Bungie Weekly Update: 02/13/09
Posted by urk at 2/13/2009 3:05 PM PST
The New Hawtness

The Online Team and the Creative Services squad combined powers and rolled out a pretty sweet Bungie.net update this week.  We're sure you've noticed.  Some are certain to complain - change is always hard - but for the most part, it seems you've taken to our new digs as quickly as we have.  And sans some silliness with one particular browser that shall remain nameless (except in Achronos' vitriol-fueled post-update office rants) the site wide refresh rolled out without any major hitches.  The folks that make Bungie.net go may not be professional Halo players, but as some astute forumgoers noted, it's because they're just too busy doing work.

Mythic Map Pack Press Pass

If you've been following the press surrounding the Mythic Map Pack, then you should recognize the quote in this week's update byline, "or down, as the case may be."  It was delivered by Bungie's own illustrious designer Lars Bakken, and it was, as always, deliberate.  By now you've seen screenshots of Sandbox's "Sky Bubble," an invisible plane that serves as the staging ground for Forging in mid air.  And of course, you've seen the area below that contains the "default" layout you'll familiarize yourself with when you set foot on Sandbox in matchmaking alongside a handful of other variants we've been prepping.

But you know all of this already.  We're just rehashing now.  Maybe it's time we dug a little bit deeper into the depth you'll experience when you finally load up Sandbox and get ready to really sink in and explore all three major facets of its Foregable space.

That's right.  All three.

The Crypt

Hidden deep below the weathered sand and stone of Sandbox's ground-level lies a dark and dank hollowed out space - a basement, if you will.  Capstone removed from the floor above, explorers can take a leap of faith down the ominous chute into the interior of the Crypt.  And what will they find?

Well, nothing.  It's just an empty space.  Like the rest of Sandbox's layers, the initial form is merely a blank slate.


The Crypt From Afar and Under Construction

We've found the damp space well-suited for Grifball matches, good for some sweet rounds of Team Slayer on Tundra, and an awesome place to throw in some unique Zombies variants.  But with Forge, you'll be making plenty of other things, using it however you see fit. 

To talk a bit about the addition of this third layer of Sandbox's complete environment, and further, about the map's overall design concept, we've turned once again to designers Dan Miller and Lars Bakken and asked them to drop some sweet Sandbox knowledge.

The Art of Architecture

Q. Now that some of the secrets of Sandbox have been uncovered, talk a little bit about its original design concept. Is Sandbox essentially the next evolution of Foundry?

Dan Miller: Sandbox is an accompaniment to Foundry. There still will be things that Foundry does that Sandbox can’t do. Our goal was to make the ultimate forge level, but there are still areas where players will prefer Foundry.

Lars Bakken: Absolutely. They are much more complementary than anything else. They both have the all the same Forgey goodness, but they have different strengths. Sandbox was really a way to address and mend some of the issues our fans had with Foundry. We don’t see them abandoning Foundry in its place though.

Q. Why was Sandbox split into three distinct “layers” and how does having a much larger space affect what players can and can’t do?

DM: We split up Sandbox so that players have options on how to build their space without having to use a lot of pieces to box off the other layers. It’s much more resource-friendly to have them blocked off by default. The bum deal about this arrangement is that players just can’t get into a banshee and fly from one layer to another. However, the positive side is that players can pick and choose which layers to play on without having players getting out of their intended play area and have to use extra resources to block them off. Plus, three is always better than one!

LB: It originally started with an idea of having a hidden arena placed about 200 feet below the main gameplay space of Sandox; hidden away under the dunes. After we got this in and started messing around with it, Dmiller had the thought that people still can’t build a Guardian or Lockout style map, so the sky bubble was born. Basically having these three distinct spaces gives players templates for a style of map they want to make without having to use so many Forge objects just to create the foundation. Want to build a castle in the sky, use the bubble. Want to build an open vehicle map, use the main floor. Want to have an enclosed area, say for Grifball, use the crypt.

Q. One attribute many “Forgers” find particularly irksome in Foundry’s palette are the crevices and crannies introduced by having objects that don’t necessarily line up well with each other and with the level’s static geometry. Was that taken into consideration when creating the object palette for Sandbox?

DM: The number one goal for the object palette in Sandbox was to create flexible and interesting pieces that players can use as building blocks to build their own creation. Due to the simplistic physics nature of Forge pieces and how they interact, we can’t completely eliminate the nooks and crannies problem, fortunately the Sky Bubble can prevent people from leaving the map. :)

Q. The Crypt on Sandbox seems to be about the right size for a sweet round of Grifball. Is this lower level kind of a “bonus” area designed just for those looking for a new arena, or was it designed to be something significantly more flexible?

DM: The Crypt was definitely a response to our fan’s request to have a solid wall Grifball court that is much harder to get out of. The space is really just a bonus- to keep with the rough theme of a Crypt, some of the walls are not perfectly smooth to build off of. This is an area where Foundry remains a very good space for this functionality.

LB: Definitely a bonus for fans. It’s another place to mess around in, and one you don’t have to build the boundaries for, like the sky bubble. One of the number one things people seemed to be upset about most with the Foundry Grifball arena, was that they had to use a lot of objects just to wall it off. We figured we would take that part out of their hands.

Q. If someone lovingly recreates Boarding Action, will you download it and give it a go?

DM: I have a feeling we’re going to see a number of awesome fan remakes with Sandbox. I’ll definitely give the better maps a go.

LB: Dan will personally look at every single Sandbox variant that is sent to him on Live. His gamertag is…



Ooh, let's stop right there. Might not be a good idea to give out Miller's gamertag.  Instead, here's a few other shiny objects to keep you distracted.


Tundra's Blueprint


For Sense of Scale, Triangulate


Grifball from Afar


Ceremonial Fire


Kali-Ma


And then they tell two friends, And then they tell two friends, And then they tell two friends...

All seven new images are now also in the gallery, available in higher resolution.

In-game content from the Mythic Map Pack has already begun to trickle into file shares by way of early media preview passes.  Shortly, some of you will get a chance to play them yourselves via the Halo Wars LCE preview.  Our team put a lot of love into all three maps and we can't wait for you to get some hands on time and give 'em a good go.

We've got a much deserved three day weekend coming up.  The Halo 3: ODST team has earned every single second of it and then some, their collective shoulders supporting an Atlas-esque workload over these past few weeks.  Some of them are even going one step further and giving up the three day weekend to work right on through.  Pray for our bleary-eyed brothers and sisters.  They endure for you.

Over the weekend, the rest of us won't be completely dark, but don't expect to see anything even remotely close to the deluge of content we've been bringing to the blog and frontpage in recent weeks.  If you're looking for something to hold your attention, might we suggest breaking out the graph paper and planning your sweet assault on Sandbox, amateur architect style?

Enjoy the weekend, folks.  We out.

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