Earlier today, Microsoft Game Studios announced that the DLC Bungie has been working on will be available December 11th
to the tune of 800 Microsoft points. The Heroic Map pack is comprised of the first three maps of our intended downloadable suite to support Halo 3’s multiplayer. Christopher Barrett, (AKA Barry) the creative director of Downloadable Content and Steve Cotton, the DLC design lead answered a host of questions, some reasonable, some borderline nonsense to give folks a little better idea about what they are seeing when they look at the three screenshots of the maps we’ve released (there will be more coming sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday).
A quick note about how Matchmaking will work:
When Halo 2's downloadable content joined the Internet, it effectively split the Matchmaking population into the "haves" and the "have-nots," Bungie was readily aware of the problem that caused, and has rectified it in Halo 3. First, when downloadable content arrives, it will have its own playlist for those folks who just want to play with their new toys. Simultaneously all of the DLC maps will be rolled in to the regular Matchmaking playlists as well and then as folks are getting matched up, the game will take into account who has what maps in the matchmaking process. So you'll see Team Slayer on Standoff show up in the Team Slayer hopper as well as in the new DLC-focused playlist.
Standoff, a serene field surrounded by giant satellites awaiting your chaos.
Q: For reasons that should become obvious now, Frankie referred to Standoff as Jodrell Bank. What inspired the creation of this outdoor playground?
Christopher Barrett: Standoff, or Bunkerworld as it’s known internally was one of the maps we had originally planned as one of the Halo 3 release multiplayer maps [Bunkerworld was cut early in Halo 3's development, long before reaching a playable state]. Because of time we ended up postponing it until DLC, and here it is!
Steve Cotton: We wanted a small, outdoor, vehicle map. It started out simple enough. 2 relatively small bases seperated by a landscape of hills and rocks. Good visibility and quick access to the Warthog parked right out front. And a turret on top for defensive types. After that, the rest just built itself. Actually, Justin [Hayward] built it. That guy is good.
CB: Obvious? I still have no idea why Frankie keeps talking about his bank all the time [ed. Google Image Search – L.S.].
Q: Give us a general description of the map’s spaces since we’re not showing too much right now, what’s the overview of Standoff?
CB: There’s two opposing bases and some rocks and a tree and a road and some giant missile silos and enormous satellite dishes.
SC: Oh, and a lot of transportation and firepower.
CB: Imagine Blood Gulch, except squished together, with 4000 foot satellite dishes.
Q: What sort of revisions and iterations changed from early-period Standoff to the version of the map that folks will be playing in December?
CB: The original version only had the two front doors into the base. We eventually added two side routes into the base one of which is opened via a switch inside like Zanzibar/Last Resort.
Originally the sun was at or around high noon, about a month ago we lowered the sun towards the horizon giving the map a very moody sunset feel which really adds to its atmosphere.
We weren’t satisfied with two ways into the bunker so we added a third entry.
Q: How many players can Standoff comfortably accommodate?
CB: Surprisingly it works for almost any number of players pretty well, but 4 vs 4 feels about right.
SC: 2v2 Multi-flag is actually very cool. So is 8v8. I think it pretty much covers the spectrum. It's just a very fun team objective map no matter how big the teams are.
CB: I was very comfortable playing a one player game on Standoff but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. At least I didn’t die as much as usual.
Q: What are some of your favorite gametypes to play on Standoff?
CB: Multi Flag CTF
SC: Kill Barry.
CB: I found out your teammates love it when you yell out “I CAN’T FIND THE FLAG” during team slayer games.
Q: What kind of items will populate Standoff’s Forge palette?
CB: Apart from the standard crates and barricades we’ve created some new placeable mancannons, shield doors, and a very special secret object.
SC: You can add a Wraith as well. In addition to the mancannons of course.
No, you won't actually fly the pelican on Rat's Nest. Nonetheless, there's plenty of high jinks to be had on what was once known as John Carpenter's Prince of Dorkness.
