Last week we unleashed a media blitz focused on the exclusive Halo 3 multiplayer maps included with Halo 3: ODST. Today we’re lifting the lid on Citadel with a little guided tour with designer Lars Bakken, artist Blake Low, and art director Justin Hayward pointing out the areas of interest. If you already had a good, long look but still want to know more, you’ve come to the right place.
Q. What aspects of Citadel did you work on?
Lars Bakken - I was the Designer on Citadel.
Justin Hayward - I provided art direction when needed.
Blake Low - After many painstaking hours of architecting work being done over and over by the very talented (and slightly disturbed) Paul Russel, I took over ownership of the final game play space and worked alongside of Lars to bring it home!
The Citadel that exists now went through more iteration than most small maps ever should. Paul and Lars did the leg work to trim the fat. Then I jumped in and hit it with my spice weasel. Bam!
Q. The fictional setting is obviously Forerunner. Any other clues or hints as to its whereabouts or purpose?
LB. Justin or Blake can speak more to this, but it does happen in a Forerunner structure sitting high above a desert. It's very remote.
BL. I think this was a Forerunner day care. The Forerunner would bring their young here and drop them off while they went off to work to Forerunner it up. The little baby Forerunners would spend most of their infant life here in this facility playing in the sunlight or sleeping in the shade. And now it’s a battleground. War has made monsters of us all.
[Editor’s Note: Not sure that’s canon, Blake. –Urk]
JH. It is a small section of the Forerunner structure that players first saw in the Halo 3 multiplayer map Epitaph.
[Editor’s Note: Ah, that's the legit stuff. –Urk]
Shield 'n' Shotty
Q. Word on the streets is that Citadel was once a radically different space. What changed from conception to completion and what remained the same?
LB. Originally, it was much closer to the campaign space it's based around. Well, sort of. It was a much bigger level, with two elevators (one for each team) and really was designed for 2-sided objective games. We basically scrapped most of that design and it became a much smaller symmetrical space. The only thing remaining is the setting.
BL. To be honest the Citadel that exists today is in almost no way the same space as it was once intended. The short version of the story is that the map was too large, complicated, confusing, and easy to get lost in. I think the only major element that still remains is the idea of having a large open center room with a platform to jump to and from. However, even the size and shape of that room changed. The new design works much better in focusing the combat and objectives.
JH. It started life big and sprawling, but we wanted small and tight. And so it came to be.
Q. What was the most difficult element for you to get just right?
BL. Player orientation on the map. Being a symmetrical map, it sometimes is really hard to tell what side of the map you have ended up on or how to relate to teammates where you are or where the action is. We decided to open up some windows, so to speak.
LB. Probably the sight lines. We wanted it to be a small space but feel like you could defend certain areas, and hide as someone who was trying to get away from combat.
Q. What role is Citadel intended to play in the Halo 3 multiplayer space and what game types work the best?
LB. It's very much the small symmetrical map that fans have been asking for. It works very well for small Team Slayer, but it's really great for Multi Flag and Assault as well.
BL. This is meant to give people that hot, dirty, 4v4 action. Everything unfolds at a pretty fast pace and involves some quick thinking and an even quicker trigger finger. You are never far from the action.
Q. Being symmetrical and a bit on the small side, seems players could get turned around easily. What kind of steps do you take to make sure people stay oriented?
BL. Originally there was only a color change from one side of the map to the other, but we wanted something a lot more apparent and in your face. What better to be in your face than the blinding sunlight right? We populated one half of the map with large windows which allowed for some very nice warm light contrast. I think the result was pretty successful.
JH. It's subtle, but effective.
LB. The great thing about Citadel is that the outer loop will always take you to one of the two "bases." Basically, you can pick a direction and just go. You're guaranteed to run into a skirmish or find a good weapon. It doesn't take long at all to get oriented, because you can just pick a route and start running.
Q. What role does weapon layout, equipment, and power-ups play on Citadel?
LB. Like all symmetrical maps, weapon layout is the same on each side. There are a couple of Overshields that are usually grabbed in the first few seconds of play. The equipment comes back pretty quickly in the default setup, which makes for a lot of equipment usage. Some players will find this refreshing, while others may opt to take it out.
BL. The big weapon of the map is the Rocket Launcher that’s placed right out in the middle of the map. Everyone gravitates toward it pretty quickly, so it ends up being more of a prize for the remaining survivors of a firefight. However I think the energy drain comes in far more handy on this map than those of the past. You can cut off paths and force flag carriers to take a longer alternate route giving your team more time or throw one down a hall and weaken a cluster of enemies. I can’t wait to see the variety of tactics people use when they don’t veto it. :)
Q. What’s something you think players would be surprised to learn about Citadel (either the map or the process of making it)?
LB. That it was a completely different map for the first couple months of its lifespan. Other than the way the two maps looked, they don't share much.
BL. No matter what your opinion of Citadel ends up being, 6.7 people out of 7.3 agree that it’s far more awesome than you think.
Awesome. Citadel thoroughly explored keep a look out for some Longshore and Heretic coverage, coming soon.