Halo 2 CE
Posted by Sketch at 2/7/2005 4:06 PM PST
The Halo 2 CE Project

Ever since Halo was released for the PC and Mac, the fan community was abuzz with excitement about the prospects for creating custom content within the Halo universe. Eventually, Gearbox Software released Halo CE (Halo : Custom Edition) and the HEK (Halo Editing Kit) which finally gave aspiring developers the tools they needed to create their own custom mods within the Halo PC engine. In the beginning, we saw things like flying Warthogs, a nighttime version of Blood Gulch and a few other novelties that spiced up the standard gameplay formula. For the most part, those little tweaks were relatively easy to do. Creating brand new content, however, was a different story altogether.

Since the release of these tools, the excitement has somewhat subsided on a mainstream level – mostly due to the complexity of the tools and a modest level of support from Bungie or Gearbox. Luckily, for those who were willing to stick with it, the fan community created their own network of tutorials, help systems and file sharing to fuel the fires and keep the Halo modding world alive.

Naturally, with the release of Halo 2, Xbox owners have been treated to a slew of new multiplayer features including dual wielding, dynamic maps, new weapons and more. Up until now, fans of Halo PC were limited to the gameplay mechanics found in the original game. But that's all changing, thanks to the efforts of a few ambitious and dedicated modders who have made it their mission to re-create Halo 2 for Halo CE. I recently caught up with the guys behind this project to get some insight into how things are going and what it's like creating a mod for Halo CE.

Pull up a chair and get comfy, this isn't the shortest interview in the world but this is a team and everyone got their chance to chime in. If you can't wait and you want to play it RIGHT NOW, head over to the Halo2CE Website to download the mod files or scroll down for links to get Halo PC CE.

Sketch: Hey guys, thanks for taking some time to chat with us! Before we get started, can you please take a minute to introduce yourselves? Who are you and what is your role in the Halo 2 CE mod project?

  • Nitrousoxide : I founded the project way back in the Halo PC days with a few sound injections and bitmap changes, I gathered together the team, and now I do a little of everything. If anyone needs help doing something, I'm the guy who helps them. I also take care of anything involving actual modifying of the tags, sounds and the game itself.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : I am the lead modeler/texturer for the project and all around go to guy for aesthetics/beautification. I also dabble in tags and gameplay manipulation, as well as some animation.
  • Farsight : I'm the guy that modeled Zanzibar for CE before the actual game came out; aka "the bsp man" :-) That project began before November 9th,back in July, in an attempt to bring the game out to people before the real thing hit the shelves. I've also had the privilege of modeling a pumped up version of the gravity gun for the mod, a new Halo 2-stylized MC biped (which was unfortunately never used), as well as quite a few other models. I can't take much credit for texturing any of them though, that would be Doublefire's or ZexGX's work :-)
  • Kornman00 : I'm the scripter for the Halo2 CE Mod. I've done\tried for things like the gate in Zanzibar, boarding (would be possible if this was only single player) and cutscenes for maps (I did one for my map, The Engine Room).
  • JamesD : I work on getting items in game. I got the new warthog in game, also got destructible vehicles working albeit a bit buggy. I also got weapons in first person and released the gbxmodelimporter script for Max and Gmax.
  • Stefander : I founded the Zanzibar project back in June 2004 for CE. I had been modding since the beginning, so Sapien and the rest of the HEK were pretty much stunning for me, I had been working with tools that needed you to actually know what you were doing, if it let the map boot at all. I did a lot of the level geometry, until I noticed Farsight already did that, and made it stunning, to say at the least.
  • Kerrhalla : I didn't really work on much but beautification. I really am enthusiastic about the game and figured out Bungie's methods of texturing, and with a black belt in photoshop I'm able to recognize channels and what the do, and how to manipulate them. I created the more halo 2-esque mc skin, the smg skin, and the fusion core skin, and a pitter of things along the way like the ghost and some decals. I'm really just an artist and try not to copy Bungie's work exactly, just pay homage to it.
  • ZexGX : I work on improving, UV mapping, and texturing models as well as giving Nitrous advice on what to change (and sometimes how to do it) in the tags/models. My main job was to fix the UV mapping, do a slight remodel, and retexture the rockethog and to make it all work correctly ingame.
  • Supreme Taco : I'm the animator. Any custom content (not made by Bungie) that moves was moved by me. I also did a bit of modeling, including a fairly well replicated model of the Halo 2 ATV that never made it in, and I modeled the SMG.
  • rec0 : I originally joined the team as the HUD guy, but shortly after sharing my knowledge with Nitrous became more of a tag editor, bit of animation (especially taking 3rd and 1st person animations from Max into game) and the odd end of modeling and touching up.