Q: Rat’s Nest, that sounds like Crow’s Nest, the second level from the Halo 3 campaign, surely this isn’ t a coincidence – but it’s also not simply reused space, what’s the deal?
CB: We really wanted to create an indoor multiplayer level, something we hadn’t done a lot of in Halo 3 and the setting of Crow’s Nest was a perfect fit.
SC: Rat's Nest is a great example of a simple idea that turned out to be a great map. And it was only a simple idea because Barry came up with it.
CB: We felt that the single-player mission wasn’t long enough so we wanted to make you play through it again over and over in multiplayer.
Q: It’s a pretty big map with a lot of smaller, tighter combat spaces, how do art and design create those spaces and make sure they play nicely?
CB: A lot of testing and iteration. We also wanted to give a nice balance to larger open spaces where big battles can occur with vehicles and also allow some close quarters combat. The combination really worked great.
The first part of this question makes me feel weird. I’m not sure why.
Q: What kind of items will populate Rat’s Nest’s Forge palette?
CB: A hamster wheel and wood shavings.
SC: Who hasn't always wanted to drive a Scorpion tank inside.
Q: What’s been the biggest change in Rat’s Nest from the prototype/concept phase to the “ship it” phase?
CB: Originally the entire map was indoor and underground. We had the idea of opening up the wall to let in the sunlight, give an epic view and create a memorable space. Doing that really added a lot to the visual feel of the level.
We almost forgot to put any rats in the level.
SC: That better not be why we were losing performance!Q: What’s the ideal player count for Rat’s Nest?
CB: 6-16 Players, it will really add to the Big Team Battle matchmaking hoppers online.
Q: Which gametypes have worked the best? What would you guys like to see in Matchmaking?
SC: The typical symmetrical games work well, Multi-flag, Territories, Neutral bomb, Team Slayer.
CB: Infection on Rat’s Nest is great, the dark moody atmosphere and all the hiding places make it idea for zombie hunting. There is a perfect race track around the outside!
Up until now, you've known Foundry as Art Vandelay.
Q: Foundry is completely different from any map Bungie has made for a Halo game, how so?
CB: Foundry was designed from the beginning to be a Forge level. There is an almost limitless amount of potential map designs that can be made by arranging objects in different configurations.
You can remake Hang ‘Em High out of crates. Kind of.
SC: The second you see someone delete the entire level in Forge, you realize the potential a space like this has. The default layout Tyson put together is great, but the possibilities are definitely greater.
Q: Was Foundry’s art inspired by areas from a Campaign space like Rat’s Nest?
CB: We loved the feel of the Warehouse area in the campaign [on Voi] and it really made for an ideal playground that could be filled with lots of modular crates.
Q: Tom Doyle called the Forge objects for Foundry “Legos” – what kinds of items are players going to have at their disposal?
SC: Legos that look like all the things you might find in a Warehouse in Halo.
CB: All the things you’ll need to make a great multiplayer playground. Man-sized crates, walls, fences, stairs, bridges, and of course fusion coils.
I wouldn’t trust anything Tom Doyle says if I were you. He’s shifty.
Q: What’s the default set-up on Foundry? What’s it built for?
CB: The layout that will be include with the map is set up to work well to support as many gametypes as possible. But once players get a hold of it with Forge I can’t wait to see what people will do with it!
Q: It’s not a huge map so what’s the ideal player count for Foundry’s shenanigans?
CB: I can’t think of anything funny to say about this question other than being impressed you somehow fit shenanigans into one of the questions.
SC: 4-12. Unless you're Barry and then probably 1. Playing Halo isn't the only thing he does by himself.
Q: In daily playtests, what gametypes have been the most successful on Foundry?
CB: Most gametypes work great on Foundry. I definitely had some memorable Territories and Assault games.
Kill Barry, repeatedly, has been a popular one.
SC: Yes. Kill Barry. As well as traditional Slayer and CTF.
We've also added these images in gigantor size over on the Projects page in the screenshot gallery.