By Sethiroth and Solo XIII
This project began as an experimental design when I jokingly asked Seth the question: “Was Chiron really that bad of a map?” The Master Chief Collection had just released, and with it came countless 2v2 matches on HCE. Of course, none of these matches were ever on the trolliest of troll maps: Chiron TR-34.
We never even gave the map a shot. And that’s because if there’s one thing Halo players can agree upon, it’s that Chiron is awful.
Because seriously – It had to be an inside joke at Bungie circa 2001.
It had never even dawned on me before 2015 that Chiron was a “room-based map.” In fact, it took actually looking at the overhead layout of the map to wrap my brain around what the hell was happening with the design.
Now, the more I looked at the map, the more I realized I actually liked the design of several of the rooms. And so I proposed a weird project: What if we fixed Chiron? What if we scaled it properly, removed all the teleporters, and rearranged the layout so that it made a lot more sense?
We threw a block-out together in MCC and immediately saw problems. We couldn’t get the rooms to connect to one another, and certain areas ended up behaving like over-glorified elbows. It was extremely linear, played at alarmingly uneven paces, and promoted camping in several of the rooms. This was all in addition to the fact that we had still placed a portal to band-aid the isolated gameplay and to create more circular connectivity.
Suffice it to say: The map needed a lot of work. We talked it over, threw around some new concepts that weren’t as true to the original Chiron, and the map started playing significantly better. Go figure, right?
Now, there were still issues with the map, but they seemed to come down to Power-weapon placement. Nothing ever felt right: The OS was campable; the Sentinel Beam was too strong; Speedboost wasn’t drawing engagements but Camo dominated the map… You get the picture. It was a headache-and-a-half and we finally just decided to place the map on the back-burner.
Until Halo 5:
I came to Halo 5 with a few maps pre-designed specifically for this game. The hype was real, and a lot of time was spent thinking about which maps I would like to revisit in this game. There are some designs that have become staples in my 2v2 lobbies, but there are other maps that I felt could really improve with the introduction of Spartan Abilities. Hazard was chief on this list: Thrusters and Clambering just add so much freedom to how players can maneuver around the map, and Seth agreed – We needed to crank this out.
Coming to the map with fresh eyes, I was finally able to remove my favorite room. It had caused nothing but problems during gameplay and it was only through stubborn resistance that it had stuck around for so long. The map was looking less and less like Chiron, but that was no longer the goal of the design. We wanted a map that played well, and that means getting rid of problem areas.
We also wanted a map that looked stunning. Other forgers were releasing maps that blew us away, so we took that as a challenge and finally did something new: looking up concept art to help guide us in the right direction. We developed a theme for the map (An underground chemical plant), planned out the use thematic elements and object motifs, and ran with it.
From there, play-testing revealed necessary alterations. Additional routes were added in the form of air-ducts, and the grav-lift (a previous favorite of mine) was replaced with a ramp that really improves accessibility for players that are less comfortable with the map’s layout.
Hopefully everyone enjoys the map as much as we do. It was a labor of love, and a lot of effort has gone into it. Thanks to those who play-tested the design. We couldn’t have done it without your spawn-killing, camping, and constant theory-crafting.
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