How would you sum up the overall Halo 2 CE mod project? What was the basic goal behind this ambitious mod?

  • Nitrousoxide : Way back when Halo 2 was a big mystery and all we knew about it was what we saw at E3 2003 and the few screenshots we were supplied with, everyone wanted to play it. I, being brand spanking new to modding Halo, decided to try my hand at it, and with tools like HMT by Monoxide and Spark Edit by Grenadiac, I found that I could easily do what I wanted, how I wanted to do it. Then, it hit me. What would be cooler than modding Halo PC to be like Halo 2, and releasing it before Halo 2 comes out?! I had high hopes, and endless support from the community, and with that I began to mod the game, held a few beta tests and the resulting feedback was outstanding. The people loved it. So, I started modding more, and more, and more, releasing build after build, up until Halo CE came out. Then, it was time to gather a team together. At about this time, I had already affiliated myself with Mrs Doublefire, Supreme Taco and Kerr Halla. As time went on, we recruited new people with incredible talent. The result: One hell of a kick ass modding team that produced some of the most incredible things I've ever seen. The team impresses me every single day. I'm so proud of them all.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : I love Halo and I love having this creative outlet. For me it was a means to an end. I just wanted to play cool new stuff that I created on the best game I've ever played. I was so excited about Halo 2 that I couldn't resist trying to emulate it. I needed a "fix" until the real thing arrived. Now it's just something that I do that's a part of me.
  • Farsight : Halo 2 CE, I believe, is a microcosm of what larger gaming companies are doing and experiencing today; it's great to work with such talented people and function as a team of modelers, scripters, animators, and texture artists who are all dependent on one another. Ultimately, the goal is to create one great mod for a community and a game that people including ourselves love.
  • Kornman00 : I've always wanted to do scripting in Halo since I first saw some script commands in a Halo Xbox game save back in 2002, this was my outlet for testing the limits and such with scripts over the net.
  • JamesD : I can't model, I can't texture, but what I can do is the technical stuff, so I provide the skills I excel at as do the other team members. Between us we are able to achieve anything; the project is not down to an individual member which I think is a very strong aspect of the team. The original goal may have been to duplicate the Halo 2 game, but what we have achieved I believe is far greater than that.
  • Stefander : I remember the time NiTrOuSoXiDe started giving out the Halo 2 mods for the weapons and the armor made by our fellow team member Kerr Halla,I got hooked as soon as I started playing them, and I already wondered if we could do something more with the knowledge we had, the HEK was a real trigger for that. Especially when Mrs. Doublefire showed up with his awesome renders of New Mombasa, I really had shocks going down my spine by just looking at what exactly he had produced. I knew I just had to be part of it... And this was the ultimate opportunity to experience how it is to be a game developer without being in a sweaty office all day working your ass off, being held back by deadlines. I really loved the experience. I am really proud of what the team has done, it really makes me shed a tear from time to time.
  • Kerrhalla : I have been a halo junkie for a long while and was enthusiastic about the addition of modding with Halo CE, so I took part. I admired what these guys did and joined up and made some pretty great friends along the way. These guys are incredibly talented and driven. I just am so busy with college that I don't get to take as much part as I want to.
  • Supreme Taco : Ever since I saw the mod taking place on Halo PC, I was instantly hooked, and I wondered if there was any way I could contribute using my newly found (and very newbish) skills of 3ds Max. To make a long story short, I became good friends with Nitro, I completely admired Mrs Doublefire's works ever since the beginning of New Mombasa, and I told myself I would do everything I could to become as good as him, and try to work with these guys on this. This mod was combining everything I loved, video games, the best game on earth, 3ds Max, teamwork, and pressure.
  • rec0 : I was eager to take part in a professional team of modders going on game developers. We all had expertise in various different areas and the one thing we all had in common was our love for this game. Halo CE was a great thing for the Halo community; not only did it bring great maps and expandable content, but it gave people like us the opportunity to come together from all over the world and produce something that we all wanted to play.

