Desire to Craft Mods for offline play + Eventual hopes to host custom map games server

Would you be interested in playing on maps with completely altered weapons?


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Apr 6, 2020
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pikajew222
#1
The Background

My name is pika. Years ago I used to love modding Halo 2 on my original Xbox. I never had any desire to cheat in online games, and I highly doubt I ever will in the future. I edited Halo in ways that I found to be incredibly fun. I crafted what I like to call "amateur mods". My mods weren't difficult or particularly impressive, but to me they were a fantastic artistic customization outlet. I modded a handful of maps in a similar fashion and became incredibly pleased with the results. The premise behind my changes was to make the experience more intense and wild. My alterations made the game play a bit more like Unreal Tournament. Faster running, higher jumping, and massive changes to every weapon. My idea was that if all of the weapons are totally different superweapons, it'll make the game more ridiculous AND easier for new players to get kills. My friends and I had incredible times playing my modded maps. Below are two videos that showcase the mods I made.

The videos were recorded with a camera pointing at a TV playing splitscreen, so the quality is a tad rough.


Rooster Teeth MN - Modded Colossus [Part 1]

Rooster Teeth MN - Modded Colossus [Part 2]


Nothing too dazzling, but I'm extra proud of what I built from my creativity.

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The Help I'm Requesting

As the thread title suggests I'm looking to make mods again. The trouble is, I'm finding it much harder to find tutorials in recent years. Even though the hex editing tools are more powerful today, I'm having a difficult time educating myself on what I want to accomplish. I'm going to state exactly what I'm wishing to do and I'm hoping someone can either answer me directly or simply point me in the direction of some forums that have the content I'm seeking. I am in dire need of information resources and Google searches aren't giving me great results.

First and Foremost - I want to mod in ways that are completely acceptable by the H2PC developers. I have zero desire to cheat. I'd hate to get banned from playing this game online when I so deeply love the vanilla experience. Please only guide me in ways that won't be flag me as violating the agreed terms.

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1) Modifying Multiplayer Maps

I have no issue editing single player maps in Assembly. It's cool and neat practice, but this practice will never help me realize my end goals. I don't understand how to edit the multiplayer maps like the single player maps. I'd like to be able to make multiplayer mods that can be played with my friends in a LAN style. I can't even work my way up to getting my mods to work across multiple computers with my present understanding. Unlike in single player maps - I have zero clue how to do a simple weapon projectile swap on my own machine for the multiplayer maps.


2) Ethically Sharing Modded Maps

If someone helps me with Part 1, I believe I could easily share .map files with a friend for LAN play. Beyond that, I'd like to know how I could share a modded map with someone to play in an online setting. From what I understand - mods are acceptable online as long as it's in a custom game AND has "mod" somewhere in the gametype title. When I modded back in high school, putting a .map file on a file sharing service was illegal ( unmodified or modded ) because it was considered copyrighted content. To properly share modded maps across the internet, patch files were used. If patch files are still today's mod sharing convention, I desire a tutorial/instructions on how to create them. Other than the game servers, is there a ideal site or hosting service currently used for sharing maps?


3) Hosting of Custom Maps on a Dedicated Server

I use the term "Custom Map" loosely, because I don't intend to build my own levels with geometry different than what Bungie designed. I've seen many tutorials on how to set up a dedicated Project Cartographer server, so I think I'll be ok in that department once I'm ready to deploy. I suppose what I need help with is editing maps so that they are compatible with network play. I'd like to know what sorts of changes create issues with synchronization. I'd like to know what are common errors associated with custom Halo 2 content on a network. Once that future of a dedicated server becomes real, I'd like tips on what keeps a server stable and well managed. I frankly don't even know if I currently have hardware that would support running a Halo 2 server. I am extra curious what the possibilities are of getting one of my modded maps hosted on someone else's server. What makes a modded map play well in an online environment?

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The main thing I'd like help with is Part 1. Any feedback helps. Thanks for reading.
 
