When Dreams launched for PlayStation, it really was an incredible time to see the untapped creativity that poured from the minds of players. It was a practically first of its kind platform for consoles that turned gamers into quasi-developers for a brief moment.
Halo Infinite’s Forge—a familiar concept renewed and refurbished in a lot of ways—feels, to me, like the kind of counterpunch Xbox would be after. It’s sure to be a wellspring of player expression, as well as an answer to the big question of where Halo Infinite goes from here after being bereft of any meaningful content since launch.
We got to speak with the lead designer behind Forge, Michael Schorr, about what is undoubtedly the most powerful iteration of Forge yet, what the new version does differently, and what they hope to add in future.
Which may or may not include the Flood.
When was it decided that Forge would be a part of the Winter content drop?
It was sometime this summer when the teams aligned around exactly what content would be part of the Winter Update. Of course, we all wanted to get Forge into the hands of our fans as soon as we could, so bundling campaign co-op and mission replay with the Forge toolset felt like a fantastic way to achieve that goal.
Was there any point where you felt like you could have just got it out the door, or has it not been ready to go until now?
We have been sending preview builds of Forge to our Forge Council members for two years now, so a workable version of Forge has existed for some time, but it was not until mid-summer of this year that Forge was in in a place that we felt could add it to the live product in a meaningful way. That being said, we utilised the additional time leading up to the Winter Update fixing bugs, polishing, testing and making sure we were fully ready for launch.
It feels like Forge, at least this version of it, could be a real Dreams moment for Xbox. Some of the things I’ve seen people make so far are crazy, how are some of the ways Forge has evolved since we last saw it?
The biggest upgrades to Forge this time around include:
Players can scale objects; a complete game changer.
The object budget has increased to 7000 objects, it was 1600 objects in Halo 5.
Scripting is easier and more powerful than ever with our visual scripting system called Node Graph.
Maps now support Spartan bots, allowing players to create and test experiences in new ways.
Forge features a brand-new lighting and rendering system that brings Forge visual fidelity as close as it’s ever been to internally developed content.
There are countless quality of life updates too, such as the ability to undo actions or to organise objects into folders to better keep track of them. We will continue to update Forge over time with new features, bug fixes, quality of life updates, and content drops.
Historically it’s been maps and game types people can develop inside Forge. Could we expect players to develop their own scripted story content, is it that powerful?
Yes, Forge is that powerful. We are actively looking into the best way to bring our internal campaign AI into Forge; this will be the first step to empowering our players to create experiences that lean more into the single player, co-op, PVE spaces. Longer term we see Forge as being a platform for a variety of experiences, including ones that deviate from our first-person shooter multiplayer roots.
Given it’s in beta, I presume Forge will be seen as a platform to be added to as time goes on? As seasons drop, I guess themed content could be added in for players to tinker with?
We developed Forge with a live-service model in mind and have plans to provide consistent updates and content drops over time. We are currently working on adding more objects to the Forerunner themed palette and will move on to a full Banished themed object set after that. Longer term we would like to add Flood and Covenant object palettes to Forge but we have not finalised those plans yet. We want to work with the community to best understand what themes they value the most so we can empower them to build the experiences they want to play.
Andy’s room from Toy Story coming out of Forge is one of the cooler things I saw reported way back, have you guys created anything or seen anything come out of testing that rivals that?
For sure Red Nomster’s creations are amazing in many regards and set a remarkably high bar. It is difficult to compare Forge experiences this way, they are all so different! Every day the team discovers fantastic new creations from the Forge community, and we could not be happier about it. As time goes by, the quality bar of Forge creations will continue to rise, thanks in no small part to community-minded folks like Red Nomster who provide Forge assets and tutorial videos to learn from.
The Halo Infinite Winter Update is out now and includes Campaign Network Co-Op, Mission Replay, the Forge Beta, and a plethora of new, free content for all players. You can read more about it here.