Behold Zanzibar! This impressive re-creation of the original Halo 2Xbox map was built from the ground up to give PC players a taste of thenew hotness. And yes, the wheel actually works!

How long has the project been in development? How many people are working on it?

  • Nitrousoxide : If you count the development of Mrs Doublefire's New Mombasa map as part of the mod, it has been in development way back before Halo PC was even shipped. As for the members of the team, there are currently 11 people on the team, and they are:
    Nitrousoxide, Supreme Taco, Mrs Doublefire, Rec0, Farsight, Kerr Halla, ZexGX, Stefander, Madrox, Kornman00 and JamesD.

How did the original idea get started? Did someone just say "hey, we should make a Halo 2 map for Halo CE!"? Why "port" Halo 2 to the PC in the first place?

  • Nitrousoxide : When I first found out how to inject bitmaps into Halo PC, I tried my best at making the MC look like the Halo 2 MC. Obviously, I failed miserably, but it sparked the idea to actually try and mod Halo all around to be like Halo 2, instead of just the player models. As far as 'porting' Halo 2 to the PC, it's not a matter of porting the game itself, it's a matter of creating a mod to gain game development experience for the future that makes an already kick-ass game to be like another kick-ass game, and people would almost be guaranteed to enjoy it.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : I was already developing a New Mombasa themed map, complete with stationary turret and Battle Rifle. There were quite a few people excited about the Halo Editing Kit at the time of Halo PC's release. I figured no one else was doing one like it and I knew I had a good chance of pulling it off.
  • Stefander : Back when "Project Zanzibar" was still classified, I booted up a team to create a Zanzibar map for CE (the Halo 2 mod team of that time was developing Zanzibar for CE as well). We eventually merged teams to create one official Halo 2 mod. At one time in the HaloMods-chat, we were just thinking how it would be to actually play Zanzibar. So I made a joke about "Yeah, why don't we go about modeling the whole thing and see how it plays?". It really went uphill from there, and afterwards, I can say that it's been well worth it.
  • Supreme Taco : When we got the slightest bit of info on Halo 2, and realized that we could mod Halo PC, we put two and two together... what do you get? The best "2" imaginable.

Is this your first forray into the world of Halo CE modding? What has the process been like? Harder than expected? Easier?

  • Nitrousoxide : Since the Halo 2 mod was in development immediately before and after Halo CE was released, yes, it is our first CE mod project. The process was, is, and will always be an awesome experience. Not easy by anyone's standards, but overall very enjoyable. The best part about it all is the fact that we're gaining so much experience for the future, and by the success of the mod project, our futures look bright =)
  • Farsight : The process has been hard work, but in every way a blast. If something new comes along, a problem or something to flesh out, it's generally more of a joy to fix than a pain to relieve.
  • Kornman00 : Once you go CE, there is no going back to Halo PC. At least for me anyway.
  • JamesD : I saw the New Mombassa mod on the gearbox forums, and thought "that looks cool, I'll pm nitro about what I can do". Then the rest is history. The process was not easy in any sense, with the little documentation available about the tools and game, to realize the full potential of this mod was not easy. We got there in the end though.
  • Stefander : It really shows how much planning is needed to pull off a sort of thing on this scale. We didn't have any Halo 2 material available to us at the time, so we basically had to create the entire map ourselves, from scratch, modifying everything to look exactly like Halo 2. Not only that, but it had to feel like Halo 2, as well.
  • ZexGX : This is not my first time making stuff for CE, but it certainly pushed me to learn how to do new things. I kinda learn not to expect things, because usually you'll end up with a nasty surprise.
  • Supreme Taco : This was my first experience with modding CE, and for Halo PC. Yes, it was MUCH harder than I ever thought it would be. Every time we would think we knew how to inject an animation, something went wrong, and the Taco would have to re-do it again. For every animation for that weapon... I became very fast at putting together crappy animations and the team wouldn't know they were bad unless they got them in game and working ;)
  • rec0 : I have to commend Taco on that last comment;-P This was not my first modding experience of Halo: CE, however, it was the first time I ever entered a project as a team - this gave great scope for the targets we wished to achieve and with many of us having a wide variety of expertise in multiple different areas of game development we all learned from each other.

