1. Active Playlist Fileset Project

      written by noklu
      Well, hello there! Whether you, dear reader, be a regular subscriber or a first time visitor, allow me to assure you that this post is of utmost importance. Not only does it aid you in designing and testing your fabulous Forge creations but it also grants you a free bunny! (*Disclaimer: Bunnies not included) You may have heard of External Memory - AKA EXEM - who has been working hard on the Active Playlist Fileset Project, and he takes the helm today, talking about and explaining his work.

      noklu's note: Support the APFP at Waypoint and Optimatch. i've also closed comments on the blog post; discuss at these two threads or at EXEM's portfolio, accessible here.

      Brought To You By: External Memory

      Introduction


      The Active Playlist Fileset Project provides filesets of the most useful game variants for forgers playtesting new maps as well as custom games parties looking to enjoy an experience closer to the core Matchmaking experience. The game variants are organized into filesets entirely by their Active Playlist, unlike The Unofficial Reach Fileshare (T.U.R.F.S Game Types) maintained by JDHarbs19, or FyreWulff Rex's Matchmaking File Repository, both of which are nonetheless excellent archives to look for anything not found here or in Matchmaking any longer.

      The APFP began in June and has remained current through the latest Matchmaking updates. To the best of my ability it will be kept updated into the future. For a linked inventory of the playlists included in the project, check the Selected Playlists section below.

      Rationale


      Even veterans of the game modding scene have to concede that Forge and Custom Games in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach made the possibilities of community generated content accessible to a much broader audience, especially through the custom file search and tagging available on B.net and now in-game in Reach. Halo players, whether they simply play Matchmaking or are content creation hobbyists as well, have much to be grateful for.

      More than the innovative process of making actual maps and new custom game types alone, the ease with which these can be shared broadly and tested by many – to gather feedback and raise visibility of custom content and its creators – has enhanced the pipeline even more in helping good custom content rise to the top. In other words, it's not so much Forge that has created this community of custom gamers and creators, but fileshares and all the web publishing and programming that brings custom content – and the gamers who want to play it – together.

      As someone who's been active in this community for a bit, I have to wonder why Bungie's team never created a place on B.net where the game variants they release each month into Matchmaking could be found for the community to download and use for playtesting custom maps.

      Designers, looking to test their creations using the latest Matchmaking game types and new, Bungie-scripted enhancements to the factory defaults have either had to rely on others to upload them to their fileshares or have needed to spend time away from creating, reiterating and testing to fetch them from Matchmaking themselves. Not even settings like forced Spartans or Elites could simply be dialed up when playing custom games on day one. Compounding the problem is remembering exactly which settings are innate to one game variant or another when, say, testing a map for 2v2 instead of 4v4. I've seen plenty of parties running custom games struggling to change gears when someone forgot to alter a certain setting to approximate a game type they hadn't downloaded – either directly from a matchmade game, or from a fileshare they trusted to contain what they needed.

      It was with those obstacles and frustrations in mind that I decided to collate the most useful playlists for forgers playtesting maps, starting with June's Matchmaking update changelist. The project has since gained some traction by word of mouth, and with July's updates I hope it will become a useful resource for Reach's map makers and playtesters everywhere.

      Selected Playlists


      As I've stressed above, the highest priority of this project is to provide custom map makers and public playtesters with easy access to the unmodified, Bungie-authored game types currently in Matchmaking. Working on the assumption that many are playtesting maps intended for consideration in Matchmaking, I've selected those playlists that seem to be most frequently updated and most relevant to custom maps.

      Playlist Inventory


      Curation


      I've selected these playlists for multiple reasons: first, because they've traditionally been considered for the inclusion of community maps; second, because they contain game types, such as Team Objective or Multi Team, that are essential for testing the viability and versatility of community maps even if the playlist doesn't yet support their inclusion (with the exception of Joeski73's Atom in Multi Team). To clarify, Team Objective, Squad Slayer and Multi Team do not contain community maps besides Atom.

      That they don't include community maps is likely because Bungie wanted those playlists acceptible to larger local parties and multiple local players are known to cause performance issues on many community Forge maps due to the increase in the number of objects being rendered on a single console. That imposes a severe limitation on community map makers in the number of objects they can use while maintaining performance for up to 4 local players.
      noklu's note: DavidJCobb is working on a project along these lines.

      I've still included Multi Team and Team Objective not only because the max local players might be lowered for these playlists in the future (those of us that enjoy community maps can only hope) but also because I've never encountered a playtest or a serious map maker where support of objective game types or multiple teams wasn't intended; good maps are simply made better and more enduring by versatility. For similar reasons and just for good measure I've included Team SWAT and Team Snipers.

      I've intentionally omitted these playlists: MLG, Grifball, Classic, Invasion, Living Dead, Action Sack and Squad Slayer. These playlists either don't support community maps, are specifically paired (one game type to one map), contain only a couple of game types that are seldom updated and easily acquired or are already archived and kept current by their respective communities: see the Classic Gametype Master Thread, Grifball Hub, and MLG Halo: Reach Settings for those.

      Final Thoughts


      Project Goals


      My plans for the project in the short term is to have enough additional fileshare accounts (4 or 5) to move the game types on my personal fileshare to free up space and in case I ever decide to end my Pro membership. The long-term goal is to help 343i and Bungie.net community and Matchmaking authorities recognize the need for a centralized, official means of access to most current Matchmaking playlist game types as they are updated to aid map playtesters and makers. The official Reach Active Playlist Files if you will, where all the game variants are clearly marked and named for quick retrieval and clarity. Your comments and feedback could help realize that goal.

      D.I.Y.


      If anyone is looking to start up a similar project, organized differently or to keep up with the other playlists, check my process write-up on reachingperfection.com for a detailed tutorial on how to set up and maintain a bunch of filesets at little to no cost.

      Credit Where Due


      Psychosis687, whose dedication, knowledge of B.net fileset/fileshare magicks, game type and playlist lore really made this project happen, and all of you on reachingperfection.com, your friends and RP affiliates who helped with voting and finding all the game types from the past few updates and during the initial launch. Big thanks of course to everyone helping spread the word and posting this work online as well, particularly Noklu.

      An Addendum From noklu: Thanks, EXEM for all your hard work in putting together this project and I'm sure that all the people that use it or will use it are grateful to you. as well. I would also like to encourage all of you to promote this project to anybody you meet in game or online who expresses the need for such a centralised resource. Be chill. noklu out.

      4 comments:

      Doc1777 said...

      Took long enough! By the way are you feeling better now?

      Noklu said...

      yeah, I'm feeling a lot better, thanks. I was confined to my bed all Thursday :/. And no electronicsmtoo; the screens worsened my headache.

      ExternalMemory said...

      The wait was all me, things have been a little hectic in the weeks following the update.

      Thanks again Noklu for proofreading and transcribing all this; I want to add that anyone looking for the instructions and is new to the RP forums can see my process write-up linked here to my member portfolio in the forums. There's quite a few members now, so that should make navigation easier.Go forth and play customs!

      Noklu said...

      Is that a subtle reminder, EXEM? I had to redo all the links twonor three times...grr...I'll go put that process write up link back in again...I knew that I'd miss one...

      Anytime you want another link put in, contact me.