 9:00 AM PDT

Feet first into awesome.

Looks like ubald unleashed another render over at HBO. This one's a WIP and part of a much larger collection that will ultimately serve as a webcomic. But you should check it out now.

ubald: Halo Rendered Comic

Tags: Halo 3: ODST

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Chronicles of ODS Steve #81 

Posted by urk at 9/1/2010 9:30 AM PDT

Faux Chief.

This week's Steve's getting all Batman on some Scarab carapace.

Chronicles of ODS Steve: Faux Chief (#81)

Tags: Halo 3: ODST

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Top 10 Halo 3 Kills on The Pit: Episode 59 

Posted by urk at 8/30/2010 9:00 AM PDT

You know the deal.

Anoj didn't submit his latest entry to Comm Chatter, but they gang at HBO picked up the slack. Besides, even without Anoj's familiar wordplay, we all know what this video's about anyway. There's like ten kills. You can submit your own for next week if you're astute enough to figure out how to make it happen.

Top 10 Halo 3 Kills on The Pit: Episode 59

Tags: Halo 3

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