No, this isn't the Halo 2 E3 2003 demo, it's "New Mombasa", another custom map created by the H2CE mod team.

Do any of you have mod experience with other PC games? How does Halo CE and the HEK compare?

  • Nitrousoxide : I remember making maps for Half-Life and Counter-Strike, but that's about the size of it for me. The tools for Halo are awesome and I'd rather use Sapien and Guerilla over Hammer or Worldcraft any day
  • Mrs.Doublefire : Making a map for a game never seemed like a good use of my time. That is, until I found out that Halo PC would be editable. I wouldn't have bought the game if it were not for the HEK. Halo XBOX was just so great. The E3, 2003 demo was greater. I couldn't resist.
  • Farsight : For me it was mapping with MOH Radient, Medal of Honor's level editor. I don't think that could be counted as true modding though, as the level editor pretty much had everything already set up, easily, for the user to work with. My map work and modeling for the Halo 2 CE mod could be considered my first "true" and successful mod work :-)
  • Kornman00 : I'm the scripter for the Halo2 CE Mod. I've done\tried for things like the gate in Zanzibar, boarding (would be possible if this was only single player) and cutscenes for maps (I did one for my map, The Engine Room).
  • JamesD : I used to modify games such as Grand Prix 4, Half life and Unreal Tournament. In respect to HaloCE these games were simple to edit. HaloCE is far from easy to edit and the tools are near impossible to use beyond the documentation provided with it. Any chance you could release a few tidbits of info to make my life easier ;-) ?
  • Stefander : I haven't really been creating levels for any game before, I did do some planning, but it never got off the ground. It sounded great to have something that you could walk on, be amazed at the stuff that you pulled off. Since I wasn't able to model anything back then, it sort of just froze in the concept-stage. I'm still fighting with the tools (ESPECIALLY tool.exe), I never was any good with programs, anyway...
  • Kerrhalla : None at all.
  • Supreme Taco : - I used to create many custom maps for Starcraft Brood War back in the day. All the triggers and such were so fun to play around with, I even simulated a trivia WWII game for a class project with it once.

What's the biggest thing you've learned about game development over the course of this project?

  • Nitrousoxide : It ain't all fun and games! Also, I've learned you can't please everyone, no matter what.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : Game development is quite tedious and you need to be slightly off of center to see the enjoyment of sleeplessness.
  • Farsight : From the 3d artist's standpoint, it's all about the polys. In whatever I model, I've had to ask myself how it would affect the game's framerate on the average computer. That definitely got me thinking, and actually learning as I used what images and videos I had to create Zanzibar from scratch, before November 9th back in the months of July through October. Bungie's design gave me insight into the steps it must have taken to create "that map" we've all come to love :-)
  • Kornman00 : Never give out release dates. And beta the hell out of everything, there's always that little thing you missed and will regret for a long time (I had this problem in the first release of Zanzibar).
  • JamesD : Never claim something you can't deliver, and never leave stuff till the last moment.
  • Stefander : You can't just go about modeling stuff. You have to plan carefully before you actually act. Especially in recreating something, it requires planning. I thought of something called polyshots, to actually "see" the polygons in a scene. A polyshot technically is a screenshot of the game, from a trailer or a normal screenshot, but with a "wireframe-mode", made in Paint. It may seem stupid, but it makes your life easier while recreating a level... Bigtime.
  • Kerrhalla : I've learned graphics and optimization, and how to inject your own artistic ideals within the setting of an existing world without it sticking out too much. Balance, making things fit, work, sound, feel good.
  • ZexGX : In addition to what James said, check your teammates work as much as your own to make sure you don't end up with a situation similar to one where there's a multitude of 4,000 poly rocks in a level shortly before its release.
  • Supreme Taco : I'll have to quote Nitro on this one, you definitely cannot please everybody.
  • rec0 : There's always more to learn! Be creative, be inspired and value your own opinion just as much as everyone else's!

"Forlorn" is a H2CE map that takes its inspiration from "Burial Mounds"in Halo 2. In addition to creating a working Gauss Hog, stationaryturrets were added for authenticity.

What have been some of your biggest challenges while working on this project?