Apr 6, 2020
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pikajew222
#2
it occurs to me that this post likely is more fitting in Station Help. Can a moderator move it to that section for me?
 
Feb 26, 2016
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#3
Halo 2 Vista checks for modified multiplayer maps and kicks you back to the mainmenu if any are edited. We will not be changing this for obvious reasons. If you want to mess around with modded maps then they need to be a custom map or you need to consider an original Xbox console.

Edit: Keep in mind a custom map does not mean you need to use the mapping tools that come with the original game ISO. You can still just save edits you make to the map in Assembly. It just means that the map you edited needs to go in the custom maps folder in documents if you want to load that and play it with others. You will have to upload the edited map for others to place in their custom maps folder to join your lobby. They won't be able to load the map otherwise.
 
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tweek

Dev
Project Cartographer Staff
Nov 29, 2013
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#4
we have a hosting service for custom maps, and its what drives the in game custom map donwloading. you basically just need to give us the .map
 
Apr 6, 2020
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pikajew222
#5
So the custom maps folder is a happy place for edited items? Radsauce! Could I get pointed in the direction of a guide on using Assembly for the purposes I've established? I understand if they're not really Googleable for the same obvious reasons. Who/How/Where would I submit a map to once I've crafted a polished a product?

The Xbox I had in yesteryear is sadly not around anymore. Getting a new system won't be an option for a long while. I've still got the .map files from my Ninja Wars project (1 featured in video, 6 total). They're the Xbox format tho. If converting to H2PC playability is a thing and someone felt like going through the process, I'd be honored.

I'm too not proud of the video because it only shows a fraction of the weapons I designed. Am extra proud of the overall results from my mods. I know "superweapons" sounds iffy, but they had a marvelous balance. Nothing tacky - well maybe visually tacky, but nothing tacky gameplay-wise like instadeath guns.
...actually - my Coag has an obscenely tacky Warthog... hopefully overlookable..

Thanks for the reply!
 
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Feb 26, 2016
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#6
If you know how to use Assembly for SP maps then you know how to use Assembly for MP. There is basically no difference. The only real difference is that MP uses external references for many tags like weapons so you won't find those in the MP map itself.

Tho that makes me think that Assembly might not be what you want because it seems you want to do gameplay modifications. To do that you would have to mess with shared.map but you can't make a copy of shared.map to edit. You're stuck only editing what's in the MP maps which isn't much. You could poke your changes but those are temporary as they are memory only.

Any custom maps usually go to me. I upload them onto the repo here.
http://www.h2maps.net/Cartographer/CustomMaps/
Basically upload your map to Google Drive or something and then DM me a link on here or on the Project Cartographer Discord. I usually upload the maps in a day at the most.
 
Apr 6, 2020
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pikajew222
#7
I can't decide if I should be elated or discouraged. The SP / MP difference is pretty big in my situation because in SP I can jump right into all the changes I want intuitively with Assembly AND check my alterations right away in game. With MP, i don't know the first step in editing the tags I desire.

I'm not ultra locked in on using Assembly, but it certainly seems like the most incredible tool around. Way back when I used DotHalo. It's a bummer because gameplay changes are the soul of what I want to modify. I love how open you are to receiving new content, but playing with people in the same room feels like a more realistic goal than getting one of my works incorporated into online play. Because I deviate so heavily from the typical Halo 2 experience, it's difficult for me to gauge if my creations would go over well. On one hand, tons of people love the dramatic changes doable with the large amount of control permitted in a custom Halo 3 gametypes. Another promising factor is a lot of people really dug the mods I put on my Xbox a decade ago. What worries me is that it's currently semi hard to find custom map games with other people playing. Seeing one of my maps ever in rotation feels unlikely, and actually getting to play on them with other folks feels even more farfetched. I guess I'll never know till I try uploading and see what others think of my quality and style.

