Map Design Philosophy

So I was thinking, and honestly I’m not big on Halo:Reach’s general design philosophy. Maps like Sword Base are quite cool and do complement the tone which Bungie were trying to achieve with that game, however personally I wouldn’t like the series to dwell on that particular philosophy. It was a nice experiment, but a lot of Reach’s maps were dark and gritty, the ones that were competitively focused were also mainly designed with Forge World, so overall they didn’t really provide a good feel overall.

In terms of Aesthetic, I’d like the maps to return to the styles of Guardian, Epitaph and Sandtrap. These maps have three distinct colour schemes, but whether they’re bright and vibrant or dark and sombre they all had really clear, sophisticated designs. They were more focused on the Science Fiction side of the Halo:Universe and less focused on the gritty human side. They made Halo stand out for what it was as a series, and ultimately I think it benefited from having its own identity.

The last comparison is Blood Gulch/Valhalla vs Haemorrhage. I preferred Blood Gulch when it was really bright and colourful, with lush greens and opulant oranges opposed to the gunmetal grey and muddy browns we saw in Reach. I really hope Halo 4 returns to the old designs of the universe, what do you guys think?

> So I was thinking, and honestly I’m not big on Halo:Reach’s general design philosophy. Maps like Sword Base are quite cool and do complement the tone which Bungie were trying to achieve with that game, however personally I wouldn’t like the series to dwell on that particular philosophy. It was a nice experiment, but a lot of Reach’s maps were dark and gritty, the ones that were competitively focused were also mainly designed with Forge World, so overall they didn’t really provide a good feel overall.
>
> In terms of Aesthetic, I’d like the maps to return to the styles of Guardian, Epitaph and Sandtrap. These maps have three distinct colour schemes, but whether they’re bright and vibrant or dark and sombre they all had really clear, sophisticated designs. They were more focused on the Science Fiction side of the Halo:Universe and less focused on the gritty human side. They made Halo stand out for what it was as a series, and ultimately I think it benefited from having its own identity.
>
> The last comparison is Blood Gulch/Valhalla vs Haemorrhage. I preferred Blood Gulch when it was really bright and colourful, with lush greens and opulant oranges opposed to the gunmetal grey and muddy browns we saw in Reach. I really hope Halo 4 returns to the old designs of the universe, what do you guys think?

(Put it this way, I thought Highlands and Condemned were the best Reach maps, they looked beautiful)

Well, since Reach takes place mostly on Earth, it’s only logical that most multiplayer maps are “Earth-themed”, so to speak. But I agree - maps like Guardian, Epitaph, or Cold Storage (i.e. Forerunner-themed maps) look much nicer.

But to be honest, the appearance of a map is by far not as important for me as playability. I simply can’t enjoy even the most awesome looks if the general layout and balance of a map aren’t well thought out.

Not just aesthetically, the maps need to offer competitive versatile gameplay again. For the default Reach maps, apart from maybe Countdown and Powerhouse, each map only plays a few gametypes well. For example, Spire and Boneyard don’t work very well for BTB. Maps like The Pit, Narrows, Citadel, Midship, Beaver Creek, and Foundation played virtually every gametype well, and for H4 the maps need to go back to this. Generally it is symmetrical maps that fit this, and I’m not saying to drop asymmetric maps completely (some of the best Slayer maps are asymmetric) but there needs to be a greater number of symmetrical maps (or functionally symmetric maps) than asymmetrical maps.

At launch, Halo 3 had:
Construct,Epitaph,Guardian,High Ground,Isolation,Last Resort,Narrows,Sandtrap,Snowbound,The Pit,Valhalla

of which Isolation, Narrows, Sandtrap, Snowbound, The Pit, and Valhalla are symmetrical (at least functionally), (6)
and Construct, Epitaph, Guardian, High Ground and Last Resort are asymmetrical. (5)

At launch, Reach had
Asylum, Boardwalk, Boneyard, Countdown, Hemmorhage, Paradiso, Powerhouse, Pinnacle, Reflection, Spire, Sword Base, The Cage, Zealot

of which Asylum, Countdown, Hemmorhage, Paradiso and Zealot are symmetrical, (5) and two are BTB only,
and the rest are asymmetrical. (8)

Hopefully Halo 4 can return to having versatile maps, with a symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.

> Well, since Reach takes place mostly on Earth,

… I hope that that was a typo.

No but seriously, I understand what you’re saying. I don’t think it’s something only Halo does though. I think all games have moved towards grittier graphics over brighter, more vibrant graphics - it’s like they think darker, dirtier graphics are more realistic. Which maybe they are - but I really don’t care, I’d rather see the old vibrant colors back. For example, look here - http://i52.tinypic.com/28v5ego.jpg - the green almost disappears in the remake of Timberland. The maps are kind of depressing - I’d rather see Halo’s old colors back, which is why I want to see a remake of Chiron. That map had a great color scheme that it would be almost impossible to mess up.

The covie maps are the best looking. I hope we still see a few of those environments in Halo 4 even if we don’t see the actual covenant.

Yup, and the Jetpack kills the integrity of the actual geometry.