  • Nitrousoxide : Figuring things out for myself or relying on my peer's findings, due to being some of the first people to mod Halo CE. Nowadays, there's many tutorials, documentation and knowledge bases to help new modders. Back in the first days of Halo CE, there was nothing besides the HEK tutorial, which I feel lacked in an area or two.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : Modeling and texturing a map and weapons while waiting for an editing kit that looked like it would never come. Then having to remake and retexture the map after it came. There were some pretty dark days between October '03 and May '04.
  • Farsight : (laughs) I can't quite express the pain of studying the 2004 E3 demo thousands of times to figure out how to model Zanzibar. Furthermore, I now have Joseph Staten's voice forever engraved in my mind about those "marines who call this place 'hell on earth'" ;-) But in the end, it was a blast making and definitely worth it :-) I've learned so much, and have had a great time doing it.
  • Kornman00 : Keeping everyone up to date with the mod's content source (tags). I think I gave Nitro a few gray hairs by bugging him for the newest tags every chance I got.
  • JamesD : Figuring out how to export the skin modifier in max, still not achieved it, still working on it, maybe someone could enlighten me on this?
  • Stefander : The waiting for the HEK seemed to go on forever... I watched the trailer about 50 times a day, looking for spots that we might have been missing. It really was "Hell on Earth" to recreate this level, but it's been very rewarding, and we're happy with the results. It helped me realize and develop knowledge about game design, and of course, how it is to work in a team on something that we all love and hope people will love.
  • Kerrhalla : Learning how to UVunwrap and skin out of max.. gross. How game graphics work.
  • ZexGX : In addition to what James said, check your teammates work as much as your own to make sure you don't end up with a situation similar to one where there's a multitude of 4,000 poly rocks in a level shortly before its release.
  • Supreme Taco : I believe the biggest one was not a technical hurdle, yet more of an emotional one; realizing that you can't please everybody, and having to deal with many insults and complaints. In the end you just have to realize that you did do a good job, and to be happy with your own work, and not care about the few that don't like it.
  • rec0 : Various methods of getting vital things in game, for example the first time we aligned the health meter to the bottom left of the screen, and the first 3rd person animation we got in game (without erasing all other MC animations) - these are just some of the hurdles we came across, there is yet to be one we have not jumped over, so to speak.

What do you see in the future for Halo CE? Certainly it didn't really seem to catch on with the mainstream audience. Why do you think that is? Do you think Halo CE is dead?

  • Nitrousoxide : No way! Halo CE is NOT dead! It's very much alive! Unfortunately, not nearly as many people play it as PC and I blame that entirely on it not being a mandatory update. A small percentage of people who play PC games are involved in communities and websites. That small percentage is the only percentage of people who knew about Halo CE, and maybe a few observant people who saw the ticker tape in the lobby screen. Had it been a mandatory update for Halo PC, everyone would be playing CE. Dividing the game into two games was wrong, in my opinion.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : The Halo CE community really lives on at the Gearbox forums. I have seen many new names, in the past month, that I don't recognize. I don't think it's dead. However, I agree that having two versions for the PC was a bad idea.
  • JamesD : If you want my honest opinion HaloCE has failed for 2 reasons: the lack of support for it from Gearbox and Bungie. The inability to easily create content for the game. However as most HaloCE community members will say "HaloCE is not dead!" the 20 people playing online proves it isn't. The reason it didn't catch on with mainstream people is that not only is modding it hard, but it is worse than the original. At least HaloPC was playable online, and you had the single player aspect if you were on such a slow connection that playing online wasn't a possibility.
  • Stefander : HaloCE is missing out on originality, why would you want to switch over to HaloCE? If it was implemented into HaloPC as an update, much more people would have downloaded it. Why? Because of the laziness. HaloCE is a completely different "game", it just doesn't have enough reasons to upgrade to it. There are enough maps that you might want to be playing, but some people don't even take the time to check out the hard work because it's a big download. Especially on dial-up. Not only that, but the support from Gearbox and Bungie hasn't been really smooth. It had and still has a lot of potential; just no-one bothers to support it.
  • Kerrhalla : A few reasons halo: CE is lacking in players. Unsupported editing kit: we have to rack our brains and toil away to fix, optimize and make any sort of progress in a map, SO not that many quality maps come out, mainly due to the fact that a map has to be pretty basic to run well. So we trade beauty for performance. The second reason, frankly, is Halo 2, people who bought halo PC found it was so good, that they'd buy an XBOX to play halo 2, and many of them have moved on to the sequal, even much of the gearbox community's discussion is about halo 2, not halo CE.
  • Supreme Taco : I believe Kerrhalla struck the jackpot on this one, I kind of like getting to answer last. Yet the third reason I believe is that there was a huge lack of support from Gearbox and Bungie. I realize that Bungie was busy with Halo 2, which is a very respectable reason, and Gearbox was busy with Brother in Arms, yet if you are going to release a practically new game, shouldn't it get the support that other games get too?