Modifying muliplayer gameplay is EXACTLY what I want to accomplish, be it with or without Assembly. Playing my mods with groups of people online is my big goal, but I currently believe offline network play to be more realistic. I've never tried using Ambiguous, but if it works with splitscreen, that in theory would allow me to achieve the gameplay I desire for a TEMPORARY session. Not ideal, but at least playable for a single match. I'm guessing that's essentially what you mentioned with poking changes to memory. Fun premise, but my true goal is mods to cache files to create my own custom maps.

With the cheating prevention measures used in Project Cartographer, I'm very much seeing why acquiring another original Xbox was suggested.


So are either of my main goals possible in H2PC?
1 - offline network modding.
2 - modified multiplayer gameplay online
 
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Feb 26, 2016
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#8
Neither are possible in any version of the game. The map check is a part of the default game. Personally I don't see how just using the Halo 2 Editing Kit is any worse. You're still gonna have to pass around a map at the end of the day even if you could just modify the maps with Assembly and you'll have way more control than anything Assembly could get you.
 
Apr 6, 2020
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pikajew222
#9
The things you guys have revealed to me are essentially making me cheer loudly internally. Things I've thought were extra difficult were really just being looked at incorrectly. I'm excited cuz I'm way closer actualizing one of my fantasies than I realized.

From what I gather - I could totally have a modded Halo 2 PC LAN so long as all players have identical .map files in their custom map folder

I was trying to edit with Assembly because I thought it was some super ultimate BLAM alteration software. Perhaps it is, but I was fully unaware that it's impossible to use it for the things I'm trying to achieve.

I didn't really know Halo 2 Editing Kit was a good modding tool. Now the only thing stopping me is a lack of knowledge. I've just now got the kit installed for the first time ( and applied the H2Codez update ). I don't know how to use it and I don't know how/where to hunt for tutorials. I'm now back to being a modding noob, which in some weird way is an exciting downgrade. Get to learn all over again!

I've opened Guerilla. Figured out how to make copies of weapons that can have their properties edited. So I can view all the tags I desire and make changes to the metadata. Now what I want to do is replace my weapons with original weapons and it's basically game on. So how do I place my "Agent Magnum" in one of the original maps? With Guerilla I feel like I'm making changes to data extracted from the shared.map. How do I apply my design changes in Guerilla to generate a custom map? ( basically the same question as how do i get my "agent magnum" into an original map )

So now I'm seeking Guerilla help ( or whatever software ) and a good way to find tutorials. Google is fantastic at yielding outdated materials. As it stands I think my best chance at educating myself is looking through this thread and trying to learn the basics from examining the complex mods people have posted.

If I can get any original map playable from the custom map folder with a single projectile-swapped weapon, I will consider that a massive victory worthy of exuberant celebration.
 
Feb 26, 2016
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#10
You see the link in my signature? It will take you to a tag pack that has a pretty good coag dump along with a shit ton of other assets. You can use that if you want to do stuff on an original map.

As far as placing weapons go take a look at the tutorial that's in the root folder of your Halo 2 map editor folder. Halo 2 Map Editor.chm
read Multiplayer level design -> tutorial 4: placing spawn points in Sapien. Should be pretty obvious from there.
 
Apr 6, 2020
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pikajew222
#12
Could I get a guide on how to make my own map dumps? Doing edits to original maps is my main itch.

I downloaded your Tag Pack but wasn't able to figure out how to load your Coag dump.

This is the process as far as I understand it:

The Tag Pack has all of the map resources I desire. To edit tags I open a .scenario file in h2guerilla. To edit spawns I open the same .scenario file in h2sapien. After editing, my map is compiled with H2CodezLauncher all of its content will be organized as files in folders. Once it's compiled, H2CodezLauncher is used to package the map, in which the files and folders get built into a .map file. After being placed in the custom maps folder, the resulting cashe file is ready to play in Halo 2 PC.

Please correct me where I'm wrong. Other than my guess trials, I've never done anything in the process I'm attempting to figure out.