> The covie maps are the best looking. I hope we still see a few of those environments in Halo 4 even if we don’t see the actual covenant.

I got bored of that look back in Halo 3, though. 2 of 6 mythic maps were Covie-themed.

And only one of the 20-ish maps released before those had the covie look (Snowbound).

Assembly and Heretic had a different enough look to them anyway, I thought.

> > Well, since Reach takes place mostly on Earth,
>
> … I hope that that was a typo.

Yep, it was. blushes

> So I was thinking, and honestly I’m not big on Halo:Reach’s general design philosophy. Maps like Sword Base are quite cool and do complement the tone which Bungie were trying to achieve with that game, however personally I wouldn’t like the series to dwell on that particular philosophy. It was a nice experiment, but a lot of Reach’s maps were dark and gritty, the ones that were competitively focused were also mainly designed with Forge World, so overall they didn’t really provide a good feel overall.
>
> In terms of Aesthetic, I’d like the maps to return to the styles of Guardian, Epitaph and Sandtrap. These maps have three distinct colour schemes, but whether they’re bright and vibrant or dark and sombre they all had really clear, sophisticated designs. They were more focused on the Science Fiction side of the Halo:Universe and less focused on the gritty human side. They made Halo stand out for what it was as a series, and ultimately I think it benefited from having its own identity.
>
> The last comparison is Blood Gulch/Valhalla vs Haemorrhage. I preferred Blood Gulch when it was really bright and colourful, with lush greens and opulant oranges opposed to the gunmetal grey and muddy browns we saw in Reach. I really hope Halo 4 returns to the old designs of the universe, what do you guys think?

Very much agreed. The athestic of 1-3 felt sfi-fi and immersed you in the Universe…

100,000% agreed!

The one thing the maps are REALLY lacking (And this is something everyone can agree on) is aesthetic changes between them.

Highlands, Tempest, Condemned, Breakpoint all look great and vary greatly.

They REALLY need to get more templates for Forge World. Not just grey everywhere.

Either make include it in some DLC (Or make a new Forge World its own DLC) and have it have 5 or so templates and styles.

From then on, the community could create some amazing maps.

The gameplay on all the Forge World maps is mostly great (Paradiso sucked though, stupid vehicle -Yoink!-) but the looks of the maps definitely need updated…

I’d include an Urban style (Able to make buildings, etc.), a Covenant style (We could make our own cruisers!), a Wilderness style (You can make varying forests and natural landmarks, like a swamp for example), a Winter style (Sidewinder, Avalanche looking), and finally… hmm… let’s say an Industrial style (BUT NOT GREY!).

That would push the games replayability through the Fall for me… It would make Halo: Reach survive all of the games I plan on purchasing and Gameflying this Fall. That includes Battlefield 3, Dead Island, Elder Scrolls 5, RAGE, and many others.

Forge World maps could be made to look awesome (read: far less dreary and boring) with only two changes to Forge World:

  • Map-Wide Default Textures
    What this means is that instead of the whole of Forge World looking like a “spring flower meadow”, you can select between three textures that affect the whole of Forge World: grass (i.e. the flower meadow), snow (Siderwinder/Avalanche, Snowbound), and desert (Sand Trap, Sandbox).
  • Texture Sets for Placeable Objects
    The amount and kind of placeable objects you use to build a map (ramps, bridges, buildings) stays the same, but you can choose different textures for them, so that they all look like Forerunner structures (Reach default), sandstone (like in H3’s Sandbox map), human, or Covenant. Of course, you would be able to select only one texture set for all the objects you place, but even that would be great already.
    With these two changes alone you could - for example - already make a winterly version of Hemorrhage where the ground is covered in snow and the bases appear to be made of sandstone.

And even though only three map-wide textures and four object texture sets doesn’t sound like much, they would already provide a dozen different combinations. That’s eleven more than we have now! :slight_smile:

> So I was thinking, and honestly I’m not big on Halo:Reach’s general design philosophy. Maps like Sword Base are quite cool and do complement the tone which Bungie were trying to achieve with that game, however personally I wouldn’t like the series to dwell on that particular philosophy. It was a nice experiment, but a lot of Reach’s maps were dark and gritty, the ones that were competitively focused were also mainly designed with Forge World, so overall they didn’t really provide a good feel overall.
>
> In terms of Aesthetic, I’d like the maps to return to the styles of Guardian, Epitaph and Sandtrap. These maps have three distinct colour schemes, but whether they’re bright and vibrant or dark and sombre they all had really clear, sophisticated designs. They were more focused on the Science Fiction side of the Halo:Universe and less focused on the gritty human side. They made Halo stand out for what it was as a series, and ultimately I think it benefited from having its own identity.
>
> The last comparison is Blood Gulch/Valhalla vs Haemorrhage. I preferred Blood Gulch when it was really bright and colourful, with lush greens and opulant oranges opposed to the gunmetal grey and muddy browns we saw in Reach. I really hope Halo 4 returns to the old designs of the universe, what do you guys think?

Agreed 100% with the OP! Although, Highlands and Breakpoint were two good maps for Halo: Reach!