Ok, moving on from that loaded question... When do you expect to be fully finished with this project? And, what's next for your team?

  • Nitrousoxide : A modder's work is never done. Bungie, being professional game developers, I'm sure you can agree with me when I say that even after the game ships, there's a ton of things you want to add, change and do, and if you can, via updates, you WILL do those things. As for what's next, the Halo 3 mod.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : I don't know that it will ever be completely done. Unless, Bungie ports a true version to the PC. We only make facsimiles. Currently, I am working on an independent game in addition to helping the H2 team.
  • Farsight : I'm off to college soon, but I don't think I'll ever be able to let go of the community or the friends I've made. Both Nitrous and Doublefire are right - the project will never be fully done. But there's always a bright future ahead, and I wish to learn as much as I can about game design by the end of it.
  • JamesD : When I have worked out all there is to making mods for Halo I feel I will be done. As for the mod I will continue to help working on it and try to wow as many people I can with the new stuff not seen before.
  • Stefander : In the perfectionist's eyes, no work is never really done. If they need my help, they can get it anytime they want.
  • Supreme Taco : As the animator, there is always room for improvement. I am not satisfied with the way the battle rifle animations turned out at all, nor the dual SMGs. In fact, I think the only weapon I am somewhat satisfied with is the single SMG, because I know I could have done better on the others. And no, our work is never done.

Experience the joy of beating down your foe with an Energy Sword onthis Midship inspired map, "Miniship." The custom created swords have aslash and a swipe, just like in Halo 2.

What advice would you give to others looking to get into the PC game modding scene?

  • Nitrousoxide :Never give up. Don't let others discourage you. If you can envision it, you can do it. Also, NEVER be afraid to ask for help.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : It's a lot of hard work and long hours. Be prepared to give up lots of free time to devote to it. Make sure you like what you are doing or it's not even worth starting. Even when you love it, there will be times that you feel like giving up. Don't! Plus it helps to have a good background in art. Lastly, brainstorm on paper what you want to do before going to the computer. You don't want to spin your wheels needlessly.
  • Farsight : Patience is indeed a virtue, and most true success requires it. Start simple and work your way up to bigger things; in no time you'll be there :-)
  • JamesD : Modding pc games is very rewarding. I liked it when on AIM showing nitro something and his reply being that of amazement. That is the reward right there.
  • Stefander : Like NiTrOuS said, NEVER give up to achieve what you want. Because if you keep trying, a completely new world opens up to you. Don't do it for the credit. Do it for the people.
  • Kerrhalla : SPAM.. talk it up with anyone and everyone about the subject. Get feedback from real talented people. DO what you like and be proud of it. Know that there's a lot more to game design than modeling and programming, or skinning for that matter. There's packaging, marketing, publication design, storyboarding, concepting, texting, voicing. There are SO many ways you can get into this. And don't limit yourself to just the computer side of gaming.
  • ZexGX : h4xmb?
  • Supreme Taco : hahaha, very true Zex. The one thing I think I'll give for advice? Don't try to do something first, unless you are really willing to lose your tan, ditch a few friends, and l34rN t0 t4lK l1kE Th1S ;). If you just want to dab into it to see if you like it, try to re-create someone's work, using tutorials and getting help from people that already have experience in it.
  • rec0 : Don't give up, very few things are out of reach, keep trying at it, think logically. Most importantly, communicate. What was the web made for? Communication within Halo modding teams, of course!

Now that people are fired up about Halo CE and the Halo 2 mod, how can they experience it for themselves?

