You and this map are probably already well acquainted. Intimate
, even. And though you might know the middle of this ship like the back of your Battle Rifle wielding hand, you should spend a few minutes to get yourself back up to speed. The Pious Inquisitor has been a long time coming to the Halo 3 multiplayer space. To help us slip back into her luxurious appointments we've recruited designer, Dan Miller, environment artist, Jason Keith, and art director, Justin Hayward to show off the space now known as Heretic.
Back in Purple
Q. Which aspects of Heretic were you each responsible for?
Dan Miller. I did item, weapon, and object placement and focused on keeping an eye on map accuracy.
Jason Keith. I was the environment artist (aka the person to blame if you don’t like it). Artistically, the only things I didn’t make are the sky and the grav-lift effects. Those were done by John Gronquist and Steve Scott respectively.
Justin Hayward. I provided art direction, encouraging words and hot chocolate.
Charged and Primed
Q. What was the concept behind Heretic?
DM. This is a port of a little-known Halo 2 map called Midship.
JH. To make the great even greater. Because the design already worked so well, this was an awesome opportunity to put most of our focus on making the thing look dang good.
JK. To make all the people stop whining, “We want Midship,” and get back to whining about important things like BRs and Pistols.
[Editor's Note: Oh, snap. -urk]
Q. All you had to do was copy and paste the existing map from the Halo 2 disc, right?
JH. We pretty much copy and pasted. And then we took a break. In the Bahamas. On a boat made of gold and marshmallows.
JK. When was this? I wasn’t invited! In all seriousness, I took the original mesh and built right on top of it. I gave my best effort to make sure those surfaces occupied the same space.
DM. We have made some fairly significant art enhancements to the original map, while keeping the gameplay more or less the same.
Q. Enhancements, eh? Any significant changes that will send Midship lovers into a frenzied fit of spit, vitriol, and rage?
JH. Only if folks rage at more awesome in the sauce. It was very important to us to make this a gameplay experience faithful to what people know and love, even while throwing all our Halo 3 graphic goodness at it.
DM. The only change made that we’ve found is the floaty platform near the sword is not floaty anymore. Everything else should be as close to accurate as possible.
JK. The problem with the floating trampoline stems from a bug we’ve all seen in matchmaking. How many times have we all seen the falling-water body from the rocket platform on Epitaph or the drawbridge/fan on Last Resort? To resolve that issue in Heretic we decided to nix that feature and make it static. Additionally, I made the choice to add doorways at Pink 1, Pink 2, and Carb 3. This was done to add some realism to the space. Doing this may have added a foot or more of space to those back walls for trim-out. It’s kind of hard to be “Midship” if it doesn’t look like there are any ways in or out.
Desperately Seeking Shotgun
Q. What role does equipment play on Heretic?
DM. Totally awesome roles! There’s only the one Bubble Shield.
JK. For those who are Midship enthusiasts. That sole Bubble Shield is on Pink 1 opposite the Plasma Pistol.
Q. Were there any issues that needed to be sorted out to make sure Heretic was as close to a recreation of Midship as possible?
DM. Halo 3 doesn’t allow us to start with Plasma Rifles. All of the other weapon arrangements should be accurate aside from some changes to accommodate the changes to the Needler. The goal was to keep Heretic faithful to its former level in almost all aspects. Unfortunately, we felt that four Needlers on the level was a bit excessive, so we replaced two of them with SMG-caliber weapons. As always, players will be able to tweak and tune Heretic to their hearts content with Forge.
JH. Being such a small map, there is very little room for dead space or surfaces that aren't usable from a gameplay point of view. A lot of effort went into maintaining things like surfaces for jump vaults and preserving sight lines. Luckily our man Jason knew Midship backward and forward and was familiar with what to leave and what we could alter. There couldn't have been anyone better to rework Midship.
JK. Any time you double, triple, or quadruple the amount of polygons on a compound curve you are going to get a little difference in player travel. I spent a lot of time running around making jumps every time I imported the level to make sure all those from Halo 2 were still intact. I’m pretty sure most of them are easier than they were in the previous game. Or, perhaps they just seem that way because the streamlined curves lend to a natural flow of movement.
I seem to remember Dan telling me his woes with Needlers early on. He wanted to keep all the weapons the same as they were in Halo 2 but Needlers were dual-wieldable and there were around six on Midship. Now there are only two, at Carbine 3 and Pink 2. The two that were on either side of Pink 1 were replaced with a Spiker and an SMG.
Pillar of Awesome
Q. Where does Heretic fit inside the Halo 3 multiplayer stable and what game types are best suited for this space?
DM. Heretic definitely fits the needs of having more small symmetrical arena spaces. It’s also nice to have another nostalgic remake in Halo 3. It gives people warm fuzzies.
JH. And Bungie = warm fuzzies, as we all know.
JK. I seem to remember Shotty Flag being especially fun in Halo 2.
Q. Any surprises hidden away in Heretic's especially luxurious spaces?
DM. The only surprise is held in your imagination.
JK. Well it’s not a surprise but there is that pesky skull hiding somewhere.
JH. A bunch of Covenant capital ships approaching a mysterious planet? Intriguing.
Imagination, a skull, and a room with a view of an armada and a mysterious planet. What more could you want? Nothing. That's what. And on that note, this wraps up our in-depth coverage of the second half of the Mythic Map Pack. If you're still wandering around the site wondering how in the world you get your hands on these three awesome maps, we've already got you covered. Everything you need to know has already been uncovered in the Halo 3: ODST Project Page