New Map for Halo Reach: Sky Temple

Tanith’s inspirational Promontory got me thinking about building my own map for Halo: Reach. After a couple of weeks of evenings-and-weekends work, I present my first ever attempt at level design: Sky Temple.

It’s built high on the wall in the Lagoon area of Forge World, right between the two waterfalls. Here’s the layout:

The idea is that it’s a Sangheili temple, built out of the rock face. Two landing platforms accommodate the worshippers, who then make their way along the open plaza, past a pulpit, and through the forest of pillars to the inner sanctum and the altar. That’s where the sacrifices take place.

We played one round of playtesting today with the BBC team. We were 13 players – too many, as I’d designed the map for 4-on-4. I’d like to try it again with fewer people, so we can appreciate how it really works. My next map will have to accommodate more players. Watch your step, too – there are a LOT of places you can fall through. Our one playthrough had 30 deaths by falling. I have to admit, that *was* kind of the idea with this map – be careful or you’ll fall to your death. But that’s possibly too high to be amusing. If it’s annoying I’ll have to do something about that.

The weapons placement is obviously beta – everything needs adjusting.

Other points:
1 – Blue team spawns near a tower with the plasma launcher, Red team spawns near a tower with the focus rifle. All other weapons are placed symmetrically.

2 – The grav hammers are on platforms under the main level, where their names are written.  The platforms are just close enough together that an elite can jump across, if he crouch-jumps and the timing is perfect. Spartans fall to their death.

3 – The sniper rifle spawns ON TOP of the pillar marked on the map. You need to fly there with a jetpack, or use the grav lift on Blue side. It involves some jumping.

4 – The Banshees are crippled on this map by the fact that the sky is finite. I didn’t know this when I started, but players are actually physically restrained from flying much higher than the altitude the banshees spawn at. The map is too high up the cliff, and Banshees can’t actually gain any altitude. It’s a shame, but I might have to remove them.

5 – There are actually THREE grav hammers on this map. One of them is in a secret location that only a person with a jetpack can get out of.

All of your thoughts and comments are most welcome. If everyone could tell me one thing they like and one thing they don’t like, that would be super super useful!

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5 Responses

  1. […] Level Building in Halo: Reach [Adapted from cross-post at Objective 514] […]

  2. I’ll be taking a look around the Sky Temple in the next couple of days, but I do have a few concerns:

    1-Blue Team is getting kind of boned by spawning near a plasma launcher vs the focus rifle for red team.

    2-Not sure I’m crazy about the grav hammer placement. Punishing players for not choosing the right avatar AND for not crouch-jumping correctly in the middle of a firefight seems pretty brutal.

    5-I like that Sky Temple has a secret, though it is too bad that only certain players (ie, those with jet packs) can enjoy it.

    Gonna hafta check this out!

  3. Your points all seem technically valid, though I haven’t seen the gameplay actually be affected in the ways you’re imagining. Play first!

    You’ll see when you play that point 2 – the grav hammer placement – is a really minor point. Any player can access either hammer equally easily, regardless of avatar or loadout. There are two grav hammer platforms, one on each side of the map. Access is from the buildings above, for spartans and elites. The only difference is that an elite can jump between the two hanging platforms, and thus exit the hammer room from a different building than he entered it. It’s an edge case and I haven’t yet seen it grant elites a huge tactical advantage. Note that jetpack-wearing players would also be able to make the jump easily.

    With regards to Blue team’s alleged bonage – well, play it and tell me if you think it’s such a big advantage. The plasma launcher is a good mid-to-short-range weapon, while focus rifle is good long range. But there’s so much cover available on this map that it’s difficult for either weapon to get many kills from near the spawn locations – especially since all the good vantage points also hold plasma batteries, so they’re rather deadly grenade traps.

    With regards to point 5 – what happened to 3 and 4?

    Of course, you might notice different things in your playtesting than we did – and I’m keen to hear them!

  4. Also – amusingly, though the sword is in plain sight, players rarely seem to go for it. Perhaps it’s too exposed, or perhaps people just aren’t noticing it.

    Also, I might have to turn up the respawn interval on the rocket launcher – it seems like it’s almost always there, every time I check.

  5. I mentioned this on the weekend, but I’ll say it again: Sky Temple is a cool map … and your Loadout camera placement does absolutely nothing for it.

    I realize that there are a couple of schools of thought on this, but I feel strongly that the Loadout camera is a perfect tool for getting players ready to play your map. Even though they only look at it for a few seconds before the match begins, a well-placed Loadout camera allows players to quickly scan the map and (whether they realize it or not) begin building their own mental map, noting landmarks and significant features. It’s also a great tool for getting people excited toplay on your map. Sure, it’s good to know that the rocket launcher is sitting on a rock somewhere, but I think you’re more likely to get people going, “Whoa, cool!” if they have a wider view of the map that lets them really appreciate where they’re about to fight.

    I didn’t have anything to say about points 3 or 4, because I don’t think they are problems. I checked out your blog and noticed that the low ceiling actually resulted in some players using the Banshees in novel ways – never a bad thing! I’m a big fan of making people take risks to get powerful weapons (have you seen where the rocket lanucher spawns on Promontory?!), so I have no problem with the sniper rifles being hard to reach.

    I will say that the randomly different columns in the forest are kind of distracting and can cause some hassle if you land on them because they aren’t the same height as the others (this may not be a problem for Elites, but Spartans can’t jump as far – pathetic humans!).

    As for the grav hammers, I still think that being able to go in on one side and appear on the other is an advantage – for example, you could use that option to escape grenade spam from enemies coming up behind you. However, there’s nothing actually wrong with including map features that are only available to players withy certain equipment (there’s sucha spot on Powerhouse, for example). You are also correct in that players with jet packs can get across easily.Spartans who take Sprint can also make it if they time the jump correctly, so I think that anyone who plays this map will quickly learn that if they want to make maximum use of the lower areas, they’d best make appropriate choices.

    I should also mention that while the Focus Rifle is certainly geared towards long-range engagements, it’s actually very effective at all ranges – I’ve been on the receiving end of the ghostbusters-style beam often enough to know!

    The abundance of cover is significant, however, and isn’t represented on the sketch. Having run around Sky Temple, it would be quite difficult to translate the FR’s flexibility into kills without leaving oneself exposed. Also: I really like the glassed-in rooms you built to hold those two weapons!

    Regarding the Rocket Launcher: For power weapon spawn times, I find that anything less than 60 seconds is too short, and more than 90 seconds is probably too long.

    However, you might review any films you have of people playing Sky Temple – how often do people go through the bunker to the Sacrifice Rock? Is the action predominantly out in the courtyard and surrounding buildings? It’s possible that people aren’t grabbing the RL because they never find themselves near it.

    On a separate but related note, Dammed is nearly ready for testing; I just need to place spawns and it’ll be ready to be torn apart.

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