  • Nitrousoxide : Glad you asked. Given you are willing to wait for the huge download (if your connection is teh suck), all you have to do is download it, install it, input your CD Key and enjoy. There's nothing complicated about it. Installing maps is a no-brainer. Simply drop them into the 'maps' directory and run the game. Gearbox and Bungie did an outstanding job in creating Halo CE and it's ease of use. Plus, Halo CE features so many things that Halo PC lacks, including fast-shaders, showbros, less-warping netcode, and most importantly, the support of custom content.
  • Mrs.Doublefire : You must have a valid Halo PC CD key, and the download of Halo CE for a start. Go to the gearboxsoftware forums or Halomods.com for information about the download. Then, of course, you must download the maps (same websites for information) to your Halo CE maps folder. Remember Halo CE has a different .exe than Halo PC and Halo PC doesn't need to be installed for Halo CE to function. You just need the CD Key.
  • Supreme Taco : As everybody in the Halo community that knows me knows, I am not a computer wiz. I animate, and do some modeling, but that is it, it took me about one week of people explaining it to me to figure out how to even open tool.exe (one of the modding tools provided by gearbox), and I was able to play custom maps on CE in less than an hour

Well, thanks for taking the time to chat with us guys and good luck on your ongoing Halo 2 mod endeavors and whatever else you tackle in the future. Keep us posted as to how things progress!

H2CE : A Closer Look

Now you have a better understanding of what it's like working on a mod development team but just what exactly is the full scope of H2CE? What does it have to offer? Essentially, just about everything that Xbox players will find in their copy of Halo 2. If it's a part of Halo 2 gameplay, there's a good chanceit's been included in H2CE. Also, it's important to point out that this isn't simply a trick of ripping content from the Xbox version and injecting it into Halo CE. Everything about this mod was built from scratch by the guys listed above. Let's take a closer look at some of the featuresfound in H2CE...

New Weapons! The team has re-created many pieces of the Halo 2 arsenal including the Battle Rifle, the SMG, Gravity Gun (wasn't in the final version of Halo 2), the Magnum and Energy Sword. They've even created a pseudo dual wielding option that allows players to use two SMGs at once for double the fun. And, as Farsight points out, "..some of the great things about the new weapons are how we've matched them tofunction similar to Halo 2." For example, the BR in H2CE features a 36 round clip and a modified ammo counter to go with it. Rockets now track vehicles, the Energy sword can lunge and swing and Magnum fires rapidly but has no zoom.

Cosmetic Changes! At first glance, one might think that this is actually Halo 2 Xbox using a PC video adapter. In many ways, it just looks that convincing. The entire HUD has been overhauled to mimic what is found in Halo 2 including iconsindicating "low ammo", "reload" and "no ammo." On Zanzibar, new shaders were used for the water and swinging lights inhabit the base interior. Vehicles wereupdated with new lightmaps to give them the Halo 2 "golden glow" as Farsight calls it. They've also updated the loading screens as well as the post game carnage report!

Gameplay Upgrades! H2CE is more than a mere re-skinning of Halo PC. Beneath the surface lies an abundance of gameplay tweaks designed to mimic the Halo 2 experience. Hop into a Ghost and hit the crouch button and you'll be ableto boost. The Ghost is also destructible into several pieces as is the Warthog (complete with flying wheels). Speaking of the Hog, the team has added a Gauss version as well as a working horn. Turrets and fusion cores litter Zanzibar and work just like they do in Halo 2. You can even destory the "No Swimming"signs down by the beach.

"There is nothing in Zanzibar CE or any H2CE mod that has been ported or taken from the real Halo 2. Virtually all of our work was completed before the actual game came out on the 9th (though it is an ongoing process to make it the best it can be)." - Farsight

H2CE features more than a simple re-skinning of Halo PC. Many of thecore gameplay components of Halo 2 have been recreated, including fullydestructible Hogs, as seen here.


If this interview and accompanying screenshots piqued your interest, why not download their latest maps and try it out for yourself? As long as you have a valid retail copy of Halo PC, you're only a few steps away from storming the beaches of Zanzibar on your computer. Getting everything up and running and creating custom content is well beyond the scope of what we can explain in this article but luckily plenty of fans out there are eager to help.

