It's Friday! And so I'm here to give an overview of another area in the TSC:E map: the Security Station Pit
. This environment was designed to promote widely varied combat according to the player's preferences, and it's one of our favorites in the mission so far. As with the original level, you'll need to fight your way in here to deactivate the island's security system in order to enter the main Cartographer facility. However, this area is quite different from its counterpart in Halo 1...
(Note: Being much more complex and having gone through many more iterations, there's still a good bit of visual work left to bring this area up to the same quality as displayed in Monday's pool video; jazzing up the main structure and adding more terrain features, for example. So don't worry if you spot some errant UVs or smoothing or that the structures look bland - we're already working on polishing it all up.)
Part I: Introduction
The Security Pit
was born out of necessity: other changes to the level prevented us from placing the entrance on a high cliff overlooking the Pelican crash site as in the original Silent Cartographer. (Rather than at the the cliffs' edge, it is now located deep inside the island.) However, we wanted to use these changes as an opportunity to make the security station one of the most defining and memorable parts of the map. The crux of the new plan was to invert the original situation the player was presented with: the structure was to be below ground, not above, and the player's decision to jump down immediately or patiently descend was to occur when entering, not exiting.
From our initial idea, we developed layout and encounter concepts, drawing inspiration primarily from snippets of Assault on the Control Room
, ODST's Crater
firefight map, and the waterfall-sniper section of Delta Halo
. We used then created a 3d mockup of the area, which was gradually refined until we had something that we were happy with. Siliconmaster then used the mockup as a reference piece for creating the area's actual geometry, while BobtheGreatII put together structure pieces. After over a month of hard work, everything finally came together.
We've still got a lot of work to do here - we've been doing the level in iterative cycles of design and polish, and so as noted this area is not yet up to the standards we're holding the final product to (those unseemly giant boulders are placeholders for eventual BSP upgrades, I swear!). Even so, we are all very proud of how it has come out.
II: Encounter Path 1: Frontal Assault
After clearing the preceding area, the player reaches a clearing and is presented with two main paths: one leads back to the island's interior, directly to the Pit
; the other leads further out into the open, taking the player behind the rock wall that runs down the middle of the area. Depending on which path the player takes, they have four different approaches with which they can assault the Covenant camp guarding the security station. The latter path also forks out to lead the player to a separate area (which the player can also choose to assault if they choose) - however, that is being saved for another time...
If the player is still in good shape, they can charge directly towards the Pit. This path will place them in the sights of a Covenant squad patrolling the entrance to the Pit
Unless the player is well-equipped, this frontal assault will quickly prove dangerous: as they advance, they will begin to draw fire from defense forces patrolling the lower layers of the chasm, which become alerted to the player's presence and move into defensive positions. Gradually, the player will be able to move down the area - optionally taking any number of jump-shortcuts down the chasm (at the expense of having enemy forces shooting down at them and the potential for taking fall-damage). Once the player makes it to the bridge, a well-placed grenade can take out a group of jackals and the Shade turret; if a player can do that they will be able to proceed down the chasm walls much more easily.
III: Encounter Path 2: Skirting the Rim
An alternate means of attack is to stay to the left. Not only will this more cautious approach give the player the element of surprise against the rim guards, it will give them a vantage point with plenty of cover to thin out the other enemies on the Pit
's upper levels before proceeding further down. Additionally, it will give them a clear jump down to a path looping around the Pit
's entire left side, allowing them to continue to stay above the fray while still approaching the station.
IV: Encounter Path 3: Coming from Behind
Both of these approaches require the player to be prepared for combat - either with the stamina to survive a frontal assault or the equipment to pick off enemies from the distance. If the player doesn't want to dive into an intense firefight, it will be more advantageous to take long way around. Going to the right and following the rock wall, the player will find only minimal resistance (assuming they do not alert the enemies in the adjacent area), and will be able to replenish their supplies before returning to battle.
Following the wall all the way to the end, they will end up at the rear of the rim guards' camp, removing their range advantage and allowing the player to manage them more easily without ranged weapons. They can then continue in a mirror-image of the "Skirting the Rim" approach, staying to the right until they can jump directly onto the structure; or they can once again gradually move down the chasm.
V: Encounter Path 4 - Going Down...
Halfway down the rock wall, the player will encounter a door - it leads to an elevator that will take them to the Pit
's bottom level, allowing them to bypass the entire rim guard. However, they will have to proceed cautiously; even a well-equipped player will become overwhelmed by enemies above them if they are unprepared to make a quick break through the units guarding the entrance. If you choose to take this shortcut, it may be to your advantage to soften up some of the guards from another angle before charging through. Fortunately, the elevator can also facilitate a quick retreat to safety, allowing the player to rethink their strategy without having to start over.
(Opposite the elevator's upper-level entrance is another path to the adjacent area. A player can seamlessly weave between the two encounters as they please.)
VII: The End
That's it. We'll have a new gameplay video for you guys this coming Monday - stay tuned!
Winger, on 04 July 2013 - 06:15 AM, said:
Looks good! About the Red Plasma Grenades: do they have different explosion effects?
The red Plasma Grenades you see are placeholder models for the EMP grade, which we showed off last year