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Less Is More

I will never forget how JoeSki was interviewed[1] after winning the Forgetacular contest in which he was asked if he had anything to share with other forgers, to which he said, Less Is More for video performance and because you shouldn’t over forge just because you can. Chris Carney also used that quote when discussing[2] how he went about forging The Cage to point out that simple maps are easier for players to grasp. And when I submitted Hekau to the Ricochet Forge Contest, the one thought that was running through my mind all night long was, Less Really Is More.

I say this because one of the greatest achievements of Hekau was that it was the only map of the six finalists that suffered next to no frame drops in 2LP split screen mode. All the others had moderate to severe frame drops all the time and from most or all positions on those maps. But Hekau had only slight frame drops and only from the top of the spine looking down the center of the spine by both players.

To achieve this important performance edge over its competition, Hekau had a head start – the Canvas was the natural flooring for nearly every part of the map, where as the other five had floors made exclusively of blocks or mostly made of blocks. Impact’s second rock’s bowl offered a natural gentle and somewhat uneven gradient of incline through out. As I shared in an earlier lesson, leveraging the terrain’s gentle slopes is a powerful way to make your map more interesting and fun to play on. And it also helps in controlling video performance for split screen as well.

It was when I began to test 2LP and discovered significant frame drops that I began to literally rework the main wall and reduce the height of the central tower (the weenie). The wall was originally constructed out of 2×2 flats with large ramps on either side. These blocks merged together became problematic and had to be replaced some how with less blocks that looked just as good. I tried 2×2 talls with railings and it sort of looked good, but it was still too much. I tried 3×3 talls, which meant that each of the teams’ bases had to move since the number of blocks, and thus their final angle off center, would be different. But in the end, that worked best for rendering performance and it gave 50% wider top. The only thing I lost in the process was the small edge that the black trim of the large ramps played in the original architecture. But I realized that the wider top of the wall gave it more of a Star Wars-esque feel and I never looked back. The frame rate was improved drastically by reducing the number of blocks through out.

This is an important lesson when forging for the playlists, because in general the publisher doesn’t want to limit a customer’s ability to play with their friends on their only xbox. If you are seriously targeting the playlist, then you seriously need to get video rendering performance under control.[3]

Going back to something I said at the start of this blog, my goal is to learn and improve my skills as a forger, and I use the playlists as my target, the framework to forge my map for. And split screen is part of that framework. When I find that my map performs at 3fp in split screen mode, I scrap it and start over. People who are serious about forging for the playlist need to forge for split screen because split screen is part of the playlists.


Less Is More.

[1] CE United Interview with JoeSki

[2] Chris Carney’s Crash Course

[3] When Halo is offered on the XBox 1, the problem with video rendering may become a thing of the past.