Please Note: The Halo2CE mod project and all user created files and objects are not officially endorsed or supported by Microsoft, Bungie or Gearbox. There's some super cool stuff out there, but please use at your own risk.

The first step is to download and install Halo CE. This is actually an entirely separate version of Halo PC that runs on a separate executable. This is required in order to play any Halo user created content. For a list of sites to download Halo CE and the HEK, check out this LINK PAGE on the Gearbox forums.

Wanna learn more about Halo CE and the HEK? For tons of Halo editinginformation including tutorials, tips, videos, files and more, checkout www.halomods.com

To get more information about the Halo 2 CE mod and download the latest maps and files created by this team, visit their website.

Special Last Minute Update!! Right as this was going to print, Farsight sent word that they will be releasing a brand new version of Zanzibar and New Mombasa on Monday night (2/07) on their website. Go get it!


As a special follow-up, I caught up with Chris Carney (of Carney-hole fame), one of Bungie's multiplayer map designers and part of the original team behind Zanzibar. What does he think about the Halo 2 CE project andseeing his maps show up in Halo PC?

"I think efforts like these are some of the highest compliments that we at Bungie ever receive. To think that folks are slaving away on these levels in their free time, especially with a "restricted" tool set, is really impressive. The levels look cool and I love how those folks went flying off to create Zanzibar before Halo 2 even came out. That is borderline insanity and I absolutely admire the effort.

Mods are a terrific way to learn about the intricacies of game creation. From designing maps, to creating BSPs, to modeling weapons, all of these efforts are great lessons on the steps involved in creating an actual title. You, of course, can go to school to learn some of these skills, but nothing is more educational (and more fun) than doing it on your own. It is just terrific and humbling to see folks excited enough about HALO to actually use it as a source of inspiration." - Chris Carney, Multiplayer Map Designer

Git Yer Visual Flair Here! 

Posted by sawnose at 8/25/2010 8:20 PM PDT

Halo 1 PC/Mac, and Marathon 2 XBLA players rejoice!

If you missed the news in the Weekly Update, (scroll down to the section with the orange block of game UI), players of classic Bungie games get a head start on making their Reach lobby appearance shiny by unlocking some special nameplate images.

Two of these need a few extra clicks on your part to become active, so we're letting you get started now - Halo 1 for PC/Mac, and Marathon 2: Durandal for XBLA. To unlock these emblems:

1. Make sure you're signed in to Bungie.net with the account that's linked to the gamertag you want to tie your Halo PC key to. If you tie it to one account, but only played Halo 2 and 3 on a different account, we CAN NOT help you combine them later to get the emblem for playing all 3. Choose wisely! Obviously, this also has to be the gamertag you'll play Reach with.

2. Visit your Bungie.net account page , then click the Game Settings tab, then the Nameplate Settings link below that.

3. Follow the instruction there to unlock your stuff!

4. Wait an agonizingly long 20 days until 9/14 when you get Reach and play it online

5. Return to the same Nameplate Settings page , where you'll be shown all the nameplates available to you, and you can choose one to use. Return there whenever you feel like changing things up.

6. Questions? Problems? Post here

Bungie Day "Deja View" 

Posted by Sketch at 7/6/2010 7:23 PM PDT

Celebrate Bungie Day with Red vs. Blue!

Read Full Top Story

The Pit: Evolved 

Posted by urk at 9/24/2009 9:12 AM PDT

The Pit get's customized.

If you've got a copy of Halo for PC, you might want to check out this sweet remake of Halo 3's multiplayer map, The Pit.  Attention to detail?  Check.  You should check it out.

YouTube - The Pit Preview

'The Kreative Kollection' 

Posted by urk at 8/14/2009 9:50 AM PDT

So creative it's spelled with a k.

HBO dug up a sweet, ten minute video of Eckosama making a mighty fine collection out of vehicles on Halo's AotCR.  Wanna see the display?  Check it out in HD.


YouTube - Eckosama's Vehicle Collection in AOTCR

Retrograde Episode One: Solitude 

Posted by urk at 7/27/2009 8:57 AM PDT

All by myself.

The dude running the show over at HBO found this pretty sweet retro Machinima shot using Halo.  Not to shabby.  Seven minutes should you decide to give it a watch.  And you should.  It's not like you're doing anything else today.

YouTube - Retrograde Episode One: Solitude


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